The Magic of Five-0
By Darlene Chadbourne
I was approaching my 50th birthday when my husband and I sold the auto parts store that I managed, one of the three businesses we owned and operated together. The businesses were located next to our home so we could be there for our children. At this point three of our four children were well on their way to becoming independent adults.
Thinking about it, I came to the realization that I had lived my life caretaking others. I think I was born an adult, always trying to take care of and fix my mother because of her abandoning me right after birth. The pattern to please people was set into motion so I would never be abandoned again. At 50, I was reviewing my identity and I could see myself as a daughter, a loving people pleasing wife, a mother of four, a business owner and a very hard worker, who was always juggling things to keep everyone happy.
That was when I declared to my mother, husband and children, “I have spent the first 50 years as a daughter, a wife, a mother and a business owner. The last 50 years are mine! I am going to college.” Attending college is something I wanted to do ever since I graduated high school. This was the first time in my life that I named a need, a want and a desire that I had! It didn’t involve taking care of others.
The college I chose required that I stay in residence for 10 days to plan my study for that semester. At age 50, getting to campus and having a room of my own, it was an interesting feeling being totally alone in silence. I realized in that moment that I had never been anywhere overnight by myself. In the past 50 years I was always with a parent, a husband or a child but never alone.
The magic that happened in those 10 days alone was the discovery of a single dim ember. It was my spirit. With the encouragement of others who were helping me to uncover the spirit buried so deep within, it turned into a warm glowing ember. My spirit was rescued from the piles of ashes that were thrown aside for others.
From that point on I have used the term ‘midlife spirit’ to identify and honor the person that I discovered and am to this day. I am now midlife spirit, Darlene Chadbourne, owner of a business model that I love and am passionate about. All this I discovered during my four years of college when I gave myself permission to be alone and do what I wanted to do. Yes, I am still a wife and a mother, but those are not my identities. I am a free midlife spirit.
published in the
December, 2013 – January, 2014