Last night I had a case of the Lonelies.
There are lots of reasons I can think of that that might happen.
Yeah, that could do it. Especially since I am still learning what it means for me to live alone....at 70.
I'm facing major surgery, alone. Yes, my son Ben will come and take me to surgery and a friend will come and stay with me for a couple weeks so I have someone here at night. However, I am without the one person who loved me best in the world.
In an effort to mitigate my alone-ness....
I have finally signed up for a couple of online dating sites. What words can I use to explain that experience?
Going through photos of men, like we used to shuffle through record albums in a record store or now the swiping through options on a phone for something that appeals, is comedic at best and deeply sad at worst.
I see pics of men in dirty t-shirts. I see more nose hair than I did in thirty years of doing dental hygiene from selfies taken while sitting in a lazy boy chair from the worst angles ever! I see men holding fish, most large but some small and wonder if that is meant to show that they are good providers...or not or perhaps some sexual innuendo????
I see men in gyms. "See! I stay in shape!" Men with motorcycles. Men with women, whose faces are sometimes blurred out. Men with dogs or cats. Men in sports jerseys at sporting events. I see men in photos taken in Europe or on a mountain or on the beach or on their boat. (What the heck, I have pics of myself with my guitar...so...why not?)
Sideways photos. Photos that were obviously taken anywhere from ten years to thirty years ago. Men who give themselves 'handles' like LovetoDream or Lookin4theOne or RustyWithAnOilCan.
Their profiles say things like: "I'm an old fashioned guy who loves walking the beach at sunset and holding hands." "I love kisses and cuddles." and then "I don't have any baggage." (insert eye roll here!) or "I don't play games." "No drama please." or "I just want to give all my love to someone special. Are you that someone?"
They send me messages sometimes. I used to respond to all of them. I don't do that now. There was "Your sexy." "Hi my love." "I don't like your nose piercing but you seem ok for someone from Gary." "You'd look good on a balcony in Tuscany but I wonder how you'd look in cutoff overalls in the garden."
The 37 year old who "prefers older women." and when I told him that the age difference was too much for my taste was told "Have fun with all those gross old men then."
The alleged psychologist who 'stalked' me, calling me his darling and begging me not to toy with him. (When I say stalked I mean that he kept sending me messages...until I finally blocked him)
I have talked to a few of them, either on the phone or chatted via text or messaging. Met a couple for coffee or dinner. Had some engaging conversations with men who live waaay too far away.
I had one guy who I actually allowed myself to get excited about meeting only to have him tell me that I was too early in grief. He was widowed five years ago and so made the determination based on my blog writings. I respect his perspective and still think we would have had potential for at least a solid friendship.
E ala e! (this is the way)
All in all it has been tragically sad and also an opportunity for growth for me.
I have learned to 'not take it personally' along the way. Although I have been genuinely disgusted at times, I have also developed a deeper compassion for the kinds of loneliness that can be felt and, seeing some of these men, I ache for the ways in which our culture has failed both men and women with regards to emotional intelligence and the basic skills of communication and relationship.
What I see is that we are looking for what David and I fought about and for. In nearly 30 years we had only perhaps five fights. It was always about connection. It was always about feeling the loneliness of not being in sync with each other.
So loneliness is not only about not having someone to kiss or hug or cuddle or have sex with, although those things are very nice and I miss them A LOT! Loneliness, for me, is about not feeling connected to another person who will be your witness for your life, your cheering section and your teacher, your tether to this world and your home where the language that only two people learn to speak as they grow together is spoken.
It is not as though there are not struggles in relationship. David and I struggled....AND we felt safe in each other's presence. Our idiosyncrasies were accepted and embraced as part of the love we felt.
And last night I felt lonely, missing all of that.
It is not as if I do not have friends. I do, and they are wonderful human beings who also have their own lives full of their own struggles and joys. It would be unkind of me to expect them to fill a void that they cannot fill. I must learn to be enough...to be the one to fill that Void. When I do...the love spills out...and that is ultimately what I want for myself in this life.
As it is, I am back to Gratitude.
My internal Witness, who has had to become larger and more present, the one I have nurtured for many, many years now, will have to be my 'date' on those lonely nights.
It's all more complex than that...and simultaneously that simple.
I can still want to have another partner. I can still be enough for myself. I can still love and nurture my relationships with my friends and family and....
I can still have a case of the Lonelies from time to time.
Holding all of that, even when it seems to have inherent conflicts, is part of growing ever into loving the Life still before me.