I pared down my socializing over the course of 2015. I’m mostly okay with that in the short-term, because my social life consisted primarily of dates with people who didn’t really attach. I learned that I’m not a bad person to spend a Saturday night with, and that nothing bad will happen if I spend a night in reading. I had a couple very fun things to do in November and December–enough to always have something to look forward to–and my parents came to visit me.
But here it is, almost the end of break. Apart from a lovely dinner out with my folks, and taking my daughter to see a play with her cousins, I haven’t socialized at all over break. I was on mommy duty and/or my parents here every night, so last night would have been my first chance to socialize with adults who wouldn’t get upset if I slipped and cursed.
I hoped to see M, and I actually did ask to see him on NYE, but he declined. (Last year, I committed very early on to watching my daughter as a pre-emptive strike against feelings of rejection in the event that the guy I was seeing at the time didn’t want to do NYE together…so this is obviously progress). Most of my friends were home with their families, and I don’t care enough about the NYE experience enough to try to get a pity invite from someone else. I hung out with my daughter and messaged one of my buddies who was alone and feeling very down.
I kept telling myself that at least I wasn’t alone, and that’s obviously very true. I’m never alone–I have my daughter most of the time. I’m very lucky. However, there is a time coming at which it’s going to be pathological to use her to stop myself from feeling or acknowledging that I’m feeling lonely. That’s not her job. Her job is to be a child.
I need to face my fears of rejection and try to cultivate more adult relationships.
Part of this is a reaction to that typical single-mom guilt that accompanies dating and going out…if I look forward to going out too much, that’s a rejection of my kid. I felt that relief when I pared down my social life (I also have come to enjoy my time to myself when she’s at her daddy’s house, but I do also feel that “quick fix” of concrete proof that I’m not putting myself before her).
However, there is plenty of middle ground between “neglecting your child to party” (which I never did, obviously) and “depending on your child to meet needs that you need to get met elsewhere” (which I’m not doing, but I felt the slightest tinge of last night). I’d like to start inching back toward the middle of the continuum.
I also realized yesterday that I have nothing to look forward to right now. I have another week off in February, but, apart from being able to sleep in until 7 am every day, what does that mean? I tried to think about something concrete to which I’m looking forward. I’m goal-oriented, so things as little as “bake a batch of cookies” and “finish this workout” kept me going for December. (I also finally caught up at work and in preparing for that select chorus concert I’m co-chairing in January).
Now that I look forward, the only thing I could come up with is “January 17, that concert for which I spent hours this fall preparing will finally be over.” And that’s good; I like checking things off of my to-do list, but (1) I already sort of did that because the prep work is 95% done, and (2) that’s not the same as having something fun coming up.
I’ve always needed to have something to look forward to in order to be happy. I need to find something for the sake of my own happiness in the near future. It doesn’t have to be big or even particularly original–although if any of my friends wanted to have a whirlwind engagement that culminates in a goth wedding in January, I could get down with that. Just something nice within the next month or so that is interactive–spending my daughter’s college money so I have etsy packages to look forward to is not going to fill this empty space.