Wednesday, July 13, 2016

An amusing interlude...

A break from my unremitting tale of middle aged woe...

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Life and Other Illusions...

I've just posted this over on The View From the Pond but it seemed to fit the bill so well here that I couldn't resist sharing it with all you fellow Prunes and Rosehips as it suits my present mood perfectly...

I've been making progress in my approach to my relationship with The Climber. It struck me today in a moment of tranquility that I am still really angry about being widowed and that somehow I expected The Climber to make it all better and then couldn't forgive him when he didn't.

For seven years I was in recovery mode after the death of my almost-childhood sweetheart. Then, when I decided that I was ready for a new relationship, I absolutely expected it to lead to marriage or, at least, living together in a committed way. I dated four men before The Climber and would have contemplated marriage with two of them. I don't know whether I had become cynical about true love (yes, I do know - I had) but I believed, and still do, that a good marriage doesn't have to be founded on thinking you've found your twin soul. When I set out on the internet dating circuit, I thought, "I will, in due course, find a man that excites me, makes me laugh, makes me feel safe and, if he finds that I tick his boxes, we'll grab a bit of happiness,  get married and stave off the loneliness of a solitary old age." And, with The Climber, I thought I'd found it. Three years later, I am at last beginning to realise that he does not find the idea of marriage as appealing as I do, and that there's nothing I can do to make it more appealing to him.

So I've found myself bouncing between the idea of trying to turn myself into a happy-go-lucky, independent girlfriend who's just in it for the fun, and splitting up with him and trying my luck again in the dating pool (or giving up on the idea of marriage completely and make the best single life I can for myself.)

A good friend gently suggested to me recently that instead of looking for a new man to lean on, I might try to become my own support. I dismissed her comment at the time but now I am beginning to get what she was saying. Maybe all these years after the death of The Golfer, I am still hurting, still grieving for the life I had and lost...and maybe the solution to this pain is not to try to go back to what I had with a new leading man but instead to move into a completely new room and genuinely, authentically live a good new life as a single person.

Only trouble is, I don't think I can do that without saying goodbye to this lovely man I've had in my life for the last three years.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Adapting To Reality

Photo credit: Phil Hearing @ Flickr
Love is a complicated business - that's for sure. I restarted writing here in January, having split up with The Climber, then rather quickly got back together with him. Since then things have variously been okay, bad, wonderful and routine. This is probably like most relationships though I have difficulty understanding why things can't always be wonderful if you will it so.

I am nearly fifty eight years old. Fifty eight! How can I not get my head round relationships at my age? It's true that I'm not very experienced in love - only one (very long) serious relationship before this one; my son is more experienced in relationships than I am...

We talked over the weekend, The Climber and I. I had steered our early-morning pillow talk around to living together and how people decided to start. I didn't have an agenda (at least, I don't think I did); I was genuinely curious about how people decided to move in together, what drives the decision and whose house/flat do they choose? But quickly we moved on to our own situation. We look as though we live together: we spend a couple of nights at my place then a couple at his. This has been the pattern since we met three years ago. At my insistence, we now have a couple of nights apart every week - more about that another time. So we look as though we're living together but we aren't. We've had the marriage talk a few times. He says he wants to marry me some time but not yet. I try to wrap my head round the logic of it but mainly just feel hurt that he doesn't love me enough to risk committing to me.

I feel as if I'm on trial with him - prove myself not to be unreliable, or a mad harpie, don't let myself go and he'll consider putting a ring on my finger at some point. Every time we fall out, every time I get emotional about something or seem to him unreasonable, I know that date is being pushed further and further back.

Am I painting him in a bad light? He isn't horrible at all. He's lovely, and fun, and laid-back and attentive. I know that the main reason he doesn't want to commit is because he's had (very) bad experiences with the women in his life before. Just before he met me, he found himself free for the first time in twenty years - it's no wonder he isn't keen to tie himself down again. As far as he is concerned, things are absolutely perfect as they are: he's got a gorgeous girlfriend (that's me) AND he's got the freedom to come and go as he pleases; he's got someone warm to hold at night and someone to do the cooking half of the time AND he has no responsibilities to that person. Why on earth would he change that arrangement?

