Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Emancipation Day V

My ex-wife moved out five years ago today. There is a picture of me laughing at something a friend of mine said at work that day, and I have always thought that ear-to-ear grin was less about what he said than how I felt knowing when I got home that night she would be gone. It should have been an auspicious beginning, but five years on, my overriding emotion is loneliness. Not at the fact that I miss my ex-wife - I haven't given her a meaningful thought since before she left, but rather, at my inability to find someone to share my life with. 

I know, because I have been to therapy, that focusing on what I do not have is not constructive. Similarly, *not* focusing on the things I have, and more importantly, the things I have done to better myself in those five years, is counter productive. And yet, in those quiet moments when Pumpkin is looking at me quizzically or Ghost is lumbering upstairs with me, it is hard not to dwell on what is missing.

You see, I have been alone for a long time. Even before I divorced, my ex-wife and I rarely talked, living what were essentially separate lives Monday through Friday before briefly connecting during the weekend for errands and chores, but there was little intimacy, love, or affection for years before we finally called it quits. Naturally, as soon as she was gone, I went searching for that connection like a thirsty man in the desert. The early results were not good and in retrospect, I now know I was not ready to even articulate to another human being what it is I wanted or needed. 

When someone did come into my life who I felt an instant connection to, who I described as someone when I woke up the morning we met I did not know existed in the world and when I went to bed that night did not know how the world could exist without her, things did not end well. More than two years later, we have spent countless hours talking to each other - on the phone, in meetings, by text and email - it is a special kind of torture to have someone who you feel such comfort with and around, who you care about so much and want to be with but has absolutely no interest in giving you a second chance. And while I have gone on a lot of dates since we broke up, the feelings are still there and no one I have been out with makes me feel like she does. 

It is a hard thing to explain to people who have friends and family what it is like to lead a solitary life. It is not just the awkward explanations for why you do not drive home for holidays or rarely go out on a Friday night, it is the day-to-day struggle that grinds. Last winter, I got caught in a bad ice storm. While I made it home ok, I fell in my driveway, badly bruising my ribs. It could have been worse - I could have landed on my head, elbow, or wrist, but laying there, slightly stunned, my immediate thought was what would happen if I had really hurt myself? What if I needed to go to the hospital or have surgery? Who would help me? Who would take care of Pumpkin and Ghost? But once I got up, I just made do. For weeks I could not sleep on my side and I winced when I put my clothes on in the morning, but the pain eventually faded and life moved on without a shoulder to cry on or a helping hand to make life a little easier. 

Being entirely self-reliant is both a blessing and a curse. You just get used to doing everything yourself and do not even both asking for help, even when it is needed. The more you muddle through life without the help, the more you prove you do not need it, from surviving Hurricane Sandy to the raccoon who shimmied its way into your attic and literally crashed through the ceiling while you were sleeping, the winters filled with polar vortexes and the money you needed to buy a new car, you just put your head down and do it, until you are in a heap on your icy driveway, hoping you did not seriously injure yourself. 


It is not an easy life, but one I am becoming more and more resigned to living. My demographics, as they say, are not great. After all, most people my age (45) are married and/or have children - I have neither one. You will not find me hauling the kids in the minivan to soccer practice or plastering Facebook with neatly manicured images of my perfect marriage (ok, you will find me plastering Twitter with pictures of Pumpkin and Ghost, but still …) Perhaps I will find a "companion" later in life, hopefully, while my heart is still healthy enough for sex (as the ad says), but I have no expectations at this point. 

13 comments:

  1. I feel for you brother. My wife has hundreds of fit, healthy, great personality, single friends in Japan over 40. The culture values middle age professionals, not like America. I strongly suggest you begin to do some tutoring English, take a trip, and put yourself into a place where you will find the love of your life better than anything you have before dreamed. Trust me on this, take a first step---this anonymous advice may be a godsend. Trust me on this.

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    1. Interesting advice! I'm not sure P and G could be left alone while I was in Japan, but thanks for the suggestion!

