Just over a month ago I penned a diatribe based on questions posed to me of my apparent dateable status now that I’m several months removed from my divorce. I titled my ranting: “It’s Official … Life is Scary.” If you haven’t read it, feel free. I find it is mildly entertaining at best, but it does feed off the misconception by society as a whole that we humans must have a partner to feel complete. So, here I sit thirty-eight days later and I’m still struggling with this issue. I didn’t anticipate it would go away, but I had hoped that people would have the decency to stop voicing it and making me appear pathetic.
"The happiest time of anyone's life is just after the first divorce." ~John Kenneth Galbraith, economist
I was having a rather pleasant cell phone conversation with an old friend this evening when he hit me with a question completely out of context based on the discussion we were having. “How many dates have you had since the divorce?” he asked. “Do you mind telling me?” was the immediate follow-up. Well, of course I didn’t mind telling him because the answer is a resounding zero, zip and zilch. My divorce has only been final for six months and I didn’t find this answer to be as astounding as he obviously did. “What? Why? That’s absolutely TERRIBLE!” (Please make sure you put the emphasis on “terrible” because it was definitely accented strongly.) “A woman like you …?”
Initial reaction? “Whatever!” I let my mind wander as he continued on his tangent. First of all I was trying to identify why my lack of dates was such a monumental thing. Why was it so terrible? Secondly, I became a little hung up on the phrase, “a woman like you,” and was honestly trying to define it. What kind of woman am I? I’m in my thirties. I don’t look anything like the Barbie doll I once resembled. I’ve got more than my fair share of extra baggage and that is not an exaggeration. I’m a single mother of an almost-teenager and a seven-year old. I’m jaded. I’ve been hurt. I’m wary. I fall ‘in love’ easily so I’ve learned to be defensive. I’m blunt. I’m tired. No, I’m exhausted. I had a rough marriage and I think it shows. Oh yeah … I’m a great catch. Woo hoo! All the men in the world need to line up for me! It’s amazing how far false confidence can go when the world at large doesn’t want to examine you any deeper.
OK! Self analysis aside … nothing changes the painful reality of my current location. I reside in Arkadelphia, Arkansas. This … above all … is a college town. Everyone that lives here is either married or under the age of twenty-two. What am I supposed to do? Should I start seducing married men or snag me a boy toy? I think not. The pickings are slim here and that’s just a general observation. I guess if I actually looked for single men of my age I might (MIGHT) find one or two here or there. I haven’t been looking. I found my ex-husband in this town. That’s enough to warrant not looking for another man in this particular location.
In addition to being jaded and not living in prime hunting territory there is the little matter of my lifestyle. My club days are over. I get up in the morning. I take my kids to school and I go to work. I pick my kids up from their after school activities and we come home for the standard routine (homework, dinner, showers, brushing teeth, etc.). I get up the next morning and do it all over again. Fridays are family movie night. Saturdays are consumed with cross-country meets and soccer games. Sundays we attend church and, in the evening, attend our appropriate church small group studies. The days I don’t have my children are much the same except I’m not dropping them off or picking them up from school. I still have to work. On the occasional day I will catch a movie with an acquaintance from work. Where in there am I supposed to find time to go on a date and how would I find the time to actually meet the hypothetical individual who wants to dare taking me out?
My concern is still simply this: Why is the stage of my single subsistence such a big deal to everyone? My ex-husband was even bold enough to ask if I was seeing someone. What’s the concern here? Do I have, “Hey! Ask me out!” stamped on my forehead? Do I have a “Single & Desperate” bumper sticker stuck to my butt? I’m fairly sure that neither exists, but maybe I should consider advertising. Maybe, just maybe, if I venture out on at least one date then things won’t seem so TERRIBLE for me.
Incidentally, I don’t feel terrible. I may be a little lonely. There are times that I miss small things like the feel of a man’s hand on the small of my back as he ushers me into a room. I’m getting used to it although it doesn’t get any easier. Time heals and time hurts. My hours are consumed with children or solitude … one or the other. It may not be ideal, but it is my life as I know it. I’m okay.
Dear world: Please stop asking about my love life unless I’ve approached the subject first and shared something with you.