I Never Thought My Life Would Turn Out Like This

out of controlAt almost 60, I woke up and realized my survival depended on an ability to make a big change…..

I had a great life, my husband had a career with a nice salary.  I raised the children, washed clothes, ironed, cooked, gardened, gossiped and pursued some enjoyable hobbies (plants and words).  I loved the security and safety.  Then my husband decided to go into business for himself, and although we had savings and a robust IRA I felt as though my safety was gone.

I love my husband so I was surprised to discover that having him home disrupted everything for me.  He was supposed to go to work and the home was mine because there are roles and rules to life.   Once when he tried to help out with the laundry I lashed out as though I found him in bed with a hooker.  I didn’t want him doing the laundry; I wanted him working.  Clearly, I had no idea his career change would cause severe safety and security issues for me.  My husband’s new choices sparked a fear I couldn’t fix.  I didn’t realize how large a problem I had uncovered, and the problem was not my husband.

We invested in real estate right before everything crashed.  I watched as suddenly the entire country was 50% off!  Between that and the stock market crashing, our money disappeared.  We took a loan on our home to keep our investments going but only ended with a heavily mortgaged home, no investments, and few prospects at our age to make a living. I embodied the adage “we attract what we fear the most.”

My husband cooked for a hobby, so we started making pizza out of our home, which morphed into catering.  It is hard work and I didn’t want to do it.  I would think,  “Who will trust us enough to hire us?”  “We are too old to do this.”  My fears were epic, I would lie in bed at night wondering how long it would be before the roof caved in.  I imagined having to move out of my home into a third floor apartment. It was impossible to stop the destructive thoughts because in my convoluted mind I deserved the pain because I had let the financial mess occur.  Only foolish people would have let so much money slip away. I would beg the universe for a “do over”.  Please no more life lessons!  I just wanted to make the investments over with present knowledge and then have lunch with my friends.

These thoughts did not bring peace, just sadness and confusion.  We weren’t foolish; we used our money to make an investment that didn’t work out.

Our reality was starting a business with no money with all problems new businesses have.  When the cook top in our kitchen went out we borrowed a camp stove to cook on.  Ever try to make pasta on a camp stove in your kitchen?  Then one day RC Willie called and said someone had bought us a new cooktop.  I was amazed and thrilled at the generosity, but sad I was someone to be pitied.  When our air conditioner went out we lived with the cold for the winter, but when summer’s miserable heat arrived our Bishop helped us get it fixed.  We were on the receiving end of one blessing after another.  Sadly, I didn’t want help; I wanted to be able to take care of myself.  My bouts of destructive thinking simply produced misery.

Our catering business wasn’t going to be a success unless I was “all in”.   But what I needed to do for the business was well outside my comfort zone.  Bookkeeping, networking, advertising, regulations, fees and finding business were overwhelming.  How would I ever learn it all, much less do it?  I cried a lot, mostly out of frustration, partly out of hopelessness and usually for the life I wanted that just did not exist.

I could sometimes hear a faint voice reminding me I was just trying to make a living; I wasn’t driving anyone to chemo. I still couldn’t see the blessings in front of me, only what I had lost, or actually never really had, but certainly expected.

Now my eyes are opening and I see many women with the same patterns in their lives.  Self-awareness is replacing self-doubt and pity and I decided not to give up.

I know I can do hard things!

Women wake up every day with a life they don’t recognize or certainly didn’t want.  Divorce, elder care, childcare, death, you name it.  Life can turn on a dime.  But we can do hard things!!

So who says to themselves “I never thought life would turn out like this”?

Almost everyone.


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  28 comments for “I Never Thought My Life Would Turn Out Like This

  1. Deborah Drucker
    Deborah Drucker
    July 19, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    So many women and men in our 50s and 60s are going through some really tough transitions. It is hard to have something thrust at us that was not our choice like health, employment or financial problems and some others you mentioned. So I think it is true that life can turn on a dime and that many of our lives don’t take a straight and easy road.

  2. July 19, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    I too, had a life-changing event. My husband of thirty-six years died of early dementia aged 57. So everything I thought was going to happen in my 50s and 60s will now be without him. Not the life I envisioned or would choose, but there it is. But I have learned a lot about the person I am and I am very proud of her!

    • July 22, 2014 at 3:52 pm

      I didn’t realize how exposed I would feel with this published. But if one woman is relieved that she isn’t alone then it will be worth it.

      • July 22, 2014 at 6:01 pm

        These soul-baring stories will do that to you, but what happens for me at least is that I feel surrounded by others who share my experiences (or some version) and who inadvertently lift me up. And, in the sharing we offer others hope and solace.
        So, bravo for you for being so bold and for being so vulnerable. It is a gift, thank you.

      • Sherrie Breen
        July 23, 2014 at 7:10 pm

        There are so many women out there that can completely relate to every word you have written, Donna. We are all stronger than we thought. We have only to remember “It is not what happens in our lives, it is how we handle it”. …And handle it we will with strength, determination, & love for ourselves & families. You have given a gift hope & uplifted many others in sharing your story … now they know they are not alone when life takes an unexpected turn from the path we had planned

  3. July 22, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Awesome story! You’re an amazing example. Thanks for sharing a window into your world. I agree that we just never know but somehow make it happen every single day! P.S. I’d love to find your pizza place if it’s still around!

  4. July 22, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I love your last line (well, I love your openness in telling your story, but I really love the last two lines. Best of luck to you, in everything!

