Hi! I am Jenny! I am a 41 year old, unmarried woman with no children, and have a job that pays substantially well but could be classified as stressful at times. I married my high school sweetheart when I was 19 and found myself divorced, disappointed, and catapulted into a scary world by the time I was 21 years old. That was TWENTY years ago. Where does the time go? Growing up I was a huge mommas girl. A complete homebody, who cried for a week straight when my mother tried to send me to 4H camp when I was 11. So I went from my parents house to my new husbands house and had never really been ‘on my own’. After the amicable divorce, I worked the next 15-20 years away from my family, finishing graduate school in another state, establishing my career, dating and having fun, doing things I shouldn’t have been doing, as well as accomplishing some really awesome things. Now that I think about it I was trying to prove to myself I could do it all on my own. When I actually decided that I was ‘ready to settle down’ I was 32. Ehh, a little late to the game, but I was going to give it an honest effort. I found myself in a serious relationship by the time I was 38 with a man 8 years younger than myself and the relationship quickly (1.5 years of dating)approached the marriage and family talk. And, THANK GOD, because I was on the verge of turning 40 and thought ‘this is my chance for a family, a loving husband, and OMG! It’s finally MY TURN’. So this is where my story really starts..... Before this pivotal event, I would have told you I was a strong, independent, fairly happy, outgoing, funny, practical joke playing person who loved to cook for friends and family, loved exercising and staying in shape, but wanted to secretly ‘fit into society’s mold’ of what a woman my age should be doing with her life. I had never experienced depression or anxiety. I am an extremely mellow person. I was tired of being looked at and silently judged with comments like ‘You’re so pretty, why have you not married?’, ‘do you not want to have children?’, and the unspoken ‘I really wonder what’s wrong with her and why she hasn’t married or had children’. I had always secretly thought that I would eventually remarry and have children, but the eluding question had been WHEN?
Well, it seemed to have arrived. Key word being SEEMED. 6 months before my 40th birthday my world came crashing down. My Prince Charming had deceived me. I won’t bore you with the details, but he was immediately over for me. I probably would have taken him back had he come begging for an apology, but somehow I was saved. God had shown me this mans TRUE SELF through a series of events that sound made for a TV movie. He admitted he wasn’t ready for what we had planned our life to be and said he had just been ‘kicking the can down the road’. What? I was being referenced as an object being shuffled through this thing called life?? Insert *Jennys dreams come crashing down. My life changed in those very moments. I was now about to be 40, single, STILL unmarried & STILL childless. I felt rejected, overlooked, forgotten, and worst of all NOT ENOUGH. I immediately fell into a dark hole. A depression like I had never experienced. I would wake up sobbing in the middle of the night. My mother drove 3.5 hours to spend 2 full weeks with me. She slept by my side and would hold my hand when I would wake up weeping. I couldn’t focus at work, heck I could barely put one foot on the floor in the morning to lift myself out of bed. I would stare at myself in the mirror in the morning and not know how I would make it through the next hour. At best, I would make it through an 8 hour work day, but only because I would sit in the women’s locker room no less than 3 times a day and sob my eyes out. I couldn’t eat nor had any interest in food. Exercise? Um does putting one foot in front of the other count? I couldn’t sleep and if I managed to fall asleep I would wake up to reality and immediately start crying at all hours of the night. It was a nightmare. My world was literally in flames. How was I going to recover from this? Would I be able to emerge from the flames? My outlook at that point was desolate. I felt like I was ashes in a smoldering pile of debris called ‘my life’.
So fast forward to this moment, today, the present. Key word here being THE PRESENT. Nearly 2 years after this significant turn of life events, how can I be the most happy, content, peaceful, joyful woman I am today? And wait……..SHOCKER….. I am STILL SINGLE AND CHILDLESS. Wow...to even think back and re-evaluate how I pulled myself out of the rubble is honestly very hard. I don’t ever want to feel that way again. I had placed all my self worth and happiness in whether a human man loved me enough to marry and have children with me. I think now, ‘How stupid was that?’. However, it wasn’t stupid. None of our feelings are ever stupid. That’s exactly what they are…..feelings. They don’t define us or characterize us. I have learned to feel. I felt every single poignant part of that hurt and betrayal and I allowed myself the time to feel it and adsorb it. Feelings are just that….they come and they go. So let me share with you my journey to freedom and contentment. This is what truly worked FOR ME. We are all different and have different needs, but if I can help any middle aged, single, and childless woman feel like she belongs and is loved NO MATTER WHAT by sharing just a tiny suggestion, then I have let my story SHINE through me and not let it DEFINE me.
