Swans mate for life. I thought that was a fact. But I have recently discovered that some swans are known to divorce their mate and find a new one. This is especially true of the Black Swan (Cygnus atratus) that lives in Australia and New Zealand. Just my luck; I thought like the swans, I was mating for life. But my Black Swan had other ideas and I now find myself single in my forties.
When I was single in my twenties and early thirties it was different. A lot of my friends were single and you always had people to do things with. But now my friends are all paired off and have their own lives to lead. And worse still, they are scattered all over the globe.
For a long time after I separated from my husband, I felt I was incomplete; a half of a basic unit. About six months ago I started noticing that the broken end no longer bled. That I had healed and no longer felt like I was half. My son and I were a complete family unit.
I know my situation is not unique. I have friends who are separated or divorced or widowed. Others who for one reason or another never married. We are all in our forties and some of us exist on the fringes of Sri Lankan society. I do it by choice, sticking with a few close friends because the one or two tentative forays I have made into Sri Lankan gatherings here in New Zealand have garnered much interest in my single state. Complete strangers feel it is entirely appropriate to ask you why you don’t have a husband anymore and to express their pity at your single state. When I tell them I am happy, they look at me in disbelief. How can you be happy when you don’t have a husband.
I work hard to build a good life for my son and I. We are a small family, but a family nonetheless. We are slowly starting to put our own traditions together instead of sticking with what we did in the past. In our free time we visit the various beaches around Auckland or the Museum or where ever our fancy takes us.
When my neighbour complains that her husband doesn’t do his fair share around the house, I know I am the luckier one because while I don’t have one to complain about, I also make my own decisions and determine my own happiness. Each time I master a new skill around the house, I feel a sense of achievement; be it changing the battery on the smoke alarm or cleaning the swimming pool.
Yet I know not to take it for granted. All this is possible because I am living here in New Zealand instead of Sri Lanka. In my own country, my single state would be everyone’s business and also make me the target of men who might think it gives them a free license to impose their company on me. I wouldn’t have the freedom to live by myself or even do something like going to a movie by myself without the fear of being molested in some shape or form.
Whether you find yourself suddenly single because of life circumstances or whether you have been single for a long time, it doesn’t mean your life has ended. It is up to the individual to use that time to do something meaningful. You are the architect of your own future happiness and what you make of it will depend on what you put in.
With the new year just around the corner, I have decided to be brave and try something new. I am going back to University to study Anthropology. Something that has always fascinated me, but would not have added a lot from a career perspective when that was an important consideration. I hope this will provide a spark for inspiration for those reading regardless of whether you are single or not because if you always did what you have always done, then you will always have what you always had…….