I am surrounded by so many strong amazing women…
That I sometimes forget that not everyone is as pro-women as I am!
It boggles my mind that there are STILL people today who believe that a woman without a man is like a crust without a pie filling.
The only point of a crust is to hold the filling, right? Only then does it become pie and fulfill its destiny.
Personally, I think we women are more than pie crusts! 😉
We have our own destinies. We don’t need anyone to complete us. We are enough exactly as we are.
But all the romantic songs and movies and ads portray couples as the default. Singles are just one-half of a future whole. You haven’t made it until you’ve got a diamond ring on that finger.
NONE of which is true!
You know who knows the truth?
Those elderly ladies staring down the end of their years without a man in sight.
Society tells us that these women should feel alone and desperate. But do they?
There’s a secret behind all those fabulously happy single ladies… and it’s not a toy boy!
My Grandmother’s Lesson
Back when I was in my twenties, I asked my grandmother why she’d never remarried after my grandfather died.
She just laughed and said, “Why would I want to take care of a man?”
She was perfectly happy as she was, thank you very much!
She was happy because her life was full. She had a strong core group of friends from her teaching days. She had family in and out all the time. She had a community that surrounded and supported her.
So for her, all a man would add was extra work. She was living life exactly as she pleased, and she wasn’t going to give that up.
I remember feeling so surprised by her answer, because I didn’t see that connection between relationships and extra work. For me, relationships were about fun. It was about having someone to go out with.
It wouldn’t be until my 30s that I finally understood what my grandmother was saying.
The Pressure to Have It All
My 30s was the decade where I tried to have it all:
To be the perfect partner in my relationship, the perfect employee on the job, and still pursue all of my personal dreams.
But I couldn’t do it. It was too much, and something had to give.
As women, we feel so much pressure to be everything to everyone.
It’s our job to make our boss happy, our partner happy, our parents happy, our kids (if we have them) happy.
Our own happiness seems optional. We learn to be satisfied with what I call “secondary pleasure,” or the pleasure of giving pleasure to others.
Today, I can see why my grandmother was so much happier in her life as a retired widow. She was in charge of her life. She had few demands on her. She didn’t have to compromise or please anyone.
She’s not alone.
Single Ladies Do It Differently
Here in the small community where I live right now, a third of the residents are over 65.
Now, I’ve never made a formal survey about this, but the women living on their own—the widows or unmarried—have a much different life to the women who still have husbands.
The women with husbands, by and large, do what their husbands want them to do.
Whereas the women living on their own have created their own community.
They rely on each other for support through health crises. They gather together on holidays. Their friendships have become something like family.
Back when I was 20, I would have probably looked at these women and felt sorry for them.
Don’t we all dream of sitting on a porch rocker with the love of our life reminiscing about the past 50 years together?
What I’ve come to realize over the years is that it’s much more common to see two elderly women sitting on porch rockers side by side, knitting, shelling peas, telling stories and laughing.
We women are there for each other.
Our friendships last even when men come and go.
The Power of Sisterhood
When you have a group of strong women holding you up, you can survive anything.
You can survive divorce, the death of a spouse, a child’s addiction, a health crisis. Women know what to do when other women are struggling. They intuitively provide the care and support needed.
But when you are in a marriage where your primary if not ONLY support person is your husband, and life tests you, your marriage can suffer beneath the weight of all of that stress and grief.
We’re left trying to hold it all up by ourselves, and we can’t do it.
We start to feel resentful. We may even feel bitter. After all those years together, he can’t do this? After everything we’ve done to support him?
That dream of the perfect marriage that I had back when I was young and naïve—the dream of a man who’d always hold me when I cried, who’d always be there when I needed him, who’d protect me from ever having to feel alone again—was really just that. It was a dream.
Now, sometimes women get lucky and meet PERFECT men!
But the vast majority of women find that there’s someone better when you need a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen, or someone to understand what you’re going through.
And that’s a friend.
Good friends are there on the other end of the line if you want to call.
Good friends are always up for going to that new movie with you.
Good friends will hear you out when you have to rant for hours about that horrible thing that happened to you.
Good friends don’t think you’re crazy. They don’t think you’re being too emotional. They get it.
Because they do the same things, too.
Women Age Into Their Power
The older I get, the more amazing I think women are.
I see what women go through. I see how much they struggle. I see how much they have to deal with.
They put so much pressure on themselves to always keep smiling, always have a positive attitude, and always help others.
Which is why it makes me feel quite mad when I hear anyone devalue women…
Like those guys that say that women had better get married before they hit a wall, because no one is going to want them after a certain age, and they’ll be doomed to living alone with 20 cats!
They don’t have any clue, right??
Because they know they’re going to end up becoming that creepy guy living alone in a tiny apartment eating microwave meals if they don’t get a woman to look after them, so they assume it’s the same for women.
Once women hit a certain age, they become powerful.
They take charge of their life. They do the things they’ve always wanted to do. They refuse to let social convention or other people’s rules hold them back.
It’s like that brilliant poem by Jenny Joseph that goes:
“When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple.
With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.”
The narrator fantasizes about the havoc she’ll wreak as an old woman, concluding:
“But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
“But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.”
Jenny was 29 when she wrote that poem. She passed away in 2018 at the age of 85.
If Jenny decided she should start shocking people at 29, then maybe it’s time for you and I to start practicing.
Just so that the people around us aren’t too shocked and surprised when we start doing things our way.
Thinking about those men who claim women should be married before they get old and shriveled up…
I suspect what these guys don’t like is the way single women of a certain age can’t be controlled.
They want to make sure those women are married off before they get too many ideas in their heads!
But once you hit a certain age, and you’re not trying to get a man to marry you anymore, you have a fabulous kind of freedom.
It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks of you. You’ve got your friends, and you don’t need more. You have just one wild and precious life, and you’re going to treasure it.
Hold Your Friends Close
So here is what I’d like to leave you with:
Find a few good friends who align with your rebel heart, and never let those friendships slide.
Treat them as lifelong investments. Don’t let drama or men get between you and your friends.
With just a few good friends at your back, you can do anything. You have a safety net to catch you if you fall. You can date unsuitable men, you can fall in love but not get married, or you can find a guy but never lean on him too hard, because you’ve got the support of your posse.
As my grandmother taught me, there is nothing shameful about not wanting a man in your life right now.
Sometimes that’s the only way you find the freedom to live your life exactly the way you please.