Crying out for some small thread of light

Rosilyn, Age 70

I am hoping someone out there can persuade me that there is an interesting life after 70!!!!

I live alone, friends are scattered around London, but not near me, and relations have died. Recently I had tremendous bills I didn’t expect from the Tax Office and Council and whilst I attempted to start a new job, found the Accountant involved was wanting horrendous sums of money from me to sort out my wages.

I went into a downward spiral and couldn’t leave the house for a week. Worst of all friends contacted me wanting me to arrange my 70th birthday party. I couldn’t bear it and cut myself off from my friends. This is so unlike me as I’m usually so buoyant and positive. I don’t want to go onto anti-depressants and it’s no good telling me that people have cancer or are about to die. I realise I’m being selfish but can’t think of anything good about the age of 70, which will be coming up in 7 days time. I miss my work terribly, as I used to be a Medical Secretary and the routine of work plus the friendship of work is no longer there. I did try and get something different in the workline but can’t find anything. I’ve done the travelling I need to do and can no longer afford a lot of expense.
Sorry if this is a miserable line and you probably won’t print it anyway, but I think I’m crying out for some small thread of light at the end of the tunnel to hang onto. Days are long and I often don’t feel like getting out of bed, but I do. I tried volunteering, but I was left with a prolapsed disc in my neck and kept dropping things and I think this went against me. I often go swimming every day, but I need company, has anyone out there any ideas at all. It seems in London there are no societies or clubs for people my age.

Any ideas would be welcome.

Can anyone out there give me any suggestions on how I’m supposed to carry on living in my joyless world I seem to have created for myself. Unfortunately with not being married I have no grandchildren.

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19 Responses to Crying out for some small thread of light

  1. Senior Mates says:

    Old age is a great time to sit back and enjoy your life. Enjoying your life is a significant contributor to healthy aging.

  2. Kathy says:

    Thank you for writing so openly and honestly about some painful truths that apply to far more people than I suspect we think. I have been dealing with depression and feelings of loneliness and isolation for the past few years. No longer having the “identity” of my work and daily interaction with people and being needed, I now have days and weeks where I have almost no contact with others and feel that I could disappear and no one would even notice! It’s a terrible feeling, and a struggle just to get through the days. I am going to start looking for other volunteer work and really hope I meet people with similar interests. I do want to say, however, that I have done many of the things you are supposed to do to make friends – I have done several volunteer positions – but find I’m only making “acquaintances”. People who I don’t particularly have much in common with, and who seem to already have many close friends and aren’t interested in connecting. I may be different, but I’m not interested in just “knowing” a number of people. I am searching for just one or two people who I really like, and most important, who really like me. Someone who might notice – and care – if I fell off the map! I wonder if I’m being selfish and should just be glad to be alive and quit whining… but loneliness is a very painful, and relentless feeling. I read you letter with great sympathy and hope you follow up in a few months to let us know how you’re doing and maybe we can all share any progress we’ve made.

  3. Margaret Barrett says:

    I’m currently 76 and have experienced some isolation and depression. My children live far from me so I see them only once or twice a year. Don’t give up whatever you do!!. When I was 60, I took up figure skating and earned a medal at the first and only competition I entered. I did giggle as I was the only person entered in that age group so an award was guaranteed. It still felt like a great accomplishment. The isolation and depression I mentioned occurred when I was tied to my home due to illness/injury. Although I am married, there is nothing like having women to chat with. I would suggest that you mention your difficulty to your personal physician. I am on antidepressants as all I could think of was killing myself. The only thing that stopped me was the thought of the pain I would bring to my family. I now feel much better. That little voice that was my constant companion was finally silenced. I have taken up cycling and it gets me outside. When I can’t do that I try to go for a walk. Anything to get myself out of the house and into the weather. It has helped me control my weight and lifts my mood. Good luck. There are many of us out here coping with similar issues and we all discover our own answer.

