Write the last chapter, or close the book?

by Cybele

Wow! this is a fantastic site. It’s not that misery loves company (I’m sure some passers-by, onlookers, will think that), but those of us going through a tough depressive time in retirement will probably feel as I do – hearing other stories, I know that I am not nuts, I don’t have a bad attitude, others have similar experiences.


I believe ageism and gender stereotypes play into the single women's retirement reality, just as much as my past decisions led to where I am.

I am 66 this year. I retired early from an executive position. I was burned out, my husband had retired and was “giving” our retirement money away while I wasn’t looking. I married late and was married 23 years; most of it unhappy – silent, angry, isolated.

I stayed because women kept telling me all men were like my husband, and I believed I should stay married and if I kept trying, I could turn it around. I used work to compensate. I do not have children – it takes two. It was my first marriage and his 3rd.

I wanted a real marriage, I think he wanted a steady social partner. I look back now and see how older men want younger women – but I didn’t get it then.

When I chose to retire, I believed I would find a different path. I saw how so many of my decisions were based on fear (fear of getting old and not having a partner to age with, fear that made work and income a higher priority than really finding what gave me joy, etc.)

In hindsight, I see my self confidence whittled down over the years. Failure in my personal life had effected work.

At first, I did little things around the house – delved into cooking, decorating our new home …, things I did not have much time for before. Then it was time to challenge myself and find my real course.

Unfortunately, being home made the marriage situation worse. It took 2 years, but I decided to divorce – amicably. I needed to move on. I needed to get the old me back, my resilience, confidence, and have the love in my life I deserved and wanted. So I thought.

While preparing for the divorce, I lost my mother. I decided to move across country to be closer to my family. I am 2hrs flight time away – not real close.

So within a short period of time, I left a career, income and social community, lost my mother, divorced, lost the house I always wanted, left a climate and culture I enjoyed and moved to a new state with no support system, no contacts, no family.

In my new home, I had projects for renovation, became active in a church group though I am not big on religion (and at my age they didn’t know what to do with me – no husband, no children, no grandchildren). I joined a local theater group where I felt ignored, began making some acquaintances (who moved a short time later), began teaching online (not interactive, not real human communication, volunteered (3 yrs) as an advocate for children).

I was busy, but lonely. There was no intimate relationship (one relationship with someone you trust and in whom you can confide and who can confide in you; someone you feel affirms who you are). No one for an impromptu cup of coffee, or lunch without weeks of planning. Certainly no hug or hand held, kiss – though I had not had that in many years.

Relational connections (friends and family; face-to-face contact, mutually rewarding contacts) were limited. I was busy making Collective connections (becoming part of a group or collective beyond individual existence. Volunteer ….). I kept running from one thing to another, felt exhausted and disconnected, hoping to make contacts in a new state, with no built-in support system, not knowing a soul.

The job market was bad and getting worse. An agent said, I would be looked at as a bored retiree – not taken seriously.

About 3 years after the move, I was ready for romance. I reached out to someone (Mr P) I knew many years ago and to my surprise he responded. After 4 months of phone calls and great conversations, we were more than just friends. Calls were nightly, 2-3 hours. We had a couple of weekends – he initiated discussions of commitment, marriage, merging households.

I had lots of activities going, but with romantic love in my life – things just seemed a little brighter – someone to share with – attention, acceptance, affection, appreciation finally (so I thought). … Then, within a couple of months he dumped me in email. Email! I won’t ruminate on that but it took me for a loop, to say the least.

Confused, hurt, sad, angry, I became terribly depressed. Maybe I am not meant to experience love, but why not! I sought counseling and was told it was natural grief.

5 months later (admittedly, not healed) I decided to get “back on the horse”. That’s when I hit ageism and gender stereotypes. Men want younger women, women told me I was either out of my mind for wanting a romantic relationship, OR, I should look into a lesbian relationship since there are more women available at my age. I tried dating websites (MANY), Meet-up groups… I tried to get back into things I enjoyed, but so many were things I shared with Mr P – they became painful.

After 1.5 years, I gave up on the dating websites – which means I don’t meet men “.”

It’s been 3 years since I broke-up with Mr P. I don’t miss him but I do miss the brief look into the door he opened – feeling cared for, caring for him, feeling a special connection. Sharing experiences with someone – good and tough. Touch. In that time, I lost my 2 cats and 3 dogs (the last one 3 months ago) I’ve had 2 types of cancer and I’ve gained a tremendous amount of weight which is my “wall of unattractiveness”. Instead of being rejected for unknown reasons - I ‘ve created one.

I am now retired for 9 years this year. I thought I would create a new chapter in my life book but instead, I get messages that I should just be reviewing my past life and close the book. I pick myself up and dust off – but I can’t sustain it because the loneliness doesn’t go away.

I am busy, I do force myself to go out – but there is no continuity – I am still alone in a crowd. I am so tired of feeling "odd" and rejected, I am finding my self-protection wants me to stay at home more which eventually feeds the loneliness.

