Thursday, September 26, 2013

Being valued

I had a thought the other day which went something along the lines of

Somewhere out there there is somebody who would want to marry me. They would take this 47 year old kit, as is, and make it theirs.
The problem being, how high might the price be? It might have to be a very old and unattractive man, they might beat me, use me, spend my money, or worst of all not value me for who I am.

I was running this idea past Seamus the other night, he was following along. After all he thinks I have nice tits and no doubt there would be some dude who would want to have their way with me... But when I got to the value part, I received the blankest of blank stares.

Photo credit Andrew Malone wikimedia commons

Well, I go to work every day, I work hard, I make a good wage, I am highly qualified, I have my own home, somehow I manage to keep it clean and to cook and look after my child all alone, I'm a kind and generous person. I'm not big noting myself, but these things don't grow on trees.

Then something happened at work:

I am lucky enough to have long service leave approved for three months next year. But after this had happened Capow! the only other person who could do my job is pregnant, and my employer is high and dry. I am very hard to replace.

In the marriage/dating market I am apparently ten-a-penny but at work it is hard to replace me. This is one of the most alluring things about being a working woman. I am valued. Sigh. Even if it is some sort of imputed value derived from the cost and difficulty of replacing me.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why Men Love Bitches

Well, this is a thought that has been brewing for a while. It is nothing like  the thoughts indicated in the book of the same name, although I think I can be guilty of doormatism and pricing myself too low. I prefer to stick to my principles, be my own person (both of which the book recommends) but  not contrive to use bitchery to attract a man (which seems to be the main thrust).

Anyhow my thesis is an evolutionary one and goes thus, the kinda bitch a man likes is one that sets the bar high, sets him clear boundaries and follows through with consequences if he lets her down. Although they will proclaim otherwise, many of them especially the old fashioned men's men do not want to be king of their castle, or master in their own home, they actually want to be organised by a woman.

And the reason this is so appealing?

Well those type of women make good mothers, and after all human coupling is all about finding the best parent for your offspring

Ta! Da!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tanabata Revelation

It was the Japanese star festival and I went to a Tanabata festival party where we were exhorted to write our wishes on a bit of paper and hang them in a tree.

My mind was blank and there was nothing I wanted, so I resorted to an old favorite from this blog once wished for in the context of Hamish "A compasisonate observer of my life experience". In that moment, I suppose, I was thinking of a man, a life's companion. But then I woke up on the morning of the 8th, knowing what is lacking in my life. Good and reliable female friends. It's OK where I come from to call them Girlfriends.

Before my marriage girlfriends were pivotal in my life.  They were for travel, fun, joint man hunting expeditions, gossip and emotional support. They watched the comings and goings of my life with compassion and shared in  my ups and downs.  Then abruptly at 25 they were cut out of my life. Because, marriage is supposed to fulfil you, utterly.

No longer will you need to talk into the early hours about your "man troubles" or have a shoulder to cry on because tah da!! you no longer have man troubles do you? No you are  married  and that is nirvana. Should you ever need a shoulder there is a big strong man, look right there, yes him!

So I learnt to live without. I watched romantic films, attempted to gossip with my monosyllabic husband thing, and kept all my troubles to myself. Yes, surely my marriage was a very lonely place.

Occaisionally they would flash into my life, but they too had husbands and the intimacy was never quite restored. There was always a third and fourth wheel in the relationship.

The birth of my first child brought it back - the mum's group thrown together in adversity, having gone through a thing their husbands could not - childbirth and momentarily having time on their hands during maternity leave and the very early life of their first born with all its traumas. They've all scattered now, back to their nests and work-a-day concerns and the care and keeping of husbands.

Since my divorce seven years ago, I don't think I have managed for form a warm female friendship. And once again I have been lonely, possibly looking in all the wrong places for the kind of reciprocal love and support that only female friends can give.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hamish Seamus and the Stoics

I am looking for a word to describe a yearning or need I have in my life of late for Stability. Its not commitment, exactly,  or predictability. I just don't want to go through the process of being savagely terminated for reasons I don't understand again. I want to know that  I can depend on Seamus to be there for me, or give reasons why not. I have been hurt, and one approach, which I understand would be the stoic approach, it just to not allow myself to get emotionally involved.

We grieve because we stake our happiness on things we cannot control. If you think that your well being depends on things that you cannot control then you will become a target for coersion by anyone who does have control over those things. 

" you see, as Hamish said... you love me more than I love you" Hamish was holding all the cards.

