why am I on my own at 52?

As the time since the ending of my last relationship increases, and the emotional carnage left behind is partially healed,I begun to wonder, “will I be alone for ever?”

I started using the ‘bumble’ dating app for a while a few months ago, but though I had a couple of dates I quite quickly realised I had neither the energy nor the appetite for dating at that particular time. I deleted the app and carried on.

Despite the apparent ‘failure’ of this experiment, it taught me a couple of interesting lessons:

  1. Dating sober is ok. It’s not like dating drunk- or even a bit tipsy, but it has some distinct advantages
  2. I have got very picky. This is also not a bad thing, and for now it’s just an observation. There were many more men interested in ‘meeting’ me than I was prepared to consider.
  3. One can set ones own rules . And that’s ok, even expected. Saying ‘thanks but no thanks’ after dinner is not only fine, but providing it’s done politely and kindly , completely acceptable.
  4. I can’t be bothered at the moment. Dating requires energy. It requires time and a willingness to be available, leave home and try …. I’d rather be home with the kids /dogs and sewing /TV at the moment.

So with all these provisos I wonder why I am even wondering about the future, possible future, possible partner I might want/ choose if the option were there ?

Maybe because I’m still an optimist by nature. Maybe I still believe, or hope , that it’s possible for life to be enhanced by a partner – that someone loving you could be a positive rather than a sad, soul destroying descent into miserable, aching sadness. I do see it around me. I see couples who have weathered difficult times and come out together stronger- at least that’s how it looks to me from the outside. Certainly they have been together for many years.

I don’t lack companionship. I’m not lonely (any more) I have some great friends, a job which involves a lot of contact with others, a family and other more superficial acquaintances I can spend time with should I feel the need. I don’t even really feel the need for a partner to confide in – right now I can’t imagine trusting anyone’s advice more than that of K or my brother (female and male input) or my close sober sister (for those bits) …. I have Angela to pose the difficult questions at me , ….

If I think about it, it’s the future alone I don’t really fancy. When the kids have grown and left home – when I have retired, so less / no daily contact with colleagues … or maybe that special person for whom I would be the number one – as they would be for me ?

I think I’m in a much better position to chose wisely now. The last two relationships I embarked upon were both driven by psychological needs that I was only partially aware of. From a place where I am A) sober and b) painfully wiser , I think I could make a better choice – as long as I’m careful, listen to my gut instincts and am honest with myself .

Narcissistic personality disorder

I dislike “self diagnosing” patients who come to me and tell me they have “bipolar” because they are a bit moody, or lupus because they have a spot on their face.

And I try hard not to diagnose myself – I have a wonderful GP and I trust her 100% tomake sensible decisions about my health. She is secure enough not to be challenged by the fact I am a colleague, humble enough to come to joint decisions when required and mature enough to be firm ! 

BUT. I’m now going to do exactly what I hate others doing and do a bit of armchair Psychiatry with respect to my ex P

Narcissistic personality disorder: wiki definitions in italic, my observations in plain type

According to the DSM-5, individuals with NPD have most or all of the following symptoms, typically without commensurate qualities or accomplishments: 

1. Grandiosity with expectations of superior treatment from others. Yes yes yes. He expects others to treat him with the utmost respect and deference, yet shows little to others. He really believes he’s had a successful career when he has sold two works in the last 6 years, and has earned no money

2. Fixated on fantasies of power, success, intelligence, attractiveness, etc. He has  a whole load of completely unrealistic expectations as to how he can take small comments forward, believes he will be a global success without putting in any of the spade work

3. Self-perception of being unique, superior and associated with high-status people and institutions. He was once and I don’t think he has got over the loss 

4. Needing constant admiration from others. Always always, especially me. Have to tell him how wonderful everything he has done is…

5. Sense of entitlement to special treatment and to obedience from others. Enormous sense of entitlement to be supported financially whilst he does very little. Expected everyone – including me – else to do as he wishes. Shows no respect to my kids, but excpects them to respect him

6. Exploitative of others to achieve personal gain. Hmmm 6 years or not working not contributing and having everything paid for, absolutely no remorse or understanding as to how that could have been detrimental to me. Note debt in the 10,s of thousands … 

7. Unwilling to empathize with others’ feelings, wishes, or needs. They are so unimportant to him he won’t even discuss them

8. Intensely envious of others and the belief that others are equally envious of them not so sure about this one

9. Pompous  and arrogant demeanor, Oh yes, extremely 

So where does this get me? I sent this to my friend K ( without the annotations) and she saw immediately the traits within ExP. I also asked if it mattered what you call it ? She thinks it does, and I’m beginning to believe her – it helps me to know I’m not going mad, that this is him not me, that he will never change because these are fixed personality characteristics and he doesn’t not, cannot , see where he is wrong ? In which case I have to give up any faint hope that he will change, do anything different, understand what I’m saying and why I am upset. 

I have to let go, and understand that I can’t win. K also pointed out to me that I sound like I do not LIKE him much, and I realise I don’t – he has few of the personality traits I admire and many I positively dislike ; and that I don’t have much respect left for him. 

So maybe I’m going to go ahead , inside me and say that I believe my ExP has a narcissistic personality disorder. And that just maybe I’ve had a lucky escape. 

Empathy

Yesterday I had a series of email exchanges with my exP.

This was unwise really, as it reiterated my gut feeling that I am still very vulnerable to him, his words, his opinion, and to the bond we had.

it started innocently enough with a question about the location of some gadget or other, but soon developed in to an exchange of painful opinions about the demise of our relationship. Of course, it hit my empathy points. My caring side, the part that loves him. Of course I feel bad that he has no income, no home, no stability. Of course I care.

But then I come back to what my therapist, and my loved ones are trying to help me believe, that these things are not my fault. Not my responsibility. He is a fully able adult who made choices , including not listening when I said I was unhappy , including taking huge advantage of my financial generosity….

i look at my boys, and I see that they are happier. There is less tension, less shouting, they fight between themselves less. I have space and time to support them better, and to involve them in decisions that affect their futures.

last night, we all sat in one room, swathed in blankets, hot water bottles, and the dog for warmth (boiler not working) and watched a movie together. Simple. But so nice.

Our puppy will arrive in 3 weeks time – we are all very excited ! He represents a joint project between me and the boys – and we will all need to do our part. I have a puppy sitter for 4 hours a day when I am at work, so he will not be alone for any length of time for the first 2 Β months he’s home. After he’s immunised, he will he able to be taken out with Lola …

this is a hard path I’m travelling. I’m lonely sometimes, and afraid of the future. I feel like a failure at times, other times I know I just have to keep going and better things will come for all of us. I know I have love and support from friends and family, and that helps a lot !

Im sorry I’m not ‘giving’ a lot into the sober community at the moment – I’m struggling (tho not with sobriety) – but I do think of you all xxx

lily 🌷Xx