Looking Back, But Not Going Back

Recently, I celebrated my 50th birthday, and I was the grateful and humble recipient of many well wishes from my friends and family, both near and far. Some of these birthday greetings were sweet and sentimental, while others were uproariously funny. One greeting in particular, though, summed it all up perfectly.

Congratulations, Buddy! You made it! These words were spoken with a slight laugh by my ex-husband, but he was being serious. It was quite a fitting acknowledgment of reaching this milestone, not because fifty is old, because it is not. At least, that is not how I view it at all. It was appropriate, because he was one of the people who had a front row seat to the previous decade and knew that congratulations indeed were in order.

Some people dread turning 50, but I most definitely was not one of those people. While I love to celebrate my birthday, or more accurately, my birthday month, I felt especially excited to hit the half century mark. I even waited up until midnight to welcome 50 with open arms. I also wanted to ensure that my 40s had ended. Officially. Finally. Forever.

As soon as the clock flashed 12:00 a.m., I actually jumped up and down a few times and smiled to myself. I felt like I finally was free of the invisible shackles that I had been dragging around for the better part of a decade. Depression. Anxiety. Divorce. Broken relationships. Breast cancer. Deaths of friends and family members. At the stroke of midnight, all of those things now belonged to a different decade, not to me.

I look back on these events and moments from a safer distance now, and I am shifting from focusing on the past to focusing on what will serve me well now. I learned a great deal, but here are some of the highlights:

When you think things cannot possibly get worse, sometimes, they will. You will survive, though, even if you do not feel like you can or will.

Some of the people who promised to stand by you, no matter what, will be the first ones to exit your life and never return.

Other people will surprise you with their kindness and support and be there for you every step of the way.

Your heart may get broken, but you can reconfigure the pieces and love again, in spite of it all.

Love never dies.

Life can change in an instant, in both wonderful and horrific ways, so, hang on.

I will never forget the challenges that I faced, and to be fair, they have helped to shape me into the 50 year old I am at this moment. That said, I am hoping that the challenges of my 50s are of a kinder, gentler variety. Please, and thank you!

There were several times along the way that I truly did not know if I would live to see 50, and a few other people, like my ex-husband, had their doubts, too. But I did. I made it, and I intend to make the most of my 50s and beyond.

That’s another story. . .

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