Observing my own behaviour and that of those around me I wonder if there are certain points in a woman's life where some kind of evil biology takes over and she becomes barking mad.
The first discernible episode of this altered mental state seems to arise in the mid to late 30's and is related to an instinctual and almost irrepressible but often subliminal need to bear children. Even if you don't really want them. It's what made me, ambivalent at best about kids, stick with a bad choice of a man for far too long -- flawed and wrong as he was, he was my last best chance and the biological urge to reproduce was bigger than I was. So I stuck with it. Didn't have the baby of course, but couldn't for some reason get out of a bad situation either. It is as though my lizard brain was suddenly capable of math, and the equation it saw was "break up with this guy and it is 2 years to get over it + six months to find a new man + a year or so to con him into a trip to the altar = Time's Up on the Biological Clock!!" Soooo, what should have been a relationship best nipped in the bud and a man best put back into the love connection Rolodex became "you'll do just fine thank you very much." Until I was 40 and realized whew, glad I dodged that bullet.
Well, I might have gotten a flesh wound. Without children to give purpose to life, what is the purpose? That existential question did plague me for a few years, until the simple fact that life just goes on whether you are filled with intent or not overcame the angst.
The next episode, again judging from my own behaviour and that of those around me, occurs about a decade later, in the late 40's and early 50's, when women (or at least quite a few of those I know) suddenly wake up, take a look at their retirement funds and smack themselves on the forehead saying "DAMMIT! I forgot to marry a millionaire!" Or, more simply, "my mother is right, I am going to die lonely and alone!"
There seems to be no other explanation for a rather sudden bout of boy craziness, the boy being a "man", any man, and better yet one with a nice looking wallet.
Again, to the objective eye these men are deeply unworthy and poor bets. But from the point of view seen from the bar stool at Last Chance Saloon, he, whoever he is, is the culmination of a lifetime of dashed hopes and dreams, and cashed-too-soon investments. The Prince of Darkness become Prince Charming, boring becomes riveting, selfish becomes ravishingly riveting. No other explanation for the pining, the uncharacteristic and clinging attachment, the grand expectations that any sane person would shrug off as fodder for fairy tales and little else. No other explanation for a grown woman old enough to know better weeping and telling her girlfriends "but he SAID he'd love me forEVER!"
The only glimmer of hope is the fact we got over the insanity at least once at this point. We will again at this age. Right?
To that end, I'm working on my trust fund right now. And surrounding myself with nice people. I narrowly escaped the bullet twice and I'm determined that living well is the best. I'm not worried about revenge, that's how grateful I am that I got through the middle-aged crazy.
C'mon ladies, join me. Believe it or not, there really is a nice joint just down from Last Chance Saloon.