Ask E. Jean - Tormented? Driven Witless? Whipsawed by confusion?

Advice Vixens

I can't believe I am typing this into the abyss here but there is virtually no one I can really speak to about my feelings. I have friends but I feel like they don't really get the seriousness of my situation so I bottle all of this up and I cannot hold it in any longer.

I'm middle aged now, was in a very long term relationship for many years. I really thought it was my forever. Understand that both of my parents are long dead, I'm also an only child. All my aunts and uncles are gone too and the cousins I had live far away and are much older than me and I'm out of touch with them as we never had anything in common and we never had a relationship.

After my mom died I went through hell. I ended up changing careers, going back to school for my masters, meeting the love of my life ...everything seemed to be slowly getting better. Then , the relationship crumbled. My ex is mentally ill and it happened slowly over years, it was insidious and I hung on way longer than I should have. The thing is, no one ever loved me like he did. I never clicked with anyone like him. We were so in tune. Finishing each other's sentences, there was no one I'd rather talk to and be with than him. We are still friends today. There is no romantic connection he was in a relationship and I was too. We are more like family now.

Friday night he wanted to make up for forgetting my birthday so he took me out. We went out for dinner. It was freezing cold but we walked in the dark in a very desolate area to the restaurant and we laughed and talked and had such fun. We had a great dinner and coming home we were laughing so hard I almost fell on the ice I was laughing so hard.Got back to his place and watched a few videos and TV shows and fell asleep. It was 3 am, there was no hanky panky, just lots of talking and laughing.

In the morning I woke up and his grandma who I know , well made us Breakfast, she lives in the same building. I felt so loved and I felt so happy. I have not felt like this in years. I have tried dating for the past 5 years and I've had so many bad experiences. Even the decent men (which I could count on one hand and not use all my fingers) were just not for me. I eventually gave up because I couldn't take it anymore. The constant disappointment and the drain on my time and energy. I joined a very cool church to expand my social circle but I gave up trying to meet someone.

Friday night was a slap in the face reminder at how I am such a different person when I'm with a partner and while I am happy alone most of the time I feel like life is a lot sweeter when I'm sharing it with a special someone. I've done the independent woman thing for many years and I'm just not meeting anyone now. I'm becoming depressed as hell and I feel hopeless.

I actually burst into tears recently telling my ex that I was struggling so much with going on like this. Not having any family....and no kids and having friends but they are all paired up or have family .....it's getting to me. My friends don't really get the depth of my losses and my loneliness. I've tried very hard to remain open and put myself out there with trying to date(online and fix ups) volunteering, church etc....I feel like I'm just going to exist like this until I die and I can't do it. My life is empty and I'm tired of it.

I'm tired of not having a next of kin, of not having someone to call when I go to the ER, of not having someone to spend holidays with (friends invite me, I go but I don't really enjoy myself) .....I don't want to sound ungrateful or self absorbed but I just never thought I'd be alone for so long.

People tell me oh you'll meet someone...all the platitudes which make me want to stab them because IT IS NOT HAPPENING. I'm not getting prettier either, I'm at the end of my rope. Some nights I just get in the shower and cry. And I can't really tell anyone how deeply this upsets me because they become upset and I cannot deal with calming someone else down when I'm telling them I don't want to live anymore, you know? I've done therapy, I'm doing everything to try and reframe and I'm an active person but I honestly do not want to live this life for much longer.

I've had a few men very interested in me but they were fatally flawed with major things and I didn't feel any chemistry for them anyway. As lonely as I am, I'm not desperate and I'd rather be alone than be with someone who bores me or I don't want to be around. There is a man right now (long distance) who adores me but I don't feel anywhere near as excited about him as he does about me.

I have no idea what I want someone to say here. Maybe that things can change, I'm not doomed , life will get better, keep doing what I'm doing etc etc. I just don't know. I had to get this out. I've cried for my mom so much lately, I miss her so deeply, I really do feel abandoned and like my life is pointless at this time.

Basically , I can handle life alone, I keep busy, I do have friends , I have a rewarding career but I feel that my personal life is seriously empty and lacking and I'm giving up hope that it's going to get better.

Thank you to anyone who read this novel.

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    Anon, I'm so sorry that you feel this way, but so happy that you reached out.

    I need think about your post for awhile before offering advice. I just wanted to let you know that someone heard you. Actually, I'm sure that more then one Vixen has read your post, and I'm confident that advice will trickle in during the day.

