Carol Concert Circa no. 43 So Far

December 15, 2011 § 43 Comments

Went to a schtonkingly good school carol concert, rousing as all get out.  Lifted the mood considerably in some ways, though I had In the Bleak Midwinder at my wedding and that always nails me, tears-wise, but I managed somehow to keep a tight rein on them and not to make an arsehole of myself.  Phew.

Went alone, as always.  I find that something of a challenge.  It’s not about feeling lonely.  It’s not even about having a sense that people are watching me, a loser.  They are not.  They don’t notice and couldn’t give a shit if they did.  They are thinking about their own rendition of  Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.  They are thinking about their little Joe or Flossie’s reading or solo or lunch or the woman in the pew behind who has OD-ed on her botox so bafflingly badly that she has wound up with an astonishing face, like a sharon fruit.  I am just so much invisible padding, squashed amongst the endless couples.  What I find challenging, is thinking they’ve no fucking idea how something so simple and basic as this – coming together to their kids’ concert – has so much resonance, as much resonance as the trumpets filling the whole church and making it shake in its medieval boots, for those of us who don’t have a Significant to come with, and with whom to exchange sentimental looks that are all about history and family and shared lives and sex and the future and life and the passing of years and death and all the ruddy rest.   That is what I find a challenge, being alone with these thoughts and observations, because they’ve never had them or needed to think about them.  Oh, and the tedium of sitting there thinking all about myself and how I wound up the only lone woman in the whole bleeding congregation, and what’s the matter with me, and what’s so good about all of them?  Better be careful or I shall turn into a right bitter old cow.

Anyway, there was just me, no Significant, craning to see my children belting their little lungs out, and thinking I never go to church and here I am yearning and praying for all the world like a pious person in ecclesiastical purple and pinneys.  Cursing and praying; cursing and praying.

My hands and feet froze so the mulled wine afterwards came as a welcome thing indeed.  Lots of chat to lots of couples about Christmas, and where I was going to be.  With my mum, I said.  None of them is going to stay with their mum.  They might have their mums coming to stay with them, but none of them are going to stay with her.  The difference says it all, really: plankton regression during the big life moments, like Christmas.  Not that I really care.  I love being with my family which, truncated as it might be, is extraordinarily functional and affectionate and close and loving.

Later, I went to dinner with a couple I love.  In the space of five minutes after crossing their threshold, my old friend the husband had asked me more than once:  “Do you have a boyfriend?”  I demurred.  “Are you getting lots of sex?”  I demurred.  I am very fond of this person.  He is not a bully or aggressively nosy.  He is just a man and all married men, it seems, are desperate to know the details of a plankton’s sex life (Charlotte says it’s because they are not getting enough when they’re at home so it’s scratching the itch of projection).

My answer was this: “Funny, when I was married, no one ever asked me about my sex life.  Now everyone wants to know, and normally I am the most open of open books, no, I am an outsize Kindle on display at PC frigging World but, as it happens, on this one I’m gonna pass, on this one I’m not telling.”

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§ 43 Responses to Carol Concert Circa no. 43 So Far

  • Lydia says:

    I think it must be something to do with the area in which you live. I was at a carol service of my children this week. I drove for 2 hours to get there on tiem from a work thing so not thinking about or fussing over man or no man as my life is too busy to be fussed with such frivolities. i was with an adult child. In front of us were two mothers who looked like friends and no children and next to them two men without any women but with one 3 year old. Yes there were also a lot of couples but by no means masses. Behind us were 3 female teachers.

    Also i remember how absolutely dreadful even standing next to my children’s father used to be and thought with such relief gosh I am here and we are happy and he is not there, aren’t I lucky?

    No one ever asks me if I have a man. May be they realise I would regard such a question as intrusive as I don’t discuss my private life. If they did surely you coudl just counter with – never mind about me – what sex position did you have with your husband last night and how often do you have anal sex? Turn things around. Don’t be a victim. Life’s more fun if victimhood is thown off like a sad cloak.

