LEARNING TO LIVE A LIFE OF SELF-COMPASSION

A divorce can be the beginning of learning self-compassion and finding your personal core values. Life can turn around and be great again. #midlifesymphony

INTRO

Today I have the next guest in my MIDLIFE SYMPHONY series where I've asked others to share what they're doing to make the second half of life the best half of life. Allison (from Start A Simple Life) has had quite a tumultuous time over the last six years and today she's sharing the biggest lesson she's learned from it all, and how that lesson is shaping the second half of her life.


MY UNEXPECTED SECOND HALF OF LIFE

As I drove the 1½ hours to the nearest large city with my 14-year-old dog, Maggy, I had time to contemplate my life. I had just turned 48, my little doggie was recently diagnosed with cancer and needed chemotherapy. So off I drove to see if we could kill the cancer and get her back on the hiking trails with me.

This was NEVER a scene I expected to experience. I did the math after my youngest was born. I'd be in my mid-forties when she left home and her father and I could, well, run around the house naked, if we so choose to. Ok, looking at a more PG fantasy, I imaged us traveling together, sitting in silence on the beach simply enjoying each other's company.

I never imagined I’d be living in Arizona with my mom, taking care of my ageing, ill dog, with my young adult children hundreds of miles away and “doing” Midlife alone.


Maggy the dog

IT ALL FALLS APART

The blissful midlife marriage fantasies never happened, we divorced while the kids were in their teens, just shy of 20 years of marriage. This started the avalanche of events I couldn't stop.

I lost my father soon after our divorce. A couple years later I had to sell the home my kids were raised in because I could no longer afford it. My youngest and I then moved to a town a couple of hours away for the same reason as selling the house. Then a year later I ended up leaving the state as well. I was then away from both my young adult children since they didn't move with me. Soon after that I lost my job. And now my dog was diagnosed with cancer.

I refused to fall apart. Of course, I had my pity parties and "why me Lord" moments. I'm human. The 5 years after my divorce have been the most eye-opening, humbling and learned years of my life.

BEFORE THE DIVORCE

The years right before the divorce were very chaotic. Most days I couldn't think through simple task like what was for dinner or did my kids do their homework.

I was a very sad and angry mother. I felt this way, and it was certainly confirmed when one day my 15-year-old son broke down and told me I was always angry. My stomach turned at the thought that he sees me first and foremost as angry.

This was the moment I began to change. I had to find a way to not be tense all the time, even in a household where my husband and I barely spoke. I vowed to be a better person and mother. I needed to be loving.

THE JOURNEY TO SELF-COMPASSION

It's been 6 years since that moment it was revealed I broke my son's heart. It’s been a journey of much self-reflection and self-compassion, and of research in having patience with myself and those I love (since I discovered much of my anger stemmed from impatience.) I was learning that I needed to be compassionate to myself, those I loved, and those around me. Self-compassion is a very healing trait to possess and one of the hardest to gain. We’ve all heard the saying that “we’re our own worst enemies.”

As I healed, my relationships with my kids and my best friend blossomed! I became more confident, patient and loving. Though the divorce had occurred during this time period, my personal growth felt glorious! And I wanted to never let this go. This was about the time I discovered the idea of Personal Core Values

PERSONAL CORE VALUES

Personal core values are ideals we hold most dear to us. They determine who we are, how we think and what we do. They are compasses when we’re lost. And simple guides when we need a trail. I was immediately enamored by the concept of having my very own personal core values.

My single mom, midlife journey had brought me to writing down what I held most dear and when I strayed or needed a helping hand, I could open my personal core values and find my way back to contentment. This is all where I am today.


MY SECOND HALF OF LIFE

My journey has made me a stronger human being yet one with compassion. I’m utterly excited for the second half of my life. My relationships with my kids and those I love are genuine and loving. I’m confident in myself. And love who I am.