  4. Pat says:

    I can hear your despair and I have some thoughts. First, if you need an antidepressant, you should let it temporarily help you. It does not mean you will take them forever. The right one can be helpful to give you a little boost.

    Second, try to do just one nice thing for yourself each day…..something you like and makes you feel better.

    Third, find one kind thing to do for someone else everyday…..everyday.

    And finally, tell God you trust that He will help you through this rough patch. Ask Him to show you the way and start each day with a simple gratitude statement which you write down in a journal.

    Make peace with today and tomorrow will be a little better as will everyday.
    Wishing you good thoughts!

    Pat Kasprzak

  5. Jocelin Kagan says:

    Finding yourself in the throws of change where your known boundaries and securities are no longer in place is not comfortable. Also it sounds as if they were all removed about the same time exacerbateing your situation. You live in a country of help. Now it’s your time to draw on whatever resources are available. Where you’re at is something not only age related but more change determined. Call the help lines, talk through your feelings the listener is trained to hear you. Find the Facebook page for your area or the local paper. Find out what is on. Once you’ve gotten over the hurdle of disquiet and shy in going to a new place with new people the first time it can only get easier. London offers the over 65 year old so many free-bees at the art galleries, museums etc or there is a reduced rate. What about special interest lectures at your local centre, church or religious venues? Force yourself to get out of bed and into the fresh air. Walk and walk and walk. You’re having a fantastic summer grab the opportunity. Look at the trees listen to the birds and keep your head up as you go. Give yourself time to think and sort out your emotions – what’s out there cannot be owned until you’ve sorted out what’s inside and accepted it.
    I’m so glad you reached out- thank you for taking the biggest step of all.

  6. Gigi says:

    I feel for you and though I am younger, my future looks similar to yours (no family or kids). I wonder if you could visit your local library – they act as community information centres and can put you in touch with free events for seniors and maybe someone who would be able to help with your other issues. Also, is it possible you are depressed? Depression can take the colour out of your world and make everything seem hopeless when it really isn’t. Your local GP may also be a great resource for you and I’m not talking anti-depressants at all (not for me), they can just be a supportive ear. I guess my main point is for you to reach out (like you have done here!) Think of this as just a transitional stage – keep exploring and you will find a way! Sending you a warm hug!

  7. Thank you for your post: Crying out for some small thread of light- I found it refreshing and honest, devoid of the all the “ gung-ho”- attitude that one normally reads about age….”I am so cool, active, busy, travel, do yoga, am the core of the community, have super friends, amazing grand children , etc etc….
    Your voice is the silent voice, that most women are too ashamed to voice. I admire you, and your loneliness requires me to “fact check” my life. Thank you. I send you my love and appreciation. You ARE the light at the end of the tunnel. Margaret

  8. Noel says:

    If you don’t like the road you are traveling on pave a new one – Dolly Parton

    • Deirdre Steiner says:

      Rosilyn, thank you for your honesty. I agree with Noel. My suggestion may be a bit aggressive but I hope you will think about it. You mention you do not live near friends. Consider moving near them and moving into a community with social options. Several years ago I moved into a condo community and immediately had a whole new circle of friends and social options…..I never expected it but couldn’t imagine living without it now. So at 76 my next move will be into a community with graduated care.

    • Susan Broadwell says:

      This tone is not helpful at all. When you do not have family support, a house, close friends, a husband with a degenerative disease, an adult son who is mentally impaired living with you, and financial considerations, each day is a challenge. I do try to be grateful, but some days it is impossible.

