June 20, 2012

Woman-50 and Ready to Die

How a woman found herself at last

A woman in crisis came for spiritual counseling.  She had just turned 50 and was suicidal.  She had never felt like she belonged here, never felt worthy, and had never done anything of value with her life.  Her father died when she was a teen; she felt it should have been her instead and wished she could just leave this life.  Grief, guilt, and a very harsh body image (she is thin and athletic, by the way) kept her self-loathing intact, completely restricting her ability to even consider what made her happy.  She missed her chance at life by never fulfilling any of her dreams.  Her entire life had been spent trying to please others, to be a good daughter, student, friend, employee, and lover.  She had never done a single thing she wanted just for her own self-expression or creative enrichment. NEVER.

As the practitioner offered suggestions, she folded her arms and legs and refused to be open to the options in her life.  It was simply too late.  She had come to define her wasted life as an unalterable death sentence and would just as soon get on with the next life and try again.

Have you ever wondered what the hell you’ve been doing all these years instead of living?  I sure have.  After a devastating divorce and finding myself a single mother of two boys, I set myself in front of the mirror and took a long hard look.  “Girl, this is it,” I said,” it’s time to find a way to feed your soul and live your life differently.  All those years in service to others has made you a martyr; you’ve become bitter and exhausted.”  As I really opened up to the patterns I had been clinging to, I realized I needed therapy and lots of it.  Work, sleep, shop, cook, clean, drive, discipline, guide, help, give give give…all these verbs defined me and I was empty with nothing left to nourish me.   Besides endless to-do lists, over the years I had developed chronic migraines, insomnia, and debilitating depression.  These maladies were manifestations or symptoms of a life seriously out of balance.  Each night I took handfuls of pills to cope but I will still slipping backward… then my husband left me for another woman.

As I write these words now, sitting peacefully on my couch next to the fire with the rain falling lightly outside, I am a new woman.  I have worked very hard to face my demons of shame, blame, and victimhood and have come to really love myself for the first time.  Each Friday my boys spend the night with their dad and I get this 24-hour span of time for me.  I spend that time doing whatever pleases ME.  If he hadn’t left me I may have become that shell of a woman in the counselor’s office saying that I had wasted my life and I only wished to start all over.

The poem by Jenny Joseph, “Warning” (When I am Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple), resonated with me.  Why should I wait until I am old? How about now while I am still hot and energetic and brave enough to go for it?  Yes, it’s been a scary and at times awkward journey over the past year, but as I share my story I hope to encourage other women to go live life without the regrets of never having lived.  Come with me, but first take a deep breath!

And just in case you were curious, that woman who was 50 ready to die? She stepped out of her comfort zone and attended a women’s retreat.  Somewhere during the second day her tightly crossed arms unfolded, her heart cracked open and the tears came – long, hard, and seemingly unstoppable.  It scared her – but not to death.  It scared her into life and the realization that this life could be wonderful if she chose to live it.  It was time to explore what she came here to do.  She started volunteering with animals and she even discovered she loved to cook and wanted to travel.

Breakdown into breakthrough… I can relate to that!  Can you?

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