5.26.2010

Single Complications

Married life is complicated. Granted. Not being married, I don't have to deal with raising children, complex budgets and schedules, living with other people and all the other tangible complications of having a family. But, not having to deal with those complexities does not make my life simple. Regarding tangibles, yes, it is simple. I only have to take care of myself. I have far fewer responsibilities. However, it's the things you don't see that make single lives complicated. I am not suggesting my life is harder than anyone else's, it isn't. But my life and those of other singles are as hard as everyone else's. Some married people seem to think otherwise. They're wrong.

For example, what seems a simple act, getting myself to church on Sunday is anything but simple. I don't have to drag kids out of bed or get them fed and dressed. But, the difficulty is psychological. Because I know it makes me feel bad to go to church. Sometimes I go home in tears because it's the loneliest place in the world. But, I also know it's good for me. In general, my life runs more smoothly when I attend. For whatever reason, it makes me better equipped to handle my problems. (It's also healthy for the physical brain to spend a few hours each week thinking of positive and spiritual things. It improves brain function) So, I know I need to go. I need to demonstrate my faith by making the effort to attend. In other words, if I don't go, I feel bad. And, if I do go, I feel bad.

In the long run, it's better to suck it up and go to church, it ultimately reduces my suffering. In the short term, it's very hard. There have been years of my life when I couldn't force myself to do it. For three years straight I set my alarm clock every Sunday but never made it. Sometimes I'd get so far as to dress, a few times I even drove half-way there only to turn around and go home. The whole production of getting myself to church is a battle between my ego and my superego. On a drowsy Sunday morning, after going out on Saturday night, my Superego is usually sleeping. Which means I shut the alarm off, roll over and join it.

Another psychological complication of being single is the simple act of seeking comfort after a bad day. How does a 30-something single cheer herself up? We all have our tricks: eat ice cream, watch bad tv, go shopping, escape on the computer. Those things work for a minute, as a distraction. In the end they are empty and the temporary comfort passes quickly. You can visit your friends or call them to talk, that works better. But, people are busy. And they get tired of hearing about it. They have more important things to do, like feed their kids.

As friends get married and multiply, you lose your backup support. They start to say things like, "Why can't you just get over it?" and, "You'll feel better if you get a life." They forget what it was like to be alone. Then it gets harder to make that call. So you learn it's easier, simpler, to indulge in your distractions instead: over-eat, take a bath, go to bed. Often, those things make you feel worse. But trying to do something to really make yourself feel better is too hard.

The worst part of being single is the complex horror show that is modern dating. Enough said. Oh, and worse than that, the relationship, made more complicated if inter-religious.

Try having a serious romantic relationship with a person who doesn't believe in your religious chastity laws. That's complicated. You have to explain. You have to convince him you're not crazy, just weird. You have to draw a line, a line that gets moved. Then you have to try to move the line backwards (good luck). You have to negotiate the non-negotiable. You have to police your activities and be the prude -- un-fun for everyone! Feelings and egos get bruised. Rejection. Resentment. Conflict. All of this results from the simple and natural act of showing affection.

As the relationship progresses and emotions deepen, it gets even more complicated. Eventually, kissing begins to suck. And not in a good way. This leads to an Id, Ego, and Superego war: This feels good, now it feels bad; I want to, I can't; I shouldn't, we shouldn't. Then, come the regrets: I hurt him.   It went too farHow do I make him understand I'm not rejecting him?  That I do want him? How far is too far? Do I need to repent for that? I am 34, after all. This is humiliating, for both of us.

The hardest thing for me lately has been the loss of the best relationship I've ever had. Mostly, I lost him for the sake of my religion. What is that like emotionally?  Messy.  Awful. Embittering.  It's all swirling around inside my head and my heart . . . anger, confusion, grief, love, desire., faith.  What I want and don't want, and what I want to want and don't want to want.  I  want to love him.   I need a loving relationship.  He's a good man.  I want to give.  It's not so simple.  I made covenants with God not to. 

I am suffering for my faith.  Do marrieds have to do that?

MORE Single Complications

8 comments:

TOWR said...

That's just like my [unnamed relative] who was complaining because she had to do "90% of everything around the house." I looked at her and said, "You're lucky. I do 100% of the crap around my house." It is very difficult to be the only one there to look after all the things that need to be done. No matter what the chore, errand, or responsibility, I'm the only one who does it. It gets very tiring. Just once I would love for somebody to say, "Hey, you know what? I'll take your car in to get its oil changed." Such a small thing that would bring such a huge relief.

