Monday, February 27, 2012

The Forgotten Single

I recently posted a rant on my Facebook.  Then, I deleted it.  But not before it went live and many of my friends likely saw it.  I regret posting the rant but I do not divorce myself from the feelings expressed.

I am single and I truly dislike it.  For most of the two and a half years after my husband died, I was alone.  Oh, my brother and his family lived nearby for some of that time, and my parents are both (B"H) still around.  I am pretty close to them all, too.  I also have a number of good friends who would invite me to their homes for Shabbat meals and Chagim.  But some of those invitations came by way of me reverse engineering them...

For the most part, married couples with families tend to forget about us singles.  I was once told, when I mentioned this to my Rabbi, that of course I was not forgotten.  But he was wrong. I WAS forgotten.  It is actually normal:  people get very busy and involved in their lives - thus they forget that there are others who do not have such busy lives.

I tried to arrange my life in such a way as to alleviate this "aloneness" and loneliness.  I made aliyah, and joined forces with my daughter and her husband in setting up a new home. We are living together under one roof and sharing our resources.  This would accomplish a number of things for all of us.  It would enable us to live a higher standard of living and to be able to afford it.  It would allow me to be a part of my children and grandchildren's lives and I would not be alone.  It would afford Chloe some help at home with my presence.

To be sure, this is not an ideal situation.  But, for the most part, we all get along, with some minor disagreements.  But then, that is also normal.  I know of no family unit that has no disagreements.  In that we are a normative family unit.  Historically, families used to be comprised of multiple generations living under one roof, for all the same reasons described above.

But, for me, the issue of loneliness still exists.  Why?  As is both expected and normal, my daughter and her husband have their own set of friends -- age appropriate and dealing with the same issues as they are.  While I am, of course, friendly to their friends -- and they exhibit the same reciprocal feelings -- they are not MY friends and I am not theirs.  In short, it is not MY social circle.

When I was married I had a large social circle of married couples.  We were friendly with many couples with whom we socialized -- inviting them to Shabbat meals, going to their homes for Shabbat meals, and so on. With the death of my husband, I lost this social circle.  Over time, and rather quickly, not gradually, the invitations stopped coming, and people no longer accepted my invitations to them to come to my home for a meal.   Over time, I stopped asking.  Over time, I stopped begging for invites.

Now, my daughter and her husband would like to go away for a Shabbat or Chag and be with their friends. But that leaves me out in the cold, once again alone.  I want them to be able to go, and not feel guilty about leaving me.  But I also do not wish to be alone.

I find that more and more the only people with whom I can be are also single women like myself.  While I truly enjoy their company, it gets old, fast.  I need the variety of socializing with many people, both men and women and also their children.

I am not one to call people and invite myself over. It feels rude, it feels demeaning, it feels like begging.  Additionally, it is very uncomfortable when I do that and the response has to be no.  It is uncomfortable for the people whom I am asking and for me.  The best would be if someone would remember me, and invite me to their home for a meal or two.  I would accept -- gladly.

I am just as guilty as others of the crime of forgetting those who are single and alone.  I rarely, if ever, thought to call those whom I knew were single and invite them to join me and my family for meals.  So, in a sense, this is payback.

But it does not have to be this way. I just do not know what to do to change it.

Those are my thoughts.  I needed to share them in a nicer way than the rant I should not have posted.

If I offended anyone with that prior rant, please accept my apologies...

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