They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I have always hated that expression.
I recently came to a startling realization. As I looked back over my life, I realized that my divorce – something I had decided was an epic failure, was in fact an open door to a whole new life. Disclaimer: this is NOT an endorsement of divorce. It’s just one woman’s story. My hope is that some women who feel “stuck” after their divorce as I did can be encouraged that as one door closes, others open. There are infinite possibilities for our lives!
The next year was a bit of a blur. It was one of the hardest years of my life. You see, I had never lived on my own before, and my husband was the breadwinner. We had to tell the kids and disrupt their lives. I wish I could say they came out unscathed, but that’s not the case. But ten years later, we’re all ok now.
I fell into a depression. I was almost 40 years old and feeling old and unattractive. I can say it now, as I was unaware at the time – or not willing to face the truth. I was just trying to get by. It took me awhile to find myself again. I had poured my whole self into being a wife and a mother, and I was devastated to think about starting over. I was ashamed of the failure. I was terrified of what we were doing to our children.
But another thing happened – an awakening. It didn’t happen all at once, but here I am 10 years later, and I now realize that the devastation of that year helped me to realize what I’m really made of – and step into my true purpose in life. In the years following our split I had two major events that shifted things for me.
I went on a 10-day Mediterranean cruise with my best friend to celebrate our 40th birthdays. It was the first time I had taken a vacation on my own without my family. It was fantastic and very freeing. It reminded me how much I love to travel.
A couple years later, I attended a personal development workshop for the weekend, hosted by Momentum Education. That was the first time that I had truly focused on myself and my desires. I was reminded of a former goal of becoming a life coach – a goal that I had dismissed because I believed that my life was set as it was, and it was too late to do something new. I had forgotten all about it! But that weekend I embraced my new path and declared my intention to become a coach in front of a room of over 100 strangers. I continued with Momentum’s leadership program and six months later, I launched my business on a shoestring and signed my first paying client. The following year, I invested in a coach certification program, and the rest is history. I have since volunteered and coached with Momentum – it was truly a turning point in my life.
As I look back, I know that my faith in God helped me get through the dark times and find the strength I had forgotten I already had. I don’t know that I would have had some of those experiences if I were still married. I had allowed myself to settle into the “supportive wife” role. And while I did many things to help my ex-husband to launch and build his business, I didn’t even allow myself to think about being a business owner myself.
It makes me wonder how many women are diminishing themselves for the sake of supporting others in their lives – spouses or otherwise. I also realize now that I had to step out of the shadows into my own brilliance and become a true leader. Only then would I truly be ready to lead others on their journeys.
I am a perennial “people person”. Becoming a coach is the culmination of a life spent working with people, managing, fundraising, and serving. In my twenties, I devoured books and audio from Steven Covey, Anthony Robbins and other inspirational leaders. Prior to coaching, I started my career as a marketing rep for IBM and spent 15 years as a nonprofit fundraiser. Each of these professions taught me about sales, management, persuasion, and finding common ground – all things that are important in being an effective coach and business owner. Along the way, I learned about personal choice, the value of trusting your instincts and continually seeking passion and fulfillment in your work. These have each been major factors in each choice that I have made in my career, and the reason why career coaching is one of my primary services. I believe that people should trust themselves more, and say yes to themselves more, and give themselves permission to pursue their own passions.
I decided to write this piece because I find it ironic that I have come to this realization at this point – considering that my clients are mostly women over 40, and I am over 50. It’s a bit of a “full circle” moment for me and explains why I am so passionate about women rediscovering their voices and making empowered choices. I had spent the first half of my adult life on autopilot and had learned to dull my own brilliance and mistrust my true voice. Thank God I woke up! And being on my own was one of the things that removed the safety net of my husband’s income and taught me how to fly on my own. I love being a coach! I love leading workshops and retreats and working with individual clients. Being there for a pivotal “aha moment” or witnessing clients taking new ground is confirmation of the path I’m on.
2017 was a big year from me. Becoming an author has been a dream come true. I spent the second half of the year hosting book events and online forums. And in December hitting the Amazon Best Seller’s list was the icing on the cake.
I am truly grateful for my journey. Although getting divorced was one of the most difficult things I have endured, I am grateful that it created space for me to step into my brilliance. Both of my children have shared with me that they are proud of me, and they have grown into strong, vibrant and positive young adults. I’ve dated some and had some solid relationships. I’m open to getting married again. but I’m ok with myself even if it doesn’t happen. I’m living life one day at a time and staying open.
As the great philosopher Forest Gump once said, “life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.” And that, my friends, is part of the brilliance and mystery of this thing called life.