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Stuck Being Single

Stuck Being Single

Yes, there is so much good in my life, and yet sometimes, every moment aches.

by

When I was a little girl at summer camp, I'd send my mother the first letter on July 10 reminding her that my birthday was three month's hence.

August 10, September 10… all were days leading up to that magical one: October 10, the anniversary of my entry into the world.

On the morning of my birthday, I would wake to a house festooned with banners and balloons, all proclaiming, "Rebecca is eight!" "Happy Birthday, Beck!" "We love the birthday girl!" Depending on whatever color I loved that year, they'd be green or pink or blue or magenta, and my mother would be waiting with some sort of particularly elaborate breakfast and the whole day would be spent celebrating… me.

On November 10, I'd remind her that she had only 11 months left to plan for the next one.

How and how those were the days.

These days, on August 10, my eyes skit away from the calendar. By September 10, I sigh deeply and begin the month-long process of bracing myself. In the week leading up to October 10, I try to steel myself for it, and -- new tactic -- even try to convince myself that I am happy about the day.

I tell myself that lives aren't measured only by being married and having children.

It's not that I am another year older… it's not that my life is passing me by without moving forward (my nieces and nephews are another year older, stunningly old -- kids now, no longer babies). I tell myself that lives aren't measured only by being married and having children… my life is rich, full of friends and family, a great job, and I even have the privilege of living in Israel -- fulfilling a life-long dream. I can look back at the last five years and claim real achievements -- emotional growth, solidified relationships with family, goals met.

But, somehow, when October 10 rolls around, all I see is the fact that I am no longer the little girl thrilling to magenta balloons… that I don't have anyone to make special breakfasts for, the way my mom made them for me.

It's a burden the rest of the year. I feel it, and when the yearning occasionally overpowers me -- for an hour sometimes, and sometimes for a day, sometimes longer -- I am sickened with myself. There is so much good in my life, and yet all I see is the lack. There is so much good in my life, and yet, sometimes, every moment aches.

Believe it or not, I have a naturally happy disposition. And, sometimes, when I am taken over with longing for a life other than the one I have -- work, home, work, home, date, doesn't work out, work, home -- I wonder just what it is that women who don't have the incredible blessing of a sunny outlook go through. What do their days look like to them? How do they manage to get themselves out of bed -- to another day that just seems to remind you with every moment that, for whatever reason, you can't have what you think you were created for? Why did God give me such a loving nature if I wasn't meant to have people to give to, and people to spoil -- the best way to be challenged and grow?

And, yes, monotony, and struggles, and disappointments. Because being married and being a mother doesn't mean that your life suddenly becomes easy and perfect. If anything, it brings with it a set of enormous challenges that I can fathom only because I've watched so many of my friends struggle with them.

My life is my own -- marriage and especially motherhood make you utterly beholden to others. A wife must always consider her husband, and a mother must always, in some ways, give her life over to the needs of her children. Their schedules, their requirements, their moods… they dictate the ins and outs of nearly every moment of their mother's day.

There's no more leisurely reading, no more running out at the drop of a hat, no more deciding to go somewhere on a whim. Sleeping through the night becomes a major accomplishment.

And yet, I think, it must all be so utterly worth it when your child opens up his eyes and sees you there in the morning.

So I remind myself of this: Of my independence, of the way that I can expand my mind and challenge it while it is still free of concerns over bottle temperatures and peanut allergies, when I can still go to a lecture without worrying about tracking down a babysitter, when I can make what I want for dinner or not bother going shopping for two weeks. I can sleep late and go away on weekends and dispose of my disposable income however I like.

I even try to convince myself that dating is fun -- after all, almost all the men I've ever gone out with are good and kind, if not the man I should marry -- and that my life has an excitement and variation my married friends somehow envy. After all, they sometimes tell me this.

And I see how hard marriage can sometimes be, and how one is forced to grow, accommodate and bite one's tongue. It's not all wine and roses.

And still I long for the days when I will roll my eyes because my husband, yet again, didn't change the toilet roll, or is being a pig-headed guy, or has his annoying friends over again.

Will I be so beaten down by the weight of all this longing and impatience and yearning and frustration that I won't even recognize him when he finally appears?

On those days, will I remember how I cried at night after another date with someone else who wasn't him, wondering how on earth I am ever going to find the man with whom I'm going to build my life?

Will I remember the frustration of trying again? Will I even recognize him when he does come, or will I be so beaten down by the weight of all this, of all this longing and impatience and yearning and frustration, that I won't even recognize him when he finally appears?

