Six years ago my husband of 31 years asked for a divorce. Despite the fact that I felt in the pit of my stomach this was coming, I never believed we would really split up, after all, we’d been together for over half of our lives. When he told me, I heard the thunderous sound of the other shoe dropping. I was also terrified. I hadn’t lived alone for a very long time, and having a grasp of our finances, I knew my income would make it very difficult to live on my own. My husband leaving felt like the end of the world. I NEVER saw myself as a divorced woman, especially not at 61. Part of me wanted to just crawl into a hole and lick my wounds, but I didn’t even miss a day of work. I was sadder and more angry than I’ve ever felt in my life, but I had to keep going. I don’t necessarily recommend this approach, but I somehow knew it was the only way I could keep from falling apart.
A dear friend offered her empty MIL apartment to me for a few months. I paid rent, half the rent of the apartment we lived in when we split. I ended up staying there for 3 1/2 years. It was a delightful studio apartment with skylights and big windows. The small size felt comforting and cozy when I was still going through the pain and uncertainty of the divorce, and starting my life over. It was my safe cocoon.
Another wise friend who’d also been through a divorce advised me to try something new every day. I took the advice to heart, as doing what was left of my “usual” things only reminded me I was alone and poor. It was a good practice and helped me realize that there was the possibility of a bigger, better life ahead. I would definitely recommend this practice to anyone going through a big change!
Without the dubious security of another income (my husband’s), I was forced to take my struggling private massage practice seriously. It was a struggle, but I began to enjoy building a business, and eventually my financial picture became less dire. As my life leveled out, and I had time and resources to think beyond survival, I began to feel cramped in my cozy nest. I wanted a place with more space for a bigger life and where I could afford to live as I aged and inevitably had to give up massage.
Two and a half years ago, I was lucky to get an apartment in an Artspace building. I carefully researched what it would mean to live here, based on what I felt my needs would be as I grew older. The rents are stable, and subsidized, the space is optimized for artists to live and work in their apartment, the residents are expected to be a community, supportive of each other and everyone’s artistic expression. I’m also close to all sorts of public transportation, so I don’t need the expense of a car, which I gave up a year ago!
I was scared to death when my husband left, but I have developed courage over the six years since that day. I can see now that I’ve been resourceful all my life, I’ve learned that resourcefulness is a part of courage. I would never have said I was courageous, at any point in my life. That is why I was so scared. Now I acknowledge my courage, which I think may have been there all along, I just forgot about it.
Courage is recognizing I can trust myself.
It is listening to the voice of intuition, more than the voice of the critic.
It is being vulnerable and willing to ask for help.
Courage is trusting that life is good and abundant.