  • Sarah says:

    I’m going to stay with my mum too. It’s the only way I get to see the family as they do not come and see me at Christmas. I have no room for them, anyway.

    Christmas one year, New Year the next. Works well.

    I might add that even when I was married, my ex-h never came to concerts or anything like that. Too busy working, so not all single women you see at these events are necessarily single.

  • tawnykate says:

    I also went to my son’s carol concert alone last night. Last year on the same night I sat in much the same pew with my son’s father on one side, my husband on the other. I acted yes, like a smug married and oh so pleased with myself that my divorced ex-husband and I get along so well with my current beloved husband. Look at me, aren’t I clever with not one but two handsome men to accompany me that night and watch our son/stepson singing in the choir.

    This year as I waited for the festivities to begin, and because clearly I had nobody to talk to, I tapped out an email to my soon to be second ex-husband (he left suddenly in February, on my birthday, saying he didn’t love me anymore. It’s been the worst year of my life – everything I held dear collapsed and I’ve been picking up the pieces ever since). I wrote that how odd it was to sit there without him, when just a year ago we’d sat in the pub next to the church and I considered us to be rock solid and in love. Oh and the solicitor said he should receive the divorce petition any day – was that the early Christmas present he was waiting for? How ironic – and how painful.

    As I stood and sang those carols I too could hardly keep back the tears for all I’ve lost in just 10 months.

    So, fellow Plankton – keep the faith. I read all your posts and feel your pain acutely.

    Christmas this year is going to be excruciating – one spare seat at the dining table screaming at me “loser”….

    • The Plankton says:

      Dear Kate, How horrific for you and I am so sorry. The pain must be completely excruciating. I do hope the blog will be of some comfort, however small, and will prevent you at least a tiny bit from feeling so alone. Very best wishes, Px

    • Joules says:

      Kate I am so sorry for you situation. I know – have been there. My ex told he now longer loved me and that I needed to figure out how I was going to feel when he had a new girlfriend. It was awful and the first year you keep reminding yourself that last year at this time you were happy and together – well at least you thought so.

      It does get easier and there does come a time when you definately do not want to go back to where you were with him – after all if he can walk out so easily then he must not have been someone who you wanted to spend the rest of your life with.

      Hugs from me.

    • Patsy says:

      Tawnykate…i have been there too…10 years ago, even i can’t believe it…., but DO believe it – you will come through. Yes,i have my memories of when family life was really good – i say now that life is just ‘different’- but life does go on, and we survive. – there are just loads of us, MEN and women in the same predicament…broken dreams and hopes…..just know you and all Planktons, male & female, we are out there/here…and however it may look to you at first glance….never assume what’ s going on behind the front door. maybe, just maybe, this is BETTER?

    • MissBates says:

      Hello TawnyKate:

      Your birthday AND Christmas? Wow, what a prince. I’d say “well rid of him” etc. but as a fully-paid up member of planktonville I do understand that that is of zero comfort, despite his reprehensible behavior.

      Sadly, in my professional life I hear about circumstances like yours day in and day out, and it never fails to make me think that our coupled-up friends and neighbors really have so very little reason to be complacent and smug. I guess this perspective is the silver lining of what is otherwise a rather grim job.

      I can only echo what another commenter said: YOU are not the loser. Get through the holidays as best you can.

    • Dawn says:

      Why do they have to leave on a special day so it’s forever associated with them leaving? Is it done to rub salt in the wound on an ongoing basis? My ex told me he was leaving on Mother’s Day. Yeah, thanks for that special little flourish. I’m now so grateful he’s gone, but I sure could have done with less cruel timing at the time. Hang in there, TK.

    • AJ says:

      Kate, I know lots of other planktons have said the same, but it really does get better, and they are all correct, it’s him that’s the Loser, not you.. Surround yourself with family and friends this Christmas..

