2008-01-15

Itís come to my attention that there are some women my *cough age range cough* who are having a similar experiences to the one that I just passed through.

The thought of starting over in your 50ís is a whole lot more terrifying than in your twenties, where the thought could actually be fun. Thereís time to recoup everything youíve lost and everything youíve lost usually isnít much. New job, new town, new man, itís all good.

At 30 you might have children in elementary school. They have a lot of demands but are still puppies with their own rewards. You are still attractive. Starting over is a matter of money and you might still wear that two piece suit and/or show off your body in bed.

At 40 you look at your teenagers and wonder about the baggage they will become as almost adults with expectations and limits of their own who probably wonít accept new people and circumstances easily and will never understand why you donít like your significant other anymore and who is this new usurper anyhow? And what about college expenses that will no longer be expected to be shared? Your looks arenít bad but you arenít 20 anymore. You want the lights out before you undress for bed.

At 50, I swear everything has slipped. You need to find clothes that hide your imperfections which may have grown to the extent that it is impossible to hide certain liabilities. You start looking for someone worse looking than you so that you look better rather than the hot guy you really want but are too realistic to hope for. You judge significant others by new rules. One of which is despite what you look like, do they make you FEEL beautiful and accepted? Are they kind to you? Do they make you smile?

I understand that when things go bad in a long term relationship that leaving is the hardest thing to do. At this age you think no one will ever love you again. Losing everything you have materially and starting over just seems like an insurmountable predicament. You donít think that you have time to get it all back before retirement so, if someone shows up that makes you smile and feel loved, leaving is STILL the hardest thing to do. Youíve seen one ďsure thingĒ change before your eyes. Whatís to keep this new relationship from becoming something unpleasant too? Is it worth that risk to take a leap of faith and leave everything behind?

Most people would say, ďNoĒ unless they are incredibly braver than I am, or was. I hung onto a miserable marriage with a husband that I not only mistrusted but I felt that I had to protect myself from. He was a cheat, a substance abuser and a liar. I definitely had zero respect for him and even less than zero for expectations.

So it was with shock and awe that I found that when he left me I was decimated. I had no idea how to start over. He had his new girlfriend and I had no one. I thought I was fat, ugly and a stinky smoker and no one would ever want me again. I was horrified at the THOUGHT of putting that much effort into a person again. My life was over as I saw it.

I am amazed to this day that I found the inner reserves to try to start over. I think the only thing that pulled me through was that my horror at starting over and being left alone was only exceeded by the thought of being alone and unloved for another 20 or 30 years and I wasnít getting any younger. I better move while I had anything left to attract anyone with. Plus a little revenge played into it. ďI would show HIMĒ, I thought.

And so I moved on and eventually muddled myself through to a new life that, so far, is very satisfying and promises to be everything I wanted when I originally married.

The point I want to make here is that being the one that was fallen out of love with, being the one that was left behind, at this point in my life I could never be the source of that kind of pain in another human being. But I may have taken that option before, if I had fallen out of love with my ex first, if I had never experienced that pain and panic first hand.

I want to make one last point. That even though I set my blinders firmly on my head and plowed onwards out of fear and love I had no doubts about what he was doing when he didnít come home, when he came home at odd hours or drunk at noon, when money went missing and when he started not to have sex with me. I knew what was going on and it hurt like hell and I felt helpless to change it, although I tried everything I could think of. I acted erratically because of it. One minute I clung like saran wrap and the next I hated him and Iím more than sure that he described me as some crazy lady he had to put up with as I reacted to his infidelities.

So to anyone in this particular predicament donít think the other party is dumb or accepting. They are just as scared as you are of starting over and maybe still in love although you might think thatís ludicrous, since in your heart you have moved on already.

This is not a judgment but another view that I myself might not have had if it hadnít happened to me. I havenít been perfect myself but the kindest thing my first husband ever did to me was to remarry and move out of state immediately because the second Ex and I drew our seperation out until the act of living was a chore and Iíve found that it just wasnít worth it, after I (finally) moved on.

I just want to tell anyone in this position to take heart and find it in you someplace to move on. It *is* worth it even with no one else to move on with. The peace alone is worth it. Or turn it around and make peace with your significant other and grow comfortable and old together but this in between stage does no one any good, not you and your self respect, not your husband and if you think about it, not your lover.


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My 50s