Help & humor: Facing divorce later in life

No, this isn’t about me… A close friend of Mike’s is facing this now in his sixties, and that got me thinking. For many boomers, divorce has not been so uncommon. And now, in our 50s and 60s, it is still quite possible. You are NOT alone!

D-I-V-O-R-C-E

Among U.S. adults ages 50 and older, the divorce rate has roughly doubled since the 1990s, according to a Pew Research Center report. Statistically speaking we’re healthier and probably going to live longer — possibly thirty years longer than our parents or grandparents did. The surge in later-in-life or “gray divorce” is possibly an unintended consequence of how long we are living today.

When I think back to my first marriage, which ended in 2001, it was quite clear to me after seven years that this union had no chance of going the distance. One way I knew was that I could not possibly imagine my husband taking good care of me in sickness and old age. The genuine, abiding love and loyalty just wasn’t there. Yikes! It was time to try one more time to find that kind of enduring love before it was too late.

At that time I enjoyed the phrase: “DIVORCE IS EXPENSIVE, FREEDOM PRICELESS!

I was 46 then and still feeling vibrant enough to be willing to take on the risks and possible rewards of dating again, but only after a few years of contemplation and mourning. In fact, I started my own local dating service in 2004 and it was LOTS OF FUN! I named it “Intriguing Possibilities!” I figured after losing my last job and a divorce, I needed a job and a date! Long story short, that is how I met Mike, and I’m so glad I did.

What a lucky day that was! We lived only ten miles apart, but would not have met without Match.com. We knew very soon that this was no ordinary love connection, and fifteen years later we never speak of divorce. We know that we’re going out feet first & together! And so I now have a very tough time imagining being single in my sixties, although I do know that ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN AT ANY TIME.

But during my own unique version of a midlife crisis in my mid-40s (I lost my husband, my career and almost my home), I found that I had also lost my faith in love, completely! It was time to do some work on myself to change that situation.

For further explanation of what worked for me in my 40s, please check out my second book: How To Believe in Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust, and Your Own Inner Wisdom

I also know now that the older you are when you choose your next partner, the more likely you will be able to choose wisely. Without the distorted lens of sex appeal or surface stuff, finding an appropriate life partner becomes about how much you enjoy spending “quality” time with your new love. My advice: stay picky and hold out for a deep and abiding love this time. They’re still out there!

Postscript: In my twenties my Mom kept asking me, “What do you have against men with money???”

Asking for help. How do we learn to let in positive support and encouragement?

Sometimes finding support can be so simple, you wonder afterwards why you waited so long to seek it…

why so hard to ask for helpI started attending the Walsenburg Women’s Growing Circle a couple weeks ago. This is a warm and friendly sharing group with emotional support and some guided meditation. That then opened up a great new opportunity in Helen’s tough but wonderful yoga class at the Washington Underground. I find the women in this group and my new class so much more warm and welcoming than those I have spent the past few years with in a La Veta class. I find that I often made some of my best friends in exercise classes, and it looks like this class will be no exception. So I feel so much more optimistic about solving my two main problems here: a great environment for balance and strengthening exercises, and making new friends.

This brought up again a problem I have always had, asking for help from others. This issue is magnified five hundred percent in the new memoir: Educated. She also suffered from an extreme fear of asking for help, to the point of not even asking for medical assistance with a broken ankle. I would say I spent the first few years of counseling in my thirties working on my fear of asking for assistance from anyone.

So, you might ask, what’s the big deal about just asking. When we ask for help we make ourselves vulnerable. When I was a young woman, there was no feeling I hated more than feeling vulnerable. The times I had made myself vulnerable had been so painful and disappointing. I certainly wasn’t willing to trust enough to ask again. Just the act of going to a counselor for help took me until my early thirties, even though I liked the idea of it and desperately needed it. Note the paragraph or so in Educated: A Memoir, where Tara finally tells her story to a woman at the university counseling center:

“I didn’t understand it then, and I don’t understand it now, but there was something nourishing in setting aside that time each week, in the act of admitting that I needed something I could not provide for myself.”  — pg. 316

I see now how lucky I was in my early thirties to find the best therapist for me, one who I could finally trust and in that way learn how trust works in human relationships. Re-parenting therapy is powerful stuff if you find the right therapist and then take the necessary time and energy to experience it fully.

asking for helpAnd now I know I would have never been able to trust enough to fall in love again at age 49 if I hadn’t worked so hard at accepting my need for the healthy help of others, and allowing some vulnerability into my life back then. Going it alone is always an option. Just make certain you are doing it as an empowering choice, and not out of anger and future fear of betrayal.

