I turned in my notice today that I will not be renewing my lease. The tasks before me now include packing everything I own except for the basic necessities needed to travel. I also must locate a climate controlled storage unit that’s will hold everything it possible I will need two. Reserve them and make arrangement for movers. I have two months which is sufficient time if I pack everyday after work and devote my weekends to packing.
6 times now I’ve moved in four years. God clearly has decided He is not ready to stop punishing me. I no longer know what I can possibly learn from what I am experiencing nor do I see an end to it. I don’t belong anywhere with anyone. So no need to try and find home. Living on the road doesn’t seem like such a bad thing anymore. No more dreams of happiness and love. Just dreams of the open road.
Do you know where you belong? Do you have a place that is home? I’m not talking about a house but a place where you feel totally accepted? A place where your heart finds comfort? A place where friends are family and family are friends?
I hope so because I can tell you not having a place to belong makes one heartsick. I thought I had found where I belonged but divorce cost me that community. Now alone, I am like a ship with no sails in the ocean of life. Ugh what a terrible metaphor but it describes how I feel.
I am not at home or comfortable where I went to high school and college. I’ve been gone almost 34 years and I only lived there for 8 years. My finances greatly limits where I can go buy even if I had unlimited resources, I don’t know where I’d go.
What makes you feel at home? What makes you feel accepted, part of the community? Do you have friends who are family and family who are friends? What brings you comfort? What makes you call your place home?
We read stories everyday of women that have been abused by a man. And sadly these women tend to repeat bad choices and go from one bad relationship to another. For anyone with a solid self-esteem and self-worth, it is incredulous that any woman would stay in such a damaging relationship. Here is something that so many people fail to understand; the abuser rarely walks in and begins the abuse immediately. There is physical abuse and emotional abuse. They go hand in hand but emotional abuse can happen without physical abuse. That is my story.
Why didn’t I share? I was embarrassed and ashamed. Slowly over time my sense of independence was destroyed. Over time the belief I was lovable was destroyed. Day by day comments, looks, turning things around so I would begin to question myself believing somehow I caused him to cheat and having my concerns being dismissed and ignored regularly created a complete sense of instability. If my ex-husband was home I was always tied up in knots because I was worried I wasn’t making him happy. When he was out-of-town I was tied up in knots because I worried about what he was doing. Should I have left years ago? Of course, but he didn’t reveal his true-self all at once. He did itslowly over time. Think of a bucket being filled by one drop of water at a time. It takes a long time before the bucket overflows. So don’t judge your friend who finds herself in my position. Listen to her. Don’t rebuke her for not leaving sooner. Hug her. Offer support anyway you can. Don’t exclude her because she is no longer a couple. And certainly do NOT remain friends with her abusive ex-husband.
If I could give advice to any woman who is living with a narcissist, it would be to read as much as you can about narcissism and how narcissists manipulate their victims. I would encourage her to find someone to share any secrets i.e. his cheating, his addictions, his crimes. Had I come forward the first time I found out what he was doing, I might have received support from my friends. However the shame he created in me, kept me silent. Silence is a killer. It kills your spirit. So speak up. Leaving is scary. I am facing homelessness at 56 because I was a stay-at-home mom and with no full-time work experience since 1984, I can’t get any business to take a chance on me.
Why do I write about this again? I write about this again because I can’t just dump the over-flowing bucket of abuse. It leaves as slowly as it came. Now I have a small hole in the bottom of the bucket and daily a little more of it drains out. It is just going to take time, a lot of time. Sadly I don’t have time when it comes to a job. While my ex enjoys a life in the lap of luxury, ignores his children and pretends he never destroyed lives, I work to survive and they learn to accept life as fatherless children.
Since relocating three years ago, I have been visiting churches. I’ve lost count of how many I’ve visited. They include churches of all sizes and denominations. I remember thinking my church (where I was involved prior to my divorce) was friendly and what I have learned is that friendly and inviting are not the same thing. Every church I’ve been to has some moment either before or during the service to greet the people around you. At a few churches no one has approached me. At most churches people shake my hand and say hello but that is the end of the moment. At only two churches have members taken the time to introduce themselves, ask a question or two about me and then invite me to join them in some additional activity. I even had a couple offer to walk with me to their Sunday School Class. I had a woman offer to pay for me to attend their women’s dinner when she find out I was unemployed. Guess which churches I liked the best?
Shaking someone’s hand and saying hello doesn’t cut it. It is difficult enough to walk into a church not knowing a soul, especially when you are alone. I remember being comfortable at my church and being involved. In the beginning I was great at seeking out and inviting new people to join me in Sunday School or a Bible Study or a women’s group or a family event. But over time, like most people, I became complacent. I am learning first hand how not reaching out beyond a handshake makes a visitor feel excluded and unwanted.
