Bargaining For Love

I’m agitated and in the midst of a hurricane of panic. I’m back in touch with my old faithful friends grief, loneliness and emptiness. I have so many thoughts swirling round in the depths of my mind, making their way out to become my reality. The kids and I went out for lunch at TGI’s today. To my left sat three young couples, their love blossoming in its newness, their future unwritten yet exciting. Behind me and in front of me sat families. A mum, a dad and 2 or 3 children each. To my right a man with his parents who seemed to be comforting him throughout.

Right in the midst of all of that sat me and my children and I saw for the first time how I will never be like any of them again. I will never be those young, carefree couples with their futures ahead of them. A life together, a chance to create a beautiful family together. I will also never again be the other group; the mum, dad and children because that opportunity has passed. The chance to create a loving family unit with one man left the day I made the decision to have a baby with Danny without thinking of all of the possible consequences. After that, it becomes another man, a stepdad for existing children. It’s never the same, it’s never as pure and beautiful as creating a family with one man from start to finish. I will never have that chance now.

I looked around at the man being comforted by his parents. The man who looked hurt, lost. Damaged. I realised that is my future now. Being 40 and having children leaves my only option being a man that’s previously been hurt. A man that is now damaged and scarred by life. The chances are he’ll have wounds inflicted by another woman or through the loss of children.  Never will that carefree man, that love, be available to me and worse still, I never had it before either because I never gave myself chance to have it.

I don’t want a damaged man any more than a man would be attracted to me, the damaged me. At best I would have to find a man with kids and bargain with him on some level that I will love and help raise his children if he will do the same with mine. I will need, on some level, to rescue him, as much as I don’t want to be anyone’s rescuer because men of my age, with children, rarely show up unscathed. How can they? They, we, are battle-scarred.

Then I seriously looked at my options. If my only option to meet someone is through online dating then I’d rather not bother because their scars show as a lack of care for themselves. They look old, tired, bloated, unattractive. I don’t want that. There is no-one out there for me, at least not where I’ve been looking. That sends me into a spin of panic. There’s no-one out there for me.

And then I stop and I look at the kids and yet again I realise I can’t let anyone into what I have anyway. What’s the point in looking when I am so unavailable because even if by some miracle I found a man that wasn’t too damaged and that was attractive to me, who hadn’t succumbed to the ravages of love’s seasons and who was in a place to bargain with me, to use our children as bargaining chips in the game of love……..I can’t do that anyway. I can’t bring a man into their lives. I can’t push them out of my life so I can have love in mine. I can’t make them second best to a new love. I can’t bring step-siblings into lives that are already battling for enough attention from the only consistent parent they each have. I can’t and I won’t.

And so, I sit here alone. Again. Battling my own demons of loneliness and despair knowing that it’s a war that will rage on for at least another 11 years until Annie is an adult and by then I’ll be 51 and I fear no-one will be looking my way anyway.

It becomes quite clear to me now why I settled for Phil. There was no future there, there never was, there never would have been but he eased my pain and my loneliness even if it was only for a few short hours every month. Even if he drove me to distraction with his neediness, his childishness and my lack of physical attraction for him. I could have a secret relationship with him because he was damaged enough to allow it to happen because he never stood up to me and my selfish excuses. He just sat back and accepted the crap being inflicted on him because he was lonely as I was and lonely people do silly, desperate things.

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