So anyway, I decided to find out whether he had grown any closer to being ready to commit in any way. It was clear from his response that he had not. He loves me, he likes being with me, he just does not want to 'ruin' it all by formalising the arrangement. I was disappointed that his feelings had not altered at all since the last time this was discussed, quite a few months ago but what can I do? I can't make him want to marry me. I certainly don't want to bully or wheedle him into it - what would be the point of that? So, as I see it, I only have two options - end our relationship at some point, probably sooner rather than later, and find a man who wants to be married or accept our relationship for what it is - fun, loving, sexy - but give up investing my whole being in it - in other words, begin to build more of a life for myself rather than waiting to build a life with him.

And this is what I've decided to do. It's a choice made reluctantly. I've always been the marrying kind and since the death of my husband, all I've really wanted is to have that kind of bond with another man. It's just who I am. But I'm sure I could have a good life without the safety net of marriage. It might even be better - the idea of no responsibilities and lots of freedom works for me too - so what I'm going to do is to start to do more things on my own, make my own plans instead of waiting to see if they fit in with him, do some courses and career development, maybe even go on holiday on my own to places that I want to go to, doing things that I want to do.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

The Existential Dilemma

We are all alone, born alone, die alone, and—in spite of True Romance magazines—we shall all someday look back on our lives and see that, in spite of our company, we were alone the whole way. I do not say lonely—at least, not all the time—but essentially, and finally, alone. " Hunter S. Thompson

Well, The Climber has gone away for three weeks, doing his own thing with a friend, so I'm back to being on my own for a while and it's got me pondering.

My personal experience of life has left me with the certain feeling that I am essentially alone in the world. I have a few friends, a couple of family members left, and lots of people who know me but, even though I have now been in a relationship with The Climber for almost three years, I still feel alone. And I hate it.

Even without him buggering off on trips like this, I feel essentially alone. I've blamed him for this most of the time but I'm wondering now if I have been so damaged by losing almost everyone I care about in my life that I actually do not dare to give myself fully to another man.

This only occurred to me recently when, one day, he was away climbing in snowy, somewhat dangerous conditions and I worried about him. And I found myself thinking/feeling "I do not want to, I cannot, go through losing the man in my life again. I cannot go through the pain of losing half of me and of feeling like an outsider again." It was then that it occurred to me that I might be holding back from full emotional commitment to him as much or maybe even more than he is holding back from me.

I definitely protect myself from the pain caused by other people. This started in childhood, when my adored father sexually abused me. It turned me overnight into a little girl who knew she could never again rely on another human being, never again absolutely trust another human being. Then The Golfer came along. And he was nothing like my father. He was big and safe and trustworthy. And for almost all of our marriage, he never did let me down. After he died, I had to go back to being my own protector.

I wonder if one of the things that attracted The Climber and me to each other is that we are both avoiding commitment - he has had a lifetime of everything coming second to climbing (a very common trait in climbers, apparently) and I can't bear the risk of being hurt again. So we keep it light. We play house. We have great fun. I'm so glad we keep making up after we break up and I'm so glad he's in my life but...


Is it an inevitable part of getting older? Not necessarily. I look at friends who are the same age as me, still married to their childhood sweethearts, parents still alive, surrounded by siblings and grandkids and wonder when was the last time they were alone even for an hour, when was the last time they had to do something for themselves instead of calling for husband, brother, dad to do it for them. I think for people lucky enough not to have had much death in their lives, being lonely in the existential, absolute way I've been lonely , is a totally alien concept. Even though I love my boyfriend very much, I still have pangs of envy every time I go to married friends' houses and am reminded of the life I used to have. And maybe that isn't so much to do with his lack of desire to settle down with me as with my own demons from the past - demons that I will never be free of, that I can only try to learn to live with.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Independent Woman

I promised myself I wouldn't talk too much about an active relationship here out of fairness to the other party in it but I think I can talk in general terms about life and new love in middle age so here goes...