I used to be very independent and do things on my own when there was no one around. But I wasn’t alone ALL the time so I could balance the alone times. I actually like being alone - to think, read, etc. But I have no balance – other than superficial contact or online websites.

This is not the life I expected in my last chapter.

Wendy: Just an idea, join the community and chat. Don't look for "romance" but friendships, nationwide, and even worldwide. Let friendship go where it may, maybe you'll visit someone, maybe you'll find a relationship.

Hit the HAPPINESS tab in the left navigation bar, and read the poem on that page. It's quite obviously written years ago, but I think it's a really great thought. Don't LOOK for happiness or a relationship, instead let life flow while you keep busy and thoroughly enjoy every moment. Stay in the moment too...

Best WIshes!

Comments for Write the last chapter, or close the book?

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Sharon's post
by: Susan

Wow Sharon, you sound like me! I realized that I had my lowest of lows, always due to bad relationships. That was awhile ago.

I got a dog...did things I loved...and loved myself. I still do get lonely, but I am always working on what can I do to make me happy.

I do, actually think, that one day, when the best of the best for me come along..i Will be able to recognize him, and I will let him in. BUT I also know that I will be OK even if that doesn't happen. But it was a 'ah ha' moment to realize it was always a bad relationship that made me feel soooo lost and depressed.

Each day now, I have the potential for a new and happy situation.

(but, yes, there are times I get lonely...but never devastated...)

This is a great site!

You've been through alot!
by: Barbara (Northeast NJ)

You made many brave choices - to leave an unhappy marriage, move etc. But don't give up! You need a support group of women our age (I am 64) who are deep, dependable and who are there for you!

Having a pen pal is fine but our generation likes to get together for a coffee or lunch to talk. I have been retired for 5yrs (I was downsized) and decided to take some classes at the University (after 62, tuition is free - you just pay for the fees) and am pursuing a graduate degree in counseling.

I may or may not use it - but, I am doing this for myself. I am married, but my husband is a little younger and working (and not much of a talker or socializer). So, I need to socialize with friends.

I would be happy to exchange emails with you (qeenofhart at aol dot com) That's not misspelled.

Susan: Replacement Dog
by: Cybele

Thanks for the suggestion Susan, but I am not planning to replacing the dog(s) - not yet.

There were times the dog(s) were a hindrance. I had one friend/acquaintance who wanted to take days trips - me too, but I'd have to board the dog(s). Once, I missed a trip to a long distance friend for Thanksgi

ving because I didn't realize I needed to arrange for boarding more than a month in advance at that time of year. When I do go out, I have to be aware of getting home on time to let the dog(s) out.

For the first time in over 20 years, I have no pets to content with. It is freedom. I have one street cat that now lives with me. That's more than enough. And, if I want to take a couple of days to visit someone, a neighbor would feed her. (We both fed her when she was on the street.)

Don't close the book, create new chapter
by: Susan

One more thing..get a new dog! That will make you get out, and people are more approachable when they have a dog...it might open up a new world. Just because the other dogs died (which is devastating) shouldn't close the book on dogs..open a new chapter with a new, fun, sweet and TIME CONSUMING dog!

no relationship...have to be happy
by: Susan

I also have been so badly burned by past relationships, I now am focusing just on what makes me happy...and that is to constantly try to connect with people and meet new people..in new situations.

I am a young retiree...57...i am described as looking much younger..I am healthy, fit and I feel men can be and are attracted to me..BUT, I can't find the right one. So I am just not trying. And I am happy...and I assume whatever happens will happen.

I keep busy, but unfortunately (?) most of my 'meet new people do new things' stuff is totally filled with women, and or much older people. BUT I am loving those events. I am open to the universe and what it presents.

I love where I live, but my home area where I grew up is calling me louder. Since I want to downsize anyway, I am going to make that move back the beach, from Richmond. A 2 hour drive away, where my elderly parents still live (and need me) and my best friend in the world lives...and the ocean resides.

So that will be my next chapter..an easy to maintain townhome..a part time job...my old parents and best friend..and I am sure a bunch of new friends, as I am making so many now, I am sure I can continue there. They may not be my best friends. But..maybe one or 2 might be...along with the best friend I already have there.

Friends from Richmond can visit...and who knows, maybe in more of a 'laid back, retirement type area', maybe when I am not looking, I will trip over Mr Right. Maybe I won't..but in the meantime, I will be living a fulfilled live.

Good luck with yours..maybe you should think of moving yet again..but to an area where more retirees live.??

I understand
by: Eliabeth

I was very lucky, I had a happy marriage which lasted for 35 years until my husband died of cancer last August. He was a wonderful man whom I adored but I do understand your feelings, an unhappy marriage or relationship must be something like bereavement, the loss of something special in one's life.

I have a friend who is currently going through marital breakdown at 46 years old and is finding life almost impossible to deal with so you are far from alone in your feelings of loss, wasted time etc.

