Starting Over at 58

g18bloodYou don’t really know what it’s like to start completely over at the age of 58 until it happens to you.  When I came back to the U.S., I did not have any savings nor did I have prospects for a job. I had to whittle my belongings down to a manageble size so that shipping back to the USA did not cost a fortune. That meant no furniture; only clothes, books, kitchenware, towels, and the like. I had to come back to a country that had just elected the biggest narcissist, pussy-grabbing, asshole this country hasn’t seen in many years and I had to make do with what I had; not much.

Fortunately, one of my sons had room in his house for me to crash land. A year later, I’m still there, wondering whether to venture out on my own, stay and pay his house payment while he moves to Kansas, or try to buy something with what little I got from Reg’s estate, and I do mean “little”!

Making decisions like this are a LONG involved project for me. I weigh pros and cons for a long, long time. I ask people what they think. I “pray”, consult tarot cards, or do other things to try to figure out what I really want to do versus what others think I should do! You see, as independent as I like to say I am, I am still worried that I only do what is “acceptable” by others, always trying to please, never sure what my true wants and needs are. This attitude kept me in the UK longer than I should have been. Well, that and not wanting to spend lots of money reversing an action that cost me lots of money seven years prior.

Despite all the worries, it took me two months to find a job once I got back. Despite what everyone tells you on the internet,  NO ONE WANTS TO HIRE A PERSON WHO IS 58 YEARS OLD. I completely lucked out. My employers think it was divine intervention. They would; it’s a church. But even with skills, a degree, and a good personality all of the interviews were dead ends. They didn’t even let me know I didn’t interest them. It’s the new thing by the way, not letting the interviewees know they didn’t get the job. Apparently it’s a thing in the UK too.

By a shear stroke of luck (heaven sent?) I decided to find temporary work and was then led to the job that I’m in now. After dealing with a narcissistic and manipulative co-worker, I now have her job and a higher salary; higher than it was 10 years ago in the same position. Luck, chance?  Who knows? All I know is that I have work.

My biggest fear: no health coverage. In the UK, I did not worry about it. The government in the UK actually cares that their citizens are healthy and after the war, set up a system whereby NO ONE was denied health care due to inability to pay. Everyone is happy with this. If you are richer, you can still buy good doctors, but those who can’t afford that do not have to worry.

In the USA, where health is a profit making venture for insurers who don’t give a shit about the common person, I was worried sick. Fortunately, I quickly signed up for Medicaid and was covered much better than I am now WITH a job. Sometimes it pays to be without a job, something corporate fat cats and capitalists will never understand when they denigrate those on “welfare”. There is such a thing as making too much money to have your health needs met and not enough to afford good health. I DESPISE those getting fat off the backs of the poor.

Rant over. My best advice if you find yourself in my shoes? Slog at it. Sign up for every free thing you can get until you can get back on your feet and STOP feeling guilty about it. Everyone deserves housing, clothing, food, water, and healthcare. It’s a human right and it’s the government’s job to help those who cannot help themselves through taxes and programs concerned with the health of its citizenry. If people have a problem with that; ignore their selfish asses and campaign for the health rights of everyone. Caring what happens to others should be a given because ultimately we all benefit when everyone is healthy.

Advertisement

Things are Becoming Clearer

I think I’ve gotten a clearer image of what’s going on in my marriage.

Here is a man who is wedded to him computer for interaction (being blind) and for his primary contact with the outside world on a daily basis.  He trolls the internet for contact with those he finds interesting and amusing. While married to someone else, he comes across this blog and reads of a housewife, turned student, turned writer who lives a full life. I have a job, three children, a home, cats, and a husband. I get up and go to work every day and I write interesting things during my time off.

Cue eight years later where I give up all that, come live with said man. After things were progressing long distance using Skype and email, we find that being in each other’s presence isn’t quite the same thing as communicating over the internet. Gone are the interesting things for him; my job, my life, my interesting thoughts. Gone are my fantasies that we have anything physical in common due to fetishes I don’t share. We also failed to notice that he is an extrovert entertainer absolutely ADDICTED to being liked and appreciated and to being out in the social scene. I, on the other hand, shun social interaction as much as possible.  I do not like parties. I’m done boozing and bar hopping. Oooo. Bad move on my part.

This man therefore turns to the internet yet again for someone of interest. He finds another woman, university educated AND employed. Her topic? Music of course. Bingo. She also shares some of his fetishes because that’s how they met, on a site catering to that.  Bingo again. They now share morning and evening Skype conversations just as we did. This woman is now filling the role I did all those years ago; interesting life, shared fetish (which I was willing to entertain, but not obsess over), shared interest in music, social butterflies that crave attention.  He fails to see the parallel whereas it’s so obvious to me. I have failed to keep his interest and my one sin; being in the same room with him. Automatically I’m diminished by proximity.

