It was April fools day — no joke — and the waitress had just dropped off the mustard & catsup as my boyfriend dropped the bomb; “I think I should move out” he stated casually, proceeding to make a gaping hole in both his burger and my heart. I tried not to throw up on the table.
I sat there, still as a stunned animal, my eyes welling with tears as I watched the man across from me try to carry on a conversational tone. “I just don’t see this thing working out” he explained. After nearly three years together, this came as news to me. This can’t be happening was all my numb mind could muster. But happening, it was. As my world unraveled before my eyes, two tins of frosty malts were slammed down on the formica by our gum chewing waitress. “Enjoy” came her listless command. Surely he’d chosen this ridiculous place in hopes of avoiding a scene, but as I felt a storm building in my chest, I wasn’t sure he was going to get his wish. “You can’t tell me you didn’t see this coming?!” he insisted. If this were a movie, perhaps I’d have thrown that black n white malt all over his face, “Like you didn’t see that coming you A$%@#*!” A part of me still wishes this was how it had played out. But instead, I simply raced from the room like a wounded animal, clanging through the belled glass doors, as “Sea Of Heartbreak” played on over the tinny sound system behind me.
Over the next several weeks, I would try everything to win him back. Angry rants, gentle reasoning, and pathetic begging; none of which I’m proud of. Don’t ask me why we continued sleeping in the same bed; but we did. Our cramped city apartment didn’t allow us any space for retreat; so after long exhausting discussions, some strange mixture of habit and absolute fatigue would find us spooning on our shared mattress, where he would hold me while I sobbed myself to sleep. After two weeks of this, neither of us could take any more. I came home to a letter stating that he’d stay at a friend’s house until he found his own place, and come back for his things at an agreed upon time.
It was over.
A breakup is never easy. Being 38 years old; I’d gone through enough relationships to know what came next. Uncomfortable as it would be, I would now have to weather those inescapable feelings of abandonment and rejection. But what I didn’t expect was how my mid-life breakup had me asking some new more difficult questions about my future — because this time I wasn’t just saying goodbye to a man I’d loved — I was also giving up a man I’d hoped would father my baby.
I had always been on the fence about having kids, but when I turned 35 the switch flicked. Suddenly what had once been fine for someone else, but not for me, was my every waking thought. As I caught myself peeking into strollers, gushing at dimpled faces and funny bowed legs, I knew It was official; I had babies on the brain and my proverbial clock was beginning to tick-tock.
Initially, I viewed my new baby lust with scorn. Surely this was a foul trick of my biology; not a genuine desire! Simply some hormonal malady I could cope with; as annoying as PMS, but as such, temporary. No such luck. The years I’d spent with this man I loved had only strengthened my desire to see the culmination of our union in every way possible. Now that he and I were through, I was filled with an overpowering regret; I had gambled my dwindling reproductive years on a relationship that had not worked out. Now I feared I’d lost more than just my love; I’d missed my chance to be a mother.
As the reality that I was 38, unmarried, and without children began to sink in, a hodgepodge of derogatory labels such as spinster, old maid, and hag began to parade through my head. I’d been fed the familiar fairy tale lore, filled with the promise of a prince, a sunset, and a happily ever after. Where was mine? It would seem from the moment Eve sprung forth from Adam’s rib; our place as women was prescribed by the side of our man. College Feminism had added that even the word woman is derived from the Greek root word meaning with man. Walk into any grocery store to be blasted by the trashy tabloid pity party for aging stars without partners or babies. Clearly, it was not just biology that fed this insistence for partnership and family; but a backlog of cultural detritus fueling an ugly question I couldn’t ignore. Was I less of a woman if I didn’t have a partner? And further still, if I would never have a baby?
Over the next several weeks my girlfriends came to the rescue and tried to convince me otherwise. “There’s still time! ” they insisted, pointing out that women were now having kids well into their 40’s. “You could always adopt!” was another common reassurance. I knew these things were true, but it gave me very little solace in those early days after the breakup. I was not 20 years old anymore, and starting over this late in the game seemed a daunting and ill fated task.
Thus, this is where I begin my journey; wading through the spoiled remnants my former life as if a giant Tsunami had just carried all my dreams out to sea. As my ship sailed on into the distance; a storm was brewing in my heart. Left lonely on an island of one, wailing and miserable, barely making it out of bed to eat and work, I was a hag indeed.
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