      I wish in some ways, we could all meet up for one night and raise a glass or two to us and the cyber friendships that have arisen because of P’s brilliant blog.

      hugs x

      • The Plankton says:

        Thank you, AJ, I wish we could too but I would have to come dressed as Father Christmas! Px

      • Patricia says:

        Just what I’ve been thinking AJ! What a great support this blog is for us Planktons – knowing I am not alone really does bring comfort – thankyou P! I will raise a glass to all of us on Christmas Day – we are not alone.

      • Jo says:

        Hi AJ and Plankton. Re: ‘Wish we could all meet up one night and raise a glass’.
        Loved your reply P about ‘I would have to come dressed as father Christmas!’ Got me thinking…Maybe we could all meet for one night only, to clink a glass or two. At a stylish place. Only condition? A masked (bejewelled) gathering.
        Name tags only. (Discreet and embossed. Not scraggily stuck on.).
        And absolutely NO revealing. However tempting……NO revealing.
        Mmm very mysterious.

    • Dawn says:

      It helped me immensely to take note of all the things at Christmas (never mind the rest of the year) that were SO MUCH EASIER without my ex’s uncanny ability to make any situation worse.

      Case in point: My first Christmas alone, I left my Dad to sit down and rest at the mall entrance while I fetched the car from the opposite end, which necessitated walking through the Christmas tree display of a department store. Ex had dictated that we MUST have a real tree each year (a whole other chapter of complications and fuss) but I had decided that for me on my own an artificial tree made more sense and that if I ever felt the desperate need to murder a tree for the occasion in the future, I could do so.

      I approached the display. There were three assembled trees. Tree number one was cheap and looked it. Tree number three was absolutely beautiful and realistic-looking, but ridiculously expensive. Tree number two, like baby bear’s porridge, was just right. I summoned a clerk, said I wanted one and 15 minutes later was backing my car into the freight area to have it loaded into the trunk (boot).

      And that’s when I got one of the most intense flashes of realization of just how sweet life could be without an insecure, perpetually adolescent, contrarian, control freak husband in tow. Had he been there for the purchase of the tree, he would have: 1) resisted the purchase even as a stopgap for those years when getting a real tree might not be possible; 2) fought tooth and nail for the purchase of the most expensive tree, despite us not being able to afford it; 3) dragged the whole thing out to an hour-long debate; and, 4) insisted that we also buy new ornaments we also couldn’t afford because we now NEEDED THEM – while without him it became: Not that one; not that one; that one. DONE!

      And now I shall stop hogging the comments bandwidth. Apologies to our beloved Plankton. And Merry Christmas to all!

      • TwinkleToes says:

        “an insecure, perpetually adolescent, contrarian, control freak husband”

        Dawn, were we married to the same man? 😉

        I remember one year when my ex insisted on lighting a coal fire “because it’s Christmas Day” despite it being very mild outside. The room got so hot, I had to go change into a vest and shorts. That didn’t feel very Christmassy at all!

    • Bambi says:

      tawnykate, your post brought me back to December 2000 (yes, near Christmas!), when my husband told me that he was having an affair and, like you, everthing I treasured seemed to disappear in a puff of smoke. I am heartbroken for you and only wish that I could write a post that would magically bring you forward to the place where I am now, which is a good place. Yes, it has taken several years, many tears, the overcoming of fears…..It has taken guts and immense effort to get here – but, as some of the other posters here say, and I totally agree with them, you will, by one route or another, in your own time, arrive at a place which will certainly be different and may, just may, even be better….

      Loser? No,my Dear – not YOU….. you are no Loser…. trust me!

  • MissBates says:

    I have ventured rejoinders similar to those that Lydia suggests above when I’ve been asked instrusive questions about my love life. (“Did YOU get laid last night?” I will ask, etc.). It often backfires, though, with the person huffily saying, “well, there’s no need to be so touchy!” So, while our romantic lives are considered general propertyp, but coming back with a snarky riposte usually results in them muttering in the corner to other coupled-up types: “Well, she’s obviously very sensitive about being alone, but really……I didn’t mean anything, but I obviously touched a nerve.” So, on balance, perhaps best to laugh it off like you did, Plankton, or, frankly to say, dead seriously, “No, no I don’t have a boyfriend. Why, do you know someone?”

