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Here I am: 52 years young and in a place I thought I had long ago left behind – never to revisit. I lovingly refer to this as my dyslexic dating stage, as the last time I was single was in 1985 and I was 25.
I am not sure how I ended up in this strange land. I packed my bags, bought a one-way ticket (or so I thought) to paradise, buckled up and took off on a journey, only to arrive at an alternate destination due to unavoidable inclement weather.
As the turbulence intensified, my breathing became compromised. I knew I had to put on my oxygen mask first, as I could not help those I love unless I prepared myself first.
I found myself on a deserted beach. The rubble from what was my life scattered all around. I realized I was bleeding, but there was no time to tend to my wounds, as there were other more fragile victims laying at my feet. The chair where my co-pilot once sat was now empty.
We were not abandoned, but as the plane hit the ground, he had been catapulted to a secluded island of his own. There was no survival manual in sight to guide either of us. The only certainty of was that all of us had to find our way back to a new reality.
After a while, I began to wonder if there was something more I could have possibly done to prevent the plane from going down. More importantly, could I possibly figure out a way to repair the engines that had failed us?
Hope emerged from the rubble. Maybe there is a life raft somewhere that can save us?
I found there were so many survival skills I lacked, but why? I had lived alone for eight years when I met my husband and managed to take care of all my personal needs and responsibilities with ease.
When had I given up my independence? Why did I recklessly abandon that sense of self and become so dependent on someone else?
Now in a place with no distinct boundaries to define me, I was faced with the pivotal question “Who am I?”
I was mother and wife for so long. I could not recognize the woman that now stood alone on that sandy shoreline. I couldn’t find that feeling of security as the sand got washed away from under my feet and the tide rolled out.
I was starting to get the lay of the land and understand the elements that challenged me, but I couldnt easily adapt. I needed to hone the skills and conquer not only my own feeling of insecurity, but my future and all its complications as it approached at the water’s edge.
Our children needed security and hope. They had to feel that no matter what happened, we would both work toward getting them home to a safe place.
The landscape will be different from what they remember, but the love we shared will always be there to protect them even though they may doubt it at present.
At the same time, it was important to communicate the message that not all relationships fail. Do not despair.
After being stranded on the island for what seemed like an eternity, the skies calmed and the clouds receded, revealing a way out as the rescue team came into view.
As a family, we had survived the storm. There were scars, but they would hopefully fade with time.
There I was. Home at last.
“Life is about the
journey you take.”
I learned to take care of my children and run my home without the daily help of a partner. I had become the gardener, painter, mechanic, electrician, plumber and accountant.
I was digging myself out from many different piles of life’s accumulations, as well as four feet of snow after a storm. I was stronger than I thought possible and proud of where I had landed – on my own two feet.
But like many others alone without a partner, my feet now felt cold. I realized I was missing the warmth of another person in my life, a partner with whom to hold hands and hopefully walk through life with.
I had created a new world for myself that was full, and sharing it with the right person would be knowing I was home.
The fear that we will never meet someone again is common among many men and women coming out of long-term relationships. Now that my family was settled, I chose to conquer my dilemma of how to start dating again.
Opening up to my desire to welcome a new person into my life came slowly but naturally with time.
Fuelled by my passion for networking and being a connector, I decided to re-enter the world as a single woman, embracing every interaction and connection I made on a daily basis.
I believe you never know where we might meet someone, so why not be ready at all times? I put my best food forward every day when I left my house.
I was going to live in the positive energy I was feeling. The memory of being on that deserted island still fresh in my mind was a daily reminder to smile and enjoy the moment of now.
To move ahead and eventually become part a couple again, we must face the first date, the first kiss and eventually the first intimate moment when we reveal our authentic self down to our naked core to someone new.
I discovered I had keen instincts and if I followed them, I always ended up knowing the right path. I would always end up where and with whom I should be.
There have been a few curves in the road, warning signs I chose to ignore. So, like a child, I had to learn from my mistakes made by poor judgement.
The most important lesson I have discovered is it is not about finding Mr. Right. It’s about feeling right about myself when I am with another person.
I realize there is no rushing time. There is a process to life after divorce and we can’t skip any stages.
We choose our own pace with emphasis on different elements of our transformation, but there is no doubt that each of us will step forward into a new reality.
There will ultimately be a sense of empowerment that can only be gained by facing life’s challenges head on.
Only then can we set out on a new flight plan, and hopefully this time we will be better equipped to navigate through the various storm systems.
Once we learn to fly solo, co-piloting will be a breeze and we can then take flight into the blue skies with grace and a clear view to our final destination.
My journey of “365 Days to Find Love” is my gift to other people flying solo again and who may be feeling lost in their new world.
I hope sharing my stories and personal insights of this past year will give strength and inspiration to those who need to leave the nest and they will find comfort in knowing the wind will be beneath their wings when they are ready to soar.
Life is not about your final destination but the journey you take to get there.