Over 50 and female

I’m over 50 and I’m female…and I’ve discovered I pretty much don’t exist in this culture. I have no husband, no children, no boyfriend, no lesbian partner, no financially successful career. So…people don’t have a box for me. It’s easier, I guess, to ignore me. I didn’t really get it unitil I lost the 3rd job in as many years. The industry I’d been involved in, and happy with, began to crumble (where I lived) around the same time I approached 50. I never had trouble finding a job. Ever. I had lots of experience, I loved working and suddenly I couldn’t get a job. I could not get a job. I started using my credit card for cash advances to pay bills. My roommate moved out (no notice) the plumbing in my house broke, my car broke, my home’s air conditioning broke. I still couldn’t get a job. The industry was flooded with just out of college applicants who would work for $20,000 a year. They didn’t have my experience, but who cares when they’ll work for nothing?! I couldn’t get a job. A woman at the employment security commission confided that women my age always had trouble finding jobs. Women my age??? What the heck did that mean?? I started asking around, and I found that there were other women, over 50, who had become invisible. We had a few things in common…no husband (most of us are divorced) no children or they were grown and out of town. Many of us, like me, had always worked, but our relationships had been our primary focus, so our career had never moved into that stellar big dollar arena seen on TV. I had paid for my own school (while I worked as a waitress) and I had to get a job quickly. I was poor, came from poor, married poor. But I loved him. I was happy working, making a home, living on a budget, etc. I was an artist and writer on my own time, but those creative outlets were satisfied after responsibilties to home and husband were taken care of each day. When I lost my first husband (I don’t even have to tell you why) I became involved with someone else right away. I never considered anything else. It wasn’t in my scope of experience. I was young, I met someone I responded to, we took off. After a few years, that ended. I moved out on my own and liked the solitary life. I was beginning to work my career and, of course, met someone. It took a couple of years, but eventually he was the focus of my life. I’m not blaming these men for my problems now. I’m blaming myself, my culture, and my own inexperience with the attitude of age. I never knew women who DIDN’T work, so it never occurred to me that after 50 I would become a non-person. I knew women who worked-not women with master’s degrees who had staff. I wish I HAD gotten a master’s degree. It was my dream for many years to go back to school and get a master’s in Art history. Or Art Therapy. Or something. I approached it a couple of times with my husband, but there was never enough money. Because he was my husband and my training said “he’s your husband, his word is law.” I kept telling  said myself “someday”. Someday is now and there is no husband and for a long, long time, no job. I lost everything. I had a mountain of bills that kept growing because of past due fees, overlimit fees and higher interest. I wasn’t using the credit cards. In fact, after I bought my house I lost my first job. I found another one as a waitress but the money was terrible. It was new restaurant (the only reason I got it) and people hadn’t found it yet. I made nothing some days. I kept looking for work. I got three cash advances and when I finally found a job (8 months later) I cut up the credit cards. The debt is past due fees, overlimit fees and higher interest. I finally walked away from all of it. I gave up the house (went into foreclosure) I tried to work with the credit card companies., but what I got was “we’ll let you pay us a certain amount for 6 months and then we go back to tacking on over limit fees, higher interest, past due fees, etc.” If I couldn’t pay their set amount, I couldn’t get into the “program”. So, I said, you know what? I’ve been sending you as much as I possibly can, it’s not enough, you’ve continued to ruin my credit even though I’ve explained that I don’t HAVE the money, so…I’m not sending any. Period. They didn’t much like that, but I didn’t, adn still don’t, care. I went back to school for 8 weeks to learn another way to earn a living, ( I’m in home healthcare now.) I found a job at a convenience store, working nights, so I could go to schoool during the day. I referred to it as a career change, as if it ws my idea. I like the new industry, and I like being on my own. I won’t be with another man, of course, because now I’m over 50 and women over 50 are invisible. Except to creditors. And they can send me letters forever, I don’t care. I’ve decided to walk away from all of it. I’ve done the responsible thing all my life, worked, made a home cooked meal every night, done the laundry and cleaned my house and paid all my bills on time. Then when the floor fell out of my world, none of that mattered. It didn’t matter that I had PERFECT credit for 20 years. It didn’t matter that I had been a good wife, girlfriend. None of that mattered, so now, I do as I please. Period. Mostly that means I spend a lot of time alone, but I spend it creating-writing, drawing, sculpting, and I love it. If I meet anyone, they must accept that the skin on my neck sags, and that I would rather hike than go shopping. I won’t wait on anyone, if they want me to love them they have to love me back. I don’t see that happening, so luckily I don’t have to deal with it!!

