Just before the holidays, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek piece about the five things that I love about being single. It was light-hearted and nonsensical, like most of the things in my life. But, the truth is, I don’t much fancy the single life and I didn’t choose it. It fell into my lap eight years ago and despite the fight, I didn’t win.
I have had relationships over these last eight years. Of course I have. But, they didn’t last, they weren’t true and mostly, especially in the early days, there was an air about them that was seedy; someone looking for a free ride. A vulnerable, just divorced, more than adequately financed (older) woman who ‘needed’ someone to take care of her, but really wanting to take her for all she had. They tried. Some had some success when I was nearing my liver failure in the later part of 2012 and wasn’t thinking clearly, but mostly I couldn’t be bothered to fight or argue with anyone anymore so gave in to what they wanted, more or less.
After my illness, which took all of my might to get through, I rarely dated. I found that my health issues became so primary to my daily functioning that anything else other than my children and my family (including the four-legged ones) were far too difficult to manage for me so I got off the dating merry-go-round and just kept myself to myself.
This past year I decided to try again. I thought that I was in a better place, after having taken a job that I really liked, uprooted my horses and kitties to another country and was, temporarily living in a tiny little flat and that made me feel safe, cosy and confident. The job didn’t work out after five months and the flat was part of the deal, so then I was convinced by some friends and my financial adviser to buy a place here, in this other country because buying in England for me was prohibitive with my brand new settlement agreement after being dragged back to court after eight years. My head still spins from that one. So, I bought a townhouse and went to work on getting it where I wanted it; as I do. House renovations has always been what I do. No matter where I’ve lived, the first thing I’d do is knock down a wall, or rip out the floors, lights, what have you and make it mine. It’s a nice little townhouse, with four bedrooms. One that my son and I share as an office and with my newly acquired Christmas gift from him, I can actually see the screen on my computer because he bought me a great big, stonking monitor. He happened to use my laptop for something when I was back in England at the doctor’s and couldn’t see a blasted thing so he surprised me with the monitor. It is a Godsend.
My room has a nice en-suite that will be changed this year and the family bathroom needs doing as well; too dark, too dated, despite the place only being ten years old, it’s still dated; looks like something from the eighties and can’t have that. I hope that I can put my spare room on AirBnB or some such thing and bring a little income into the house and at the same time have a bit of company. We have a communal pool, which is shared by the other nine residents here and I have a nicely sized back garden with an annex that eventually will be turned into a studio flat for my kids or visitors; one of the selling points as it already has plumbing, so not too difficult to turn that into something more than a studio for the boxes and horse rugs. There’s an outdoor kitchen with a BBQ and room for a big kitchen table and I’ve even got a big hammock out there for lazy days in the sunshine, none of which I’ve had to date since moving in, but I look at it longingly and say one day.
But, back to being single. What is important is that it didn’t kill me. That’s a start. It almost did when I had my liver failure a year later, but it didn’t. But, I’m not the healthiest of people. I look healthy and I am active to a fault, but to be that way, pains me. I am sick every single morning after breakfast, during breakfast, when I wake up, right up until the time where all my tablets have done their deed and then I can finally go out to the land of the living. Sometimes that doesn’t happen until quite late in the day but it’s better than it was six years ago and I hope one day it will be better than it is today. It definitely makes dating hard.
People tell me that the right person will cope with my problems and that it shows character when they can’t or don’t. I don’t usually bring up any health issues until the fourth or fifth date when someone actually wants more than a handshake and peck on the cheek goodnight and then I get two responses; it’s either pity or they run for the hills, the latter being the more popular. I don’t have an invisible disability; but I have problems with my digestive system and well, that’s not attractive. It’s also unpredictable. One day I can eat something and be fine, the next day I can eat the same thing and it’ll keep me loitering around the loo for four or five hours. That’s pretty, isn’t it? So, finding someone who can cope with that is a very tall order. Yes, I would LOVE to find this magical person that can look at me and NOT see that I have this problem and just see the person I was, or am but not anymore…it’s a tricky one to explain.
