My Body Won’t Cooperate with My Lifestyle

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, retirees, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years” on the following dates, times, and locations (RSVP REQUIRED):

July 19, 2018, 10:30am, Covenant Village of the Great Lakes Retirement Community, 2510 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 (616) 259-0408, www.covenantgreatlakes.org/events

October 16, 2018, 1:00pm, The Holmstad Retirement Community, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy, Batavia, IL 60510, (630) 239-1133,  www.theholmstad.org

October 17, 2018, 10:30am, Windsor Park Retirement Community, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (331) 218-3637, www.windsorparkillinois.org

October 19, 2018, 10:30am, Covenant Village of Northbrook, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062, (224) 412-8421, www.covenantnorthbrook.org

Now, on to my blog:

Dog under print blanket

My body is getting more and more uncooperative as it and I grow older together.  Where is that gal who could ski all day and boogie into the night?  Where is that woman who could travel the world, exploring other cultures from early morning to late in the evening?  Where is that multitasking me who could work full time, raise children, run a household, and still squeeze in friends and fun–all at the same time?

These days, corpus meum seems to have a mind of its own independent of my thoughts and desires.  Regardless of what I direct it to do, it does its own thing.  It has cramped my style more than once.  It’s so hard to accept that I’m no longer in control; I want a divorce!  I’ll find a new body that is much more in sync with how I envision myself.

I’m in pretty good health, but small, irritating things are happening to my body.  When I finally accept and cope with one, another springs up.  When I think I’ve got everything pretty much under control, MB morphs and “wham,” it’s another change I have to incorporate.

Friends and acquaintances tell me the same thing is happening to them.  What to do, what to do?  Well, we can try railing to the wind and lamenting our lot.  Dumping on anyone who will listen is another possibility.  Hunkering down with the covers over our head is a third way to go.  Unfortunately, those options only waste time and put off the inevitable of accepting and becoming comfortable with the new you.

New You doesn’t have the energy level that Old You had.  NY gets tired more easily.  NY doesn’t bounce back so fast from illnesses, upsets, or just about anything else that comes your way.  NY can become a true PIA (pain in the ass).  Nevertheless, NY is all you have, and you can’t go back to OY no matter how much you wish it, how much you try, how much you rail.

So, you have two choices: accept NY, come to terms with your aging body, and embrace all the things you can still do, or reject NY and be miserable.  And remember, if you opt for the latter, you can always segue into the former.

 ***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: Eric.Ray via Visualhunt /  CC BY
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A Hitch in Your Gitalong

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years” on the following dates, times, and locations (RSVP REQUIRED):

April 13, 2018, 1:00pm, Covenant Village of Turlock Retirement Community, 2125 N. Olive Ave, Turlock, CA 95382, (209)-226-4621, www.covenantvillageofturlock.org/events

July 19, 2018, 10:30am, Covenant Village of the Great Lakes Retirement Community, 2510 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 (616) 259-0408, www.covenantgreatlakes.org/events

October 16, 2018, 1:00pm, The Holmstad Retirement Community, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy, Batavia, IL 60510, (630) 239-1133,  www.theholmstad.org

October 17, 2018, 10:30am, Windsor Park Retirement Community, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (331) 218-3637, www.windsorparkillinois.org

October 19, 2018, 10:30am, Covenant Village of Northbrook, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062, (224) 412-8421, www.covenantnorthbrook.org

Now, on to my blog:

Motorized Wheel ChairMany of you may remember Gabby Hayes who was an actor in Western films in the 1930s and 1940s. He often played a wizened, cantankerous old coot who was the sidekick or cook on cattle drives. In one of those roles, he had a limp and explained when asked about it, “I got a hitch in my gitalong.”

We all develop a hitch in our gitalongs of one sort or another in our later years. We might not limp, but we slow down. We can’t walk as far as we used to. Maybe our hips hurt, or our knees, calves, shins, ankles, soles, heels, toes, whatevers. Maybe our stamina is not as long lasting as it was decades earlier. Maybe our mental capacity isn’t as cooperative.