I'm constantly trying to make sense of this new chapter in my life. It's weird. I was married for so long that being married feels like the natural, normal state to be in. Then I was alone for seven years, absolutely certain that I would never find love again. And now I am in a relationship and it's great. But it isn't a marriage and isn't likely to be one. So the thing I have to make sense of is what is it I'm after in this new chapter?

The marriage was mainly good but, more than that, it was certain and safe. As far as I know, The Golfer never thought about us not being together and the marriage felt rock-solid. He was a very safe pair of hands. Losing him meant also losing all that solidity, all that certainty. And it took me seven years of living on my own after his death to begin to be a properly independent adult for the first time in my life. (We had got together before I was eighteen so I never did the living in a flat, dating lots of people thing) Being an independent single adult was SCARY. But also exhilarating. It was wonderful to do things without having to compromise with someone else - buy stuff, go places, move house - and even the tiny freedoms were new and exciting - choose what to eat and when, stay up till 3 a.m. and lie in till 9 if I wanted. I didn't even realise how hemmed in I had been in my marriage until my husband was dead and the marriage over. (I'm sure he felt hemmed in too - it's in the nature of marriage, I think).

But I was so lonely it made me ill. So I started dating. And got together with The Climber. And it's wonderful, much of the time - when we're not walking out or splitting up... When we first got together he moved in with me because he was temporarily between houses. I was so happy to have a man in my life, my house and my bed again that I fooled myself into thinking that we were living together and that within six months we'd probably be married. But he never saw it like that - a much more pragmatic person, my man is. Once he'd found a house, he moved out. And ever since, until recently, we have spent a few nights at his place together, then a few at mine, also together. Now, this might sound like living together but it isn't. And it certainly isn't being married.

After our most recent breakup, I said that things would have to change - that we needed to spend more time on our own individual lives. So that's what we're trying now. We spend a couple of nights together, then a couple apart, living our own lives. It's been great. We are both doing new things, picking up old interests that have been neglected for nearly three years while we played house. And yet, and yet...if I had my choice I'd still be married...I think, though I'm honestly not sure if it would be to The Climber (but that's another story.) Marriage still feels like the thing I'm made for - the natural state. But perhaps I just haven't got used to being not-married yet. I was married a lot longer than I've been not-married.

I wonder how others in my situation have found it. Did you honestly prefer being single and independent, even if you were in a new relationship? I'm trying to be very modern and grown-up about this relationship, and not just not minding that he does not want to get married or even live together properly, but actively choosing to keep my own independence too. But it goes against my natural instincts NOT to share everything with my man and not to expect him to be there for me all the time...

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Back On the Bike

And the pendulum swings back again...

The Climber and I are good again. We are both willing to learn and adapt (at the moment anyway!) and that seems to save our relationship every time.

As I said at the beginning of the reboot of this blog, I don't want to talk about my current relationship too much or too personally - not fair to the the man. So what I'll do, I think, as I'm loving being back, is recount some of my adventures in the land of internet dating before The Climber and I got together, and then move out into more general thoughts about love, life and getting time...

Friday, January 29, 2016

Round in Circles

Well, The Climber and I have been back together for a week but suddenly it all seems to be in danger of falling apart again.

When we got back together last week, I told him that we couldn't go back to the way we were, that we'd have to try a new way of conducting our relationship. As I said in a previous post, he and I have been living together in all but name since our first weekend together but without actually making a commitment or even actively deciding we wanted to live together. It just happened. Well, that's not exactly true...he was looking for a house and so moved in with me until he found somewhere. I, loving having a man about the place, didn't want to make him leave - we were having such a lot of fun - and so we have just sort of fallen into the way of being together every night.

