Setting High Standards

This article from 2011 came across my FaceBook news feed this morning. It rang very true for me, especially when I wrote earlier that I believe I suffer from low self-esteem and that is why I settled for the men I did when I got married.

The article is entitled, We Date At the Level Of Our Self-EsteemThe article states, if you don’t love, honor and cherish yourself, you will settle.

As women in our 50s, whether married or not, we need to love ourselves, know who we are, set high standards and not settle. Whether it’s in a romantic relationship, a friend relationship or even relationships at work.

If you are still trying to figure out who you are and what it is that you want for this latter portion of your life, start by making a list of your goals or things that you want in your life. Then break this list down by years–what do you hope to accomplish in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years and 10. Then break that down–in order to accomplish this in 1 year, I will need to do this each month or have this accomplished in 3 months, etc. Here is an example:

One-Year Goal: Lose 35 pounds: 3-5 pounds/month

  • Exercise 6x per week for 30-40 minutes: start with 3x per week for one month, add one day for each month thereafter, building up to 6x per week by six months
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables/day: replace nightly snack of ice cream with an apple for one month, then replace another unhealthy snack with carrots and humus in second month and so on

So, if you break it down, it doesn’t seem to be quite as overwhelming. At the end of every weekend, I say to myself, “I am going to start my diet tomorrow, and I’m going to the gym every day and working out for an hour.” I do it for one or two days, and then I’m back to my old habits. Realistically, who can go from barely working out at all to working out 6 days a week? It’s like giving up every bad habit you have cold turkey! That’s enough to send anyone into a tail spin! Set the goal, break it down and work your way up (or down). Yes, it takes a while longer to get there, but the result will be one that will stick.

Then, once you’ve reached your goal, you will love and cherish yourself, knowing that you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. When you continue to slip back into old habits, you beat up on yourself, which leads to the thought process of “I’m no good. Can’t succeed at anything,” and if you don’t think highly of yourself, who will?

Finally, make sure you revisit your goals–write them down in a notebook that you can carry with you. Read them daily, weekly, monthly. Remind yourself what your intentions are and then seek to obtain them!

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50 and Divorced

Referred to as the “Gray” or “Silver” divorce, the number of divorcees in their 50s is on the rise. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 17 percent of people age 50+ were either divorced or separated as of 2011. A 2014 Bowling Green State University study indicates that more than 1 in 4 people who are in divorced are 5o years of age or older.

According to these studies, our baby boomer generation doesn’t hold the same beliefs in the sanctity of marriage as our parents did. Baby boomers want to have it all–follow their hears, so to speak, and with new medical procedures, we can look younger longer. While part of the baby boomer generation, if you have read my story, I didn’t get divorced because I “wanted it all” or was a restless baby boomer. I divorced because of addiction and abuse.

But, the repercussions of divorce in your 50s are numerous, especially for women. Financial hardships being the most obvious. I, for example, am divorced and still have a child to put through college. I don’t envision being able to retire at age 65. Many lose their support systems–couple friends that they have had most of their married lives are no longer there. Many end up feeling lonely with no one to call should they need company, support or physical help.

It’s important as women that we find a strong support network. Just the other day, my back went out on me, and I literally had to crawl to my bed. The fact that I was alone was scary, and my son joked that he was going to have to get me “life alert”. I didn’t find that any too humorous.

But the realities are there. Being single in your 50s, you don’t have the same resources as single women in their 20s or 30s. Our health will begin to fail, and we don’t have as long to build a retirement nest egg. Keeping yourself healthy by exercising and eating right is essential, and keeping your mind young and your business skills fresh, particularly in the area of technology, is also essential.

 

And Now, the Rest of the Story

So for 13 years, I was married to a man with an addiction, and it was after my mother died, that I decided to move on. Divorce was considered taboo in my family, and now that both my parents had passed away, well, there was nothing stopping me from finally moving on to greener pastures. I had a wonderful son from this marriage, who was only five-years-old when I decided to leave. He was my main concern, but I knew at the end of the day, this was not a healthy environment for him to grow up in.

The time was before Internet dating, and I was fortunate enough to have some friends introduce me to another friend of theirs’…someone they had known their whole lives. That being said, how could I go wrong. He was funny, didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. He seemed very nice, but as time went on, there were some red flags. He was a bit controlling, overly jealous and he had no real love for my son. Regardless, once again, I thought this was the best I could do, and definitely an improvement over the last.

But, this marriage was filled with emotional and verbal abuse. Both my son and I were victims of it. In addition, he sexually assaulted me throughout our marriage–blackmailing me to have sex with him. If it wasn’t blackmail, it was put downs or insinuations that I was having affairs and that’s why I didn’t want to have sex. I, unfortunately, did not recognize what was going on until my daughter brought home information from her health class at school and said, “Dad does every single one of these things,” as she pointed to the characteristics of verbal abuse. I literally thought everything was my fault, and I kept trying harder and harder to please him so that he wouldn’t get mad. I covered for my son–taking the garbage out if he forgot so that my husband wouldn’t yell at him. We sought out numerous counselors, all of which told him and me that HE was the problem. He would agree, say he wanted to change, but nothing changed. Then one night he accused me of having sex with my son. He accused me in front of our 12-year-old daughter, and I said, “That’s it–get out,” and I never looked back at my decision.

Yes, we had a daughter, who is actually now 17. She’s amazing–actually both of my children are. Given the circumstances that they have had to grow up in, they have beat the odds and have turned out to be just about perfect. People tell me all the time what a great job I have done and that I am a wonderful mother. I would like to take all the credit, but somehow I think it’s God’s way of giving me sunshine through the darkness.

So, that’s my story. I have now been officially divorced from my second husband for about three years. He had a girlfriend before our divorce was even final, and he’s still with her today. I often wonder if she has to deal with the same treatment that I did. I, on the other hand, have not dated at all. I’ve been busy raising my daughter, but I’ve also been scared. Scared that I don’t even know what a healthy relationship looks like. Scared that I’m not attractive to the opposite sex. Scared that I will settle again.

My daughter will be leaving for college in two weeks, and now for the first time, literally, in my entire life, I will be alone. It’s my time now to figure out who I am, what I want and then get it and become what I aspire to be.