Loneliness

Isolation becomes more attractive the more constraints the other puts on one. The more demanding the more the need for seperation.

Is there still a stigma to a woman living alone in this day and age? If not through the eyes of others then perhaps  reflected back though ones own eyes.

Sometimes I don’t know whether I am lonely or not. I like being alone and just ‘being’  and getting  to this stage has taken me a long time. In the beginning after living in close proximity to someone else perhaps one carries on as if there are two. Routine and structure are still a way of life. Meals at certain times, types of meals also. Bed times and daily activities. At the start I would still go to bed at the time we’d shared. Once living alone I would feel strangely uncomfortable for staying up late to watch a favorite program on the TV. It took almost a year to shift myself from the slavery of the past behaviours.  Guilt at wanting this space,  which became more obvious in my second marriage. We had met through a dating agency and there had been certain criteria laid down as prerequisites to a relationship. Example looking for someone to go out with, holidays and spending time with each other. Sounds good but eventually for me became somewhat stifling.

How this becomes apparent in the relationship is when this special other shouts out

‘You spend more time on that computer than you do with me’

Or ‘ you left me on my own at the party and went off talking to your friends’.

‘When we are with your family you play with the children a lot’.

Oh  dear! Guilt sets in because it becomes obvious you are expected to be responsible for the other person’s happiness and comfort which is suffocating. Or is it just me?

Isolation becomes more attractive the more constraints the other puts on one. The more demanding the more the need for separation. Thus eventual aloneness. I like being alone and have realised that I am a fairly independent, so I do not reach any of the criteria of loneliness which can be a sense of abandonment, forlorn or solitary  and withdrawn. It is true that sometimes I have hints and even days of this and if articulated  people may see me as having a problem.  Experiencing myself as isolated is more about aging than it is lack of people. Being away from people, as I am out in the countryside, is not a bad thing, just something to be lived through and learned from. I can see myself somewhere in the future wandering the fields with my dog perhaps becoming somewhat eccentric, with woolly hat and long mac flying in the wind.   Saying that,  as long as I have broadband and the internet and now my dog, and all my rantings I have nothing to fear.

Living Alone

 

I have lived alone now for three years after leaving my marriage of seven. I had been a widow for three before that when I decided to start dating. I was sixty and felt pretty good.  In 2007 I remarried and in 2014 divorced.  Leaving a relationship was my choice and very different emotionally than the enforced loss of my first husband.

Being plunged into aloneness after a death is a shock, destabilising and frightening. Devistated by the loss of your closest friend, lover and partner.  Within a very short space of time you realise that the someone in your life who you would share this terrible loss with has died. Your symbiotic other half has been torn from you and the raw wound of grief  is open to the elements.  At that time I was tossed about by      grief, unable to see ahead, crashing against unfamiliar obstacles and unable to recover. Of course I did because we do.  I  surfed the waves of grief coming up for air enough to survive and begin a new phase of my life after three years.

So here I am again  three years alone after a divorce .  I know that I am growing into being alone. I have my family next door, a lovely new bungalow surrounded by familiar things. Never having been attached to material possessions  starting over for the umpteenth time is not hard, having downsized at every move.

I have learned that I react slowly to the initial change. Floating above what is happening,observing from a distance and it’s only later that the reality sets. In the last ten or so years I have moved house more than five times for various reasons and they say that house moving raises stress to very high levels.

I’m not sure even now if I know what I want from life how strange that sounds even to me at 73.  I get ideas about what’s next but the enthusiasm is not enough to trigger a new path. Being alone and everything I do is my choice so it’s all without pressure. I am not forced to do anything and in some ways that suits me.

What now? I am floating again trying to find a clear direction but the ‘trying’ is a trap, an invitation to struggle again. Best just float for a while till life presents its next challange.

Life is like a wild tiger, you can lie down and let it put its paw on your head or you can get on its back and ride it. 

 

Chasing Time

‘Of time you would make a stream upon whose bank you would sit and watch its flowing. Yet the timeless in you is aware of life’s timelessness and knows that yesterday is but today’s memory and tomorrow is today’s dream’  (Gibran the Prophet 1923)

Growing old brings less anxiety about failing in life and more anxiety about the future.

Perhaps we become more aware of the passage of time as we age. When younger we seem to be forever chasing time, running after it. Work, appointments for this and that, fitting in leisure and love. Struggling up hill with everyday events and looking ahead for space.

