Embracing a New Dream at Any Age

May 19, 2011

in Life Lessons

reset button“What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning.The end is where we start from.”

~T. S. Eliot

It is an honor for me to receive a direct email from someone who shares his or her personal story and then asks for advice. I do the best I can to give solid advice, but know our community of Naked Girl (and Guy!) wannabe’s will be a great resource for a reader as well.

A woman contacted me recently after reading my entire blog. She is redefining her life following divorce. The reader was married three years, which ended while she was pregnant. Here are the questions she posed:

1) Do you wish it had happened sooner?

2) Do you think in some ways I’m better off that I won’t have an entire 20 years worth of memories with this man?

My response to her:

1) No

2) I think it happened exactly when it needed to happen. You are no better or worse as a result of the amount of years you were married.

Will it be easier to start fresh at a younger age (she is over a decade younger than me)? Absolutely. That’s something to be grateful for, but if she were ten years older, I would give her the same advice.

Divorce (after 20 years of marriage) was a life-changing event that set me on a completely different path in life. And I find the unexpected change thrilling now. With total certainty I can state that if I were still married I would not be in photography school, writing on this blog, breathing as deeply, laughing as often, or be this happy overall. I would not have made such wonderful friends through blogging or been touched by the wonderful comments readers leave daily.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

~C.S. Lewis

Being in your 20′s, 30′s, 40′s, 50′s or older has no bearing on how you redefine your life after divorce. Whatever the age, just don’t live with regret. My belief in living a regret-free life and believing that a new dream can begin at any age is why I do not wish my divorce happened any sooner. To be where I am today, I had to live the life I did for 20 years with my husband. All of those experiences in my marriage brought me to where I am now. And right now I am incredibly happy. The most important reason to not regret the marriage would have to be my children; they are a product of our union and I will be forever grateful as a result.

It’s such a gift to get a do-over at any age.

What are your thoughts for the reader?

Please share advice for her in the comment section.

NOTE: Today’s post was inspired by a writing prompt at Studio30 Plus, which is a social media site for writers over 30. The prompt this week: The do over.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

alysonsblog May 19, 2011 at 12:13 pm

this really touched me, its so true, I used to be so unhappy just I just couldnt see how I would ever lift my head to the light again. I’d love to tell you what the turning point was but for me it was a slow evolution to realising that I couldnt stay in that place, and that I had one shot at doing this so I better get on and make it happen. I decided to face every demon I had and let me tell you… kicking demon ass is empowering

In answer to the questions posed
1) Do you wish it had happened sooner?
For me – Yes – I spent 3 years plotting escape and i wished I had just done it sooner, been braver and bolder

2) Do you think in some ways I’m better off that I won’t have an entire 20 years worth of memories with this man?
The thing that makes me sad are the shared memories that disappear, things like saying ‘she has her daddies hands, or remember when she climbed all over grandad and knocked off his glasses…’ small meaningful things that are only relevant to those who were there.. that makes me sad.. i think of these things and have nowhere to go with them
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Alyson,
Thank you for sharing your insight!

It is difficult to miss out on shared memories of the children. I have the same feeling at times.

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Single Mom Seeking May 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm

I also spent many years telling myself, “How could I have wasted so much of my life trying to make a dysfunctional relationship work?”
I really beat myself up — ouch.
I’d suggest reaching out to find a support group and/or therapy. Guilt can be so thick and heavy. Getting some help, even if it’s for a short time, might help you move through these feelings and move ON.
I really get it!

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Naked Girl in a Dress May 21, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Thank you for stopping by to comment! It is a great perspective to share.

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Jonah Gibson May 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm

I probably have no business answering because I am not divorced, but I am having to start over trying to be something else because of a forced retirement. I think there are some similarities. I find myself wishing that I had tried this course earlier. I have regrets about hanging on to unproductive and abusive work relationships long past the point where I knew they were not advancing my career or my personal development. Had I broken free earlier I would have been more resilient, energetic, and perhaps resourceful. Now though I have experiences I would not have had otherwise that I can mine for useful bits of wisdom. On balance I have to agree I think that it really doesn’t matter that much. You just have to start where you find yourself and move forward. Regrets and second guessing are seductive, but counterproductive.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 21, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Jonah,

You absolutely have every right to weigh in on this important topic. Thank you for sharing. I am in complete agreement with you in that I am so grateful for the timing of different events in my life as everything has led to where I am today.

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Jonah Gibson May 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm

…love the reset button photo by the way. so appropriate.
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Random Girl May 19, 2011 at 3:07 pm

I agree with your take on this Naked Girl. You have to live each moment of the past to bring you to where you are this moment. My least favorite feeling is regret. It is such a useless way to spend my energy. I refuse to regret anything now. I see each experience as needed and valid. Being where I am now, divorced, on my own again, starting over, whatever you want to call it, is a gift to me. A chance to be selfish again, to redefine how I want to spend my time, what i want to invest in, to be adventurous in new ways that I would have never been able to be before.
I do miss the comfort and familiarity that I had at points in my marriage but I have found new comforts and my path is truly mine now. No regrets.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 21, 2011 at 11:29 pm

I am glad to hear how you have embraced where you are right now! I knew that about you already, but it is great to read again.

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Heather O. May 19, 2011 at 6:15 pm

I was married for 6 years when I realized how unhappy I was. It was another year before we were officially divorced. I handled things badly on a personal level and it has taken years of work to feel *okay* again… and only recently did I begin to feel *happy* again.

1) Do you wish it had happened sooner?
Yes & no. I’m glad to have my children, of course, but I wish I hadn’t waited until I was completely miserable. I think it happened as soon as I realized I was capable of doing it, of ending the marriage and being alone.

