While this post seems strange to me on Valentine’s Day eve, it is the approach of February 14 which fostered my curiosity about my current sense of singlehood. I began looking closely at what it means to be on my own after half a century. While searching within, I also, of course, searched the web. There are lots and lots of articles and blogs on being single. I had to diligently drill down in order to find articles, which weren’t how to’s on dating again or finding a new partner. Searching my heart and soul, I already knew I want neither. According to the Pew Research Center living without a spouse or partner under the same roof means I’m single.
Yes, yes I know. I can already hear someone saying, “But…but it’s almost Valentine’s Day”. For those of you with another partner after the death of a spouse or a divorce, I wish you a happy life together. You are all very fortunate people. You are also people who most likely made the choice to seek another partner. Or, perhaps, there was a bit of serendipity at play. Although I’m now single by chance and location, I’m choosing to remain single for several reasons.
I had the good fortunate of a long, long marriage to a man who enjoyed cooking together, shopping together, working with me in the garden, while I went on motorcycle rides and hikes with him and cheered him on at bicycle time trials. If something needed repair whether bicycle or house, I was the extra pair of hands. We supported each others careers, with Martin even becoming the trailing spouse for my job move. Fun for us was creating great meals at home, stopping at our favorite pub for lunch or supper, going to art galleries, museums and historical sites, an occasional play or concert and later creating our art. We raised two kids and were rewarded with wonderful grandkids. We had good times and some bad times. It was all a lot of work, compromise, give and take. It took years and a mutual commitment to create what we had.
Then, this unthinkably horrible disease took away our beautiful life together, making me Martin’s caregiver and slowly stealing his mind and spirit. And, now, leaving me to carve out a future of my own, on my own. I still have our loving family as does he. They give me support and advice, but the reality is I’m single, alone, but not alone. As I do today, I will always have a hole in my heart for this profound loss.
However, at this juncture in my journey I’m also savoring buying my land, planning my new house and making the inherent dozens of decisions with no other consideration than what I want and can afford. While it’s sometimes scary because all errors in judgment fall squarely on my sagging shoulders, it’s also exhilarating to be forging a new identity. I feel like a kid again, only with lots of experience.
As is my habit I didn’t make New Year’s resolutions. But, I did write goals for 2022. Perhaps, they are one and the same. Topping my list is self-care. Self-care is not being selfish. It’s putting your own oxygen mask on first so you can help your fellow passengers. More than one well-meaning person recommended I volunteer as a way to handle my grief. When I’m fully breathing again, I’ll go back to volunteering. Following years of caregiving and putting Martin’s needs first, self-care is putting my needs, health and well-being first. It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten Martin. It doesn’t mean I don’t still love him. It doesn’t translate into I’m no longer grieving. In fact, part of my grief is finding myself without my lifelong partner. It’s possible to grieve and, at the same time, feel joy again.
Accepting my single status allows me to envision my future. I was one-half of a pair in an egalitarian marriage. The chances of finding another partner wanting or even willing to cook, shop, clean, do laundry and be supportive of my activities outside the home is pretty much nil, especially since at my age, there are far fewer single men. The reality is women still live longer than men. Consequently, we outnumber them in the millions.
I’m also set in my ways. After five decades with one man, adjusting to a new partner is not anything I want to tackle. While there is a void with Martin’s decline and subsequent absence, it’s not one I feel a need to fill. I handled all the finances, paperwork and our social calendar. As he declined I even learned to make repairs around the house by watching YouTube how-to’s. I’m most proud of unclogging the dishwasher drain after a glass broke filling the drain with shards. With family and friends, as already mentioned, I’m not alone or lonely. I’m finding new meaning and purpose in my life, including my return to blogging. I’m quite capable of caring for myself and have every desire to continue doing so.
All of the above adds up to my choosing to continue living my life in singlehood. One of my other goals for 2022 is finding me, the real me, the self-directed me, the me without a partner. I have a house to build, classes to attend, books to read, people to meet, places to go, music to listen to, art galleries, museums and historical sites to visit, trendy and not so trendy small towns to explore, along with locally owned restaurants where I’ll savor good food and wines, cooking great meals at home and creating a new landscape to go with my new house. Whoopee, more plants, more gardens! And, of course, not doing anything at all…just being…just me…and my cats.