You know you’re a spinster when: First Edition

  • There is an incredibly hot and sexy man who attends my parking lot. He is the shade of chocolate that elicits plantation era fantasies of him running away and getting caught and us breeding lots of slave babies together. That shade of chocolate. He is fine. Rather than asking him out or some sort of thing that the kids are doing these days with the texting and whathaveyou, I talked to him about whether or not he uses sunscreen. I worry about his skin. I conversed back and forth with myself about asking him to become a fuck buddy (I may be a spinster, but my plumbing still works), but then I thought about the shaving and plucking and exfoliating and the sexytime sheets and the panties and I just got so exhausted that I dismissed the thought right from my head. I had to get a shandy, turn up the central air and literally lie down.
  • Speaking of panties. I went to the LB to exchange some bras. Spinsters love buy 2, get 2 free bra sales. Especially when they’ve gone up a cup size and need proper fitting replacements. Well, there was also a 5 for $25 sale on panties. You should see the shit they’re putting on underwear these days. I almost stormed out when I saw this pair. Who is going to see that? I stick to my neutrals and animal print (which is a neutral in my world). I don’t need writing on my ass. It sorta speaks for itself. And let me tell you about the exceptional customer service! The older I get, the more I love me some good customer service. As a Black woman, I’m used to getting followed around in stores so when I get someone attending to me not as a loss control measure, but because they actually want to sell me something, you can knock me over with a feather. Now, I’m not one of those Yelpers or Trip Advisors. My thing are those surveys you get on your receipt. I love those. I name names and I just picture when that employee gets a heads up that they did a good job. It’s the spinsterly thing to do.
  • About clothing. I gotta say, one of the questions from my receipt survey hit it on the nail for me. “Do you dress for style or comfort?” The sad thing is that for most women it’s zero sum. The contraptions women use to get dressed and stay in form are tortuous. The shoes. I used to dress for attention and it was uncomfortable and the ROI was not worth shaking a stick at. Nowadays, I dress mostly for comfort and myself. Now if that’s an outfit like this or this, so be it. Other days, it’s an outfit like this. There is something freeing in being able to dress at your whimsy and not in an effort to attract romantic attention. Spinsterhood is freedom from sartorial choices dictated by the male gaze. I mean I have all but given up on trying and you know what? Haven’t noticed a damn bit of difference. I still wake up alone on my side of the bed (WHICH IS ALL THE SIDES) whether I shellac my face or let the hyperpigmentation shine through. Not a lick of difference.
  • I’ve got too many lemons and not enough gin.
  • Sundays are best spent doing home pedicures and watching a young Tom Selleck. Hell, old Tom Selleck can get it, too.

On a scale of 1 to 10

“How are you doing?”

There is no question that makes me cringe more. I’d rather recall the details of my last gynecological exam than answer a question about my emotional disposition. In the span of less than 24 hours, I have avoided that question four times. Another variation of this question is, “How is your day?” Regardless of whether it’s a casual ask that is masquerading as a greeting or a genuine inquiry from a friend, I respond with a grunt and shoulder shrug. 

Years ago, I dated a woman with borderline personality disorder. She told me that one of the worse questions you can ask a person living with a mood disorder is, “How are you doing?” Because this question is like poking at an open wound. “How am I doing?” How am I doing? I don’t fucking know. She told me that she learned that rephrasing the question to reflect a scale of 1-10 is better because you can gauge the person’s….emotional shades. The variations of shitty. 

I know that friends ask because they care. Others ask because it’s a safe space in which to engage in small talk. I get that every, “How’s it going?” is not an invitation for me to talk about my suicide fantasies. But even mustering up some banal retort takes up what little energy I have. My mind has to do some serious contorting to arrive at a positive perspective.

Even the thought of thinking about how I’m doing (bear with me) is tough. It requires some degree of self-reflection. What depressed person wants to do that? Why does my medicated mind even care? It doesn’t right now. I don’t know how I’m doing, nor do I care to know how I’m doing.

I am about a 5 as I write this. Yes, back to the scale. So a 5 in my world is probably what constitutes a good day. I can’t recall in my entire life a day I was at a 10. Ever. I have tried and tried to remember a 10 day and I can’t. I have come close, but my emotional odometer has never got the needle to a ten. I suppose that’s OK because I haven’t determined that reaching a 10 is a life goal. 

What is the point in being happy? My brain can’t process what life would be like if I were a 7, 8 or dare I think it: even a 9. I have spent so many years in the grey, that any other colored lens is incomprehensible. Every time I say, “I’m doing alright”, two things could be true: I’m lying or alright means not wanting to kill myself that day. 

