Taking Care of Business

Until now I was able to live a fairly comfortable lifestyle. Just before my divorce I had lived five fairly worry free years - we'd paid off the college loans, were debt free except for our mortgage, and were starting a savings account for our retirement. This was a time when Bob supplemented his income with consulting fees and when we vacationed gratis, thanks to his foreign-based boondoggles. I enjoyed five years of worry free living. Then my marriage fell apart.

I recall a time in 1978 when we were graduate students in Boston and were down to our last $20. We needed to purchase food for the dogs before we could tend to our needs. We also had to set aside money for the subway, for we had no car. After expenses, all we could afford to eat for the rest of the week was rice and spaghetti. Although we were happy and looking forward to our future life after we completed school, our first 15 years of marriage were spent as students and paying off student loans. When we reached our mid-thirties and found real jobs we let out a sigh of relief and began to think about building our assets.

Then Bob got restless. When I signed our divorce decree, Bob's lifestyle didn't change. In fact it improved because he married a rich woman. My lifestyle returned to the one I had in my thirties - we had not been poor exactly, but we had to watch our pennies.

By canceling the wine of the month club, getting rid of cable, and reducing my vacations from six a year to one or two, I managed to live on a fraction of the income I had become accustomed to. Instead of going out to dinner, I would go out at lunch. Instead of seeing movies at the theater, I would rent them. I invested heavily in a better computer, and dropped my magazine and newspaper subscriptions, getting the news online. Instead of working out at an expensive club, I concentrated on walking my dog.

I purchased conservative investment clothes, many of which I can still wear because they are not trendy. I stopped streaking my hair, and began to color it myself. My haircuts became few and far between, and I have often solicited my mother's aid in cutting an inch or so off my blunt cut. I also built a kitchenette in my walk-out basement, which has a bedroom, bath, sitting room with fireplace, and a dining area. After moving out my belongings, I rented the downstairs to relatives of friends, using the income to pay off my gas, phone, and electric bills.

I also worked nights and weekends in a second job to help me through my adjustment period. As my salary rose, I made more adjustments, quitting my night job and reinstalling cable. For a while I felt that I was leading a comfortable lifestyle again, and I was quite content despite the fact that my former opulent life was gone.

This year the stock market bottomed out and the real estate market took a dive. While I was fiscally responsible, the effects of this economic downturn have taken their toll. I will not be receiving a raise this year. (Thank God I have a job.) My brother and I are unable to rent out our investment rental house. We had purchased it four years ago, and the income it generated allowed me to go on vacation and live free of debt. Even when the roof needed replacing, and the big old oak had to be cut down, I had the cash to deal with these emergencies.

No more.

Every time I must make a big purchase, I have to dip into my savings. My niece is getting married next week. Instead of treating my family to a big dinner out, I will be counting my pennies. My safety net is rapidly dwindling as I am nearing retirement age, and once again I am thinking of retrenching. I have signed a two-year contract for a Fios bundle, but will probably not reup the contract or keep my landline. The yard man will have to go, and I will live with my old ratty couches and sagging mattress for another decade, if not forever. I have also replaced my incandescent bulbs with energy saving fluorescent bulbs, and am keeping my thermostat down.

One more matter of business: my dog Cody. Our entire family is flying to my niece's destination wedding. Today, I designated a good friend as Cody' protector. Before I leave I will notify the vet and Cody's kennel that Jim will adopt him should anything happen to me and my family. What a sobering thought. But now that I have taken care of the most important little being in my life, I can breathe another sigh of relief.

I've taken care of current business. What's next? I shudder to think.


