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.
So between Christmas and New Year, I turned 50, yes the big Five Zero. So does that now mean I am old, that I now need to start looking at retirement homes, caravans, walking frames and hearing aids? Of course it doesn't, unless of course I wished or needed to, which I can say I don't. It does however mean that my head of Grey hair is more age appropriate than when I started greying at 16.
Very few birthdays bring about a change in our lives, here in Australia, turning 18 does see things change, at 18 you have the right to vote, are legally considered to be an Adult, can now legally drink and buy alcohol and enter licensed premises such as nightclubs. Another example here in Western Australia is that at the age of 80, you are required to pass a medical examination each year to keep your drivers license. No such changes exist however for when you turn 50. Sure, it is a milestone birthday, half a century of living on our planet is as good an excuse to celebrate as any I have heard and so celebrate I did. A gathering of family and friends helped me to celebrate my Fiftieth and I had a wonderful time doing so. But nothing else changed.
I didn't for instance, change my choice of radio station, even though Triple J is a station aimed at the youth market of 16 to 25 year olds, I still like the same music I did the day before my birthday and the number of years since my birth wan't going to change it. I most certainly did not develop the urge to wear ill fitting cardigans and socks and sandals or any other ageist cliche. The reason being , is that nothing has changed.
It is my belief that with each passing decade, everybody ought to take a look at themselves and the way they are viewed by others, and your Fiftieth decade is no different. Now I am certainly not suggesting that you necessarily need to make any changes, but without taking time out to assess who you are and how others view you, it can be all too easy to come across very differently than how you think you do. Many of us have smirked upon seeing a Fifty something acting and dressing like a 20 something, a simple review of yourself each decade can prevent you being the one laughed at. A previous blog post of mine about my own review upon nearing 50 goes into a bit more detail on this.
So am I now past it?
Well you are, if you think that you are! But bear in mind that you can expect many more decades of life still to come. In Australia and the U.S. life expectancy is now between 78 and 84 years, so don't be in any hurry to feel old. Sure, we have aches and pains we never used to have but advances in medical science have seen ways to combat these. Anti inflammatory medications, surgeries like hip replacements as well as activities like yoga and exercise can see us lead active lives well into our Seventies. I for one still intend to be playing the occasional game of golf in my Seventies. I am no stranger to aches and pains and back and shoulder issues as my blog post An Ageing Body, Massages and Yoga details.
How can I not feel old when I look old? Well if it is your appearance that is making you feel old, then be realistic about your expectations and make some changes. Ageing is natural, but there are things we can do to help slow down the way it affects us. Obviously Diet and Exercise are important, the healthier and fitter you are the younger you will appear. One of the simplest things you can do to slow down the appearance of ageing is to drink more water. Buy a water bottle you like and keep it with you, sipping away and refilling it throughout the day. My personal water bottle is made of stainless steel and is insulated, it will easily keep my water chilled for 12 hours and its woodgrain appearance I think is rather stylish.
Another way to minimize the appearance of ageing is the use of a good skincare regime. I dealt with this on my blog 5 Essential Grooming Products For Your Face. The things to remember though are to look for products that are specifically designed for men and more specifically, men in their Fifties. Men's skin differs from that of women and so requires a differently formulated product, plus as you age your requirements change. You will be wanting to add more elasticity and vibrancy to your skin than you would when in your Twenties.
So I guess the thing about turning 50 is that yes, it is only a number, but no one cares what that number is as long as you yourself don't. If you feel old, make the changes that will leave you not feeling old any more, but ready once more to take on and enjoy all that life has to bring.The choice is all yours to make, yours and yours alone.
Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.