What I wonder the most is how I can bear all this -- all this whining and kvetching and feeling ridiculously sorry for myself -- and still be a bearable person? People tell me that I am cheery and sunny and funny, and men I've dated have even paid me the dear compliment that unlike so many other "women my age," I'm "not bitter." The sadness inside me apparently has eaten away only that which is too deep to be seen.

The worst thing is that those who are closest to me know, and must feel, the murk and the whining and the oh-so-not-sunny part.

A friend who just suffered a miscarriage -- her second in a half a year -- told me that sometimes she feels that if someone touched her, she might crumble away from sadness. My heart went out to her; she is so good, and I don't know any better than she does why God sends such challenges her way.

I admire her courage though… and her steadfast belief that whatever comes to us is somehow necessary for the growth we have to do in life.

There are times when I feel like it's enough. I've grown enough from these challenges. I'm ready to move on to the next set.

And when I do, when I am annoyed with my husband and exhausted from the kids, I just hope that I'll be able to remember what I felt now… and be grateful, so grateful, for what I'll have then.

 

Published: February 19, 2012


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Visitor Comments: 149

(134) AMSB, February 7, 2014 3:36 PM

I totally feel your pain. There were parts of this article where I really felt like I could've written it. I also have a cheery disposition. I'm generally a very happy person and my friends know that about me as well. And I've had many sad lonely nights where I would cry myself to sleep wondering when - and if - I will ever get married, and what did I do that was so terrible that Hashem chose to punish me like this. I try to put in perspective that I'd rather take this as a punishment than something worse. But sometimes, that did not make it any better.
My friend always says "Normal ppl get married. That's just how the world works. So stop worrying." So I thought "great! I'm gonna be that random weirdo that doesn't."
One thing I did keep in mind. My mom got married at 33. When I complained about dating, she was always able to empathize b/c she went thru it too. I often remind myself that maybe this is my personal bracha that I got so that when my (future) daughter might be struggling with dating, I will be able to empathize way better than my friends who got married at 21 who have no clue what it's like being single this long. I try to keep that in the back of my mind.
Bottom line, dating stinks! Being single stinks! I hear you, sister! Stay strong. Stay happy. Don't let life - or stupid men - tear down your happy fun side! :)

(133) TheTruth, July 12, 2013 3:44 PM

sucks to be single and alone.

well it certainly does suck to be alone and single again, especially after being married for 15 years and having my wife that cheated on me which i was a very caring and loving husband that was very much committed to her as well. going out is the very hard part again since many women today are so very difficult to meet, not to mention the very bad attitude problem that many of them have today.

(132) Anonymous, January 17, 2013 9:37 AM

something to consider..

I completely know how you feel and my heart goes out to you...there were days I cried when I woke and yes, I had friends and always many many dates ( I felt lucky at least in that respect but I can still remember the pain of each date "failure"). Something to consider, stop looking for "Mr Right" and look for someone who you think can possibly be your best friend when you are old and gray. Then give him a chance even if he does not meet all your "checklist" items. Also, go out of your "regular" dating circles... I was in NYC many years ( a very challenging dating place) and then took my self to Israel to study for two years (not a yeshivah, an eMBA program) and with luck (call in G-d if you wish) met my husband (an Israeli not in my eMBA class) shortly after arriving here; we now have an incredible daughter. Our marriage is not easy due to cultural differences and other matters but yes, I remember how "uneasy" I was single for so long. There is a saying "change your place / change your luck" ...there is something to it. Try something new that YOU will enjoy and that is for YOU....nothing guaranteed but at least if you do not meet someone then you will have done something fun! You need to get out of your known circles and dating scene if you are confining yourself to specific circles. Best of luck! I hope this helps... ( I know you probably heard such words before but think seriously about it) As a person married in a challenging marriage and from a completely loving home, I can tell you that much about meeting the "perfect" someone is about luck but many many compromise in their marriage choices and then make really nice marriages that make them happy...if you are at an age when you need to start worrying about children then consider mr. "less than perfect" and give him a chance / give yourself a chance that you never gave yourself before...

Anonymous, December 8, 2013 7:40 AM

I was agreeing until you ended by blatantly telling a woman that if she is at the end of child bearing age, she should settle. Well if we didn't settle as younger women, when we certainly could have! Why would we, so close to finding a soulmate, settle? If I was going o settle simply to have children with Mr. Wrong, I could have done that as a teen, I'm sure God has a match for me.

(131) Anonymous, January 9, 2013 7:22 PM

Me me me

The fact that you began your article with the old memory about how everyone was focused on you and your birthday, making yourself feel special, is antithetical to a Jewish approach. If you want to be married focus on the other - daven for your bashert, help others, focus on the other other other, the me me me attitude will melt away revealing a special, unique individual who is serving the creator, and focused on real values.

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