I’m failing. No, not with mourning and recovery. That, my psychologist reassures me, I’m doing quite well with. In fact, he tells me that I’m doing extraordinarily well - best he's seen. (Read the next word in your best dripping sarcasm voice:) Yaaaay!
I’m failing at getting back into life.
I’m just stuck and I don’t know how to get unstuck. Life isn’t really throwing me any easy lobs over the plate either. My latest biggest challenge is that I spend an unhealthy chunk of time alone and I’m not exactly sure how to fix that. My friends are all married with children (like I should be) so my running buddies are busy chasing kids. Gone are the days of single friends having BBQs or nights on the town. Now those same friends’ evenings are filled with sick kids, wife/husband date nights, or other family crises while my evenings are, well, less engaged. At least with my current set of friends, gone are my easy opportunities to jump back into life and be effortlessly carried away by all the camaraderie that is (or was) being young and single.
I’m failing to find my place in this world. I don’t belong downtown in the Mecca of the barfly; I’m not the right age or temperament or something. Likewise, I don’t belong in the divorce groups; I’m not divorced (and no, being widowed is NOT like your spouse leaving you and no, your divorce is NOT a tragedy.) I also don’t belong to the life-long singles, those who for some reason or another haven’t found true love; Maggie and I had true love in our hands, and it was ripped away from us both. So where do I belong?
I mentioned to a married-with-child friend of mine (and Maggie’s) the other day that I was going to learn to play volleyball. (My logic is charming in its simplicity: People play volley ball. I need to meet people. Therefore, I need to learn to play volleyball.) My friend, in her innocent ignorance, said “Go hang out with some friends at the local volley ball courts and meet new people.” Ah, said like that, it’s so simple.
People remember their single days as easy and filled with single friends (because everyone WAS single back then!) The idea of hanging out at a volley ball court with friends is easy to conceptualize because it was easy to materialize - just call six or seven of your (all single) friends and one or two, at least, would join in the fun. Game on! But what has changed out from under us that isn’t obvious is that all the single folks have been replaced by married folks and, at my age, most with children. Try calling six or seven of those same folks to suggest hanging out at a volley ball court one afternoon and see what responses you get now. But my friend, with her kind suggestion, just didn’t see how her simple plan was doomed or why I wasn’t already doing it. Then she labeled my disagreement a “negative attitude” and as me “not trying hard enough.” Crap.
I don’t have any answers. Likewise, I don’t have any interesting analogies to drive my point home this time around. I’m just frustrated.
But frustration leads to action. Action is movement and movement is good, even when it’s not in the right direction. I feel like I’m stuck out in a blizzard, with the snow waist-deep and the howling wind confusing my senses. My feet are numb and my face stings from the wind. It would be so easy to just sit down in the snow and give up. But I can’t. I will not. I don’t know the right way but I know what I won’t do and that’s quit. So I move on. I will keep my feet moving. Movement is good. (Damn, there goes my no-analogies moment!)
One day I’ll find my path. One day, in hindsight, I’ll be amazed at where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. My new single friends won’t believe the amazing stories I tell them about my travels. One day, I’ll see that what I thought was failing was just a redefinition of what it meant to be me.