Although breakups-whether celebrity or everyday-are a constant source of fascination, surprisingly little attention has been given to women who are cut loose in their later years. This book addresses that largely unexplored but growing demographic. It is a book about (mostly) long-term relationships that have come apart. Each woman involved, the majority of whom are over sixty, tells her own story through journal entries, essays, poetry, or stories. While the overwhelming sentiments shared by these women are those of grief, loss, emptiness, and depression, there is a double edge to their predicaments. Although in many senses they have been abandoned, they have also been set free, untethered, and for some, liberated sexually, mentally, or emotionally.
The book is divided into two major sections. The pieces in the first part are personal narratives. Among the varied voices, we hear from women in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships who have been left by their partners or who have decided to leave them. In one account, a woman explains why she needed to abandon her thirty-year marriage to save herself. Another woman describes how she has been both left and also done the leaving: “I was dumped, I moved on to dumping, and at the end was dumped again. And then, in a very small way, I dumped my original dumper.”
In the second section, the contributors look at being left and leaving from psychological, sociological, economic, sexual, medical, anthropological, and literary perspectives. Other essays explore the shared experiences of specific classes of women, such as single women, widows, or abandoned daughters.
In unflinchingly honest and intelligent prose, the women in this book address the gamut of subjects related to the ending of their long-term relationships. Covering emotions that range from anger and revenge, to the slow and painful process of mourning, to the complicated issues of love and aging, the other-often younger-woman, friendships, and internet dating, this volume gives voice-both aggrieved and celebratory-to what it means to be cut loose.
by Nan Bauer-Maglin
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