I confess I realised quite late on in December that we were coming to the end of a decade and were about to start a new one. I was well aware of the end of the year but the end of the decade almost escaped me.
But once I clocked it, I saw just how significant this decade was for me.
I wonder if it was for you? And in what ways?
I began this past decade at 38 and I’m ending it at 48. Ten momentous years of shifts and changes and growth and grief and pain and courage and breakthroughs and joy and gratitude.
I began the decade as a single woman, living in a one-bedroom flat in North London.
I didn’t have a blog back then. I didn’t have a book out. I didn’t have a business. I didn’t have a coaching practice. I most definitely didn’t have a husband or any notion as to how to acquire one any time soon.
And while I was in a good job, working as a journalist for the charity arm of Thomson Reuters, with an emphasis on reporting on disasters and emergencies, I was a bit lost. I’d burnt out and broken down in my previous role as a political reporter. I’d gone back to reporting – this time on humanitarian issues – because I was interested in the plight of disadvantaged people, because I thought I might want to become an aid worker, and because I didn’t know what else to do.
But I was confused. I felt alive during the foreign trips to disaster zones and the flights on helicopters – they fed my inner adrenaline junkie – but I didn’t enjoy my commute into work and I didn’t like staring at a screen in an office all day.
And deep down, I probably knew there was something else I was meant to do. I just wasn’t sure what.
I allowed myself to explore the things I was truly passionate about – women, wellbeing and personal development, or more specifically the prisons we lock ourselves in and the traps that we create for ourselves: eating disorders, repeated unhealthy patterns, dysfunctional relationships and so on.
And that’s how this blog began, or rather its predecessor, born out of a moment of frustration and anger about the way we harm ourselves, berate ourselves and give ourselves a hard time. Just As I Am – An Experiment in Self-Acceptance, my first blog, launched in March 2019, a few weeks before I turned 40.
Forty-something days later, this blog, From Forty With Love, began.
This blog has accompanied me throughout this decade as I’ve wrestled with some of the biggest questions and challenges in my life to date.
Will I have kids? Do I want kids? Why haven’t I got kids yet? How am I going to have kids? Will I find a willing mate with whom to have kids before my time runs out? Should I have kids on my own?
Why am I single? Why do all my relationships fail? Why do I end up heartbroken or hurting someone else every time I attempt to date? Why do I keep repeating the same patterns over and over again? Why am I always drawn to unavailable men or to men who are scared of commitment? Why can’t I fancy the guys who are into me? Will it always be like this? Do I actually want to be in a relationship anyway?
Will I be able to support myself if I leave a career that I’ve been doing since my mid-20s, a career that’s taken me all over the world, given me a sense of belonging, helped me to buy a home and therefore gain some sense of stability and security, and given me a sense of self-worth and self-esteem, whilst also exhausting me, driving me to binge eat and binge drink and, towards the end, killing my spirit and sending my soul to sleep?
What am I going to do with my life? Who will I be if I’m no longer an international journalist? Will I survive? Will I feel enough? Come to think of it, who am I?
Will I be OK if I follow my heart and move to the coast to be by the sea? Will I miss the bright lights and the big city too much? Will I feel lost and alone? Will I miss my friends too much? Will I make new friends? Will I thrive? What will happen if it’s the wrong choice? Will I be able to come back?
What will happen if I throw all my eggs into one relationship basket? Will I make a mistake? Will I break my own heart and his? Will I be able to commit? Will I be able to stay? What about all the other blokes? What if I get it wrong? What if I end up hurt or hurt him?
Then full circle, back to the same questions that featured in some of my earliest blogs. Will I have kids? Will we have kids? How will I feel if we don’t have kids?
Many questions answered
And here we are, at the end of 2019 and almost at the start of 2020, with lots of answers.
No, I have no desire to have kids on my own.
Yes, I do want to be in a relationship, a life-long partnership, more than anything else, much more than being a mum.