Being on the bipolar spectrum makes the question even more difficult. I’m swinging between states of outrageous irritability or soul-crushing sadness and apathy daily, weekly, monthly. When I am high I am usually irritable; there are no euphoric states. I don’t have the “pleasure” of having a bipolar condition that allows me to be super happy and creative and productive. How am I doing? I dunno. That’s open to interpretation on my part, I suppose. What day is it? Is the sky blue? Can I spin a wheel and buy a vowel?

There are those look on the bright side people. They try to look at every obstacle as a could have been worse. I tried that. I mean, I could be living in Syria or the Gaza Strip. My life could be in perpetual danger. Le sigh. If I were, I could care less. My desire for survival is nil. That sort of count your blessings thinking is moot for someone like me or those like me. Perhaps it’s something I should do as an exercise. A way to re-tool my thinking patterns. It could be worse: I could be unemployed or physically sick or homeless or….you name it. Then I’d have something to be sad about. That’s the guilt in that line of thinking. What do I have to be sad about? The guilt leads to shame. Makes me feel like I’m ungrateful or weak. 

That’s why I hate that question. 

Yosemite Sam or Eyeore. I could make little flash cards with their pictures on it. I could carry around numbered paddles and hold up a number. Anything but actually talking about it. It’s just too painful. 






What’s the worst that can happen? Well, everything.

I don’t recall the incident exactly, but I recall the feeling. My mother had promised to take me somewhere and for factors irrelevant to my childhood mind, she couldn’t do it. I was crushed. There was a physical feeling of pain and emptiness that rumbled from my head to my chest to my stomach. My face burned in that way when it readies for an eruption of tears.

I was disappointed. Painfully so and it is a vivid memory of experiencing an emotion for the first time.

Disappointment has stayed with me since then. It runs a spectrum. I am disappointed when I drop the last bite of my favorite food to being disappointed that a relationship is ending. Last week, I got disappointing news. I wasn’t selected for a job I really, really, really, really wanted. I really wanted it. I have wanted nothing more in years. For the first time, someone remarked, I looked and felt excited about something. I didn’t get it and I settled into a numbness. I think partially because 1) I started a new medication which prevents me from feeling much of anything, and 2) I had mentally prepared myself for disappointment.

It’s a survival mechanism of sorts. I resist hope with every fiber of my being because I fear and loathe disappointment. Hope leaves me vulnerable. Open to the unexpected and I lack the ability to cope with the unexpected. I don’t have emotional flexibility, nor am I able to navigate the emotional waters that come with bad news. It physically hurts me. When I think about the root of all my fears, it comes down to being afraid to be disappointed. Rejection by others and failure to accomplish something all connects back to disappointment. I am disappointed that my hope for romantic acceptance isn’t going to happen. I am disappointed I didn’t earn that fellowship or job or get the last slice of pizza or award or raffle prize or civil rights. You know how it’s said that the number one fear in people is public speaking? I would consider myself part of that group. It’s not the getting up in front of people part, it’s the chance I’ll be disappointed by their reaction to me. What if they don’t like what I’m wearing?  What if I say something stupid? I hope I come off looking like an attractive genius, but I’ll be disappointed if no one perceives me the way I expect them to. There is a sense of worthiness tied to my disappointment and when I am disappointed, I question the value of my existence. It’s a tricky place to be.

Expectations. There is something about these things. I have slowly started to whittle down my expectations for everything, almost. Especially for myself and for others. I have learned that expectations are the number one cause of disappointment. I used to have expectations for myself. I used to set goals. I was just asked to assess myself by my new boss. I hate self-assessments. A depressed, suicidal person with an anxiety disorder should not have to be forced to assess herself. It’s not fair. Perceiving my own value, assigning it a negative or positive connotation is painful. “What are you most proud of?” Getting out of bed today. Huge accomplishment. If I set the bar low, failure doesn’t feel so bad. Expecting growth or areas of improvement for me into a space I don’t want to be in right now.

Pride. Risk. Disappointment. I have another thought here. Being proud of my work is impossible. It’s not something I am capable of doing and yet I keep myself in a major rut by refusing to take risks. BECAUSE risk —>vulnerability —> possibility of disappointment. And you know what? If I do manage to accomplish something, I downplay the achievement because pride in this moment will – in my mind – lead to a future incident of disappointment. And I must avoid that at all costs.

I can’t tell if I’m in a transitional state after receiving my sucko news. I can’t determine the permanency of my numbness. There is some freedom in it, I’ll admit. I’m just afraid of what happens if it wears off.

When I think about it, I put a lot of effort into avoiding hope. I wonder what is more taxing: avoiding disappointment or working my way through it? However, at this point I’m too tired to figure it out.