Whatever the reason, don’t drop out; seek help. There are all types of assistive devices such as canes, walkers, wheelchairs, etc. The man in this photo riding on his motorized wheelchair is not letting his hitch stop him. He is boogieing along, enjoying what the outdoors offers.

Too many people become reclusive as seniors, not wanting to display or even admit their various hitches. Many become depressed or withdrawn, embarrassed for others to see them as they’ve aged.  Don’t do that; be kind to yourself. What would you say to someone else you saw doing such a thing? Wouldn’t you encourage him/her to move forward, hitch and all?

We must grab life with whatever means we have. Some of us have more capabilities than others. If you are not disabled, don’t take that for granted. Be mindful of how fortunate you are, as not everyone is. If you are disabled, technology makes it easier for you to embrace life.

Take a walk whether it’s with your own legs or your own wheels. Observe the bounty that the outdoors offers. A wild flower growing at the edge of the road can be a thing of great beauty viewed with the right perspective.

We all have a finite time of life.  We, also, have choices. Choose how you are going to live your remaining years, months, days, hours, minutes. If you decide to squander them on “poor me” behaviors, own the fact that you made that decision.

You are not committed to your choice in perpetuity.  You can revise it at any time which, of course, is another choice. Utilize whatever is available to assist you. There is no shame in that. Wheels versus legs still yield the same exquisite wildflower.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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You Don’t Get to Cherry-pick

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years” on the following dates, times, and locations (RSVP REQUIRED):

April 13, 2018, 1:00pm, Covenant Village of Turlock Retirement Community, 2125 N. Olive Ave, Turlock, CA 95382, (209)-226-4621, www.covenantvillageofturlock.org/events

July 19, 2018, 10:30am, Covenant Village of the Great Lakes Retirement Community, 2510 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 (616) 259-0408, www.covenantgreatlakes.org/events

October 16, 2018, 1:00pm, The Holmstad Retirement Community, 700 W. Fabyan Pkwy, Batavia, IL 60510, (630) 239-1133,  www.theholmstad.org

October 17, 2018, 10:30am, Windsor Park Retirement Community, 124 Windsor Park Dr, Carol Stream, IL 60188, (331) 218-3637, www.windsorparkillinois.org

October 19, 2018, 10:30am, Covenant Village of Northbrook, 2625 Techny Rd, Northbrook, IL 60062, (224) 412-8421, www.covenantnorthbrook.org

Now, on to my blog:

hand picking cherryHow many times have you looked at others and coveted something they have?

I wish I had such smart children. I wish I were thin like him/her. I wish I were free of the burden of a needy spouse like him/her.  I wish I had a spouse like him/her.  I wish I were rich like…well, you get the idea.

Those types of thoughts begin to creep in, especially when we are feeling low or in a bad place.  Our life sucks and everyone else’s seems to be a fairy-tale with everything right and a happy ending.

Someone once told me about a friend of theirs.  The friend was so attractive, had such a good personality, had…  So, the relater of the story said he was so envious that he just had to stop being friends with that person.  How sad for both of them.  Most likely the one who “had it all” was just putting on a good public face.

That’s quite common.  We want others to like and admire us, so we hide our bad apple spots.  Some even fabricate tales to yield that story book presentation.

I’ve had so many instances in my life where someone I know or have just met or have read about seems to have it all.  I’m always surprised when I learn the real truth, and that their facade wasn’t at all what it looked like.  A good example is the recent nasty split between long married and seemingly on top Hollywood couple Brad Pit and Angelina Jolie.  Who knew that behind their shiny, solid oak veneer was actually dry-rot?

