Life After 40…

Growing up I couldn’t see myself ever making it (literally staying alive) until I was 30. Was quite sure my abusive childhood would lead me into a situation that would kill me before then. When 30 came around I was happier than I had ever been in my life. I had married my best friend and had a thriving household. It was an occasion we celebrated and I didn’t give any thought to what 40 would bring.

Fast forward 10 years and I celebrated my 40th birthday without my love. My children made sure it was an amazing celebration – checked off a couple bucket list items for that trip – so I had no reason to feel sad but I was. On this birthday the future was all I thought about. All I had ever known myself to be was predefined roles. I didn’t FEEL 40! There was a part of my brain going “this can’t be right”.

Society pushes us to seek love, marriage, and the baby carriage as ultimate life goals. Most of us rush at them like a runaway freight train and then wonder a few years later why. What we don’t learn is how important taking care of your own self is to those goals. Literally we judge others who put themselves first. I learned to be afraid of judgement from others and expected to conform myself to whomever I needed to be to serve the situation. Fred pushed me to at least be able to start the process of finding myself and my voice but when love, marriage, and the baby carriage either died or started to leave the nest chaos ensued.

With a lot of hard work, making many mistakes along the way, I am starting to figure that out. I know I am not alone in this season of discovery…heck I’ve even see that there are books written on the subject about finding oneself after 40. I’m surrounded by good people that revel with me on whatever new thing we have discovered is not as we always thought it was. I’m in an exciting time of life where I am having a blast. It’s just flat amazing how empowering it is to not have to consult with anyone before making choices. Realizing that others are so lost in their own pain and survival that they don’t even notice the thing I used fear was a neon sign above my head. The most powerful discovery for me personally is someone else’s reality isn’t mine. I am not whatever label someone else has tried to stick on me. Someone else’s judgement of me is about them and their insecurity and fears, not me. Try that one on for size. It’ll blow your mind.

But it leads me to wonder why are we not teaching our children that nurturing your own self and being an individual is not a bad thing? What would it change for the next generation if they understood individuality with make them MORE not less? How do we break the cycle of caring and/or fearing what others think? That being a healthy individual capable of standing on your own two feet makes better relationships not worse ones? Lots of food for thought on those questions for a later post.

I’ll close with…don’t be afraid of the second chapter in life. Wherever you are on your journey about you, it’s a season of empowering change that your only regret will be not discovering these truths in your 20’s. Dust off the bucket list. MAKE a bucket list. Take the trip. Wear the whatever. Do something crazy and impulsive and do not care who is watching. Maybe YOU will inspire someone else!

Blessings y’all – Amy

Reflections of a Wounded Heart

They say everything changes when you turn 40. Actually they say it all goes to hell in a hand basket. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Things droop that didn’t before, going to bed at 8 am no longer seems appalling, the eye doctor says the dreaded “bi-focal” word. You don’t FEEL 40, heck you don’t feel 30, but the number keeps climbing.

More importantly your perspective on many things changes. For some, it happens naturally and without pain. Maturity just grows along with the number of candles on your cake. For others, 🙋🏻‍♀️, it takes catastrophic events to shake them out of the protective bubble they have cast around themselves. While I wish dearly I had fallen into group “a” my life has always dictated I do things the hard way.

If you have known me long or been reading here you know I’ve been going through massive changes in my life. Some of my choosing but most, well, not. What I didn’t anticipate as I fought, scratched, clawed, disrespected, and basically did everything but throw myself in front of things beyond my control is that God was working. He was allowing me to screw up to the “nth” degree. On purpose. Letting me get to a place there was no light. No hope. No joy. No love. Nothing at all left of the stability I craved with every fiber of my being.

Before you jump ship saying He wouldn’t do that – hang on. God had been trying to get my attention for years. Aborted journals reflect that. Times I cried out but quickly “fixed” it myself attested to that. I am a “fixer”. There is nothing (so I thought) that I couldn’t analyze for all the possible negative outcomes and navigate myself or someone I loved out of danger. I mean c’mon. If you were dealing with a human that dumb wouldn’t you let them fall as far as they could before you showed them the way?

Not saying God has any such thoughts. But I certainly would have looked at me and say “you have fun with that let me know when you need real help”. Blessedly God has abundant mercy and grace. He is patient and knew long before I did that this dark season was coming. Sometimes I wish he had given me some warning but if I look back really hard I bet I can find the warnings I chose to ignore.

Recently a co-worker told me he’s finding many people our age running into self reflection. I can’t speak for anyone else but self reflection is putting it mildly. Self analysis, soul searching, self questioning, self correction, self remodeling…you get the idea. Coming face to face with every one of my imperfections and analyzing and agonizing over how I have handled some parts of my life. How it changed relationships in my past or present. How it passed down to my children. Who my own fears and insecurities erased from my life. It’s exhausting. I’m not a bad person – I know that – but I, like any human, have places I could have chosen a different path.

It would be easy to blame it all on the very broken environment I was raised in. And while the lions share of it belongs there (validated by the counselor) at some point I consciously or subconsciously made choices for my own protection from pain. I willingly tucked my family in closer than it should have been (to be healthy) because I was afraid the world would break the happiness I had found. I guarded the nest Fred and I created with the energy of a tiger protecting a steak. When I suffered the catastrophic loss of my husband I somehow pulled my children in CLOSER. Unknowingly stifling their growth and happiness.

Regardless of what anyone thinks not a single choice I have made has been with ill intention. Not one. I am discovering how very hard it is for others to know that. In a society where judging comes first and any sort of compassion and understanding comes second it appeared controlling. Only those closest to me, who know my purest heart, understand who I am. As I embrace the woman God intended me to be, and get the love I need from Him (where I should have gotten it all along), I am finding myself still battling stress and regrets but with a softer tongue and a self awareness that comes with maturity and being shaped by pain. I find myself understanding which wrong turns I took and how a different path would have landed a different outcome. I find myself letting my children know where I went wrong so they can avoid making the same painful mistakes. Fully understanding that in their young immaturity they’ll probably have to make them anyway but once a protective mother always a protective mother.

I say all this to say…take time for reflection. Allow God to speak to your heart and show you the way. If you are still young avoid youthful impatience in your choices. Be mindful of the longevity of adulthood and how lasting decisions really can be. But know that if you are nursing a wounded heart? God still has plans for you. He does for me and while I’m impatient to find out what they are I know it’ll happen on His time. And that I am learning in every second that I am waiting.

God Bless – Amy