thirtysomething babe

ever wondered what it's like to be a single woman in her late thirties? she might want kids, she probably wants a husband, she needs a better career to put her years of grad school to use, and she definitely wants a dog and a house to call her own. unfortunately, she has no idea how to get these things. she *can* get a blogger account, however, and perhaps by writing, she can figure out who she is and what the heck she wants out of life.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

keeping it all in

I don't know about you, but even in a relationship, I have a tendency to assume that no one else can take care of me well other than me. I don't share my own emotional burdens with other people because I'm so afraid they'll think I'm weak or pathetic. That they'll either break up with me because I'm such high-maintanence or they'll stay with me because they pity me.

I think our society often associate over-emotional behavior with women, and perhaps that's justified. I do cry more easily than most men I know. But when it comes to real, deep, serious, and scary emotions, I hide them. Crying at a commercial is okay, but crying because I'm afraid of being alone in my old age, not okay.

My pattern goes something like this, in fact. I hold it all in, I keep my secret fears and emotional pain inside. And then, at a completely inopportune time, they start bubbling out through tears and occasionally, sarcastic comments. I know better. I'd hate it if someone did this kind of thing to me in a relationship. It's totally passive agressive and annoying. But I can't seem to break the pattern, yet. I like to be seen as strong and capable and to take care of others, but I'm not able to be weak, incapable, and taken care of. It's like anything else--to fully experience life, I have to let both sides (weak AND strong, taking care of others AND being taken care of) into my life.

Honestly, though, I've been hurt so often and am SO afraid, I sometimes can't imagine changing this pattern. How do deal with the fear of a relationship ending without keeping it all in? How do I make fear into a productive force instead of a barrier to true love and commitment? How do I let go of my skepticism that I am lovable, even when I'm weak and need help?

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What if?

I try not to revisit the past endlessly, but doesn't everyone wonder about the opportunities missed or the choices that might have created a different life? It's not very zen of me, I know, but about once a year or so, I find myself thinking about the men I've dated and the choices I made about those relationships. There's no way of knowing what my life would be like if I had married R, the college boyfriend. Sadly, I imagine that we would have divorced eventually. Grown apart. But what would I have learned in the process.

What we think of as negative experiences are often those that show us the most about ourselves and those around us. In fact, I think they show us less about other people and their behavior than about our own character and behaviors.

My break up with Theater Guy several years ago was heartwrenching, perhaps more so for me than for him, because I was confronted with my own selfishness. The discontent I felt about myself and my life (career, friends, family included).

Damn. I so wish I could create a strong relationship with someone who was willing to commit to be unselfish and to not take out our discontents with our selves on each other. Isn't that true commitment? I keep thinking that I had to go through that horrible break up with Theater Guy in order to get to this kind of commitment.

I haven't talked about one major issue that troubles me about all this: that damn ticking clock of fertility. 37. Never been pregnant. Am painfully aware that my fertility is dying by the minute. And yet, it took me this long--all 37 years--to get to a point where I could commit to someone else fully enough to be in a real relationship. Honestly, I don't think I could have had a child before now because I am also finally at a point where I could commit to a child and his or her best interests.

But I'm 37. How to reconcile the fact that when I'm finally ready, it may be too late?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

the ex-wife

So I'm sitting at home on Monday afternoon enjoying my day off and considering what to do with my time. Nap. Watch a movie on cable. Straighten up my closet (again!). Go for a walk. Read a book. The world is my oyster, more or less.

I hear the doorbell, and when I get there, TG is standing there in his bike shorts and t-shirt, bike standing next to him. Hm. Confusing. I left his house at 9 am that morning and as I left, he was headed out the door to go on a bike ride. Now , a good 5 hours later, he's clearly just finished the ride. Good for him? No. Even worse for me.

It turns out that early in his bike ride he passed his ex-wife, a woman he hasn't seen in over a year and from whom he had a bitter divorce three years ago. He's still broken up over this divorce, as I'm often reminded. I'm very patient with him about the process of grief and rejoining the dating world, and I think that's fair enough. I give him the kind of slack I'd want if it were me in his situation. Privately, I'm frustrated and wish he'd get over it already.

He stopped. They talked for several hours. She apologized to him. Does this sound like a current girlfriend's nightmare yet or what?

In the end, it seems to have been a good talk. One that might promote further healing on his part. And it seems she said something about not wanting to get back together. She even said, quite rudely I think, that they probably would have broken up eventually anyway. So why get married, I wonder, if one has such an attitude about it.

I'm so torn. I hate to see TG sad or hurt or to have that wound reopened. Yet I'm hoping that this event will remind him yet again that he's better off without her. Is he better off with me? That's an unknown at the moment. I think he thinks so, but he's probably not yet sure. He's very careful about his words and about making promises. A good thing, perhaps, but also a maddening one when sometimes all I want is a little certainty. If you read my earlier post, I've wanted someone to be eager about being with me, not circumspect or cautious.

I also fear that seeing her again reminds him of how much he loved and wanted her. I know he did. He's a great guy and would not have married her if it hadn't been forever and for love. So even rude and having broken his heart, she feels like a threat to me and my relationship.

Add to all this that we had an okay weekend. You know what I mean...a weekend where nothing bad happens and nothing goes wrong, but it feels a bit blah. We saw a mediocre movie, we were supposed to get together with friends but didn't because someone got sick and had to cancel, we thought about going to local labor day kind of events but didn't because nothing sounded worth the drive or the effort. Sometimes life is just a bit blah, and that's okay.

