Question: I’m 55, was a stay-at-home mom, raised 4 amazing children, married for 18 years, divorced now for 13 years, had a boyfriend for a few years but that ended, working a job the past 9 years that I use to love but now not so much, working on resume/cover letter garbage which leaves me feel like shit for my lack of skills. Recently moved in with my parents in an apartment below their house. Live in a rural setting where I feel exposed by the people/community I live in. I set myself at the edges and I don’t like what I have become. I feel skill-less, friendless, lover-less. I try to think positive, I eat well, get my acupuncture treatment every three weeks, read positive-insightful books…but I’m not looking into my future like I did when I was younger and it was all unfolding. It’s now, oh look at how I lived my life, all the choices I’ve made how I’ve thrived and not thrived. I don’t know what to do, what path to put my self on. … So my question is Why am I STUCK when I am surrounded on all side by opportunity? Thanks for considering the stuff of another person. Give it to me straight.
Answer: Here it is straight. I’ll start by saying I’m at the front end of your journey, with a one year old and another now on the way. I’m doing the work I love and I see a bright future that is even bigger and better than now. When I read your question it hits me that where you are right now is kind of my worst fear. I think it’s a lot of womens’ worst fear actually, I know that’s a really harsh thing to say but bear with me. Working your whole life, being dedicated to your family, living deeply and then finding yourself living alone underneath your aging parents in a town where you feel ostracized. That’s a really, really fucking shitty situation. I appreciate your positive intentions and yes, you live in a “first world” and have a roof over your head and a job but still, for a woman who thrives on community and love and creativity and connection- you are in the shithouse right now.
And wouldn’t it be nice if things were easier!? You deserve it. You’ve paid your dues, felt deep pain, why the fuck aren’t you getting some support from the universe here? Why are you slogging through emotional baggage at age 55 when you would like to be thinking about a 3 month sailing trip with a lover?
Your letter is witty, insightful and brave so I know you are not some weirdo meglomaniac emotional vampire who sucks everyone dry.
You are a deep, interesting, emotionally aware woman- searching for wholeness and pleasure.
So here’s what I think you should do.
I want you to contemplate the question “what if this is all there is?”
What if it never changes or gets any better?
What if it even gets worse?
Because it could.
What are you going to do?
How can you live in the situation you are in? Alone, working a job that is uninteresting with not much excitement about the future.
How can you live with this.
Becasue you might have to.
My mother lived a pretty lonely life. She could have tried harder, kept at it- but life shut her down too many times and it was really hard for her to find consistent happiness. It was deeply sad to watch, and she died young. I think, partly because of circumstance and partly because she just gave up a bit. The saddest thing about this for me is that she gave up too soon. She had a grandchild, and now another one on the way. She had a LOT of joy coming to her after feeling years of pain.
And she missed it all.
The one amazing thing about life is that crazy shit shows up that is both incredible and terrible and you are not the boss of what happens but you can ride out the storms.
Your worst may be yet to come but your best may be yet to come too and you have no way of knowing how long it’s going to take or what form it will show up in. Check out Grandma Moses to inspire you and read Augusten Burrough’s newest book This is How. It’s fucking awesome and the dirtiest, darkest best self help book I’ve ever read.
Step 1 is sinking into where you are right now. Stop pushing it away, strop trying to “get better” and just sit in the reality that your life kinda fucking sucks right now. When you can get comfortable with the most uncomfortable option, you are free.
Step 2. Are you exercising? Can you do 20 min a day? I know this is obnoxious but moving my body has saved my life.
Step 3. Pray. I don’t care what you do or don’t believe in but clasp your hands together, bow your head and release your longings and fears to the sky.
Believe in miracles. Believe in the unknown. Believe that you are not in charge. Believe in a higher vision that you have not seen yet. Believe that you are here for a reason and because you have once you will again thrive in this horrible, glorious life. But right now that’s not happening. Right now nothing is moving and you are stuck and that’s really, really painful.
And I feel you and I honour your quest and I believe.