I remember when the adorable girl in grammar school who lived down the block and had the beautiful curls arranged just so and the expensive clothes I lusted for committed suicide. I remember in junior high school a girl who seemed so sweet, easy going, and well-liked having a nervous breakdown.  I remember the popular, high school cheerleader whose parents turned out to be psychologically abusive and distant.  I remember in college…, at work…, as a wife…, as a mother…, as a senior…, and on and on.  It was the same at every stage of my life.

Take another gander, folks.  All those people you’re looking at and coveting have their problems, negatives, bad times, too, just like you.  You don’t get to cherry-pick.  You take their whole package or none. So, in carefully inspecting the entire life of the envied one, would you trade theirs for yours?

I was discussing this concept with a friend not long ago, and she reminded me, “Be careful what you wish for.”  That’s so easy to forget.  When you long for another’s life to replace your own, take a deeper look with a strong magnifying glass.  Yours may start to seem a whole lot better than you thought.

 ***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

Photo credit: Matt McGee via Visual hunt /  CC BY-ND

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Uber et al

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is:  Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years” on the following dates, times, and locations (RSVP REQUIRED):

March 15, 2018, 10:30am, The Samarkand Retirement Community, 2550 Treasure Dr., Santa Barbara, CA 93105, (877) 412-6305,   www.thesamarkand.org/events

April 13, 2018, 1:00pm, Covenant Village of Turlock Retirement Community, 2125 N. Olive Ave, Turlock, CA 95382, (209)-226-4621, www.covenantvillageofturlock.org/events

July 19, 2018, 10:30am, Covenant Village of the Great Lakes Retirement Community, 2510 Lake Michigan Dr NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504 (616) 259-0408, www.covenantgreatlakes.org/events

Now, on to my blog:

UberAh, Uber and its brethren.  They use  technology to make life easier while simultaneously making it more complicated.  Yes, I wanted to be “with it” just like my tech savvy son–to summon a car using my iPhone.  So, I decided to brave the learning curve and set out to install the Uber app.

The first mistake I made in my confusion was to sign myself up as an Uber driver.   I realized my error as soon as Uber congratulated me on becoming a team member and requested information about my car and driver’s license.

Trying to unenroll as an Uber driver is a lot harder than enrolling.  Although I kept trying to tell the Uber God that I didn’t want to be a driver but just a rider, he/she refused to listen to me and kept insisting I provide my car/DL info.  Eventually, Uber got tired of my stalling and kicked me out as a potential driver.  I was small potatoes, and they were having none of my foolishness.

I waited a few days to brave the Uber site again.  This time, unbeknownst to me how it came about, I did manage to enroll as a rider.  An Uber app appeared on the homepage screen of my iPhone.  I became one of the cool, trendy types and was going to be chauffeured by Uber.

The first time I called for an Uber pickup, it worked!  I was amazed how simple it was and that I had done it.  The ride was pleasant and the driver amiable.  All was right with the world, and I was a functioning cog in the Uber machine.

Uber emailed me my receipt and requested input on how I liked the ride.  They offered me a visual of five stars, each with a number under it from one to five, in a horizontal row.  I was supposed to click on these celestial bodies to rate my ride.

My driver had been great, and, of course, I wanted to give him the highest rating: five stars.  So, I assumed I was supposed to click on all of the stars.  I clicked the star above the number one first whereupon I was kicked off that page and a message appeared in its place sympathizing with me that I had not had a good Uber experience.  Apparently, I was supposed to click only on the star over the number five, not on every star.  Now, how was I supposed to know that?

Unforgiving Uber God refused to give me an option to revise my evaluation.  Guilt took over; I had just given a black mark to the Uber driving record of a very nice guy.

What to do?  I navigated the Uber website but couldn’t find any way to connect with Uber.  A half-hour later and still navigating, I stumbled upon a contact form to send Uber a message.  I explained my error and begged U.G. to upgrade my evaluation to five stars.  Later that day, I received an email that my wish had been granted.

I did not use Uber again for several months.  By that time, I forgot about the quirky rating system.  Again, in trying to rate my driver, I ended up giving him the lowest possible rating.  No more guilt–every man for him/herself–I was sick of the whole thing and refused to play the half-hour navigation game again.

