At the beginning of my midlife divorce recovery journey, I was so enveloped by the sudden, barren loneliness, that I often missed the opportunity for reflection and growth. Not long ago I heard a talk about the value of the desert … those times we are forced to isolation and reflection and even despair. That place most of you reading this are probably experiencing right now.
As I made my way through my own wilderness, I read everything I thought might help me feel better. One book that helped was a book our book club read entitled Educating Alice: Adventures of a Curious Woman, by Alice Steinbach. I always underline as I’m reading and one of the sections I underlined and put a star by was this: “Whatever bits and pieces of my true self had unraveled over a lifetime as I tried to meet the expectations of others seemed to have knitted themselves back into place.” I thought, “That’s what I want!” I want to find my true self again!
At that point I started realizing that this time in the desert was helping me do that. Educating Alice should be on your list of books to read for women going through divorce … especially at midlife. I’ll warn you, the author has the advantage of seemingly unlimited funds and connections to make her trip easy, but the same transformation can occur for us by simply traveling to a neighboring town or state alone to explore not only the new terrain, but also our inner selves and our new opportunities. I did a little of that; but often, instead of seeing the benefits and the adventure, I often just felt alone. I felt discarded and like a used car that someone grew tired of and wanted to replace with a cooler, cuter, sleeker model. Looking back, that was totally wrong thinking. The expectations of others (and of my recently divorced self) had blunted my own sense of who I was with my unique personal dreams and desires.
All of you who are starting out on this journey or even those much farther along or even those of us who are on the other side of the sobbing should be doing more of what Alice Steinbach did. Listen to this statement near the end of her book and see if you can uncover more of your true worth and rebuild your confidence, too. “I felt more confident than I had in years. It was a confidence so clear and uncomplicated that, had it been any more ascendant, would have bordered on arrogance. Each (lesson) seemed to have added a new layer of muscle to both mind and body.”
I want so much from my perspective to help you see clearly that your life has more potential in it than you realize right now. Rediscover those bits and pieces of who you really are … a powerful, beautiful, vibrant, fun woman on the the edge of brand new, amazingly good, life.
“Now we look inside and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start; is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 (The Message).