    As for seasonal regression: don’t get me started. I will be heading off to a married sibling’s house in the hinterlands for the Christmas weekend. She has two Santa-believing children so it’s easier to have the holiday there than anywhere else for the next year or two, but I am seriously getting sick of always being the one to make the schlep.

    • ToneDeafSinger says:

      Once (years ago) I had just split up from a boyfriend and this woman I worked with, asked me “So what’s your sex life like then?” (we were in a pub with colleagues after work). And I replied “Sex? What’s sex Carmel?” (yes, Carmel really is her name); she replied “I don’t know, I’m married”. Although I was very upset about the split when this reply came to me (I’m not normally quick of the mark) I felt like laughing… fortunately. Said Carmel is on FB although I did not bother befriending her, however I have a strong feeling that she, too, separated from her husband and I suspect never had children… So there 😛

  • ToneDeafSinger says:

    Here’s my 2penn’orth… Last night I also went to a school carol concert. Ex is currently staying with us in between moving out of a rented flat and completing on the new place he is buying. He worked from home yesterday. I had to drive daughter to church by 6.45 as she is in school choir, with concert starting at 7.30. Do you think Ex would come with us? Oh no, he expected me to go out and save him a seat for him to arrive just on time – so as not to “waste” time. Turned up without reading glasses (so could not sing the words) because he had been on Msn until the very last moment. After the concert he moaned and whinged because there were refreshments (more time wasted), swallowed a cup of tea and b*****ed off on his own because he does not like hanging around. Did not make the slightest effort to say hello to teachers and other parents (some of whom are our next door neighbours but one). He is a huge embarassment to have around, and when we were married he was even more embarassing… the constant effort to be polite to all the people he was being rude to was grinding me down. I can see how devastating it must be for those who did have a good marriage… I hope this does not upset, but I actually envy people who had the experience of loving, supportive life “as a couple”… something I have never known. And that, really, is the main reason why I’d like to meet someone – in order to experience life as a couple – with someone who is “on my side”, my ally and friend. That, plus sex, of course (of which there was next to none with Ex on the grounds that he stopped fancying me when I put on weight…)

    • Joules says:

      Dear tds

      I think you need to loose 200 pounds (or whatever he is) of asshole by kicking him out in the snow right now. Just my two cents worth.

      • ToneDeafSinger says:

        ha ha ha ha ha ha Love it!!!

      • ToneDeafSinger says:

        Joules, my nickname for him is Kirkegaard because he is so deeply depressing…

      • Jo says:

        I agree with joules, TDS.
        I remember you said that you allow his presence for your daughter’s sake. But blimey, there is a limit here. You did NOT have to save the bugger a seat at the concert. (Just say “no”?). If he came later and had no seat, then he can explain that – or not – to his daughter. You are preventing her from seeing him as he really is. For herself. Which is important.
        Ditto his ‘moaning and whinging’. Move away from him… Go and talk to someone else. Don’t listen. If he thinks ‘time’s being wasted’, then he can get the bus home… More of the same with the ’embarassing’, ‘rude’ stuff et al. You don’t have to put up with this nor apologise or compensate for him and his behaviour ANYMORE.
        (Aside from wanting him to see your daughter, Why do you?…….Difficult question, but interesting I think.).
        Let him see your daughter. Then he can bugger off. Stop making life easier for him and his behaviour. x

      • Bambi says:

        Your two cents worth is excellent value, Joules! Thank god for a sense of humour – and you are obviously not short on same either, ToneDeafSinger. Giggle.

    • Jo says:

      TDS. I see that he did actually depart after the concert.
      Ignore bit about the bus. But better than infecting the air with bile,I say.

    • Lydia says:

      I wasn’t happily married either. I sometimes wonder if that is one of the differences between plankton and me – that I wake up every day absoultely delighted my husband is not there. Every daay is like Christmas for his absence. I am so lucky to be single and without him.