    In the meantime, hang in there, okay? You're not alone.

    reply to Robynne
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    Okay - to tackle this purely in the mode of objective problem-solving: you've been doing all the right things for the wrong reason. Joining social groups and volunteering are actually the best ways to meet someone, but they shouldn't be the reason for doing so. When attempted primarily for that reason, they aren't going to work as a partner-finding strategy.

    Also, right now, you feel like your life sucks because you don't have a partner. And you're right - having someone to share your life with can be great. As Spider Robinson said, "shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased." But I think this focus is why you're having difficulty finding one. No one wants to get into a relationship to solve another person's problems with their life - that's too much pressure - and most folks can sense when this is the case. Your aim should be to make your overall life pleasant enough so that a partner would be another part of an already good life. So I think your goal should be to create a nice life for yourself FIRST. This will actually make it easier to find someone to share it - people who feel good about themselves and their lives draw people to them.

    So figure out what it's going to take. A challenging hobby, a few life tweaks, volunteering for volunteering's sake, joining one or more social clubs. Things that will contribute to the overall quality of your life. The finding-a-partner part tends to take care of itself when you're happy with your life without a partner. Strange, yes - but very true.

    reply to Jill
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    Jill wrote: Okay - to tackle this purely in the mode of objective problem-solving: you've been doing all the right things for the wrong reason. Joining social groups and volunteering are actually the best ways to meet someone, but they shouldn't be the reason for doing so. When attempted primarily for that reason, they aren't going to work as a partner-finding strategy. Also, right now, you feel like your life sucks because you don't have a partner. And you're right - having someone to share your life with can be great. As Spider Robinson said, "shared pain is lessened; shared joy, increased." But I think this focus is why you're having difficulty finding one. No one wants to get into a relationship to solve another person's problems with their life - that's too much pressure - and most folks can sense when this is the case. Your aim should be to make your overall life pleasant enough so that a partner would be another part of an already good life. So I think your goal should be to create a nice life for yourself FIRST. This will actually make it easier to find someone to share it - people who feel good about themselves and their lives draw people to them. So figure out what it's going to take. A challenging hobby, a few life tweaks, volunteering for volunteering's sake, joining one or more social clubs. Things that will contribute to the overall quality of your life. The finding-a-partner part tends to take care of itself when you're happy with your life without a partner. Strange, yes - but very true.

    Ok, I don't want to seem yelly so don't take my response this way but I've volunteered and done extra curricular things for YEARS. I have never done anything for the sake of meeting a man. The meeting a man thing was a possible side bonus. I've joined the activities I have as a means of expanding my general social circle, not just for men. For friends in general. And I've made some good friends. I would never do something just to hunt for a man, it makes no sense to me to do this. I enjoy the things I'm involved with very much. I did some of them even when I was in a relationship. I'd continue to do most if I was partnered up because I find it fulfilling and fun. Also, if one more person tells me to be happy alone I will seriously just shoot myself. I am. I enjoy sharing my life. I want someone to share things with again. I've had both. A partnered life and an single one and I enjoy life much more when I have someone on my corner loving along side me. It's human nature to need others. It doesn't mean I'm miserable and am avoiding being alone. I do alone fine. I don't understand why people say oh you need to be happy with yourself before someone else will be etc etc. Why does wanting a partner translate as being unhappy with myself? I like myself, like my life and want that missing piece, it doesn't mean I hate my life. I want more. I've been patient, I've expanded my activities so im not a hermit and I'm a very outgoing , social person. I AM TIRED OF BEING SINGLE. IM VERY ,VERY TIRED OF BRING SINGLE. I Just do not even know what to say. I'm not a self loathing, needy person at all. I just want a partner. I don't hate my life, im a very busy person but I am TIRED OF GOING IT ALONE. it gets old after years of it.

    Thank you for the support. Truly.

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    Robynne wrote: Anon, I'm so sorry that you feel this way, but so happy that you reached out. I need think about your post for awhile before offering advice. I just wanted to let you know that someone heard you. Actually, I'm sure that more then one Vixen has read your post, and I'm confident that advice will trickle in during the day. In the meantime, hang in there, okay? You're not alone.

