A long term relationship, whether married or not, should see a healthy compromise between the two people concerned. Whilst this should never mean a complete change in you character, it usually means a subtle change in priorities. After all, you intended on spending the rest of your life with your partner. However, combined with the passing of years and your advancing age, when a separation occurs, most men are left either reverting back to who they were before the relationship began, or wondering "Who am I now?".
To answer this, we need to look at a number of factors and ask ourselves a few more questions. First of which is "Am I Happy?", which for most of us post divorce the answer would most likely be no. Next is "Am I acting my Age?",it is all too easy to revert back to the person you once were, which whilst that sounds like a good idea, a 50 year old acting like a 30 year old is simply not right. Other questions to ask include, "What do I want from my future?, Do I care how others see me?, What defines me as a person? and What about me would I like to see changed?"
Am I Happy?
After my own separation and subsequent divorce, I will admit to being in quite a "funk", I certainly was not in a happy place. However, it was not until I asked this of myself that I realized that things could be different. I knew that my life was never going to be the same as it once was, but that did not mean that I couldn't be happy again. It dawned on me that now I was single, the onus was on me and me alone to decide what I wanted to do. No longer was I required to consult anyone before making decisions. In other words, no more did I have a ready made excuse to talk myself out of doing things I actually wanted to do. I started going out and seeing live music and comedy shows again and whilst I was still having some down days, being myself was certainly having a positive affect on my state of mind. This led to the realization that not only could I be happy again, but that I had the opportunity to rewrite who I was and do some fine tuning,
So I made a decision then to be who I wanted to be, not who I was becoming due to the expectations of others. Did I know who it was or what it was I wanted to become? Nope! I had no idea at all and that is part of the journey. As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, my infamous red suede shoes became something of a catalyst of change. I saw them in an outlet store and was immediately drawn to them, although it was about 2 weeks before I finally succumbed to purchasing them. The knock on effect however, was that I felt the need to dress myself in a way that befitted these new shoes and so began my interest in dressing well and fashion as it relates to a (soon to be) 50 year old man.
Did I know or expect the knock on effects?Not at all. I started researching online and on social media to gain an insight into both what I liked and what was considered to be a "good" look for someone approaching his 50th birthday. This in turn lead me to an understanding of how I wanted to dress, what felt right for me. Soon I was purchasing sports coats, long sleeve button down shirts, an ever expanding collection of shoes and accessories. Dress well and you feel good, so my darkness was subsiding and people began to notice that I was more relaxed and comfortable in myself. I was beginning to get an idea of who I was.
What Defines You As A Person?
The answer to this is of course complex in its nature and much of it relates to the way others see you. Ask yourself this. You are talking with a friend and she mentions that she has began dating someone. What is it that you now want to ask/know about them? For many, the first thing is often , " What do they do?". Certainly a persons occupation can often give an insight into who they are, but we also possess a mindset of stereotypes that can all too often, result in an incorrect and often negative biased assumption. For instance I will quickly list a few occupations and I feel certain that everyone of us will in their minds will picture the very same stereotypes. Lawyer, driven by success, very materialistic and with a tendency to be morally flexible, Teacher, frumpy but caring with a heart of gold, Architect, drives a Saab and wears Turtlenecks, Bricklayer, drinks an excessive amount of beer, swears too much and smokes at least a packet of cigarettes a day. Now I'm sure that these stereotypes hold true for the odd individual, but to define someone based on a stereotype is just wrong.
For many of us, we are working in jobs that we "fell" into after deciding on a career change earlier in life. I for one am working in an occupation that is far removed for where my working life began. Whilst in school I realized I wanted to be a chef and did so for about 10 years before having had enough of a very dog eat dog industry and left. With no job/income, I began casual labouring as a way to pay my bills, this led to my getting full time employment in the mining/refinery industry. So did the essence of who I was as a person change radically with change in my employment history? Was the Chef me, a different person to the one who worked in a soft drink factory or the one who spent his working hours pouring gold bars, of course not. So what then defines us?
Who Do You Want To Be?
So if we shouldn't be defined by our choice of occupation, what then does define who we are and how does that play into knowing who we want to be? I know it is a cliche but who we are is more about our interactions with others and our choices in our own free time. When talking about rediscovering/reinventing yourself post divorce, I am not talking about making radical changes to your core personality traits (Unless you have negative traits that do then require changing). In this instance I am referring to changes that will make you happy, happy in disposition, happy with who you are and happy with your life in general.
This means identifying, who/what you wish to be and what sort of life you want to lead. Be aware that this may well be a process of evolution and that one change may lead to another until you arrive at the destination you didn't realize was there. I discovered early on, thanks in part to those redshoes, that I wanted to dress better and take better pride in my appearance. I also was aware that as a person , I liked who I was, so my core character traits I was happy with. Whilst I knew I enjoyed my own time alone, I was also aware that finding love again was something I wanted, to achieve this, I knew I had to get out of my comfort zone and actually meet people. So began my experiences with speed and online dating.
After divorce or the loss of a long term relationship, we should all take stock of our lives, learn what our priorities are and rediscover who we are as individuals. I guess it really comes down to identifying those elements that you would wish to change, those that will make you happy and allow you to move forward with your life and then working towards making those changes happen.
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Divorced and nearly 50 I rediscovered who I was.