When I was promoting my new book series: A Midlife Romance, I was asked to write — as a guest blog post— a letter to myself at a different age. I choose to write to the self I was about 10 years ago. Ten years goes by fast, and with each new decade the horizon seems to move in faster. At times I have said to myself, not kindly: “A decade has gone by and you haven’t accomplished much.” Why do we do that? It’s almost a knee jerk reaction for many of us, I suspect, to diminish ourselves. What I wrote may seem too optimistic. If you read between the lines, you can see the pain and challenges, but it is important to remind ourselves of our accomplishments and power. Does any of this resonate with you? Please comment below.
Dear 40-Something Me:
Take a breath; you’re going to survive; IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY.
I know you can’t even imagine it but that oppositional teenage son who barely talks to you, can hardly stand you, will, at 24, call you every week, just to chat, and to tell you how much he appreciates you. And your daughter too, will confidently follow her own path. Their journeys won’t look anything like the carefully-curated, unyielding path of so many of the suburban kids around them. They will flounder, deeply despair of what they have lost when your divorce rocked their world and left them feeling utterly without control. With your help, though, your consistent love through the years leading to the brink, they will be okay.
Yes, you will be on your own again. But you’ve been on your own before. You are competent; more that that you are smart. Someone will hire you even though you’ve been out the workforce so many years. Meanwhile Obamacare will pass and—after worrying every day for a year—you will have health insurance. You will re-learn how to pay the bills and buy a car and apply for a mortgage. You will not—that grotesque, irrational, yet encapsulating fear—eat cat food in your old age. You will shepherd what you have—diminished, cut by half, the practical result of a marriage ended formally, properly, the agreements, and papers, and signature lines all lined up correctly, except the one question they left out: Do you want any of this to happen?
The surprise will come: Your resources will grow as you lean into an ironic sense of abundance — ironic because you were forced there unwillingly by the need to recalibrate: After the earthquake, teetering on that ragged edge left in its wake, absorbing the emotional wreckage that feels so much more diminished than the tidy division by half the lawyers conjured, you will ask: Can I be more? Truer to my subjugated dreams, values, and deepest desires? What are those anyway after so many years of “being” for others, giving to others? In this newfound abundance you will learn to live well on a budget. You will become a more authentic parent — shepherding your children through dark passages and allowing them to thrive into independence. You will write and publish a novel — no, make that two. You will be brave enough to love again, and be heartbroken….again, and you will still seek to find love.
The shock will follow. You will be happy. Not right away, and not without loneliness and despair, but happier than you ever imagined. You will have reimagined a new and INDEPENDENT life — literally packing up your last 30 years and moving across the country to a place of peaceful beauty. A place you once dreamed of, but never imagined you would find — or could afford. Most important, your new life will be one of joyful ABUNDANCE in its re-connectedness to family, friends, and COMMUNITY.
None of this is to say you can skip the hard work that lies ahead, but, my most precious advice, STRAP IN AND ENJOY THE RIDE.
2 responses to “A Letter to My 40-Something Self”
This was beautiful to read. I am proud to be near you on your journey and privileged to have you so close in my life
You will be with me on the journey always and it you are the core joy of the entire ride!