900 Days

900 Days

“I’ve locked my heart
I keep my feelings there
I have stocked my heart
Like an icy Frigidaire
For I need to care for no one
That’s why I’m through with love” –I’m Through With Love. (Kahn, Malneck, & Livingston)

It’s June. Two months since I was taken off the medication. Two months since the first house I bought sold. Six months into 2017. Three months since I found out the ex’s girlfriend was pregnant. Six months since my brain tumour diagnosis. Six months since my last date. Six months since my root canal. 30 months since I last had sex. I give up. I don’t care. I’m through. I’m finishing before I start. If anyone asks:

  • No, not seeing anyone.
  • No, I’m not online. When I was I had one date in two years. Since the divorce I’ve had one date in two years.    Odds are the same.
  • Lonely? Sometimes.
  • Don’t you miss sex? Even if I do, what difference does it make? I’m late to the party. I married late and I divorced late. 
  • But you’re still young. That may be, but I was just as alone when I was young.
  • But other women your age… Probably never had trouble attracting men.
  • I have a friend who’s in her 60s and… I have those friends too and they’re seeing men who are my age. They also never had trouble attracting men.
  • You can’t just give up. I have to. Otherwise, I will beat myself up as opposed to just shuffle along, alone.

I never learned how to flirt. For some reason, I think the banter found in screwball comedies is sexy. (Except Bringing Up Baby. Bringing Up Baby is stupid.) Banter is witty, sharp, smart. I’m pretty sure I am alone in this. In the old studio system, MGM, not knowing what to do with my lack of sex appeal, would have photographed me with a men’s swim team. Oh I’ve had male friends tell me that intelligence is sexy, but when pressed they all admit that it was something physical that attracted them to their partners. One admitted that it was his wife’s legs that first attracted his attention and her brains that kept it. With another it’s that she was tall. Still another liked her curves. Friends like you for your brains. Another one told me he couldn’t understand why I’m still single-you’re smart, you’re funny, you’re attractive, guys here must be weird. No, I’m a middle aged woman without a spray tan, curves, and barrel curls. My demographic is limited. At some point I will explain to him what it is to be me. Then again, why? I’m through explaining. My friend asked me, who talks to you in the street? Well, the homeless men of colour who sit on the stoop by the gym call me cinnamon. If that’s tYounger men who can actually keep up with the conversation say things like, it was nice talking to you or I appreciate the honesty, even when it’s honest to a fault. I’m guessing this is code for you’re cool. I don’t think I need to reiterate what it means to be the cool girl.

The nausea returned this week. It hit on Monday morning when I awoke and stayed through Tuesday afternoon. It hit again this morning and ebbs and flows. This corresponds with a seven-fold increase in my prolactin level. It’s back above normal. I have been off the medication for two months. I’m sure this is not unusual but I had hoped that it would stay normal for a little longer. Now my doctor is talking watchful waiting and we’re both hoping that I plateau. Otherwise, we will try an older ergot derivative that I was on when I had the first tumour-the drug that did nothing. I’m frightened of this prospect. This also confirms something that I have suspected since the diagnosis; conventional antidepressants did not work on my depression because my depression is caused my prolonged exposure to above-normal levels of prolactin. Maybe now my mother and sister will stop trying to prescribe herbal supplements and short courses of antidepressants.

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This Bird Has Flown

This Bird Has Flown

So why you wanna fly, Blackbird?
You ain’t ever gonna fly
Why you wanna fly, Blackbird?
You ain’t ever gonna fly

You ain’t got no one to hold you
You ain’t got no one to care
If you’d only understand, dear
Nobody wants you anywhere -“Blackbird” Nina Simone.

It’s Not Just You. Americans are Having Less Sex. When a Partner Dies. Grieving the Loss of Sex. The Complexity and Simplicity of Female Erotic Desire. Maybe Monogamy Isn’t the Only Way to Love. There’s a Word for the Assumption That Everybody Should Be in a Relationship. Then there are the articles like When Factory Jobs Vanish, Men Become Less Desirable Partners and All the Single Ladies. What have I learned, apart from the fact that I shouldn’t read this garbage? That being an educated, single, woman of a certain age and income, women like me outnumber men with similar qualifications as much as three-to-one. With those kinds of numbers men can play the field, so to speak, with whomever they choose for as long as they like. As someone who is not marriage-minded, the idea of men playing the field is nothing to me, and it is nothing new to me either. Women were just starting to outnumber men in college, public colleges especially, so I sat back and watched as guy after guy had the steady girlfriend and played the field to his heart’s content.  Then there are men in without college degrees.  According to a study from MIT, cited extensively in When Factory Jobs Vanish, as the labour market declines so do the marriage prospects of young men. A man’s ‘marriagability’ is tied, for better or worse, to his ability to provide (not being an alcoholic or a drug addict also factor into the mix). As women have made gains in the labour market and the stigma of unwed motherhood has decreased, young women see no reason to marry. Many women still feel the need to marry up for security and when there is no up to marry to they go it alone.

Marriageable, available, ‘high-status’ men can be as choosy as they like; they are the top 20% of men who are having 80% of the sex with 20% of the women. The remaining 80% of us sit it out; the men deprived of sex and the women deprived of “male attention that leads to commitment.” Granted, Susan Walsh applied the Pareto principle to college-age subjects. I would argue that dating at any age is like dating in college. A small sliver of men are having most of the sex with the 20% of women who are sexually willing. Not looking to marry, you would think I have an advantage but I don’t. I am in the 80% who sit it out. And I dread the thought of putting myself out there because I don’t need to be reminded that I am in the 80% who sit this one out. It’s not like I think I’m entitled to sex, it’s that I know I’m not. There are articles out there about how young men are not having sex nearly as often as you think. I don’t know who this hypothetical ‘you’ is. I had a really good idea of how much sex the young men in my acquaintance were having because they had no trouble telling me. But the fact remains that men are not entitled to sex, no matter how much they think they are. And I would venture a guess that many are not having sex because they can’t see beyond some ideal that they think will make them happy and they know will make their friends jealous.