    Thank you so much for hearing me. I'm really just done. I never talk about this because people immediately start telling me how I need to love myself and whatever pat response sounds good....it's like my want for a partner just must be rooted in insecurities and being needy and desperate. No one ever seems to UNDERSTAND that a person can have a fulfilling life yet STILL WANT A PARTNER. I am a person who actually needs a lot of alone time. When I am In a relationship I enjoy my me time and I can't deal with men who are too needy and can't spend time apart. I have friends and my hobbies and life that I enjoy apart from my relationship and I do best with men who also have a life apart from me. I don't even know why I'm talking about this. I feel like I'm just never going to be accepted for having these feelings. Everyone seems to want to diagnose me with some sort of disorder or self esteem issue when ITS NOT THAT. I'm tired of coming home to an dark apartment, waking up alone, eating alone, having my emergencies alone and calling friends because I don't have a partner...dealing with special occasions and holidays alone, grocery shopping alone, cooking for one.....all of it. It's slowly chipping away at me more and more. I cannot go one like this much longer. I cannot express the depth of my hopelessness right now. And I've always been a positive person but after years of this I feel like maybe I had the love part of my life and it's over now and I don't get it again. I don't even know. If you met me you'd never know how I felt. People describe me as upbeat and positive. I hide it well

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    Anon, you've put your finger on this yourself.

    This is what I was hesitating to point out when I first read your post. Okay? Bear with me for a second, please, because I am 100 percent on your side.

    You said: "No one ever seems to UNDERSTAND that a person can have a fulfilling life yet STILL WANT A PARTNER."

    That's because if your life is fulfilled -- FULLY FILLED -- there is nothing missing. You keep saying "I'm perfectly happy alone. I just want someone to share that with."

    You can't share being alone.

    If you want to get yelly with me, that's okay. I understand your frustration. I have been where you are.

    This is what I learned. When people say that you need to be happy with yourself, they mean that you need to look up from whatever you are doing, alone, and be able to say to yourself "You know what? This is good. I'm okay like this. I'm happy just with this." And mean it. Sincerely and profoundly mean it.

    Because otherwise, the energy you are putting out into the universe is "I AM JUST FINE AND HAPPY ALONE, EXCEPT FOR THE ALONE PART."

    There's a disconnect there, right? Believe me, people can sense it.

    Does that mean there's anything wrong with you? Oh, hells, no. You don't need therapy, you don't need more self-esteem or whatever. You're not broken.

    You just maybe need to face the fact that you're *not* happy alone. Because you are obviously not.

    And that's okay. It's hard to be lonely. FFS, newborns can actually die from it. There is no shame in admitting it. It doesn't mean you're not a strong woman or not an adult. It means you're not happy alone. Being happy alone is a skill you just haven't mastered, yet. That is no reflection on you as a strong and vibrant woman.

    So, when people -- like me -- tell you that you need to learn how to be happy alone, we mean *all the way* happy. Not competent and okay but still pining for a mate. Content to be by yourself as though nothing was missing.

    I had to do that. I was alone for seven years. It sucked and hurt and was hard. And took me seven years.

    And you know what happened as soon as I could truly say "No man on this planet wants me for anything. I am truly on my own, and I am fine with that," and mean it. Really mean it?

    Kal found me right here, and he is the love of my life. The most perfect fit I have ever found with another human being.

    Sometimes, in order to get what you need, you have to give up pining for what you want.

    That's not offering platitudes or dismissing your feelings. Truly accepting that you are okay alone is hard damn work. But, it not only frees you, it ensures that you will not give up that freedom for anyone except the one who most perfectly fits with you.

    At least, that's how it worked for me.

    reply to Robynne
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    Anon, I thought I should tell about an advice Samantha, one of our brilliant Vixens who is now busy with an awesome musical career, gave some time ago, connected to having something to do until your partner will arrive but I realized the thread might interest you anyway: http://www.askejean.com/advicevixens/index.php?topic_id=29831&s=380&order=last_update&cat_id=12
    I know it helped me going through some bad times, not necessarily about finding a good partner, it can also be about unemployment or keeping yourself busy until something you want comes along and it's an interesting theory.

    reply to Gerbera
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    :( anon, I am so sorry that you are feeling so sad.

    I understand where you are - I go through periods where I'm so lonely I know people can feel the waves of sadness pour off of me - I know because strangers will TELL me (bit city, people constantly).

    I don't have great advice for you b/c I have a child and I often wonder how ppl with nobody actually cope so you'll have to get advice further here.

    BUT, "Then , the relationship crumbled. My ex is mentally ill and it happened slowly over years, it was insidious and I hung on way longer than I should have." struck me. You MUST be in therapy. You let him (whether you recognize it or not) take you down the rabbit hole with him a ways and you have not yet fully emerged.

