Jun 16, 2012
I have done it and was not cut out for it. I was constantly aware of being 45 and him being 30. Consequently I did not want to go out a lot or introduce him to my female friends. They had already told me he was a delectable catch and wished they were so lucky to have a man of thirty that looked like that and was so crazy about me.
I was astounded too by my own behavior. I was a confident girl and never shied from challenge. I bought a new wardrobe, shoes I could hardly stand on, wore sleeveless things with tight pants. Wherever we went he showed me off; he wanted us to live together. I chose not to at the time. One weekend we were alone together and he came into the kitchen where I was making flapjacks. He sat on a bar stool. I will never forget. He was silent for a good long time and then told me to sit facing him. In four words he told me “I can’t marry you”. With that he left me sitting in shock, and with that I ran a hot bath and sat in it until my mother who had a key came to the flat and found me in a bath of cold water. I never saw him again. I never called him. I had a two-week cry and then picked up the bits and pieces of my life and moved on.
In hindsight I can say that the relationship would never have worked as it was built on a foundation of fear. In my gut I knew it was going to be hard work and maybe heartbreaking to enter such a relationship, but he was so gorgeous I couldn’t resist. Many years later I heard from a friend that he did not want to marry a Muslim girl. I am not surprised and don’t regret it. I learned some hard lessons from dabbling with babes. I was prepared to sell my soul to the devil. I ignored the tiny voice in my head which had always guided me. Luckily for me it happened at forty and not at sixty or sixty five.
There is a lot of pressure on women of forty or forty five who have mates much younger than themselves. They have to keep up, they have to think young, and settle for benign conversation. When you look at some of the celebrities today where the women are more than five or ten years older than the man you can count the number of procedures and just know it is not going to last. Last thing I heard, he is now married to a Muslim girl.
There is nothing to console someone who has just come out of a divorce except to say that life will get better, that you will regain your power and strength, and that it becomes easier as time goes on. It is indeed a tough road to hoe. You have a career, you have to juggle work and kids, you are in charge of the finances. You feel sorry for yourself as it is only you and the kids. Wake up. You are now in the real world where what you do will determine your future. You have a right to grieve and go through all the stages of mourning, but at some point you have to come out of it and take stock of your life.
Divorce is very much like a death. You are mourning a loss; a loss of affection, of a partner and of someone you have become used to in ten or more years. In some ways it is more debilitating than a divorce as the person is still alive and you have fantasies of working it out and being together. Don’t despair. There is life after divorce.
Tips to help you through this period of grief
• Get out of feeling sorry for yourself and accept that it will be tough for some time to come, and then the sun will shine again and you will regain your strength.
• Hook up with single moms at a forum or in someone’s house and just enjoy the new friendships you will make.
• Here comes a tough one. Create a friendship with your former partner so that it makes it easier to deal with the rights of the children; where they will live, the schools they will attend, whether they will be going to church, and if so, the dates and times they will be with their father.
• Don’t be difficult and start out with outrageous demands. You want an easy after-divorce relationship for the sake of the kids.
• Talk to your kids and make time for yourself. Bear in mind that when there is too much change in a child’s life it becomes confusing for him.
• Encourage a good relationship between the kids’ father and the new person in his life. You will feel better after doing such a decent thing.
• Find a new passion such as gardening or writing and put yourself
• wholeheartedly in it.
• Make new friends and see how you flourish as a human being as time goes by.
• Most of all, value your time with your kids because all too soon they are grown up and they will leave to set up homes of their own.
If you are newly divorced, the papers have been signed and the rights of the children established, you might find yourself suddenly in a lonely place not knowing where to start. You have got used to a man looking after you, paying the bills, fixing the car, and the last person at night to lock the door. You question your own strength and wonder whether you will be able to make it on your own.
Of course you will be able to; you just have to believe in yourself. You might have to learn how to manage your finances, and pony up to the responsibility you will have when the kids are in your care. Your children, most of all, will need you as they miss their father and it will take time for these feelings of fear to subside.
Round table discussion with the kids
• Their father has left and you are the only one in charge. Meet in the kitchen with the kids and over hot chocolate tell them that you are still a family and that the only thing that has changed is that your father has a new address now.
• Tell them that their father loves them and that nothing has changed in that department. The two of you still love and respect each other but have decided to live separately.
• Tell them that they can speak to their father every day on the telephone or on Skype and that he is just a phone call and four miles away.
• Tell them too that their father will still attend parent nights or activities and plays at the school. If it is not a week night, they could also stay over at their father’s house.
• Don’t interfere with established routines such as a chore roster and a reward system for chores. Keep things the same as much as you can. Too much change for a child all at once is confusing.
• If the marriage ended because of another woman don’t speak ill of the woman as she might end up as their stepmother.
• Tell your kids not to embarrass their father in front of people because they are angry and want to take revenge.
• Spend individual time with each child when they go to bed. Take this time to feel out whether all is fine with your child.
A few years ago Michael J Fox announced that he had Parkinson’s, a degenerative disease of the brain, and people were astounded that he would come out and announce it in public. He made appearances on television and spoke about it, hoping to encourage the scientific community to find out more about it. Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease and you can never cure it; if you are lucky it can be arrested with very expensive medication. The sooner you discover you have it the better your chance to stave it off and arrest it.
Celebrities who have come out
Not long after we learned about Michael J Fox we discovered that the great boxer Muhamad Ali also had contracted the disease and we saw both of these celebrities making appearances in the hope to spread information about it. In one such appearance Michael J Fox took no medication beforehand in order to show the progression of the disease and the physical symptoms if he was not taking it. He came out on the stage extremely nervous looking, his arms dangling and shaking, and his speech visibly impaired.
Just a few weeks ago another celebrity, co-anchor of “Good Morning America”, Robin Roberts, also came out and revealed that she had been diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease of the blood and bone marrow known once as preleukemia. My own diagnosis of Parkiinson’s is just a few months old although I probably had it for months already before I knew and was diagnosed.
Benefits of knowing that you are ill
There are no benefits having a degenerative disease as it will become taxing in the later stages. There are four stages and I am in the first stages. Probably Fox and Ali are in the third stages and they are otherwise healthy except for knowing they are ill, and have physical symptoms. Coming out and revealing this to the world takes courage, and when I was diagnosed I did not cry about it. I had the scans, am taking the meds and with a new way of eating feel healthier now than for years before the diagnosis.
Reasons for coming out
There are many reasons for coming out: we don’t want to be treated as invalids; we don’t want you to step back when you first meet us and learn we have Parkinson’s; we are not contagious so there is no need to step back. We also do not want you to feel sorry for us and constantly refer to our health. Fixing it in the mind is the first thing, and then you have to live it. Besides all the things such as bucket lists and what you would now do to prepare for the end is behind me. Every day is a bonus and I love life and live it to the fullest. Coming out and announcing my illness to my family and friends was my way to say that I am all right and do not worry about me.