Every Time I Drop a Spouse, I Blossom

Blossoming FlowersThis is a blog written by Lee Gale Gruen aimed at helping Baby Boomers and seniors find more joy, excitement, and satisfaction in their lives after retirement from a job, career, parenting, etc. Her memoir, available on Amazon.com, is: Adventures with Dad: A Father and Daughter’s Journey Through a Senior Acting Class (click on this link for the book website: AdventuresWithDadTheBook.com)

Someone emailed me recently suggesting I write a blog about suddenly finding yourself single in your senior years. She is in her late sixties and getting a divorce.

Loss of a partner be it a spouse, live-in relationship, or significant other, and whether by death, divorce, mutual agreement, etc, is a blow at any age, but maybe even more so in your later years when your resiliency has decreased. Such a shift is a major passage of life; we face the unknown future alone, scared, naked and shaking. I’ve experienced it twice in my life, and what I’ve found is that no matter how hard it seemed at the time, my life eventually became better than before.

I’m certainly not advocating termination of a relationship if each party is enhanced by it. However, in my case, I blossomed after my two divorces. I found myself freed from a constraining existence which only served to restrict and diminish me. After the initial shock, fear, and devastation, I gathered my resources, struck out on my own, and flourished. The first time, I became much more independent, made new friends, and learned to ski. The second time, many years later and as a senior, I became an actress, author, motivational speaker and blogger—whew!

Although I make it sound easy, it was anything but. Each blossoming happened slowly over some years, and there were a lot of periods of self-doubt, misgivings, and lack of motivation. However, I finally did it, and I can honestly say that those new, wonderful things in my life would not have occurred within those marriages.

Divorce or a breakup of any type of relationship usually happens when it changes from one of nourishment and support to one of toxicity and isolation. If the deterioration comes gradually, we at least have time to get used to it. If the termination was sudden such as in the case of an unexpected death, the devastation can seem much worse. Nevertheless, in both instances, even if the relationship was positive, there might be an element of relief if it made you feel oppressed and stifled, or forced you into the role of submissive underling (laborer to his/her CEO), full-time caretaker, etc.

Regardless of the reason you find yourself single, the healing process is the same. After grieving the loss, you must look inside yourself at your strengths (yes, you have them) and move forward with the goal of becoming healthy. You may have to alter your lifestyle: lower your standard of living, move to other quarters, find a job. However, in the process, you might find those strengths you never knew you had.

Go check out that local senior center you’ve heard about. Sign up for a class others have mentioned or sounded intriguing. Take a trip with a friend or group. Follow up on a hobby, pastime, or something you always thought you might try some day but never had the time.

As I’ve emphasized so many times in my blogs, you have choices. You can become mired in your grief and turn it into a life-style, constantly discussing it with everyone you encounter until they start avoiding you. Or, you can proceed to carve out that new identity for yourself and blossom. This is your chance!

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “Every Time I Drop a Spouse, I Blossom

  1. When I was much younger, I was involved for four years with a man 19 years my senior. I came to describe the relationship as the peaks or the pits — there was nothing in between. He would break off with me often, for reasons you’d find laughable if I went into them, and we’d stay apart for three months. During some of those times, I was seeing a psychologist, a young woman who had lost her husband two years earlier to a lengthy illness and was just looking to get back to dating. She said to me, “When you’re not with him, you’re an example of my ideal single woman. But when you’re back with him, you’re like a different person.” Your post hit a nerve, Lee Gale.

    • Yes, it seems we very evolved animals with our superior intelligence just can’t get through life without some relationship issues adding to the stress and anguish it takes merely to survive. Although we each have a different journey, the similarities are glaring. Fortunately, lots of us grew from the experience.

  2. Sheila Sauber

    Hi Lee Gale, Happy New Year! Your blog is right on. I have 4 neighbor friends around 80 yes old who were widowed last year and all 4 have done so well for reasons you mention. I’m off to Atlanta for 10 days to see my daughter/granddaughters/son in law. Maybe When I return we can do dinner again with Joyce. Be well. Sheila

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

  3. …a good topic LGG.
    I’ve been married 4 times. During my previous 3 marriages, I found my way to the exit when I recognized we were having a deja-vu argument..one where an unresolved issue kept arising in a variety of different disguises. This usually meant it was a core issue with us and couldn’t be resolved unless someone gave up something that was essential to their sense of self. I left behind houses and other material things to avoid having to reconnect by arguing over them. I also found that I became more adept at recognizing a relationship that wasn’t going anywhere so I hit the abort button to save us both time and energy. My present wife and I have been married 27 years. I finally got it right!

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