Greetings from the doorway of my cave of hibernation. That’s what it’s felt like for the last many months, hunkered down in my house, Okay, maybe I wasn’t really sequestered in some self-imposed solitary confinement or sleeping the winter away, but I was definitely going through some big shifts that kept me from poking out my head much on social media. I was still staying social by zooming with friends and seeing family, running some basic errands, but the winter was kinda brutal and I stayed home a lot, grateful for my youngest son living with me and being around to talk and hug.
Spring wasn’t helping much either. Instead of being a hopeful time of new greenness, we had so many cold gray days that it felt like a continuation of winter. It’s only been the last two weeks where we’ve gotten some sun and warmth (YAY!), and in that all-or-nothing climate-change way, of course it jumped right into the 80s and even 90 last week. Sheesh! But this post isn’t really about the weather. My own internal weather is more like it.
The main internal weather pattern has been anxiety, I’d say. Anxiety is unfortunately how I often deal with change, and there has been a lot of change for me in the last few months… okay, years. Where I was 2 years ago, where I was 5 and 10 years ago? — I could never have imagined that this is the life I’d be living now.
Divorce, of course, is the biggest change. It has been 2 years now since Bob and I separated, and that was a huge hit for me in my life. How do you just stop living a life with someone after 30+ years? How do you stop sharing everything with them, daily life, plans for the future, all the levels that are social, emotional, physical, relational? Everything changes! And that’s a lot to manage, along with intense grief and other assorted emotions.
I kept putting off dealing with the actual and inevitable legal processes. The whole divorce process seemed overwhelming and scary– how do you find a lawyer? How is it all going to work? How will this get paid for? How do you make decisions? I did a lot of research and talked to a lot of different people, taking small steps last summer. From a few friends learned about the collaborative divorce process, which allows couples to work with collaborative lawyers and a financial neutral to negotiate all the terms of a divorce without the need for going to court. That sounded right to me. I wanted this to be a civil process, and Bob agreed.
I kept taking small, scary steps forward. Finding names of lawyers. Conducting interviews. Last September we both hired our lawyers and began the process. Then came the digging up of financial papers and tracking expenses and meetings and decisions. All of which kept pointing me to more and more changes.
I knew that part of my future was going to be finding a job and getting back to work. I’ve had a spotty history of working in my life. The last few years of physical and mental health challenges kept me out of the workforce. In any event, work was now going to be my reality. I would receive marital support, but all my expenses wouldn’t be covered. And since marital support often ends when the paying spouse retires, I knew that I wouldn’t be receiving it for terribly long. I would have to figure out how to support myself, and I was terrified.
I know some people won’t understand why I had such big fear around getting a job. I can’t really explain it all here. Suffice it to say I’d had some hard work experiences in my past, I didn’t have confidence anyone would want to hire a 50+ year-old woman with a spotty work history, and I was afraid I wouldn’t find something that would work with my life.
My lawyer suggested a career coach, so I talked to the one she suggested, and then paid to work with her for 5 sessions. It was well worth the money for me. The coach helped me write a better resume with all her knowledge of how employers handle resumes these days. She helped me see the skills and experience I do have and how to make them work in presenting myself. She held my hand and encouraged me, and pushed me towards all the small steps I needed to take. I learned a lot from her.
And… I ended up getting a job right away in my search. I thought it would take 6 months, but instead I had a job within a few weeks. The coach had told me that 80% of jobs come through networking rather than through employment sites, and that’s what happened. A friend in an online writing group told me that she has a friend who runs her own marketing company and she sometimes hires freelance writers– why don’t I talk to her? I said “sure,” we talked, and it just so happened that someone had just turned in their notice at the company. The boss was eager to give me a chance, and I took it. I worked freelance for a few weeks, and then we decided that I would come on as a full-time employee. It all happened in a whirl-wind in March.
So I’m now a remote marketing content writer for Platinum PR, a small company in Maryland. It has been a huge adjustment for me to work full-time, and being new and having to learn the ropes has been challenging. Remember that anxiety I mentioned? That creeps in a lot for me when doing new things. And there are a lot of new things in my life these days! But I feel very fortunate with this little job that found me. I’m so glad to have a remote job that I can do from home, and some flexibility to my days so that I can still go to an appointment here and there. Everyone at work is wonderful — a small group of women who are friendly, welcoming, supportive and positive. And I get to write for my job– content, websites, social media, various business writing. I broke out of that admin role I had been stuck in in the past!
The divorce is STILL going on– it takes awhile– but we are nearing the end of it. It’s still a really hard and stressful process even if it is collaborative. I also still have mental and physical health issues to deal with. I’m figuring out how to create a new future for myself. Life is full of challenges, and I know that mine are pretty manageable compared to others who are going through excruciatingly hard times. But for now, I feel like I’m ready to come out of the cave and breathe some fresh air again. I hope to engage more on social media (heck, I do it for a living now!). I hope to have more bandwidth for creative projects and goals. .
There is one creative project I’ve been playing with lately– I’ve wanted to get into making YouTube videos, and I finally started playing around with an idea: I wanted to try making a video of one of my poems. I wanted to read the poem and have engaging video elements to go with the words. It took a lot of trial and error since I don’t know what I’m doing, but I did it. It feels very hopeful to me… making something beautiful, a step in the right direction.
I hope you’ll give it a watch… and if you like it, please Like and Subscribe (that’s what YouTubers, say, right?). I’m already planning more videos. Here’s to a good Spring/Summer to all of us bears coming out of our caves.
Photo credits: Zdenek Machacek, Hans Jurgen Mager and Anthony Renovato of Unsplash, com.