I am not committed to anything much really. Not listening to sermons on Sunday evenings or any calorie-controlled diets or staying up past 10pm or rules or drinking more water and less negronis or good causes or novels with more than 350 pages or pelvic floor exercises or people whose company I don’t enjoy or a PhD or training for a marathon or anything that remotely smacks of long-term.
I am not even committed to my winter flu jab appointment. I arrive late because I am more committed to scanning a QR code that has been WhatsApped to me so I can return an ASOS parcel which is not mine. The pharmacist is called Debbie and I wonder when she committed to this truncated version of our name. We engage in polite conversation which is ok because I am only committed to being there for five minutes and she tells me demand for vaccines has really eased off. Most people have had theirs already because it takes two weeks for protection to kick in and the flu season has already started. And now I feel really late for everything. And I think of how my husband booked an appointment for his in early October.
Perhaps I am not committed to anything much because I can see the immense damage that commitment can do to you. I am not committed to organising or administrating or leading anything anymore especially not anything at church because being committed to things at church caused me to sin greatly and judge the non-commitment of others. And then I’d have terrible mood swings because everybody else could choose whether to turn up, but I had to be there complete with a plan and now I’ve decided it’s better to sit in a pew and be somewhat indifferent. I can no longer hear those calls for urgent help not even the ones for the Christmas choir. And if I feel even a slither of guilt and momentarily believe it might be specifically me and my gifts they need rather than just someone with a pulse, I remember the time it snowed in 2020 and how all the mums couldn’t join the Bible study on Zoom because they had to take their kids sledging and mine went without me. Recently, I’ve given up something else because it demanded I be in a certain place at a certain time every other Wednesday and I decided I needed to be committed to my creativity which can just appear randomly and likes me to be waiting for it. And giving it the space it deserves is why I am writing something spontaneously on a Tuesday¹. For a while, I was very focused on committing to women and building networks and arranging events and developing policies so they could fulfil their potential and change the world, but I gave up on that because I reckoned most women didn’t know what they wanted and if they did, they were never going to commit to it.
And I think it can’t just be me. We must all have a problem with commitment. That’s why it’s so hard to arrange all those catch-up soons we keep talking about and why courses don’t run and businesses have to close and promises aren’t kept and people say they’re coming but don’t and why we’ve moved lots of activities from weekly to fortnightly to monthly to never and why I’m not likely to continue with some of those bright ideas I had because no one came and I’ll just do pop-ups instead.
And actually, when it all boils down to it, I much prefer having an empty diary and never agreeing to anything or committing too much to anyone. It’s not apathy. It’s freedom.
Then, there’s the bigger commitments I’ve made and maybe I was a bit naïve or just grateful that someone was interested in me but I didn’t have the fear or the gamophobia and know when I said “I do” or maybe didn’t say “I do” because I was quite fussy about the marriage vows, that I was agreeing to be left so much on my own with small children like sometimes Monday to Friday and occasionally for the whole of June. And I am still quite resentful that I signed up to something that mainly favoured the needs of everyone else and at times felt like punishment because I had to give up lots of nice things and concentrate instead on the domestic load². When my husband sends me a photo of the port of Barcelona from his balcony on a sunny November morning, I send him a screenshot of a Barbara Taylor Bradford quote as I separate the whites from the coloureds. “It’s a woman who makes a marriage work,” she says. He is dismissive. “And how many marriages did she have?”. “One,” I reply. It lasted 55 years. I have a sudden thought. I suggest it in passing. If we lived in separate houses, maybe the childcare and the laundry would be equally divided. We could go halfers. “I’d just live with daddy,” says my youngest daughter “because he has a job”.
This week, I have been fairly committed. I’ve been committed to beetroot and tomatoes twice for lunch, so I don’t not commit to stuff in the fridge and buy sandwiches instead. But I have committed to six whisky truffles for dessert. And I may be committed to a pair of black joggers, because I’ve been spending a lot of quality time with them, hanging them up every single morning and folding them every evening. And I’ve been committed to removing my number from the optician’s text-messaging system, so I am freed from reminders about the contact lenses of other adults. “I am no longer committed to your eyes, girls,” I say. I am even committed to my husband’s career. I check his all-company update for spelling, grammar and inconsistencies. When he concludes in his final paragraph that he hopes to spend the weekend resting and in silence after his extensive travels, I suggest he not deny his commitment to golf and maybe mention his family. I am committed to googling eating places near Wenceslas Square and preparing my festive outfits on the off-chance I get an invitation I accept. I am committed to deepening my appreciation of trees. I am committed to topping up my supply of candles. I am committed to my self-care in the knowledge that no one else is. I am committed to finishing a book about matrescence so I can ensure I am not alone with my feelings. I am also still committed to finding my identity in the second half of life.
How do you feel about commitment these days? Is it just me? Let me know via the handy comment box below³. I may be back with some more writing on Friday. I am thinking cakes. But you never know. I don’t like to make commitments…
 Please excuse me for the extra intrusion into your lives this week. I hope you don’t feel you are over-committing to me.
 https://deborahsloan.substack.com/p/know-your-worth-and-ask-for-it? (external link).