DEAR SUSAN: It seems to me that a recent "Single File" blogger has not truly accepted that she may be single all her life. There's no guarantee that she'll ever find a man whom she wants to marry or that if she does, he will want to marry her. (Even if she moves to Alaska, joins the military or works on an oil rig. Nobody gets that guarantee.) She could stop the anxiety attacks/fainting spells in one of two ways. She could marry anyone just to say she's married. He could be an alcoholic, a pedophile and an extortionist, but at least she'd know she was married. The alternative would be to truly accept that she might not ever marry and build the best life she could. My point is that we don't always get what we deeply want — a loving father, a baby brother, a large inheritance, etc. — because that depends on other people, whom we can't control. We can only control ourselves. I'd suggest that the blogger needs the help of a good counselor to reach this understanding, because her body is clearly sending that message. It takes some work to readjust your thinking — to see that what you had always counted on might not be in the cards. Ironically, accepting that she might remain single would actually free her from that "I am desperate" vibe that scares off romantic possibilities. As you yourself mention, Susan, and as I have said often, normal people run from desperation. — From the "Single File" blog
DEAR BLOGGER: By George, you've got it! You've reached a high level of understanding — either by being a poster boy for desperation, which had put you on the receiving end of some pretty hard knocks, or by working with a good counselor, teamwork that gave you access to insight from your own depths. However you got there, you've learned that desperation is fundamentally wrongheaded, the exact opposite mindset you need to have to get what you want. All the answers are within, friend, but accessing them takes a bit of doing. People flee from looking within with all sorts of rationalizations, kidding themselves into thinking it's not necessary, that it's not a necessity, but a luxury. The blogger you're talking about has a problem — probably not structurally, but with wrong thinking that is weakening her. Large doses of fear and insecurity are weakening her body with lack of self-confidence. (Yes, we're back there, the inner strength to take on whatever life throws at you.) Most of us need a helping hand (or two) to reach that clear-eyed state in which it becomes clear that you are in control of more than you know of your own life. The blogger's body, in its wisdom, is showing her (in the only way it can) that her fear of lifelong singleness is making her entire organism wobbly. (The language of the flesh is never wrong.) Her next step is to interview therapists and find the one who feels like a friend, trustworthy and nonjudgmental. It's worth giving up expensive mobile devices and daily lattes for this investment in yourself. It's hard work, but the payoff is like nothing else. Oh, how I hope that blogger is reading this.
DEAR SUSAN: A recent blogger's post about singles at restaurants reminds me of my basketball coach in school. He would bounce the ball back and forth in front of himself, and then, out of the blue, he'd suddenly throw it at one of us. Some of us caught it; some had it bounce off them. He would shout at us to "expect the ball at all times." He was teaching us to be in the now, to be present every minute of the day. Some single people (marrieds, too) catch a virus called aloneness. The prescribed cures — being active, volunteering, taking classes — don't always work, and then the virus can snowball. There is a cure, but it's hard to find. Sometimes we can get ourselves unstuck, but there are times we simply can't get ourselves out of that rut. — From the "Single File" blog
DEAR BLOGGER: Living in the present moment is perhaps the greatest lesson, the root of genuine joy. Think of it — seeing, hearing, speaking spontaneously to the moment at hand. That may be the real cure for loneliness, being so intent on living in the present moment that one's aloneness falls away. Not that there aren't genuine lonely moments — missing a beloved, sorrow at the passing of a dear one. But the daily condition of being who we are, essentially separate and single, is undeniable. We are all traveling single file through life, so it makes good sense to shore up our personhood and make it unassailable. Fear is the enemy of contentment. (Buddhists suggest that meditation can quiet the "monkey mind" in all of us, the mindset that flits from thought to thought without thinking any one through to a conclusion.) The truth is that life lived in the present moment is the clearest path. Yes, there are lonely moments. Loneliness may just be part of the human condition. But making friends with yourself, really liking who you are and what you stand for, is the very best way to get through those low moments with grace.
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