Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I am feeling restless, and I'm not sure why, and I don't know what to do about it.

Lots of things are going right.  Life is pretty on track: healthy, Katherine is doing well, we just had a week of vacation in the sunshine on a boat, my career is moving forward, my home is comfortable and filled with the things we need, there's lots of friends on speed dial, I live in a beautiful part of the world where not only do I have clean drinking water and a lack of war, I'm also surrounded by sparkling seas and majestic trees and rich green.  My dog loves me, my cat makes me laugh, I've got a zillion books to read, good music to hear, lots of dreams and plans.

And yet, I feel an undercurrent that makes me uncomfortable.  All of that goodness in my life, and I still want more.

I want a lot more, actually, and I feel like a selfish ingrate for it.  So many blessings in my life, and so many in this world would likely give up almost anything to have the things that I do.  I see pictures of Gaza, Afghanistan, Syria, Missouri, Iraq, Sierra Leone, Russia, and I know how blessed I am.

I'm a white, educated, middle class woman with a great support network and equity in her house.  My daughter loves me and today, because she wasn't feeling well, I worked from home part of the day to be with her.  She started to feel better and decided to make cupcakes with ingredients we had on hand (I'm a firm believer that there should always be a pound of butter in the fridge for moments just like this - we bake from scratch around here.).  Everyone should be so lucky.

You get the point.  On planet earth, I think I'm in the 1%.  I've never had to walk to get water, except when I do it on purpose to rough it while backpacking.  I cook on a stove, not a campfire.  If the power went out, I could use my gas grill. When I hear a loud noise in my neighborhood at night, I think "What idiot is putting off fireworks in August?" and not "Oh no, guns!"

A lucky girl.  Even though my car is on the edge of dying, the house always needs work, money is tight, and I haven't been overseas in a decade and I need a haircut (it's been what, six months? more?) and I can't remember the last time I had a pedicure and I eat beans instead of meat sometimes because it's cheaper, I know how lucky I am.

And yet...struggling a bit.

This loneliness that I'm feeling is different than anything I've felt before.  When I was first separated, I felt the lack of Bryan, and the hole in my life where I thought he was supposed to be before it all fell apart.  But this hole isn't about Bryan at all, it is only about myself, the life I have created for myself.  I don't want him, or the marriage that I now realize was never very good.

My marriage was a train wreck.  I look back on it, and the girl I was, and the "rules" that I agreed to, and the way I walked on eggshells, and the lack of connection to my spouse and how I tried so hard to do the right thing, accept him as he was, compromise....and I feel lonely.  Lonely that I did not get what I worked so hard to create.

I feel lonely because I have never been loved the way I want to love and be loved, and because I do not know if I will ever find that kind of love, and I do not feel like I have any control over it.

I've pretty much given up on online dating.  A recent article about online dating in the NY Times ( ) was interesting, but it was this that caught my eye:
Mr. Finkel and Ms. Sprecher are part of a team that wrote a longer psychology paper, summarized on Science of Us, arguing this in greater depth. What a person might find attractive on a profile may have no correlation to what they find attractive in real life, the report says, and browsing profiles “fosters judgmental, assessment-oriented evaluations and can cognitively overwhelm users, two processes that can ultimately undermine romantic outcomes.”  

Yes, that about sums up my experience (and my blog post "Online Dating Makes Me Shallow.") It went on to say: "Matthew Kassel, writing for The Observer, found online dating similarly unsatisfying. It meant that his “lifetime date count had, like a strain of mutant amoebae, multiplied by more than sevenfold” as he “ricocheted from one woman to the next.” But very few of his encounters led to a second date, and the whole thing, he writes, “was starting to feel forced, perfunctory, dehumanizing and, yes, expensive.”"

In short, online dating isn't for me.  This in itself is not a huge revelation, but here's what is:

I realize that online dating was a crutch that made me believe that I could limp along and find my life partner there, hiding in the pixels of OkCupid, and that gave me a lot of hope in that variety of the future.  The crutch gone, I feel like I'm going to be alone forever, because I rarely if ever meet single men or put myself in a situation to meet single men.