So that would be a solution. We need greatness of soul and courage, wisdom and temperance and not to allow suceptibility to grief to make us feel weak, worried, upset, flustered and clouded. We must simply block out any feelings of vulnerability. And this I think is where sex is very handy as a proxy for love, particularly for men. Well you can protect yourself by saying "it's only sex"

but then come variations on a theme of giving into it to properly live.  We have Alfred Lord Tennyson
"Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"
Or the more prescriptive:

''If you try to love on a limited liability basis, you limit your ability to love at all. It is for these reasons that the church upholds the idea of Christian marriage, lifelong, exclusive and faithful, as the only setting in which human sexuality can be responsibly and fully enjoyed.''Archbishop Robert Runcie 1987

And more recently Daniel Russell, talking more broadly than about love sex and relationships
"If the way you approach the happiness of your life is to try to make sure that you're never invested in anything enough that you would ever have anything to lose then you have utterly missed the point" Daniel Russell

So I suppose I conclude that real happiness means having something to loose, something to grieve for when its lost, not making sure you do not become attached to anything.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Girl That was Me II

Last week a girl who I knew at school came to visit me. She is (very sadly) widowed since her husband died when he was 49 and she 42. She did not work during her marriage and she is materially better off than me. She owns her own home outright, has two very functional and effective twenty-something sons and apparently does not need to work anymore - ie she is retired.

Rewinding 30 years at school she kicked her heels, didn't bother too much, never planned to have a career. Dabbled in a bit of secretarial work then got married.

I on the other hand set the school alight with my hard work and intelligence, always getting prizes and trying my best. But I find myself barely holding on to my (highly cerebral) job, being a single parent to a difficult child and only half way through paying off a huge mortgage.   It made me think again about The Girl That was Me

Maybe I should've just ignored my Physics homework, and set my eyes on the main chance - a man who could provide me with a home and a family and not expect me to work. Or perhaps, more likely, our personalities have dictated our destiny.

She, prepared to play second fiddle. Needing to be emotionally and financially supported. Me, driving, striving, independent desperate to prove I could do what any man could.

Thus who I selected as a partner was immaterial in terms of support because I could do that for myself. So I chose a playmate. She was more circumspect, knowing she needed someone to make a nest for her.

And whilst I feel somewhat ripped off by the state of affairs as they are, I could also say that this early determination has served me well for my current lifestyle. If I had been a more gentle, passive, unambitious woman I would not be able to carry this off even at the level I do. I would be a single parent in the popular understanding of the term. Poor, uneducated and with health and social challenges.

But the mistake which has been obvious through many of my posts was to assume the immateriality of a man who could protect and provide. I suppose I threw the baby out with the bathwater. Because if less of my  energy was spent on the day to day business of living, I would have more to offer to my career.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Be careful what you wish for

If being treated with benign indifference has become irksome, I am wondering how the alternative would make me feel.

He prioritises everything above me, including his ex wife. 

He opened a new facebook account and decided to feature the date of his marriage in his timeline (he's been separated for a year) I mean, I'm glad they get on and all that, but this just looks to my friends as though I'm having an affair.

If he frequently shares ideations about "the one who got away"...he gave everything up for her, he loved  her, he was prepared to start a new life with her... and yet somehow (tiny voice) not me.  And despite the fact that she treated him so BAD and I treat him so NICE. Incidentally Hamish did that too. Before me there had been Clancy perfect, beautiful well groomed, but an utter bitch. I really  do fit awfully well into the Tart with a Heart subplot.

He objectifies me and judges me purely on my physical attributes and sex appeal.. This is so obviously a way of making me matter less so he can justify it as "just sex"

In other social media websites, he flirts openly with other women. Our mutual friends. When I pick him up on it he says "well better than doing it behind your back".denounces any attraction for them.  He honestly claims not to realise he is leading people on.

One mutual friend from our bike club was stuck at home with a broken arm. So he rang her to be friendly and proceeded to go round with a bottle of wine because she was claiming to be house bound. She was no such thing later that week she was out clubbing and now she is off overseas whilst on sick leave...but he didn't see this behaviour (personal visit with alcohol) as in anyway leading her on or sending the wrong message.

So if I'm feeling uncomfortable about all these things feeling essentially that what they spell out is that he is not ready for commitment and I am just Mrs right now.

