There have been many times in my life that things just did not go the way I had expected. My upbringing was quite sheltered, and as I stepped out into the world after graduating from college, I thought I had my life planned. I was getting married the following month, and my fiancé was entering seminary in the fall. I was going to be a pastor’s wife, and I thought that was a noble calling.
Yeah, well, that didn’t happen. I did get married, and just a couple years into the marriage, he decided the ministry was not where he was to go. By this time I had an infant so my life was busy being a mom, and I didn’t really think about how that change would change my path. A few more children later my marriage was falling apart. Wow, this was never in my plan. Single mom, four sons, no real career, no money. That is not a recipe for success.
I really struggled with that new assignment. I just couldn’t get it together. Finances were terrible. Kids were rowdy. I was depressed. I was extremely lonely. Once again, that is not a recipe for success. I married three years later, and added more stress to my life. I think I married to no longer be lonely. What a mistake that was. One can be lonely in a marriage. I will not go into the dysfunctions of that marriage—it was written about before, so if you want to know that story, you can click on this link. I ended up sending this guy packing. Now I was even more broke, my kids were teenagers, and I had no real career.
As I look back on that time, I don’t know what moved me to reinvent myself, other than what was going on for years in my life was not working.
The first decision I made was to be satisfied as a single person. My new mantra was, “Nothing is better than something.” I don’t need something in my life to give me purpose or meaning. I needed to find that in myself. I needed to know that I was enough. Counseling helped. A twelve-step recovery group for codependence helped. I needed to find purpose. Reading “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren helped. Not only did I now realize my purpose was not just about me, but I also realized the changes I wanted to make in me to move forward.
No longer was I looking for a job. I was looking for a career that would sustain me through retirement. I had some human resources experience which I loved, and decided to focus that direction career wise. I had to pay my dues. I took a very low level HR job just to get it on my resume. I learned everything I could from others and from continuing education classes in the field. I became a subject matter expert on many areas of human resources.
I also needed to take care of my loneliness problem. I started going back to church. It was a very large church, and I picked it because I wanted to be invisible. As I was healing more and more, I realized invisible was not what I wanted to be. I wanted relationships with others. After about a year of attending, I joined a small group bible study from the church and also attended some of the special activities of the church. I started making friends while also building up my faith. I also started attending human resources networking groups. I made friends and became more proficient at my career.
I was seeing changes in my life. Sometimes they were slow and incremental and sometimes it was a conscious decision to make a wise move that moved me forward. During this time, I also learned to let go of dysfunctional relationships. I needed to be around healthy people who would not drag me down as my need to grow and change continued. Sometimes we have friends, who just kind of suck the life out of us, or behave in a dysfunctional way which we had put up with because they were a friend. At that point in my life, I could not afford to be around these folks. I needed all the healthy I could get. As time moved on, some of these people I never saw or heard from again. Some others, as they moved towards healthy, we reconnected and enjoyed our healthier friendship.
I can say that I am not the same person I was at 45 years old. I have grown so much mentally, educationally, and spiritually. I became a person who could not only survive on my own, but thrive on my own. In late 2012, I met Dennis. I was no longer “needing” to have a relationship. I never would have guessed I would marry this man. He is not perfect, but he is perfect for me. I was so clear on my values by this point in my life, that if I went on a date with someone who did not share my values, it was a one time date. I no longer swayed with the wind hoping someone would love me if I pleased them. I had my stand, my values, and I could recite what they were. There was no compromise on these values. No longer was anyone going to cross my boundaries of what was acceptable in my life.
I still do a reinvention once in a while. I call it continual improvement! In my 60’s I ran my first and only 5k. In my late 60’s I learned to hike in the outdoors. I try to be proactive with my physical, mental, and spiritual health.
None of this is done perfectly. I am a work in progress, and will be until I take my last breath. At 73 I still know that my circumstances may change that may require a bit of reinvention. Change is never easy, but change is always necessary.