 If there are any other over 50 women out there who have had society’s doors slammed in their face, let me know. maybe we can network and help each other find work, exchange ideas, etc. I don’t want to just grouse about hard times. But it DOES help to tell your story and know there are others out in the shadows of our culture trying to find their way.

6 responses to “Over 50 and female

  1. I think what you are doing is exactly what you should be doing.

    I have been insulated by my hard working husband for 25 years. I have worked …and worked hard…all my life…before this marriage and after it, too…but I quit in /94 because the money I was making wasn’t jack shit. I was unhappy where I was, and I was in an office with cats. (see above comment) LOL!

    So….we make adjustments. Of course it was hard to go from two paychecks to one…but we managed. I learned to do a lot of things I never had a chance to do before…like can food and make do.

    Painting and writing has been my life since then. And it doesn’t bring in any (much) money (well, a few royalty checks…) but that’s not important at this stage of the game.

    Doing it….is. And as for being invisible? Probably I am….but I don’t notice it. Perhaps my taste in men has changed radically….

    Katie…there is a time for men, and a time to be alone. I believe in cycles…and this is just one of them…for both of us.

    50? Try plus 60. But I am loving it because I almost didn’t make it to this age.

    You embrace every minute of your life, gal. It’s as precious as all get out. With or without a man. As you know. You have landed on your feet and are good to go.

    And I LOVE your attitude about the damn credit companies. If this ever happens to me…and it could easily….I’m going to remember your courage here.

    Lady Nyo.

  2. 'Your Green Camaro Co-pilot'

    Sad but true, you will always be known as your parent’s child, your sibling’s sister, and your ex’s ex until those who had any knowledge of your consanguinity have faded into the background. Then and only then, will you become the artist, the writer, the woman with a sharp wit, a quick mind, a multifarious outlook on life and an affinity to being barefooted!
    Think back to the last time you were introduced to anyone……once the mindless banter of obligatory social requirements were met, were you asked “how do you feel about….or what is your view on….”?
    I think not, rather the following phrase ‘what do you do?’ sprang forth with all the non-salacious intent the speaker could muster…… so we are what we do? Our worth is measured by the career path chosen? And we cannot unring that bell.
    So KT, you will always be who you are and who you think and know you are, and those you choose to share that with will know you.
    The rest will have to wonder.

  3. katiewritesagain

    You said it so much more eloquently than I have! Or as Popeye said “I yam what I yam.”
    You know, I feel disconnected so much that I’m sure others must feel this way. When someone asks me what I do I reason that they mean how do I make money so I tell them my day job is as a CNA but my real work is art and writing. Someday I hope to be able to skip the day job part and live from my creative endeavors. It is a goal as much as a dream. Maybe we should ask each other “what are your dreams?” Then again, maybe we wouldn’t want to know a lot of them…good luck getting your tires and please write back!

  4. I know I am not technically in the ‘over 50’ category (not yet, at least), but I can definitely relate. I have been through most of what you have described…maybe not exactly, but with slightly different hints of colors, hues. One of the things you have talked about that I have never been through is marriage, but I have been in relationships that were similar to the whole “marriage without a certificate” thing. And the whole marriage thing is not exactly my choice…there were times when I wanted to get married. The sad, hard truth is that a lot of men are scared to death of getting into a legal commitment with someone who is just as willing to give them everything they want with out it. Most men are minimalist…they will get by with doing the least amount they can, while taking as much as they can from you.