Now, I find this a strain. He has a house of his own now (that was another upset for me. I really didn't think he would move into his own house after living with me for four months...) We spend (or did spend) three nights at my house, then three at his, and have lived like this for nearly three years now. It all feels very temporary and every now and then I get upset about it. Which makes him feel pressured that I'm wanting to get married, which isn't true...but I DO want to feel settled. I've told him in the past that being settled is incredibly important to me and that if he doesn't want to settle with me then I NEED to feel settled in my own house at least. I've always been a home bird. I love having my stuff around me and hate uprooting myself every week to go to his place.

So, after our breakup, I had the idea that we could get back together but go back to basics - live our independent lives, go on dates, stay the night but have time on our own too. He agreed to try it. And, from my point of view, it's been working. I've missed him at times but I've also loved being able to get on with my own things. We've both been much more productive, and we've not only had loads more to talk about when we get together but we are also more genuinely excited to see each other. It's been great.

Except, apparently it hasn't. He had a bit of a moan this morning about not seeing me tonight (this is one of our on our own nights - we'll see each other tomorrow) and I just had the feeling all day that he was not a happy bunny. I'm not always right about these feelings but I was this time. I expected him to call me tonight and he didn't until just now. He was already in bed and apparently feeling very sorry for himself (without actually telling me, of course). We didn't talk for long and now I'm irritated with him all over again.

I don't know what to do. I don't know if he's being childish or I'm being unrealistic. He doesn't say anything of course. I'm just supposed to know. I've no doubt his nose is a little out of joint but I honestly think it's only because I'M the one who suggested this new way of living. Previously, he was all for non-commitment and freedom to go off climbing or biking or walking with other people. But because I'm suggesting it, he's not happy. He is a lovely, interesting, funny, sexy man but I honestly don't know if that's going to be enough to keep us together, because he is also (and increasingly) moody and erratic. I honestly thought more time away from each other would ease the stress that builds up in both of us but it looks as though I was wrong in that too...

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Sound of Silence

This is interesting: The Importance of Shared Silence . One of the causes of bustups between The Climber and me, and the one that was the catalyst for our last fight was him not talking enough to me. Or, to put it another way, me not liking extended silence between us.

He says he is a quiet person. He isn't, not particularly. And I'm not a particularly chatty person. I love being on my own. But when we are together, a couple of things can happen if we don't talk for a period - I can start to worry that there is something wrong with him, or I can start to worry that we aren't quite as in love as we were - that we're getting used to each other, maybe even bored with each other. These are both insecurities on my part, I know, but that doesn't make them any the less real.

So I try to get him to say something or to respond to me. And he resents the implied criticism, or being made to 'perform'. And we fall out. And one of us walks out. And then there's lots of silence...

But I do love silence sometimes. So, what I get from reading that article is that, if I can let go the worries when silence falls between us, I might actually begin to enjoy the silence, let my thoughts flow the way they do when I am alone and, who knows, we may even fight a little less!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Back To Basics

So - things have moved on a bit since I last wrote. The Climber and I are back together! Sort of.

Which makes it weird to be writing here, seeing as I don't think it's fair to blog about a man you're dating, as you're doing it. Feels like a running commentary and keeping score all at the same time.

However, I think I can blog about it in general terms without breaking any confidences, so here goes...

What we've decided to do - or, at least, I decided and he agreed - is not to spend so much time together. This might not sound like a great basis for a reconciliation but stay with me...

When The Climber and I got together nearly three years ago, he had just moved into the area and was staying with friends while he found a house. So, when he and I hit it off and spent our first wild weekend together, he basically never moved out. I was in heaven. I'd been widowed for seven years and was starving for male company. So we played at house for five or six months, while he searched for a house for himself.

When he eventually found a house, he moved out. I was a bit crushed, to be honest, but I don't think he ever saw what upset me. He moved into his house but we carried on playing mister and missus - two nights at his house, then two nights at mine. And that's how it's been going on ever since. We tend to do our own thing during the day but, apart from that, there's very little time to our individual selves.

