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I need to figure out who I am when someone else is not the priority.

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Wow, this year has been a doozy! Personal loss, professional loss. And now we are at the end of it and I am ready to say good bye!

As a result of all the loss, I have been so tempted to just throw in the towel and completely blow up my life several times. Sell the house, live in my car. Quit work and just do odd jobs. Just leave, everything and anything behind. I know I’m not the only one who has felt this way.

Let me give you just a summary of the context that has driven me to this desperation.

The Summary of 2022

Coming into this year, I thought it was going to be a banner year. I had a wonderful job that I loved that paid me well and a stellar work ‘family.’ A fiance with whom I was planning forever. And all 5 of the kids were stable and living life. My mom’s health continued to go down hill, but she was still my mom in a lot of ways.

And here we are at the end of the year…

  • My wonderful job turned into 6 months of turmoil ending with a “mutual” separation that left my confidence SHOT like never before. And I recognized that my identity was completely tied to my work. Not the way that it is supposed to be, and I am still really struggling with this.
  • My new contract to hire job, became just a contract job, which I am grateful for, but I really want the stability and benefits of a full time role again. The job hunt is on. Although I’m grateful to have stable full time work, it’s just a hard place to be on top of everything else.
  • My 5 year old relationship, 1 year engagement, ended with a single text message one week after we took our engagement photos and decided on a wedding date. And that text was sent overnight on the night that my uncle passed away. (No contact since and I am still reeling!)
  • My beloved uncle passed away. The one who has played such a big part in our lives over the last decade, my youngest daughter’s “best friend”, the one I sat with at Thanksgiving and listened to his tales with my fiance by my side. Yes, the one who helped me get my car, who let us live with him during our transitionary time between living in Virginia and Georgia. We were eating Thanksgiving one day and just a few short days later, I got a call from my dad that he had passed away. (I am writing this the day after the funeral, so I am RAW!)

Princess and Uncle Frank at Thanksgiving

  • My mom was put on hospice at the end of the summer. She no longer speaks or can care for herself in any way. Now it’s just a waiting game and it is so hard to watch. (I recognize that it is far harder for my siblings and dad who are her primary caretakers, but the daily updates and pictures just tear me up.)

And these are just the “highlights” or rather low lights of my year. I am just torn down.

The Results

I cannot even put into words all the emotions I am feeling. They overwhelm me, drown me. It’s not even stay in bed and cry reactions anymore. It’s more of a burn it all to the ground reaction. Does that make sense? The anger, the betrayal, the sadness, and the loss – they all combine to a swirling pit of (I can’t even find the word for it.)

Obviously, I have had time to sit and process some of this and some of it is very, very new. And I’m clinging to the few things I feel like I have some control over, which frankly, does not feel like much. But you know me, even in the midst of all this, at my very core, I am a planner, a list maker. I can’t just do nothing.

How I’m processing

This is what I’ve got right now, this is how I’m coping.

  1. As far as my personal relationship failure goes, I am following the sage advice of no contact for 30 days. I blocked him on all channels. Do you know how hard that is? Someone I have connected with multiple times a day for 5 years is suddenly gone. It’s like losing a limb, an integral part of myself.
  2. I am giving myself permission to feel whatever I feel, there is no right or wrong way to feel with all of this going on. Smiling and laughing is okay, crying and screaming is okay. And asking for hugs continuously is okay. My kids, especially Gymnast, have been so supportive through all of this. I really have raised great kids. Pat on the back to me.
  3. Spend time with myself – no distractions, no tv, no technology, just let my mind wander and answer any and all questions as best as I can that come to mind. There’s a Tik Toker I watch who gave me this idea. She takes herself on a date every weekend. I don’t want to do that, because I don’t want to spend my money that way. But I love the concept so I modified it to meet my needs.
  4. Get out of the house. This is hard. I am an introvert to the extreme. Really, the only time I go out of the house is with the kids, but they are all mostly gone or about to be gone. I have to establish a life outside of them, and right now connecting with others is very important for my mental health. This is really hard for me. But this weekend, Princess was home for the funeral and we went to the VFW line dancing night with live music. No, neither of us dances. But I love live music and it’s dark and everyone is old, no offense, so it’s something I can do myself to just be out sometimes.
  5. Ask yourself the hard questions:
    1. Who am I? If I’m not mom, who am I? If I’m not supporting others, who am I? What is my purpose?
    2. What is next? I am months away from being an empty nester. All my “plans” blew up with my relationship. Work?
    3. What do I truly enjoy doing – both personally and professionally? I have spent so long being everything to anyone as a jill of all trades. It’s not serving anyone anymore, especially me.
    4. Is this reality? Or something that is a response to an emotional trigger?

That’s what I’ve got right now.

Shuttering my business for the time being.