What if he was rushing into a relationship with me, pushing through his divorce, making it happen, moving in declaring his love...What then? I don't think I would really want him.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Benign Indifference

Well, hot tradie, I am going to call you Seamus, because the whole thing has gone a bit like Hamish.

Hamish. He dated me for 9 months introduced me to his family took me out to parties. Studiously avoided telling me he loved me, or any sort of commitment. At one stage he did say he would like to find someone to grow old with. I would see him at least twice a week, once at his once at mine. He never prioritised me over his other engagements - dinner at pub with old friend or quiz night.

I interpreted his behaviour as follows:

(1) he was not able to talk about his feelings - perhaps even emotionally unavailable

(2) he did not want to form a lasting partnership with me right now, but I was, at the very least, a contender

What I now know is that his feelings were probably more along the lines of the following which I would describe as benign indifference.

(1) I was not unduly unattractive or irritating
(2) I was a handy and available way of getting laid
(3) I was good enough to pass the time with until something better came along.

All this done with no malice, if I were to put it like that he would probably deny it, but this really has to be the underlying premise that allows your to suddenly say.. It's not working for me, we got involved too fast, but you are an angel.

In short the classic tart with a heart 

Courtesty of the Daily Mail

I have recently woken up to something similar in my relationship with Seamus. He never prioritises me everything comes first. He will obviously pop round at 9pm after he has done overtime, helped his ex wife with the lawn/ pool/ moving the mattress. Fixed his son's car, done a 66km bike ride.. he never makes plans with me, and if he does 5pm often becomes 7pm whilst I wait around.

I think sometimes we work harder to please those we respect/love. So I bend over backwards to fit around his plans. but as another old cliche goes familiarity breeds contempt. So it is easy to make yourself the handy shag.

I need to care sufficiently little to say "no" to him occasionally. And if I am afraid that this will result in him leaving me. Well so be it. If he really loved or respected me he would fit around my plans.

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Life happens to the un-canny

The mid life crisis has really kicked in. I am quite startled at how I have become "old" ish and I have neither made an impact, had a successful career nor even, yet, left a lasting legacy. The feeling is uncomfortable. I have missed the mark on many things and it would be facile to say "It's never too late!" because it patently is. However,  I do feel the need to ask the question "Why?"

Why did I marry the wrong guy? Why didn't I follow a career that allowed me to be creative? Why did I not use my unquestionable gift for foreign languages? How did I end up only having one child?How did I end up living on the opposite side of the world to my loved ones?

And here is the answer. From my earliest childhood, my philosophy on life was that it is something that happens TO you. I can only assume that others are more canny. My understanding has always been that life is like a movie, a story waiting to unfold. You jump at opportunities when they arise, but essentially you are on a roller coaster and there is no getting off, or changing its course.

So it was that, like Cinderella or any of the other fairytale princesses, I dreamt of who I was going to marry. My diaries would have probably said it explicitly "I wonder who I'm going to marry". The vision was always a happy and benevolent one. A person would come along, or perhaps according to my mother's advice I would put myself in the right place at the right time. In due course there would be home, family and in accordance with social mores of the time and my mothers ambition for me I would also have a career. Maybe a doctor.

In the early hours when I can't sleep I try to unravel all those questions and yes, the answer is a lack of self determination. And what of those other "canny" ones?  there is no other explanation than they planned their lives, saw their main chance.

When approaching marriage they weighed up the options - quite right. What man would just say yes to the first woman who swept him off his feet? In some ways it seems liberated to have the self respect to take each offer on its merits and reject them if they do not advantage you.  It's probably the only time an object in a shop window gets to choose its owner.  I was just grateful someone had finally asked me. I was the last to get a bra, start my periods, get engaged... I waited in vain for so long  on all occaisions and when Simon finally asked me it was with gratitude that I welcomed this next stage in lifes progression.  I didn't look that hard at the man I was marrying or the implications of this marriage on my future life.

The canny ones would re-chart  their lives when they went off course. They would have enough assertiveness not to be held to ransom over when they would give birth, or whether they would live near their families

The canny ones would recognise that earning a living was secondary to doing something that makes your heart sing because really you only get one life.

So it's a personality thing. This inclination to accept what is thrown at you? or is it upbringing? It might work if everyone did the right thing and behaved well. As for selecting a husband from the myriad of offers (which there weren't) money didn't come into it. I thought it crass to even think that money was an issue. Like being bought like a whore. Marriage really would've been prostitution. You marry for LOVE. Yet somehow, whilst being completely and properly in love my "canny" friends managed to marry someone who could earn a living and in most cases support them fully whilst they took a number of years off to bring up children.