I've been finding this harder and harder to deal with. Not married but with all the restrictions of marriage, and my own house and my own interests with less and less time spent on them. (There's a bit of a bone of contention between us about getting married as well, but we'll keep that for another day - it's not a big issue, just one of pragmatism.) So, when we started talking after this latest (and, I thought, final) fallout, I decided that if we were going to give it another go, then I had to have my own life back. So what we've agreed to try is almost to start over: to live in our own houses and date, dine together, stay the occasional night and see how it goes.

Results have been mixed so far. I've missed him and been glad to have my own time and space in equal measure. It's amazing how much more we are each getting done already. He's joined a boxing gym and I've started playing the guitar. We're both writing books and there are lots of words being written. But, after living as a couple for nearly three years, it does feel odd. And maybe it is the beginning of the end. Or maybe it's the beginning of a new beginning. Only time will tell...

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I'll Do My Crying on Spotify

Okay - day four since I broke up with The Climber and anxiety is setting in. It was quite good fun for the first few days. I was longing for some 'me' time, I felt full of righteous self-justification and I was filling my thoughts with memories of all the rotten things he'd said and his bad habits. By this morning that was wearing off and now I'm starting to miss the cuddles and the conversation, the sex and the fun. And I'm worrying about him - is he okay with the breakup? Is he already touring the dating websites? Is he going to try and win me back with flowers and a big speech? The answers to those questions are probably, in order - no, yes and definitely no.

The thing is, I'm wondering if I overdid it, ending the relationship. Is that a common worry afterwards? I suspect it is. We've been walking out on each other and storming back to our own houses almost from the start of our relationship - maybe that was a sign that we were never going to last. And yet, the arguments were over tiny things. I really thought that we would iron them out eventually and all would be calm and serene. It all comes down to talking - well, communication in general, I suppose. I didn't think there was enough of it going on, he didn't like being prodded to respond. Typical male/female stuff. In fact, I never bought into that whole Mars/Venus stuff until I got together with The Climber. And then, at the grand old age of 55, I found myself buying Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus - and reading it from cover to cover more than once. Even managed to get him to look at it, though I'm not sure it did any more than give him ammunition in the sex war...

So now, the mellow playlist is playing on Spotify again, and I'm crying in disbelief that we'll never lie together again and listen to the songs, never sit together again and sing them with the guitar, and wondering if I did the wrong thing telling him that I was tired of the arguments, that we'd reached the end of the road. If I hadn't broken up with him, we'd be lying together's a hell of a thought...

When The Golfer died, I thought - no, I was certain - that I would never love again, never be loved again. I'd never be touched, desired again, never have sex again, never have that one person who is with you against the world. Well, amazingly, wondrously, miraculously, I found a man in his fifties who not only fancied me but who could still do something about it and I've let him go...

Ah well, back to the sad songs, I think. I will be fine, fellow rosehippers. Life is certainly an adventure...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Breaking Up, Not Tuning Up

Okay - I admit it, I've picked up this blog again because I've broken up with my boyfriend and I don't know if it's been the right thing to do. It's weird. I've never broken up with anyone before. No, that's not true. The Golfer and I broke up three months after we started going out but that was us trying to be sensible and grown up. He was going back to University and we didn't think a long-distance relationship was a good idea. Three weeks later we were back together and stayed together till he died.

So this is new territory for me. At the grand old age of 57, I'm having to learn how to break up, how to survive it and how to be single again. Tonight I'm being very brave and listening to slow, sad tunes on Spotify and wishing I hadn't split up with The Climber. We used to sing together. He plays the guitar really well and, for the first time in my life, I was with someone who wanted to hear me sing. And now I've lost that - I'm back to singing for the cat, if I had one...

I wish I knew for sure that splitting up is the right thing to do. I'm such a beginner at this. And The Climber is a very different man compared to The Golfer. Things weren't perfect with The Golfer by any means but he was very laid back and I honestly can't remember him finding fault with me on more than a couple of occasions in thirty years. The Climber, on the other hand, doesn't hold back if he thinks I'm being unreasonable. It's a long story which will no doubt come out over the course of the next few posts but, suffice to say, I'd had enough of being in the wrong.