  5. July 22, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    glimpse into life – and THIS 50-pluser appreciates it… 😀

  6. July 22, 2014 at 4:01 pm

    I’ve been asking myself that very question for nearly 30 years as I’ve gone from job to job and seen my husband unemployed a gazillion times. But now, finally, things are pulling together—–writing has kept the sane. Keep up your writing—it makes for a great emotional outlet. You’ve got the right attitude now about blessings—-only good things will come from now on as long as you look to the positive.

  7. Ann Cannon
    July 22, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    I just loved this. So, so timely and wise.

  8. Bonnie
    July 22, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    These are words that strengthen all people. We all go through changes and confronting them with grace and gratitude is what I enjoy hearing about. Thank you Donna for speaking to every woman’s heart.

  9. July 22, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    Persistence and positivity go a LONG way! Good luck going forward. The crash of 2007-2008 sure left me in a spot of saying “I never thought my life would turn out like this.” In many ways, though, I like this life more than I ever expected. 😀

    Cheers to unexpected changes and the good that can come from them… if we get out of our way!

  10. July 22, 2014 at 5:56 pm

    As struggling new business owners, I can so relate. This is a wonderful essay!

  11. Carol A. Cassara
    July 22, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    Strong and solid, that’s what you are. I really do believe that a person and family’s measure is taken by how they respond in the hard times. Y’all rose to the occasion. I hope there are many more blessings in your life, Donna. Much-deserved!

  12. Risa Nye
    July 22, 2014 at 8:05 pm

    I admire your willingness to write about these difficult things. That takes guts and courage, which you certainly have. I never thought my house (and neighborhood) would burn to the ground just before my 40th birthday, but that was what happened. We are tested in ways we can never predict… Thanks for writing this!

  13. July 23, 2014 at 12:06 am

    Feels like you rose to meet what was handed to you. Life would be so much easier if we woke up one day and some one says “Hey, do want to do some really hard stuff today?” instead of just hurling it at us, wouldn’t it? Love your voice and perspective!

  14. felice
    July 23, 2014 at 5:53 am

    Donna, Thank you for the sharing your story on BA50. Clearly the responses and FB likes on this post – show how many hearts and souls you have touched.

    You are not alone — Your journey and inner voices reverberate for so many. Still, your perseverance and courage in your writing gives us all courage to push forward.

    Thank you sir sharing.

  15. Cathy Chester
    July 23, 2014 at 10:34 am

    You certainly opened yourself up to write about this, and I’m so glad you did! You also showed your strength by rising to the occasion and then some!

    Wonderful post, Donna.

  16. July 23, 2014 at 11:33 am

    The human spirit is much more resilient than we realize! Thank you for sharing this, Donna. You certainly inspired me!

  17. Gwen
    July 23, 2014 at 12:41 pm

    Enjoyed your story. Thanks for sharing. You did a great job of describing you’re emotions and the trials you experienced.

  18. Holly Fsrnsworth
    July 23, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    Well my husband of 40 years is in a nursing home at the age of 56. He is unable to walk or do much. He swells from his spine out. It squashes every nerve in his body when that happens. The Dr’s can’t tell us why. It got to the point I couldn’t take care of him. I cry a lot. My partner my everything is there but not thete. This was not the way our live was supposed to be . I know what it’s like to have him under foot. As his health declined I found out real quick. I can feel for you… but things could be so much worse.. take time for your self. So sorry for your problems. But I thank God every day for my struggles. They could be worse…. oh and I live on ! 752.00 a month. Not easy. Keep your chin up… things will get better.

  19. July 23, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    A wonderful essay, Donna. Your honest, open sharing of your feelings touches us all….and gives you peace and relief. My life was suddenly interrupted when my husband died during a nap…..just after our 47th wedding anniversary. The sorrow and pain is hard and I had a lot of anger that he ‘left’….leaving poor me to cope with all of life on my own.
    But it’s been a year and I have grown stronger and braver; writing posts about it all were my lifesavers! You have a wonderful way with words; don’t ever worry about shame or rawness…you have to go deep to really heal. Well done 🙂

  20. July 24, 2014 at 12:09 am

    I want to hear more! Thank you for sharing. It takes courage, but so many people can relate.

  21. July 24, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    Hi Donna, Thank you for sharing your story. Do you have a blog? I would love to read more about your journey.

  22. July 24, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    What a brave thing to post. I think it echoes a lot of feelings many of us are afraid to express: the things we’re trained to believe about life and the roles we should play… there’s so much SHOULD. What SHOULD we be doing? Things SHOULD be better than this. We have to stop should’ing all over ourselves, as Carrie Bradshaw would say!

  23. Patrice
    July 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Donna, you are the only one I know who can ask more questions than I can. Your desire to be a seeker of truth to become the best person you can be is evident. Thank you for.allowing all of us to come out of isolation as we identify with you and your process of trying to figure life out. Thank you for your exceptional wit and for the laughter that keeps us sane. Having been privy to your blog for a few years I can’t resist sharing it with everyone: This article is just a small representation of the many, many terrific articles that she has posted to her blog: bleachervision.blogspot.com
    titled MY LIFE FROM THE BLEACHERS. You ought to read her July 17th 2014 post of
    My Morning with the Feds……you will feel better the rest of the day….and you will find yourself conscientiously steepling your fingers……

  24. Patrice
    July 26, 2014 at 11:23 am

    I’m curious why this is taking so long to “moderate: my comment which would have been the 25th comment?
    Could you please explain it to me?
    Thanks, Patrice

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