Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Dealing the cards and moving on...

I've been avoiding this topic. It is a landmine, one that I have stepped in several times myself, and have recently decided to tiptoe around. Meaning avoid at all costs.

Relationships as an "older" woman.......I'm sitting here with my fingers on the keyboard and can't even finish that sentence. Someone told a group recently that he had been married for 25 years. If you add them all together. Me, too.

I won't go into the 40+ years of my relationship history, because that's not my point here. The landmine I'm tippy toeing around at 62 is dating. It even sounds silly, doesn't it? Yes, I tried the on-line dating thing, starting when I was around 50. And I have to say that I met some very nice men and went out on lots of dates. I observed the rules of safety inherent in this scene, and can only remember one time that my evening got a bit dicey, but it was because I broke one of those rules. The whole process led to an 8 year relationship that ended two years ago. Another 8 to add to the total number of years "joke."

All the advice about meeting people in ordinary, everyday places didn't work so much, either. I met a man in a video store once, and we went out for dinner. Where he proceeded to relate his history as a mercenary, and how he once bit off someone's toe. (I am NOT making this up! I called a cab.)

I joined a church, hoping to meet someone there. Couples, kids, picnics for couples and kids doing kids' things. Loud, noisy, reflective of my own years as the mother of a child involved in every sport imaginable. But not where I am today.

Then there was the Saturday a clown sat next to me on a bench and hit on me. No....a REAL clown. Honest.

So, here I am again. However, at this point, I have come to some hard-won conclusions. I'll explain it this way: My parents were married for 67 years, together since they were 15 or so. Just think of all the problems they faced together, most dealing with outside forces, but some within their relationship, too. It's just inevitable that two people will disagree over the span of all those years. They raised a family and built memories and shared experiences to clasp tightly to their joined hearts.....especially during the bad times.

They had a bond that secured them, in every meaning of that word. They were secure in their love and in their history together. And it probably didn't happen overnight or even always easily. But it eventually bound them together for life.

I will never have that. It just isn't possible that two people who meet when they are over 60 years old CAN have that foundation. They might be companions, people who can sit next to one another in a theater or at the dinner table to chase away the shadows of loneliness, the shadows that sometimes grow teeth and creep in close to those who are alone. But the tethers stretched over decades like my parents? Just not possible.

And for my purposes now as a single woman over 60, it is even more difficult to find someone who is willing to look at a "dating" site and see past the years etched on my face. Our youth-drenched culture makes it nearly impossible. My experience has been that most men over 60 themselves are simply not willing to match themselves with a woman their own age. We can't blame this on my unwillingness to look at THEIR photos and agree to meet for a drink, either. I think I have a bit more depth than to judge someone unworthy due to their appearance, especially when I'm squinting at a computer screen while trying to gauge someone's character.

Many women are terrifed of being alone as they grow older, and are thus willing to adapt (maybe I should say settle?) for any relationship, even a bad one. I had to make that decision a couple of years ago, and what I realized is that the statistics dictate that many women WILL be alone no matter what they do or don't do within the realm of being a couple. Men just die sooner than we do. My decision, then, was to reinforce the relationship I have with myself.

Do I wish I had strung all those years of broken relationships together? Taken more time and insight and effort to making it work, like my parents did? Of course. There are some lessons here for younger women, if they care to learn from my story.

But here I am and my belief is that I will run the rest of this race alone. I have worked my way around the landmines (and clowns) and left them behind.

And I've found that I'm pretty good company!

 Sometimes the cards we are dealt are not always fair.
However you must keep smiling & moving on ~
Tom Jackson

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