When you are busy chitchatting with your friends about an upcoming event, I am left standing there twiddling my thumbs praying the pastor hurries up and tells us to sit down. A visitor is a fish out of water. A handshake and hello does not invite them in for a swim. Now some of you may be saying I need to make an effort and just join a group. While that thought is nice in theory, in practice there are very few people that will actually on their own step out of their comfort zone and join a group. For most people just being brave enough to visit a church is placing them way outside their comfort zone. It is up to the church members to reach out and invite the visitors to experience their church on a deeper and more personal level. Don’t say to yourself, well we have a committee to do that. Or we have people that do a follow up call. It is the responsibility of every believer to try and make that connection.
So next time you have those moments to greet people or share the peace, take the time to get their name and find something out about them. If you don’t have time, make sure you get them before they walk out of the sanctuary. Invite them to something. Get their email, give them your email. Get out of your comfort zone and make your church not just a friendly place but an inviting place.
Today I took a break get in sewing and turned on a Hallmark movie. The cast list said Willie Ames was in it. In the above photo he is the boy on the far right and if my memory serves me right, he was a teen heartthrob. And here he was playing the father of an adult daughter. He has gray hair and wrinkles! How could that be? So I looked him up on IMDB (internet movie database) and there in black and white it says he is 55.
55, he can’t be 55 because I’m only …. wait, I’m 56. How did that happen? I could have sworn I was 36 or maybe 46, but no. Right there on my driver’s license it says I am 56. I’m no fool. I know I look my age but I definitely don’t feel my age. Now I don’t feel like a teenager but I certainly don’t feel 56, whatever that is supposed to feel like. I know I don’t feel old enough to get a senior discount or an AARP discount.
I will admit that sometimes I will use age as an excuse. It’s a feeble one. Laura Ingalls Wilder published her first book at 65. Grandma Moses started painting at 70. Julia Child didn’t begin her TV career until age 51. Vera Wang didn’t enter fashion until 40. Carol Gardner of Zelda Wisdom a $50 million greeting card business didn’t start until she was 52. And there is a long list of people that were busy succeeding and living at 90 and beyond.
So I have to remove age from the table of excuses. It is no longer a card I can play. (Unless of course I can get a discount). 🙂
Yesterday I received a survey from Austin Trail of Lights asking me about my experience. There was one question asking who I came with and how many people there were. They had one HUGE error. There was no selection for anyone who might have gone alone. It was assumed that to go you wouldn’t go alone.
I find this mentality is pervasive in our society. Even when you go online to book a room at a hotel, it is automatically set to 2 people. Restaurant hosts look at you odd when you say just 1. The movie ticket booth isn’t any different. I’ve taken to buying my tickets online to avoid the odd stare.
There is a difference between being alone and lonely. I was lonely when I was married. Even though someone shared my bed, my home, my life it was hollow and empty. I wasn’t alone but I was desperately lonely. I don’t mind going places alone. I have traveled alone because I didn’t want to wait to see places and experience new things. That being said, I do get lonely. It’s not easy making friends especially at this age. I have no home which means no neighbors. I have no children in school so no classmate parents. I don’t have a spouse’s co-workers or a job of my own with co-workers. Churches aren’t generally friendly places. I know they like to think differently but typically there is nothing more than a nod or a quick handshake. Very few are willing to go the extra mile and reach out.
I pray I don’t spend the rest of my life alone but I can guarantee you either way I won’t be lonely.
Why do I always feel a little sad when I finish a good book? I should be happy to be finished and ready to move on to the next good read but unless it’s a sequel I never feel that way.
A good author can make the characters seem real. I become involved in their lives, sorrows and joys. Time, life situation and age are immaterial. I connect as much with a thirty year old single female trying to make it in New York City as much as I do with an angry Englishman in 1779. Then there is the love longing Mexican girl and the post World War II single, female author seeking the place she belongs, so different but I identify with both.
I wonder what happened to the newly divorced woman who gave herself and her soon to be ex husband a divorce party in a failed effort to save her marriage. Did she find love again? Or what about Demelza? Does she become a grandmother and Ross a grandfather? Did the abused wife heal her heart and soul once she was free?
I can go places I will never see and meet people from the beginning of time to present day and even people from the future. I wonder could I possibly write about and share a story, a world and people? I just know my life would be one dimensional and gray without books.
