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Posts Tagged ‘middle age’

silence

This week I have been on a journey and I have discovered that, like Alice, I have well and truly lost my muchness. There’s no sign of me, no sign of my relationship. The one good I can get from this is that, since the past is completely broken and lost to me, I have to start from where I am now.

I know I said that I would be terrified of a New Year resolution list at the moment, but I have been thinking about how strongly I need to do something to initiate change, and finally I thought ‘I need a list’; so here are the things which I would like to change to improve my relationship. Because I cannot make changes outside myself, this list is about me.

There are ideas here which might make some people very angry; I do know that women have fought hard and in many places are still struggling for the rights which I seem to be planning to give away. But I am a long way into this relationship and have succumbed to the temptation to use short cuts when I deal with and speak to the man I love.

So the idea behind this list is to make myself focus on ways that I have overstepped the boundaries of respect, kindness and polite behaviour – to remind myself to walk carefully without treading on another person’s feelings.

Things I will change to improve my relationship with my husband

1. My insistent opinion. It’s not till I try not to disagree or contradict that I realise what an argumentative person I am at the moment. It is anti-modern and personally almost impossible to give up my right to express my opinion, but I can see him flinch and close up every time I indulge myself, so enough.

2. My desire to be right. I’m no more likely to be right than anyone else, so why do I assume that I am correct? In order to be right, I make him is wrong; I can see how that must hurt.

3. My criticism. When you’re with someone a lot they get on your nerves; the mannerisms you used to love, how much they snore, whether they work too hard or not hard enough. I have slipped gradually into the habit of letting many little things annoy me and worse, of commenting on them. That must be debilitating. I’ve also been so hard on myself that I need a drop of mercy too.

4. My sexuality. I love my husband and I feel a strong attraction towards him. It’s increasingly painful that he is unhappy to be close to me, to be touched by me or to accept any gestures of affection, but I have to respect his boundaries. If I reverse the scenario, if he – a man – was pushing unwanted attention on me – a woman – the rules would be clear.

5. My lack of patience. I am frustrated, I want things and I want them now! But other people don’t always work to our time schedules, and I am aware that pushing to get what I want, the way that I would in business, is not appropriate or helpful, or kind. I have to wait.

A short list but how far I can succeed in restraining myself and keeping to it I don’t know; I just don’t know. But I will try, so don’t be angry – wish me luck!

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As a very old man who has lived a very long life, I would
like to impart my (perhaps dated) perspective on this matter for anyone
interested.

Now that I have lived a lifetime’s worth of days, I have finally
come to see the folly of my ways. So listen when I speak of the temptations of
this world: nice things, status, success and pretty women.

Since I’m nearing 80, I can confidently say that I’m standing on the precipice of
death, and I can tell you that my perspective is enormous. When I wake up
each morning and go outside, I can see the connected nature and wonder of every
leaf and every cloud and I marvel at the forces which have formed us.

However, ever since the passing of my wife, some days all I’ve
got is a lone nighttime walk. But then when I whistle some sweet melody, and it
sparks some very beautiful memories; and once you are my age those great
memories bring unspeakable contentment to you.

So young people, try your best to ignore what you think
matters, instead bring true joy to yourself and each other. Because when all is
said and done, when your youth is spent and burned, you’ll see that it’s all
about the simple things you take for granted: music, flowers, babies, sharing
the good times, traveling not just for business, accepting your mortality. This
is finally what I’ve learned.

And then in the end it’s family and friends! Loving yourself,
but not only yourself, it’s about the good walk, and the long hard walk and the
relationships and connections you’ve had. It’s about making a little music
everyday till you die; it’s a beautiful ride.

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beach 027

A traditional walk on the beach on New Year’s Day is a fascinating opportunity for watching people in their relationships. Here, of course, are the self-absorbed young lovers, arms entwined; the happy, noisy families, scooping children out of the surf; the teenage tribes, walking off their awesome rave; the quietly satisfied old couples, secure as their interwoven fingers.

And us. Two separate figures walking the tideline, each of us the only person on earth. The day is breathtakingly beautiful; after weeks of gales and rain, the crisp blue sky which frames the sparkling sand and sun-bright spray is a glorious miracle. For a moment I remember summer and turn carelessly to share my happiness, but no, there is no shared moment, no smile returned; just a man alone with his pain.

I don’t upload images usually, but New Year, new idea, and this shot caught a moment; for the briefest time the beach ahead of me was completely without people, and as the spray blew across the sunlight, the momentary glory and emptiness of this image was exactly as the day felt for me. It was like looking at the first day of the world before the arrival of man, and of hope and sadness.

