I'm not writing this to make a social commentary or anything, which is why it's here and not at my doctrinal blog. Even though I usually try to keep this one upbeat and light. I just needed to write out all the thoughts going through my mind, and this is the best place for me to write it outside of my handwritten journal (and it doesn't allow going back and refining ideas.) I've been going over the same problems until my brain is exhausted. Even with the "break from dating" which has been going on for two or three years, now, I still can't seem to give myself a break. Maybe if I quantify it all, I'll be able to let it go.
I'm a single mom, working full time. I own a home and a fairly large garden. I've not put my life on hold until a man comes along. I won't, and I can't. But men want women to give up other activities in order to spend time with them, and if I can't it's only because I'm not making them a priority. If only they knew. I would love to include a man in my life, but there isn't much I can...or want to change about it. Not after having to rebuild it from scratch. I've worked too hard to find myself again, to put myself back together. I can't afford to lose it again. I'm not a wife, I'm a woman with interests and passions. And unfortunately, most men find those interests and passions rather boring and unimportant.
When I have my children, I want to be with them. I don't want to get a babysitter. And I'm not going to bring a man into their lives until I think it's serious. Which means my time to date is very limited. And limited means not at all, since men expect you to work around their schedules, too. It'd be easier if I didn't have a life. But I do. And that won't change.
4. Not attractive enough
I know I'm not hideous, but I'm not what most guys want, either. I'm close to six feet tall. I am built much more like the Venus de Milo than Miley Cyrus. Yet I like to work hard and long, until I'm exhausted. That puts me out of both the fit group, and the don't-give-a-crap group. I kind of need a lifestyle like farming: work hard, but don't waste time lifting weights or running every morning. But I'm stuck in the suburbs, and running quite soft. It means I give great hugs, but I don't turn any heads.
Generally, I don't feel badly about this. I like how I look well enough, and I love the lifestyle I've chosen (for the most part.) I care far more about what I do with my life than how I look doing it. But when I'm around a large group of people who are jockeying for position, and judging everyone around them, I start to crack. I feel like I'm worthless to anyone who is still single at my age. And now that I'm closer to forty than to thirty, that is only getting more true.
I love who I am, mostly. But who I am doesn't matter much in the dating market. And who I am is not the sweet spirit and gentle temperament that makes up for not meeting the appearance standard.
Not only that, but I want—NEED—a man to be my friend before I could ever have actual feelings for him. And a single man doesn't want to spend time with a woman who doesn't want to date him. Especially not if he's LDS and trying to find an eternal companion. Being friends with a woman is a waste of time, and being friends with a guy is the only way I could learn to trust a man. Which brings me to:
3. I don't trust men.
I need someone who sees me, and not just what I can provide to him. Let's face it. Men want things from women. Sex, a comfortable house, cooked meals and sweet temper. We are to be supportive, and put others' needs above our own. I want to be that, but I can't handle it being expected of me. And to be honest, I'm not sure what I want. Single men don't talk to or spend time around women to whom they are not attracted. But I don't want to be wanted because I'm attractive (whether that is purely looks or personality.)
I want to be respected for the things I value in myself: the grit that has kept me putting one foot in front of the other despite desperately wanting to quit. The faith that keeps me in a church that I'll never truly belong to. The optimism that makes me want to give people a chance, even people who have done awful things. That optimism took a big hit in my marriage, and it's something I don't want to give up. My intelligence that gives me the ability to see multiple sides of a situation. The whatever-you'd-call-it that helps me realize my perspective isn' the only important one, and that gives me the drive to change. You would think these are things that men value in women, but they are only valuable if you can get through the first gauntlet of personality and looks. And I don't think I want to pass those tests.
The men who do find me attractive will say whatever necessary, with no real intent on following through. It's not just my marriage that taught me that. I've seen men be loyal and admire other women, but never me. And I don't know why. I've worked so hard on the things I believe the Lord wants of me, and on the things I want to be myself. But it seems no one else wants that.
2. I have a past
We all have pasts, of course, but some of us don't seem to realize it. And my past includes having children, which many men don't want to deal with. More to the point, being the victim of a narcissist (even though he was a relatively weak one) has left me with some serious trust issues. I don't believe what men tell me, no matter how much I want to. I judge only on what they do. The scars of caution and distrust are something that no righteous LDS man is going to want to sort through. Not when he has scores of willing women fighting over him. And I won't fight over a man. I won't compete. I won't beg. I don't need it badly enough, even though it hurts being alone and scared all the time. Which is the final nail in my coffin:
1. I'm scared
The number one reason I can't seem to have a relationship is that I'm terrified. I thought I took all the proper precautions, followed all the advice when I married. Yet he still turned out to be abusive and I HAD NO CLUE that was what I was living. Even though I supposedly knew the signs. How can I ever trust my judgement again? And if I mess up now, it's not only me who has to pay the price, it's my girls, too. I've already inflicted enough pain on them in their lives. I just can't bring myself to take another risk.
Maybe in the next life, God will see fit to have mercy on me and I'll be able to be some righteous man's third or fourth wife. Or a ministering angel. But in this life, I don't know what to do. How can I possibly take the leap of faith that every relationship is when I can't even truly heal from the first time? It's Game Over for me.
And that really hurts. Knowing that there is no way a mortal man who puts God first in his life will have the patience to work with me...it breaks my heart. Every single day. Mostly, I try not to think about it, but reminders are legion. I'm tired of doing it alone. I want a companion I can count on and trust. I want to be on a team who has one goal in mind: to please God. But it's not going to happen. I'm going to have to compromise on something. And that's probably going to mean being alone for the rest of my life.
So be it.