As I wrote in a recent post, I am again on my way from here to there, with life in transition. A transition is moving from one life chapter to the next such as transitioning from teenager to adult or from adult to retiree. We may also transition after a significant life event such as moving house; changing jobs; having children; coping with an illness, injury or disability; and navigating a financial or legal crises. Transitions involve four phases – holding on, letting go, taking on, then finally moving on.
The life ‘chapter’ or ‘event’ I have been through is the end of my marriage and relationship with my husband of 37 years. In my case of late-life divorce, there has not been this one simple life changing event for me. There have been several. The business sale has meant the end of my working life as I have known it and an identity crisis of its own merit. There has been a change in family dynamics, my social networks and community connections. There is my sunken financial situation to consider. I also intend to sell my home, move to a new area and forge ahead in a new career and lifestyle. That is a lot of changes over a few short years.
Each one of those changes is having or will have emotional, practical, financial and sometimes legal issues to contend with. While some changes have occurred or will occur together, more often than not one aspect has lagged behind the rest. At those times there has been much angst for the part of me ready and willing to move forward, waiting for the part of me being held back in either an emotional or practical sense.
When this first happened, when all the ramifications of what the separation would mean to my life hit me, I felt overwhelmed. I could not cope. At that time I blocked out everything that I could not cope with. I then bravely developed strategies to “prioritize” major events that I knew I would eventually have to deal with and I began tackling them one at a time.
For the first eighteen months I paid attention to the emotional separation from my husband. My successful transition has been holding on to my core values, letting go of resentment and victim mentality, taking on responsibility and choices for my own well-being, and moving on to the new me.
For the next two years up to the current time, my focus was to finalize the marital property settlement including sale of the business. In that respect I have successfully navigated the first two transition phases by holding on to pride in what I have achieved in my business and community life, and letting go of the resentment of being the one left to navigate the process and take it to its conclusion. At the same time in a legal and financial sense, I was letting go of half of our assets and resentment at being left in a tricky financial position.
Back on the bridge, I am currently taking on responsibility for my own financial well-being and am planning on moving on to a new career. Concurrently with that I will be selling my home, moving to a new area and forming a new identity for myself in a new community.
With many changes ahead, it would be easy to get pulled down to the victim mentality of ‘woe is me, look at all I still have to do’ thought process and relating everything back to the catastrophic event of the divorce. I have noticed those thought processes are no longer prominent. In fact I am looking forward with eager anticipation. Three things I feel have assisted me in this.
- The changes I am making now are my own choices. That is empowering.
- I now have an acceptance of my life being in transition. That is calming.
- I recognize the flexibility that being in transition offers me. That is exciting.
(You can read more about transitions in an excellent post by Ian Munro at leading essentially.)