The other day I started feeling sorry for myself about my love life (e.g. lack thereof).
This is a terrible state of affairs, because it has the ability to depress me like nothing else; well, nothing else apart from those times when I look out of the window, usually at work, and sigh sadly to myself, thinking “Oh, what a lovely world it is. And what a shame that it will all inevitably end someday, probably in a nuclear holocaust caused by men with ego problems, or climate catastrophe thanks to humankind’s folly-and OH THERE’S A PLASTIC SEA NOW BY THE WAY, SOMETHING ELSE FOR YOU TO FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IN THE SUPERMARKET! Or maybe a meteor that will just pop out of the sky one day like that one that wiped out the dinosaurs. Oh, what even is the point of life anyway?” Oh, and Call The Midwife. Call The Midwife makes me cry too, which is basically the only way I know that I still have any shreds of empathy left since having a child mysteriously transformed me from a total wuss who cries at everything to a hard-faced emotionless automaton who never cries (except at Call The Midwife).
Anyway, within seconds I had gone from reading a vaguely marriage-themed tweet, to questioning the very existence of marriage itself, to declaring that I was quite happy on my own thank you very much and the single life is extremely underrated, to feeling like I was about to start sobbing hopelessly into my phone about how I was actually lonely and forlorn, and no one would ever love me, and I would just have to get used to this fact by trying to be “happy on my own” and anyway, there are people dying in Syria so how bad can it really be being single forever? It’s hardly a matter of life or death.
And you see, this is never actually a problem until I start thinking about it. Ninety-nine per cent of the time I am quite happy just bumbling along as my usual single self, perfectly content.
And then there’s the one per cent.
The one per cent makes me wallow in self pity. It makes me think things I know I’m not supposed to think. Things I would never think of my friends. Things like how I am too old, too fat, too set in my ways, too full of terrible personality flaws that repel the opposite sex. Things like, well I never met the love of my life at twenty-two when I was young and pretty so there is surely no chance now.
I hate myself in those times. I hate that I care about it. I hate that I’m even thinking about it, when I don’t the other 99% of the time. This is why I largely avoid the whole dating scene. Unlike some freshly divorced people (my peers now, which is just rude. How have they managed to get married AND divorced before I’ve even had a sniff of a wedding favour?) I can find no novelty in the “scene.” Things are not fun when you have been doing them unsuccessfully for decades. And they say that to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results is the definition of madness (or was that talking to yourself?), so why would I expect any different from any new online dating “adventure”?
What has not helped the situation is that this week I happened to find in the library, amid the books on baking, gardening and local history that are the mainstay of the more provincial non-fiction shelves, a psychology tome about “Why Face to Face Contact Matters.” Thinking that it sounded interesting and might reinforce my constant battle against The Curse of Checking My Phone All The Time and occasional lapse into parenting of which I stand ashamed, namely allowing Piglet to “watch cars on Mummy’s phone” I picked it up. Reader, I am doomed. Doomed to be less happy, and even to die younger than my married peers. According to this book, getting cancer may be a random throw of the dice, but surviving it depends at least partly on having lots of social networks, and sadly the author wasn’t talking about Twitter. It turns out, apparently, that getting married IS a matter of life or death.
I thought about this.
Here I was, in my house, off work for the holidays (yay! That’s a good thing, surely?) and although I had visited such tantalising destinations as the local out of town shopping centre many times, and had many coffees in different cafes, and enjoyed the company of a very fine young man of the age of three, I hadn’t had a conversation with an actual adult which involved more than asking them for a latte or their professional opinion on the merits of ivy (in my defence, I was in a garden centre at the time) in a whole week. I had the sinking feeling that if I was unlucky enough to get cancer in my current predicament I would be dead by the time the holidays were over.
I’m not going to fall into the trap of gazing wistfully at Instagram and imagining that everybody else is having wall-to-wall family parties over the Easter break involving much champagne and canapes, and absolutely no conflict at all, nor that everybody else is living in some sort of perfect-couple utopia, where their marriages are perfect and their partners constantly nurturing and wonderful. I have a lovely family-more than some people have-and fantastic friends, albeit mostly living in different cities. So maybe I just need to be a bit more proactive about having actual conversations, rather than online ones. And maybe the man of dreams is out there somewhere-who knows?
I’m not holding my breath though.