I’ve forgiven myself for being an impatient, angry mother and I believe my kids have as well. I also let go of any issues that stemmed from my failed marriage. There are always those “bad” days were I still feel like a little demon has taken over my mind and body. But I pull out those personal core values to remind myself of my journey and what I have to look forward to.

As I punch through this next phase in my Midlife with my retired mom, her husband and my precious ailing dog, I maintain my sanity and patience through it all knowing I have loving children and friends that have grown with me and continue to do so. I’m strong and I can do this.


Maggy the dog

WHAT ABOUT YOU?

Have you been through an emotional life upheaval that's made you stop and re-think how you're handling things? Have you found that in the process you've become kinder to yourself and strengthened the areas that you weren't happy with?

RELATED POSTS



Meet Allison

Seeker of a Simpler Midlife. Allison is a single midlife mom empty nester, hiker and explorer of the world. She loves sharing her story about living her best 2nd half of life with others so she started her blog, Start a Simple Life.




A divorce can be the beginning of learning self-compassion and finding your personal core values. Life can turn around and be great again. #midlifesymphony
A divorce can be the beginning of learning self-compassion and finding your personal core values. Life can turn around and be great again. #midlifesymphony

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30 comments

  1. Leanne, Thank you for featuring Allison in this series.

    Allison, a huge Wow on having to cope and manage the unexpected and many of the unexpected challenges. “Avalanche” says a great deal in one word.

    Your Personal Core Values share profound insights and real life tools that help us move forward. Thank you for sharing an inspirational and positive story. I look forward to reading about the second half of your life.

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    1. Hi Erica/Erika,

      I don't think I could have gotten through these years (and now Covid) without self-compassion and then the rest that comes along like love and compassion for others.

      Thank you for reading my story and I do look forward to sharing my midlife saga. :-)

      ~Allie

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    2. Hi Erica - I love stories of women who chose to find the positives and do the work to make claim their best (and true) selves. I think when we embrace who we are and strive to be our best version of ourselves, then we really start living our best lives - Allison is a great example of this.

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  2. Leanne,

    I can't express how grateful I am that you let me share my story with your audience. I've read such wonderful and inspiring words here on your site and feel humbly honored you took me in.

    THANK YOU!
    Allison

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    1. Hi Allison - it is an absolute pleasure to have you here - and to have been a guest on your blog too. I love our Midlife community and how we support and encourage each other - it's been a saving grace for me over the last few years.

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  3. HI, Allison - You had me at your very first sentence. This is such a moving piece of writing. I echo Erica's "Wow!"
    Thank you for sharing with us so openly and candidly. I look forward to reading more from you.

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    1. Hi Donna - I love how positive and upbeat Allison is in looking back at a series of pretty horrible life events. She's managed to do the lemons to lemonade thing really well hasn't she?

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    2. Hi Donna,

      Thank you. I found that as you tell your story it somehow starts to make sense and you can almost see it from the outside looking in. When that happens it's much easier to deal with obstacles. Writing this piece helped me heal and move forward positively.

      ~Allison

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  4. A beautifully written piece. Thank you for sharing it - and a massive hug to that precious dog of yours.

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    1. Hi Jo - it was well written wasn't it? It's so lovely when a guest writes a post that's easy to put together and publish (makes being an editor an easy task!)

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    2. HI Jo,

      Thank you. Unfortunately, my Maggy dog didn't beat cancer and passed in February. Boy did she fight it but ultimately her older dog body gave up. I took her to the river as much as I could during that time so she could feel good. I miss her immensely.

      ~Allison

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    3. Oh Allison - I can imagine how much you miss her. x

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  5. Hi Allison - Being compassionate is not an easy task, neither when it's towards oneself nor others. It takes a great deal of introspection and patience. But the best part, as you have very rightly said, it's highly rewarding. I am glad you have been able to come out of those difficult days, and the second half of life is much happier in every possible way.

    I have gone through my share of difficult times (who hasn't), from which I have learnt a lot. Life is a long journey that comprises good and bad stretches. We all go through them. And as the adage goes, the journey is often more important than the destination.