Best Resources for Divorced Parents and Separated Families

Dear Readers: Look Who's Been Included in This Fabulous Group! Keep scrolling down to see

Divorced Websites for Parents

  • Child Centered DivorceRosalind Sedacca is very active in educating parents about divorce. Her website, “Child-Centered Divorce,” helps parents minimize the emotional trauma for children whose parents are going through a divorce.
  • Attachment Parenting Blog Great Dad perspective with three children, 11, 8 and 4, which is a discussion venue for topics relating to single parenting, divorce, fatherhood.
  • Gabriel Cheong Law “This blog is really great, videos, interesting articles and I am sure very helpful legal advice for sticky situations divorced families get into.” -Nick, 19
  • Divorced at 50: What is life like after a 32-year relationship? This blogger spills all.
  • Judith’s Divorce Blog Reflections on divorce, separation and associated topics by Judith Middleton, who is qualified as a solicitor and an accredited family law specialist. Interesting perspective on this topic!
  • Dad’s House: “A single dad’s exploits–great music taste and he talks about all aspects of life.” -Mary
  • Divorce Diva A humorous and sweet perspective to a difficult situation–thank goodness.
  • Women’s Divorce Blog “Wow, a lot of really hard hitting articles and topics that are very well organized, a little bit like reading a book in pieces–good.” -Mary, 14.
  • Glenn Sacks “His stance is tough, but he seems to have a lot of different kinds of columns and resources about divorce!” - Nick, 19.
  • Darn Divorce “This is so funny, great comments and posts! I like her honesty.” -Marci, 17

  • Fathers For Life “Fatherlessness is the absence of their fathers in children’s lives. It is a large and serious social problem.”
  • The Divorce Blog This is really divorce professionals like lawyers educating consumers and parents. Their homepage also has a lot of great resources.


Have You Ever Felt Invisible?

Have you noticed now that you are past menopause and a few wrinkles have appeared around your mouth and eyes that men simply ignore you and that their gazes invariably land on younger women? Have you noticed how society in general just assumes that a woman past 50 is uninteresting and that even people who know you better than most tend to discount your opinion?

Why is this?

I recall talking to a man my age last year. He was single and so was I. But then a married woman in her thirties joined us. Yes, she was attractive, but she was MARRIED. Never mind. He ignored me for the rest of the evening, even though we sat side by side and he had to talk over me to flirt with her. Any time I spoke up, he gave me short shrift. I felt like kicking him in the b-lls, er, shins. It was not as if he was God's gift to women. In high school or college I would have dismissed him as not my type. Small comfort now when my dating pool has shrunk to about 1.2 eligible and interesting men per 1,000 square miles.

I spent Friday evening with three women - two in their twenties and one in her mid-thirties. They absolutely embraced my presence and were so flattering. We spoke about work, men, girlfriends, children, ambitions, renting apartments, the economy, clothes, politics, movies, books, Richmond events, and a series of other topics that kept me interested and on my toes. I felt ENERGIZED. Moreover, the three young ladies wanted to repeat the evening and invited me to join them again.

And yet . . . while they drew the admiring glances from men, those same men (all but one was younger than me), gave me not a single interested glance.

Here is what happened with my last "beau," who has been my friend since college. We were both divorced within 4 years of each other, and three years ago we became 'romantic." I had a hope that our relationship would lead to something, but it did not. By August I had not seen him in nine months. My silence was deliberate. He seemed to have lost interest in me and so I disappeared. When a conference brought me near him, I let him know that I would be in the neighborhood. I wanted, once and for all, to know why things had cooled off.

He absolutely insisted on seeing me, going through great lengths to meet me, and so I felt flattered. I recall preening like a sixteen-year-old on her first date. The moment he entered the seedy bar he had suggested, he said: "There might be some drama tonight. My girlfriend and her ex might show up." He then proceeded to talk about his new love for the next hour. Any time I brought up a topic related to what I had been doing, he failed to follow up with a question, bringing the subject back to his love, who, poor woman, had endured 17 years of a bad marriage.

Not once did he notice my arm protecting my middle section, and my other hand hiding my mouth. Any person trained in reading body language (as he was) would have seen that I was in pain. I excused myself and went to the bathroom, where I paced up and down the small room, wondering how long I could last. He had driven an hour to see me, so I figured I could give him the same amount of time for his effort: I would stay one more hour max. I returned to our table with a new attitude, determined to ask him some honest questions and speak my mind.

