‘Say YES to everything!’
That was the advice my mother shared with me 17 years ago, as I was divorcing my then husband, bringing our 20-year relationship to an end.
Why did she tell me to do this?
It was because I simply had to re-start my life. From scratch.
My life had, unbeknownst to me, not really been the one I would have chosen had I known any better. In fact, a couple of years post-divorce, my ex even said to me, “You’ve become the person you would’ve become if it hadn’t been for me!”
Rest assured; this statement WASN’T delivered as a compliment. Far from it!
In short, a drip-drip-drip effect over the course of 20 years had resulted in my life ultimately revolving around (predominantly his) family, attending children’s parties and, before the birth of my son, socialising with (predominantly his) friends (with the exception of a very small number of my own friends, who we then only ever saw as couples). Most of my own socialising was done at work in a very upbeat recruitment office.
Yep, that was my life – a far cry from the one it is today!
Although I had attempted to stay in the marital home while the divorce was going through, it simply wasn’t working. Even though we had a pretty large house, it proved REALLY difficult getting divorced and living in the same house. It had been difficult enough before divorce proceedings had started, so it clearly wasn’t going to improve in the meantime.
Long story short, my old boss contacted my parents without me knowing and told them that they needed to get me out of that house. I’m sure my boss had observed that I was working through a breakdown while trying to hold it together at work. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say, Easter 2005 saw me living back at my parents’ house, sharing my old bedroom with my son. Two single beds with limited walking space between them for what turned out to be 9 months whilst my ex lived in a large 4 double-bedroomed house alone until it was sold. But being in my old bedroom was definitely better for my mental wellbeing than it had been when sharing the same space with my ex.
Once away from my ex-husband, and no longer limited by the invisible constraints that his words had delivered over the years, I was suddenly in a position, and had the opportunity, to go ‘out, out’.
And so, I took my mum’s advice and started to say ‘yes’ to everything, from new friends inviting me out (although sometimes letting me down at the last minute – I had to learn to adapt to that pretty quickly too), getting back on the dating scene (I turned 40 in the year of my divorce and, as such, found myself living my 20s in my 40s) to going to parties with my parents and their friends who were all in their 70s. Yep, I said ‘yes’ to everything!
I even recall saying ‘yes’ to a last-minute flight to Prague with friends, not realising that we were on standby for return flights – we were only there for a night too!
I really threw myself into widening my experiences and building up a whole new network of friends, all whilst living back with my parents.
We made it work; however, I was pleased when the marital home eventually sold, and I was in a position to move on. The property I had originally wanted was suddenly no longer available though.
I decided there and then to take the day off work and find somewhere to rent or buy by the end of the day.
It’s amazing what setting good, clear intentions can achieve as I viewed the property I am still living in today, twice in one day, and put in an offer. I moved in during December 2005.
I continued to say ‘yes’ to stuff, and steadily built my network up and expanded my personal and professional development over the intervening years, although those years have not been without their own challenges. Which of course have also provided growth and a continuum of resilience, inner strength, and self-assurance.
By way of a few examples, they have included:
- Learning how to parent my son as my ex always took over in that area.
- Building a fantastic network of solid friends and great connections.
- Discovering coffee shops and wine bars that I never knew existed.
- Holidays with girlfriends for the first time in 20 years.
- Being able to make my own decisions without criticism – well, I still had that to deal with as it took 6 years to stop being affected by my ex’s constant put-downs.
- Branching out into self-employment in 2009, after a lifetime as an employee, which involved learning how to put together business plans and applying for bank loans to keep paying my bills.
- Experiencing, and combating another challenging relationship (this time jealousy was at the core – so many stories to tell!) for 5.5 years.
- Being single for 5 years.
- Training and qualifying as a coach and undertaking loads of other personal development activities and training – too numerous to list here, but include workshops, talks, readings, meetings, socialising, making connections, constantly learning. Reiki, EFT, hypnotherapy, shamanic, spiritual … I could go on!
- Setting up my own recruitment business as a VAT-registered limited company in 2014.
- Dealing with the challenges that Covid presented – knocking seven bells out of all that I had built up.
And I continue to say ‘yes’ to trying and experiencing new things – it’s part of my life. I do also know what to say ‘no’ to these days too.
Back in 2005, I recognised my divorce as an opportunity to have a second stab at life in this lifetime. I sure as heck have done that, although there is still so much that I want to crack on with too!
And now I love helping clients on their journey through that mid-life point, be it personally, professionally, or both, as I have so much personal experience to share from a point of understanding for one thing.
Time for some reflection:
- My life appears to have been crammed full of challenges – they seem never-ending at times; however, I always do my best to look for the positives.
- I have discovered over the years that I don’t need challenging relationships – I’ve walked away from narcissists.
- I once thought that I can get my challenges at work instead. Err, yep, I’ve had rather too many of those too and I now believe that I really don’t need, at the age of 57, a challenging, aka difficult work life either.
- I do love variety though and I do love trying new stuff all the time.
- Saying ‘yes’ is great to build up your experiences of life, particularly if they feel aligned.
- Saying ‘yes’ to keep someone happy isn’t the best plan of action, nor, as I have discovered, is constantly fighting your corner / standing your ground in a challenging relationship with a narcissist. It simply exhausts you over a long period of time and you alter your own behaviour to keep the peace.
- This is not right.
- I know that now.
- The 5 years I spent being single, preferring that to another challenging relationship, were 5 years well spent.
- Getting to know yourself and what fires you up is important.
- It’s important to be you. But you do need to discover yourself to know this.
- All the challenges have made me the resilient person I am today.
- Now I am working towards a mortgage-free life (at last) which will subsequently free up my finances and enable Gareth and I to do other stuff. So much has been on hold for the last 2 years.
- I love my life with Gareth and the chapter we started together 2.5 years ago – again, it hasn’t been without its dramas, not between us, but those around us. We’re strong together though and that is simply wonderful.
Gosh, another long post, which could have ended up even longer had I not stopped myself!
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Lots of love,