One of the hardest aspects of divorce to come to terms with is the change in one's identity. Whether you are a man or woman, part of the transition from a married person to a divorced person involves the change in your "status." This can bring with it a myriad of feelings, one of which includes a sense of insecurity about who you are. For most, marital status becomes a huge part of self identity and how we define ourselves in the world. It is not merely a title or a box to check on credit card applications and other documents, it's the way in which we fit into society as a whole, our families and social circles.
Being part of a married couple weaves itself into the fabric of our existence, providing a context within which to view ourselves and how we fit into the world at large. As an individual, self-identity becomes synonymous with our marital status. Daily life routines and responsibilities are often carved out, divvied up and shared as part of a twosome. How, when, and why we engage in many of life's activities will often be based on or because of this prominent relationship.
Is it any wonder that the break up of a marriage can cause tremendous uncertainty about one's identity - who you are, how you fit in, what your role is, your purpose?
Add to this the fact that as human beings, we are not built for change. Our brains are wired to keep us safe by thinking and doing the same things over and over. So, adapting to a new way life, redefining who you are and reframing the way in which you live in this new reality is not something that happens overnight.
The changes that are thrust upon us during and post divorce are immense. Many of us have no idea what the implications will be as we begin this journey, subsequently feeling blindsided when the old "definition" of who we are no longer fits.
Take a deep breath. Remember that with each day, and the new experiences you have as a single person, deconstructing your previous life as a couple, is slowly creating and defining your new identity. This does not happen overnight but does evolve inevitably over time. Much like the compound effect, which states that with consistent effort each day, change becomes visible over time, so too will the "change" in you become visibly clear and reveal an entirely different you with each passing day, week. and month. Your new identity, who you are and what your purpose is will take shape and become the norm.
Weathering through the storm of discomfort of "who am I" is not easy, but do so remembering that even the caterpillar requires time to transform into the beautiful, soaring butterfly.
Love & Light,
Growing older is one of the most difficult aspects in life with which to come to terms and it can be an even bigger factor when contemplating divorce for women that are over the age of fifty.
None of us want to lose the free, energetic and timeless feeling of our youth. However, more often than not, a woman's age, physical appearance and perceptions about being older can become an obstacle to moving forward and away from an unfulfilling and unhappy marriage.
Society's Emphasis on Youth
Our society puts an emphasis on the way we look externally and the number of years we’ve been alive, rather than the wisdom, experience and spiritual growth that we have acquired and hold within us.
All one has to do is flip on the television, watch a commercial, look at a billboard or browse through a magazine. Airbrushed models with the perfect, line-less face, amazingly shaped figures and of course, long, thick luxurious hair are all around, highlighting the contrast between society's definition of beauty and how women over the age of fifty actually look.
Industries are built upon the premise of staying young and large companies prey on women's fear of aging and their change in appearance as they mature. Thousands of products and programs are developed annually, with the promise of washing away the natural evolution of aging. The constant message is that growing older and the way it appears on our faces and bodies is something about which, we should feel awful and dread since it will put an end to life as we know it.
Personally speaking, one of the greatest preoccupations I experienced before and during my divorce process was concern over my chronological age. I was fifty-one at the time my ex-husband and I ended a seventeen year marriage. It took me close to ten years and a great deal of contemplation, therapy, general unhappiness and a feeling that my inner soul was shriveling up and dying to take this pivotal step.
Yet, in spite of all my misery, I was terribly frightened of making such a bold move, largely because of my age.
What Being 50+ Means to Women
As women hit the milestone age of fifty, there is a subtle shift in awareness as many begin to comes to terms with the idea that they view themselves differently than they did a decade prior. And, while today, fifty may be the new thirty in many ways, in reality, we know, it is not.
For women, passing the threshold of fifty years old is often not just a mental perspective, but it also includes a myriad of physiological changes which highlight this chronological milestone even more. Beauty regimens usually get up-leveled and involve more than they once did to help us to look our best. Going through or approaching menopause has its own set of challenges mentally, physically, and emotionally, and our self esteem may suffer a bit, as we have to work harder to look and feel as good as we did, even just a decade earlier.
