I’m separating from the man I’ve been partners with since my 20s. The last few months have been very difficult. My living arrangements are unsettled, so my habits and routines are jumbled.
My emotions are raw, and I cry a lot. I’m lonely and tired most of the time. Some days, I’m ready to throw in the towel and don’t care about the outcome. I just want to move on to tomorrow.
That being said, I’ve never felt so loved or so happy. This weekend, I’m camping and horseback riding at my sister’s Illinois farm with my college roommate.
A few weeks back, a well-connected girlfriend and her hubby invited me to a Lionel Richie concert in Orlando. My jaw dropped when I stepped onto a rooftop for the VIP after party, music pulsing and people dancing up on pillars.
I traveled to Gold Rush days in Wickenburg, AZ, and completed a sailing course. There’s just something about being on the water without a motor. I enjoyed a wedding weekend hosted by a clan as welcoming as my own.
But this weekend, surrounded by farmland, family, and a friend of 45 years, I’ve been able to relax a little. I’m finally feeling settled on the inside.
These months have been the most challenging in my life so far. My friends and family recognized it before I did. Early this year, a bestie called to say, “You think you’re fine now, but it will hit.”
It has hit, and I think I’m fine (as tears run down my cheeks). I led myself to believe I should have this all whipped into the ship-shapedness of my “normal” life. But normal, as I knew it, is changed forever.
In the last three weeks, I started a new job, bought my next home, and decided I’d like to learn Thai – the food and the language. You can see why some people (not pointing fingers, Mom) are concerned.
I also managed the family business and delivered tax work to our CPA right on time. I remind everyone— I do not shirk responsibility.
Confession: I was diagnosed as bipolar in my 20s. Since then, I’ve had normal ups and downs but have mostly sailed through life as a medium achiever. That’s if I’m grading myself.
Most people who know me would grade me higher. I’m tough on myself, too tough. This is how my bipolar manifests. Mood disorders have many odd side effects.
So why does a person who is already too busy take another job? A confidante actually asked me if I was insane. No joke, this is how the Universe conspired for me.
One afternoon, a coworker pushed all the wrong buttons. I excused myself to go next door to the pub for a beer, wedge salad, and complimentary newspaper.
I don’t read the classifieds, but an ad popped out at me from the discarded section at the edge of my plate. Something made me call, and a friend helped me whip up a resume.
I interviewed three times with a retired doctor originally from Thailand. He and his wife were in need of help managing their commercial real estate portfolio.
Truthfully, it’s a lot to manage, but I’m one hell of a manager. The doctor’s first assessment of me was that I needed to dial down the pace. “Slow down,” he said, “There is always tomorrow.” Really? How could he know me so well already?
He didn’t, of course, but here’s what he knew for certain: Speed fuels the opportunity for error. In this complicated, high-stakes game of life, there’s benefit to slowing down, dotting i’s and crossing t’s, and achieving accuracy.
The good doctor believes in clear communication and healthy cooperation. He prefers to hire part time because he believes we need time to manage our own lives. I kid you not, in our second interview, we discussed quality of life and working as a team.
I have to remind myself: it’s just a part-time job, but I’m very proud I’ve been chosen. I’m already on my way to a better, calmer quality of life.
My older brother – my longest friend, really – joined us at my sister’s farm over the weekend. He’s going through a breakup too.
As a life reporter, I notice a lot of us in this general age group going through a second middle-age crisis of sorts. We realize we are not happy, but we know we deserve to be. We have a lot of time left to enjoy.
I’ve met a lot of widows and widowers, too, who know there’s a lot of life left but just can’t put one foot in front of the other to get on with it.
Some decide there will never be significant people in their lives again because life was so good with the one who is now gone. But face it. Even at 65, with today’s longevity, we could easily have a third of our lives left.
When I started my 100th Year Project, I had no clue life would turn inside out over a short three-year period. I just knew I wanted to live a really long time because this world is such a great place to be. But long life on your own could be miserable. Long, happy life is what we want, right?
A friend who has been with me through the thick and thin of this break up has had to remind me, “One day at a time. One thing at a time. Focus.”
So, here’s my plan, and you read it here first, accountability community. If I can make a deal with you, here at Sixty and Me, we all can. A part-time job, afternoons one to five, will give me mornings free to write.
When I get settled in my new home, I’m going to write weekday mornings before I get dressed. If I don’t finish some of the projects I’ve started, I will never be happy with myself. It’s time to stop beating myself up and start patting myself on the back.
Grandma Moses said she started painting at 75 because she was too old to work on the farm but too young to sit on the porch. Grandma, I’m plopping my laptop down right by where you propped your easel. Maybe I’m a late bloomer too.
Here’s what I read in Dr. Lydia Bronte’s book The Longevity Factor:
“If you adopt the view that adult life is a continuous process of growth and development, and that the potential for new learning and new activity exits at all ages, then a late-life career is no longer an idiosyncrasy but a part of that process of growth.”
I’ll have a new housemate, a girlfriend who needs family with her after some scary medical treatments. I need family, too, if I want to feel settled in my new life. We’re going to be there for each other because we both need support, not a relationship, to get us down the road.
I’m learning to recognize what the butterflies in my stomach mean. Applying for the job, they were nervousness. Balancing my checkbook, they represent some fear. Sharing with people I care about, they fly with excitement. Facing a book project, they represent apprehension.
But chin up, Terri. They’re just butterflies. You’ve got this under control.
What major life development did you go through recently? How did you manage to get to the other side? What was involved, physically and emotionally, on your part? Please share with the community and let’s all find support in each other!
Tags Reinventing Yourself