I play tennis. I ride my horses and sometimes I run (by run I mean jog slowly down to the end of the road and walk huffing and puffing back). But I am active, every day. Even if I start late in the afternoon or at night. I need to keep myself ‘fit.’ I do find when I’m playing tennis, my stomach is better, but, again, there’s no hard fast rule to that and I’ve had times where even when I’m playing I need to run off the court. So, my life is not exactly a piece of cake. But, it’s not doom and gloom either. I don’t have cancer and I have all my limbs, so some people might think I should find myself lucky, and I do but I don’t at the same time. Unless you have had to deal with this kind of thing, it’s difficult to process it and empathise with my situation.
Cuddling with someone. I miss the feeling of being touched and I miss kissing…kissing was always the best thing about being intimate with someone. Sex was sex even when it was love-making but the art of kissing was so much more than that. I think there are good reasons why ladies of the night usually don’t include that in their fees. I think it’s the most intimate thing two people can do with one another. Of course, kissing whilst making love tops everything, but think about that moment when you have your face up against theirs and you open your eyes and can see right down into the souls of your partner at that moment. So, I miss that.
I also miss the companionship and doing things together that you can’t do with your children – and these things are not about sex either. It’s the finishing of a sentence by the other, it’s seeing the look on their face and just know what they are thinking, it’s the moment they walk in the door after a long day of doing whatever it is they do and smiling just because they’ve come home and see your face, even if it’s a tired, worn out face. I miss those things.
I miss going on holiday with someone. Laughing so hard in an airport over nothing that the other thinks we’ll get kicked out of the country even before we’ve entered. Sitting by a pool, sipping a daiquiri and getting tanning oil rubbed on my back; the smell of coconut oil and sweat and feeling the hands of someone I love next to me; just holding their hand or playing with their fingers gently in the sun or under the moonlight.
I miss playing backgammon and not always winning. I miss the challenge of a good conversation that isn’t just an argument but a discussion about world events, or the events of the day or whatever it is that can be talked about. In my singleton life, I talk to the cats; they don’t have a lot to say about current events or even historical events. It’s not the same. They certainly try to give me a good run for my money with the backgammon board, but usually it’s because they’re batting about the pieces when I’m trying to lay them out to play when I have a worthy opponent.
I dated briefly this year. Two men. Actually they were very similar, which is probably why neither of them worked out. Or more likely it was because I let my health issues dictate how things were going to go and I decided they weren’t going anywhere. The connection of hand holding and kissing just isn’t there for me anymore. Now I’m too busy thinking about if I need to use the toilet or when I will need to use the toilet and I’m desperately afraid that all of the things I miss about having someone in my life will never happen. That does make me sad, very sad.
I cope. I keep myself busy and tell myself and everybody else that being alone now is far better than being with someone else. That I don’t need to be doing someone else’s laundry, or picking up after them, listening to them drone on about their day and their problems. But it’s a lie. I want to listen to someone talk to me about everything. I want to share their problems, fix their problems, listen to their problems. I want to fold their pants, iron their shirts and more than anything I want them to be proud that they are standing next to me, holding my hand and thinking that I’m the one and only person in the room when we might be in a room with a hundred other people that they just don’t see because they only see me.
So, this is the real truth….the real way I feel about being single. I feel alone, I feel sad and I feel empty. But I think it is my fate or destiny or choosing that puts me in this place. For what I have gone through or what I think I am going to go through, how long I will live and what’s the point. If I’m dead in five years why should I put someone through that? If I’m in hospital every few months, how can I put someone through that? I can’t look past how it feels to not want to feel. I can’t let myself want those things again because I’m afraid of being disappointed or worse, that I’ll find them and then they will be disappointed. So, I’m alone. With the cats, the horses, the garden, and the annex that needs to be done.
Maybe one day when I can have a job again, feel more self-confident or see that my limitations can be overlooked by the right guy, that right guy will walk into my life and I’ll know it by the look in their eyes when they look into my eyes. Until then, I’m single and pretending to like it.
At least I have my therapist every week. She’s the constant that keeps me going. My friends are good and they put up with me, but I’ve had a recent culling of some of them, too…end of year clean up of the ones that I don’t really need in my life. The ones I have in my life are the only ones I need.
Happy 2019! Will this year finally be different? Wait and see…..