I am 64 and am now on my own, I have a lovely son who lives locally but he is not in the best of health at present so that is an additional strain on my emotions.

I made a decision at Christmas that I have to try and forge some sort of life for myself, for however long that lasts, and so have made some travel plans, my first solo holiday is due in about three weeks, by coach to North Wales and I am very nervous but decided that I must dip my toe in the water of singles travel if I am ever to have a holiday. I have some lovely friends but they all have partners, except the one I mentioned, and mostly holiday with them.

I do keep myself occupied, I socialise with my friends and hope you are able to do the same, I enjoy painting and drawing and reading, solitary pastimes but quite calming and relaxing.

I don't know if this will help but I guess what I am really trying to say is that loss comes in all sorts of guises and hopefully you can find a way out of how you are feeling and start to regain some quality to your life now and for the future.

I wish you well.

I get it
by: Nancy

I am 2.5 years retired. I have a wonderful husband, now, but get what you said about your husband. My previous relationships sounded like your husband. I used to think if I just tried harder.

My husband and I married when we were in our mid to late 40s and are still happily married. I pray you will find Mr. Right also.

I am not totally happy with retirement either. But I am enjoying myself. I'm so glad you shared and so glad you found this website. This has been the best thing for me. Take care of yourself.

Penpals
by: Barbara

Cybele and Sharon,

Please click on the right side of this website "Friendship Here". I hope we can
become penpals.

Barbara
"The Good Witch"

Thank You - Support is wonderful
by: Cybele

Thank you all for your kind words. There is something about being around others who have "walked in your shoes", that is very comforting.

Most of the women I know are married - they have no idea what I am talking about. Even family - most are denial about their own situations and all have their own lives and children.

I understand I am not a priority in anyone's life, but I would like to be more than a "Filler" for phone calls while driving from point A to point B. It's frustrating having to repeat conversations because they lose the cell phone connection during their travels. But, that's the way it is.

My choice is to not put up with more than 1 dropped call. If they can't find time - fine.

I wish all you women well too.


Don't close the book
by: Carol

Your post is very touching. You are far too young to 'close the book'. I am 79 and frequently think my life is over.

You have had some really hard knocks and gotten up again. I lost the love of my life three year's ago, lost a beloved pet, had cancer, all in the same year, and there are many more people with similar stories of hardship and despair. However, we must carry on the best we can.

Please don't give up.

MIRRORED
by: Sharyn~~~CANADA

Dear Cybele:

WOW This could have been written by me. U have mirrored my life in a nutshell. U r not the only one. That statement must make u feel a tiny bit better. l have nothing to say cause u have said it all~ my heart goes out to u & all of the women that have been duped~Life goes on & we must make the best of it.

l have 2 children- 4 grandchildren- however, all seem to be busy with their own lives & l - gramma - am just an old lady of 66 who does not require visits any longer ( who knew ).

Like u, most days l just go thru the motions, l smile at the other tenants, be pleasant, and carry on! l like the idea of a bi-sexual relationship- other women know where we r coming from? Keep yur chin up.

Brave Heart
by: Barbara

Dear Cybele,

Your story is deeply moving and sends a message of hope and courage. I encourage you to not give up! You are still young (66). Please consider joining us online. Just click on the "Friendship Here" link on the right side of the screen.
I hope we can become friends.

Barbara
"The Good Witch"

letter
by: Anonymous

I thing Wendy's advise is very practical, do no remain isolated, be social and do some work for others.Om

Yep, feeling alone can be really tough!
by: Sharon Baker

Dear Cybele,

I would love it if you wanted to e-mail me. You will find a place to do so on my page. It is private and we can then correspond daily if you need to. Talking to someone always helps.

I can absolutely understand your feelings. I too was married, although not as long as you were, with a relationship that did nothing to support me or make me feel wanted. My solutions were quite different from yours. Like all life stories it is not a one-letter thing.

But I took a different road to being alone. In short, after a particularly miserable and depressing time, I thought long and hard about my situation. I was 37 at the time. My decision was not to ever seek a relationship again. My realization was that I could not MAKE any situation be what I wanted it to be. And then I considered all the ways in which "being in love" had backfired on me. I also realized that as a grown woman I had never cried unless a man was involved. That was a real eye-opener.

My first reaction was that I might be without a loving relationship for the rest of my life. In view of the pain relationships had caused me, I decided (in just these words to myself), that if no one ever loved or cared about me again, I still had one thing left, and that was myself.

As long as I could only define myself in terms of being in a relationship, I could only despair. But when I realized that being alone meant that I could truly be myself and that I could provide for most of my own needs--with the obvious omissions due to not having a partner--I saw there were many, many things I COULD do to care for myself. The day I realized that I sent myself a double bouquet of beautiful red roses.

And that is an entire story in itself. I wish you strength as you redefine yourself and please write if you want.

Hugs,
Sharon

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