Before I met my husband I had a period of 18 months being single. That was when I was 33/34. It was my longest period of being single since the age of 22 (although between 22 & 33 I had 3 ‘long term’ relationships including a marriage).
In that 18 months I started my Masters degree, I went on an extended holiday to Australia alone where I did a parachute jump, white water rafting, snorkelling the Great Barrier Reef, climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge, made new friends – basically the holiday of a lifetime – the kind you can only really do when you have no ties and no real responsibilities except to yourself.
But then I began to have ‘the fear’ – or at any rate ‘the fear’ was always there in the background – the fear of being alone in the world – that my friends and family could only fulfil part of what I needed, what I was craving.
I liken it now to having a biological clock ticking although my desire for a relationship – even at 33/34 was not about wanting to become a mother. OK sure that notion was there tucked safely in the mental equivalent of the cupboard under the stairs to be retrieved at a later date, but that wasn’t what I really needed at that point in time.
Sure enough six months of internet dating later I had hooked up with my husband and I was genuinely contented for the first few years before we had children and his controlling nature and personality disorder really kicked up a gear. I found myself grieving for what could have been every time I switched on Facebook to another carefree status update boasting “Happy Anniversary to the best husband and father a woman could ever hope for”.
So now I’m single again after ten years. And it’s been nearly six months. And I find myself having the same thoughts and feelings that got me into this situation in the first place.
I look at my single friends – the perennial singles – the girls who have their own homes and their own lives and seem happy to be un-encumbered by men and kids. I wonder why I can’t be more like them – it seems so appealing: to answer to no-one; to live life with spontaneity; eat what you want when you want; do what you want with your free time without having to oblige anyone else’s demands or needs or desires.
Singletons can, on the spur of the moment, decide to book a holiday (money allowing) to wherever their heart desires (even if it involves five years of scrimping and saving). They can make the time to pursue a new passion, set themselves a target or a goal and pour all their energies into achieving it. They never need to waste their time making small talk with someone else’s friends and colleagues. And their own family ties are what keeps them grounded.
On the other hand I know that couples who work, who click, who are really well matched and capable of compromise and mutual respect and the understanding that a happy partner makes for a happy partnership – those people seem to have the best of both worlds.
To be partnered up with someone who is a friend as well as a lover… I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop looking for that but the odds seem to shorten every single day, week, month, year.
Yes, I’m not really ready for another long term relationship – I wouldn’t trust myself ; it would feel like I was rushing. I have to consider the children and my ability to even get out of the house socially, to meet new people is massively limited, frustratingly so, but perhaps it is a good thing after all. It will save me from myself.
I have to keep reminding myself that there is no rush. This period of my life is all about getting through a difficult transition and getting my kids through it too. It’s about re-discovering my old friends and getting to know the friends I’ve managed to make in the past couple of years a bit better.
It’s about giving myself a break – allowing myself to be happy in the moment. And building up my confidence so that, once I decide to actively pursue a couple of dates, I can go in with a take it or leave it attitude. I don’t want to be a queen to anybody’s king. I want a co-pilot.