Hi, Carolyn: I'm a woman who has had post-traumatic stress disorder for 28 years after being raped and beaten. I'm now 63 and it seems to be getting worse. Am I too old to go for therapy? Should I just resign myself to living with this for the rest of my life?
— Feeling Old
Feeling Old: “Too old to go for therapy”? Are you also too old to take medicine when you’re ill, or go to the ER when you break something?
You were grievously harmed. You would seek care under any other circumstances, presumably, so please recognize that and do so now.
All of us have just one job, when you think about it: Live the best life we can at any given stage. To each his own definition of “best,” of course, but none will last long if it doesn’t involve taking care of ourselves.
For you that means getting (back) into treatment when something triggers your PTSD symptoms.
I’m sorry this happened to you.
I hope in addition to treatment, you’ll also seek refuge in affirmations of life — nature, art, humor, kindness. They’re always there when we need them; just sometimes we have to look.
Dear Carolyn: What does a person do if after 30 years of marriage, they aren't the most important item in their spouse's life? The kids are now grown and gone, but his career is still his No. 1 with his parents being No. 2. Is it too late to move on and start over?
Anonymous: The concept of “too late” doesn’t make any more sense to me than “too old” does. This is the only life you’ve got regardless of how much you have left.
You could have far more of it left than you think, too — or far less. Same for your husband, your husband’s parents, your husband’s job. They could be gone tomorrow or hang around to torment you for decades.
You can only weigh your options, choose the certainties you like best, then leap into the uncertainty of everything else.
Would you rather be on your own than stick around as your husband’s No. 3 priority? Can you afford to be on your own financially? Will leaving your marriage cost you your kids’ loyalty? Your friends? Your home? Would these or other unintended consequences cost you more than you’d gain by leaving?
Would it make more sense to reset your priorities to suit your life right now?
Your husband, you seem to be saying, is all about work and his parents and then he comes home to you. So you, too, can be all about ____ and ____ and then come home to him.
I wonder whether you have already lived a version of this without realizing it: Before your kids were grown and gone, isn’t it possible they were your Nos. 1 and 2?
Maybe before you decide the future of your marriage, it makes sense to think carefully about your future, period. About your purpose. About what’s achievable (more than you think) and makes you feel useful, focused, good.
It’s not a perfect solution, certainly. But any decision you make after a thought process like this will be far better than simply resigning yourself to slog through the rest of your days, which is all that “too late” really means.