Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Villanelle

Did my fifth decade forge in me
a fiery ship of burnished steel?
A long withheld capacity
to love you and to let you be
the helmsman of my wheel?
Did my fifth decade forge in me
a passion from across the sea
So strong, and desperate and real?
A long withheld capacity
to be myself and truly see
the way you make me feel?
Did my fifth decade forge in me
A softness borne of misery
of wounds that never really heal
A long withheld capacity
to give you all that I can be
Since you laid down the keel
Did my fifth decade forge in me
A long withheld capacity

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's better to have lived and lost....

Sometimes when I get materialistic or wistful for the things I don't or can't have, I bury my envy with a mantra that goes something like this.

So you'll never go to Hawaii again? so what, at least you've BEEN to Hawaii...

You'll never be married again? at least you WERE married once.

You've known love... You've known what its like to have a loving husband...

You can't have any more kids? oh well at least you've been part of a big happy family....

You'll never have a house on the river? you were lucky enough to grow up near your grandparents who lived on a river.

Your career is stagnating? Oh well, at least you could once claim career aspirations. It was good for a moment there.

I worry that I won't have enough to retire on. Then I look at what retirement means to the current generation of baby boomers. Endless cruises, seafood buffets, holidays in Asia, beautiful perfect home. Its all great but how much does someone need? wouldn't all this comfort pall after a while?

I guess the philosophical point in here is that life is short, and full of experiences, but we don't need to gorge on those experiences to be happy, we just need to have them. Dive on the barrier reef once, see the Taj Mahal, Fall in love, have a baby, get published. It may never come back again, but enjoy it whilst you can.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Protect, Provide, Defend?

These are apparently the roles of a man. And I have been REJECTING them, ALL MY LIFE. Since I drank at the fountain of feminist enlightenment with my Grandmother. NEVER DEPEND ON A MAN, GET YOURSELF A CAREER, BE SELF-SUFFICIENT.

It would be an insult to expect someone to provide for me. Taxpayers have invested good money in my education, and further I do not want to be beholden to a man. When I first heard the expression "Marriage is prostitution" (at the tender age of about 30) I had no idea what it could possibly mean. I have been married once, but I have never expected a man to PROVIDE for me in return for services in the bedroom and kitchen. HORROR.

As for protection. I am not weak, I do not need protecting.

During my marriage, this worked quite well. In Simon, I had not sought out a provider, he was ineffective at work, but still had the manly attributes of strong opinions and apsirations. We both worked, we both cooked, we both cleaned. Until the baby came along. Then Simon lost his mind, and, just as I had never expected to be protected or nurtured, I found myself quite incapable of nurture.

But, it seems the joke is on me. Because many men want to fulfil the protector and provider role and many women of my generation are happy to nurture them in return, and, in maybe half the cases, where they are able to respect one another, there is not even a sniff of prostitution in the process.

I could've forgotten about getting an education, focussed my energies of attracting a provider and lined my little nest. I have to say this would've been much easier than the single parent role where I try to be Mummy and Daddy... huffing about trying to get ahead at work by day, endlessly wiping and cleaning by night...

But stay, what of that other 50% those unhappily married for whom the deal did not work out. They have no skills they are trapped by a unfaithful, disrespectful, user and abuser.

Perhaps in my attempt to avoid this, I also passed up the opportunity to allow a good man to protect and provide for me.

For a little moment here I had the worst of both worlds. I was able to go out and earn a living in a respected professional role, whilst having to opportunity to share my home with someone who expected me to be a chef in the kitchen and a whore in the bedroom, an who would physically slap me down If I tried to speak up for myself or negotiate in the domestic economy. Someone who offered me a form of protection and provision I never asked for - "Oh you have magnificent breasts! What's for dinner?" The protection and provision were so hard to discern they were almost theoretical, and yet he traded on them. You clean up after me, because I work FOR YOU.

I have, in my time, been guilty of feeling sorry for my single friends because they could not snare a man. Oh the lonely life of a spinster, to be pitied. And yet that joke is on me too, because had I not entered into this whole marriage/partnership enterprise I would be in no worse a position. Perhaps better even. No unemployable husband living off me, no testosterone charged zealot cheating on me, hitting me, spending my money of flat screen TVs. I would've been able to direct my hard earned dollars to investments that worked for me. If I had not treasured old fashioned notions marriage and family I could even have become a parent.

But now I picture a new stronger me. My efforts will no longer be focussed on finding a partner to share my life, but to creating a better single life for myself. The best it can be.

And what of my feminist grandmother? She died last year, protected and provided for her whole life by a man who loved and respected her. Perhaps she felt dis-empowered, so she had these dreams for me, dreams of freedom, autonomy, personal wealth and its rewards, respect from society.... I think I know where she was coming from.

Yet somehow I think perhaps like many of my generation I am caught in that narrow alley between feminism and post-feminism where there are three options;

  • throw caution to the wind and love freely hoping to be given the freedom to pursue your dreams,
  • trust only yourself and remain single, or
  • become a case study in mismanagement of the feminist ideal as have I.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

It was always there

I have been squeamish about including the term sex addiction on my blog. I preferred to think of what happened as a little slip. A one-off infidelity. Maybe I thought Neil's searches for it would bring up my blog. But now our relationship is officially over. I venture to suggest that his sex addiction never went away. Nor was it ever really a problem for him. It is a lifestyle. A real woman with hangups, domestic concerns, worries, hormones, demands is actually something he doesn't want to deal with.

I believe and acknowledge that our relationship is over, and yet for some reason I am driven to have one last snoop. And as always, it bears fruit. Sexually explicit SMS from someone we both know, which leaves me in no doubt that they are or have been intimate.

Its not as though it is the first time this has happened. Let me remind you...

1. The original No Smoke Without Fire in which I surmise that regarding an earlier row over a text message, his infidelity was not in fact in my imagination. Too bad I've had several rounds of infertility treatment and bought a house with him in the interim.

2. There was the STI scare (and he currently has another) although these things can lie dormant and don't really signify infidelity in any real sense. Disturbing for a good convent girl who knew for a fact she had not been with anyone else.

3. The second No Smoke Without Fire in which he accidentally stays logged into his email and I find quite a few leads..

"Nah" I think, "I'm imagining it. They are probably just good friends". One at least turned out to be a male colleague of his!! Lesley!! (and anyway I'm no saint myself by this time)

4. The unexplainable receipts

5. The German controversy

... and finally this. Finally there is very little doubt that he has never been faithful to me (if that matters)

I have repeatedly given him the benefit of the doubt, wondering if I am reading too much into this? Is it all in my head? Are they just good friends?

I am not particularly hurt by this, but it does give me the impetus to actually move on and start a separate life. I love my home, and I have no doubt this will be damaging to Connor, but I can't live my life as the room mate/ house keeper/ admin assistant and Connor won't look back when he's 40 and say "Gee mum, thank you for staying with someone who you didn't love, and who continually cheated on you to give me a stable home"