While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On feeling invisible after a certain age:
A year and a half ago, my husband told me he wanted to leave me because, essentially, he couldn't stop noticing other women and resented not being able to pursue them. To his credit, and I suppose to mine as well, we spent over a year in counseling trying to save the marriage, but shortly before my 50th birthday he told me his feelings about wanting to be elsewhere hadn't changed. I told him I deserved somebody who felt happy about being with me, and if he wasn't it, then we both needed to be realistic about that.
It hasn't been long since he left, but I've never felt less invisible in my life. No, I'm not as pretty or alluring physically as I was at 20 or 30 -- but I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin, and so over the need to worry about how "hot" I look (besides, these days I feel hot for entirely different reasons). I have incredible friends who've been there for me with love and support beyond anything I could have imagined. I adopted two wonderful dogs, and made some friends just on walks around the neighborhood and in the park.
I'll be the first to say I'm not getting much attention from the guys who seem to be seeking hot younger women, but I'm feeling content in the company of settled, experienced souls who've also known stormy times and who savor the peace of warm days spent with good friends.
I miss my husband terribly, and in all honesty, I'm (ticked) at him for choosing a course I can't help but see as shallow. I'm more sad than I can say that he'd find that more compelling than kindness, friendship and love that comes from the heart. But invisible to people? That's the last thing I feel.
Maybe I'll meet someone else one day, maybe I won't. But I know it's up to me -- and not to anyone else, not even a spouse -- to make me feel like my life is worth something. I've found that the people who've figured that out, and who live with joy and an almost gleeful lack of worry over what anyone else might think of them, shine with a gentle warmth and light.
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On helping a spouse move out as part of a separation:
I helped my wife of 35 years move out. She wanted out. I couldn't make her stay by not helping. That would be fruitless.
As time went on, she called less often for help.
I also helped her move back in, one year later
. -- C.
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On distress as a state of mind:
I have found that people have an amazing ability to adapt and adapt quickly -- I guess it is what makes it possible for us to survive, but it can also work to our detriment. I believe our bodies want what is best for us, but sometimes a body forgets that what is best for us in the moment may not be the best for us over the long haul.
I first noticed this in March. I live in a town that is about 100 miles from the Fukushima Nuclear Plant. While my area was considered "safe" for radioactive fallout, the following days were littered with dozens of daily earthquakes day and night, no food or water to be found for miles, and no gasoline for those who wanted to go in search. After the 10th day of no more than 30 minutes of sleep a night, another Westerner and I decided to get a little distance.
After we drove about 200 miles, there were no more earthquakes, all the stores were open, it was calm and we were safe. Once my brain registered that I was safe, I had this strange feeling of my panic searching for something else to grasp onto ... I had become so accustomed to the fear and panic, that rather than it leaving when it was no longer necessary, it went looking for something else. I had to consciously tell myself there was nothing to fear and that it was OK to feel safe.
I see this in so many of the questions you get -- people are so used to feeling uneasy and unhappy, that even when things are OK, they seem to feel the need to make life fit into their adapted-to uneasiness and unhappiness. Sometimes it is OK to just allow ourselves to let it go, remember a time when life was lighter and allow yourself to go there.
Or to project such a time, and allow yourself to go there.
Email Carolyn at tellme(at)washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at www.washingtonpost.com.
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