Home Alone

Linda1What do you do at the age I am when faced with big choices, huge life altering decisions? There are forks in the road at any age, but I think as we get older either we get less brave or they get more daunting, perhaps it is a bit of both. You would think it would be easier, these choices as there are less people and things to consider yet oddly it is not.

Let me give you some background. The strangeness of it all and my thinking on the subject of big decisions at this stage of life.

After a terrible run, I ended up in a job that suits me in many ways doing work that fits my skills and background. Like any position there is always good and bad. With this one the scale is fairly equally balanced. Odd to say that, but when I really look at it with clear eyes it is quite true. The issue? I don’t know that it is stable, not my position so much as the organization itself. This frightens me to death. At my age finding work is hard, I found that out after looking for six months, running through my entire savings and nearly losing everything. It was terrifying.

Dating at 62 is petrifying, looking for work is even more so.

Every now and then something comes along though, something that causes you to stop and think, stop and question. One of those questions is always, “what if?”

What if I take this risk? What will it cost me vs. what do I have to gain.

A few weeks ago a headhunter presented me with one of those conundrums, at least on paper. Usually I read these with a jaundiced eye. This one though, for some reason it caught me. This one seemed at least on paper to have been written for me. So, with a bit Opportunity-Signof ‘what the hell’ I responded to the request for me resume, my current status and my standard hourly rate. The next day I got a call back, would I be willing to negotiate my rate by $5, it was after all a long-term contract and it came with great benefits for the right candidate. Well, sure that did make a difference.

Then nothing. For a couple of weeks. I didn’t think much of the nothing, that is how things go. Then, well they really want a local candidate so that is what they are interviewing, well that really does make sense given the type of contract. Then, would you be willing to move for the contract duration, they won’t pay travel, but they might negotiate some of the cost of the move.

Hmmmm, that is a big ask for a contract. Give me a day to think about it. With one exception I have never been asked to physically move for job and that was under very different circumstances. My answer? Let’s get through the first round of interviews, see if we even like each other and if there really is a fit then we can talk about the rest.

Businesswoman and business planWell, we did that. Now we are trying to set a schedule for the next round and I am at that proverbial crossroad, though I see it as more of a branch. What is my answer? How much risk am I willing to take? I am 62 years old, I should be thinking about retirement not galivanting off on my next damned adventure. Instead here I am considering:

Do I shut my house down, rent it or sell it.

Do I have another great purge, move some or all of my things. I could always put what I love in storage. Hell some of my stuff is still in boxes from my move to this house three years ago.

Then there are really some personal questions that have to be answered, maybe asked and answered is a better way to think about these:

For four years I have been in and out of a relationship that sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Recently it truly doesn’t and it has caused a great deal of hurt. I am using this as an opportunity to escape?

Will a move to a completely new city, new state cause me to act any differently than I do today? Will I suddenly become more extroverted, get out more?

Will going to an office everyday rather than working from home force me to form more human bonds?

Finally there are the financial questions, both short term and long term that loom at my age that have to be considered carefully. We all face these at any age, but I think as we get older they become more obvious and perhaps in some cases are more perilous.

My six months of unemployment wiped out my savings and damaged my debt. I have summer-job-hunting-0812worked on debt but have not rebuilt savings. This opportunity would allow me to finish wiping out debt and rebuild a great deal of what I lost in savings, if I sold my current house and banked the equity for the two years of the contract. Yes, I have run the numbers. Debt free, I would have far more choices than I have today about many things, including:

Where I live

The types of jobs I can accept

The salary I need to live

Two years out of my life doesn’t seem huge in the face of the choice it would give me for risk2a different future. A future with less struggle and less drama. A future less tied to the past. Perhaps the choice should be easy, I wish it were so. Yet, as with every big choice there remains that looming risk of ‘what if?’

