Facing My Future as An Older, Divorced Worker

I've reached a point in my life where all I want is some distance from emotional turmoil and financial want, but as a single, divorced, and childless person who has entered her 60s I am confronted with so many new issues, that at times I am almost paralyzed with fear and indecision.

In my 20's I used to sing the Beatles' "When I'm 64" to my young husband:
"Will you still need me?
Will you still feed me?
When I'm 64?"
Need me, feed me, indeed. Those words have come to haunt me this past decade, for it is clear that I have become my own nurturer and will be my sole source of support as I enter my golden years. My savings have been eroded by our nation's terrible economic downturn, and the nest egg I had saved has been reduced substantially.

I had a serious discussion recently with my geriatric parents about my fears for the future. They are still married and living in an addition built onto my brothers' house. My brother, bless his generous heart, looks after them daily. He is still married, surrounded in the same city by his three children, their spouses, and their families. His plans for his old age are solid and he is certain that he will bask in the support of his children and their offspring. My parents bask in my brothers' support and mine.

But what about me?

As I reminded my parents, I am childless and live in a distant city. Oh, I am not complaining, for it is the reality of my life and a consequence of the decisions I made. While I am loved by my nieces and nephew, they would probably not put themselves out for their auntie as much as for their parents. That's just the way it is.

When it comes time for me to retire, sell my house, and move into assisted living, I will largely be alone. Most of my single friends will also be facing the same situation. The prospect of losing control of my life as I age fills me with dread and a great deal of uncertainty.

Many of us who have been through divorce in our mature years are faced with a future that we had not planned on. I was optimistic in my youth, thinking that I would travel extensively with my husband in our retirement and reap the benefits of our hard work. Instead, I was forced to embark on a serious career in my 50s. While my ex has retired with his new wife, I am still working 9-5.

While I am able to compete intellectually with my young co-workers, it has been at great physical and emotional expense. It takes me all weekend to recover from my high-stress job. I no longer party on Friday and Saturday nights, but choose to nurture myself on Saturday and Sundays, taking frequent naps and resting.

There are times when I simply can't envision my future. The thought of being alone in my 70's without sufficient retirement funds is too much contemplate.


Online Divorce said...

Divorce knows no age because a lot of times people require some years for their courage to be gathered and face the facts of separation.

Joyce Pitrone Hawkins--Wrinkles Don't Hurt said...

I hear you. I've been divorced 4 years now after a 40 year relationship with one man...36 of those years married.

I had quit my job with his full support and encouragement thinking our golden years were finally going to be enjoyed without too much financial worry.

Only a short time after leaving my job...surprise! Served with papers!

What's a person to do about a job at age 61? I work part-time at home to supplement "spousal support" but just got word that my ex "QUIT" his job.

I am afraid of what will happen next. He still has his obligation to pay!

I look forward to reading more of your blog. I wish you the best. I guess we just have to stay positive!

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FI0NA said...

When I read that your husband has retired with his new partner whilst you still have to work I literally got a pain in my chest. I am 46 so have a bit more of a run up at retirement. Whilst I would love to find someone to share it with (and share the costs) my hopes are not high. I have 20 years to pay off my modest townhouse which is very centrally located. Then I can exist here. Invisibly. But still whilst it is a plan the lonliness of it is stifling. And I still have to bring my 8 year old to adulthood with all the attendant costs.

Anonymous said...

I am 56, and I decided I would try dating again this year because I will be an empty nester in two and a half years and I would like to be married before or by then. I have met many men from online dating but am so disillusioned and disappointed with the caliber of men. I have yet another man to meet next weekend and am hoping that I might have some holiday romance. I have not even wanted a second date with any man since the last intimate relationship I had 5 years ago.

Jane said...

I happened upon this blog while looking for thoughts on solo living.
i was divorced at 50, have had two longish term relationships since, and now I live alone and, while my ex is retired and travelling with his new wife ( I was on the promise of travel once my children grew up) i am living on $150 per week government money and a part time job.
I will qualify for an "old age pension" in the next few months (I am 64) and I will be able to survive on that.
On the other hand, i now realise that the compromises that women make ( and it is usually the women) for a relationship are often not worth it.
I am planning for the next phase of my life to be "independent at last" and my low income is supplemented by my vegetable garden and my chickens. Life is good.

Nevada divorce said...

It is so hard and seems unfair. I'm glad you are so courageous because it makes it easier for others going through the same thing.