2) Do you think in some ways I’m better off that I won’t have an entire 20 years worth of memories with this man?
It’s strange enough having 8 years of memories with him that I don’t voice or think about much, because there’s no one to mention them to. I remember feeling like it was going to be difficult to begin to date again, because I was used to being with a man who already knew most everything… I wasn’t accustomed to “telling my story” and going through all of my little anecdotes. It wasn’t as hard as I’d thought it would be, surprisingly.

I am a much happier person on this side of my first marriage. I have no regrets… I’m where I’m supposed to be, and so are you. :)
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 22, 2011 at 12:36 am

Heather,

It is great to hear you are feeling happy again!

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Emma Claw May 20, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Hello, Ms. Naked. I enjoyed this blog entry very much and found it very inspiring. It should not be forgotten that you can redefine yourself whenever you feel it necessary.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 22, 2011 at 12:17 am

Thank you Emma!

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Melissa Hicks May 21, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I feel a little unqualified here, because although I’m a single mom too, I’ve never been one for marriage. I had a brief and intense marriage way back in the day, but no kids were involved, and I’ve made a career of steering clear since. I do understand frustration, starting over, and wounded emotions though–too well.

My starting over is of a different sort. I’ve never really been able to trust someone to be my other half. I’m trying to learn at 30+ how to let someone in for a change. But here’s my input anyway:

1) Do you wish it had happened sooner?
Every time life kicks you in the ass, you learn a lesson. I try to lean on that idea when I’m down. You did learn and you’ve gained from this. You’re only stronger, better, and smarter because of this. You can wish it happened sooner, but it’s wasting your time. With what you know now, how can you improve your situation?

2) Do you think in some ways I’m better off that I won’t have an entire 20 years worth of memories with this man?
I think in a lot of ways you are! As a commitment-phobe, this is generally my best excuse for the breakup. 17 more years marriage is 17 more years hurt. I think, if you really, REALLY, know that something is not going to work out, ending it then is a kindness.

By not having the whole 20 years, he’s done you a bit of a favor. You have 17 extra whole years to find what you want, what you need, and what you deserve. Make the most of it.

I know this must be a hard time for you, but I hope that the support helps. Take care of yourself, and start dreaming of the future. The wonderful future with a beautiful kid, and the someone I know is waiting.
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Naked Girl in a Dress May 21, 2011 at 11:58 pm

Melissa,

Thank you for the detailed, thoughtful response. You shared wonderful insight for the reader.

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Donald July 12, 2011 at 1:17 pm

I am not divorced, but I feel your advices can be applied with my situation. I didn’t finish college, I concentrated on finding myself and doing the things I love to do. I am older when I decided to go back to school. I notice that my batch mates were already doing good on their careers while I was back at school. I tried not regretting the time wasted but focusing on what I should do at present. I remembered the good things I had experienced and learned. I graduated and during the time I was in school, though I was older, I felt I belonged.

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Roxanne August 6, 2011 at 10:11 am

I applaud you for where you are now. You are happy. That is good. I hope to be there some day.

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Amy August 6, 2011 at 10:18 am

Been there done that at age 30 – 10 years later I am a million times happier married to a super goofy wonderful person, and the years in between when I wasn’t married or dating were AWESOME in their own way. Don’t waste a second mooning over the past. It will only hinder your future.
And occasionally throwing yourself on a bed, drunk and melodramatic and having a huge crying jag is TOTALLY acceptable!
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Lance August 6, 2011 at 10:31 am

It’s surreal to read this. Four to five years ago I was where you are now, mentally. I ran circles in my mind wondering why, why why why, and why.

Life always gets better, especially when you take control. But life also teaches you lessons you haven’t thought about. Instead of a reset button, I think you need new game. What’s done is done.

Trust me. Unless you end up in prison or get with a dude who is, your life is about to be amazing. You have the freedom and free will to make it so.

I need one of those headsets so I can run around on stage and have you buy my self help tapes for $19.99 each

Go Braves
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Sandra Tyler March 24, 2012 at 8:19 am

Whether about divorce or not, your point about living with regret shoulda lays be well taken. Visiting from the writers edge hop.

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Naked Girl in a Dress March 24, 2012 at 11:19 am

Thanks for visiting. It really is a universal message, but one I discovered through separation and divorce. I agree completely!

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Susan March 24, 2012 at 9:26 pm

I think it’s so true that things happen exactly when they’re supposed to – if only I realized that at the time as opposed to two or five or ten years later! great advice!
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Naked Girl in a Dress March 25, 2012 at 12:56 am

Thank you Susan. I am so happy you visited and enjoyed this post.

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Charlotte August 29, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Wow, Kelly. Wow wow wow. And also YES.

“It’s such a gift to get a do-over at any age.” < I think this will stick with me today and will give me something to think about for some time. It's wonderful to use the lessons of a breakup/divorce to our advantage. It doesn't always take away the pain and the suffering that such events always bring, but it does shed light on why they happened in the first place and what we can carry away from them.

The best lessons are the ones learned from the most difficult periods in our lives. Regret is a dangerous pill to swallow and sometimes I think it's best to accept that the path our lives have taken isn't all for naught if learned something truly valuable along the way.

Stopping by from Weekly Spotlight. But you know I love to always read your words, Kelly. XOXO

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Naked Girl in a Dress September 5, 2012 at 11:00 am

Our paths can change unexpectedly and, at the time, not in a way we would like. When I look back, though, I have found peace with each unexpected turn on my journey. In the moment it’s not always great, but I find something better is waiting around each bend. I have learned to persevere through the difficult times as a result.

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