Forty-eight days into every new year, I turn another year older. I like that my “new year” coincides so closely with most of the world’s “new year”. Goal planning, starting a new calendar, forgiving last year’s “failures” and wiping the slate clean is like hitting life’s “refresh” button.
I’d be lying if I told you that being a year older doesn’t sometimes keep me up at night or as I (stiffly) roll out of bed isn’t on my mind in the morning. I quell the panic with the saying, “Consider the alternative.”
Yeah, I read “fifty is the new thirty” and hear some famous woman’s claim, “I’m the best I’ve ever been at sixty.” But even the coolest and strongest of chicks take pause when considering they’ve got more years behind them than in front of them. Believe me, I know. I’m one of them.
I feel the urgency of finite time. Now I no longer say, “I’ll wait patiently for my turn.” Or “There’s plenty of time to do that.” Or “I’m still figuring out what I want in life.” Now I say, “I believe in my intuition.” And “I’ve found my Voice.” And “I’m going to continue to take risks, even at my age.”
Four years ago, I divorced after twenty years of marriage. Gave up my share of our business to my ex in exchange for our eighty-five-year old falling down house. I braced myself for the emotional sorrow the split would have on our ten-year old son. I saw friends, clients and colleagues turn away. My identity was stripped.
The person I had been - had worked my whole life to become – was completely obliterated. Looking at my reflection in the mirror brought no recognition at all. I didn't see "me" staring back and certainly saw no hint of my soul.
I avoided people as there wasn’t a language for what I was going through. Sara Davidson refers to this as a period of “the narrows” where, during lifetime upheavals, you’re in the dark and must wrestle with questions of change and mortality. http://www.saradavidson.com/leap
It’s not pretty, this inward reflection and doubt. It conjurs up all sorts of diabolic thoughts. Forcing myself to face my fears, I welcomed them in for a cup of coffee and compelled myself not to hide the silver. How long will they stay? How do I get rid of them? What if they over power me, trash my house and steal all of my favorite things? What if they kill me and nobody cares?
These vicious fears wake you up in the middle of the night. They hunt you down. They follow you to the grocery store. They taunt you. It’s when you’re alone that they really start hurling the insults: You deserve this! Why would anybody love you? You’ll never make it! They call you names when you’re surrounded by happy people: Loser! Failure! Ugly! Old!
What can you do?
RESIST! Refuse to wash their dirty clothes. Don’t keep their dinner warm. Make no room for them on the couch. Lock the bathroom door. Push them out of bed. STOP CODDLING THEM!
PERSIST! And they will eventually wear out their welcome and leave. When they do, you’ll start noticing the view looks better with the windows open. And that a small circle of loving friends is so much nicer than a big bunch of phonies. You’ll appreciate the strength you didn’t know you had. And pity the fool who tries to fuck with you.
For me, even after two divorces I opened up my heart and let love slip in and build a nest. I pulled my parachute’s ripcord and finally stopped the free fall. I had to defy the fear and take back control.
The naissance of my “re-birth” was set in motion: Examining and peeling back time and memories of who I was, before all the other responsibilities and expectations rested upon my shoulders: daughter, student, sister, employee, wife, boss, mother, daughter-in-law, partner, citizen. Becoming the archer – no longer the target.
I now have my own company and do the same kind of work I did in the businesses once shared with my ex-husband for decades. I’ve got a fourteen-year-old son to raise and bills to pay. But I want to move beyond what I’ve done all these years, beyond the comfort of what I can do – my proven, reliable success.
I’m ready to commit myself, with all the energy and focus it’s going to take, to making a living by writing and communicating in a variety of medium (this public post is a start). I put myself out there a year ago and got published. I also got rejected. It was a nice, quiet start at believing and acting upon a different vision for my life. A way to reach a wider audience with my voice. And to come out from the shadow of ex-partners, ex-husbands and my former self when for the most part, it was their success, their dreams I was working so hard for.
We are responsible for our own journey in our own time. And no more does this seem real than when we take the arrow out of someone else's hands and take aim at our own target. Yeah, the target moves. It may even disappear. You might want to give up. Or cry. Or blame the world. Or blame yourself. You may even curse every bastard who’s ever done you wrong. I know I have.
I still struggle with a victim mentality, asking the universe: What’s wrong with me? Who can I blame? Why me? What did I ever do?
But with time, reflection and processing, I've started answering bigger questions like: What is my purpose? What is unfolding in me? How can I let go? What are my passions?
And I started wondering, What if the bad things are leading me to some great things? What if I had everything I am envisioning? How can I become a better archer?
I’m giving myself permission to follow a different dream and flow into a new direction in life. I’m giving myself permission to change shit up,even at my age.
It took me four years to walk through the fire and be able to write this post and get back to believing in myself again and take aim at something different. Who would have imagined it would take so long? And can I, will I bring my full vision to light?
It’s not yet my birthday, so the “refresh” button hasn’t been pushed. When it does, this new direction will be underway. It's not magic. But it is hard work, luck and opening yourself up to the great big universe out there (which does move in mysterious ways). But as the archer and no longer the target, I'm hoping the end of 2018 provides some rockin' positive cosmic feedback.
What are you going to do with your "new" year?