That Was Then And This Is Now.

Everybody has a story. After realising that it’s exactly four years since I started writing a dating blog, maybe it’s time to explain why I started it in the first place.

Five years ago I sold up everything to start a new life abroad, my dream of thirty years was finally going to happen and I couldn’t wait. Having lived in Gibraltar in the early 80’s I always said that at some point I would go back there to live, so once the children had grown up and started their own lives it was now my time to fly. Having sold my house I moved in temporarily with my son in Salford while I set the wheels in motion to start my next chapter. As I’d been going over to Gib on a regular basis I’d managed to secure a job in a restaurant on the marina and was hoping to start at Easter, so in the meantime I took a temporary Christmas job at the local supermarket.

So far so good. It was all coming together, I could feel it, see it, taste it I was so close.

I was kept on at the supermarket and that was fine, it gave me something to do while I counted down the days to getting on the plane to start my new life and just before I gave a month’s notice I double checked with the manager I’d been dealing with at the restaurant, to make sure I was still starting at Easter as I was about to give my notice in. “Of course!” she said. So it was all systems go, I’d found a one bed flat to rent near to the beach and was getting ready to send the deposit when in the last week of working my notice I received a message on Facebook from one of the ladies who worked at the restaurant. She told me that it would seem that no one knew I was going to be working there and I was to ring the manager as the one I’d been dealing with hadn’t bothered to tell anyone. I rang Mark the manager who was obviously the one I should have been speaking to in the first place and we had a very painful conversation where he told me that unfortunately there was no job. No problem. I was still adamant about going as I knew I’d get a job and I already had accommodation sorted once I sent the deposit but the landlord had other ideas. Unfortunately no one would rent me anything without a job and as accommodation is scarce in Gibraltar I wasn’t prepared to take the chance and just go over this time like I did all those years ago, you get a bit more cautious when you’re older. Luckily for me I was able to keep my job at the supermarket  but to say I was disappointed I hadn’t gone is an understatement.

Obviously I now had to find somewhere new to live in Salford and this is how I’ve ended up sharing a flat with my lovely gay housemate. Once I’d got my head around the fact that I was now going to have to start a new life in Salford part of that was going to be dating so he helped me to set up a profile on dating sites. After a few bad dates I started a blog which has led to so many other things that sometimes I can’t quite believe it myself.

But here we are and I’m still looking for a guy who has both hair and a sense of humour, but I’ve accepted that my job is most likely going to my last one, I’ve accepted that I’ll be living here in Salford for a while yet but that’s fine. I don’t regret moving away from a place I’d lived in for over two decades as I still feel I had to take that chance. It might not have worked out in the way I thought I wanted but I still had to try and I don’t regret that. Yes it’s hard trying to start a new life in a place where you don’t know anyone, especially when you’re over 50, but I’m happy. It would seem that Madonna’s not the only one who can reinvent herself.

As for Gibraltar? I never ever think about it now.

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That’s Not My Name

Everybody has a name. It was given to you by your parents when you were born, and sometimes at school your name might be changed to a nickname but legally your name is what it says on your birth certificate, unless as a woman you change it to your husband’s surname  when you get married. Believe it or not it’s not compulsory to do this, it’s not the law but most women do it as “it’s easier”, not sure how but it does seem to be expected.

After the initial excitement of writing out your new name wears off, a new bride might start to feel a bit strange. It’s a bit like having a new identity but you’re not sure what this new one’s about and the weird thing is that after a while you miss having your old name mainly because that name is associated with everything you’ve ever done. That name is what every person you ever met knew you as, friends from school, first boyfriend, first job, first holiday with the girls etc. That name defined who you were and it’s sometimes really difficult to get used to being someone else, although a new married name can sometimes bring it’s own firsts such as a house, new baby, new set of friends and a new life.

One of the first things some women want to do though if she gets divorced is to revert straight back to her maiden name. It’s a way of reclaiming back her identity and moving on from a failed marriage and it is actually a straightforward process, but some women hesitate if they have children, only because they won’t have the same surname as their kids. I thought long and hard about this one and decided to still use my married name but the thing is this. I’ve now had my married name longer than I had my maiden name but I’ve always been the same person. With my married name I feel that I’ve done so much more even though I’ve been divorced for years, but that name now is who I am and I will never change it even if Prince Charming’s grandad comes along to sweep me off my feet. Luckily for me I still have friends who knew me long ago before any us were married. A different life, a different name, and different men and whenever I meet any of them we’re all right back there, we remember who we used to be when we had a maiden name,  young women who were fearless, confident, optimistic, giddy, thinking that we’ll never get old as we were far too cool for that. Over 35 years later and we all still think we’re the same now as we were then. Changing your name (or the passage of time) shouldn’t change who you are.

Life’s far too short for that.

 

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In A Parallel Universe.

People like to think they have people sussed, usually according to age and lifestyle, personally I would like to read that stone where the law is set as to where you should be in various stages of life, but especially when you get to my age. Age brings life experience and sometimes things happen that change everything, so I have learned not to plan too far in advance while trying to steer things in the right direction. Without going into too much detail I’m living a life that I never expected, but I also appreciate that other women my age would have sleepless nights if they found themselves in my position, whereas I’m just trying to roll with the punches.

I know that if certain things hadn’t happened I would have been living a different life, not necessarily a better one, just a different one.

Maybe I would be married to the same man for 30 years, living in the same house we bought when we had two small children. Hopefully the mortgage was paid off and we were enjoying the high life after working hard for years, possibly cashing in a couple of pensions to pay for our many cruises.

