Friday, July 25, 2008

be prepared for some random, rambling musings . . .

Those of you who still manage to check in with my blog once in a while may have noticed I haven't had much to say lately. At first I was just too busy. I had to prioritize and blogging just fell to the bottom of the heap. After I fell out of the habit it became harder to fall back into the habit. I was no longer outlining posts in my head as I walked home from work and I lost the craving to write which sucked me into blogging in the first place.

While I was in the early stages of this space, my most inspirational blogging buddy wrote this. Her post captured a lot of what was holding me back and I decided her self-imposed guidelines are just what I needed to get myself healthy. Especially the one about not writing for comments. At some point in the last six months, as I embarked on the journey to write mydivorce story I became hyper-aware of my audience. I began monitoring my statistics and craved comments like they were sunshine. Early on the story just poured out of me onto the page with very little effort. But now, nothing. I came to the realization that I was no longer writing the story for myself and my inspiration withered up. I realized I was nearing some of the most difficult events I have endured in my life and could not bring myself to put any of them into words. I think the words will come again but I need to allow myself to enter another "composting" phase because my writing doesn't work when forced.

But that isn't all.

I am realizing that my lack of blogging is a reflection of my state of being right now. Lately I feel like I have lost something but I can't quite put my finger on what it is I have lost. I have been tired and moody and struggled with bouts of insomnia. I find it difficult to motivate myself to do more than go to work, read a book or watch tv. I have been neglecting simple tasks at home and at work in favor of leaving my mind on neutral to lazily float through the day. I struggle to connect with people and avoid social situations. Each week I count the days I have left before the weekend and then I spend my weekends curled up inside myself as summer drifts by.

I keep telling myself this is burn out, that I just need a vacation (2 seemingly long weeks away!) to perk myself back up but this morning I realized it might be something more. I turned my alarm off at 7:30 after snoozing for an hour and skipping my pilates class. I wasn't necessarily tired but in the fog of the morning I could not convince myself of a reason to get out of bed so I rolled over, shut my eyes and slept until 9 am when I finally realized I was being ridiculous and got up and out the door in a record 30 minutes.

I've pieced at this and that at work but mostly felt numb and wondered what is wrong with me. I don't feel depressed. I shouldn't be tired (although I always am lately). I'm burned out but I shouldn't have any trouble pushing through two fairly light weeks of work to reach my vacation. . .

Then, after reading a number of blogs to kill the time, my answer started formulating: I am treading water.

Forgive the mixed metaphors but I have hit a plateau in life and instead of re-grouping and pushing myself higher, I have allowed myself to just stand still (or tread water, if you will).

I am convinced this is not just a feeling-sorry-for-myself-because-I-am-single thing. It is more than that. Of course, I would be lying to you if I said being single wasn't a contributing factor but it is different.

I will confess that I have not read the Ensign [a church magazine I get once a month] in months. Sometimes I leaf through it but I just haven't felt inclined to read it in a while. Yesterday a new issue arrived and I glanced at the cover as I rode the elevator to my apartment. I was on the phone with my brother and I commented to him on how this issue was targeted at young single adults (of which, due to my 33 long years, I am not considered one). In recent years "singles" have become the new special interest group in my church - kind of like widows and single moms. I do not question the intent behind the talks and articles aimed at encouraging single members of my church to "be of good cheer" or to have hope or to volunteer. But I do take issue with the tone that is so often layered into these well-meaning articles - preachy. There is always a "success" story about a couple who got married "later in life" at the ripe old age of 28 and how that was a huge struggle for them. The articles offer good advice about pursuing an education and a career at the same time knocking those who "delay marriage" for these same worthy pursuits. They encourage service but forget that while giving helps fill voids, at some point we all need to receive a bit as well.

What these articles fail to mention when they instruct single church members to stay strong in the church is how uninviting church becomes to single people of a certain age. All my life the church has taught me that families can be together forever and that the absolute most important thing I must do in this life is to get married in the temple. As a teenager, while the boys were lectured about serving missions I was told to get married, get married, get married and then have babies. The success of my parents is measured by how many of their children served missions (1 out of 4) and how many of their children are sealed in the temple (technically 3 out of 4 but with one divorce let's hope only 2 of the 4 actually count) and how many grandchildren they have (1).

There is a subtle pressure that comes from this upbringing that whispers in my ear that I have failed by remaining single past 30. This subtle cultural layer can scream out at me when I am feeling sensitive as I sit alone at church amidst the couples and the babies and I wonder if I look the part of the old maid in dated clothes, more weight than necessary and an over-grown hair style or if I fall into the category of trying to hard to cling to my long-gone 20s by dressing a bit too young for my age and hanging around a crowd that I should have out-grown.