Cut to two years later.  I had not used Uber in all that time and forgot the protocol.  After arriving late and tired at my home airport, I summoned Uber to take me to my  front door.  The screen monitor notified me that the trip would cost $33.66.

The drive was pleasant and the driver sweet and chatty.  Upon arriving home, I handed him two twenty dollar bills: $33.66 for the fare and the rest for his tip.

“Wow!” he exclaimed.

I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was over a $6 tip.  I mean it was about twenty percent of the bill—a fair tip, but hardly warranting a “wow.” Maybe he wasn’t used to any tip at all.

The next day I was checking my emails and found one from Uber.  It was a receipt for $33.66 billed to my credit card.  How could they do that when I had paid the fare to the driver?  My son explained it all to me patiently–sort of.

“Well, Mom, you gave him a $40 tip.  You’ll just have to suck it up.”

So, I have been sucking it up for a few weeks now.  I’m getting weary of being among the trendy.  The only good thing is that I probably made the guy’s day.  I am one of the positive war stories he can brag about over the coming years on the topic of his life as an Uber driver.

 ***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Hugs

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is:  Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years” on the following dates, times, and locations (RSVP REQUIRED):

March 15, 2018, 10:30am, The Samarkand Retirement Community, 2550 Treasure Dr., Santa Barbara, CA 93105, (877) 412-6305,   www.thesamarkand.org/events

April 13, 2018, 1:00pm, Covenant Village of Turlock Retirement Community, 2125 N. Olive Ave, Turlock, CA 95382, (209)-226-4621,   www.covenantvillageofturlock.org/events

Now, on to my blog:

Man hugging elephantsWe all need a hug. It is tactile contact with another human being; a warm, intimate gesture; and comforting. It can be a balm when we are feeling low; an expression of closeness; a display of  acceptance, or a greeting like a handshake on steroids. However, we must be careful when, where, and to whom we deliver hugs.

The subject of inappropriate touching has been in the news a lot lately. Many have experienced this during their lifetime, both women and men. It may have been as the hug giver, the hug receiver, or both.

I’ve had such experiences including some incidents years ago at my job which would today be considered sexual harassment. These acts are usually carried out by the perpetrator when no one else is around, so it becomes an unprovable  “he said-she said” scenario.

From my youth until well into my adulthood, I was not a huggy type of person. Although I’m still not exceptionally huggy, as I’ve matured and been subjected to life, I’m more prone to offering a hug to relatives and good friends upon meeting or departing, or to someone who has been especially nice and giving in a situation.

I can think of three things that changed my hugging persuasion:

1.  When I had children, they needed hugs, and I found that I loved embracing them.
2.  I have some close friends who are very huggy, and I’ve grown to be comfortable with it.
3.  When I became an actress as a senior, I discovered that the acting community as a whole is a pretty huggy/touchy bunch out of camaraderie.

Sometimes my hug has been well received and other times it has seemed to make the recipient uncomfortable. I think the response comes from how the hugee was raised, where they were raised (different parts of the country or world are not as huggy as others), his/her culture, etc.

I’ve had a few strange experiences when I’ve initiated a hug. I made the mistake of hugging a man out of friendship. He then expected us to hug every time we saw each other. He finally made it clear that he wanted our relationship to ramp up to the next level which was not what I wanted, so I broke off the whole thing. It probably would have remained on the friendship footing I had preferred had I not initiated the initial hug out of good feelings.

Once, I invited a group of friends over for lunch. One I knew well, and the other two, a husband and wife, were his friends whom I had only met a few times. We had a lovely time, and when they were ready to depart, I gave each a hug. The husband and wife both seemed very uncomfortable with the gesture, and I was sorry I had done it.