A slightly more tricky one is being brought up a Christian, with a hope of eternal life. The job in this life being to be nice to people, work hard and be honest and have integrity in everything you do. This is counter-productive to having a career. So naked ambition is out the window and so is doing something to please yourself. You might be forgiven in your late 40s for looking back and hoping to god there is an eternal life to look forward to because you just squandered this one on trying to make other people happy. Canny friends heard those truisms "life is not a rehearsal" or "your life lies before you like a path of snow, be careful how you tread it, for every step will show"  and they heard listened and comprehended them. It makes me wonder how someone like me with a modicam of intelligence could have been so stupid to realise these were not just cliches.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

If I had planned this

So here I am mid forties, parent of a grade-school child (conceived by IVF), Well/over qualified and working in a professional job in a country far from my country of origin.

Now, ya know, its not so bad. I get by. There's no pesky cheating husband to worry about, I can just about cope with my job. I think I'll be able to handle the mortgage and school fees if I stay in work. I can get him to and from school, attend performances pay for outside activities and child care when needed.

How about if I had actually aspired to this lifestyle? How would I have prepared myself?

Well I wouldn't have bothered with all that fruitless husband-chasing in my 20s. I would've kept all my relationships light, and rejected them ruthlessly if they tried to commit (probably resulting in a string of proposals - but no matter)

I wouldn't have carried a dead weight of a husband all through my 30s. I wouldn't supported him through graduate school.

No. I would've focussed on making and saving money for what I had planned. I would've bought a house within shouting distance of my parents. I would've had my eggs frozen and ruthlessly pursued my career from graduating at 21 to 36. I would've taken out life insurance, school bonds, income protection. Perhaps bought a home in my adopted country (although I can never see myself planning that) Then I would've had myself inpregnated by a handsome intelligent sperm donor at 37 cut back on work to focus on bringing up this child -whilst still keeping my hand in - the same as I am now, but financially healthier, and not tied to this country or my ex-husband. This plan would, quite likely have resulted in a less difficult (if not as good looking) child. One of the features that makes this alternate universe attractive is that I receive no money and little practical support from Simon, so I really would've lost nothing in that regard. But Connor would not have had any form of putative father.

The main thing that would've stood in the way of putting this plan into action (at the time) would've been the morality of it - to actually choose to be a single parent how crazy? ie make yourself some sort of fallen woman. But actually its a little deeper, it would be thumbing your nose at the notion of the family. A boy needs his father and a woman needs society, help and comfort from a man (many or most don't get that might I say) but there's the dream. And is a man with the label "dad" sufficient and complete. That a child at least knows where it comes from? Many dads do little more.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Flash in the Pan

What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
How sweet their memory still!
But they have left an aching void
The world can never fill.

How to even begin this post. I haven't written since September. After which I became, if not happy, at peace with my situation. Bowing gracefully out of the race to snare a man in favour of being thankful for my child, my community, the ability to indulge in sad single-parent behaviours like sleeping in the same room as my child, my job, and how close it is to work and school.

Anyway one thing I resolved to do was increase my circle of friends and thus it was that one fateful Saturday morning I found myself with a non-threatening groups of bicycle bimblers amongst whom was HotTradie.

In the days and weeks following he made an intense and targeted attempt to win my friendship and my heart. He was completely there for me. And slowly but surely my cynicism turned to love.

At first I thought it was laughable like the proposal below (he didn't ask to marry me, but made sure I knew his intentions were honourable) and I thought this is plain ridiculous someone falling for me in this way at 47. 

But as it persisted, I began to enjoy being admired and began to think perhaps it was not too late for me. He was so very kind, consilatory, loving helpful and adorable that I soon felt the same way as him.

We took it slow having met in October we finally took Connor on holiday together in January. Connor typically behaved in a very entitled and high handed way and there were a few tantrums.

And after that, without warning  received a text saying he was not ready to raise someone elses child. He had done his parenting, and he was sorry he thought we shouldn't see each other any more, or just as friends and he still thinks I'm sexy.

Bewildered doesn't even come close. I feel unpleasantly tethered to the earth. I think somewhere in that (as it turns out hymn verse by cowper) the sensation is described. I have an aching void, that is possibly filled with helium, and if I could untie myself from earth and fly away I would because there is nothing and noone here (not even my son, maybe at this moment especially not my son) who can fill it.