My husband cannot say no to another human being even if it’s to the detriment of his own well-being or his family’s.  I can have no respect for a man who has so little respect for anyone outside his current, immediate circle of interest. I have come to the point of doing my duty without expecting any emotional rewards. That’s what marriage is isn’t it; an exchange of rewards? We exchange emotional rewards and intimacy for doing and sharing the same things? As one author put it, we make deposits in each other’s love bank and hope that enough deposits will overflow into and become the strong marriage we invested in.  What accrues is interest, closeness, shared loyalty, affection, passion, all of which add up to that weird mysterious term we call ‘love’.

By the same metaphor I think that my account is open, but there is very little left in it to draw upon. The smaller and smaller amounts I invest is offering no return (in fact, it’s being diverted) and I’m considering closing it one day. Why keep an account open that works against you? It’s at these times that I need to find a solid figure spiritually to focus on; one I know will always be there for me. I think God provided this in my darkest times before and, whether made up or not, God will once again provide an anchor I need when all human anchors fail.  My Daily Stoic talks about having a ‘mantra’ one can turn to at times like this; to bring one back to the center and stabilize.

Let it be so.

Is That All I Do?

desk_job_1201245Some people must think all I do is complain about my marriage. No, I do other things, but the state of my marriage is what occupies my thoughts most of the time. I have a lot of time to think. I come to this blog, as I have always done, to get things off my chest, to write reviews about books and movies I’ve seen, and to comment on news items of interest.

I started this blog ages ago to give myself a writing outlet when I finished, or was about to finish, studies at university. You see I am one of those odd ducks that loved to write the research paper, bringing all sorts of disparate bits of information together into a cohesive whole. Unless you keep at it though, you tend to get rusty. I’ve fallen into lazy thinking habits and I rarely write anything except in my journal.

My day now is pretty easy-going. Rather than a 9 to 5 job, I can get up when I wish and come to my desk and do whatever my husband needs done to prepare for his gigs, his radio show, or errands about town. Since he can’t drive, I am the designated driver for most everything unless he goes by train or taxi somewhere without me. I am not wedded to my desk and being so was the absolute worst part of a desk job. That 3 p.m. lag after lunch and before getting off work was sheer torture. It was all I could do to stay awake if our office happened to have nothing going on that day. And let’s not mention getting up early to drive 35 minutes one way to get there. I definitely do NOT miss a job like that.

When I first came to this country I tried to find work outside the support work role that I found myself in, but even with a degree, I did not get any second interviews. I barely got an acknowledgement of application. I must have filled out 30 or 40 applications in the first few months, but heard back from none of them. I wanted a job; any job. I was willing to work for peanuts, but employers just did not care. There were meticulous rules about even filling out the correct application forms. Everything was regimented down to how you could answer an application question. After being here some years I have come to realize that there are so many employment shysters out there and so many rules and regulations regarding EVERYTHING job-related that I wasn’t so sure I wanted a job outside the house.  No wonder there is benefit fraud. It’s MUCH easier to stay at home than to jump through those regulatory hoops for a minimum wage.

In the States, getting a job is pretty straightforward. You either work full or part-time.  The applications are easy to fill out. You either get benefits or not. You will get a letter of denial or be called in for an interview usually within a week or so of applying. Everything is stated up front. Once you’ve gotten the job you pretty much have it unless you royally screw up and get fired. Not here. Here, you could get stuck in a 0 hours contract with no assurance you would have a job in 6 months, even if you did an absolutely fantastic job and didn’t screw up once. They use your talents and discard you.  Not only that, paying train fare can leave you penniless unless you find a job that is close by. Commuting into London could cost you upwards of £6,000 a year, not to mention parking 5 days a week for 8 hours or more a day! You’d better have a damn good job then!

No, in many ways, despite my unhappiness with my relationship, I have a pretty good job right here. When I’m not being his eyes or organizer, I can go read or watch television or play the many video games that I’m hooked on at the moment. I can be interrupted at any time when he needs something, but it’s a small price to pay for the freedom it provides. I can set my own hours and take time off whenever I wish. We can go see friends for a couple of days between gigs and not have to arrange it with anyone.

The downside of all this is that we are together 24 hours a day. All of these factors come into play when it comes to relationship matters, so I know it’s complicated. So, if I complain, I’m letting off steam. It’s not like I don’t have a legitimate gripe after all. I just wish I knew what the answer was. Perhaps there is no answer.

Each Day a New Thing

forkMy husband wakes up early every morning to make coffee and chat with his new girlfriend.

