I was 37 and miserable. I was living and working in Washington, D.C. and most of my misery came from my job. I had a terribly abusive supervisor, and I started to have all sorts of ailments including migraines toward the end of my time there.
So I quit. It was a well-paying job, with tremendous benefits, and I had nothing to leap forward to. I knew I was sick of it all: the pretentiousness of the city I was living in, the mistreatment from my boss, and a sense that I had nothing else to look forward to. I decided to live off my 20K savings until I figured out a better plan.
That plan was applying to and working at Trader Joe’s. I also was applying for graduate school in the hopes of getting an MFA in creative writing. What ended up happening: I was rejected from all of my dream schools and met my future husband (a coworker) at Trader Joe’s. We got married when I was 39, and ended up having two babies — one when I was 40, and our second when I was 42.
I share this because I know there are those of you out there who were like me: in your mid to late 30s with no significant other, and no prospects for parenthood. I knew I didn’t want to go at it alone. It meant more to me to have my hubby be the father of my kids (specifically him, I wouldn’t want to procreate with anyone else and actually blurted this out when we started dating!) than have kids just to have them.
And since D.C. is a notoriously hard city to meet someone, I quit all aspects of my life because I really didn’t know what else to do with myself and had no further aspirations to climb the corporate ladder or date for that matter. It was clearly an existential crisis.
I’ve heard it said more times than I can remember: but love really comes to you when you least expect it. And that is what happened to me. Moreover — motherhood happened to me, too. There is not a day that goes by where I don’t look at my two little monsters and wonder how in the world I was able to create this life. Hubby and I talk about it all the time. It never ceases to amaze us.
It also never ceases to amaze my parents (their only grandsons are our kids), my sister, and my friends. I had lived so much of my life as a single woman, that it was just a given that that is how I would end up.
I’m really not sure how I ended up where I am. I didn’t have any hope I would meet someone. But I didn’t not have hope either. I think the most significant thing I had, have always had, and always hold onto, is my sense of self. Who am I and what do I stand for? And when I met hubby, every emotionally unavailable, narcissistic, Tinder-obsessed, non-monogamist, hurt-by-their-ex guy in my past just faded away.
Hubby rose to the top because I finally was ready for a good, loving, loyal, man. It took a lot of me experiencing heartache and terrible behavior to get to the point where I wasn’t accepting it anymore. I thank the universe every day to be blessed with hubby, who is not only an incredible partner but an amazing, mind-blowingly loving father.
So I call on you with this: no matter what, hold onto your love of self. No matter if your future means parenthood or non-parenthood, marriage, or forever singledom. None of this matters if you don’t love yourself. It was the single biggest thing I grew to do that changed everything for me. I know it will do the same for you.