This is more me and I think is a glimpse of my future when I venture into online dating.

Being a 43-year-old, single ambivert who desires a long-term relationship but telecommutes and lives alone is far from easy. I’ve downloaded a handful of online dating apps to my iPhone, all with the intent of swiping until I find a match that sticks. Each time I think: Maybe this time. Three days later, I delete my profile thinking: Never again.

On the rare occasions that I’ve swiped right, nothing has happened. I know online dating works for people, other people. It’s a social act for “capital E” extroverts who have no problem with get-to-know-you banter. I haven’t been on a single online date, unless you count the time I made a long-distance friend playing Yahoo Hearts in 1999 and dated him nine years later. -“I’m not an extr0vert-and that makes it harder to find love. Washington Post. 1/18/2017

The author goes on to say that when she finds love it will be because “she meets a man in person under natural, pressure-free circumstances.” It’s a nice sentiment but she knows as well as I that being introverted and middle-aged finding a romantic partner will be difficult. Like the author, I have filled my life with wonderful supportive people, they are overwhelmingly couples and single women because that’s how it goes. I have filled my life with work and exercise (training for the marathon again because I’m a glutton for punishment) and music and art. My life is full and busy and it should be enough, but it isn’t. I too eat alone, sleep alone, ask where’s my partner, what happened? What the author does not mention is that there is a common conception that as single, middle-aged women this is the best for which we can hope. Particularly as one who is divorced there is a sense that I brought this upon myself;  you’re 47 years old what did you expect? You had a partner and you left him. This is what you get. You don’t get to miss sex and intimacy the way that someone whose long-term partner has passed away. You can’t talk about how much you miss sex mostly because you either don’t miss or can’t stand the person with whom you had sex. It’s maddening and it’s perjorative. I’m not going to say it’s unfair because I’m one of those adults who learned at a very early age that life is unfair. I don’t need to be reminded over and over. I’m a woman, I’ve swallowed worse.

 

Me and a God

Me and a God

We weren’t sure we should tell you. I even asked my mom. She thought your ex should tell you but then I told her you were no longer on speaking terms. I thought it best to tell you in case you ran into them somewhere… We’ve known for a few months. We didn’t think you were in any shape to hear his news… He’s not happy, he’s scared… We thought they’d get married first… He thinks he’s getting what he wants, but it’s not going to go like he thinks. It’s going to be a shitshow…

My ex’s girlfriend is pregnant.

My friends think they are reassuring me when they say this relationship is doomed to failure. That is of no comfort because it is just as likely that it will not fail. Our marriage failed because I finally had the means to escape. I had a job and family in the area. If I didn’t have the means to escape it would have ended later, but it would have ended. The fact is that I couldn’t take it any more and as hard as it is now it is better than being with him. What is unfortunate is that I went from him to nothing-a full year without even so much as a man flirting with me. Then I got pinged in November by a man who thought I was interesting. Last Monday he dumped me. The following Friday he texted me saying we have great chemistry (we do) and if I wanted to try spooning and cuddling without “venturing into sex” to let him know. At the advice of a friend, some of the best advice I’d received in a long time, I slept on it. In the morning I texted him asking, what are you hiding from me? He said he wasn’t hiding anything. When we spoke one last time that evening, it was all about him. I had a feeling in my gut that I shouldn’t take it any further. At least it only took me five dates to figure it out. The last one took three months. I’m a feeler…

For someone who claims to be a feeler, I said, you have remarkably little regard for the feelings of others.
I’ll feel this later, he said.
No, you wont.

This is how it ends, he wanted to be friends and again I said no. I told him to go. My ex wanted to be friends and, in the end, I said no. The ex-boyfriend before him wanted to be friends and I said sure. Even after we split we were able to finish each other’s sentences, but in the end I realise he used me ill just like the others. They all say the same thing: you’re strong, you’re amazing, you’re brilliant, you deserve the best, you’ll bounce back. I am all those things but I still bounce back to nothing. I go back to being totally invisible and that’s why all of this hurts so much. That my ex bounced from woman to woman to woman, always having someone to take care of him, with little effort. I have had to manage everything myself. I have taken care of everyone else in my life and no one is willing to care for me. I don’t think I need to be taken care of, but I would like someone to care for me. That would be a nice change.

Tony Robbins said that relationships are places to give and it is not about what you are going to get out of a relationship. I’m always leery of financial gurus, particularly those who offer relationship advice. The part that stuck in my mind was when he said a relationship is where you give. He inferred that a relationship is not a place where you take. I found this to be utterly ridiculous because to me a relationship is a place where you share. It’s something you nurture and grow, or at least that’s what I thought. Maybe it is a place where you give without the expectation of getting something like respect, friendship, companionship in return. I don’t believe in love any more. Love is fleeting and ephemeral. I don’t believe in god any more either. God cares more for the welfare of those who do me ill than he does me. Coming from a religious family, this is not easy to say, but even my religious sister agrees that this is all a bit much. She asked if I wanted her husband to give me a blessing. At first, I thought why not. Then I thought, from whom.