All my relationships failed in the past because I was scared to love, scared to commit, scared to get close, scared to choose, scared to risk. I was too worried about getting hurt and hurting others, anxious that I’d get it wrong, fearful I wouldn’t be able to stay, scared I wouldn’t be able to be faithful.
Yes, I will absolutely be able to support myself if I leave the career I’ve always known. It won’t be easy. There’ll be times I’ll want to throw in the towel. But it will be an exhilarating adventure. I’ll feel alive. I’ll feel in charge of my time and my future. And I’ll find my path, my passion and my purpose.
I’ll find freedom through blogging and form wonderful connections with other women who are going through similar stuff. I’ll write a book about love and see that book and my love story featured in magazines and on the radio. I’ll launch a coaching practice that will attract clients from the UK and abroad who are struggling with the same issues, fears and challenges that I have been through and I will help people to find their way back to themselves, to find love, to take the chance on a new career and to redesign their life. I’ll host retreats and workshops in Dorset and in Spain and Turkey. I’ll discover the freedom that self-employment brings.
Yes, I’ll be absolutely fine if I move to the coast. I’ll miss my friends and the bright lights of London, but I’ll make new pals and the beach and countryside will more than compensate for the missing buzz. I’ll swim in the sea, all year round (I swam today), run on the beach and cycle through mud.
And I’ll fall in love as I throw all my eggs into this one relationship basket, challenge my fears and trust my heart and intuition. I’ll feel loved and supported. And I’ll laugh every day with my partner. Then, he’ll propose up a snowy mountain, I’ll say yes, and a few years later, we’ll get married in an outdoors ceremony on a stunning sunny day.
It doesn’t get much better than that.
Oh yes, back to that question. I won’t have kids. We won’t have kids. But most of the time that will be OK, because we love each other to the moon and back, because we make such a fantastic team and because I am learning to accept that my life is good enough, rather than look for holes in it or focus on what’s missing.
And we’ll tentatively talk about getting a dog, all the time, and eventually, in the next decade, we might actually get one!
Love and loss
So yes, it’s been quite a momentous 10 years – a decade in which I have taken huge strides, faced massive fears, experienced life-changing breakthroughs and grown as a person.
There has been loss too, of course, because every choice we make means that we lose the opportunity to take a different path. There has been frustration at times with the slow growth of my business and with my procrastination and self-sabotage. There’s been sadness about the way in which I repeatedly ignore and abandon one of my heart’s deepest desires: to write more books. And there’s been grief, huge amounts of grief, as I’ve continued to grieve the wounds of my past and as my dear mum’s health and memory have deteriorated.
But above all else, there is gratitude.
Gratitude for my journey, for all the support I’ve found and received, for the new tools I’ve developed and for the courageous steps I’ve taken. Gratitude for those women and men who’ve trusted me with their stories, their hearts, their lives and their hard-earned money. Gratitude for the beach and the sea. And gratitude for my wonderful husband, who (and I can’t help but well up as I write this) is the most kind, generous, supportive man and who is absolutely perfect for me.
So that’s it for this decade. It’s almost a wrap. If you’d like to wrap it up with me, click here to download a free workbook to help you to review the year and deconstruct your decade. And if you’re willing, pop a comment below to let me know how this decade has been for you. Or drop me an email at email@example.com. I get so much pleasure from hearing from my readers.
The next 10 years is bound to be just as significant so I’ll write about that in the early days of January 2020. But suffice it to say that 48 to 58 are huge years for me too: my 50th birthday; a deepening of my beautiful relationship; more love in my life (maybe a dog!); growth in my business; a TED talk or two (I’m determined!); and several books published, at least one of them a novel. Please, please, please, Katherine, please honour your dream of writing.
Sending love to you all, dear readers and followers.
Where would I be without you?
Where would we be without each other?
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Good post. I am in my mid forties and I too have faced the same dilemmas as you have. So, I can relate to a lot of what you have written.
Thank you for sharing this. I hope you are able to or have been able to work your way through those dilemmas and find peace – and that this blog helps. Katherine x