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  2. While you are waiting for that perfect romantic connection, why not seek out other meaningful connections. You are one of the most interesting people I know. I love your humor and hearing about all the things that keep your mind busy. I know other people would enjoy spending time with you. Meetup group with like minded individuals that share a similar intellectual capacity or shared interests?

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    1. That's a great idea. Thanks for writing!

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  3. Your blog today makes me sad. I'm at work on my lunch hour dabbing at my eyes. I don't have any close friends. I moved out of state in my early 30s when finding new friends is so difficult. At that age, most people's circle of friends is established and not open for business. We don't have kids so I didn't fit in with the Moms. The empty nesters were too old. How do I at 46, find friends? I'm lucky that my husband is the most wonderful person I've ever known and that I like spending time with him. But, I'm still lonely. I wish for a friend - just one - every year.

    Have you ever considered moving south? Warmer weather and sunshine would do you good. And, people in the south are generally very nice. I've enjoyed living in TN the last 17 years. While it hasn't produced any close friends, I like the area very much.

    Whatever you do, know that you're not alone. I'm your friend.

    -- Kimberly

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    1. That's nice of you to say. Thanks for your support!

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  4. We are allotted only so many heartbeats on this ole blue marble.

    If you want to spend your allotment reliving a short-term thing while making it THE focal point standard of what you really want, knowing it did not pan out, you might just consider asking yourself, why.

    She was, is and remains, in reality, one hugely dysfunctional bright light. People like that burn up other people - who then volunteer to pour gasoline over selves to make the night brighter for them.

    Why not consider asking yourself why you refuse to aim higher? Would it be feasible to consider volunteering to provide help for some thing or organization that needs it? It could be law....or chopping wood.

    As Mr. Rogers says, "Look for the helpers." Be a helper. While you're not looking, someone ne might find you. Or, better. You could find yourself.

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    1. Thanks for your comment. "She" is someone who is still in my life and the things I value about her have a lot to do with who I am hoping to find in a partner - someone who understands me, the work I do, sees the world in a similar way, and shares outside-of-work interests.

      The thing is, I am a "helper" all day, in my job, to others. I am a "helper" when I get home to the two cats I've adopted and brought into my life. I don't think "not being of service to others" is a void that I need to fill.

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  5. Hey SCG, I wish you all the best with your search for Ms Right. You seem like a smart, nice person and you deserve to be happy.

    FWIW, I don't think 'Reporting now' is suggesting that you need to volunteer ... as much as saying that volunteering as an activity / way to spend time might be statistically more likely to help you find someone worth dating. Someone likely to be kind (a giver or a helper, like Mr. Rogers says) rather than someone who would just ghost their way out of a relationship.

    Also, just want to say I love your blog. Always learn something, whether about politics, or the media or whatever.

    I especially love Pumpkin -- but I still wonder, where did Ghost come from? I must have missed that post. Was he a stray that just showed up in your yard, like P?

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  6. Thank you. My suspicion is that ghost and pumpkin are either half-siblings (their markings are similar, though their coats are different colors (P has some black in her tail)) or "friends" from the neighborhood and P brought G back one day while roaming around and he's just sort of become part of the family.

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  7. I just stumbled on your blog thanks to a comment you made on Twitter. I relate to everything you have articulated about living alone! My divorce has been final over a year now, the physical separation began about 5 years ago, the emotional connection died a quiet death over the last several years of a three decade marriage. I am happy with the person I am becoming, but it is lonely not to have that special someone to share these self-discoveries with. I had a similar experience where I fell once, and had to manage on my own, which I did quite well. But that made me wonder how I would do it if something serious happened. I also feel resigned to the idea that I may spend the rest of my time here alone. I am a few years older than you, I have grown children, but they have their own lives as well they should. They and their children bring me great joy, yet there is just something missing. Whether I ever find a partner or not is something I do not dwell on, but I do hope for it. Sex... well that is a distant memory as well, but one I do hope to enjoy again someday. Best wishes on your journey and Happy Holidays!
    Kathy

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    1. Thanks for writing, Kathy. I'm sorry about your divorce, but at least you have kids and grandkids to tend to. I hope you find that special someone soon.

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