Maybe we would be with the same circle of friends that we met on a regular basis, with trips to London, Barcelona, and a holiday at someone’s villa in Spain, while not forgetting the many weddings, christenings and family parties that we were all invited to.

Maybe I’m semi-retired, still working at the same job at the same place that I’ve worked at for over 25 years, but because I only do a couple of days a week , it means I can help out at the local charity shop and can join a few committees making my community a safer/better place to live.

Maybe I’m still married but unhappy, as it’s difficult to leave when you’ve built a life together over a number of years. Some people are reluctant to give up the trappings of what they consider to be a successful life

But I don’t live that life. I work full time, don’t own my own home and live with my gay housemate in a vibrant city where there’s lots going on. I work in a place that has enabled me to meet some interesting people, and I know if I was living my alternative life we wouldn’t have met. I do things now (when I have the time) that would not have been possible at one time and have to say I’m loving it, take that as you will and if someone had told me 5 years ago that this is where I’d be I would never have believed it.

But I will say this.

As a middle aged woman we are generally ignored and expected to exist rather than live no matter which life we lead, we’re on everyone’s peripheral vision but actually not seen which means we would make exceptional spies, private detectives or shoplifters. We have no opinion worth listening to, know nothing, and are generally treated as a bit of a nuisance but obviously we know better. In the grand scheme of things I’d rather be me, right here, right now and while most (usually younger) people think older people have no valid input, not only have we got the t-shirt but it’s probably been wrapped around someone’s neck but think on. If you’re really lucky, you’ll be me some day and who said older women should be (not even) seen and not heard? Sod that.

 

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Shhh….You’re Showing Your Age.

I don’t usually follow mummy bloggers as they’re not really relevant to my life, seeing as I don’t need to know where I can buy a headband for Lucy that matches Freddie’s socks for a party, or which cotton buds are the best to use, but now and again I do read a couple of the mummy blogs who had their children when they were over 30 and unfortunately, a couple of them lately seem to have a similar theme. Talking about not being afraid of getting older, we should be looking forward to it as we’re all so fabulous and we’ll always be this way, so what if society doesn’t like older people  we shall make them notice us, blah blah bloody blah.

You haven’t got a clue as to what it’s really like to be a woman in her 50’s.

I used to be you. I used to be a younger vibrant woman with 2.4 kids living with a husband who goes out to work while I had a part time job, but back then I wasn’t blogging about what to give your kids for breakfast as there was no internet and I’m not actually sure that I would have been to be honest. A woman in her 30’s is a lot more confident than a woman in her 20’s and it’s easy to adopt the mindset of really not caring too much about getting older and as much as I love that idea the truth is a bit different.

Getting older doesn’t happen overnight, it’s a slow insidious process that you don’t really notice until one day you look in the mirror and see your mother looking back at you. You’ve accepted that you no longer turn heads when walking down the street, you’re now probably the last person to be served at the bar (when did that happen? You used to be the first!) your opinion isn’t valued anymore as what could you possibly know at your age? You use the anti ageing creams, still take an interest in clothes and make up, maybe had a little help with botox and fillers but no, you’re still wearing that invisibility cloak that someone threw over you when you weren’t looking. But it’s not just about the visible signs of ageing that we have to contend with.

Getting older also means you’ve probably experienced a few life changing events, and getting divorced is one of them. No one gets married to get divorced and while the writing’s probably been on the wall for a long time before you actually make that life changing decision (9 times out of 10 the woman will want the divorce) it’s a horrible thing to go through, especially with children involved and your confidence will have taken a huge knock. Not many people come through it unscathed but hopefully you’ll have had lots of support.

Getting older also means having to go through menopause.This is a bit like being a teenager with the mood swings and crying for absolutely no reason due to the massive hormonal change that’s happening in your body, and even though you know damn well you’re being ridiculous you just can’t help it. For some women this can be a very traumatic time as this can go on for a few years.

And let’s not even start on health issues.

Which brings me to the very real “empty nest syndrome”. Any women who have had children will always say that they’re looking forward to the day when the kids leave home and at the time they will mean it. No more mess, loud music, picking them up from here there and everywhere, teenage tantrums, a procession of different boyfriends/girlfriends that you’re having trouble remembering their name, until it happens. Usually they’ve gone to Uni, or moved out to live with friends and after a few weeks when it feels like a holiday the reality sets in. They’re not coming back. Wandering aimlessly through the house with time to kill because now you’re not washing/ironing/cooking for them is a lonely time for some women. All these years you’ve been defined as being a mother, even though you’ve probably worked, but because you’ve been so busy with the kids, friendships might have been neglected, or you could have moved to a new place in the past couple of years or have had to look after an ill relative, all these things have contributed to where you are now. Lonely, older, and wondering what the hell life has to offer now.

So while you younger women might pay lip service to us fabulous older women, the truth is we had to coax that young, independent, confident and fearless woman that we used to be, to come out and show herself again in order for us to appreciate and enjoy our life. Picking up pieces that we didn’t actually drop but had slipped through our grasp, finding our way again to where we felt we belonged, and as our confidence grew it enabled us to become the fabulous creature that you see today. I understand what these younger ladies are trying to say and years ago I’m pretty certain I said the same thing, but as much as we all like to think we’re going to stick two fingers up to society when we get older the truth is, by the time you get to middle age, you’re just grateful to still be here.

 

 

Shh

 

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