When I came to bed last night, I felt I needed a hug. We are sleeping separately now and I went to his bedroom, hoping to get in and just stop it all for a moment. He was chatting on his phone with this woman. He usually lies when caught outright. This time he said he was chatting to a friend about a musician, but I know this is not true. I can see his phone. He is laying on our bed, dressed as he does in women’s clothing. He says it makes him comfortable. I have never minded that.  But he is compelled to share it with men or women, along with other fetishes like wearing nylons, garters, and feederism.

To say it put a damper on my search for a hug is putting it mildly. I retreated and said, ‘Never mind, it’s not important’.  Ten minutes later he joined me in my bed for a short snuggle, as we used to call it. He rubs my back for a bit and it puts us both to sleep. Later, he got up and went to his own bed.  Small comfort, but a comfort nonetheless.

Last night after my post on this blog I emailed him. We always talked best via email, more honestly when we didn’t face each other. He preferred our correspondence when we were 3000 miles apart, but now, I am just a nuisance to him if I want to talk. I asked him outright if our marriage should end.  This morning he must be too busy with his girlfriend because he hasn’t answered me yet. I can smell the coffee from downstairs, so I know he is up. My email is not on his list of important things to do first.

This is the culmination of years of getting along, me finding out his secrets, fighting, reconciling, and starting the process all over again. I suppose the question I should ask is, do I want to end it? Part of me does. The other part is the practical aspect of having to pack everything again, spend thousands of pounds again (assuming I have that), move back to where I am familiar, but to no job, no car, no health care (i.e. insurance), and no place to live? Do I want to put my already fragile health at risk with that stress again? What holds me here? I have no close friends. Which is more stressful? Which can I deal with if I work actively to ignore the stressors?

It’s not a matter of which will make me happiest. That’s not an issue any more. At my age, happiness is nice to have but not something I’ll expect to find.  It’s a matter of trade-offs. What can I live with? I suppose this is another day to contemplate that.

The Crash and Burn Syndrome

 

A picture of a caterpillar smoking a hookah. T...

Image via Wikipedia

 

I’m a weirdo, I admit it. I go along almost as happy as you please and then I let things build up internally. I take an insult here and a jibe there from a coworker. I become miffed at a misspoken word or I get irritated about something. These little things add up day after day and sometimes week after week and BLAMMO!! I explode and go on a tearing bender of a fit and lay waste with my scathing wit or anger everyone who just happens to get in my way! Well, ok, maybe it’s not that bad, but it feels like it sometimes. Then, I am fine for awhile until the cycle starts up all over again.  Anyone else do that?

So what’s the answer? Religion used to soothe me. Reading still distracts me but sometimes I can’t concentrate enough to read. I’ll watch a good movie, but they only last two hours at the most.  So I’ll take a whole weekend and just become a hermit. Except I can’t do that much anymore now that I live with my daughter. But I can sure try!  Yesterday I watched the Tim Burton movie Alice in Wonderland. The movie was visually appealing and a definite work of art, but the story wasn’t so great. No, it didn’t follow the original much. Same characters, different plot. I did become very sidetracked by the glorious score by Danny Elfman:

I could listen to it all day. It soothes me.

Then I read my book for awhile:  The Gate House by Nelson DeMille. I had to put Greg Iles away (The Devil’s Punchbowl) without finishing it. It bordered on torture porn and don’t we have enough of that with all the television shows that feature the female victim of the week. I mean really! How many times do we have to see rapes and murders of young women? Aren’t there enough of those in the news. We are a world full of voyeurs.  But in any case, I don’t need that to calm my nerves now do I? My counselor once asked me why I didn’t just pray to God and, granted she was a Christian counselor, I told her that God and I didn’t communicate much anymore. She said that that didn’t matter, the very act of praying would help. So I did and right before gnawing my paws off while trying to go to sleep on the worst of the nights, I asked God to help me out here a little. Anything would do, a little peace of mind or some new insight or hey, how about some nice calming peaceful feelings? I then went to sleep and woke up feeling much better.

Now I don’t know if God did anything or not, but it doesn’t hurt to think so. It also didn’t hurt to ask. And I didn’t even have to straighten up and fly right first! Some parents could use that lesson.. ahem.. In the coming weeks when one of the most important days of my life comes to pass (my wedding), I need to remember why my fiancée and I are doing this, how little time we have on this earth to love each other, and frankly how tiny some of those seeming insurmountable problems appear from an eternal viewpoint. Whether eternity turns out to be nothing at all or some celestial kingdom, it can’t hurt to imagine one’s life in such a time frame. People get so overwrought about things that are meaningless, me especially. My philosophy should always be,  “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” Sometimes there’s some great shit in the bible! 😀

Would You Like a Shot of Whiskey With That Stress?

