In the sorry past when it came to men I could hardly say amen. I had really been messed up, not blessed, by them. I'm well over 40 now and no man has ever gone down on bended knee. I also have never got more than a rusty ring or even got them to sing my praises.
I was always being put to the test. Not just in looks but in the superwoman contest. I tried to be everything to them and more, yet failed miserably as I was shown the door. Nothing worked no matter how hard I worked.
I tried everything to win over men. Invested time and effort into looking good. Was deep and well read so that I could hold down the best of conversations. Did everything for them including the cooking and the dishes. I insisted on going Dutch, but in the end paid for everything. I went for paupers who put me out every time we stepped out.
I am a giver but wish sometimes I could receive. In the past I felt all the time that each relationship was not only driving me around the bend but also soon coming to an end. Certainly not a fairy tale end. There were plenty of frogs in the pond, but I felt no strong bonds.
I often dreamt of having a stunning wedding gown but always ended up in my terry towelling dressing gown. Seen only by me. And let's not mention my sexy black knickers for my eyes only.
I thought this was my fate. I felt third rate as I tried to comfort myself with home brand fruitcake, instead of the towering iced wedding cake with a smiling bride and groom on top. Stuff dreams are made of. However not for me.
I am trying to change my way of thinking. I am a woman with the fate to live a solo life. I think now how this could be great. Who needs men with fake watches, rings, tans and even identities? The more I get to know them the more I know there never will be any wedding plans, or even fun plans for the weekend.
I used to think that not having the perfect partner and children reflected badly on me. I now realise we can still live deep and meaningful lives doing our own thing rather than having a fling.
"That nagging sensation of needing to be fulfilled by another has gone."
For me this means living in my own flat at a longterm psychiatric residence, with 14 fellow residents around me and a good support network. We are all happy and relaxed just being friends. It's a great opportunity to spend quality time with both women and men.
Living in my supported accommodation has been one of the best things that has happened to me in my adulthood. It has matured my outlook and thoughts on what is the ideal lifestyle. It has helped me find peace and balance in my life. We can all go out raving or chill out together. That nagging sensation of needing to be fulfilled by another has gone.
It is a new beginning, not the beginning of the end.
Isabella Fels is a Melbourne poet and writer. She has been published in various publications including Positive Words, The Big Issue and The Record.
Comments should be short, respectful and on topic. Email is requested for identification purposes only.
11 April 2017
Dear Isabella. You sound happy and relaxed, having dispensed with the fake watches, rings, tans and identities of the male. Should I tell you about the car (a red MG, second hand) I liked more than the boyfriend? Or the Lothario who treated me to a banquet of fish and chips (wrapped in newspaper)? I'm much happier now as i can laugh at my many gaffes (sometimes). Peace and joy.
12 April 2017
A brave and honest reflection. Thanks Isabella. Your words resonated a lot with me and my own story.
Women have a lot to learn about the price paid for relationships.
12 April 2017
Good on you, Isabella, you have reached emotional maturity and you will now be able to steam ahead and have a fulfilled life....all the best.
12 April 2017
Thank you Isabella. my husband died when I was fifty and I was not young when I married. In a way I know both worlds. Marriage can have moments of great joy, but also hardship. I have never seen such an honest appraisal of the pitfalls and frustrations of dating. I have tried to explain to unmarried, middle age women the wonders that you have discovered without success. i will keep your article as a reference. I love everything that you write. please continue.
13 April 2017
As a long term committed married man I can understand where you're coming from Isabella. Marriage - especially as we are led to imagine it - is no simple 'Open Sesame' to 'happiness'. They say wisdom comes when you are older and have felt the harsh buffeting real life often dishes out. I think that is pretty true. I think you show it.
13 April 2017
What a wise and generous person you are, Isabella. Thank you for sharing your journey with such wit, grace, insight and humour. Pilgrim's progress indeed and an Easter gift to us all. Enjoy your well-earned peace and friendships.
13 April 2017
Isabella Fels you are brave and positive and honest. I always love reading your work and I really value your time spent on all of your writing pieces. Your always so dedicated to your work and thoughts. Great work Keep it up and Well Done!
14 April 2017
Dear Isabella, I think that your conclusion that you are better off on your own without a male is a good one.
I write this as an observer of Australian culture where patriarchal culture is embedded deep into our consciousness. It appears that one of the main narratives of the culture that is continually perpetuated, "mateship", promotes the male to male bond of friendship and is an ideal continually espoused and where the female is always relegated to the outsider position and therefore is an "inferior" and not a true equal to the male. This patriarchal position is reinforced by an all male priesthood, a dominant male football culture at the expense of arts, and the Anzac traditions unfortunately.
In the Anzac traditions we rarely hear of the nurses who risked their lives and the "comfort women" whose bodies became part of the prize of engaging in war. Or the sacrifices of women who give up their lives to save their children in in harrowing circumstances. No women will never be considered a true "mate" of the male.
So until this patriarchal stronghold is challenged, women might as well be considered as being out of the photo frame.
19 April 2017
Your article, Isabella, has made me think about whether my situation is even a tiny bit similar - simply because I can relate to your strong yearnings for the ideal relationship. And although I'm in a totally different predicament as a gay man, I found myself realising that my journey would take a lot longer to unravel than that of my schoolmates and workmates.
And after many years of juggling opposing moral and psychological advice (with the church I was baptised into and grew up in telling me I'm intrinisically disordered and obliged to be eternally celibate, and mainstream psycholigists telling me that lack of exceptance of sexual orientation is a mental disorder)... is it any wonder I so strongly empathise with how you learned to find love right where you are?
In some ways I believe the same sex marriage campaign is more about dealing with people's wounds and wanting to be accepted and loved - rather than just getting married for the hell of it.
And I suspect there'll be many people like me, when SSM laws are eventually passed, who will simply be glad knowing they're allowed to marry - but feel much freer and much happier not marrying. (And just as loved)