Sixty something and living alone 23



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I came home from work one day to find my husband gone. All he left me was an empty bank account, a large mortgage and a sticky note to order me not to try and contact him. Five years later and sixty something years old, I live with my little dog in a rented unit in a suburb of Hobart, Tasmania. Now I am here to tell you what it’s like. There are I imagine, thousands of us who have been “left holding the bag” so to speak, both men and women. This is my experience.

After the initial shock of my husband of over twenty years – my first ever childhood boyfriend, the father of my sons – leaving, I faced a dilemma. But not to go into all the dramas, I found myself bankrupt and in a low-paid job. All I had worked for to have a better life in retirement and to give a little something to my children, was gone. So I hope you understand when I tell you for a long time I went to bed every night dreaming of the sort of torture I could inflict on my ex, or at least hoping a truck backed over him.

But to get back to me. Eventually I left my job of over ten years and moved closer to my youngest son. It didn’t occur to me I wouldn’t get another job. Hey, I was only sixty, had some qualifications and not too stupid I thought. Wrong! According to the powers that be, I was over qualified, under qualified and shock horror, too old. I wasn’t and am not too old but maybe over qualified (wink wink) or probably a little stupid? Of course by now I had been diagnosed with Chronic Bronchitis. No biggy, but it does stop you from breathing properly, just a minor setback. Who needs to breathe properly anyway right? I could still work in non exertion type jobs, which were what I was applying for anyway, but just not so many hours. Two years down the track, I still look at the jobs sections and still apply periodically but I’m not holding my breath and with the way I breathe, I figure that is a good thing.

So I live on my own with a little dog for company. It’s not perfect but it’s my life. There are days when I struggle. There are days when I see or talk to no-one but my puppy. There are days when finances allow that I treat myself to a movie or an outing with my friend Debbie, who by the way, I only met through SAS and has sometimes been my saviour. I get up every morning and go to bed every night in my little unit with my little dog. I wonder how my kids are doing and I wonder if something will be different the next day. What I don’t wonder about is whether someone else will have to be taken into consideration when I cook, or if I don’t feel like making the bed. As a woman (no offence to you men out there), my bathroom and toilet are always nice and clean and smelling sweet, if you know what I mean. I suit myself when I get up or go to bed or eat and if I want a wine or two, I don’t have to worry about anyone frowning at me.

Life on your own can be daunting in this unforgiving world of today, especially if you are over sixty and a little more so for a woman I think. If you don’t have a healthy bank account, it’s hard, if you can’t get work, it’s hard, if your kids forget you are alive, it’s hard. You often wonder what will become of you if you suddenly take very ill or run out of money or can’t afford the rent. You suddenly have to be very careful what food you buy and learn how to stretch the budget to breaking point and beyond. After all, you are alone. Some people will say it’s easy; maybe it is. I have never shied away from “hard” but just once in awhile I’d like it to be a little easier.

You see, most of the time I am alone, but not lonely. But some of the time, loneliness sets in. Most of the time, I don’t mind so much that I don’t know where I will get the money for the car rego, but some of the time frustration sets in. Most of the time I optimistically think about what it will be like on my overseas holiday or when my young gorgeous cowboy finds his cougar and runs off with me.

For now though, I’ll settle for some food in the fridge and warmth coming out of the heater. I’ll settle for clean bathroom and a nice long call from my kids. I’ll settle for stretching out on both sides of the bed, when my little dog allows me to. It’s hard for some of us living alone, but only some of the time. I think life is full of surprises so keep looking for them. To all of you out there living alone and struggling at times, chin up, head high and remember. It could be worse, you could be the one my ex ran off with.

Share your thoughts below.

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Fran Spears

Born in 1953. Came to Hobart from the north west coast of Tassie to be closer to my son as I have mild chronic bronchitis. Mild and chronic in same sentence – even that makes me laugh. Have just completed and passed my diploma in Public Relations. Love to write and have lead a reasonably interesting life. My motto: "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"

  1. Good for you Fran. I took on a relationship as I didn’t want to be lonely but he has been ill ever since we married so I am virtually just a nursemaid most of the time. Have bad days where I think what if this is all there is but each day brings forth surprises which keeps you on your toes! I have given myself my own bedroom so I understand completely where you’re coming from. Keep your sense of humour going strong and laugh at the world at least once every day. And most of all know that you’re not on your own especially with this lovely website.

