I’ve just turned 38, and I’m single. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (POCS) and am currently on day 23 of my period (as in I’ve been bleeding for 23 days). It’s still so heavy I was washing out bloodied bedsheets at 3am this morning. Today I slumped into the couch, my body heavy and weak with the weight of being a woman and I thought to myself, it was all for nothing. In a world that values the male gaze above all else, as my fertility declines, as I become closer to menopause, as the fat gets harder to shift, I am no one’s wife, I am no one’s mother – I become more invisible. This is not what I wanted my life to be.
I never realised how carefree my 20s and early 30s were. I was always under the impression a man would come along ‘when I least expected it’ and sweep me off my feet. He would have financial stability, a house, and be ready to have a child with me. We would holiday together, laughing and enjoying life. I would get pregnant or we would foster children, and I would walk around our kitchen barefoot, baking cakes as music filled the house. Even as I write it, I am laughing. Though I am not sure if I am laughing at my delusion or my failure.
I focused on being the best person I could be. I focused on having a full life, trying new things, going out, getting drunk, casual sex, unrequited love, intense friendships, travelling, living overseas, and exploring. I noticed my friends began to couple off. Partying on weekends turned into attending 30th birthday lunches, then engagement parties, then weddings, then first birthdays. Still, I didn’t worry about getting married or having kids, I knew that it would happen for me. Of course, it would, I was a catch. I continued to look for ‘the one’ and bad dating stories and avoidant men continued to pile up. I seemed to gain a penchant for the wrong men (that’s another story). Still I never wavered in my belief that I would find the right one for me and have a family.
At 32 I met the guy I thought I would marry. We lived together briefly, I fell completely in love with him. He loved me, he told me he loved me, he showed me he loved me but he didn’t choose me. It left me broken and took me five years to get over it. Pathetic, I know.
Now, here I am, wavering.
This is an unfamiliar place. A place I never dreamed I would be. Trying to come to terms with the fact that I may never have the family I wanted. All the heartbreaks and bad dating stories – for what? All this bleeding and cramping– for what? All the dieting, weight loss, hair colouring, waxing – for what? All the self-improvement, focusing on being the best person I could be– for what? I cannot wrap my head around what I am supposed to do now. I know there are women out there who don’t want to have children. I have friends who are well educated and have found their purpose in contributing to the world through their good work and knowledge – it’s just… I am not one of those women. So, what now?