Now, don't misunderstand me, The Climber is a lovely man but he is a climber - a rock climber and, as anyone who has dated a rock climber will tell you, climbers are different. All they care about is climbing - everything is focussed on it, everything else comes second to it. And my Climber is (I suppose he isn't MY Climber any more) a middle-aged climber. He's been a climber for forty years. I never stood a chance against that.

So that's all I've got to say tonight. I think breaking up was the right thing to do, even if it means I will die old and alone ...thinking about it, the old bit isn't so bad - after all, as someone once said - think about the alternative... How do you decide a relationship has run its course? That it's only going to go downhill from this point? I have no idea. Back to the sad songs...Night all.

Monday, January 18, 2016

I'm back!

I've been away for quite a while, fellow rosehippers, but I'm back. What a blast it's been. Last time I wrote, it was seven years since the death of the Golfer and I felt ready at last to begin to look outward again and perhaps even find a new love.

As soon as I began to recover from the virus that brought me to my knees and my senses, I signed up with a couple of internet dating sites. What an adventure! Quite quickly, I had my first first date - first and last in that case - a very nice man but he was much older and we both agreed that that was an issue. It was good practice though - the first man to treat me like a woman in seven years and I liked it!

So it was back onto the dating sites for another dip. It was tempting to write up my experiences here but it didn't feel fair to the men - they were as lonely as I was and it would have felt like I was taking advantage of them. The main thing to report now is that I got my life back! I had a few first dates, I started listening to romantic ballads again, and fell asleep at night thinking about the eye contact, the attention, the proximity of all that masculinity, even the occasional kiss...

Then one first date led to a second and a third. He was very shy, and we lived a couple of hundred miles apart, so there was a lot (too much) of fantasising and building him up in my mind. We lasted about three months before he went a bit psycho - but that story will keep for another time...

When I was disentangling myself from him, I got a click from another guy on the website and decided to meet him. I was still crazy about the other man and desperately trying to make it work, This new chap was nice - interesting and attentive He did all the right things but I wasn't really interested. But, having rediscovered a sex life (sort of) with the psycho chap, it was like a desert receiving rain and now, with things falling apart there before they had quite got going, I was absolutely desperate for sex. The new man - let's call him The Climber - was relentless in his pursuit of me - another new experience for me, and very flattering.

We agreed to go out as friends for dinner but the sexual tension throughout the whole evening was unbearable. I let him kiss me in the car park as we said goodnight but no more. When I got home, I sat in the dark for two hours, unable to move. What was I doing? What was I getting into? I should say that, having got together with The Golfer before I was eighteen, and having been faithful to him ever since, I'd missed out totally on that whole sleeping around, experimenting thing. In fact, apart from the psycho, I hadn't slept with any other men other than The Golfer. This was totally new territory for me. I'd never felt so turned on, confused and frustrated.

I decided to take what was, for me, a huge risk. I decided to phone The Climber and say that he could come round and spend the night with me. I still can't quite believe I did that. It was wonderful. We didn't leave the bedroom for the whole weekend. At the age of fifty five, I was having better sex than I had ever had in my life. I felt reborn. The story gets a bit complicated there but, suffice to say, we have been together ever since - that was nearly three years ago. Together until yesterday, when I ended it with him. And now I feel the need to write about it here - not quite sure why. He's a lovely man and I have no intention of doing anything to disrespect him but I suppose I thought it might be a good idea to add a couple of chapters to the story I've been telling here up till then.

Because, I suppose, the story is an ongoing one. Yes, I was a widow, and then I was single, and then I was attached and now I'm single again and it's all part of the same story. So, if there's anyone reading, or even if there isn't, I'm going to write down what it's like to be me, alone again at fifty seven but happy...more tomorrow...