Table for One, Please

Well, I have good days and bad.

Last night was one of the bad ones. I couldn’t sleep. I was up at 1 am, crying into my pillow, with a bouquet of harmful narratives in my head. I was asking myself why I thought I was worthy of love. I was asking what I expected to find on the other side of 24 years with one person. I was doubting that the decision to end the relationship and live alone was worse than living with someone and being alone. I was asking myself what a stupid, 50-year-old woman could possibly expect to find after ripping the photograph of “us” in half. “Maybe,” my brain sneered, “maybe you are just a worthless relationship-wrecker who has never and will never belong anywhere.”

So I thought I’d ask The Google for advice. Dear Google, I asked, how do I be 50 and single successfully?

The answer was surprising. I assumed (hoped) that I would get links to helpful sites that would tell me how to navigate this frightening loneliness. Instead, I got dating advice. If you Google “How to be single at 50” you get “17 Reasons Dating in your 50s is so Challenging” and “How to Date in your 50s” and “Dating in your 50s – Easy for Men, Not so much for Women!” (seriously, that’s a real article).

This is a bit discouraging. I mean, not only does dating after age 50 apparently really suck for women, I don’t want to know how to date at all. I want to know how to be alone and thrive at it! This is the first time in my adult life that I’ve lived entirely on my own. Surely someone has written about this? I’ll have to look harder.

In a previous post I wrote about how people seem to value a relationship only when it’s legal marriage on paper. Based on the Google search, it appears that people also don’t seem to value singlehood. A person apparently only has value when they are bonded to another human being, regardless of what their actual needs are or whether that relationship is beneficial and supportive of anyone in it.

Coming back to my post-midnight Whatifs, my daytime-rational self thinks all of that is bullshit. Fuck you, brain. I am definitely better off on my own than alone with someone. I do deserve love, in whatever form it comes to me. And the only thing that’s remotely stupid about this 50-year-old is that she didn’t figure it all out sooner and save herself and her partner a ton of needless effort and pain.

But that’s neither here nor there right now. I have to learn to be OK with being alone, possibly for a good long time. I have to learn to self-soothe (maybe with a little help from an aging Boston Terrier). I have to figure out how best to shut up the Whatifs and shed a positive light on single me. I have a lot of internal work to do.

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