Like many men, I found myself divorced, 50 and uncertain as to where my life was heading. It is such a growing trend that there is now a specific term for middle aged divorce, Grey Divorce.
Again, like so many others, I was blind sighted and ill prepared for divorce. I was left struggling on so many levels and felt very little hope for a future of happiness and contentment.
Yet as I sit here a few years on from my divorce, I could not be happier with my post divorce life. In fact, I have had several people comment on how they have never seen me happier.
My point, is not to brag, but to reassure that regardless of how bleak things may seem, digging yourself out of the hole you are in, is actually easier to do than one would think.
Truth is that there are many places online and off set up specifically to help you through and after divorce. These experts will offer you a step by step guide to surviving divorce.
What I hope to offer is some advise based on my own experience. Not so much a one step at a time approach, but actions that can result in massive positive steps towards the next phase of your life.
Whilst everyone is different, the following actions will help you to push the reset button on life and have you looking forward with a smile.
If you are like most men of our generation, then it is likely you rarely see a doctor. Well unless that is, you are dying of man flu. Whilst it is better to get a yearly checkup, yearly and not once a decade, doing so during or right after your divorce has a number of benefits.
First of all, a health checkup whilst your are going through the added stress of a divorce should make sense to all, especially if your checkups are only once a decade.
Secondly, aside from all the blood tests and the poking and prodding, your GP is also the ideal person to gauge your mental health. Divorce and Post Divorce is stressful and can have a serious effect on your mental health.
Depression is all too common and whilst it is usually temporary, it is also very treatable. Just remember that Depression is no sign of weakness but a sign you have been strong for so long.
The chances are that your GP will not feel there is any issue with either your mental or physical health. However, it pays to be careful.
Men's mental health is a serious issue and one of the highest causes of death, especially post divorce and yet there is so much you can do to prevent it. For further information take a look at my post on Mental Health and Divorce, both part 1 and part 2.
Some men will think this a waste of time and money, but I can assure you that is a very effective way to move on from divorce. Whilst I discovered an interest in fashion after my divorce. This step has nothing to do with developing a new found interest in men's style and everything to do with leaving the past behind and moving forward.
There are a few reasons why this is such a great post divorce move. Firstly, it is inevitable that your wardrobe could do with an update. When I was going through my divorce, my clothes were all about 10 years old as I would rarely spend any money on myself.
Secondly, by going through your wardrobe and updating, it gives you the chance to get rid of items that may bring back memories of your marriage. I would suggest not doing this in one fell swoop, but in stages or else it can be a very costly exercise.
Start with your everyday attire and work from there. Remember, this is your chance to build a wardrobe you like and not one influenced by what your ex wanted you to wear.
Thirdly, the effect that new attire will have on your self esteem can not be underestimated. Be it a new shirt, a new pair of boots or some new jeans, you will feel like a new man. This will see you feeling happier as well as looking better and perhaps more importantly, your ability to deal with the stresses of divorce will be much improved.
If you haven't done so already, I would strongly advise that you start a bucket list. This is your chance to add things to your list that your ex thought were silly, as well as doing or experiencing things you have always wanted to.
It does not matter if it is big or small, this is your list. Always wanted to skydive or go to a Formula One or Moto GP event? Put it on your list. Always wanted to drive a convertible or maybe learn to fly fish? Put it on your list.
The point is to get you thinking about the future and how good it can be and not leave you dwelling in the past.
Find the you that you are now
Whilst this may seem a stupid statement, to suggest that you do not know who you are. The reality is that having just come out of a marriage, you have for many years been part of a couple and now find yourself as a single.
A relationship helps define who we are as individuals and this is usually a healthy part of a relationship. You have for many years been compromising, yet now all decisions are yours to make.
Another factor is that it is normal for many of us to freeze time whilst married. If you were married at say 30, much of who you are will still be stuck in your 30's, think of your clothes or your entertainment choices.
So you need to discover what the 50 year old you is into. The aforementioned bucket list can help with this.
My own journey has seen me discover things about myself that were never on my radar whilst married. Things like the way I dress, the foods I eat and how I socialize are very different to my married days.
This process will take some time, but learning who you are will fast track your happiness. In a previous blog post of mine, I discuss this concept with greater detail.
You may find that the 50 year old single you, is not much different to the married you. However, you do need to work out who you are now.
Reconnect with old friends.
Over the course of our lives we tend to lose touch with friends along the way. Life just seems to get in the way and the next thing you know is that you haven't spoken to someone for 15 years or more.