    Spring has finally come - that will help too.

    Love,
    Miss Beth

    reply to Miss Beth
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    Thank you everyone. I think the worst part is.....having no blood family. No one seems to understand how this affects me. And I don't want to hear about someones abusive shitty family because , well way,to minimize my feelings. I had a loving family. I have not had family for many years. No parents, sister and my best friend died years ago, I've had so many losses that it's very hard for anyone to relate or understand. Everyone has someone and it's hard for people to truly relate or at least respect that my situation and losses add a lot more layers to this. I wanted a child, I miscarried , it wasn't to be. I've had so many losses in my life, a steady stream of them. You know what? I don't want to be alone anymore. I'm not ashamed to admit this. I have built a sort of family unit with friends but it's not the same. I have tried to become a mother, it never happened for me. Now it's too late. I have thought about fostering....I am still thinking of it. There are reasons it's not something I can jump on easily.

    I have made something out of my life, I have a very rewarding career, I am a rehab therapist. I spend my days helping others get well and return to independance or a better quality of life. I want more for myself and I'm not going to stop wanting this and I just think I'm going to not talk about it anymore. It's too frustrating hearing the "you need to like being alone" thing. I have liked being alone for many years at various points in my life. I am ready for more now. I'm not 35. I'm older. I'm done with this part of my life and I want to move into another phase.

    Most people get intimacy, love and nurturing from someplace....if not a partner, family. I don't have either. This is my pain. Not having family makes it much worse than if I was an average person looking for a partner....I want a family. It's more layered for me.

    I can't even talk about it anymore because even my therapist once remarked on how rare a person like me is and how unfortunate it is that virtually every person I've ever loved has died. I honestly cannot believe I've gone on and I smile and laugh daily. I am positive throughout my day and I put good energy out there but when I come home at night......I want a nest to come to, I want love and support. I'm not ok with not having this and I never will be. I will die trying to find it. I think the worst part is feeling like virtually no one understands. I feel completely alone and like my feelings aren't really explainable. It's more than wanting a man....way more.

    Thanks for listening.

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    Hello, I have been reading your posts and my heart goes out to you. I don't have any advice. I wish I did. I just hear you. I have often felt the same way. I'm moving in with a friend this summer because I'm tired of being alone. But I can't empathize as much as you need because I have never known the pain of having no blood family. That must be so hard. I think there's nothing for me to say before the power and courage of your sharing. I said a prayer for you. I lit a candle.

    reply to Lalage
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    I have been trying to respond to this for days. I need a few more. I have been where you are, and it is tougher than tough.

    reply to Maggie
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    What I got from your first post was how unhappy you are. You did write you are sad and hopeless, you are depressed, there's no point in living anymore, you cry when you are in the shower, etc.

    And when I read Jill's caring word of advice, I thought she couldn't have said it better than anyone else. Then I read your defensive non-yelly response of being misjudged- that you are in fact okay with being alone and you are happy being single. Um okay? Did I miss something?

    My tough loving advice even if you don't like to admit or hear it would be:

    1) Stop feeling sorry for yourself
    2) Stop concentrating on the things you don't have
    3) Upgrade yourself - like your wardrobe, your apartment, your make up. Fun girly stuff. Pamper yourself.
    4) Don't take life so seriously.
    5) Make people laugh - instead of making them listen to how sad you are.

    Good luck

    reply to Nana
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    This is an extreme oversimplification of my response: You have not found your niche.

    Now for an explanation of the oversimplification: You may not find a partner until you are 50 or older. In fact, you may never find a partner. And, essentially, you have a choice: You can chose to be happy now or you can waste your life waiting for a tomorrow that may or may not ever happen.

    Harsh, I know. But once I made my piece with that? Life became much easier.

    How do you become happy being alone? You start watching/observing people who are happy being alone and start figuring out how to model your life after theirs. Perhaps you are an introvert forcing yourself into extroversion? Perhaps you would enjoy more alone time? Perhaps your psyche needs more time to create? Perhaps you need more unstructured time? Perhaps you need to find ways to enjoy your professional life more? Perhaps you need to invite friends over for dinner several times per week? Perhaps you need to invite friends out for roller skating/ice skating/running/cycling/swimming outings more often?