I was hit by a crashing wave yesterday. It was totally unexpected. I had actually gotten up and went to church. It was small but definitely the friendliest one I’ve visited. I stopped at the grocery store on the way home.
I finished reading the latest book on my list and posted a review. I cleaned up my apartment. I made plans to go see my daughter this week. It was a good day and then out of the blue I was hit by a wave of depression.
It was unexpected and it hit hard. I was knocked for a loop. I began sending increasingly depressing texts to my younger daughter until she finally called her sister. Who in turn called me very upset.
Her tears were flowing and so were mine. I was sobbing. I was having trouble breathing. I had no explanation initially for why I had gone over the edge of sadness.
My therapist says I shouldn’t worry about a job right mow. Maybe he’s right but I need employment and not a $7.25/hr job cleaning toilets. I believe it’s my overwhelming sense of fear that I will end up homeless because I can’t find a decent job is what drives my depression. I would have fought for more when I divorced had I known AGE discrimination and discrimination against FULL-TIME STAY at HOME MOMS and WIVES was so prevalent. I’m smart. I learn quickly. I’m good with people. I have the skills required for the jobs I apply so why do I have an inbox full of Rejections?
I am going to try an experiment. I am going to reapply for a job that recently sent me a basic rejection letter. I’m going to apply with my legal first name and maiden name then change all my dates by 30 years so I will be 26 rather than 56 and see what happens. My gut says I will be offered an interview. If so, it will be a clear case of age discrimination. If this happens I will contact an attorney.
It is sad I am having to go to such lengths to find a job. I will let know what happens.
I watched A&E’s tv show Intervention. It focuses on drug addicts that agree to do a documentary but in the end there is an intervention. Two things stood out to me while watching the show:
1st: I missed multiple opportunities to insist on intervention with my ex-husband and his addictions. Had I been honest with myself and my friends from the first time the police called, there might have been a chance to save him and save our marriage. But instead just like some of the family members on the tv show, I chose to ignore the seriousness of his addictions and how destructive they were and still are.
2nd: I saw too many silimaritirs between drug addiction and the way it destroys families and my depression. I don’t drink or use drugs but I’ve allowed my depression to become an addiction. I’ve taken steps to get help and I’m slowly getting better. But seeing first hand how heartbroken the families are watching their loved ones suffer and how much suffering it causes them made me realize I have to fight harder.
I have to fight every second of every day to forgive myself for allowing my ex-husband to mentally and emotionally abuse me. I have to fight to forgive myself for not leaving. I have to forgive myself for disappointing my daughters.
I have wonderful girls. They make me proud and happy everyday. They along with my son-in-law have stood by me. They have been strong and stood up to their father and refused to accept his behavior and his failure to admit his addictions and how he has hurt our family. They’ve also been strong and stood up to me and told me they know I can do better, be better and be happier.
All I can do is face the reality of my situation and fight my way back. I never deserved to be treated the way I was. I never deserved to be disrespected, ignored or cheated on. I deserve so much more.
Recently I read about the misconnect that happens when middle-aged adults enter into the online dating scene. I can’t remember where I read it but it was completely accurate.
The premise is that for most of us the last time we were dating, we were significantly younger probably in our 20s. I know it is true for me. There was no computer dating options. Now when we sign up and go online our head says I’m young. Our heart says I feel young. The same is true for men and women.
So we look at the photos and groan. These are old men. These are old women. This could be my dad or granddad. This could be my mom or my grandmother. I can’t possibly be in this age group, let me double check. Ugh it’s true. These old people are my contemporaries. It bites. It’s frustrating because society (yes it’s true whether you like it or not) give men much more leeway when choosing a partner. Men can easily marry someone much younger with little to no comment and they can marry down educationally and economically with no one saying a thing. My ex is a perfect example. He has partnered down in age, economics and education. He can because he is a man and he makes a lot of money. As I’ve always told my girls you never see a young woman with an old poor man. Money talks. Especially when it comes to dating and remarrying later in life. I suppose if I made a lot of money I would have a slightly broader choice but society still keeps women in a narrower role.
If I were to marry a younger man who had no children, people would feel bad for him because he was giving up his chance for children of his own. If I married someone with less education and less money, I would hear she must be desperate. I know times change but change is slow and I don’t believe this will change until women can have children into their 50s and 60s. An old man can marry a woman of child bearing age and still give her a family. The reverse is not true. And please do not lecture me on invitro, egg donation, adoption etc. This is an orange to orange comparison not an apple to orange one.
So I wasted $75 to join an online dating site where I now have my profile hidden. And I expect it to stay hidden until I can connect my young mind and heart to the reality of my age.