I remember another uneasy situation. A program director had hired me to give a talk to a large group. Although our interaction prior to the event was purely a business relationship, she had been exceptionally nice and helpful to me. After the talk, we were chatting, and I thanked her. Out of exuberance at how well things had gone, I moved forward to hug her whereupon she jerked back with an alarmed look on her face. I immediately backed off, but it felt very awkward.

Hugging or other types of touching can be interpreted incorrectly. If one gets a different idea from your initiation of a hug or other simple touch than you had intended, it is very hard to convey to that person that you were simply expressing your exuberance in an embracing manner. Conversely, when people make themselves vulnerable by expressing affection for another whether physically or verbally, it is hurtful to them to learn that their overtures are unwanted. You take the chance of alienating that person and the discomfort whenever you encounter him/her again.

Don’t stop hugging or enjoying hugs. Just learn to be prudent when engaging in them.

To get you into a hugging mood, here are links to a video offering free hugs and a poem about hugging which are both very moving.

“Free Hugs” Video

“The Hug,” by Tess Gallagher

 ***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Free at Last!

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

CHITCHAT:  I will be giving free public lectures titled: “Reinventing Yourself in Your Senior Years” on the following dates, times, and locations (RSVP REQUIRED):

March 15, 2018, 10:30am, The Samarkand Retirement Community, 2550 Treasure Dr., Santa Barbara, CA 93105, (877) 412-6305,   www.thesamarkand.org/events

April 13, 2018, 1:00pm, Covenant Village of Turlock Retirement Community, 2125 N. Olive Ave, Turlock, CA 95382, (209)-226-4621,   www.covenantvillageofturlock.org/events

Now, on to my blog:

Boo-Boo dragging leashAn oppressive lifestyle can be imposed from without or within. Sometimes, it is the people we live with or the situation we find ourselves in that causes the  oppression. Maybe a spouse or significant other demoralizes us. It could be a parent or a child who is the culprit. We might feel ourselves excessively burdened by our job or daily activities.

Humans are also quite accomplished at weighing themselves down. We might impose impossible-to-meet standards on ourselves or aim for perfection to the point where we always fall short.

If you are living in an ongoing state of oppression no matter how you got there, you must escape for your own well-being. That is easy to say, but so hard to do. Our situation, no matter how burdensome, usually provides us with something that we desire or fear we cannot obtain elsewhere. It could be as basic as  food and shelter. It might be the siren call of social position that binds us. Perhaps it is the fear of forfeiting something precious such as children, income, or even a pet that keeps us there.

It is scary to disengage from a situation that offers us things we crave or fear losing. Yes, walking away is  chancy. “What if‘s“ pop into our mind, usually miring us in the status quo, often for years.

However, if you ever want to break free of those chains that hold you prisoner, you must take a risk. Decide if you want to escape; make your getaway plans; and do it.

Many years ago, I had a friend, Priscilla, who told me that shortly after she married her husband, she realized what a mistake she had made as he proved to be an abusive alcoholic. However, by that time, she was already pregnant and dependent upon him. So, she made her escape plans and spent the next several years carrying them out. Priscilla went to college part-time and got an education so she could find gainful employment. By the time she finally put her plan into effect and left her husband, she had two children. She had also found a good paying job and was able to support herself and her kids.

We’ve all heard about people leaving lucrative employment to start their own business or to take lesser paying work that they find much more fulfilling.  I once had an attorney who handled a case for me.  Years later, when I needed more legal work, I sought him out only to find that he had given up the practice of law and opened a ski shop. He told me that he had never really enjoyed being a lawyer, and that he loved his new venture even though he made far less money.

Don’t just wallow in an oppressive situation. Envision a goal of throwing off that yoke. Make your jailbreak plans and carry them out, even if it takes years.

***

Please forward my blog to anyone who might be interested and post it on your Facebook, Twitter and other social media. To reprint any material, contact me for permission at:  gowergulch@yahoo.com. If you want to be automatically notified when I post a new blog, click on the “Follow” button in the upper right corner of this page and fill in the information. To read my other blog posts, scroll down on this page or click on “Recent Posts” or “Archives” under the Follow button. To opt out of receiving this blog, contact me at the aforementioned email address, let me know, and I’ll remove you from the list.