      Those who are left (and I include my ex husband in that ) can feel very different. In fact the worst thing I ever did was divorce him and cause him that pain. I think those of us male or female who choose to leave a partner who loves us and wants us to stay do know how much we will be hurting the other person. However that does not mean we shouldn’t do it.

      • EmGee says:

        I wasn’t happily married either, but had the good (or was it bad? I am not sure) luck of recently having a very devoted and loving boyfriend. When we broke up, it was heartbreaking.

        Having lost his living space unexpectedly, he’s moved in with me at least through the end of the year, and just having a companion around is bliss, even if it’s platonic. Bonus points because he cooks, and if I cook, he does the washing up. He also cleans the litterbox, takes out all the trash, etc, upon request. I also have someone to take care of things for me while I am back with my family at Xmas.

        Sex would be nice, but I appreciate the rest so much more, for having lived with an increasingly selfish and miserable person in my marriage.

  • EmGee says:

    No comment on the caroling, except the perception that you were the only plankton attending, was probably just that. I know the feeling.

    What I would like to comment on, is the new email format for replies – unless one is a wordpress blogger, there is no attribution to the poster, just a “Reply to the Plankton…”. To find out who has replied necessitates going to the Blog page and searching out the latest replies. Frustrating!

    • The Plankton says:

      Oops! Sorry, I didn’t know about that and not being a technician of any sort am not sure what to do about it. I will alert the Mumsnet team tomorrow to your helpful comment. thank you. px

      • EmGee says:

        Thanks P.

        I do see now that if one clicks on ‘comment’, it takes you to directly to the comment which is not a bad trade off. I had just gotten used to reading them all at once in the email.

      • The Plankton says:

        No probs. I have alerted the lovely techies that be at Mumsnet all the same xx

  • Margaux says:

    EmmGee – I just call up the blog everyday on google andf there is the Wonderful Plankton and all the replies underrneath from all her wonderful commentators with their userids. Easy!

    Kate – please wrap yourself in the warmth of this blog and know that many of us identify with your pain and have been there in one way or another and have survived. You are not a loser – nor is The Plankton.
    Joules is right – there will come a time when you will see your ex for what he is. It does get easier. Honestly.

    ToneDeaf – crikey, that ex of yours sounds like a complete tosser! Joules is right about him too!

    Sorry P for sidetracking there ..yes, I think your friend Charlotte is right. The sex life questions are definitely because they aren’t getting enough at home. In fact how many longterm marrieds are? ( any comments?)

    I have 2 seperate married female friends in their early 50s who recently asked me if I had met anyone new, when I am going to make the effort to? isn’t it about time?…bla bla bla (they didn’t approve of the last one )

    When I replied that I hadn’t met anyone I fancied, they both wanted to know what I actually wanted.

    Out of sheer devilment I replied to both that I wanted mindblowing, life affirming, fabulous sex. Each got huffy with me.

    One said ‘ don’t you think companionship is more important?’ – my response : ‘I’m not ready to get a cat yet’.

    The other said sniffily ‘sex isn’t the be all and end all in a relationship, you know’ and promptly steered the conversation into safer waters.

    Both, I concluded no longer have sex….

    • The Plankton says:

      Wonderful Plankton! That’s a new one on me, Margaux, and thank you for cheering up an exhausted Thursday evening. If only someone like Smidgen or Long Shot had thought so, and not been so constipated as to have been able actually to do something about it! I guess I can dream on. Px

    • Lydia says:

      I never get sex life questions. No one would dare. It’s not polite. What weird people you all must know.

      My sister might once or twice have asked and I just always say I do not comment on or talk about private relationships and that ends the discussion.

      • Margaux says:

        Weird?
        *splutters over coffee*

        Lydia – one of the joys of longstanding female friends is the sharing of intimacies, confidences, history and life experiences. But, as you say, you don’t have female friends….

        As for male friends – sure, if they too are long standing friends then it’s a banter / living vicariously thing…irritating, yes but not unheard of…

  • june says:

    Poor you plankton but are you sure everyone was in a couple, in 2011 i find this very unusual, possibly could there have been some ex-husbands with wives for the klids sake etc. i cant believe everyone was part of a happy couple.