    I’m not a man-hater most days, but I just see things as they are (unfortunately). Sometimes I’d like to put on blinders and see the world as more beautiful than it is, but I have rarely been shown that side of the world. And I fell into that trap because of the way I love. I don’t really get into a relationship with someone…not the kind of relationship between a man or a woman…unless I can really love that person, and if I really love the person, I love them with my whole being. It’s really just the way I am. And if a man can get that without marrying you, you better believe he will…most of them, at least. So yeah, I’m a little jaded.

    So that’s one reason I never married. Another reason I never married is because for a huge part of my life I HAVE been invisible to men. I’m not blonde. I’m not skinny or surgically-enhanced. I’m not saying skinny surgically-enhanced blondes have an automatic line to the guys, I’m just saying those are the kinds of girls guys look at. This isn’t a dig at how I look, and I’m not saying I have a low self-esteem, either. I have not very often looked in the mirror and said, “oh, I’m fat”…nor have I struggled much with eating disorders. But at the same time, I realize that men like women who are WAY skinnier than what most ‘average’ women are. I would consider myself ‘average’ in terms of weight. I always have been. I probably always will be. I am 100% ok with that. I love it. But I acknowledge that most men do not. So yeah, their glance passes over me in favor of a woman who takes up less of their field of vision.

    I think this phenomenon of being invisible (at least to men) is starting to happen much younger in our society. Men always want the bigger, better thing. Or, in terms of women, the younger, skinnier thing. I have been in places before where there lots of guys. Guys as my friends, not dates. As such (work being one environment such as this that I have been in), I have been privy to the way guys act in response to other women. I have seen beautiful women with not an ounce of extra ‘unhealthy’ fat on their bodies being passed up. I have seen them dissed. I have heard men talk about how ‘fat’ they are. I am looking at these women thinking, ‘where?’

    Men are hard to understand sometimes. I have seen women that I thought were just downright gorgeous passed up, but I have also seen women who I thought were a little reaching in the beauty area drooled all over by men. And maybe the reason I had trouble seeing her beauty was because of her vacant mind. And maybe I was seeing beauty in the other gorgeous woman because I had been enthralled by her conversation.

    That’s what men seem to like, though. Not trying to dig (too hard) on men here, but my experience has been that a lot of them really like extremely vacant women. If you have a thought in your brain, you become invisible (or maybe even unattractive), to a lot of them. It’s like thoughts wash over your face and body and make it unattractive to them.

    Ok…off my tangent. For now.

  5. Niecy
    I wonder about that,too. Frankly, I don’t want to be with a man who can’t stop looking for the next woman. My ex was like that and it damaged me more than I realized. I know NOW that he was looking for the next “audience”, the next avenue of focused-only-on-him attention. HE needed to be the best looking man in the room, the center of attention. In fact, I realize now I could never have been pretty enough.
    As far as fat…what the hell is it with our society? Maybe it is the fascination with, and addiction to, celebrities who never age (at lest, their plastic surgeon has convinced them they look like they haven’t aged.), maybe we want so badlyfor life to never move on…I don’t know. But I don’t want a man who’s attracted to women young enough to be a daughter-or grandaughter. It’s creepy. Means THEY think they’re still 22.

    I’m only interested in actual GROWN-UP men.

  6. Ugh. I know what that is like. A man always looking outward. During my second go at college, I met a guy I started seeing. We sometimes went to bars together. While it is possible to go to a bar with a man and it not necessarily be a bad thing, it wasn’t a good thing with a man like him. We would meet friends at a bar, and he would proceed to sit me on a stool beside him, and then he would turn around, completely turning his back on me, to interact with the friends he invited, and look all around the room for hot women. He would, every so often, maybe every 45 minutes or so, turn around and condescendingly pat me on the leg like I was some kind of a lap dog puppy or something. I was incensed! It made me feel like knocking him off of his stool. I was so angry. It made me feel so much rage to be treated like that.

    And I could write a book about immature men. I love mature and/or intellectually/academic men who can sit and have a nice discussion with me and talk about intellectually stimulating things…but men like that are few and far between. And quite frankly, I don’t have the energy anymore to try to find one. If I happen to run into one somewhere, as a matter of my daily living, then I will enjoy it for what it is, but I am not going to be wasting my time trying to find it. Just too busy with life.

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