In 2015, my ex and I were attempting collaborative divorce negotiations, and it was NOT going well (“collaborative” my ass!). Our 3 teenaged children lived with me full time, I was in major debt, and I’d been out of the workforce for almost 15 years.
I was mourning the end of my 20 year marriage, and I had no idea how I was going to make ends meet. I’d been looking for a job unsuccessfully … shockingly, the potential employers I’d contacted didn’t jump at the chance to snap up a 49 year old stay-at-home mom! 😐
In the plus column, I had incredibly supportive friends and family, and I had a part-time business as a fitness trainer, which I ran out of my home. In full disclosure, I also had support payments coming from my ex, so the kids and I wouldn’t starve, but my financial resources were lean. No… they were downright skinny. Emaciated, really.
With all the hurdles to clear, my biggest obstacle was my mindset. I had a tough time moving away from “Look what he did to me”. That’s an impossible place from which to effectively move on. It keeps you in the role of victim, powerless and vulnerable. I felt fragile and exhausted. I had no energy with with which to plan my come back. And I slept a LOT.
Then came my birthday. The big 5-0. My life didn’t look AT ALL as I’d imagined it would at that age, but those numbers shocked me out of my wounded mindset. I resolved that there was NO WAY that my current situation was going to take me down. So I threw myself a birthday party and I got my shit together. Mostly.
I had 2 primary motivators:
- My kids. I wanted them to feel secure, and to believe that everything was going to be okay. And I wanted to be a good role model for them.
- Myself. I have tons of regret in my life. I don’t feel as though I’ve lived up to my potential in a lot of ways, and I’ll be damned if the way I handle this personal crisis was going to be another thing I’d come to regret.
I’m building my in-person training business (Backyard Fitness) and my online coaching business (MidLife Fitness). Money is still tight (health insurance is my biggest expense, but that’s another blog). I’m working on a budget, and I’m changing some habits to make ends meet (no more shopping as entertainment!).
It’s hard work, but it’s empowering AF – each step and each win feeding the next. I am willing myself to see this period as an exciting opportunity to design and create the life I really want … It’s a “do-over” of sorts.
Reimagining and rebuilding our lives in middle age requires grit, complete acceptance of your situation, a release of any remaining residue of victimhood, and a willingness to consider options outside of your comfort zone.
It also requires a nauseating amount of introspection. It’s only through that self examination that you develop an understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, your passions and deal- breakers are determined, and a sense of what’s really important to you becomes clear.
From that position of clarity, you’ll see the possibilities that lie before you and you’ll find direction. And following up with an action step in that direction brings hope. And energy. And self-empowerment.
I still occasionally feel tinges of woe-is-me, but it’s short lived, and I’ve gotten soooo much better. Mindset is a practice after all, requiring time, forgiveness, patience, and stick-to-itiveness.
So to my fellow sisters “starting over in the middle”, I offer support and encouragement, and hopefully some inspiration. I’m still finding my way, but the path is clearer and brighter than it’s been in a very long time.
I’d love to hear your “starting over” story. Please feel free to share it in the Comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!