Couple this with divorce and our friend circle is almost non existent. One of the unspoken tragedies of divorce is that not only are our assets split up, but so to our friends.
Most men over 30 have few close friends and those we have are mostly the husbands of our wife's friends she made through your child's school etc. So after divorce she keeps the friends.
We all need mates yet find it difficult making new ones. So go and reconnect with old ones. Look through your phone numbers and give old mates a call.
Facebook and social media is an amazing way of reconnecting, even if you are not a fan of social media. Through Facebook, I myself have reconnected with many people from my past that I had lost touch with.
I have got back in touch with old workmates and even people I went to school with and have made a number of new friends this way.
Seek out life and adventure
Whilst much of this will be included on your bucket list, I feel it is worth mentioning on it's own. Don't wallow in self pity, instead, go out and face life full on.
I know it can be easier to say that than to do it, however it really is a great way to move on faster. Forcing yourself to have fun, may be hard, but the end result is still fun.
Start small by catching up with friends, going to see a movie or go and see some live music. The goal is for you to feel happy and alive again.
Ultimately you will be wanting to lead up to bigger and better things, things that make you feel alive. Go bungy jumping, swim with sharks or hire some hot laps at a track day. Getting your adrenaline pumping, is a sure fire way of getting your smile back.
Naturally, what I have suggested here is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to moving forward. I know myself that once I started actively doing these things that my outlook became far brighter.
Divorce sucks! I know that as well as anybody. The trick is to not allow the divorce to swallow you up. What is done is done, move forward and reinvent yourself ready for the next journey in life.
Things may be hard, but forcing yourself to move on and enjoy life will shorten the duration of the tough times. Being in your 50's is not a sign that it's too late, rather it is the ideal time to live the life you always wanted.
With the possible exception of today's 20 somethings, most of us would like to be in a loving relationship. Certainly those of us in our 50's, desire the emotional intimacy and the simple joy of sharing life's journey with someone special.
After my marriage breakdown and subsequent divorce, whilst I certainly did not rush in to anything, I was well aware that eventually, that was what I was ultimately after. So, after a period of time, I felt myself ready to date again and delved into the scary world of online and speed dating.
But was I really ready for a relationship? The answer in hindsight was, No! This as it turns out, is quite the norm. Based on my own experiences and observations from the dating scene, I believe that there are in fact 4 distinct stages we go through on our road to a new relationship.
The first step, especially after a long term relationship is to rediscover just who you are and to lose the baggage left behind from your previous relationship. In a previous post, I discuss this further. However it is important that you accept that this is indeed a part of the process.
The second stage is to actually get out into the world and begin meeting new people.This can be very daunting and whilst it takes a conscious decision on your part, it is usually sparked by some prodding from friends, your feeling of loneliness or a mixture of both.
I tried several ways of meeting new people including bars, blind dates, online dating and speed dating. All of which for me took courage and a conscious decision to get out and about. From my experience, by far the most effective and fun way, was speed dating. I found speed dating a lot of fun, once I got my head around the concept. My post on speed dating contains a number of tips and hints based on my own experiences.
Unfortunately, simply getting out and meeting people does not necessarily mean you are actually ready to date and the same applies to those you meet. Being ready to meet people is different to being ready to date.
During my time at speed dating events, I met a number of wonderful people, who unbeknown to themselves, were not emotionally ready to actually date. So being ready to date is the third stage.
As a result of speed dating, I went on a number of actual dates with wonderful people that never eventuated into a second date. The reason was not always incompatibility, much of the time it was because one or both of us were not really ready to date and so without knowing it, we built emotional walls around ourselves. Again this is normal and something that will change when you are indeed ready to seriously date again.
The fourth stage is being genuinely ready and open to a relationship. This means that you brush aside commitment issues, the fear of getting hurt and the pain of previous relationships.
There is no shortcut to get here, nor is there a light bulb going off informing you when you arrive. What I found, was that dating was becoming more relaxed and comfortable, and that I was going on more second and third dates.
For me the end result has been, I am now 6 months into a relationship that sees me very happy and thinking, if only the two of us had met earlier. The reality is that had we met earlier, unless both of us were ready for a relationship it is highly unlikely that we would have progressed beyond a second or third date.
This is not because of a lack of compatibility, but because one or both of us were unconsciously not ready to risk the commitment a relationship entails. Time, as well as meeting and dating people is really the only way for your subconscious to break down the walls holding you back.
