And as for me, I decided instead of running away from the idea of a life alone, I’d better sit down and take that fear to lunch. So, I sat there and had a glass of wine, alone. No books, no man, no friends, no armor, no faking. -Carrie Bradshaw
Sometimes we find wisdom in the strangest places, don’t we? Even the Housewives get it right some times. I have a weird habit of looking for wisdom in unlikely places. I like to watch crappy TV, like Housewives of Anywhere. And I’m a big fan of indulgent TV, like Sex and the City or The L Word. And I like to look for wisdom there. But let’s keep that between just us. Cause I do a really good job of limiting how much I watch and I would never want anyone to think I’m obsessed with such silly women. Okay, obsessed was a silly word. Okay, that was judgmental.
Okay, the honest truth is I have been known to go through spurts of non-stop Housewives watching. Obsession might be a strong word. Silly is not. Sorry, sometimes I’m judgmental.
I know it’s weird. I know it’s probably misguided. But in the midst of crazy Giudice rants and Vickie’s co-dependency & bad boyfriend choices are interesting nuggets of experiential wisdom. Or maybe it’s just a cautionary tale. And I’m all about the cautionary tale.
So, when Carrie Bradshaw decides to take her fear to lunch and sips red wine, by herself, looking fabulous at a NYC bistro, I sit up and take notice.
And just like every 43-year-old woman without a ring on her finger, I’m afraid of being alone….except, that I love it. Okay, that first part is really sexist. My 19-year-old feminist self is cringing. Women alone are fabulous and sexy and strong and wonderful…at any age.
I’m sexist and ageist. And a bad lesbian. But that’s for another post.
I’m not sure that my fear is of being alone. My fear is of not knowing. When you’re married, when you’re with your girlfriend for two years, you think you know. You mistakenly believe you know the path you’re life is on. And maybe it’s an illusion. Maybe you don’t really know at all. But, definitely, when you’re in it for 20 plus years, it feels like you know and it’s comforting.
Being alone is anything but. It’s exciting sometimes. It’s fun sometimes. The other night I ate cereal for dinner. In front of the TV. In the dark. And even though it feels like freedom and it’s exhilarating, it’s not comfortable. I’ve never lived alone. (And to be fair I have two kids and this was a night without either, which is a little uncommon, but it’s not quite the same as alone. But I mean in -that grown-up-when-am-I-having-sex-again kinda way. )
Do I think I’ll be alone forever? No, I hope not! As much as I like it, as much as the peace is plentiful and the unstructured life is like a new drug, I still think that I’ll be back with someone again.
But, and here’s the kicker, I’m not alone. I am incredibly privileged in that I live alone, but I have another. My girlfriend lives 1600 miles away, and we’re trying to figure out the long-distance thing. And I really, really don’t know if we’ll do it or not, but today it’s okay. Some days it looks like we’re done. And other days I think we’re figuring it out. But it’s okay.
It’s okay because not knowing is okay, but also because we don’t have dinner together every night and we don’t kiss goodnight and roll over. It’s okay because of those 1600 miles. And I never thought I would think/say/believe it, but distance has been a blessing. Being alone has been a blessing.
And that’s what Carrie Bradshaw has taught me. Okay, for those of you who don’t know Carrie is the brainchild of talented writer Candace Bushnell and there are a whole lot o’Lesbians out there cringing cause Bushnell and Bradshaw are obsessed with men, but I think that’s okay. Cause whether it’s men or women we all fall into the trap of being obsessed with another sometimes.
Okay, I’m going to digress for a moment. There’s a lot of my friends that hate that there are women who care what a man thinks about them, but I think it’s human nature. Yes, Liz Gilbert is consumed with men and I know women who hate Eat, Pray, Love for that reason. But I really believe her experience is universal. It’s not just about women who are obsessed with men. It’s about those of us who use another to define ourselves and as a woman who has been with both, it really hasn’t mattered whether it was a man or a woman I used. I thought I needed someone to tell me who I was and what I wanted and what I needed. And to be fair I didn’t choose people who particularly relished that role. So I was doing us all a disservice.
We all want to be accepted and loved. We want connection and an occasional amazing orgasm. And I don’t know why, but our fantasy isn’t really of the Zipless Fuck, it’s of the house in the Hamptons. We fantasize about Jong’s women and their independence, but I really think most of us want something more than that.
So, how do we get away from diving into it and giving up ourselves and giving our everything to someone else?
We embrace our fear of being alone, ala Carrie Bradshaw. Dare I say it? Ala Me.
Pema Chodron, the Buddhist nun, writes and talks about sitting in the pain. She teaches about the importance of not running, pushing or distracting away from what you fear.
And so I am trying really really hard to just be. Just be Melissa and recognize that it’s enough. It’s such a crazy/weird/uncomfortable feeling. But I’ve been told, and I half-heartedly believe it, that being in that painful uncomfortable place means I’m growing.
I do know that the longer I do it, the easier it gets. Is that the growth? I like to believe I’m re-grading the ruts in my brain.
Tomorrow night I’m going to try peanut butter with a spoon. Out of the jar.