Sunday, 10 March 2013

Do as you think best.

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

19 comments:

  1. Ilona, this is the best advice ever. Young folks should be made to read this and not make silly relationship mistakes with their lives.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Virginia. I think it's inevitable that young folk make relationship mistakes, I made a few wrong choices in my selection of boyfriends. I didn't however marry the wrong one, possibly because I saw what would happen if two people were not in tune with each other.

      Delete
  2. You seem to have life well sussed out Ilona.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Some very good advise there.
    Carolx

    ReplyDelete
  4. A great post, Ilona -- you speak from the heart, with such sense and also sensitivity. Thank you. x

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ilona, Isn't it a shame that humans seem unable to learn from others' mistakes and must make their own, at least in the younger years. The good news is that we do learn who we are and how we want our lives to be and with luck and hard work we have a chance of having that life. Would that we all were so grounded as you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We might not all get off to a good start, there will be a few hiccups along the way, but the good news is that's it's never too late to change direction and put things right.

      Delete
  6. My advice to anon would be to establish some boundaries with regards to other family members expectations concerning mother. If they think they can shame, coerce and generally brow-beat you into taking some sort of responsibility for another member of the family other than your own child or husband then you must resist this. You have to be single-minded about this otherwise you life will be hell and you will only have yourself to blame.
    If you mean by "dancing to someone else beat" giving up you own plans and desires that is not good but if you live with someone their needs and desire have to considered at least.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thank you sooooo much for today's posting,it has hit home tremendously for me! I spent a month over near to my daughters on an Island off the coast and enjoyed being near to them. Since I have come home, I have had guilt over the fact that I live so far away from them, however, I have a circle of friends and comings and goings that I have established here where I live, plus the climate is so much easier on my bones. I have been torn apart with indecision about selling my home and moving there and after reading your post, I have decided to leave well enough alone and stay where I am happy and healthy - leaving things as they are best for me. Thanks so much!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am pleased that you found something usefull in my post, Marie. The truth is that not all families are destined to live in each others pockets. There are no rules saying saying you have to live close to your children, or parents. Marie, your daughters are grown women, they have their own lives, you have brought them up and you still have a life of your own.

      One day you might wake up in the morning and say, hey, I'm off to that island, now is the right time. Don't say never, it's just not now.

      Delete
  8. I agree with everything you said Ilona. I've made mistakes like everyone and it has been a hard learning curve sometimes. I've also watched my daughter and son being in wrong relationships etc, but thankfully they are both where they want to be now and I like to think that me and their dad have had some influence on what cracking people they have turned out to be. We all have to find our own way in this world and without being selfish or unbending, think of what we want to do for ourselves.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm pleased that your son and daughter have found their niche. All due to your support and guidance, I'm sure.

      Delete
  9. Jan here.Interesting and sensitivley written post,thank you.Everyones life is different and has to be lived in the way they feel is best.Hopefully,we all do the best we can in the circumstances we find ourselves in.However,to do what is 'expected' or imposed rarely serves anyones best interests.Giving from choice means that we can give from the heart,without resentment and is,I believe,apparant to the recepitant.Being forced into the role of carer or being made to feel guilty if it is not right to do so to make a third party feel better,seems inapropriate and not likely to work.We all have to live our own lives and be true to ourselves.I think it is right to follow your intuition and far more likely to benefit the person you care about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right Jan. To be forced into being a carer will cause resentment, no one should be made to feel guilty if that is the role they chose not to take on.

      Delete
  10. That is a very difficult situation to be in. Of course, the adult children should all discuss this matter together, thoroughly, and come to a decision that is agreed by all.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I think you handled this brilliantly, as usual!
    When my own Mother was in need of family to start the long process of taking care of her, i declined. I had three children, one a newborn. I took over the paperwork/money aspect, so i felt i helped in that way. We all have to make the best decision for US. (I have three younger sisters. Two helped care for our Mother, before she went into a nursing home. The third sister didn't do anything. We're all still speaking to each other.) I must say, i cried a river of tears, but it was the best decision for MY family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you momsav. What works for some may not work for others, and you reached a good compromise by talking to each other.

      I grew up with half a family, never knew any of my German relations. On the English side we were sometimes included in aunts and uncles get togethers, but often were not because we didn't have any transport. My parents were never called upon to help out with any family matters, we were not what you might call a close knit family. In that respect, I don't expect any of my family to rally round if I need help.

      Delete
  12. Hi

    Well that's certainly introduced some food for thought there. Obviously, we all have different life circumstances, and I personally do believe that account needs to be taken of marriage vows (ie those ones about "for richer for poorer...in sickness and in health") and someone is promising to take on a lot when they make those vows (as it's never possible to know what the future holds). As I see it, there are several major type decisions in peoples lives - people decide whether to marry someone or whether to have children. It's quite right too that people should give a lot of thought to such major actions as marriage and children.

    However, another equally huge potentially lifechanging decision - ie that of being a carer - seems to be something people just find themselves getting edged into gradually. They first do a bit of helping, then a bit more, then a bit more and somewhere along the line realisation dawns that they have become a carer (ie to someone other than a spouse or their children) and they never actually got asked or volunteered to be. It just happened and their own lives changed as a result. The generation of people currently being cared for are the last generation where children just "turned up" even if the parents didnt particularly want them - but the children shouldnt be blamed for that fact and expected to turn into a carer to someone who maybe never particularly wanted them originally and maybe doesnt actually have anything in common with them, etc. Those of us who are in our early 60s downwards are very fortunate that we have/had the free choice as to whether to have children or no and are likely to take a very different attitude as to whether we would think that our children (if we have any) have a duty to care for us whether they like it or no. Those of us who have never had children know there simply won't be anyone available to care for us anyway if we are single or widowed and that we have no option but to make our own arrangements to ensure we are safe one way or another and I think that may be part of where differences of opinion lie - in that we have always thought of ourselves as independent and needing to look after ourselves (rather than having the expectations of many of the generation before us - that its the grown-up childrens duty to care for us, even if they know they werent wanted/arent even particularly liked or approved of by the aged parent). Its probably the biggest Generation Gap there has ever been in recorded history - because of just how much our lives/expectations have changed in between the generation now in their 80s and the generation now in our 50s/60s.

    You are right Ilona that there are many different circumstances in which people end up "dancing to someone else's beat" and romantic relationships are one of them. I think most of us have probably ended up dating someone controlling at some point or other and its the fortunate ones of us who realised in time and never married/lived with them.

    regards
    the original "anonymous" that sparked off this post

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thank you for for coming back to this topic, Anon. You summarize perfectly.

    ReplyDelete



Comment moderation is switched ON at the moment to block spammers. Your comment will be posted after I have checked it. Thank you.