So here I am, healthy, loved, safe in my comfortable home and with a beautiful daughter; educated, employed, and with a fridge full of food....and all of that seems shadowed by the thought that I may, indeed, never find soulmate love, romantic partner alignment, the joy of shared laughter during intimacy.

Very teenager-macabre sounding.  If one of my friends said this to me, I'd scoff.  I'd say, "Oh, give me a break, you're lovely and together and it'll happen when it happens, so just relax and enjoy the ride."

Telling myself this has not yet been helpful.


I keep thinking back to my vacation and the less-than-perfect family of origin stuff, too.  I've come by my problems honestly, and it is not a surprise to me now, having lived it, that the model of relationships of how men should treat me, taught by my father, led me to the wrong place.  I'm processing, trying to see it from different angles, trying to acknowledge it without letting anger or sadness consume me.  It is mostly in my past, after all, and what I do in the present can be more informed than what has defined me in the past.

But here's the rub:

I can run a half marathon, rework my whole job, be a career woman, take care of my daughter, find fun things to do, hike, write, read, volunteer at things that fill my heart.....and it doesn't fill up the hole that I feel growing inside of me, and that IS SO ANNOYING!

I want to work my way out of this.  I want to DO something to make it feel better.  I am willing to meditate, to exercise, to actively ignore, to confront, to discuss, to do whatever it takes to get rid of this feeling, but the bottom line is that I think I'm going to have to just wait it out, and patience is the thing that I do not do well.

I can do it all "right" and yet I can't change the feelings, and I can't force my life to create a partner of my choosing.  Do I have to just wait for this to pass?  I am not good at waiting.

So I'm trying to be patient with the idea, slowly owning the idea that I might be alone forever, that the things I've dreamed of may never come to fruition, and that I might need to be okay with that.

It doesn't sit well with me, though, and I want to figure out how to be an optimist in the face of those feelings.

If you've got the answers, drop me a line, will you?  Because I'm feeling really stuck, and I hate being stuck.


  1. No answers here. My situation isn't that different from yours. But I will say it's okay to not be optimistic all the time. It's okay to complain even if those complaints are first world problems. We judge our own happiness based on our own standards, not someone else's. I mean, you didn't stay with your husband because "it could have been worse", did you? No. You wanted more. It's okay to have high expectations regarding your life. But yeah, I would try to keep worries about the nebulous "future" and whether you will EVER find someone at bay as much as you can. And focus on ways you can improve the present.

    I think it sounds like it might be time for a new project now that you've gotten the job nailed down and are settled in. Maybe a new activity, like a running club or a class or something? Or get involved in something with your daughter's school or her activities? Maybe just try to focus on meeting new *people* and not specifically single men... trying to find activities solely to meet single men might put too much pressure on you and then you might be too disappointed if it doesn't pan out. And those new people might know some single men, after all. Or just be single ladies who will go to events with you that might have other single people at them.

    I really don't know. But I'm thinking it sounds like you should DO something. Just try anything new that might have a chance of helping to fill that hole, man or no man. Try to have some fun!

  2. Erica, thank you for your note. You're right, worrying about the future serves no purpose, and is best left, if I could just stop those thoughts from popping in...! But your acknowledgement that it's okay to be less than perfectly optimistic is helpful: I am allowed to be uncertain sometimes, just like everyone else, and I needed that reminder. Thank you.

    New project...hmm. I must think about this. I'm constantly busy and I like it that way, so I will consider. I'm helping my favorite charity to put on a 5k fundraiser in two weeks, I'm volunteering at another event in September, I'm training for a half marathon, I'm attending a benefit for the local Democrats group tomorrow, I just came home from an outdoor concert and picnic with friends and kids....I have lots of busy, fun activities, but lately somehow it feels like not enough. Maybe I need a change of activities...?

    Today I think "Awww, to heck with it all. Screw loneliness. I like being by myself," but it feels more like a toddler fit than reality. We'll see! ;-)

    Thank you for your kind words, for your ideas. I'll keep mulling them over to see if I can apply them, because I am very open to figuring out some new path. I wish you every love and happiness. :-)