  9. Patricia Mendez says:

    Hi Rosilyn,
    Its a lousy way to feel, loneliness can and is quite painful to suffer. Maybe you can look outside your personal window, look around you, is the sun shinning? are birds singing? can you take a walk, and smile at people you come across…people always return smiles, and to me, it feels great. Look around, you can walk, see, hear. There are so many people who cannot do any of those things.
    I play bridge once a week, it is a very cheap entertainment, a cup of tea or coffee maybe a sandwich, and you are on. There are Bridge Clubs all over the place, not where I live, its a small beach by the sea, but I managed to find 3 other old people and have been playing for the last 15 years…we had never met before, but here we are.
    When I turned 67 my husband went broke and we had to leave our apartment, sons, grandchildren, friends, in general the life we were living, and move to Maitencillo…I dont think it appears on the map! Not only did we lose money, friends etc, but my husband became a hermit, and still is, lost his sense of humour for ever. But I refused to do the same, I started painting, and greatly enjoyed it.
    So what I am trying to tell you, not very successfully, is that if you look ahead, there is always someone worse than my and everybody’s self. So I learned the hard way, to enjoy small pleasures, a walk in the beach, my dogs, the jokes in whatsapp, the books I read, the food I cook and eat, the sound of my crystal bells when the wind blows, so on and so forth. Life is worth living, you can always make new friends and share the sunset, talking about personal feelings, chatting about a news film….. please look out ….
    Best regards from the south of Latin America

  10. Patty says:

    Dear Rosilyn
    Joy is a funny word, sort of a word that pops up in Christmas carols or greeting cards or the like.
    Maybe instead of searching for Joy you can look to be content , sometimes even happy . To me “Joy” is when my Weimers make me laugh. My dogs are so powerful lifting my mood. Look in their eyes. My spirituality is personal and maybe you cannot relate. Think if you can Angels, Guided meditation (so many apps to choose from) Prayer etc
    People are very important to me, that is why I always smile and try to say hello when I pass people walking by. Talking to the postman, the librarian a checker in the supermarket. It all works. Little by little these small things picked me up. I don’t think I will ever feel joyful, that bar is too high. And it is not my bar.
    Thanks for listening I am 71.

  11. Blog Mavens says:

    Thank you for being real, Rosilyn. You say “You probably won’t print this,” but that would never occur to me or Jane. We started 70Candles so women our age could talk to each other, and your email and the fabulous replies are a dream come true for me and, I’m sure, for Jane. I love the suggestions and reflections, especially the admonition to not be so hard on yourself.
    When I’m feeling down, there’s a gratitude exercise I like to do: After I get into bed, as I’m falling asleep I like to remember three things from my day that I’m grateful for. It might be the oatmeal I had for breakfast, or the fact that my hearing is still good, or a pleasant brief encounter I had with the cashier at the grocery store. Or it could be a really big thing: lol I’m grateful I won the lottery today! I also appreciate the comment from Diana: Come back and talk to us. Please do.

  12. Diana says:

    Rosilyn, it truly can be hard to cope. And lonely. And frightening. It’s Not You.

    We all have bad days, weeks, months, and sometimes even bad years.

    When I can’t cope, I try to limit my expectations – what will get me through the next five minutes sane? The next hour? I try to focus on the little things until I’m calm enough to deal with the bigger issues.

    We can’t solve all of our problems – but we never could. I pick one (the easiest?) and work on just that. I miss the women friends I had when I was younger. So I joined a Yoga class. At least now I’m part of a group for that hour. And after a few weeks, I feel as though I belong.

    People are so quick to tell seniors to volunteer. It’s not that easy. I’ve noticed that other volunteers can be rather protective of their status and are far from welcoming. And at least in my area, much of the volunteer work is done by religious organizations who are actually using it for recruitment. They don’t want non-members. But with your skill set, you may want to look into free clinics or other related areas.

    Life does not get easier as we age. We each have to find the things that make us happy – music? books? hobbies? volunteering? pets? – and we have to do the work ourselves. Can you reconnect with your friends? They’re facing the same issues you are.

    Come back and talk to us. I’d guess that many of us don’t find aging as easy as we pretend. But with effort, life can still have its good moments.