“Maturity is not about aging,
it's a development of getting wiser;
to be independent and make
our own decision in life.”
- H. Preet
Contemplating Divorce Can Highlight Age Perception
While many women in this age bracket have come to a place of maturity where the opinions of others are not of major concern and have developed a relatively stronger sense of themselves than might have existed in earlier years, there can be a sudden “Oh my God! I’m old” feeling that can overtake us when we contemplate or move into the realm of divorce.
All of a sudden, we are mentally concerned that we are too old to reimagine our lives or get out of a situation that we have outgrown or doesn’t serve us any longer. Mentally, it might sound like a good idea, but practically speaking, some of us may view the idea of being “unmarried” as a life sentence for eternal loneliness and so many other negative possibilities.
Although this concern may not hold any real basis in reality since past research published in The Journals of Gerontology found that more than 1 in 4 people getting divorced in the United States are over age 50. Over half of those divorces happen after 20 years of marriages. However, that does not mean that women do not emotionally struggle with the fear of being “unmarried” and shifting both their status and way of life.
For me, the idea of getting a divorce post fifty years old was frightening and at times seemed like I was going to be walking into an abyss of unknowns. I had known for nearly ten years that I was unhappy in my marriage. I knew deep down that I had a choice to make - I could easily stay in this unfulfilling and limiting connection and in the blink of an eye, I would be turning sixty, still feeling just as dead, just as unhappy, only to have wasted ten more years of my precious life - or I could make the bold move and journey down a new path.
In the abstract, I wanted to venture out and reinvent my life! I had no idea how, but I just knew that my marriage was not the place to do this. However, on the flip side, I had this gnawing feeling that I was too old to start over; that while I did not want to be with my ex-husband, and fantasized that there might be a more fulfilling way of life and even a relationship out there in the world, I was afraid that not being married, would find me nowhere, good for nothing else and most terrifying...incapable of going it alone!
Forget Your Age
What I found was that nothing could have been further from the truth! And if you are plagued with the same fear or feelings of inadequacy, uncertainty, fear of the unknown and the myriad of other emotions about leaving an unhappy marriage, over the age of fifty, let me say one thing to you - FORGET YOUR AGE.
Live Your Life
Forget Your Age
Did you know that you are timeless? Our souls, our thoughts, our essence, are all timeless. If you are unhappy in any way with the current status of your life - either contemplating divorce or recently divorced in your fifth, sixth, seventh - even eighth decade on this planet, the very first thing you must do is to forget your age. This is not easy, as I said, particularly with all the “reminders” around you.
You’re probably thinking, “yeah, but Elisa, my hair is graying, I see more lines on my face than I did before, I’m not as limber and my memory is not as sharp.”
You know what I say - so what!
If you are feeling old, you are paying too much attention to society’s definition of beauty and age and not going within to embrace the timeless person that you are.
Remember Your Power
You have more power than you may realize in feeling, looking and being young. When your mindset is grounded in feeling empowered and self assured, something amazing happens to the way in which you view yourself. Your confidence increases, you stand a little taller, you take better care of yourself from the inside out and you embrace a youthful attitude in your stride.
You also release much of the stress that adds to the aging process, relaxing your body, lowering your shoulders and allowing your facial muscles to stop tensing. As a human being, living in a three dimensional forward moving world, it is not likely that you can stop the aging process altogether, but you can certainly alter and stop the negative and critical way in which you view yourself with each passing year and replace this with kindness and compassion towards the evolving you!
With this new mindset, you will be able to see more clearly through the blinders of chronological age when deciding if divorce is the right next step for your soul's evolution and life's happiness.
- Love & Light,
HOLISTIC BEHAVIORAL PRACTITIONER
LIFE STRATEGIST & COACH
CELL: +1 (516) 493-1742