Being dumped by someone you love is unpleasant at any age, but it presents particular challenges for older women, according to Nan Bauer-Maglin ’63. She has edited Cut Loose: (Mostly) Older Women Talk About the End of (Mostly) Long-Term Relationships, an anthology that takes a hard look at the emotional, psychological and financial implications of being jilted at a certain age.
The book is the result of Bauer-Maglin’s personal experience: at 61, her marriage of more than 20 years came to an abrupt end. She went to a bookstore looking for solace; there she found an abundance of breakup literature, but not a single book that addressed the experiences of women her age.
In the great tradition of SLC graduates, she decided to create one. Cut Loose combines personal narratives with essays and poetry, examining the topic from the perspectives of anthropology, medicine, literature and other disciplines.
“It was hard to find writers for the book,” she says-some people felt their experiences were too private or emotionally fraught to share-“but I ended up with twenty-seven beautiful, courageous pieces.” Contributors include SLC alumnae Page Delano ’71, Sue Parrish O’Sullivan ’63 and Marilyn Katz ’54.
A common theme in the essays-and one that Bauer-Maglin experienced herself-is the shock of losing a relationship that one had assumed would last through old age.
But as the title of the book implies, being abandoned can also mean finding freedom. Though grief, anger and jealousy are the essays’ signature emotions, many of the authors come to embrace the end of their relationships as the beginning of a new stage in their lives. “‘Cut loose’ implies an afterlife that ‘being dumped’ does not,” Bauer-Maglin writes in the preface.
Her own breakup story has had a rare outcome: she reunited with her husband after two years. Now she is preparing for her next book, which will use a similar format to explore choice and dying-“When, how or why one might choose one’s own death.” Luckily for her readers, she’s not one to shy from the difficult topics.
For more information about Cut Loose-which was published in 2006 by Rutgers University Press-visit www.nanbauer-maglin.com.