    Hi Leanne - Thank you for hosting Allison's greatly inspiring post.

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    1. Hi Pradeep - thanks for your kind words. I think Allison has definitely been through some pretty awful lows over the last few years, but the sun will shine again - especially with her proactive and positive approach. I think taking responsibility for her attitude and choosing to focus on her core values is definitely the key to moving forward and growing from all the pain.

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    2. Hi Pradeep,

      You're right life is so many good and bad stretches and I try to even them out by having compassion for myself during the down times. I always remind myself I'm only human. I know it sounds like a cliche but who cares, it's good advise.

      I agree completely - the journey is more important than the destination. And it's it more fun too?

      Thank you for reading!

      ~Allison

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  6. Allison, I went thru a painful divorce after 18 years and 4 sons. He turned 40 and got a girlfirend. I was single for 7 years before I met my current husband of almost 14 years the week I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I had 2 sons still at home, one that was a problem teenager. I can tell you with certainty that I had to go thru that pain of divorce and loss to get to the place I am today, blissfully happy. God bless you. I wish you every happiness. Rita

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    1. Hi Rita,

      Thank you for sharing your story and I'm so happy that you found a great life after all the horrible times.

      It's odd how struggle and bad times can make a person stronger? It's like you need to know what negative is to know what positive can be. There's no light without dark.

      God bless as well and thank you!
      ~Allison

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    2. So many wonderful women get treated unfairly - and yet they rise up stronger. I am always grateful for the stories and the lessons they hold - well done Rita on finding true happiness again.

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  7. What a positive and heart-lifting story from Allison. I applaud your resilience Allison and wish you well on your second half of life! Another great guest in your series Leanne :) #lifethisweek

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    1. Hi Deb - yes I love how Allison bounced back so well and is proactively tackling this next stage of life. She's a great inspiration.

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  8. Leanne, thank you for introducing us to Allison.

    Allison, good for you for recognizing the problem and taking steps to address it. Most people get comfortable in their "pity parties" (I know I do at times) and never make an effort to break out of the rut that causes them to be sad and angry all the time. You took the matter into your own hands and MSH (made "stuff" happen). It wasn't easy but you did it!

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    1. Hi Laurie - I always admire women who rise from the ashes - compare them to the pity party brigade and they're even more amazing. Having life turn completely upside down, losing everything, and then starting all over again takes a truckload of courage - and to do it with positivity is even more special.

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  9. Massive hugs to your fur baby. I think we could all do with a bit of self-compassion!

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    1. It's been a heart wrenching time for Allison Sam - and losing Molly was the last thing she needed to add to the list.

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  10. CONGRATULATIONS, Leanne and Allison. Our Lisa has chosen your post to be featured in the next Blogger's Pit Stop. Come and check it out.

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    1. How wonderful Kathleen - Allison will be so pleased that her story resonated with Lisa. x

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  11. What a story of triumphing over all that was to become all that is now Allison. A story I read with some nodding of my head. I too was often an angry mother. It's been a long time since then and I certainly examined my 'why' and in fact, only 3 years ago wrote letters of apology for aspects of my behaviour to both of the adult children. The words were received in a caring and forgiving, human way. Thank you for linking up for #LifeThisWeek#190 Leanne...I hope to see you back next week with the optional prompt: 22/51 I Saw 1.6.2020. Take care, stay safe, Denyse.

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    1. Hi Denyse - what a wonderful example of humility and love you showed by writing those letters. I often look back at my mothering and wonder how much better I could have been if I knew then what I know now. Still, we did the best we could while often under a lot of pressure, and I think we learnt as we went. I hope I'm a better mother to my adult kids and a better Nana as a result of what I've learnt over the years. Self-compassion is something we all need more of isn't it?

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  12. Lovely to meet you Allison. Thanks for sharing your story :)

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    1. Hi Leanne - thanks for stopping by and I'm glad you had the opportunity to meet Allison through her guest post.

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Thanks so much for your comment - it's where the connection begins.