  13. Sandi says:

    Hello Rosilyn
    Where to start? I don’t have any grandchildren … not everyone does. In my opinion, you’re not being selfish. There is always someone worse off, but that doesn’t take away from what you are feeling and dealing with. This is about you and you should be the Priority right now.
    I didn’t have any of the problems you’re dealing with, yet I made myself sick with concerns about turning 70 and aging. Change is not easy. You’re missing all that you no longer have in your life. It sounds like you’re overwhelmed and feeling very much alone. When I’m going through any change or a transition, I’m really not good for anyone. It’s not the time for me to volunteer or be social. I would suggest reframing your words. Your life does not have to be joyless. Why do you need company to swim? When you’re swimming, it’s a solitary movement. Enjoy the water and find the peace and calm as you swim for that amount of time.
    Can you make a financial plan so you can pay over time?
    Do you like music or reading? Would you consider writing about how you feel daily. You can shred the paper after, but journaling is a good way for many. Have you looked online for blogs or discussion groups in your area for people over 70? Or maybe this is something you may consider. If you are feeling this way, believe me, there are other women feeling exactly the same in your surrounding area. You are not alone. Small steps for now. Look out your window – whether it’s raining or the sun is shining, enjoy for a few minutes with your coffee or tea. Being social is nice and it is good for us to have in person social activity. Eventually, you may find a senior center or some women that would like to get together once in awhile. Sometimes, we have to put ourselves out there in order to get what we want for ourselves. But mostly, please don’t be hard on yourself. I hope you’ll find as I did that turning 70 will be fine. Trust in yourself. You’ve made it so far.

    • Susie Blythe says:

      What a lovely and positive response. My 70th was last week and I’m feeling a little glum which really isn’t like me at all. I have always poo pood people that despair over landmark birthdays, but suddenly I’m feeling odd about mine. I liked your reply, thank you.

  14. Jeanne says:

    A small light

    3 years ago I was sleep walking, fell down 13 stairs. Broke/smashed both arms/wrist. Broke my face and teeth in several places. Took 1 1/2 years and 15 surgeries and 18 thousand dollars of my own money to cover what the insurance did not. I took 3 months out of work and had face surgeries/procedures every Friday for 1 year. I retired a year ago. I felt like you. I was besides my self. My friends that I had made at work after work of almost 20 years had no time for me. I was so lost. I joined one, then two groups at my church. 70 + year olds who shared many of my same interest and values. I started knitting daily, learning new patterns to give to my Christmas bazaar. It made me feel so good to learn and create. I now spend time doing the things I had no time when I was bringing up my family and working full time. Reading, crafting, long walks, gardening etc. I am so close to my God. Every morning I read my bible meditate and tell God to have anyone who needs me to call. Having an unscheduled day, if I am able too I help out anyone. I also have been working on myself, I am a better person than I was but still have work to do.
    You make up your mind to become the light to yourself, others, and your God. It really works. I was offered a few part time jobs but turned them down, I am too busy and I just love my freedom.

  15. Fran says:

    You do have friends, which is a big bright spot — a lot of older people don’t.

    Is there any one of your friends to whom you feel close enough to talk about this with her?

    I would go to your nearest Episcopal Church and talk with the rector (and take your friend if she will accompany you). He will probably know of some organization that can start helping you. This wage and tax problem is scary, I’m sure. However, England is much more aware of its seniors than most of The US.

    While none of this may help, this is what I’ve found on the Internet: If the rector can’t help you (and I find it difficult to believe that he doesn’t know of some resources), maybe one of these organizations can help you.

    Last but not least, considering your age and that you are not working, I would like to think that The UK has some tax relief for you. (There is in The US under the same circumstances as yours.) But you won’t know that until you start reaching out.

    25 years ago I married my second husband (now ex) and two months later I learned that he owed over $120,000.00 in back federal and state income taxes. He contacted a tax mediator, and he wound up owing a small fraction of that amount. Anyway, I know how scary taxes can be.

    I do wish you the very best.

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