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Why Does He/She Treat Me So Badly?

This blog is written by Lee Gale Gruen to help Baby Boomers, seniors, and those soon to retire find joy, excitement, and satisfaction in life after retirement. Her public lecture on this subject is titled, “Reinventing Yourself in Your Retirement.” Her memoir, available by clicking here Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class. Click here for her website: http://AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com

Now, on to my blog:

Snarling dog Visual Hunt 5-31-17Have you always been confused as to why your spouse or significant other turns into a snarling dog and treats you with such disdain?  Although in this discussion I’ll talk about partner connections, this type of interaction can occur in other close relationships such as with a parent, child, sibling, boss, mentor, etc. I’ll use the generic masculine tone when referring to your partner, but it can equally apply to both sexes.

You do everything you can to get along, have a peaceful relationship, keep him happy.  You try to shape yourself to his demands and requirements. It may work for awhile when he’s in a good place psychologically, or externally driven factors such as a job, school, finances, etc. are going right for him. However, the fall always comes. Nothing you do satisfies him. You are cast as the bad guy, especially when he needs someone to blame when his life sucks once again.

This scenario may involve your being emotionally abused including being insulted, dismissed, ostracized, etc. You might be given the silent treatment (for hours or even days), a particularly  cunning form of cruelty. Or, you might even be physically abused. It’s like living on a roller coaster. He can be loving and caring or hateful and rejecting, and you never know which version of him is going to show up.

You soon learn to watch for it, always a bit tense even in the best of times. You wait for him to sock-it-to-ya, because you know instinctively that it’s coming sooner or later.

This is typical of the “Battered Woman Syndrome (BWS),” so named because of its frequency in incidents of domestic violence. As I said earlier, men can be the victims of it, too.

Examples of BWS fall on a continuum because each situation is different, some more extreme and some less. You can still be a victim even if no physical violence is involved. Emotional battering can be just as painful; it can be so subtle you can’t even verbalize it, but you feel bad, strange, off-kilter—something doesn’t sit right. It might be a small remark said in public or private that is demeaning but disguised so that the perpetrator can claim, “What are you talking about; you’re crazy?” if you try to call him on it. Behavior such as this is wily, conniving, deliberate, or  passive/aggressive: amiability which conceals antagonism.

You start to feel worthless, baffled why everything you do seems to be wrong. You may doubt your own sanity. It doesn’t dawn on you that your abuser might not be correct  in his assessment of the situation. You buy into whatever he sells, never questioning.

So, why does your loved one behave like that? One contributing reason might be poor self-image—not yours, his. If your partner doesn’t think much of himself, then he probably feels that anyone who cares for him, loves him or respects him must not be much either.

How can anyone love me, I’m such a loser. They must be horrible, undesirable, a loser themselves. So, not only am I despicable, but I’m with this loser.

Thoughts such as these on the part of the victimizer are usually subconscious–ingrained from childhood. This scenario is often played out with partner after partner.

Even if you understand why your mate behaves as he does, that doesn’t alter your interaction. He’s honed this personality for decades, and he doesn’t plan on changing. Not only that, but he has no problem with how he is; only you have a problem.

So, what do you do? As I’ve encouraged many times in past blogs, you must survive. Whether his technique is the subtle type or the go-for-the-jugular, take-no-prisoners model, you must negate his power to control you.

When you get the feeling that you’ve been put down by him, trust your gut! Keep in mind that you are not on this earth so he can play out these types of conscious or subconscious feelings. Refuse to accept that role! Don’t engage. Leave the staging area. Pursue activities apart from him. In extreme cases, you may have to extricate yourself from the relationship entirely to get healthy.

Take charge of your life and your happiness. Don’t be willing to put it into the hands of another, even someone as close as a spouse or significant other.

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