I’ve been alone now for two years.
In many ways, I’m content with that. I have no restrictions on my schedule. I can do whatever I want, whenever I want to do it. I can make last minute plans to attend a ghost hunt. I can write until the wee hours of the morning. And I never have to compromise.
I remember when I first was divorced, nearly eight years ago. After being married for almost twenty years, I felt a combination of emotions that pushed together like tidal waves of oil and water merging in a torrid ocean. I could decorate the house however I wanted, but I had to learn how to do my own income taxes. I could spend all day on the sofa, watching sappy movies with no one to berate me, but I had to also mow the yard and clean out the gutters. I could climb into bed after an endlessly exhausting day with no one else’s needs to consider except for my own, which meant sleep and only sleep, but I would sleep by myself. And when I had great news, I’d have to celebrate alone.
After my divorce, it took me several years to build up the nerve to start dating again. The world had drastically changed during the nineteen years I was married. You no longer met people through friends and acquaintances; you met them on online dating sites. This was very terrifying, but horribly intriguing to me at the same time. I amusedly referred to it as “man shopping.”
And there was a plethora of them. Smiling ones, serious ones, dark-haired ones, bald ones. Some were looking for a companion to ride on the back of their motorcycles, like an attractive accessory, while others wanted a dining companion, or someone to make them laugh. At first, I naively bought into all of it. I read what they wrote and took it to be the truth. I learned the hard way that all is not what it seems. People lied. They posted outdated photos, they neglected to share essential information, like the fact that they were blue-goose crazy, or even worse…already married.
I played this game for several years. I’d take a deep breath and answer a message from one of the men on the dating site. It would lead to several more messages until we’d agree to meet for coffee or dinner. I remember the panic that would set in hours before the date. I’d spend far too much time and attention on my appearance, trying on every article of clothing I owned until I realized that nothing in my closet was going to make me look ten years younger and twenty pounds lighter. With a hope and a prayer, I’d end up throwing on the first outfit I tried, and then drive to the venue, terrified at what would happen next.
The first five minutes would set the tone for the entire encounter. Was there an instant attraction? Did he look like his photo? Did he seem pleased at what he saw when he looked at me? Everything would be shallow in the beginning; almost like dipping a toe into a lake to check the temperature before swimming. If it was satisfactory, you’d step in a little deeper, allowing the water to cover your ankles.
Over dinner or coffee, we’d probe each other even further, wading out a little further. Do you have kids? What do you do for a living? Do you have family in the area? What do you do for fun?
If all went well, there would be a second date, which would sometimes lead to a third, or a fourth, or a fifth. After about a month of consistent dating, I’d let go of my life raft and would delete my profile on the dating site, hopeful that I’d never need it again, but then the doubt would settle in. Did he also delete his? Or was he still fishing for something better?
I’d hate myself for doing it, but I had to know if he was as serious as I was. I’d set up a fake profile, just to look. One time when I did this, the man of my intended affections messaged me before I could even complete the profile. “Hey there, sexy,” he said to the woman who’s photo I borrowed from someone else. I nearly sunk to the bottom like a stone.
It took me several years of honest-to-God hard work to find someone. I stayed with him for two years, and things were perfectly wonderful until the lure of bluer waters pulled him away from me. There will always be younger/blonder/thinner. Some men will always look. It’s in their nature. When they unceremoniously dump you for one of those improved models after you’d settled in for the long haul, it takes a bit to get over it.
So, here I am, two years later. My house is decorated like I want it to look; I often take off for weekend excursions with friends. I stay up late writing and climb into a bed filled with cats afterwards. I am twenty pounds heavier and four years older. I’ve gone through hell and back since I last cast a net into the dating pond. I should be happy. I really should be, but something is missing.
I miss having someone to share my deepest fears with. I miss curling on my side, feeling the warmth of another body behind me. I miss languid Sunday mornings, reading the paper over endless pots of coffee, after cooking and then consuming a hearty breakfast. I miss hugs.
I’m just not sure I have the energy or the courage to do it.
I heave a deep sigh just thinking about creating a dating profile, which will lead to “hi, my name is Joni,” and then wading through all the hopeful dreams that could turn to sludge in the wink of an eye, leaving me jaded and empty all over again.
Maybe I’ll just let my life stay the way it is.
There are worst things than living a solitary life. I could be living a solitary life, while being with someone else who is also leading a solitary life. I think that would be far worse. If there’s a happily-ever-after out there for me, hopefully I’ll eventually find it. If not, then life will continue like it is. Alone and lonely, but strangely happy all the same.
It’s all how you look at it.
And how far you’re willing to swim to find it.
Joni Mayhan is a paranormal investigator, as well as a free-lance writer. Please check out her paranormal thrillers on Amazon.com and BarnesandNobles.com. For more information about the author, please see her website: Jonimayhan.com
The Soul Collector – The true story of one paranormal investigator’s worst nightmare
Angels of Ember trilogy – After a devastating virus nearly wipes the world clean of people, 16 year-old Ember Pain grows tired of running and hiding from the bad men who hunt her and her younger sister, Elizabeth. Fighting back becomes a necessity, even if it threatens her very life.