    After things ive heard recently i am with patsy, maybe. just maybe being a plankton is better, the relationships ive heard about recently i, and i dont think you or any of our fellow planktons on here would put up with. I think it has to be faced yes getting a man isnt difficult if you dont care a damm what he looks like, acts like, behaves like etc,but if you have certain standards it will not be easy, and maybe you might have to accept you will only get one if you drop those standards a great deal more than any of us would be prepared to.and put up with the crap many women do.

  • Candy says:

    Tawnykate..just want to send hugs…I remember the devastation and distress of the first couple of years, but Patsy is right…you will come through, for some it might take months, for others it might take years, but you will get through!

    At least you have the children to love and who love you. My husband had an affair 8 years ago and left me for the Other Woman who stole my future – she had the 2 kids I dreamed of, she is reaping the benefits ot the well paid job I helped him work for.

    I just died inside for the first couple of years, but now I am “content” – I don’t need a man to validate me, I am content within myself, have turned down offers of dates because I couldn’t honestly be bothered with all that strife again.

    And the funny thing is… Ex Husband has tried to contact me this year by text (obviously when drunk) , tells me he still loves me, tells me she is a nightmare, however he loves his daughters and will ‘stay as long as he can for them’ but he wants to ‘keep my name under love’??

    Obviously grass is not always greener on the other side!

    • Bambi says:

      Candy, so many of your circumstances are a mirror image of my own (except for the 2 kids bit) that I wonder if our exes are both following the same instruction manual!!! My ex has told me that he has made the biggest mistake of his life and that the ‘relationship’ he left me for works at a certain level only because they do not live together full-time. The grass on the other side may have turned brown…

      May I be so bold as to ask you two questions….no obligation to answer, of course!
      1. Would you take him back?
      2. Do you find that when you say to men (and women, sometimes) that you are not interested in a relationship, they either don’t believe you or attribute it immediately to the fact that you are still ‘hurting’ ; it can never be that you are actually quite content doing a solo run. This has been my own experience….am just interested in others’….

      • MissM says:

        I couldn’t resist responding to the last point even though I am not Candy, sorry. Saying you are not interested in a relationship is rather like saying you don’t like chocolate. Sure, some people really don’t like chocolate, but an awful lot do so you are in a minority for a start. Plus chocolate is just so lovely to a chocolate lover that they cannot imagine finding anything to not like about it, and therefore anyone claiming that it is not on their want list is going to seem a little odd. Understandable perhaps if you ate so much that it made you ill, or so much that you are full for the moment, but other than that, not wanting chocolate is just difficult to comprehend. That is also my view on relationships, they are wonderful, and to not want something wonderful is just a little difficult to comprehend.

      • Bambi says:

        Hi MissM,
        not ignoring your (perfectly reasonable) question. Will give as full a reply as possible as soon as i get a chance…

  • Patrese says:

    Sorry I’m a bit late coming to this post, but I was wondering about the fact that you had ‘In the bleak midwinter’ at your wedding – what the **** was that about??

    • Lydia says:

      It certainly sounds like a portent.

      By the way I recommend singing to anyone who feels miserable. Sing at home. Join a choir. I am not suggesting this for dating reasons although I have met some quite good looking men in that context. In general there are more women than men so it’s not best dating stamping ground but it certainly makes people happy.

      It’s all about letting oxygen into the lungs. Our family sing a lot and every day and people just don’t seem to any more. You don’t see people whistling down the street. Less music seems to be done in state schools and fewer people are in church choirs or in church at all. That’s such a shame.

  • Jo says:

    Actually. Further to my comment earlier in this blog, re: AJ and P,
    maybe it would be interesting for us all to meet for one night only, clink a glass or two….But rather than my former suggestion -bejewelled masks and name tags -to NOT reveal who we are…….Just meet up. Have a drink and disappear back to the blog..
    I am joking of course. But interesting thought nonetheless.

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