I think in pictures – photos, graphics, colors. When I think about my life as a whole, it looks something like this:
As it is with most people, the early part of my life has been has been crammed full of the things one does to create a future and write my own story: education, work, career development, marriage, having kids (epic fail). I suppose that in my mind’s eye the divorce looks like a period at the end of that long sentence. But the beauty of putting a period at the end of that sentence is that now a new thought – a new statement – can begin.
It’s totally up to me what gets filled in between the divorce and the pearly gates. I’m hoping to fill in that gap in a planful way – choosing what I put into these years, selecting based on my own priorities and dreams. Life has a way of throwing obstacles, and during my first half I allowed those obstacles to determine my path. From here on out, I hope to choose my own direction. And when obstacles arrive, I’ll dodge around them but get back on course to where I want to go.
The last year has held a lot of questions for me. The question that screamed loudest at me in the months following the divorce was, “Now what?” If life is no longer about being married, caring for my husband, solving marital problems, trying to have babies, or trying to fit into other people’s molds, then, what is it about? That question was deafeningly loud, at first. It screamed at me loudest after work in the evening when I’d come home to my own space with a vast evening stretched ahead of me, trying to figure out what was meant to fill those hours.
Little by little, I started to find some small answers to that big “now what?” question.
Life after divorce became about simple things. Like taking care of myself physically – cooking a healthy dinner, riding my bike, or walking my dogs at the park. Like putting aside hobbies that weren’t really fulfilling me and finding new ones that did. Like decluttering my home and whittling down the detritus of my former life. And nurturing friendships, and learning to accept much-needed help and support and affection. And finding rewarding ways to give back to others and to my community. And dating – that was an adventure! And eventually, with love. The “now what?” question was answered moment by moment, and the answer was about listening to and investing in myself. Over time those moments added up to hours, and to days, weeks. Those simple moments of investing in my own life are how I plan to write the story of these remaining years.