    Follow your bliss. You need to enjoy your time between now and any partners you may find. Or you could waste your entire life unhappily waiting.

    reply to Maggie
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    anonymous wrote: Thank you everyone. I think the worst part is.....having no blood family. No one seems to understand how this affects me. And I don't want to hear about someones abusive shitty family because , well way,to minimize my feelings. I had a loving family. I have not had family for many years. No parents, sister and my best friend died years ago, I've had so many losses that it's very hard for anyone to relate or understand. Everyone has someone and it's hard for people to truly relate or at least respect that my situation and losses add a lot more layers to this. I wanted a child, I miscarried , it wasn't to be. I've had so many losses in my life, a steady stream of them. You know what? I don't want to be alone anymore. I'm not ashamed to admit this. I have built a sort of family unit with friends but it's not the same. I have tried to become a mother, it never happened for me. Now it's too late. I have thought about fostering....I am still thinking of it. There are reasons it's not something I can jump on easily. I have made something out of my life, I have a very rewarding career, I am a rehab therapist. I spend my days helping others get well and return to independance or a better quality of life. I want more for myself and I'm not going to stop wanting this and I just think I'm going to not talk about it anymore. It's too frustrating hearing the "you need to like being alone" thing. I have liked being alone for many years at various points in my life. I am ready for more now. I'm not 35. I'm older. I'm done with this part of my life and I want to move into another phase. Most people get intimacy, love and nurturing from someplace....if not a partner, family. I don't have either. This is my pain. Not having family makes it much worse than if I was an average person looking for a partner....I want a family. It's more layered for me. I can't even talk about it anymore because even my therapist once remarked on how rare a person like me is and how unfortunate it is that virtually every person I've ever loved has died. I honestly cannot believe I've gone on and I smile and laugh daily. I am positive throughout my day and I put good energy out there but when I come home at night......I want a nest to come to, I want love and support. I'm not ok with not having this and I never will be. I will die trying to find it. I think the worst part is feeling like virtually no one understands. I feel completely alone and like my feelings aren't really explainable. It's more than wanting a man....way more. Thanks for listening.

    I just had a couple of thoughts, which they are not helpful feel free to disregard or just tell me that I don't understand and I'll shut my pie-hole :)

    First, you may want to consider trying a new therapist, perhaps one who specializes in situations like yours. Not to minimize your feelings AT ALL (because I definitely feel for you and empathize with you even though I am not in your situation), but there are so many children who grow up in the foster system and at age 18 find themselves alone, lost and without moorings because they aged out of the system. So for your therapist to say your situation is so rare more says to me that she doesn't fully understand your situation and therefore may not be best suited to help you. I have been in that situation myself and changing therapists made a WORLD of difference - you need someone who UNDERSTANDS you if they are going to do any good...otherwise they can just be another feel-good pollyanna telling you to cheer up and join a social group without understanding the magnitude of your feelings.

    -I think you want a significant other, not because you aren't happy doing your own thing, but because you want someone who is bound to you in the same way a family would be. Someone who sits next to you as you throw up in a bucket because you have a stomach virus, and they don't just bring you chicken soup and leave, telling you to feel better. Someone who has a permanent tie to you.

    -I know you said you aren't close to your cousins, and this may be completely off-base but I wonder if there is any chance you could start to get to know them better? Even just cultivating a little more contact with them may help you feel less alone, just knowing that you have extended family and keep in touch with them sometimes...or maybe any chance they would be interested in a yearly family reunion of sorts?

    reply to Leslie
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    Nana wrote: What I got from your first post was how unhappy you are. You did write you are sad and hopeless, you are depressed, there's no point in living anymore, you cry when you are in the shower, etc. And when I read Jill's caring word of advice, I thought she couldn't have said it better than anyone else. Then I read your defensive non-yelly response of being misjudged- that you are in fact okay with being alone and you are happy being single. Um okay? Did I miss something? My tough loving advice even if you don't like to admit or hear it would be: 1) Stop feeling sorry for yourself 2) Stop concentrating on the things you don't have 3) Upgrade yourself - like your wardrobe, your apartment, your make up. Fun girly stuff. Pamper yourself. 4) Don't take life so seriously. 5) Make people laugh - instead of making them listen to how sad you are. Good luck

    Could not agree more with this comment.

    Focus on what you have and had. Be grateful you didn't have shitty abusive parents, be grateful you have had men who you loved and loved you. Be grateful you have a career your love, be grateful you have friends you enjoy.

    Maybe God is trying to teach you to be more appreciative of what he has given you.

    Start a gratitude journal. It's hard to feel sad or lonely when your heart swells with gratitude.

    reply to Blondie
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