  2. Hi Fran
    Loved your writing about your life.
    I am sixty and left my drunk husbard 10 years ago.
    At least we have peace and clean toilets!!
    Loved my dog too more than the ex.
    Anger and bitter thoughts are left me now.
    Just so grateful i have a clear life.
    I find my garden and growing things my refuge.
    Keep well
    Warm regards

    1 REPLY
    • Trish here. Forget about the cowboy.. All the boys are is extra work. They want a mother figure to do the housework. Like you chronic ill health. When I am too sick to cook he does it ( for himself) as I am too sick to eat. But still leaves the dishes for me to face when I get up. He was away working out of town for 3 months. Absolutely bliss :-). . Be careful what u wish for haha. Sure can be nice to have company etc. And when I have bouts of reasonable health ( rarely). Doing all the housework doesn’t bother me. Being alone has its benefits 🙂

  3. I have virtually never lived alone. I have either had my family, my marriage and kids or just kids when marriage broke down.
    I got remarried a couple of times but these didn’t work. I seem to be destined to live alone in the foreseeable future, (I am currently living with my son – short term) and it scares me on one hand and I’m quite looking forward to it on the other hand.
    I don’t want to be a single but it is nearly impossible to find a man that doesn’t have baggage or ulterior motives and I think my trust has been broken to a state of disrepair 😳 Sad because life is 100% better when in a committed loving relationship.

    1 REPLY
    • No it isn’t 100% better in a commited relationship. Before you can live with someone else you need to be able to live with yourself. Learn to stand on your own two feet and appreciate your own good points – that way, someone may come in that can appreciate them too. if not, you’ll be able to to,erate your own company. You don’t need another person to validate yourself.

      1 REPLY
      • Totally agree with you Joan. I’ve lived alone for 12 years now and thoroughly enjoy it. Only occasionally would like some company.

  4. Hi Fran I’m on my own have been for 2.5 years I’m 62 I work as a aged care worker part time. I have had a lot of relationships that have not worked so now I choose to stay on my own as I’m not good at it and will not trust another man. I like to go out once a month this gets me out of a rut. If I don’t go out occasionally then start to get a bit sick of my own company. Yes sometimes I might get a bit lonely but would rather be that way than be in a bad relationship. Fran you could try working in aged care its not for everyone I go to there homes I find this better than nursing homes. I have some beautiful clients I’ve grown to love. You do have to do a course but its not that long. I live in Glenorchy, there us a social group called meetup its world wide and often have social events and u get to meet a lot of different people and they have different aged groups.

  5. I’m not alone and Im so pleased to be one of the lucky ones however it is nice to have some alone me time but that’s easy knowing someone is there for you to share the goings on throughout the week.
    I’m in my seventies and have gone down to part time work and haven’t retired as I love the challenge and the company of my colleagues of various age groups and I relate to them across the age gap very well I would love to retire and try a break but would not be able to return as the age does have barriers which are hard to break down, I feel pleased to be doing what I do but for how long I’m not sure ,I am often asked When are you going to retire. I can honestly reply I don’t know, as like others out there I need company and dontbwantvto be lonely.

  6. I’m not alone and Im so pleased to be one of the lucky ones however it is nice to have some alone me time but that’s easy knowing someone is there for you to share the goings on throughout the week.
    I’m in my seventies and have gone down to part time work and haven’t retired as I love the challenge and the company of my colleagues of various age groups and I relate to them across the age gap very well I would love to retire and try a break but would not be able to return as the age does have barriers which are hard to break down, I feel pleased to be doing what I do but for how long I’m not sure ,I am often asked When are you going to retire. I can honestly reply I don’t know, as like others out there I need company and dontbwantvto be lonely.

  7. Been by myself for nearly 2 years. Hubby passed ,. He was on Dialysis for 10 years . I was his carer for about 15 years . I felt really lonely but after nearly 2 years I am getting used of it . Would rather be by myself than be a slave to anyone.

  8. I’ve lived alone for many years but rarely feel lonely. I gues when I’m sick is the worst time to be on your own. Sadly we can’t have pets where I live. I’d love to have a cat. Keeping in touch with family and friends is vital. Having hobbies or activities is important. Life can be rich and full. It’s your attitude that counts.

