I was sitting last night with co-workers at happy hour as they talked about their lives. Most of them partnered, married. I found myself immensely grateful for being single. They were not speaking negatively about their spouses or being married...they were just talking about their lives. And instead of feeling jealous or wishing I had a partner, I found myself relieved that I could come home and do what I wanted. I didn’t have to share a bed. I was the master of my own life.
I listened to the men talk. I listened to the women talk. None of them have bad lives. None of them have bad relationships. I just don’t want or envy any of them.
So I sat there feeling removed from the circle as I usually do. Not fitting in but not really wanting to either. Being present and in the moment, but also very happy about the fact that I am not really in it all either.
I have spent most of my life in a relationship of one kind or another. I have also spent large chunks of time alone. I was married for eleven years and together with my ex for 13. I am a relatively monogamous person, especially at 51. Not so much when I was younger. Freedom being more important than commitment, I just didn’t always honestly communicate that to the person I was having a relationship with...for the most part, I have cleaned that up today.
So as I sat there listening to all the variations of committed monogamy, I felt myself so removed from it that it almost seemed like an impossibility for me. Like my time and domestic capacity forever leaked away, dissipated over the last six years and now almost non-existent. Not unlike a cat whose time indoors and with people ends and they return to the wild, feral and distant.
I wondered why am I dating? Why am I even trying anymore? I meet lots of kind and nice men but they are so often relegated to the “not for me” pile that it seems like a waste of time to keep trying. If I am honest, and it is a challenge for me still to tell you what I really think and want, I continue to date because there is this hopeless romantic still living in my skin that beckons me forward to a place where I believe love, true love and commitment and desire might possibly flower and grow for me. But I have to also admit that I am moving more towards ferality by the second.
I was talking to a man that has also been single for a long time, and he agrees with me. The life he has created for himself so satisfying and good that he is not sure there is a woman on the planet that would be able to entice him away from his own deal, life, and interests. So it isn't just me...
Here in middle age, we are not pro-creating anymore, well at least none of my female friends are capable of doing that. Some younger woman are still in that game. My time is over and I am immensely grateful for the journey thus far and also grateful to be moving closer to the empty nest and the autonomy to come. The man that I would be wiling to make time for, commit to and love forever seems like with each passing day a youthful hope that is a long time expired.
I am not sure what to do with my competing and wholly opposite ideas about my life and what I want. Dating seeming more like a past time rather than a life plan. Temporary connections that are never going to be life lasting and on the whole more like ships passing in the night with a friendly wave from the deck...
Have I gone feral? My alone time now completely occupying my life. Have I missed the window? Do I really care? Can one come back from being feral? Is there a man out there who would be wiling to do the work to coax me back from the life lived running wild with self possession? Would I similarly be wiling to do the same for him?
As I sat there last night, my answer was a resounding no. I was happy to be returning home to the life I currently live. Not partnered. Happy in my solitude and in going to bed and waking alone.
I guess nothing stays the same and so I shall remain mildly feral. Like I let people in the neighborhood still feed me, I will sleep on their porch and let them even pet me sometimes...but I will also resist their attempts to bring me inside and take away my freedom...and so my likelihood of becoming a house cat..slipping away as the days pass.
I find myself at a place where it isn’t sad or happy. I feel no need to defend my aloneness any more than I feel like I need to change it. I know that I have work to do that can only be done in partnership with another...it remains to be seen whether I can and will do it. I know how I need to grow, it is just my willingness that flags and lags...
So I leave my further domestication up to the powers that be...I will continue to remain open and hang around the abode not just at dinner time or when it is cold, but also at other times to get a better view of what true partnered domestication is...because, perhaps, even though I have done a lot of coupling and uncoupling in my life, I am pretty sure that I have fucked it up more than I have gotten it right. And it is this fact more than any other that causes me to want to stay in the game, continue the fight and try to do that which seems so impossible from my current vantage point: love myself and another at the same time...