My forties sucked.
They started out pretty fantastic to be honest…I was living in a lovely state…a cross between denial and oblivious where everything was great and nothing anyone tried to tell me could penetrate through my idealistic thoughts.
I spent my fortieth birthday in New York City with my devoted husband and very best girlfriends.
The Big Apple was great. We ate. Shopped. Drank. Toured.
My husband gave me a horseshoe necklace from Tiffany’s…my very first-ever blue box that represented a great and dear love I had (and still have) for my Pop Coady, who was a blacksmith.
The group of us went to see Mama Mia dancing and singing on our feet at the end of the show. We ate at an amazing Italian restaurant at a large table filled with much laughter. I received a Pandora Bracelet where each of my friends (some who were present and some back home) added a charm that represented our friendships and memories. One of my best girlfriends thoughtfully bought chocolate dipped strawberries from this exquisite chocolate shop in Times Square…then presented them with the most delicious dessert at the end of our spectacular meal.
NOTHING was overlooked…it was the perfect weekend…the perfect way to start a decade that, from everything I believed, was going to be THE VERY BEST! I had the world by the tail and was living life to the fullest!
Little did I know…there was an undercurrent that would sweep it all away and by the end of that year, everything I’d believed…was gone.
My 40’s became a challenge. Getting out of bed was a nightmare. Staying upright was all but impossible.
When I fell, I fell hard from this pedestal I’d placed my life upon. This dome that protected and shielded me…had shattered. Everything I’d imagined…all my hopes and dreams…were gone.
New York was a lie.
It’s taken me the full decade to recover, to rebuild…to start over. All of my forties to shake away the sadness and slowly, ever so slowly, put the pieces of my life back together again. The reinvention of myself has been a process that, through therapy and with the support of family and friends, has led me to work harder than I’ve ever worked before. It’s not been without setbacks, but I’ve negotiated my way through great stresses while coping with huge changes and dealing with both trauma and forgiveness.
If I were to sum up my forties I would have to say…they were exceptionally hard.
A few weeks ago, I turned 49. Or, as my dear Pop would have said (and I was reminded with texts and messages from a few family members on the morning of my birthday), I’m entering my 50th year!
I made it. In one piece. A little bit jaded…a little bit bitter. But, through all of it, I was surrounded by a great amount of support and encouragement…always making me feel as if there was a parade of love pushing me forward and making each step a little bit softer than the one before. I have been shown more kindness, love, compassion and empathy than anyone could imagine.
I’ve seen much beauty through the mess.
My forties have been about building a new foundation…one a bit more solid than the last. It’s taken awhile but I’ve embraced the changes and I’ve come to see that in many ways, I’m thankful for what I’ve been through. My life is far more enriched than it ever was before…there is much more meaning in my days; I feel more worthy of my friendships both new and old; I know that I’m fiercely loved; I’m living more authentically than I’d ever thought was possible; and I take nothing and no one for granted.
I’ve been held accountable for the lie I’d been living…and I’ve long since forgiven myself for the part that I played.
Looking ahead, my future is nothing like the future I’d originally dreamt of and yet, while I’ve been busy rebuilding and living through the hustle of getting my life together, I’ve not had time to imagine what exactly it will be! I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching lately and I’ve come to the conclusion that because I don’t have goals, plans and dreams for my future…when things get tough, I fall backwards rather than aim forward.
It’s time to dream!
Currently, I’m making some plans and imagining a future worthy of this amazing life I’m living and to start with, I want a NEW YORK DO-OVER!
Funny enough, when chatting with a few friends about goals, how I saw my life down the road and who I’d want beside me, my friend Donna commented about starting my 50s with a New York Do-Over and I vehemently opposed it! “But, we did have a lot of fun,” she’d said and WE DID. It just seemed like such a reminder of how I’d entered the decade and while I’ve wanted a New York do-over for sometime now…the thought of starting another decade that way just didn’t sit right.
Until her husband said what I needed to hear. “How about instead of starting your 50s with a trip to New York, we close out your 40s that way instead!”
Goal #1…this year, before I turn 50, I’m heading to the Big Apple for a weekend of frivolous fun and anyone who wants to come is invited to join me! My life, is nothing like I’d dreamt when I walked those streets the first time.
It turns out…it’s so much better than I could have ever imagined!
If anyone deserves a NYC do-over. It’s you.
I know the story and still, just now as I was reading this post the words, “New York was a lie.” – gut punch.
I am so glad you’re going to New York with true friends.
Now New York can be the truth. How awesome!
Very thought-provoking, Colleen. Thank you for sharing. You have and will continue to succeed. You are to be admired. xoxo