 

How to lose all your stresses

Image via Wikipedia

 

Yesterday I told my boss at work that I was leaving my job of nearly ten years next March.  It was a relief to finally say that since nearly everyone knew in the office but him anyway. It was nice to get it off my chest. The stresses in the last 10 years have simply piled up. Some of them are of my own choosing and some of them not. Even good events and joyful events are stress causers. Psychologists have some kind of quiz you can take to measure stress, but I don’t need a quiz. I have a list of the last five years’ worth of stresses which I’m sure doesn’t cover everything, just the highlights:

  1. 1995 to present; moved from Colorado back home to Illinois, diagnosed with chronic hives of no known origin. numerous shots of steroids to bring down swelling of arms, legs, neck, face. Four different antihistamines taken each day to combat it.
  2. 1997: returned to college while my kids were in school.
  3. 2000, 2004, 2005: empty nest of all three children. Off to colleges.
  4. 2000 and 2004; graduated college with a B.A. and an M.A.
  5. 2001: Began new job after many years of housewifery.
  6. 2005: ruptured disk at L7. Microdiscectomy in August; two months recuperation, worked some at home. September: Second son joins the Army. Two loved pets die within a year of each other.
  7. 2007: January, heart catheterization. discovered 99% blocked artery. Stent inserted, endless blood tests monitoring and cardiology visits. Father-in-law passes away, funeral. October of that year, my second son gets married.
  8. 2008: Beloved pet disappears, never found. October: marital separation after 28 years. October: moved out of my house and into  my sister’s place, December: moved out of my sister’s house and into an apartment. Began long distance relationship.
  9. 2009: October: Second son leaves for Iraq. Fall: Husband files divorce papers. Continued long distance relationship.
  10. 2010: March: divorce. April: third move to another place with my daughter and our cat. June, engaged to long distance relationship man. August: first son moves to Hungary. Second son comes back from Iraq. October: Daughter gets in wreck with my car. She’s ok, but the car is totaled. Continued long distance relationship.
  11. Stresses to come: 2010: October: trying to find a used car. December: remarriage. 2011: major move to UK.

All I can say is, thank god for medication! I’ve tried various coping strategies; religion, counseling, finger chewing (childhood habit that has never gone away), talk therapy with friends, co-workers. But really, there’s no cure-all. An anti-depressant has at least helped me get a grip and not go completely bonkers. Wish I discovered those back in 2005!

Between Spock and McCoy

The crew of the original Enterprise, except Hi...

Image via Wikipedia

As a Star Trek lover (all incarnations) this article resonated with me as a good explanation of the balancing act required between reason and emotion. Massimo Pigliucci writes about the Platonic and Humean theories:

Modern neurobiology tells us that both the Platonic and the Humean programs are doomed to failure. As Antonio Damasio put it in a series of three highly philosophically informed books on the science of consciousness (check this one, for instance), a healthy human mind is one that constantly negotiates between the excesses of reason and those of passion. Too much leaning on one side, and one becomes incapable of empathy, possibly embarking on the destructive route to psychopathology. Too much on the other side, and we join the long history of destructive irrationality against which the Enlightenment was a valiant, if flawed, reaction.

While it’s nice to have modern science validating with facts the idea that a sensible human being ought to try to steer a middle course between the Scylla of too much reason and the Charybdis of too much emotion, it was yet another philosopher who had arrived at that conclusion 24 centuries ago: Aristotle. His virtue ethics is based on the insight that we improve our happiness (in the holistic sense of the ancient Greek eudaimonia) by a combination of reflecting about what we do and why, and practicing virtue so that it becomes second nature. Not reason against emotion struggling for primacy inside us, then, but rather a continuous flow aiming at a dynamic balance between the two. (Before anybody even thinks of making the analogy, let me assure you that I do not have any eastern mysticism or new agey crap in mind.)

I think my own struggles are always between, to be colloquial, the head and the heart. Too much head knowledge and I turn into a raging misanthropist. Too much heart reaction and I turn into a blithering empathetic idiot waxing on about “noble savage-ism” and the wonderful-ness of human beings. Bleck. I dislike both. I’m a big fan of the Aristotelian “mean.”Of course, this philosophy assumes a particular form of binary opposition that I don’t necessarily subscribe to, but if we are dealing in simplistic terms, it’ll do.

I think that what bothers me most about those on the extreme edges of either is an inability to admit there can be a balance. Religious fundamentalism says “Do not listen to your intuition. Listen only to our interpretation of scripture.” They dismiss all forms of inner knowledge and experience (except their own) and their measuring stick is an ancient text. Scientific fundamentalism says, “Do not listen to your heart. Listen only to those facts that can be proved” and their measuring stick is a laboratory. If it hasn’t been verified by two or more people it cannot be real or true. For me the path of true wisdom, or Truth, lies somewhere in between. Intuition, heart, metaphysics, the supernatural …. these  are all terms for those things that cannot be quantified or measured or experimented upon.  A healthy dose of head and heart makes a healthy human being. They don’t have to be in opposition.