Contracts go south every single day. Projects get put on hold or contractors get let go with no warning and no cushion to bounce on. There I would be 62, strange city, strange state, no family or friends and no home to go home to. Thus my challenge. How will I answer if the position is offered? What will I do? There are so many reasons to say yes, is fear the only reason to say no?

leaping2

Abnormal

feminity1I have been accused of being abnormal, of not being feminine in my responses, of not being sufficiently emotional. This is not the first time someone has said this to me, likely it will not be the last. My only answer to these accusations is I keep my emotions under control and am not given to public displays, even if you are an audience of one. If you are acting out to gain a response from me you will be sorely disappointed and I will not apologize for this.

I don’t believe I am abnormal, only that I have examined many human emotions closely and found they don’t suit me; I have discarded them. I am at peace with myself, with my imperfections. This does not mean I am happy to traipse alone through the last part of my life journey. It simply means I am unlikely to make significant adjustments to my core being to accommodate the expectations of others regarding who I ‘should’ be as a woman.

notnormal

For most of my life I took care of everyone around me, everyone came before me their needs before mine. This is part of my nature and can be draining. My tendency was to hold everything very close until I had enough, then I would blow up with sometimes catastrophic outcomes. Because I didn’t ask for what I needed, didn’t tell what was wrong, didn’t talk to partners, friends, parents or anyone in my orbit if there was a problem no one knew until it was too late to prevent that blow up. While those blow ups often hurt others, they all to often hurt me far more.

I don’t do this anymore. I am still quiet. I still listen more than I talk. I still have a tendency to take care of the people I love more than ask for care when I need it. This is still my core nature. What I don’t do is allow it to go without speaking up if I believe a relationship is not reciprocal. What I don’t do is not care for myself. The odd thing though, I am accused of not being sufficiently womanly e.g. emotional in my response to things.

It is true, I frequently withdraw.

It is true, I do not weep and gnash my teeth.

It is true, I do not fling myself to the floor and beg for attention.

It is true, I do not scream, yell, call names or other such nonsensical behaviors one sometimes sees on TV these days. If this is the expectation there will always be disappointment, always.

The emotional blackmail I do not respond to and have not responded to for years? The attempts to force me to react, I think they are childish and demonstrate a lack of confidence in the other person, these sometimes seem to be tests in whether I care or not. If I fail these tests, we are likely not good partner material. Some of the ‘tests’ I have failed recently, the emotions I have failed to adequately demonstrate:

Jealousy, it simply isn’t part of my DNA. It once was, I admit I use to feel horrifyingly jealous and it would tear me apart inside. Now though I no longer respond or react. I don’t know when I stopped feeling the monster of jealousy rise in my heart, I think it was jealous-700x450when I realized I could not make someone love me, could not force someone to stay and could not change another person’s heart no matter what I felt. There was no point to this emotion, it hurt no one but me. I didn’t do anything to change myself, it was simply I stopped feeling jealous. I still felt angry at a betrayal, at a lie but I no longer felt jealous.

Envy was another of those strange emotions that simply disappeared, it seemed in a day though I am sure it didn’t just poof away. I remember being younger and envying other women their perfect bodies, their clothes, their husbands, their jobs and the list goes on. I remember seeing others and wanting what they had, even just wanting to be them. I would sit sometimes and simply daydream of not being me, being anyone but me. My envy would envelope me in a fog, then suddenly it was gone. Suddenly I cannot imagine being anyone but me, despite everything I cannot dream of any life but my own. There are days I see a beautiful woman in the store and admire her, but my admiration is not envy.

Fury, I held on to my fury for days, sometimes weeks or longer. That fire would burn me flameWomanand others in a destructive path. While it might have been justified it was not healthy in its expression and it never ended well. Now, I know how to express anger when it occurs rather than let it burn me out. Now I know how to speak up and speak out. Now I know that to hang on to anger, allow it to become fury, give it free rein and rent in my soul is one of the most self-destructive things I can do.