Then there is the not-so-subtle pressure as I listen to speakers in sacrament meeting talk each subject swinging back to marriage and family. The Sunday school and Relief Society lessons are the same as well - family, family, family.

No one reaches out, no one attempts to bridge the gap or tries to focus on what truly binds us together. Instead, my marital status feels like a scarlet letter emblazoned on my chest - SINGLE. Different, not like the others.

No matter how content I might be with my life, with my career, with my friends, this wears me down.

It also gets me thinking about what is missing. One of the pieces of advice offered in the article is for singles to surround themselves with good friends and to specifically have one close friend with whom you can have daily communication. But there is no advice for those of us who continue to make and lose that person. I have a long and wonderful list of beautiful, amazing, talented and funny women (and a few men as well) upon whom I have bestowed the title "best friend". But here is the thing, the older you get the more that list shifts because inevitably those amazing people are going to pair off and get married and have children. And as the years pass, between my moves and their moves the chances of me managing to be in the same city, state or even time zone as one of these great people grows smaller and smaller. And how do you replace a best friend who has laughed and cried with you and seen you at your best and worst? You don't. Which is why I am blessed to have this best friend position overflowing with names and yet vacant all at once. We are geographically challenged, my friends and me. And while I would love to find another one of these amazing people right here in my own city who isn't pulled in directions away from me by boyfriends, husbands and jobs . . . it is hard to imagine getting to that same comfort level any time soon.

This post has veered in a variety of directions away from where I started and while I feel a distinct impulse to just hit save and walk away, I also feel compelled to publish this and feel unburdened by this jumbled mess of thoughts that have been bogging me down for months.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hello!

I became hooked on your blog with your "Divorce" story. Such excellent writing...and, today, I got to thinking as I read your "Single in the Church" perspective (which I KNOW is only part of your alleged ramblings) that you should REALLY write more about that. I looked at the Ensign last night and wondered if ANY of those that were writing were, in fact, single.

I do think that each "single" story is unique, and that the error comes in trying to fit yourself (or others trying to fit you) into some sort of formula that ultimatey equals marriage. There are too many variables. The young single, the old single, the "a little off" single, the professional single, the divorced then single, the divorcedx2 then single, the widowed then single or other varations on the "single" theme. I tried and tried to find a similar situation that fit ME...I never could.

Enough rambling: You are your own situation...I believe there will always be an element of yearning...even with tons of fulfillment and cheer having. That is not sad, nor is it full of lackluster hope...it is real. Don't we all yearn for something...whether it be marriage, or somtimes being single again, or sometimes being with someone who has passed from this life?

My story:
A cute and bubbly returned missionary full-life wonderful family...really, I should have been snatched up long before I was. No, I was not 21 or 28 or 33. I just got married to my Sweetie (twice divorced--him not me) when I was 38. We had two different paths before we found one another. Oh, I had finally, about 3 years before become really fine with my singleness. I stopped the CRAZY looking...the CRAZY preoccupation...the CRAZY questioning of myself...but, kept the yearning. And boy! Was I suprised when he came along. My own story...the formula...long and full of unexpected numbers, equations and everything in between. Just now, at age 40, are we moving on to the familial expansion part...HARDLY the perfect Mormon girl formula...but, it is mine...just as your situation is unique to you.

Okay...I'm truly done. I just wanted to let you know that you have a fan who finds great value in what you write...and, I hope that I made sense...I usually stay quietly in the corners and observe.

Anonymous said...

I am also one of your blurkers. I hate the pressure put on you to be married. I think it's highly possible that there are some people out there that aren't meant to be married. But whatever God's plan for you, it's the right one. So instead of trying to make your own path, or follow the church's path, just "let go and let God." I have been reading your blog for a while, and I find you to be a funny, very intelligent, romantic, successful woman. You obviously have lots of love to give. Be confident in yourself! You've got everything going for you. Maybe you should get back into climbing. From your writings, it seems like climbing really centers you.
Thanks for this. It helps to know I'm not the only one who has felt this way. =)

Tiffany said...

I'm glad you posted this, and I hope it makes you feel better to get it out there and feel the support of your friends (and anonymous admirers). A blogging break is good, in my opinion, although I've missed your posts terribly. I'm trying to be supportively patient. :)

I hope that the desire stirs in you once again to express yourself here because you have a great talent, and it is also one of my favorite ways to get to know you better!