Listening to old friends…

IMGP6862

Horsetooth Reservoir at dawn

Since my parents were celebrating their 66th (!) wedding anniversary in Denver, we decided to make a weekend trip of it, and spend a couple days up in Fort Collins and Loveland.

Sunday was heaven for me. I spent the entire day talking to people I love that I hardly ever see. I found such reassurance that those friendships are still strong and we still can have a great time together! One friend Mike has known for decades said a few thought provoking things Sunday night.

psychoactive brainHer husband left her twenty years ago with four kids to raise, so she was talking about how much her blood pressure fell after her husband was finally out of her life. That was quite striking, and reminded me of how my own super tight jaw (TMJ) vaporized after my divorce. Then all of a sudden she said, “You know, I haven’t been angry or in an argument in weeks now.” I thought, wow, that is so true, with the tiny exception of the horrendous traffic in Denver!

past better not bitterWe got to talking about how we cope with difficult times in our life, crappy times like divorce. She said she only started drinking too much during and after her divorce. I’m just not fond of alcohol or other addictive substances, so when she asked me, “How do you cope with tough times?” I said, counseling, walking, journaling, reading good books and quiet times where I delve into what went wrong, in hopes of making my future much better than my past. I have made a million big mistakes in my life, but I have also always been an analyzer. (Can you tell?) I want to understand everything around me. As far as relationships go, I knew that if I improved my own relationship with myself, I would be so much easier for others to enjoy.

The break up of any major relationship is the perfect time to process how I am relating with others. The last time I launched myself into such deep analysis was when I got divorced and then lost my job/career in 2004. I knew this was a great time to readjust life priorities. I decided I didn’t much care about anything but love, because if I didn’t ever find an amazing solid love relationship, I wasn’t sure I wanted to live that much longer anyway.

How to Believe in Love Again!So I did everything I could think of to understand 40+ love. I even started my own local dating service, and it’s a good thing I did. A few months later Mike walked into my life. Everything got better with Mike, or as my Dad said a few months later, “Mike saved your ass.” I finally found unconditional love and compassion in a world where it is so very rare. Then I wrote: “How To Believe In Love Again: Opening to Forgiveness, Trust and Your Own Inner Wisdom.”     I wanted to save lives. When you feel all hope is lost, please consider taking a look at this book.

Send me an e-mail & I’ll hook you up with a copy!    — The Midlife Crisis Queen!  MidlifeCrisisQueen@gmail.com

Only Love…

falling in love rocksWhile I’m talking about songs that are new to me since we headed south to retire, have you heard this marvelous song by Wynonna Judd yet? 

This is another one introduced to me by Bob our musical ex-landlord. When we first moved down here last summer his daughter was getting married, so he gave us a recording of all the songs he played at the wedding. What a great idea!

This song captures for me one of the greatest lessons of my life. It took me decades to decide that in the long run, love was the best reason to continue to exist.

Soon after that discovery back in 2004, a wonderful teacher appeared to teach me even more about loving another person well, heart and soul.

faith and fearMike is not a perfect person, but he does know how to love others, and I feel so honored that he chose me to love so completely. What luck!   Our love story could be any 49-year-old’s dream, which explains why ‘Falling in Love at 49’ on my previous blog “Midlife Crisis Queen” has been enjoyed by over 10,000 readers! Love is certainly lovelier the second time around!     Yep, over ten years later I am even more convinced I hit the jackpot on this one!                                                                                PLEASE NOTE: My old blog is messed up big time. Keep trying and it should link eventually!