I think one of the reasons I love summer so much is because in my family, we have a lot of birthdays, special occasions, and causes for celebration. I made a pact with myself a couple of years ago to put more effort into acknowledging these moments because they’re fleeting, and they also happen to form the underlying structure that our lives are built upon. So there’s that.
One of these special days is our anniversary…we celebrated our 23rd this year. It seems surreal that I’ve spent more than half my life married to my husband. Unbelievable, really. On our anniversary, I truly feel the enormity of that; the accomplishment it is. But most days I’m just immersed in the day-to-day business of living life.
Steven and I started dating our senior year of high school, and I can’t think of one person who thought we’d make it. The odds were stacked against us for sure. We came from completely different backgrounds, had opposing viewpoints on many things, and it was no secret that his family didn’t care much for me in the beginning.
We argued about those things in the early days, and probably had more strain on our relationship than others because of it. But we were able to keep those difficult things outside of us somehow. We never took it on in a way that could’ve broken us if we weren’t careful.
These days, I get asked all the time, how do you make it work? How have you stayed together for so long? I even occasionally get asked if I would ever consider doing some relationship coaching or create a group program for couples.
Who knows what the future holds in terms of what coaching I might offer, or what I might write about, but the truth is, right now I honestly don’t have the answers to those FAQs about marriage.
For me, marriage has been an odd mixture of fierce love and tenuous tolerance; infinite patience and unnerving frustration; hard work and complacency; undying loyalty and throwing my husband under the bus to a girlfriend over coffee. In other words, it’s complicated.
I know this much is true: “Happily Ever After” doesn’t mean “Perfect Ever After.” Once I understood that, the sailing was a lot smoother in life and in marriage. My husband and I can both be selfless, kind, and astonishingly generous with each other, and we can also both be assholes.
Here’s another fun fact: 23 years, 2 daughters, 7 fur kids, 8 homes, and far more laughs than tears along the way, we both recognize that we have a choice to stay together or not. And we choose each other.
That moment you realize the dreaded term “middle-aged” now refers to you…yeah, that happened. I turned 45 last week, and as much as I tried to convince myself I should be feeling celebratory and grateful, all I really wanted to do was stay in my pjs, park myself on the couch, and binge watch Shameless all day.
As much as I’d like to tell you I’ve had some big revelation in the last week that’s shifted my perspective and made everything better, that’s honestly not the case. I’m still pushing my way through the fog, and trying to figure out what it actually means to be moving into midlife.
Everything about who I am, and what I’ve done up to this point in my life is changing, and as much as I’ve grown, I feel the same in so many intangible ways. I’ve been trying to give myself some grace; be still and figure out what my next steps are, but then I feel the weight of the expectations society has about how I’m supposed to feel, what I’m supposed to want, and who I’m supposed to become next bearing down on me. It’s hard to breathe.
I don’t entirely know what this next phase of life holds, and I’m not really sure how I feel about being 45…am I ready for it? Maybe the better question to ask myself is, is 45 ready for me?
I saw this quote the other day, and it stopped me in my tracks. Memories of past decisions made from a place of fear washed through me and caught in my throat. It was painful. Honestly, even though I’ve done a lot of really hard things, I’ve made many decisions to do or not do because I was afraid.
It’s not the first time I’ve realized that of course. Understanding why I’ve done some of the things I’ve done, and making different choices has been a catalyst for my work as a coach who helps women rediscover who they are aside from being wives and mothers. The part that shocked me, was that it became crystal clear that I was still allowing fear to paralyze me in one particular area of my life: my writing.
My ability to express myself and convey ideas through words is the one thing I’ve always been relatively confident about. I’ve contributed a dozen or so articles to print and online publications, which is impressive considering I didn’t start writing professionally (getting paid) until I was 39, and have done it in fits and starts. But my dream has always been to write a book. To tell my own stories. To bare my soul.
And I’ve started…sort of. I’ve written some pieces that could easily be molded into chapters of a memoir; I’ve outlined another book idea that delves into the process I use with my 1:1 clients to help them uncover their passions and find more joy. But every time I sit down at my desk to work on either of these projects, I freeze. I can’t form a complete thought. So, I close the files on my computer, and put those projects out of my mind for weeks or months at a time. I tell myself that I’ve got too many other things that need my attention right now–things that I now understand, I’ve created to distract me from this work. It’s like I mentioned a few weeks ago, right? Always a new level of mastery to be had in life.
The fears haven’t stopped showing up. The having the fear stop me in my tracks hasn’t taken a hiatus. I’ve just gotten better at detecting my own bullshit, and understanding that if I truly want a crack at my dreams, I have to stop letting myself take the easy way out.
P. S. If you’re desperate to reconnect with YOU, find your passion, and stop feeling like “just a mom” I invite you to apply for a free clarity session with me. As summer approaches, I’m limiting the number of 1:1 clients I work with, and am only taking on 2 new people. CLICK HERE TO APPLY FOR A FREE CLARITY SESSION WITH ME.
You don’t need to have everything figured out in order to have this conversation. You just need to be willing to explore your next steps.