Last year, I interviewed Maggie Crane about her book, Amazing Grays. One of the questions I posed was about coming to terms with the chance that one might be single for the rest of one’s life. At the time, it was weighing on my own mind, but I know it’s on the minds of many single midlife women.
Maggie has given us some great food for thought here, but I’d be interested to know what you think. Whether you are single or married, what are the pros and cons of your current situation?
Allison: In your book, AMAZING GRAYS, you write about the importance of grieving various life passages. How do you grieve or come to terms with what might be lifelong singleness?
Maggie: I find it interesting that you suggest being single is something to grieve. Now, if you’re talking about the grief that comes with becoming single after losing a spouse or life partner – that’s understandable, and certainly necessary.
On the other hand, I would suggest that the state of “being single” as a condition of ones life is only negative if you believe you shouldn’t be. (single, that is)
Let me back up a minute and give you a sense of where I’m coming from. So much of our suffering (meaning our unhappiness, frustration, dissatisfaction and boredom) is caused by our wishing things were different than they are. We’ve all had the experience of thinking: I have this – I want that. I’m single – I wish I were married. (or vice-versa!) I am here – I want to be there. I look like this – I want to look like that.
It seems many of us have a hard time embracing “what is” – and, as a result, create a lot of misery for our selves. More importantly, we often miss the gifts that come wrapped in various challenges because we tend to focus on what we don’t have.
Looking at “being single” through this lens, it might be useful to consider that one is single at any given time for a reason. It could be you’re meant to use this opportunity to discover who you really are – without a partner to please, or influence your choices or decisions. Maybe this is a time to volunteer your services, or create that business you’ve always dreamed of or travel to a part of the world you yearn to visit. Perhaps it’s an opportunity to become more self-sufficient, independent, introspective and become the best friend you’ve been looking for… a chance to redefine your self outside of a “relationship.”
Of course there are many societal pressures to consider. Our culture inundates us with messages about how you’re not really a whole person unless you’re a couple – and that programming is deeply ingrained. No wonder we think something is wrong if we’re not in a committed relationship!
It’s very human to want companionship, love and acceptance – but there are actually many ways to go about getting those needs met. Since, for most of us, our days of bearing children are long gone - we might explore what it is we’re really looking for from a partnership. It’s yet another opportunity to look deeply at the beliefs and expectations we hold and question whether they support the woman we’ve become.
Belief: I should be married or in a committed partnership.
ASK: How do I know that? Who said so? Is that true for me now? What do I believe I am missing out on? Is there something I need to learn? What might I gain by being single? How can I get my needs met in other ways?
There are pros and cons to everything. I’ll bet a lot of married women could give you a looong list of reasons NOT to be married. It might be interesting to have married women list the pros and cons of being married as well as single and have single women list the pros and cons of being single as well as married. It could be interesting - the “pros” on one woman’s list might be the “cons” on another woman’s list.
Being single doesn’t necessarily mean being alone and it doesn’t mean one can’t have meaningful relationships, or “friends with benefits.” I’ve even heard many midlife women say that if they lost their spouse they would probably choose to not marry again. Many single women claim to enjoy coming and going as they please and not being accountable to anyone else for what they do, how much they spend, or whom they pal around with. They love their independence. Then again, every woman is different. It’s important to know yourself – outside of societal expectations.
What can you do? We all have the ability to reach out and participate in activities that engage our hearts and enrich our souls. When you are engaged in activities that put a lilt in your step, a smile on your face and joy in your heart – you don’t feel alone. There’s a sense of feeling fulfilled and connected to what’s really important – to YOU!
Ultimately, the most important relationship we can have is the one with our self. In effect, BE the person you’re looking for. Make your life exciting, fulfilling and fun. You never know who might show up when you least expect it. But, you really have to not expect it. Do it for you.
Born on the leading edge of the Baby Boom generation, Maggie Rose Crane exposes the fears and anxieties that often haunt maturing women. In her award winning book AMAZING GRAYS – A Woman’s Guide to Making the Next 50 the BEST 50 (Regardless of your hair color!) she reveals how to navigate midlife turbulence with wisdom, perspective and a deepening spiritual awareness. She encourages women to relish their roles as Amazing Grays (which has nothing to do with hair color) — and not waste time and energy trying to hang on to the past.
Crane sees herself as a “Midlife Midwife”, helping women give birth to the second half of life – without all the unnecessary labor pains! She is a sought-after speaker and workshop leader and also serves as a guest editor for the Dove Real Women/Real Beauty Campaign website. Learn more at www.maggiecrane.com.
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Written by Guest - Friday, May 25 2012
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