In fact, maybe the test of a good relationship is whether you can handle the blahs of real life without going crazy or messing up a good thing. But what if he sees her again and compares his once-fun life with her to our blah weekend? What if he's seduced into wishing I was more like her or that he was with someone who didn't make him miss her on occasion?

This is all me...my insecurities laid bare. And now that I'm writing about it, my bare little insecurities are laid out for the world to see. Yikes. Yet it feels better to say them out loud. Like they have a little less power. Maybe.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

How did I get here?

Good question. Here's a bit of my history to get you up to speed.

I never planned to get married, but I assumed that someone would come along and would persuade me otherwise. In other words, I've publicly said that marriage is an outdated convention, something of a crutch for dependent women and weak-minded fools. I've attempted unconventional relationships (ones that were primarily sexual, ones that contained multiple people, ones with other women). I've believed my own rhetoric. Privately, however, I paradoxically believed otherwise. I think I wanted a great guy (or girl, though I figured it was less likely) to persuade me otherwise. I hoped and prayed that he would convince me that our love was too great not to commit to it publicly. I wanted to be swept off my pedestal, not necessarily to marry and live some kind of soccer mom life, but to be happy in a relationship. I wanted something like the conventional life, but didn't know how to imagine it because of my own strong beliefs against such a thing.

My significant relationships thus far. In the years between each significant relationship, there was lots of dating and sex to keep me busy:

1. R, my college boyfriend. Early 1990s. R was very sweet. Wanted to get married to me, but I sensed it was because he thought it was the right thing to do. I was starting grad school and had recently found feminism, so I swiftly relegated him to ex-boyfriend. No regrets and we're still friends. I was right to suspect that we would grow apart politically and intellectually.

2. Eco-dude. Mid-1990s. ED was my best friend and political/social comrade. We lived together and loved each other's company. But our love wasn't very passionate, and we both doubted that we had enough love to make it for a lifetime. Things were kind of sexless at times, and I wanted someone who made my knees weak. I think we made the right decision, but somtimes I wonder if we would have had a fine life together. We had even talked recently about having a child together, since neither of us had a partner and we were considering how children might come into the picture. All this was changed, however, when he met and impregnated his current wife. I went to his wedding last year and his wife gave birth a few months ago.

3. Theater guy. Early 2000s. TG was a sweet man who wanted what his parents had: a conventional relationship. I think I was panicking about being in my mid-30s and when TG came along, I found his conventional nature appealing. I gave it a shot but found that I was bored and felt no passion for him. In fact, I grew to resent how he "took care" of me (making my breakfast every morning, doing my laundry). He's now married and seems happy with his new wife, though we don't talk anymore and he was pretty hurt at my turnaround. I felt horrible about that break up until last year or so.

4. Ex-Prisoner. Early-mid 2000s. I know. It doesn't sound good. But his prison time was for violating intellectual property laws, and he was a hero among people who know about such things. I admired him for having such committed political beliefs and liked his outlaw code of ethics. He wasn't conventional or boring and seemed like a good match for me. Turned out that I was wrong, mostly because EP had some serious social quirks (perhaps from the prison life?). Also, he absolutely did not want to have kids, and since I was 35 at the time, I wanted to keep the option open so we ended it.

5. Teacher Man (TM). 2005-present. Yes, I'm in a relationship at the moment. He's more conventional than most of my guys (never been in prison, never worked with Earth First, has actually been married once before and likes the idea of marriage), but he's traveled the world and has an open mind and a liberal sensibility. Not quite a hard-core leftist feminist like myself, but he's in the ballpark. His heart is a bit beaten-up from the divorce and though we've been dating for a year or so, it's moving very slowly and I'm not quite sure how he feels about me. Yes, he loves me, but I'm unsure about whether he will be able to commit anytime soon. I'm not sure what I mean by commitment, of course, but I worry that he's so slow we'll never figure it out.

How did I get to blogger? To feeling like I had to write out some of my feelings in a semi-public way? Well, because private journaling isn't cutting it. I felt alone in my confusion about relationships, even though so many of my friends and colleagues of the same age seem to have figured it all out. And I am hoping to figure it all out myself soon enough.

Q and A

Q: Who do you think you are, writing a blog about your insecurities, fears, and future?
A: I'm just trying to figure out how to live well in this world, probably much like my fair readers are doing. Writing might help me do so. If reading my story helps someone else, even better. I've learned a lot from other people's blogs and if I can do the same, fine. If not, also fine. I promise nothing.

Q: Do you think you have something useful to share? Some pearls of wisdom?
A: Absolutely not. If you're looking for wisdom, move on. I have great potential for genius and mediocracy, and perhaps some of it will come out in my writing. I imagine I'm an acquired taste, like good pizza or fine nicaraguan rum.

Q: Fine nicaraguan rum?
A: Yes. Get some and try it. Good rum is very different from that of margaritas and frat parties. Tastes like great scotch but different. Highly recommended.

Q: Are you a lush, then? Is this perhaps why you're in your mid-thirties, single, childless, paying rent, highly educated and yet still unsure of what you want to do when you grow up?
A: This interview is officially over. I won't even dignify these questions with a response. Wanna go for a drink or something?