“How could I have been so stupid?” Linda said as I tried to decipher her words between sobs. “I should have learned from my first marriage. I started my own business for heaven’s sake! Other people look up to me! How could I have failed so horribly at love? Am I really that broken?”
When Linda was a little girl, she saw the adults in her life and thought they had all the answers. At 53, it was terrifying to realize that despite a good education, solid reputation, and thriving career she had not figured it all out, especially in the area of love.
Even with years of therapy and reading every relationship book she could get her hands on, Linda continued to attract toxic men into her life. Each birthday was a reminder that she really should have figured this out by now and Linda lived with a constant voice in her head reminding her that she had failed at establishing a life of love.
So, how did Linda break the pattern and finally learn to get over failure and get back to fabulous?
Get Past Your Past
The first step in Linda’s journey was taking a serious look at getting past her past. Reflecting on 50+ years of memories and regrets can be a bit terrifying for even the strongest among us. Harsh hands in childhood, harsh words in marriage and harsh times in dating can stick with people long after the toxic relationship has ended.
The key to Linda’s healing was getting toxic people out of her bed and out of her head. If you, like Linda, find yourself trying to redo certain points of your life then you know you are walking in circles rather than walking forward. As much as you want to learn from the past, we don’t want to spend your life there.
When you find yourself replaying conversations or asking “Why” try to rephrase the question and ask “How.” “Why did he cheat on me?” is a question that cannot be answered by thinking about it over and over. It is a question that keeps you stuck in the past. “How can I regain my confidence?” has an action attached to it and can move you into the present day.
Get Real About Your Present
The best (and worst thing) about life in your 50s and 60s is that you do not have the distractions that have allowed you to live in denial. You typically aren’t responsible for carpools or dance costumes, so you have more time to think of yourself.
It is time to take a real look.
When Linda decided to upgrade her life, she took an honest look as if she were on the outside looking in. If you were on the outside of your life looking in, what would you see?
Would you see a woman hiding behind Netflix? Maybe someone trying to take care of everyone in the world but herself. Or would you see a woman who continues to pick awful relationships to avoid being alone?
This is it. The time is now. You don’t get a redo, but you can change the course of your life from here. What is going on now that is preventing you from becoming your best friend? What is holding you back from saving yourself?
Take a real look. You can do it. You have experienced a lifetime of hard things. This won’t be the hardest!
Get Serious About Your Future
“I thought I would be traveling the world with someone at this stage of life, or at least have someone to share a peaceful cup of coffee with! Is this all my life is? What’s the point? I feel like such a failure.” Linda said during our first conversation.
I assured Linda that these dreams were still possible, but not if she didn’t make some life changes. My dad would always say, “If you always do what you’ve always done, then you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
You’ve had enough life experience to know that time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds. Time makes the wounds seem normal, so you recreate the wounds with different people. If you don’t want your future to be a repeat of the past, then it is time to get serious about your future before life distracts you again.
Figure out what a fabulous life looks like to you, create a plan to make it happen and take actionable steps each day to get there. And, before you know it you, like Linda, will be feeling a lot less like a failure and a lot more like the fabulous woman hidden inside of you.
About the Author:
Sarah K Ramsey is a Toxic Relationship Recovery Specialist who helps amazing women remember how amazing they are after enduring the pain of a toxic partner. Her work has been featured in the Emotional Abuse Recovery Summit as well as the Healing Narcissistic Trauma Conference. Contact Sarah at [email protected].