It's been a while since I've written. It's been a while since I've wanted to write. With funerals (both grandparents, see previous posts) and school and personal drama, motivation has been a bit thin on the ground. I'd think about what to write and come up short. (Something about my cat? No. I over share pictures of her as it is and no one cares. Politics? Too gross to talk about right now. They're all crazy. Teaching? No. Not enough going on there that's any different from the norm, and if it is different, it's not really a good idea to write about.)
Recent events have had me thinking a bit more than normal about the reality of my life. I know I write about this a lot as well, but the past several months have changed my perspective significantly in some ways and solidified them in others, and I need to get it off my chest. Maybe so I can move on to that final stage of grief (past anger and to acceptance). Maybe because I don't feel like this is a story that I often acknowledge. Maybe because I'm tired and don't know how better to say what I'm thinking than here. Having the conversation over and over with myself is exhausting.
I have to accept that to many, I am not the ideal. Not just my "situation" (as people want to call it), but me, personally. I am too independent, too "unique", too cowardly, too picky, too something to be married. (As if abandoning one of those things would magically produce the perfect spouse, lovingly gift-wrapped. As if the correct formula of goodness or ambition were enough to solve your "problem".) This is hard, because happy marriages and good family life are a very worthy ideal. They are also an ideal that becomes a pipe dream for many (even those that are married.) I've lived enough to see so many of my friends get married, divorced, and re-married. Whatever love I could have now is not of the naive fairy tale variety. Regardless of any of that - the fact is, to many, my life is a problem that needs to be "solved". I am Maria so I must be in search of a Captain.
I have to accept that many feel I have not yet "arrived" at adulthood. I am encouraged to attend services with single people of comparable age, where I would then be governed and supervised by married individuals who plan activities largely centered around things the average twelve-year-old enjoys. Things I hate doing. In the hierarchy of church thought, there seem to be limits to single adult capability until you are past your expiration date (re: you "age out" of said congregations.) In fairness, I have been lucky enough to be in a ward for the last year where I am treated with kindness and respect. It's made a world of difference because it hasn't always been the case.
I feel like I have to validate my happiness to others. So many assume that to be single is to be desperate when the truth is, I'm not - at least not most of the time. The truth that I don't know how to tell people is that I am happy not getting married, maybe ever. To hear them say "when", while I want to say "if", because it is no guarantee. I find dating utterly exhausting and endlessly frustrating. It doesn't matter how many times I am told that I am beautiful and smart and how unfathomable it is that I'm not married and that I "will be some day!", the fact of the matter is that I have nearly three decades of evidence to suggest otherwise. The fact of the matter is that I've never had a boyfriend. That the closest I ever came was only recently, and said person abandoned me without even the courtesy of a "not interested" text. Just radio silence and the disappointment of feeling as though I'd let everyone down again.
Even worse - I feel like I have to validate my happiness to myself. To remember that I have a good life. That I get the chance to travel, to teach, to inspire, to perform. That I have a family that regularly affirms and validates me and where I am now. That I am not sharing stories of children sick with stomach flu or pictures of Sharpie mishaps. That even though not one little piece of me wants either the flu stories or the marker pictures, there is a very real part of me that sincerely hurts at the thought of not being loved by someone like that and loving them back. That part of me that wants to break every disk of every movie I own where the guy and girl see each other across the room and give each other that look because, for me, that feels like a dream more elusive than a Hogwarts letter or a wardrobe to Narnia. That part of me watches friends and relatives meet and marry their intended with what seems to be about the same amount of challenge (and time) as deciding which cereal to buy at Walmart. That part of me just hurts. That part of me feels lonely and scared and insecure and lost. That part of me attends weddings and receptions and smiles and dances but mostly just feels horribly behind. It's all I can do not to end up in this awful cycle of "what am I doing wrong?!" through to "nothing! Everyone is stupid" followed by "no, you just haven't met the right one yet" to "I don't even want to meet anyone! I don't care any more". . . over and over. It's a perpetual battle against insecurity.
I don't know why I'm sharing this. I feel like most of the time I think about my dating life I'm putting on a public face of great defiance and not caring. Truthfully, most of the time I'm fine. Most of the time I'm happy. I'd even say that about 90% of the time, I've decided and honestly feel that if I never get married and have a family that is just perfect, and if life goes the other way, then that could be pretty great too. Whatever. All is just fine in my corner of Zion. But that other 10%? That other 10% is much more nuanced. That other 10% is just exhausted, and feels like screaming at the thought of yet another first date, blind date, set up, whatever. That other part wants to tell everyone who says I'm beautiful and "it will happen": "YES. But what if it DOESN'T?! What if I don't even WANT IT TO?!" That part of me is, quite frankly, trying really hard not to be angry at the universe for the awful tease of the last few months and wants to go on a permanent hiatus from all things even closely resembling romance.
So that's where I am. On a hiatus where, for the time being, I'm going to be just a little bit bitter and frustrated and then, hopefully, return back to that 90% happy place. Theater helps. The prospect of travel helps. My cat helps. Spring is coming and flowers are starting to bloom and soon everything will be a "puddle wonderful" again.