At 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”?