Hi. Anon has posted this comment, and I would like to add my own take on the points she has raised, the main one being how I have been able to lead the life that I decided, in retirement.
I guess you're acting as a bit of a role model for retirement to me actually. Reason being because I've recently discovered that all my family have been assuming that I will be a carer to my mother (and blow my own life in the process) - whereas I have always assumed that retirement meant "leading My Own Life" at last and enjoying myself after all those years of having to earn a living. I'll take courage from you and the way you lead your life on this.
Can I maybe hope that you might do a post on the theme of how you've been able to lead the Life YOU decided in retirement, rather than having to "dance to someone else's beat" - as all hints on that would be more than welcome?
My situation is slightly different from Anon, my father died when I was in my late twenties, and my mother died when I was 37, so the question doesn't arise about who will look after them. Before mum passed away so suddenly, me, my sister, and brother, all took turns at looking after her. I don't know how that would have panned out had she lived for another twenty years. We all had our own independant lives to lead, my brother left the country and found a partner, my sister was married with a family, and I was well into my career. It might have been the case that I was expected to be the stay at home daughter. I suppose I have been let off lightly but I do feel sad that my mother was not around long enough to see how our lives have turned out, and I am not able to thank her for all she did for me. I wish she had had a few more years.
I find the term, 'dance to someone else's beat', rather fascinating. What does it mean exactly. We all have to dance to someone else's beat when we are young, because as children we have no life experiences to guide us. As our personalities develop, our sense of self worth kicks in and can go in many directions, depending on how we are brought up. At one end of the scale, a person who has been constantly belittled and bullied will never be able to assert themselves. On the other hand someone who has been allowed to do exactly as they like with very little parental guidance, will find it a lot easier to speak up for themselves. I think a person has to look at their life as a whole, to determine where they are on the scale now.
In my case, my mother had a set of rules. We got a telling off if we were naughty, even a smack when we were very naughty, but she also gave us lots of love when we were good. We were taught manners, and not to expect to be given everything we wanted. As a child I grew up within clear boundaries, when I started working, the boundaries were still there, but then it was up to me whether I stepped over them or not. I started making my own rules in life based on what my mother had taught me. She was a strong willed woman, choosing to stay in a bad marriage untill we were old enough to understand what a separation would mean. I saw how unhappy she was, I think we should have left the house long before we did. She found us a new place to live which was, to be blunt, a slum, but it was all she could afford. I started paying for my keep the day I started work at 15. Mum at last was able to claim her life back.
Thinking about 'dancing to someone elses beat', when did I ever do that? If you don't have the talents required to become self employed and make your own living, you have to live by the rules of your workplace, up to a point. Throughout my whole life, if I didn't like the job I was doing, I moved on to another one. The world is changing and it's not so easy now.
From a relationship point of view, there were times when I was so besotted with a boyfriend, I would go along with anything he asked, again, up to a point. The trouble was that I was judging boys by their appearance, who wouldn't want to bag the best looking eye candy to dangle over your arm. Later I realised we had absolutely nothing in common and it was time to get out. Often I would chuck them before they had a chance to chuck me. When you dance to someone else's beat you give away a part of you, and it can't go on forever.
There was a period of about three years when I did dance to someone else's beat, I was a bloody idiot and I should have known better that to waste my precious time on someone who wanted total control over me. I went along with him for a while, I played his game, thinking he might change. But of course I now realise that you can't change how a person behaves, you can only change how you deal with it. I had to leave him for my own sanity. Beware of mind games, beware of control freaks, you will never win unless you get out.
I am often amazed at how many people find themselves in a situation that they don't want to be in. They go along with other people's plans, because it is what is expected of them, just to keep the peace. I am a firm believer in sitting down and making time to talk a problem over, be it with a partner or a family. If it can't be resolved then the two parties should agree to go their different ways. No point in dragging out the agony. Everybody is entitled to lead the life they want, but it may not tie in with what someone else wants, I'm not saying don't make any compromises, it wouldn't do if we were all hard nuts in this world, out for what we can get. There has to be a bit of give and take, but if you are doing all the giving and someone else is doing all the taking, that is not the right balance and a swift end should be brought to the situation. Resentment only festers anger, and rather than drag out the agony, then find you have just wasted the last ten years of your life, is going to make you feel pretty bitter.
Now, I don't dance to anyone's beat, I have got a pretty good beat of my own, thank you. Gone are the days of my silly heart ruling my head, now I make sound, sensible decisions, based on what I have learnt from my life experiences, and my simple aspirations. Basically, I just want to be happy.
Anon. I hope you find the strength to do as you think best. Your decision is one you will have to live with. Best wishes. Ilona