Mary J: Being alone was really one of my nightmares

February 1, 2021







I was married nearly 43-years to a man I met when I was 14-years old. We dated for 7-years, all through high school and college, and then got married and had 3 children and had a typical life. I worked, he worked, and then as my children started going off to college things started to change.

In 2013 when my daughter was graduating from college she discovered that her father was having an affair. It still took me years to actually ask and make a divorce happen because it was just so hard for me to let go of how I thought my life was going to be.

I’d never lived on my own and I was leaving a house that I created.

Once I decided I was doing it, it happened pretty quickly.

He wanted the house and I needed a fresh start.

I knew there was a date at which my whole life would change, but I had no idea what that change was going to be.

The first thing I had to figure out was where was I going to live?

I had a whole list of what I wanted.

It took me a long time. The things were more important than me.

I went back forth and for 2, almost 3 years. At some point, I had the self-realization that part of the reason I was attached to the things were the memories of raising my children. I don’t need to have the things to have the memories.

When I could finally let go of the life I thought I was going to have, then I didn’t really want to take anything except my clothes and this one chair.

How did I want to feel? In some ways, it was counter to how I was feeling in the life I was in.

I got really clear on how I wanted to feel.

I learned that you don’t die from the things you’re pretty sure you’re going to die from.

Being alone was really one of my nightmares. I am a very people person.

I was always very involved through people with people. Some of it was probably driven by a fear of being by myself. Something I’ve learned is, while I’m not always very comfortable being by myself, I won’t die from it.

I wasn’t sure I would survive by myself which was one of the reasons I didn’t ask for a divorce, even from a man who betrayed me. I didn’t know I could do that.

I often think the reason I don’t carry a lot of anger towards my former husband was because I’d worked through a lot of that before we actually got divorced, which for me, was helpful even though at the time I was pretty hard on myself.

Life has phases, and each of us has a unique sequence of those phases, and I think we need to learn to have some self-compassion more than I’ve had for myself for the fact that there are phases that start and phases that end, and even if they’re not what you expected, it’s okay. There’s still another phase. If you’re alive there’s another phase even if you can’t see it or feel it.

I’m not good at endings, never have been. I’m much better at beginnings.

I didn’t expect to be divorced at 63. I didn’t expect to be living on my own at this point in my life. I didn’t expect to be navigating this period, this phase, the way I am.

Be kind to yourself. Have the confidence that there will be another phase.

We need to learn to give ourselves a lot of compassion when we’re in those places and one piece is done and there’s another that will begin, whether we can see it or not.

I encourage you to really spend some time reconnecting with who you are.

The courage for me came from getting clearer and clearer about who I was at that moment as opposed to who I had been or who I thought I was going to be.

Is who I am consistent with the situation I was in?

Whatever has changed, it just is.

Get clear on who you are in that moment. Figure out who you are right now because that’s the only thing that’s real. Everything else is an illusion or a memory.

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