So, if like me you find yourself going on a few dates but not going any further. Don't beat yourself up, get despondent, depressed or give up. Simply accept that you or your dates are not quite ready, the timing is wrong and keep looking.
Regardless of the pain and hurt from your previous relationships, I for one believe that a relationship is well worth the struggle, the anguish, the self doubt and most of all, the risk. Just ask those around me who are saying that they have never seen me so happy.
Recently on social media I was met with much scorn and derision when I mentioned that I re-used my coffee pods. My coffee pod machine is a Caffitaly S14 which uses a coffee pod unique to Caffitaly.
The issue is, that unlike Nespresso pods which are made from aluminium, the Caffitaly compatible pods are made of plastic and as such, are not biodegradable.
The amount of used coffee pods going into landfill today is quite staggering. I should add that I purchased the machine without realizing that the pods were in fact plastic.
The reason for the scorn on social media is that the coffee pods are not designed to be-refilled, re-used or indeed recycled and here I was claiming to re-use mine.
Yes it can be a bit fiddly re-using your pods but there are two good reasons to do so. Firstly, from an environmental view point, whilst obviously it would be better to utilize biodegradable pods, no such pod exists for this brand of machine and the next best option is to continually refill your pods. Secondly it works out a great deal cheaper.
The first thing to do is to disassemble your pods, starting by using a small sharp knife to pierce the plastic covering acting like a lid and then peel it away from the pod.
Once you have peeled away the plastic lid, it is time to empty your pod of its components and old coffee grounds. I find the best way to do this is firstly to have a container ready in which to empty your coffee grounds and a sink with water in it.
You then gently squeeze the sides of the pod between your thumb and forefinger, allowing the top disc to pop out. Inside your pod there are two plastic discs sandwiching the ground coffee. These discs you will need to keep.
Now, using a dinner knife, gently pry the discs away from the coffee, give the discs a quick scrape and place the two discs and the pod casing into your sink of water and the coffee into your waste container. This sink of water will give the components an initial rinse, something that is necessary as the coffee grounds can make quite a mess.
Your next step is to thoroughly clean your components in warm soapy water. I do this using an old toothbrush. This is a crucial step to prevent bacteria and mould growing within your pod, resulting in an unpleasant and unhealthy cup of coffee.
Once you have scrubbed all the components, rinse them in hot water. Now place all of the components on top of a cake rake to dry overnight. I use the cake rake simply to allow good airflow.
By allowing to dry overnight , this again eliminates the threat of mould growing within your coffee. If you intend to use your pods within the next 24 hours , drying overnight would not be necessary.
Once all the components of your coffee pods are dry it is time to assemble and fill your pods. My first step is to simply put the smaller discs inside all my pods and stack the pods inside each other in small piles. Be sure to insert the small disc the correct way up with the flat base of the disc on the bottom of your pod casing.
When it comes to putting the coffee in your pods, my advice is to use a teaspoon and secondly lay out a piece of greaseproof or baking paper on your bench and work on top of the paper.
This will enable you to simply fold the paper and pour the unused coffee back into the bag of grounds. Again, thinking of waste, I reuse this sheet of baking paper, I simply fold it up and clip it to my bag of coffee ready for use next time.
Now using a teaspoon, spoon a heaped spoon of coffee into the pod casing, no need to worry about making a mess as that is what the greaseproof paper is for. After placing in a spoon of coffee I like to gently tap the bottom of the pod against the benchtop to settle the grinds before adding the remaining coffee.
The finished amount should see the pod seem overfull as shown in the photo. Now simply place the larger disc on top with the flat side facing up and push gently down until it is level with the top of the pod case and with that you are now finished and ready to make a well deserved cup of coffee.
It may seem complicated and not worth the effort at first, but I can assure you that it is actually very simple. A point to be aware of though is that because your pod no longer has a lid, dropping a pod will result in coffee grounds everywhere.
I also find that occasionally my pod doesn't seat quite right in my machine requiring me to open the pod chute. The result of this is that the pod will fall in among all the used pods making it hard to determine which is the new pod.
This just means that I "lose" the occasional pod. I originally place a small piece of aluminium foil very tightly on the top of the casing to act as a lid. Sure, it worked although it can make the pods a tight fit into the machine, however I no longer deem it necessary and think it a waste of foil.
So when you yourself stumble upon an online debate about the environmental impact of coffee pods, you too can say "I refill all my pods, it really is quite simple to do"
Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.