My therapist thinks I should get a new job in a new state and leave my ex and the rest of my old life behind me. She even said, “You are running out of time,” referring to the fact that I’m getting up there in years and (as we know) it is more difficult to find a job when you are closer to retirement than a career path and when there are much younger people gunning for the same jobs. Her comments made me feel a bit of panic that I really was running out of time – and I felt like a failure for not blanking the market with resumes in my quest to move forward with my life – and I also felt like an idiot because I’ve always been so unmotivated to do anything to change my life. I can’t even stick to a diet for more than two days, for Christ’s sake.
But here’s the thing — I’m not READY to do all of that yet.
I don’t have the most exciting job in the world and I’ll never get rich (or even well to do) working there, and there is not really a chance for advancement — but I like most of the people I work with, I’m very good at what I do and I’m respected by upper management. I’ve got my own office, I’m not micro managed, and if it is a slow day and I finish with the core responsibilities of my job early, I’m free to do other things that bring joy to my life – reading, writing, research, and learning skills that will help me in this job and any other I may get someday (basically, all that means I can dink around on the internet). I don’t particularly want to move to a different state or city right now – I’ve come to like this state and appreciate the various activities I can do here. I’ve made some friends and have a support system of sorts. I don’t really want to hash out financial details with my ex or try to sell the house just now — I’m comfortable with how things are.
But my therapist’s comments make me wonder if I need to examine if I’m just comfortable and complacent and yes, certainly fearful, of changing things – or if it may really be better for me to not make any changes just now – even though I know that if I wait, I may not have much of a choice in the future if I decided I wanted a new job or to leave this state. It’s a dilemma – made worse because I’m not really sure what I want or what is best for me. I’m all conflicted about what I want to/should be doing with my life. I find myself a bit resentful and frustrated that I am expected/forced to make these decisions and change my life because Doc decided to leave two years ago. I sometimes wonder if it wouldn’t be better to be with him – even with all of the flaws in our marriage – because I’m certainly not any happier now that we’re apart. I guess I should clarify that overall I’m not happier – because there are certainly some things that are better – I just can’t really think of what they are just now because I’m all a tither about all this. Plus, all of the plans I had (when I was part of a couple) are now realistically unreachable, mostly due to my financial situation – no early, comfortable retirement, no traveling the world, no spacious house where we would grow old and the kids/grandkids could come to visit, no walking along a park path holding hands and making young couples who watch us tilt their heads together and say, “Awwwww, that’s so sweet!”
I look at all of my single friends around my age (or older) and listen to their stories of attempting to date or find love. Many of them have been single much, much longer than me. Most of them want to be in a loving relationship – but none of them are able to find “the one”. They have had similarly bad experiences with online dating. They’ve tried joining clubs or groups in order to meet people – but end up meeting a bunch of other women in the same boat who are trying the same thing. They talk about the last time they had sex (years ago for many), giggle about solo sex toys, and admit that they really miss not being part of a couple – but follow that up with statements to convince the rest of us that they are really strong and independent and can make it without a man. I don’t doubt they can make it without a man – but I don’t think they want to live alone for the rest of their lives.
People tell me that I’m attractive, funny, intelligent, and wonderful, and that someday, when I least expect it, I’ll find someone who is also attractive, funny, intelligent, and wonderful – and our eyes will meet from opposite sides of a crowded room and sparks will fly and we’ll both realize that this is the man/woman we want to be with for the rest of our (short) lives – blah, blah, blah. You’ll forgive me if I don’t hold my breath while I wait. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love for it to happen – but, according to one study I read, “By the time she is 50, the chances [a woman] will marry are just one in 16, and after 60, her chances drop to one in 62.” According to 2001 census data, the odds are a bit better: “41% of women 50 and over who’ve been divorced have remarried” – but still that’s only about four out of ten – good odds if you’re playing the lottery, not so much when you’re looking for love.
It’s also hard to convince yourself that you are what every man is looking for when you’re over 50 and you have wings hanging from your underarms that threaten to snap out and decapitate anyone within range should you have the audacity to “wave your arms in the air like you just don’t care.” When the wattle on your neck turns the head of any eligible turkey that happens to be passing by. When you drop your underwear and your little belly apron gives anyone who’s watching a big smile (and if you shimmy a little, it will also wave…kind of). When your face and jowls are looking more and more like that creepy puppet “Fats” in the movie “Magic.” What? You don’t remember that movie?? That’s because it’s from 1978, so only ancient people who are over 50 now were old enough to see it back then. When….well, you get the picture (in fact, it may be impossible to get that picture out of your head for the next few weeks, sorry about that).
Body image is always a dicey proposition – some days I feel pretty good about the way I look. There are certainly features I have that I love (my hair, my eyes) – but to get naked and friendly with a new man – should I ever find a new man. Well, that brings all of my insecurities just roaring to the surface.
Shortly after Doc left, we had a conversation about what was acceptable behavior when he was in my home. Setting boundaries in a non-confrontational way was something I hadn’t done in our marriage and he really seemed to listen and understand where I was coming from. Since then, I can see he’s made a conscious effort to interact in a more positive way. Lately Doc and I have been spending a bit of time together – he’s teaching me how to be comfortable as a passenger on a motorcycle and attended some family functions together. I’ve had a good time with him – it reminds me of the fun we used to have when we would take weekend trips together. I’ve been getting all that is good about Doc without any of the crap that torpedoed the marriage. It makes me wonder if we should be so quick to just walk away and if perhaps we should give it another go. Of course, I say all of this without having any idea of what Doc thinks – because Doc doesn’t ever tell me what he thinks. I sincerely believe that even if Doc felt that leaving the marriage was absolutely the biggest mistake he had ever made in his life, that he loved me desperately, and that he couldn’t imagine going on without me – he never would tell me. It would put him in a position that is way too vulnerable and too far out of his comfort zone for him. So, Doc may think something like that – or Doc might be living the dream without me – happy that he doesn’t have to answer to me, deal with my controlling behavior (I’m really working on that), or handle the day-to-day hassles of home ownership, like watering the landscaping, cleaning up cat vomit, or determining what to fix next from the list of 1001 things that need to be done.
I could have a conversation with Doc to get a clue as to what he’s thinking, but – here’s where the conflicted part comes in – I don’t want to go back to how things were before, even though I don’t want to be single. I’m not stupid enough to believe that the problems we had wouldn’t still be there. While I think Doc is more aware of his behaviors and how they may have damaged the marriage, it’s one thing to be aware, and another thing to have done the work to get to the bottom of the issues and learn how to approach things differently – and while he has been more calm and positive when he is around me and the family, he is only around us for relatively short periods of time. I don’t know how he acts the rest of the time. And just for the record, I’m not saying Doc’s behaviors were the only downfall of our marriage – I had/have plenty of issues myself – but I have been working on them and trying to learn new ways of communication, handling stress, setting boundaries, and asking for what I need. Plus, I can’t get over the part where Doc left me! I want – and I’ve always wanted – to have my man want me and not be afraid to let me know that. Before the split, I was the one who asked for time together, initiated the serious conversations, proposed weekends away or date nights, suggested sexy times – and I got rejected often while trying to be closer to my husband. It’s demoralizing and ego-crushing – and I just can’t do that again. But at the same time, a little voice in my head says, “So, you’re going to let pride and a sense of justice stand in the way? Because if you don’t say anything, and he doesn’t say anything…well, before long you could be 80-years old with a dozen cats as your only companions.”
I’m conflicted. I want to move, I don’t want to move. I want a better job, but I don’t. I want to be married, but I don’t want the same marriage as before. I want my old life back, but I want a different life. It’s driving me crazy!