I'm also very proud of you for expressing your feelings about being single in the church. I have a sneaking suspicion that your words resonate with more people (especially among your readers) than you can ever imagine. The cultural expectations of the church are so very, very exact. While I've had my own struggles with feeling like I don't measure up against the ultimate Mormon Checklist of Life, I know that being single is, very likely, the one that causes the most excruciating pain.

I wish I had words that made you feel better. I wish I could assure you that your Mr. Right is right around the corner. I wish that life didn't seem so incredibly unfair sometimes. I wish that you never had to feel lonely again in your lifetime. But, of course, I can't.

What I can tell you, though, is that I admire and love you for the incredibly strong and talented woman that you are. I applaud you for expressing your feelings, whatever they may be. And I know that it can be hard with "married friends" but I want you to know how much I value our friendship. I apologize for being an unattentive friend lately, wrapped up in my own stresses.

I adore you, my friend. Feel my adoration flowing through the internet and right to your apartment. :)

Beck said...

It is HARD when there IS community pressure to be married by a certain age and you're not. I do know TONS of people who are unmarried and in their 30s, but it's easy to feel kind of isolated, I guess.
This is just a time in your life. There will be others.

critts said...

First of all, I second the blogging hiatus. I blame mine on late stage pregnancy and not wanting to do anything extra besides sleep. But second, I love your honesty and I appreciate that you're not afraid to write how you truly think and feel and set it out there for people to read (and relate to). I think that's why so many are captivated by your divorce story - you are not only an excellent writer but you are very honest with yourself and others. I hope you'll continue to write.

Jen said...

On the subject of best girlfriends... Even though I'm married, I often wish I had a best (girl) friend with whom to shop, lunch, confide, etc. I have a lot of good friends, but not that one friend who is always there. I sometimes lament the absence of such a friend, but realize that at this stage in my life, lots of girls my age are busy with work and family, and just don't have the time and energy to devote to such a friendship. And I'm too busy with work and kids to go out and cultivate a new friendship, too, I guess.

I do appreciate the circle of good friends I can call when I need to. But I sometimes wish I had that "kindred spirit" type of best girlfriend. Time, distance, kids, jobs, and husbands all seem to interfere.

Such is life, I suppose! I'm glad to know I'm not alone in this issue, though. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

lizzie said...

i wish i were good with words. but just know that i love you. and i think you do know.

TheMorts said...

Hey,
I didn't read the other comments yet but just wanted to say something.
I am married with 3 kids, my hubby serves as YM pres and I am in the YW pres. you would think we fit the "cookie cutter" of what is in the Ensign.
What I want to tell you is that even with the above things I still have alot of the same feelings as you when I am at church. I feel alone or isolated or out of place. Most allof my "best" friends have up and moved away. I can sometimes go days without talking to a friend. Most Sundays I just don't feel like I "fit"..Sometimes the "pressure" of all the eyes on me makes me not want to even go to church.
I don't know if it makes you feel any better (I hope it does) but I just wanted you to know that those feelings you have aren't isolated to the singles. It's a struggle alot of the times for us "cookie cutter" people too!

CutiePie said...

I'm just going to kind of ramble here a bit myself, but I want to say some things to you.

First, I love you and care about you, even though we have never actually met (I don't think). I can identify with a lot of the things that you describe in your blog entries, including the longing for a "best" friend and the feelings of isolation from being single in a culture (the LDS church in general) that seems to only prize the married-with-kids set.

Aside from my sister, I have had a total of four "best friends" in my life, and they have each moved away, one by one. I don't even know where any of them currently are.

As for being single, I didn't marry until I was nearly 29. I felt like one of those apples that fall to the bottom of the produce bins and by the time the stack gets low enough to even see it, there are so many bruises that nobody is even going to consider buying it. My mother and I went to the wedding reception of a girl from my home ward when I was 26. She was barely 19, and when I reached her and her groom, she smiled this huge smile and told me to "just hold on! Being married is worth the wait!" My mom being right beside me (and her restraining hand on my arm) was all that kept that bride from ending her reception with a bloodied lip and black eye.

OK, now my inner "Returned Missionary" is crowding to the front of my conscious. When it comes to how many children your parents have that are sealed in the Temple, divorce or not, you ARE one of them. As I learned while serving my mission, and as my recently divorced sister's Stake President has reassured her, a temple sealing is PRIMARILY between the person and GOD, with the connection between spouses being secondary. So, even with that spousal connection being severed, you are still "in the running" to receive all the blessings promised to those who are sealed, if you now live a life to deserve them. So, even if you never do find "Mr. Right" in this life, you have fulfilled all the initial requirements and are now in the "endure to the end" portion of "the program". I hope that makes you feel a bit better about a situation that was/is such a trial to you.

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