I was at a residential school this week – furthering my seemingly neverending studies. On arrival I checked into my dorm room and felt like the female equivalent of Peter Pan – the girl who never grew up. Staying in a dorm room at university as I rapidly approach the not so tender age of 40.
However this feeling changed somewhat when I met a bunch of fellow students at dinner – they were all basically in my age bracket or perhaps a bit older, then I started to feel like a middle aged woman and thought – really I’m not ready to be a middle aged woman, really I’m not!
One of the women was talking to another about how there appeared to be a real lack of men in this course, which was not a good thing for us single women. So I even started to feel less alone in my single childless existence until she mentioned her now almost grown up children. Of course I don’t begrudge her this; I’m glad she has that, but it does make me rightly or wrongly feel somewhat more isolated. But on the whole it was a good dinner with interesting conversation. Then one of the women had to rush off to read a bedtime story to her son via skype. Oh how I would have loved to be the one rushing off to skype my husband and son to see how their day had gone. She was one of these people who you could just tell had a really great family life, a close relationship with her husband and obviously adored her young son. This instigated the departure of most other people as they drifted back to their rooms to call their families or significant others. I also went back to my room, made a quick phone call to a friend and proceeded to feel lonely.
Over the week as I’ve started to get to know people they invariably start to talk to varying degrees about wives, husbands, partners and children. I’m happy to listen (well depending on how much they go on, but that’s the same with any topic), but where does it leave me in the conversation. Not having a child in my life is something I’m still freshly grieving after my recent miscarriage and decision to stop trying to become a single mum, it’s raw and painful and I feel it will always be a sad issue for me. I gather (hope) the pain will lessen, but I don’t think it will ever truly disappear. How do I connect with people when I don’t have tales of family life to share – either good or bad. People don’t want to hear about my deep and unmet desire to have a child and partner and I don’t want to further isolate myself by sharing this with virtual strangers. At one stage I found myself talking about my dog – talking animatedly about my dog and then I reflected on this almost instantly afterwards about how I was now ‘the lonely dog lady’. Oh well I love my dog and am not ashamed of that. I didn’t tell these people that I don’t have children or a partner and they didn’t ask (somewhat perceptively and politely on their behalf I feel) – but it is quite obvious I believe. Especially when one of them asked who was looking after my dog while I was away and I answered ‘my parents’ – as if that isn’t a dead give away.
So anyway I continue with my struggle to make connections with people in this family centric world we appear to live in, when I have created no family of my own, despite my strong desire to do so. Also I continue with my quest to believe in my self worth despite not having the obligatory partner and/or child.