Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Life is a Death Sentence (by Ron)

When did I know that was what I was thinking? I think it was December 10. 2007, the day I "celebrated" my 65th birthday. It might also have been when I began to be inundated with applications for all of the various Medicare providers to "old folks" like me.

Well, I guess the birthday celebration was better than the alternative. I have to say, though, 65 is the first birthday that has given me a problem. I now think 60 was probably the one to which I should have paid attention. Although I am trained in psychotherapy I had not realized until now I was already in Erickson's final psychosocial stage of personality development. I thought that stage began at 65. When I reached 65 and the number actually bothered me I checked. I have been in it for 5 years! I must have missed that Age and Stage class.

So, at 65 I checked Erickson. You know what? There aren't any more stages! Did he think personality development ended at 60? I don't know about him but I think not! I don't care what we call it but I believe my biggest challenge began at 65. I'm fighting an aging body, an often unreliable memory, and a lingering belief in our society that life begins to end at 65. I have to admit it has sometime felt like a losing battle and yet I know I will lose only if I surrender.

You know what? Life is a death sentence. We received our sentence at conception. If we lived with that consciously hanging over our heads we would be unlikely to experience any personality development. For some reason fear finally triggered for me on December 10th, although it was just another day as had been the 64 birthdays before. So, I am working to extend the beginning of Erikson's final stage to 75 or 85 or 95. (105 anyone?) Then I may need to look back. Now I'm looking forward.

Oh, I will fill out the Medicare forms when I get closer to retiring in a few years. In the meantime I let my current medical plan take care of me. It's much better than Medicare.

In a May/December relationship it's inevitable that one partner will reach a milestone age before the other. It's likely the younger partner will not fully understand the reaction of the older partner. Gayle and I each reached milestone ages in 2007. Hers was 50 and you can check out her feelings about that in her blog.

It doesn't matter how long you are together. It doesn't matter how much you believe you know the other's thoughts. You can never fully understand the emotional experience of another human being. Sometimes the best solution is to just let your partner experience the pain, fear, elation, or whatever. I know that is painful at times but you must trust your partner to know how to ask for help when necessary. Asking for help is another skill that will be discussed in later blogs.

1 comment:

Max said...

Thank you for your words of wisdom. John was 60 years old on 5/15/08. John has grown in so many wonderful ways. He says he doesn't move fast anymore, but he walks stately. I just couldn't stop reading your words in the 'Live is a Death Sentence'. It hit home with me as I see the differences in John. We have been married for 39 years and have been through many changes together. The different stages of life have been stepping stones of our growth, as a couple and as individuals. Thank you for your words. May you have many birthdays to come. Maxine Sumpter