Hate, I let this one go a very long time ago but I have to frequently check up and check in. I have said for a couple of decades you have to feed hate to keep it alive and I believe it. There are people and things I don’t like, I don’t allow in my life; but even those who have done me great and terrible harm, I do not hate. Some of them I had to teach myself not to hate. Some of them I had to let go of, I had to find them in my head and kick them out. Some of them I had to write about, here and elsewhere until they were purged. Some of them I had to learn to understand so I could justify not hating them. Slowly though I let go of hate, slowly I learned peace through letting my monsters go.

I still hate green peas.

So some men find me uncomfortable. They do not understand my ‘lack’ of emotional response. They find me to pragmatic, to logical in my responses to some of their actions and behaviors. They find my quiet disarming. Some men find my ‘lack’ of normal female emotions uncomfortable.

Relationships and dating at this age is difficult if you don’t follow the rules. Unfortunately, apparently I don’t follow the rules.

I am an introvert. I am perfectly capable of taking care of all my needs. I do not need anyone though I want someone in my life who will partner me evenly and is capable of a balanced relationship.

I am quiet. I know myself. I have clear expectations. I do not play games and it is unlikely I will respond the way you expect if you attempt to play games with me. These statements about my abnormality just got me thinking, I am perhaps more of an anomaly than I thought and should maybe be prepared for what I once considered an intolerable future. It is not that I don’t have hope, but these statements of my abnormality certainly leave me wondering.

womanonpath

Summer Sun

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen all you have isn’t enough, then what?

When everything you are isn’t good enough, then what will be good enough?

When your entire history is poured on the ground and the only thing you can make is mud pies, should you plan to forever go hungry?

Someone once said to me, “You won’t live to thirty”. Yet here I am I lived past fifty.

Someone else once said to me, “I will kill you”. Yet, here I am alive. They didn’t succeed in killing me though they damned near broke my spirit.

Another person said to me, “You will never amount to anything, you are stupid”. I believed them for years and let their judgment dictate my direction and choices.

I approach my next birthday, sooner than I like to think and I consider the consequences of my choices. Pardon me while I wallow in a fair bit of self-pity, maybe not self-pity so much as ‘well shit, what next’. I stare down this slope of the unknown and consider options:

–          What is next for this last third of my life?

–          Why am I asking who I am at this late date?

–          Should I even care about definition or instead just get to living as best I can?

If you could, would you say despite not being enough, not being good enough, despite dust turning only to mud, I am still grateful. My heart is full of gratitude I have lived, I am alive and my eyes have beheld great beauty, my soul 013has burst with laughter and I have trod paths both new and ancient searching for nothing more than passages to joy. I have risked my heart more than once, because well because I am a romantic and despite I have had the ever-loving shit stomped out of me more than once I still believe in love. Despite a tough as nails exterior, despite scars, not just on the inside but some prominent ones on the outside, I am still somewhat mushy and sometimes all too forgiving of the failure of others to take care of the gifts I freely give.

I often accept hurtful words and judgments of ‘less than’ and ‘not enough’ as the truth. I often absorb these through my skin and into my heart. I allow these judgments, harshly rendered to send me into myself searching for different truths or forgiveness. I reach outward sometimes-begging forgiveness for harm unintended, other times for harm never done but easily identified as mine.

Hard to believe anything but early judgments even after all this time of fighting for new definitions. Yet still I will live my life with a grateful heart for all the gifts of light, laughter, joy and pathways to victorious survival against great odds. We might not always be warrior queens, perhaps it is enough sometimes we simply find a sunny spot and be thankful for the color yellow and the warmth at noon.

Am I crazy? Maybe just a little. Am I still a romantic, seeing the world through rose colored glasses? Yes, I suppose I am. The truth? I suppose the truth is, still after all this time I simply want to be loved just as I am, flawed, scarred by a life I didn’t ask to live but lived in the best way I could.

That is all, just loved; perhaps after all that was and is too much.

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