And amen about having somebody to talk to. I've given up trying to talk to my parents about things because it will either make them feel really sad (my dad) or elicit comments like, "Well, if you'd A, B, or C, maybe you could get married" (my mom). They mean well, but it doesn't help. So instead I say nothing and let it all eat away at me.

JL said...

You know, I usually feel like an incompetent human being who can't manage my own life, because I don't get the oil changed on time or all the dishes washed everyday or all the bills paid on time, or my lawsuit defense papers filed, or make doctor appointments, etc. I forgot that most people don't have to do everything by themselves. Thanks for reminding me.

My parents aren't that bad because I mostly don't tell them anything. The last time my father asked me how I was doing and I answered honestly he got choked up, I think I made him cry. I'm never doing that again. They all feel sorry for me now that I'm the family loser. That makes it worse.

jillmaren said...

you aren't the "family loser".

And some of us marrieds STILL end up doing everything to manage the house/our lives. And I often find it easier to soothe myself after a bad day via the methods you mentioned -- ice cream, TV, bath -- than to try to explain everything to my husband.

And I'm not trying to argue with you here...just a note that marriage does not solve all of these issues. Marriage can be lonely too, which is sometimes worse since you are supposedly sharing your life with someone else.

i i eee said...

I've only been married almost 8 months now, so my perspective on this may change later, but being single and going to church IS one of the hardest things ever. I completely agree with you on that. Getting to church has never been a problem for me now that I'm married. My husband isn't the type to even consider missing a single meeting. So it's just natural to up and go, and 99% of the time I have an uplifting experience. Church can be one of the loneliest places when you're single, since it's not set up in a way to help one forget their single woes while they worship. Instead it can be even more of a reminder of how being single can suck. But you're right, it pays off in the long run.

I met my husband at church. If I had given it up completely when I was single because it was difficult to go, well obviously we never would have met.

Stephen said...

This post ant http://zelophehadsdaughters.com/2010/05/28/struggling-with-sacrifice/ seem to go together.

JL said...

Thank you for the link Stephen (E), you're right, they are closely related. It seems the two of us are at different points on the same journey.

That's really great iieee, congrats on your marriage. It's good to hear that there are marriages happening out there.

Welcome to all my Zelophehad's Daughters visitors!

illwinterfate said...

Ok I am coming from a diffrent place but I do apreciate every one's comments. I was totally in the same lonely predicment a few years ago. I would go to church because I needed to be there but I found myself getting there later and later before I just stopped. I was tired of the bad feelngs I would leave with and it can be a lonely place. So eventually found myself in a relationship, very unhealthly with a man with a child. I figured God wanted me to help this little boy but I was guilty about fornicating at the same time. To tie it all in quickly, the child was a pawn and I was suckered by a very abusive non believer that broke me in several ways. I became a mother and am now single. I learned the hard way. Secrately I believed God could heal the sick and provide money when it was scarece but, I didn't trust him with my love life. But obviously I can't trust myself with it either. I've learned from past relationships that I compromised my beliefs and end up hating myself for it. More then ever because I am a single mom, I must take my life more seriously I can't just sin, it affects my son as well. So I'm celebrate and after that horrible ordeal, I'm trusting my love life in the Lord's hands and in the mean time focusing on my dreams and making a better life for my son and I. I know men will expect sex from me being as though I have a child and I'm no saint but I don't care I am still worth waiting for and I have been there and done that. So don't settle and learn the hardway as I have. If I knew what I know now at the stage you're in I would have remained celebate and single. I think you should revive church, maybe try another one or be open to communicate with other active Christians not just the ones who claim it on Sundays. I have not lost faith and you should'nt be so glum. God will bring you a husband on his watch, that you wo'nt have to explain anything to. He'll just get it, because you are equally yoked. And don't feel the need to conform to the world. If he created the seas he can handle your love affairs as well. Piece of cake.

JL said...

illwinterfate,

Thank you for sharing your story. I really appreciate it. I'm sorry you had to go through that. It's good to be reminded that the Lord does know better than we do. And the laws are there for a reason. You're right, it is a matter of faith.