Having been in a bad marriage for more than 30 years, I thought I was the biggest loser on the planet. I felt I was certainly not attractive and unappealing. I was overweight. I was not good at making money, but I was good at spending them. I wasn’t sexy at all and had zero sex appeal.

Guess what I have learned about myself in the last three years since I left my husband: there’s nothing wrong with me after all! That’s right, there is nothing wrong with me. I have a feeling that if you are reading this article, there is nothing wrong with you either. Amazing, right?

It took me a long time to get here, though. After years of being beaten up, figuratively, I left my husband and moved into a one-room loft. I was what I refer to as a hot mess. I was truly broken, and I thought I was all used up.

I felt that I was unlovable and had grown thorns on my body. I had definitely built a wall around me to protect myself from the unhappy life that I led with my husband. I honestly thought that the real me was gone, buried so deep that I wouldn’t get it back.

It took some time – a lot of time, in fact. And, while I worked to be content on the inside, it didn’t hurt when a man paid attention to me, whether as a date or a new friend. It felt good and made me think that “I still got it.” That is probably the icing on the “new-old Paula.”

Be OK with Yourself First

So, if you are in the position of having to start over, due to divorce or death, follow these steps and you will get it right.

First, you need to be OK with yourself. If your life is in transition, this is the best time to take stock of who you are and who you want to be. Figure out what changes, if any, need to be made.

In my case, I was in a business that I despised, and I needed to get out of it no matter what the consequences. It did cost me, but I did it anyway because as long as I was trying to be something I was not, my life was never going to improve.

Getting out of that business allowed me to spend time thinking about what I wanted my life to look like moving forward. It gave me permission to dream. I was out from under a huge boulder.

I started thinking about what I used to like to do – before I met my husband, before I had children and before I was Mrs. Harer.

My husband valued popularity – I know it sounds goofy but it is true. So, in order to make him like me, I valued who I was on the outside. I wasn’t happy. I love being a party girl as much as the next person, but constantly living in that lifestyle was not fulfilling.

Now I have a great time when I am with people, but it does not define me. I knit, I go to the movies alone and I read. I am happy with myself.

When you can find that girl inside, the one you were all those years ago, I think it makes for a more grounded feeling. I know who I am and I know what I like and what I don’t like, and I don’t have to change that. How empowering is that knowledge?

Add in What You Like to Do

At first, when I was living alone again, I joined every event I could in order to meet new people: neighborhood groups, a single women’s social group – though I think I would be more comfortable calling it a gang – a book club, and a couple other meetups.

I needed to feel connected. But, after a while, I began to dread some of the meetings and realized that they just weren’t me.

I did get to know more new people, but I wasn’t enjoying the activities and the people weren’t necessarily a good fit for me. Lesson learned. However, I love singing in a citywide choir and I love volunteering in that choir at the women’s prison near my home.

So, I have found out what I like to do and what I can live without, and I am making changes in how I spend my time. I don’t want to do what I don’t want to do anymore.

Take the Risk with New Relationships

Now, the hard part. Dating after 60 is horrible. There’s no other way to put it. It is simply horrible! But if having a man in your life is something that you want, and I do like having a man in my life, then you just have to put yourself out there.

Here’s how I look at it: I wasn’t going to meet someone by sitting at home and telling myself how gross online dating sites are. They are, it’s true, but they are what is available, so I just had to buck up and get on board.

Whatever method you use to meet a new partner or friend, you have to be proactive. When I was in my 20s, I didn’t have to be proactive. Those days are over. And sitting on your couch complaining about how there are no men doesn’t help either.

I have met many frogs. And it’s not like all of them call me back, so I’m a frog too. But, occasionally, I have met a nice guy: he might be a friend or might be more.

There are still a few great guys, but I would not have met them without taking the risk, without putting myself out there. So, if you want to meet a partner or a friend, put on your big girl pants and get out there.

Going through all these steps has helped me figure out that I am OK exactly as I am. If you are in the position of having to start over, you may need to find out that you are OK just as you are as well. When you do, you will be able to start living life the way you always intended it to be.

What are you doing to find yourself again? What has worked for you and what has not? Can’t wait to hear! Let’s have a chat!

Paula HarerAfter a 30-year marriage crumbled, Paula Harer found herself single for the first time in 35 years. She felt like she had something to say about her experience, so started writing a blog called Starting Over at Sixty. She addresses everything from loneliness and reinvention and offers ways to create a new outlook on life.

Let's Have a Conversation!