The Plan

These are in no particular order or priority. Just my list…

  • I have decided to give myself a break. For 16 years, I have been a consultant, it’s just a whole part of my…my identity as mentioned before. I even continued that while working full time jobs for the last 2 years. I am exhausted. And I am not doing anyone any good any more – neither me or my clients. After I wrap a few straggling projects, I am shuttering it down for a while. Time to re-imagine what this looks like or if it is time to let it go. The experts say not to make big decisions for 6 months after the losses I have suffered. I can’t imagine I will go 6 months, but I am giving myself the time.
  • I want a “real” job. I want something I can leave at the end of the day and the weekends. I want paid time off. I want holidays. I want bereavement pay. I want a team I can cheer on. I want to focus my energy on one “job.” Therefore, the job search is a priority. I can’t keep settling.
  • I am going to give myself a gift. For YEARS, I have waited for a man to recognize my value, to shower me with love, to freaking celebrate my birthday! That may never happen. So I’m going to stop waiting. And I’m going to start celebrating me. I told the kids, I am going to start celebrating my own birthday. I don’t know what that is going to look like, but it’s going to happen (maybe next year.)
  • I am going to travel. My three year plan with my ex-fiance was to hunker down for 3 years, get our financial life tied up in a pretty bow, and then travel for a while…I’m not getting younger. And there is so much I want to see and do. I’m not going to wait anymore, I am not going to wait for my “person” to show up. What’s crazy is that the day I was chatting about this with Gymnast, their old sitter announced she was starting a travel agency. I’ve already contacted her to start planning some “just me” trips this next year.
  • I am going to read books. I have a slew of mostly business related, some relational and some personal development books, I have been collecting for the last 4ish years. 2023 is the year I’m going going to read them. Every day, I’m giving myself some time. If you would like to read along with me, let me know and I can certainly post what I am reading and my thoughts on it occasionally.
  • One thing I have determined from my “hard questions” above is that I LOVE to write. Like love. I love making people feel or think about things differently. I love sharing different perspectives. And I don’t know if I love it enough to make it a career move, but it’s definitely been cathartic. So when I’ve asked content developers that I’ve worked with how they think I should proceed with this, their response is “just write.” So that’s what I’m going to do. And I’m going to do it real and raw and ignore my shame, my pride, my hesitations of sharing too much. I’m just going to write and put it all out there. You can follow my personal ramblings HERE. There will be no affiliate links, no sales, just personal epithets and really whatever comes to mind.

In the end, it’s time to put me first. My kids are almost all gone (update on Gymnast coming soon,) and I’ve spent way too much time waiting on a man. It’s time to just do me, my mom role is fading to the background now, and that’s disconcerting. I need to figure out who I am when someone else is not the priority.

What do you think? Have anymore suggestions for my “healing” journey?

 

 

 

My Financial To-Do List

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My Financial To-Do List

My partner and I have gotten to a place where our financial basics are pretty much covered. We contribute to our retirement accounts, we make overpayments on the mortgage, and we have sinking funds for things like home repairs and a new car. Our budget that I tweaked a few months ago is working really well for us and our finances feel like they’re on autopilot at this point, which is great. 

I’m a worrier who tends to obsess over money, so it’s nice that I don’t have to devote as much mental and emotional energy to getting our finances in order these days. I have to make small adjustments from time to time, and obviously I’ll have to do a major budget overhaul if something bad happens like a job loss or an illness. But I know that we’ll be ok even in a worst-case scenario thanks to our emergency savings, which is comforting.

I’ve Become A Little Too Complacent  

However, I’ve realized that I’ve become a little complacent when it comes to our finances. I haven’t been taking care of the items on my financial to-do list and have let them linger for a few months. My spouse only has life insurance through work, so we want to get a second policy that isn’t tied to an employer. It will be much cheaper to do this while we’re young, so I really want to get it taken care of. 

We’re also not taking advantage of all of my spouse’s workplace benefits. There’s a stock purchasing plan we’re not enrolled in and we’re not putting any money in our HSA. And we should probably bump up our retirement contributions since my spouse has been earning much bigger bonuses at work for a few months and my business has been doing well. 

I Probably Won’t Tackle My To-Do List Until After Christmas 

If I’m being honest, these financial housekeeping tasks probably won’t get done this month because of Christmas. But I want to start knocking these tasks off of my to-do list right after the holidays are over, and I hope writing this post holds me accountable to that goal! 

I also want to get our taxes out of the way early so we can see how filing jointly for the first time will affect our return. If we get too big of a tax refund, we may need to adjust my spouse’s withholding. I’ve gone back and forth on the issue of tax returns. Sometimes I think it’s better to get a bigger return so we don’t end up accidentally owing the government something. But I think I’ve finally decided that I’m not a big fan of getting a large tax refund because it’s easy to squander the money on impulse purchases since it feels like “free money.” So after I get this backlog of tasks off of my to-do list, I’m going to turn my attention to our taxes and figuring all that out. 

Are there any big or annoying financial housekeeping tasks that you’ve been putting off? Are you going to wait to tackle them until the new year, or get them out of the way now so you can start 2023 on the right financial foot? Let me know in the comments section below! 

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