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Early morning found me standing alone – again – on the lawn, waiting for the sleepy January sun. It seemed like a meaningful gesture to go out and seek the dawn on New Year’s Day; I was not disappointed. The wind had dropped, the garden had somehow gathered its strength and appeared cool and quietly potent in the chill moonlight, a deep calm spreading with the shadows from the settling beech trees.

I have weathered a storm. Not gracefully, it’s true, but I feel like I have shaken off the old pain with the old year and woken with a bad headache but a remembrance of who I used to be, who I could perhaps be again. Has rejection forced me to turn to what I have left – myself? Or am I just a typically contrary woman, changeable as last night’s gale, spinning the weathervane of emotion till I am dizzy?

Well I’m steady today at least, and I face the new day with the will to make a resolution. There are confident, brave and ambitious souls out there making lists – long lists! – of resolutions, but I don’t have the strength to write a bucket list, let alone walk around with its weight on my shoulders, so just one wish for this princess.

Resolution is such a resonant word; it can be passed as a formal expression of opinion, it means determination, it can be used to mean promise, we can resolve and be resolute. So much in this one word.

So this is my resolution for New Year, my promise to myself; to be resolute, to find resolution, to go where this journey has to take me, to find and to be myself – today, tomorrow, whatever.

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Last night I got very drunk, today I will be so, so sorry; I will probably read this and be very sorry indeed. But we all need a break and it doesn’t look like one is coming my way any time soon so I have taken the easy option for now; a bottle of wine, a lot of crying and a night of self pity and oblivion. Happy New Year.

I have tried so hard. I have been understanding, I have been patient. I have made myself as near what he wants as I can be. I was so pretty and I smelled divine and I kissed him – and he held me a little too firmly by the arms and said no, behave.

No, behave.

The Samaritans, he told me, have a support group for despondent men and my despondent husband is part of that. This dreadful disclosure filled me with guilt and pain for him – until he explained how he has to remain in control to ‘manage the damage’. Then I realised that it is this control which is orbiting our marriage like a cold, ominous Death Star, crushing it with restraint and fear and threat.

I’m alone and desperate and drunk enough to fall down. The Samaritans intervention on one side of this relationship has left me unchampioned and alone, their support system has creating a monster, giving an implacable justification to the distance, the denial, and the cruelty of everything he does; permitting him to step back and abandon me, to save himself rather than our marriage.

From somewhere nearby I can hear Kermit and Miss Piggy singing ‘Love led us here’ … Ha Ha.

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New Year’s Eve is surely the loneliest day of the year. What to do this morning but stand alone on the miserable, windswept plains at Year’s End and look backwards on desolation, or strain tear-stung eyes into the gale to catch a glimpse of an empty, awful future? Behind me, the virgin mistletoe hangs withered and dry, the Christmas cupboards are bare, the Yule fire lies cold ash. The present is bleak and comfortless.

Yes, today I am sad, and more than sad; a night lying awake with my partner’s snoring ringing in my ears and my head ringing from that knock has left me too much time to think. I am overwhelmed with sorrow and regret – the things not done, the things I will never do, the many things I wish undone, all crowd my thoughts until no room for positive thoughts remain.

I know I should raise my head proudly to look into this rising sun and visualise my future, to remind myself that I have within me all I need to achieve my dreams; I am a burgeoning seed waiting for the promising spring, a sleeping flower waiting for the warmth of a helpful sun. But I have woken from the comfort of my dreams into a harsh reality, and as I stand on the porch watching a stern, grey day break over the exhausted, wind-whipped garden, I cry.

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We are discussing the fact that he wants to watch a war film and I would like to flip channel to catch a weather report. A polite, quiet conversation – I see no signs, I miss any warning – yet suddenly he is roaring, the tv remote flies across the room and punches into the wall behind me, some sharp thing rapping his message against my head as it explodes.

Stunned, speechless, reduced to nothing, I stare as he breaks from the room, far from silent now and looking both wild and shocked. I am left alone in the debris, thrown back into my memories; a child standing on a lonely staircase at Christmas, listening to a man’s anger and a woman’s tears. I hug my fear to myself, holding tight to how very much I do not want to be that child again, and how entirely ill-equipped I feel to be this woman.

Ever helpful, Google tells me how new figures today show that one in eight emergency calls made to the police relate to domestic violence. The pressures and privacy of Christmas increase the likelihood of violence in the home for too many of us, with at least one in four women falling victim to abuse. A badly aimed tv remote hardly counts as abuse, but I feel the blow to my confidence as sharply as the knock from the broken remote. And I wonder, if we are failing so obviously to communicate, if we are losing control of this situation, what next?

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