Sunday, August 10, 2014


I just got back from a week on a small boat with Katherine and my parents, rediscovering the islands of my youth from the vantage point of docks and marinas and resort pools.

It was wonderful: we saw my beloved J Pod (resident orcas) in all of their stunning beauty; we swam; we played.  I ran multiple times, up hills and on trails.  Katherine and I slept in a tiny room on the boat, giggling at our close quarters.  Mom and Dad treated to just about everything, and so I wasn't fretting about money.  (Next fret: my waistline.  Despite aiming for salads, there were a lot of French fries on this trip.)

But this one conversation between my father and I, as he walked me back to my car at the end of the trip, says a lot about my family dynamic:

Dad:  Look at that Westy camper.  You should get something like that! You'd love it!
Me: I've thought about it - it would be fun.
Dad: What, are you crazy?  Those things break down all the time!  What a stupid idea!
Me: Dad, I was being conversational.  I'm not going to get one, I just thought I'd agree with you that they sound fun.
Dad:  It's a terrible choice.  I can't believe you'd consider that.
Me: DAD!  I was holding polite conversation and AGREEING WITH YOU!  How can you be mad at me for agreeing with the idea that YOU brought up?  I'm not buying one.  I just think they're fun!  I looked into it once and I agree I won't get one, but I liked the idea of it.
Dad: What a stupid idea.
Me: I can't win!  I agreed with you and now you think I'm stupid!
Dad: You're too sensitive.  Lighten up.  I can't believe you'd want a Westy.  Stupid.

Some variation of this conversation, on a number of topics, came up a lot.  I did a lot of deep breaths.  Some things I let go.  Some things (like this) I tried to verbally defend myself.

It's crazy making.  Is it any wonder that I signed up for a crazy marriage?  For me, it was NORMAL that someone acted like this: one minute sweet and kind, the next telling me I'm stupid.  One minute telling me he's proud of me, the next belittling me.  One minute friendly, the next mean.  It was an unpredictable way to grow up, and I learned how to manage it.

The definition of dysfunctional.

It is not a surprise to me that I can't figure men out, that I have many close women in my life but very few men.  It is not a surprise to me that I can't let a man in.  Post epiphany, it seems like the biggest "well, duh" moment.


This trip, I had a great time, aside from those stupid parent moments with my dad.  My daughter was great, the weather divine, the islands particularly beautiful.

But somewhere 2/3 of the way through, loneliness crept in.

Boating families are wonderful.  They work together in small spaces, they have adventures together, they work as a team.  They spend time laughing and sharing an interest.  I saw many wonderful families....headed in every case by a loving couple.   I was surrounded by loving couples and families headed by loving couples, and I was the solo woman.

On the last night, there was a giant boat that set up a party in the back....complete with a band.  (Our boat could have fit inside their boat.)  The band was three single men in maybe their late 50s, all attractive.  Women came out of nowhere to flirt with them, and these women looked a bit hard, a bit brassy around the edges.  The married women at the marina wore cute sundresses and striped tops with shorts and flip flops, but these women had lace and off-the-shoulder and was a bit off.  I watched two of them get invited on board and disappear inside.

It didn't look attractive, or interesting, and I didn't want any part of it.

It made me feel lonely, and yet uninterested in dating....a strange juxtaposition.


As I sat on the rocks at a state park watching orcas cavort in front of me, so close that we could hear their breath, see their saddle patches, I wanted to lean into someone to share the moment.  My beautiful daughter was having a mermaid moment and had climbed out on the rocks, closer than anyone else to the orcas, and was having her own moment, as a tween should....and I wanted someone to turn to, to say "isn't this incredible?" and to lean on, to squeeze hands, to catch eyes.  There were others around me, but they were strangers, and I didn't want a stranger.

I am prepared to settle into being alone, working on my career, my mothering, running, playing at things I love to play at (hiking, camping, writing, reading, and more).

But it's unsettling, this loneliness.

I haven't thought about my family of origin craziness very much in the past decade, as consumed with cancer and divorce as that decade has been.  I wish I wasn't thinking of it now, but it's getting in the way of what I want for myself and so it's rising out of the shallows, where it's been all along, and I must face it.

I don't like feeling lonely.  I like feeling alive and fresh and vibrant, and living in that way.

I will wait for the loneliness to pass.


  1. This was so sweet, and I know exactly what you mean. I'm not even divorced yet, but since my husband has already moved on completely to someone else, I already feel divorced. And I notice EVERY SINGLE COUPLE and FAMILY everywhere I go. I see people and I say to myself, "See? They're making it. Why couldn't we have made it?" Or old couples, "See? They never gave up. Why did he give up?" And it's all just so lonely. My kids are having fun somewhere and the urge to text a picture to my husband comes up and then dies right there. It makes me nervous that you've already been divorced for awhile and you STILL feel this way. I guess it doesn't go away?
    I'm reading this book by Mike Dooley, 'Manifesting Change', have you heard of him? If you believe even a little bit about the Law of Attraction, this is a really good book.
    That story about your dad IS crazy! Have you seen that movie August Osage County? Reminds me of that.

  2. I have found that loneliness comes and goes - hold on, because yours will pass, too.

    My loneliness is not about my ex, because he feels so "other" that I wonder if I ever even knew him, and I do not long for him, or desire him, or wish for him. Mostly, I've felt powerful and capable, and sometimes even sexy and beautiful as I've attracted male attention.

    But sometimes, I cannot help but sigh and wonder why this is my life's path, and why I can not figure out romantic love and partnership. We live in a world made for couples, and though I navigate it well and I have found my place, sometimes I can not help but wish for what I do not have.

    Still, the feeling comes and goes. In my case, mostly I don't feel lonely, I feel empowered, strong, capable, optimistic. I think that's why a dose of loneliness surprised me. I don't like it, but it will go away. It always does.

    I haven't heard of that book - thanks for the recommendation.

    August Osage County - shudder, yes, I saw it. I guess I'm not the only one with a dose of crazy in my family. lol At least I know it stops with me, because I work darned hard on that, and my daughter has a very different childhood.