Thursday, November 8, 2012

Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda




I read through this article at The Daily Mail by Claudia Connell, and I sighed. Very hard.

There is much, much sadness, and too much regret. I admire her honesty, but seriously question why she'd serve up herself as a cautionary tale to partying, sex-sans-strings singletons in the way she does.

She repeatedly references "Sex & The City", and as a big fan, I immediately thought of Carrie's questioning exclamation, "Am I a masochist or something?"

Connell is in her forties, never married and childless. She writes of being:

Materially well-off but emotionally bereft, we represent the loneliest generation ever known — and as a member of this fast-growing club, I have to say, it’s not a membership I look forward to renewing annually. 
For me, the single girl lifestyle that I embraced and celebrated with so much enthusiasm in the Eighties and Nineties has lost much of its gloss, and is starting to look a little hollow.
I was part of the Sex And The City generation — successful, feisty women who made their own money, answered to no one and lived life to the full.
When it came to men, our attitude to them was the same as it was towards the latest must-have handbag: only the best would do, no compromises should be made, and even then it would be quickly tired of and cast aside.

In the midst of writing this post, I turned away from my PC and dusted off my "Sex & The City" DVDs. Call it research, or just a break from my latest David Simon obsession, "Treme", or both. I put in nearly all the seasons, disc after disc, until I found the episode that popped in my head as I read Connell's ode to growing old alone: "They Shoot Single People Don't They?" If you've never seen it, the plot is Carrie, after partying all night with the girls, arrives to a photoshoot for New York magazine late and disheveled. She winds up on the cover looking a hot dang mess with the tagline, "Single and Fabulous?" emblazoned over her exhausted mug. The piece uses her as an example of what remaining a single, career-first, sexually-free woman can lead to.


That fictional godawful cover looks disturbingly like the giant picture of Connell that accompanies her mea culpa of selfishness. She looks tired and worn out while she sips that fruity cocktail. Why, I ask, why that picture? Heh, pictures speak louder than words, I guess. 

But her words atill scream. She continues:
What none of us spent too long thinking about in our 20s and 30s was how our lifestyles would impact on us once we reached middle-age, when we didn’t want to go out and get sozzled on cocktails and had replaced our stilettos and skinny jeans with flat shoes and elasticated waists.
When I look around at all my single friends — and there are a lot of them — not one of them is truly happy being on her own. Suddenly, all those women we pitied for giving up their freedom for marriage and children are the ones feeling sorry for us. 
Freedom is great when you can exploit it; but when you have so much that you don’t know what to do with it, then it all becomes a little pointless.
Choking on freedom. My Lord, the problems we first-worlders do have. 

Perhaps, as a married mother of a toddler, it would be assumed I'd cheer Connell's conclusions. And there is a part I do, wholeheartedly. But it's not that the answer to all of one's relational problems can be found with a couple of rings and a marriage license. I reject that line of thought wholeheartedly. In fact, I've repeatedly told my single friends, whatever emotional baggage you've got before walking down the aisle will not be miraculously absolved once you stroll back up as a missus. Nope, you'll now have an eyewitness to all of it.

The lesson to be heeded is to abhor selfishness. Treating men as accessories? Wanting to use them for a night but cringing at their very presence during the day? Selfish, selfish, selfish. There's no wonder Connell is feeling so lonely now. She carved out her very own fortress of solitude.

“As we drive along this road called life, occasionally a gal will find herself a little lost. And when that happens, I guess she has to let go of the coulda, shoulda, woulda, buckle up and just keep going.” ~Carrie Bradshaw


Here's to hoping Connell will let go of what she could have and embrace all that she has.

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