I will be 50 in May.
As I wind down this decade, looking at my life thus far, I am amazed. It’s been a crazy ride. If anyone had told me what would happen, I never would have believed it.
Isn’t this always the way?
I was wondering, if I could go back 10 years and tell myself the unvarnished truth about what was to come, would I have changed any of it? Probably not. We have to live what we lived to be who we are today.
However, the knowledge may have smoothed some of the rougher edges of the decade. If I received a letter from 10 years older me in today’s mail, it would bring me peace.
In this spirit, I decided to write to my 10 years younger self. Here is the letter:
Hello Beloved Kendra,
Congratulations on your seven month old baby! Your family is now complete! I promise you, in two months, he will sleep through the night and you will once again be able to rest until baby number one starts sleep walking into your bed. But let’s not focus on that right now.
You will be 40 years old in four months. Right now, you are tired and sleep-deprived in a way you never thought possible. You forgot about this part, after baby number one started to sleep through the night. You were hopeful this one would sleep through the night sooner than baby number, but now that you have rounded out seven months of sleepless nights, it’s clear: this kid is different.
As I sit looking back on the past 10 years, and looking forward to our 50th birthday, I want to share some wisdom with you.
Sweetie, you are going to be living the toughest decade of your life! But the good news is—it ends really well. First, the bad news:
There will be no 40th birthday party.
Your marriage is starting to decay; you just don’t know it yet. But don’t be sad, you will reclaim this missed celebration and have a party to celebrate your 40+4 birthday. And it will be filled with joy and laughter and you will share it with those friends who you love the most.
Your marriage will end.
Yes, you will fight harder than you’ve ever fought for anything in your life. Yes, your efforts will be in vain. Yes, you will feel tremendous sadness, loss, anger and guilt.
The sooner you let that go, the happier this decade will be.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to let this go easily; it will eat at you for a long time, both consciously, and eventually, subconsciously, becoming so deeply embedded in your psyche you won’t know it is there. It will become a way of being. But please know that eventually you will, an all of the hurt will disappear.
You will be yourself again.
You won’t get remarried before your ex. In fact, you won’t get remarried in this decade.
I know what a hard pill this one is to swallow. I know how competitive you are. I know how much you wanted to be happy again before he was. I know how much you love to be right and hate to be wrong. I know how much pride you have.
I know you very well.
The fact is, he will remarry quickly and have the third baby you wanted with his new wife. Understand that this is okay. That is his path, not yours.
This will be very humbling for you. You will learn how irrational it is to live your life in this type of competition. And you will let it go.
Your path is beautiful. You were not ready to remarry. If you did, you would have picked someone whose personality is just like his—which is what you did anyway.
You will spend almost half your 40s in love with someone who is emotionally unavailable.
Yep. You will pick another one.
This, too, is okay. You cannot get to where you are going without having been in this relationship.
He will show you how deeply you can love.
He will help you see the ways you twist yourself around the axle to make relationships work. He will show you how much of yourself you were willing to give up to keep a relationship alive. He will show you how little you were willing to accept in exchange. He will show you that no matter how deeply you love, and how much you work to earn his love, you can never make someone else love you. Love is not a prize you win by hard work. He will show you how you’ve done this in relationships over and over again for your entire adult life.
He will show you how little love you had for yourself.
I promise you that this will change. You will be amazed and humbled by how much love and respect you will feel for yourself. And I want you to know I feel all of your pain, and it’s okay. You can take it. I know it will pass.
He will be a catalyst; with this heartbreak, you will release the belief that love needs to be worked for and earned, and embrace the understanding that real love is given freely. You will fall in love with yourself. And Dear Heart, you are worth loving so very much.
These are gifts.
Although the lessons will hurt worse than pulling a band-aid off a scab, ultimately they will help you heal and grow.
“Everything will work out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.” ~ Anonymous
Are you ready for some good news?
Your baby boys are growing into amazing young men.
They are tall and smart and musical and polite and interested in the world around them. They are inspired and inspiring. They are loving sons and loyal friends. They are growing into true gentleman.
And oh the places you will go!
You will travel around the world with your children, and without them.
You will embark on a journey of healing and growth unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before.
You will write!
You will—finally—live abroad!
You will host a college student from another country. You will have the foreign exchange student experience you’ve wanted your entire life. She will show you what it’s like to have a daughter, and this is a gift you’ve wanted your whole life. And she will teach you what life is like in another country. And you will help her perfect her English. Most importantly, she will remind you what unbridled joy looks like.
And you will feel it again too.
You will create a home and a life, for yourself and your sons, that is fulfilling and happy and full of joy.
You will extend yourself beyond any place you’ve ever been. And see things beyond even what your imagination could create. And every day, life will continue to bring you miracle after miracle, for which you will be grateful.
For which I am grateful, every day.
So Beloved, do not ever give up. You will see the darkest night of your life during this decade. But keep the faith, because soon you will see the brightest dawn.
Keep heart, Dear One. The light will come. And it will be brilliant.
I love every little piece of you. Filled with this love, I am very excited to start our next decade.
Remember that I am here with you, and I will love you always,
Author: Kendra Hackett
Photos: flickr and courtesy of the author