  9. I left my husband nearly 10 years ago, should have about 8 years before, thankfully an uncle left me a few dollars which enabled me to do so. I left with my car, some furniture and belongings and moved to Perth where I lived on my own for the first time in my life which was heavenly. I found work and great friends and thoroughly enjoyed the lifestyle. Five years later anxiety and depression hit me and it has taken me until now to be in that comfortable place again. I moved from WA to Vic in 2013 to be near my youngest daughter and have now found a very comfortable life in central Victoria with a beautiful furry friend, a 9 yo Springer Spaniel who is the best companion I could have and makes me walk every day. I enjoy living alone, have not been in a relationship for several years and I am far from lonely. Like the others have said, I please myself what and when I do as I please and if my little unit is a mess, it is my mess.
    After 25+ years in business with my ex and working extremely hard, I never, ever expected to be in a position where I was bankrupt, homeless and jobless. Thankfully I was able to find a very comfortable public housing unit where I am planting a garden, read all day if I want to, enjoy walks every day and making new lovely friends. I have part time work, well it’s more fun than work, with my wonderful Chiro and life is just right and happy.
    Being alone is wayyyy different than being lonely. If I need company I get in the car and do something, go for a drive down a road I haven’t been before, catch up with a friend, or just sit and read in a cafe. My daughter said to me the other day I look the happiest I’ve been for years. She is also having her first baby, my 5th grandie, the others live in WA and USA so it will be lots of fun having them near.
    Life is excellent and even better with a few extra $$s since turning 65 last month. FB is also a way of keeping in touch with friends and the world, I love technology. Enjoy the rest of your weekend everyone and be happy with a smile for everyone as they just might need one of yours. 😃💖

  10. Fran, never lose your sense of humour – it is great. I left my alcoholic hubby 18 years ago felt really free and happy. I did remarry but it did not work out and I now find it hard to trust any man. My ex husband kept the business we had run for over 20 years and has both of our sons working in it. He has managed to turn them against me, even though he relies on them for most things and is a huge burden for them both But, I guess, money talks. At least I have my beautiful daughters but they are both busy.
    I spend much time alone but I am not lonely. I guess that will change when I stop working but I do have friends I socialize with and that helps. I also volunteer, even now when I am working and that is amazing. The feeling of helping people as well as the networking and friendships formed are very worthwhile.
    Enjoy your life – it is so short! Make the most of your freedom.

  11. Left my husband 15years ago he was very abusive and jealous didnt want me to have friends and mix with my family all i was there for his needs sex and cooking and cleaning the best thing i have ever did married for35years decided i had enough and walked out leaving my beautiful home fully paid off didnt care what I got money is not everthing to me i am now living on my own and get a pension have beautiful girlfriends and do as i please no one to answer to my children visit occasionally

  12. My 65 year old husband of forty years came up to bed one night eighteen months ago and told me he was leaving me because he wasn’t happy and hadn’t been for a long time. I was stunned and I took a bottle of Valium, my dog found me and alerted him and I ended up in hospital with my family recommending that I not be let out. I was in there for three weeks and while there he took a considerable amount of money out of our account. But the kick was he never moved out, he just says we are separated and free too do what we he will fix the house and put it on the market but he doesn’t seem to be doing anything that needs doing. I know he is seeing other women,, but I can’t see another man wanting this old wreck.
    We moved to SA to retire and be near our daughter, but she does want to be involved in our separation, so I have no family, no friends, no job and live in a state that I know nothing about.
    I have started tai chi and pottery but sometimes it is very hard to leave the house to go as they say the black dog is at the door. I am glad to read that some of you are happy alone, I have never been alone and still don’t know how I will cope

    1 REPLY
    • Oh! Shirley, my story is nearly the same as yours!
      After forty years’ married, my then-husband decided he wanted to be a ‘single, independent person’!

      There was no other ‘love’ in his life, just his selfishness.
      I could write a book about my experiences’, but nobody would buy it, as there’re just SO many people in the same scenario.

      To leave the beautiful, large brick home we built, has been totally devastating to me
      He had the money to buy a new house. I have not. I just rent a small, cold, wooden low-set ‘dump’, with NO cupboards, except a couple in the kitchen!

      My daughter didn’t contact me for over three years’. Eventually, at the behest of a good family friend, as well as our GP, she contacted me. She was 7 months’ pregnant at the time.

      I was given a beautiful cat, two years’ ago. He was/is a ‘godsend’. I talk to him constantly, & he understands everything I say! He doesn’t ‘answer back’!

      Life isn’t easy in this circumstance, but my ‘golden rule’ is to now just take one day at a time.
      I also have my ‘good’ days, & when I’ve the bad ones’, they’re really bad. I can’t cope with stress anymore. If it happens, I have ‘panic attacks’. I had one each morning, for a week, when I awoke in this house, having just ‘moved in’.
      Sometimes, I just can’t be bothered leaving the house. I’ll organize to do ‘something’, then cancel it, as too disinterested. I was NEVER like this before. I do much crying.

      Yes, there are advantages to being by oneself, but I much prefered my former life.

      I wish you well, for the future.

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