One of the characteristics I admire greatly in others is courage.
Not the sort of courage brought forth in testing one’s mental and physical capacity by bungy jumping or running a marathon after years of couch potato life (those I admire for different reasons) but the specific courage needed to dig deep enough to make tough, brave decisions – especially when in making their decision, life as they knew it, will become significantly and irreversibly disrupted. And while the outcome of the decision is always intended to improve or make life better, invariably a range of emotions are deeply felt and the pain associated with change, even if self induced, happiness-inducing and/or fleeting, is inevitable.
Do you know the types of decisions I mean? Ones like:
– Walking away from a long standing, previously precious and close friendship that no longer serves you well
– Giving permission to a Beloved to let go and die, in their time and on their terms, despite so badly wanting them to stay alive with you
– Giving loved ones space to find their own way, even when that way holds the very real possibly that you will be excluded from wherever they choose to go
– Making the first, second and third approaches to bring an end to an estrangement by allowing all involved the space and grace to slowly inch forward together
– Stepping forth into a new relationship at a time in your life when you are all too conscious of the saggy bits, pre-existing conditions and baggage that travels everywhere with you both
– Entering into a seemingly endless vortex of medical treatment, while retaining mindful concern for the others drawn in, peaceful acceptance and a sense of humour (albeit black, at times!)
– Choosing not to ‘settle’ for anything less than you deserve, even if you genuinely fear being lonely as a consequence
– Giving an ultimatum that you are prepared to follow through on, no matter how sad to withdraw and unpalatable to sustain because while you still love, you no longer respect how your Beloved is choosing to live
– Setting actions in train that commit a Beloved parent to a level of medical or pastoral care that intellectually you understand is better for them but emotionally, is heartbreaking for you
– You refuse to allow the behaviour of a Beloved to lessen your self-esteem because despite loving them, you recognise that they don’t love you enough to cherish you as the truly precious woman you are
– Choosing an alternative path to that generally accepted and then holding quietly firm in the face of others protestations because you absolutely know it is the right path for your mental and emotional wellbeing
In the past year alone, all of these situations have occurred in the lives of people I care about. They’re all women who, at midlife, are making tough decisions and following through with eyes wide open, grace, hope in their hearts and courage. Endless courage.
All of them have chosen, regardless of their willingness, to take action at this stage of their life. Why now?
The most consistent answer from these wise women, to that question, is that it’s the reality of having fewer summers looming, left to live. That realisation fuels them with a desire to live with less drama and pain; to live more simply, clearly, authentically and in congruence with their values. They believe that they’ve lived with themselves for long enough to trust that they won’t fall apart so irretrievably that they can’t pick themselves up and deliberately create a delicious second half. So while the decisions take courage, the drive to get on with living life their way, is fierce enough to spur action.
To all women digging deep, including my beloved friends and family, I salute you.
Ripenist Reckoning: Is there an aspect of your life that could use some courageous decision making, to enable your second half to be more delicious?