Walking along Fifth Avenue today during my lunch break, who should I bump into, but none other than Elana, my very best friend from first through third grade. She looked amazing. We were both so excited to see one another, that we ducked into the coffee shop we were standing in front of, in order to sit down and catch up. (Mind you, as soon as I suggested we go inside the coffee shop, I regretted it. I really didn’t want to hear all about her successes or share my failures.)
I really don’t know why Elana and I lost touch years ago. I always really liked her, but somehow our lives managed to pull us apart from one another. I hadn’t seen her in years, though I did hear through the grapevine that she was one of the first from our year to marry. Upon catching up, she told me that she had five children, was a stay at home Mom, and that she lived in Riverdale. She looked very glamorous and very happy. Elana filled me in on some more details about details her life – all good stuff.
Next it was my turn to bring Elana up to date regarding my life. I shared my professional success with her, (thank G-d I have that hook to hang my story on), a few tidbits about my extended family, and then, feeling shameful, told her I was still single.
Of course, I tried to cover my shame, acting all happy and comfortable with my life. Regaling Elana with some exaggerated highlights about my group of amazing single friends whom I do really great stuff with. But we both knew that it was a cover-up. Elana is not stupid and I’m sure she walked away from our chance meeting feeling very sorry for me.
I hate pity! I hate knowing that people talk about the fact that I’m still single, as they try to figure out how this could happen. I hate feeling different. I hate feeling like a failure. I hate feeling like I am living in no-man’s land. This is not good for me. These feelings are making me feel down and stressed more often than not.
Bumping into Elana really brought all these feelings home to me. Having to say those words, “I’m still single,” brings a pit to my stomach and a constriction to my throat. I’m often angry and definitely confused. Why me? Why aren’t I at home with five children of my own?
We all started off more or less than same. Same schools, same camps, same year in Israel, similar homes in the same neighborhood. I wasn’t the prettiest of the bunch, but far from the ugliest. I wasn’t the brainiest, but also not the dumbest. I never had a hard time acting polite and charming, (or so I’ve been told). My expectations for a husband were no higher than anyone else’s. So why me?
I sometimes feel like something is slowly dying inside of me. A certain generosity that I used to have is gradually fading away, and I’m too busy having a pity party of my own to worry about my friend’s busted water heater, or my nieces tantrums. I would love to have a husband, a home and a water heater to worry about. I would love to have a child of my own to worry over when she has tantrums.
After our visit, I went back to work and tried to bury myself in my deadlines – which is a good thing. At least I’m distracted for a little while.
When I’m close to home, I’m already dreading seeing my parents. They are wonderful people. I know they want the best for me. But when I look into my mother’s eyes, all I see is pity for me. I can’t stand it. It makes me crazy. I know it comes from a place of love and concern, but it’s just too much for me to handle. My father’s eyes are not filled with pity. For better or for worse, I sense in his eyes a bit of anger. Though I think he knows that it’s not really my fault, I think he is angry that I’m compromising their ability to be fully happy. That I’m causing my mother to have sleepless nights and sometimes even tearful days. I’ve become the bad child who tortures her parents. I really don’t know why I haven’t moved out already. I must start looking for an apartment – now!
I know that every day I sign off from my diary the same way, but I still can’t help asking why. What did I do to deserve this fate? I’m losing hope that my life will change. I do remember once upon a time being a happy-go-lucky, optimistic person. Where did she go? I wish she could come back someday soon. In the meantime, I feel lonely, I feel misunderstood, I feel embarrassed and I feel judged. HELP!!