I survived the chaos, you can too ! ….
Sometimes it may take a long time to get to a point where you can honestly move onto the next chapter of your life and that is OK. You will know when the time's right for you, but when you do decide it's time and you come out the other side, you will feel empowered with the realization that you survived and life does and will get better.
I have a great job, friends, am confident or at least am good at appearing so, and I don’t hold opinions from unimportant contributors up on high anymore. I get compliments from complete strangers all the time, they compliment my shoes, hair, the whole look, but the biggest compliment is when they say I am bad ass or comment that I have my shit together, my appearance gives an impression of confidence, but it isn't always true and hasn’t always been that way.
In the beginning
I grew up the youngest of two children in the United Kingdom, my brother whom I idolized was and still is the person that people followed and gravitated to, so being his younger sister in school was definitely an advantage. I came into my own in my mid teens during senior school when I realized everyone had an agenda, teachers, other students and so called friends.
Once that became a realization I opted to drop those friends who had tried to dictate who I should speak to or spend time with, and became a loner. Don’t get me wrong, being a loner is not about being lonely; rather it's a feeling of independence and empowerment. When you take out all the noise, negativity and bullies in your life, you are able to claim your space, and with that comes a calmness of the mind. For me, life was so much better when I separated myself from that clique. I think, looking back now, that this was the first time that I controlled the outcome, and you know, it felt so good!
It’s a word you hear throughout life, but what does it mean? Does it mean anything, or can you just dismiss it? There are many milestones along life's journey, and each one is as important as the next. Where they lead you can guess and even anticipate, but family, marriage, even childbirth can eventually lead to an outcome that you never imagined, wanted or saw yourself having to deal with. But in reality, shit happens. I think of it as paint on a pallet, you can take what you are dealt, mix it up, put it on a canvas and produce something quite incredible, making it yours. That is how I am looking at life from now on, just adding color to create the best picture of my life. What colors will you choose and how will you redesign your picture?
My divorce was years in the making.
I was married for nearly 30 years, and a good guess is that at least 20 of those years were when the beginning of the end began. I am old fashioned in my values and I truly believed and still do believe marriage is to be taken seriously – you work through the hard times in a partnership, right? Unfortunately not all partnerships are equal – or perhaps perfect is a better word to use – and I now have a more realistic understanding of human nature and that is that no one is perfect and both people have to want to be together and value the other enough not to do things that could jeopardize the relationship.
A person can only take so much, and that feeling of rejection, hurt and simply feeling alone not only demeans your confidence but everything about you. When you get to the time that is right for you to make the move and reclaim your life, surround yourself with people who lift you up and can support you, and spend less time within negative relationships, as they will drain your energy and deplete your confidence.
When I finally realized that I had to follow through with the divorce, I knew this decision could not be compromised. It was never an easy choice but I knew it had to be done, if I hadn’t followed through, then I wouldn't be able to look at myself in the mirror or respect myself. We are and will always be the only one that can ultimately control what happens and what as individuals we are willing to accept in our lives. If I hadn’t made that life change then only I would be to blame.
After the divorce
So, my divorce is final, COVID19 hits, so any plans to travel are simply now unavailable, plans to do anything are pretty much gone. I thought I had a plan, to see things, experience the new or simply things I feel I have missed out on in life, but I never really knew what those were, and now I have time to work it out.
Whilst working from home due to COVID19, I decided I needed to take control and this began with what I ate. By cutting out sugar, some dairy and carbs I dropped the excess weight I was carrying. I am and have always been an emotional eater, and am addicted to milk chocolate, being totally unable to stop eating it once I start, so needless to say it was not easy.
Next I decided to exercise which started with me walking outside, but that really got going when my local recreation center opened up again. I bought a 20 visit pass initially in case I didn’t go (I had done this before). I did end up going so the pass changed to a 3 month and then year long membership. I chose to run on a treadmill because I knew that if I used the machines I could set a distance, and along with a good playlist on Pandora for motivation, I started to run.
For me it was a huge milestone – proving to myself that I was able to follow through was amazing. Initially I could only walk/run and kept it to 2 miles maximum for a couple of weeks, then I increased to 3 miles running with a 10 min walk at the beginning to warm up, and finally 4 miles. So much for not pushing myself because the 4 miles led to 5 miles 3 times a week. I did end up injured and had to stop for a month to allow myself to heal before getting back at it. It was so hard but I am now back to 3 miles twice a week and plan on adding a weight/strength class into the mix.
I have to say I absolutely love working out, it is a great stress reliever, confidence builder and it gives me a fantastic sense of accomplishment which in turn provides clarity of how I can again be in control of how my life goes, rather than just going through the motions as I did for many years, never really realizing what is or could be out there.
It sounds naive I know, but it's the truth and I am all about the truth, everyone’s truth including my own. I am probably in the best shape I have been in for years both mentally and physically. Something good can come out of having to rebuild one's life.
You can do anything you set your mind to
As my mother always said “You can do anything you set your mind to” and this applies to us all. What can you do, however small? Maybe dinner in a really nice restaurant alone, or simply just going out for coffee? So set a goal and do it! Remember no goal is too small, but each one will lead to another fantastic experience that you and only you are in control of.
I call all these stages “My Life Cleanse”. In order to move on, I have needed to work through them even though each one brings up a lot of memories – both good and not so good – but in doing so it is empowering, reinforcing my confidence and independence.
- Become healthier and in turn MORE confident and READY for life
- Declutter and remove the old to be ready for the NEXT chapter
- Buy/sell or revamp furniture – changes, however small such as replacing a picture or buying a scented candle, will help you reimagine life.
- Refine your inner circle
- Move into your new life
The final stage was dealing with what I now call my “burning bag”. This bag was my mental saving grace over the years, items I found and kept in case I found myself alone or more importantly if I needed to prove to myself that my suspicions were correct and I was not going mad, crazy or whatever reasoning I heard. This bag was the last tie to that chapter of my life, so it needed to go. I poured myself a glass of good wine, sat on my patio and slowly burnt the contents one by one feeling stronger as each piece of history disappeared into ash and smoke, until nothing was left.
I am and probably will always be a work in progress, which is ok as long as I can feel that life means something. My biggest issue from the past was feeling the loss of my identity and thinking there has to be more than this to life. There just has to be or what's the point… Just going through the motions everyday and to what end? I came out the other side and have learnt so much on this journey and am embracing all that came with it. I emerged, reclaiming the confidence of that young woman I was so many years ago, but a much better, wiser version of myself.
The process and experiences, although sometimes sad, helped me become who I am today and that part of my life created three wonderful children, now all grown. I am on a course now that I think could evolve into something fantastic and meaningful, so here goes.
Thanks for listening..
About the author
Anne is a mother and professional who loves fashion, hair, food, wine and travel but am in no way an expert on any of them. As she begins a new phase (adventure) in her life she is writing and preparing a blog launch at Anne’s shit show.