Does a middle-aged woman need to be single in order to gain insight and grow as a human being?
Approaching four years post-divorce, my answer is pretty much….yes. Not to insinuate growth isn’t attainable while in relationships. Life is simply different without a partner.
Granted, I was not single very long. That said, some relationships are more isolating than others. The end of my marriage was one of those.
Most of my life I always had a partner, an other. Beginning as a teenager, young adult to middle-age, not a lot of time spent with me, myself, my own person.
I do not recommend isolation. I do recommend being alone.
For the first time ever, I lived by myself. I was fifty-two years old.
It was during this time, second half of 2012, mediation continued, house went into escrow and the girls graduated their respective schools (college and high school). Shortly thereafter the girls and their father moved to another house. Upon closing escrow, I moved into my deceased mother’s old house by the sea. My brother was living on the property that consisted 3 separate units: small main house, studio and upstairs apartment. My brother and I had lost mom January 2012. Uncertain we would sell, we spent the first six months learning to breathe without her. My niece lived downstairs in the studio, making for a cozy compound of our tiny misfit family. We didn’t quite know what to do without mom or what life would look like.
In sixteen months I grew more as a human being than I think I’d done when married. Turns out, it was also during this time, there began a new-found love affair with the ocean. Steps away, I would traipse across the boulevard, catch a sunset, meditate on my favorite lifeguard stand at 14th Street. The amount of time living at mom’s was unknown. I made most days count and soaked each sunset or sunrise in as if it were my last.
For you see, divorce kicks you in places outside any semblance of normalcy. Either one treads the ride and learns, or….not. After spending a decent amount of time in various fetal positions, cocooned in my small safety net upstairs, I began to face my reality. This would occur, a mixture of time, mental exhaustion, sheer and divisive decision-making skills. Reality bites, as the 1994 film reminds us. It bit hard and emerged, I came.
My divorce was final December 31, 2012. I lived at the beach from August 2012 until January 2014. It was the most excruciatingly bleakest time in my life. The pain of loss, family, marriage, estrangement, my mental health – all part of the process, kids. Not much growth without the above mentioned. More than anything, those sixteen months prepared me for today. The time helped solidify my convictions of what matters in life. It raised awareness and began the journey of questioning God, family, love, parenting, friendships and what committed relationships meant.
I am indebted to my beautiful mother, who knew the importance of questioning life. She wasn’t physically with me at the most painful time of my life, though I learned I could live on my own without her. I survived. Grow, I did. The last several years in a committed relationship with an other, I remain steadfast as an individual, my own person. He and I grow together, as one, as our selves. I won’t allow isolation in a relationship again. I will, however, embrace solitude, a time to reflect alone, to pray and meditate. It is because of this, I am a better partner.
My young friends, it’s cool to be alone, to question and learn yourself. I didn’t do much of that before marriage at twenty-four. Hold onto your beliefs. Hold onto you, your own person. You will grow, survive and thrive.
We’ll find each other soon. ❤