Cat Lady by Lisa Monica Nelson
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I found this daily mail article written by a career woman expressing her regret at abandoning her young love and thus leaving herself alone and childless at 42. As a young woman she apparently was in what most would consider a pretty good relationship, but abandoned it.
It all seemed so simple to my naïve, 19-year-old self. I was, I smugly told myself, the girl who had it all.
So why, 20 years later, do I find myself single, childless and tormented by the fact that I have thrown away the only true chance of happiness I ever had?
Now I am 42 and have all the trappings of success – a high-flying career, financial security and a home in the heart of London’s trendy Notting Hill. But I don’t have the one thing I crave more than anything: a loving husband and family.
‘My father warned me not to throw this love away. But I was sure I’d find Mr Perfect around the corner’
You see, I never did find another man who offered everything Matthew did, who understood me and loved me like he did. Someone who was my best friend as well as my lover.
Today, seeing friends with their children around them tortures me, as I know I am unlikely ever to have a family of my own. I think about the times Matthew and I talked about having children, even discussing the names we would choose. I cannot believe I turned my back on so much happiness.
Instead, here I am back on the singles market, looking for the very thing I discarded with barely a backward glance all those years ago.
I know I can’t have Matthew back, and it hurts when I hear snippets of information about his life and how content he is. Fifteen years after I ended our relationship, he is happily married.
What is particularly sad about this case of “It just didn’t happen” is that it almost did except that she completely sabotaged herself. From her description, she had everything she wanted. What made her throw this away?
The following year, we bought a tiny starter home in Grays, Essex, which we moved into with furniture we had begged, borrowed and stolen. We giggled with delight at the thought of this grown-up new life.
I was in my first junior role at a women’s magazine and Matthew worked fitting tyres and exhausts, so our combined salaries of around £15,000 a year meant we struggled to make the mortgage payments. But we didn’t care, telling ourselves that it wouldn’t be long before we were earning more and able to afford weekly treats and a bigger home where we could bring up the babies we had planned.
But then, the housing market crashed and we were plunged into negative equity.
Struggling should have brought us closer together, and at first it did. But as time went on, and my magazine career – and salary – advanced, I started to resent Matthew as he drifted from one dead-end job to another. I still loved him, but I began to feel embarrassed by his blue-collar jobs, annoyed that, despite his intelligence, he didn’t have a career.
Ahh, so she got enamored with the artificial status conferred by her patently useless make-work role at a women’s magazine. Why do I say artificial? Here is a typical cover of a women’s magazine based on image search results:
Women’s magazines appear to focus almost exclusively on high time preference beliefs and actions. Fake diets that work in 8 hours (?!). Clothes and fashion that instantly boost status. Get rich quick schemes. Short and low-intensity exercise with supernatural results. It seems to be her belief that the generation of this sort of inanity is high status. In reality, this is a morally dubious practice of tricking the gullible out of money with promises of easy fixes that are clearly false. Her life’s work has been to generate false hope and she left the love of her life, abandoning the opportunity to start a family, to pursue this. Just stop and think about this for a second…. Can you imagine a sadder existence?
Even worse is that she compares this to her ex-boyfriend’s jobs which, whatever the pay level, are indispensably necessary for the continuance of a functional civilization. She views herself as the higher status one. Her confusion about the relative merits of various activities was, and is, quite extreme and undoubtedly shared by many women. Her article gives no indication that she ever realized how truly pointless, and probably harmful, her career has been for other women.
Even though she was wrong about her status, the perception was enough and her hypergamic instincts kicked in. As such, she pressured her boyfriend to get a “real job.” He obliged:
I encouraged him to find a career and was thrilled when he was accepted to join the police in 1995. It should have heralded a new chapter in our lives, but it only hastened the end. We went from spending every evening and weekend together, to hardly seeing one another. Matthew was doing round-the-clock shifts, while I worked long hours on the launch of a new magazine.
It turns out that engaging in real and useful work requires sacrifice. Even though her original demands were met, she was not content because unfortunately it caused a shift and another part of the relationship had to be neglected in order to satisfy her demands. She could not accept that any part of the relationship be less than perfect even though this was merely an unwanted infringement of reality on her life when meeting her own apparent desires. And so she broke up with him. What did she do?
I moved into a rented flat a few miles away in Hornchurch, Essex, and embraced single life with a vengeance. By now I was an editor on a national magazine. Life was one long round of premieres and dinner or drinks parties.
She implies without mentioning that she probably became a huge slut, and probably bedded many men perceived as high status at these various parties. Her actions and perceptions betray a great deal of pride and vanity. Her life was only about her and maximizing her perceived status to other people. Throw in a great abundance of high time preference pleasure seeking and there probably isn’t much else to know about her.
The years rolled along and she kept Matthew as a beta orbiter as much as possible. Stringing him along always with some faint hope that his broken dream of marriage to her might someday become a reality. Of course, even Matthew would eventually figure out that wasn’t going to happen and thoroughly move on. He found himself another girl and ran with it.
I hated the fact Matthew was suddenly putting another woman before me. How dare she come between us! Over the next few weeks, I’m ashamed to say I vented my spleen at both of them in a series of heated phone calls.
I was completely irrational. I didn’t want Matthew back, but felt upstaged by Sara.
Unsurprisingly, after one particularly nasty argument, Matthew put the phone down and refused to take any more of my calls. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I would never speak to him again.
At least she eventually realized that she was completely in the wrong (well, sort of). Too little, too late. It is hard to understand how women can feel justified in expecting men to just sit around waiting for them for years without any giving on the part of the woman. Selfishness on this level is not attractive and not desirable.
So once again I am on my own, my mind full of ‘if-onlys’. If only I’d stayed with Matthew, we’d almost certainly be married with children.
Or, maybe Matthew wasn’t the right man. I will never know the answer, but my decision to leave him has definitely cost me the chance of ever becoming a mother.
Now I can only look back and admonish my selfish, younger self.
Another woman’s life ruined by her own selfishness, vanity, lack of perspective, and heavy doses (undoubtedly) of feminist propaganda about what roles are most conducive to happiness in women. I walk away from reading this with the distinct perception that this woman has only partially grasped why a multitude of her life choices led her to the unhappy state she is currently in. She certainly understands that she made a mistake. She does not understand or refuses to admit how harmful her decisions were to others. Matthew most of all, but also his other girlfriends. At best she realizes she was “irrational,” but never admits that anything she did was actively wrong. She certainly doesn’t understand how her career itself was utterly pointless and probably harms other women with a variety of unrealistic ideas and claims. I suppose I can understand how difficult accepting that would be in the face of the portions of her mistakes she has already accepted. She is not one to be envied.
However, I actually have some respect for this woman because even in partial admittance of her mistakes and how she came to them she at least opens up the door for younger women to learn from those mistakes. Without the personal investment in this life, hopefully, they will be better able to see the fuller scope of the problems and thus more readily avoid them. This article and those like them have the potential for helping many people. That at least can be appreciated. Whether anyone actually takes it to heart is another matter entirely, however. Potential is much less than action.
[note: originally I was going to go a slightly different direction with this post, so the URL is different from the title. Just ignore that]Add to favorites