//Part One // Part Two
So what was I saying? The TL/DR version to catch you up on this series is… I am bad at dating and spend a lot of time hangin’ with my gal pals complaining about how there are no boys out there to date. Until recently.
Let me get real with ya for a second.
If I had to choose my number one fear… the thing that keeps me up at night and can cause me to lose my breath in anxiety… the thing that I never wanna talk about/hear about/think about because it is so scary to me that I can’t even bear the slight thought of it… is dying. Alone. Or more specifically… getting old and being alone. I’ve had a lot of experience with this lately from the outside looking in— seeing how much it takes (emotional energy, physical energy, patience, love, time, finances) to care for elderly and aging people and the importance that family and loved ones play in the midst of it. My dad’s mom passed away last year after battling congestive heart failure. I watched as he and my mom and his brothers worked tirelessly to care for her— to visit, to make decisions, to love and spend time with her. I admired their strength in tough moments, their joy amidst the painful ones. My grandmother knew her boys loved her and they took great care of her; repaying her for the many years she took care of them. She raised 4 wild boys and in the end, 4 wild boys were with her along with a ragtag group of grandchildren.
My mom’s parents are in their 90s and while they’re doing OK, they’re not doing great. Mom has been to visit them a lot lately, including a stressful and emotional move, and I can only imagine how hard it is for her and her siblings to be near them… wondering if it’s for the last time. My Grandmom and Granddad (the whole gang pictured above) are incredible people who’ve lived rich and adventurous lives and I know that in quiet moments all of us who love and adore them— my parents, my aunts and uncles, my cousins— wish we could do more. Be around more. Talk more. Write more. Visit more. Love them more. Having a family is an amazing and incredible thing.
And yet, selfishly, as I think about them, I have this growing, irrational fear that I will be alone someday. That there will be no children or grandchildren to think about me, to care for me when my body gives out and my eyesight gets worse than it is now, when I can’t hear and refuse to wear a hearing aid. There will be no one to make tough decisions with me, to laugh with me when my joints creak and I no longer understand technology or kids these days, to give all my worldly possessions to in hopes they will treasure them and enjoy them as I have.
You’re only 28, I can hear you saying it. I can hear it echoing in my head as I type these words out and the clickclickclick rings loudly inside my skull—ONLY 28! But Only 28 is about 5 years older than I thought I’d be by the time I met someone. I thought I’d be married by now, potential kid(s) by now, house by now. Only 28 used to be Only 24 so how many blinks before it’s Only 32? 36? 40? The insanity and anxiety that runs rampant through me when I think about dying alone has only been compounded by the belief that there are No Good Men left (see Part One.) It has been excruciatingly magnified when I think about how bad I am at dating (see Part Two), or how terribly my last relationship ended or how nostalgic and weird I get when an ex gets engaged or married (see current life.)
I’ve read A LOT about Christian Dating. I’ve read A LOT about dating in general. I’ve talked a lot about it, too, with people I love and trust and honestly… there’s just not much out there that has been very helpful or meaningful or even (dare I say) fair and not insensitive. I’ve heard it all— You need to move to a new city. You need to trust that God has someone for you. When you’re content with your life, it’ll happen. Don’t be so picky. You need to be more picky. When you’re not looking for him, he’ll find you. It’s a maturity problem. It’s a career problem. You’re too independent. You’re not girly enough. You’re too wild. You need to pray more about it. On and on. But nothing that doesn’t leave me just worried about being old and gray and dying alone in a warm apartment under a stack of books that toppled from the shelves because I installed it myself and didn’t do it well because I’m an old lady, ok, gimme a break!
So what to do? I can sit and complain that there are No Good Men. I can sit home on Friday nights and play Settlers of Catan with friends and never go on dates and write drivel for my blog and worry about my mortality along with whether I can get someone to trade me some sheep for wheat. Remember the lonely goldfish from the singleness pamphlet I told you about in Part Two? I can be that lonely little goldfish, with a gray wig and a huge stack of books crushing my little fish body inside the bowl, my last bubbles floating slowly to the top before they pop in the grand finale of my life.
Or. Maybe there’s another option.
This is Part Three of a series I’m writing on relationships, anxiety, and everything in between. Lofty, right? There’s a line in the movie The Wedding Date (I love a good chick flick) where Dermot Mulroney’s character says to Debra Messing: “Every woman has the exact love life they want.” This statement has haunted and bewildered me and I have always hated it (which is hard to hate anything said by Dermot Mulroney’s mouth) because I didn’t think it was fair, or true (chick flicks can be dumb, let’s be honest) and it scared me. But recently… well. Maybe I’ve started to kinda think it is true. This is my exploration.