When he began to describe his new love's drama queen behavior and how he felt she should get therapy and how she felt he needed to change, I told him that he was ok just as he was, and while I understood that sex could be great after an argument, that he was not describing a mature relationship. Needless to say he was not interested in my opinion.

That was all I said. I mentioned a few other things I had been doing, not from any prompting on his side, and then (gratefully) left. The following morning he sent me her picture.

Did I tell you how he had described her? "5'5" - like you. 30 lbs. overweight - like you. Funny - like you. Bawdy - like you."

But not me.

When I looked at the picture I laughed. I saw someone 8 years younger than myself, with an extremely short neck, and hair redder than Lucille Ball's. Ok, so I shouldn't emphasize her physical attributes. This woman has a law degree, three children, and lives in a section of town that I can only dream about. Yet for all that he was telling me in what he thought was the most flattering light possible, she sounded like a whining and controlling person. Wonder of wonders, he is genuinely attracted to her drama. When he spoke of her, he seemed all a tingle and alive. His eyes kept darting to the door (for he had invited her to join us) and on his cell phone, hoping to see a message. Aargh! Talk about feeling invisible. I realized that in the entire two hours we were together he was talking about her, seeing her in his mind's eye, and looking for her. I could just as well have been a statue for all he cared.

My only response to her rather ordinary image was to wish him well and tell him that I was happy he had found someone to love. I have not heard from him since. Ever since I received her photo, the song "Insensitive" has played in my mind. The words Jan Arden sings in her video express how I feel and felt about my male friend's behavior. (No, I am not pining for him. Life is too short. But I do miss his friendship, which has been absent since he began dating her.) Do not EVER sleep with a friend of the opposite sex. Ninety nine percent of the time this will lead to the end of that friendship.

I think I shall just hang around with my girlfriends for a while and enjoy being seen and heard. For the time being I'll stick with relationships that are life-affirming.


Divorced After 51 Years

It's never too late to make the decision, and I suppose in this case it was better late than never. Mr. Velsey apparently beat his wife and their relationship had been volatile for over 25 years. This divorce case between a couple in their seventies occurred in 1885, and was reported in the New York Times during that period.

The tintypes at right are not of the couple.

My blog has been quiet for some months, and this has been on purpose. I found myself getting angry and blaming others for my actions and emotions. So, I decided to lay off writing until I could figure out what was happening.

These downward spiraling cycles occur even to the best of us. There are times when it is easier to blame others (in my case, Bob), than to face the truth about oneself - that one is not entirely blameless for what has occurred in one's life. I am beginning to see patterns that I repeat in my relationship with others, especially men, and how I sabotage myself. Sometimes looking in a mirror isn't pretty, and it is easier to hide from the truth than face one's thoughts and actions directly.

In addition, my fears have been taking over - fear of aging, fear of losing my job, fear of losing my health and my talents. There are so many fears to conquer! And then there is the sense of time rushing by and wondering where all the years went and that they can never be recaptured. I work with people half my age and realize their lives are still in front of them, while mine has tipped over to just past its prime. At times I can feel panic creeping in.

And then there is my pent up anger, which has been building. I realize that I will probably live the rest of my life alone and I cannot describe how scary that thought is. I crave affection and am not ready to give up on the sexual, sensual side of me. (Yes, I give affection - loads of it - and I receive it in spades from family and friends - but not from a lover, and there's the rub, you see.) There are days when I simply feel enraged - how could the love of my life simply get up and leave and find a replacement less than six months later? How could he?

After some soul searching, I have decided to resume this blog and share my ongoing journey as a single woman. So far, it hasn't been easy.
As an aside: I am proud to announce that my blog will be included in the Best Resources for Divorced Parents Post on Teens Today.com. (In part, this is what their email said: I wanted to tell you that someone submitted you to us! We have reviewed your website with a few of my teen interns and we decided to choose your website to include in our Best Resources for Divorced Parents Post).

Since I adore young people, I am deeply honored. Thank you Teens Today. I look forward to reading your article.