Reaching seventy brings more time but small things in each day can become bigger than they really are.  One important event like a visit to the doctors or hospital appointments are the things to work around. Meeting friends for lunch, shopping and the simplest things now dominate . Walking the dog twice a day is part of the structure.

When young I always kept a diary for work and social events  which was a mass of scribbles fitting in and scratching outs. I could do several things in a day alongside working full time. Living on a map of life, a plan already laid out and worked into a structure that seemed essential at the time. Mustn’t miss this and must fit bla bla into the week. Chasing after something set somewhere in the near future. Filling life with must does, failing to notice how the days and weeks become years passing like scenery through the window of a fast moving train.

Having time in older age and especially retirement is a blessing and a curse. Blessing because now it’s possible to do the things you wanted time to do when younger. Curse because half of them, suddenly you cannot do because of various physical reaons. Perhaps health issues one didn’t envisage at even sixty have slowly taken hold of you by seventy.

It is easy to become negative about old age  so it is important to throw off the past and try not to allow negative thoughts to invade the subconscious. Stick to positive thinking and toss aside the idea that you cannot do something. It takes effort to even take on a regular mantra of positivity but on the days I do, they generally turn out to be good days.

 

 

 

 

Education, a ladder to hope.

‘You are as old as you feel’ they say. Well I am seventy three and by God I feel it.

Being old has crept up on me. One day I am 60 and then in a whirlwind moment I am 70 plus. I can’t quite believe it, here I am with a daughter of nearly 53, grandchildren and two husbands behind me. All  in the blink of an eye.

Childhood, school, and teenage years filled with confusion, spots and greasy hair. Falling om Love with all its intensity for 20 plus years, then children, career and work in that order. Each section a rollar coaster of up’s, downs and turmoil. Separate chapters with different paragraphs.

My title for today is about education and whether or not having one makes us who we are. I used to believe as a young mother that education of the young was more important than anything else ‘ one hoped to give children a good start in life’,

Offering them opportunities one hadn’t had oneself.

Nowadays I think not having a decent education is as important as having one. Either way we are influenced by the having and the not having. Going to a poor school as I did was a driving force behind most of my choices in life. What direction would I  have taken if I had been to a good school instead of some back street catholic dump run by the church.

A typical start to each day began with some form of religious study from the catechism.

A chain smoking headmaster presiding over us, a scruffy bunch in 1950 plus,  starting each day to the chorus of

‘Who made you?’

‘God made me’

‘Why did God make you?’

‘He made me to love him and serve him in this world and the next’.

Very educational to us kids from the back street terraced houses of the north of england where parents slogged for a few bob in factories and cotton mills. My mother was a factory cook and we waited on the street corner for her coming home from work with something to eat in her bag. She would sneak out an extra pie or steak puddings and then add a bubbling chip pan of chips along side. Corn flakes for breakfast if lucky and luckier still if we had school dinner but invariably dinner money was not forthcoming. Learning came secondary to a rumbling tummy by 4pm.

I had an education of sorts but it wasn’t about geography or history, maths or english no, it was more about survival through each day without getting heads banged together by some angry teacher or wearing wet knickers cos you daren’t ask to be excused. Teachers came and went from this brick box of a building towered over by the catholic church cutting out daylight to the school windows. In the main these were student teachers who didn’t stay long because they moved up. Those  who were permanent fixtures were there because they couldn’t get jobs in decent schools.

I did take my 11+ but no one enlightened me as to what it meant and nothing came of it, no happy day onto grammar schools or secondary. We were the forgotten few who stayed on and left for factory fodder at fifteen. I suspect my mother would have been relieved because she would not have been able to afford the uniform.

Can I say that my education or the lack of it was important? I slowly realised as those early years past that without it I was stuck in the mud of factory work and self-consciousness around those who seemed better than me. Watching from afar those who went on to office work, secretarial and comptometer operating. Those who went higher but not knowing what higher meant I couldn’t aspire to it. instead I went to the bottle washing factory at Whitbread beer. My education was life experience and slow and steady building bricks to climb out of the mire of Catholicism with its ten commandments. To find work in hospital, eventually qualifying as a staff nurse which became my stepping stone to a better life. Most of my post war generation hoped for a better life for our children and that included having a good education. Thus each generation does better than the last.