First of all, I have a friend who I can call and literally just say “ I don’t know what I need, but could you pray for me, right now, over the phone?” and she would stop what she was doing and immediately pray over me. It brought me so much peace, even as momentary as it was. Secondly, I knew I needed family and friends around me that were going to lift me up. It was imperative I tapped into my support system and RELIED on them to check in on me, feed me when I didn’t want to eat, and allow them into my home to sit and hold my hand when I didn’t want to speak. Over the next 4 weeks, I started seeing a therapist whom I had never seen before. I knew I didn’t want to become bitter and closed off to love forever. I wanted to deal with it all right now and allow myself to feel every ounce of disappointment, so I could open my heart to being loved and to continue showing love to someone new down the road. My therapist allowed me to talk and share and cry and feel in a very safe place. She gave me unbiased opinions and opened my eyes to things I didn’t even know about myself. Over the course of the next several sessions, she suggested that I try acupuncture. Huh? How in the world is acupuncture going to help me? I didn’t know, nor did I care…if it was a natural healer of a bruised and battered heart….SIGN ME UP. One month after the shipwreck (thats what I liked to call it), I had my first acupuncture appointment. I shared my heart and my emotional hurts and then laid peacefully in her tiny, yet comfortable room. At different points throughout my body, she stuck very small gauge needles in the very surface of my skin in order to get my energy flow or Qi flowing again. Disruptions of this flow are believed to be responsible for disease (whether physical or mental). As cheesy as it sounds, I laid on that table and could literally feel the energy start to circulate. It wasn’t a tornado, but it was a movement in energy I hadn’t felt in over a month. That night I slept a full 9 hours with no medicine and I didn’t wake up crying in the middle of the night. A small victory. I think I actually laughed for the first time a couple days later. I remember that because someone pointed it out to me. I kept going to acupuncture at the acupuncturist recommended timing for a full 3 months. Each visit I could tell I was SLOWLY coming back to life.
Over the next 4 months, the fog started to part and I felt the life inside of me starting to come back. Along with the therapy and the acupuncture, I started a new habit through a recommendation of a friend. Journaling. Ugh. Writing? The old fashioned art of pencil to paper? She encouraged me to start keeping a journal, a prayer journal to be specific. Everyday, I would write in it. I would write to God and tell him all my fears, worries, questions, struggles and even my small victories when I would have one and most importantly something I was grateful for that day. Maybe it was the fact I didn’t cry that day….I was grateful. I had an outlet to say whatever I wanted to say and it FELT GOOD. And I look back at some of those journals and can see how so many of my prayers have been answered and how far I have come and it is so cool to me. Because like I said earlier, I have almost forgotten the pain and darkness I was in then, because the sun is shining on me now, and the warmth makes it feel too good to reminisce in those days. But what the journal shows me is GROWTH. I also started to dive into the Bible and do a morning devotional. What truths does God say about me? Truly the ONLY man (God) who matters…..what kind of truths does He promise me? It was rekindling my relationship with God and finding my worth in who HE says I am, not in who humans say I am. Our relationships with the Lord are all very personal, as well as our walks with Him. But as I spent more time in Gods word and dedicating morning time with Him, our relationship began to blossom. I eventually began to see the fruit of the Spirit in my life, peace and contentment. And what I’ve learned along the way after the shipwreck, is that when we align our will along the same line as Gods will, life becomes much more fruitful. And it is my belief that this last part, my relationship with the Lord, is what has truly allowed me joy, peace and contentment despite whatever circumstance I am in. When I release the control, I can relax and let God reveal what is in store for me, and honestly, the mystery in that makes me smile with amazement.
So maybe I am different from most forty year olds. And you know what, I am completely okay with that. I bask in my uniqueness now. I own it. Its mine. I embrace the story which has shaped me into this woman I am and am continuing to evolve into. My story IS the fire within me. I am not the smoldering ashes that are life’s circumstances, but I’m the bright light in the middle of the flames. Let it burn!