paralyzed by fear… Hot Conversation

I’ve been reading posts here for the past several months. Fear has kept me from posting. Fear has kept me from doing many things.

I’m 52 years old, have been married for 20 years, and have 2 daughters, ages 17 and 14. The marriage has not been a happy one, and I have wanted out for over 10 years.  It’s complicated, there’s plenty of blame to go around, and way too much water under the bridge. I don’t recognize the person I have become.

I stayed home to raise my daughters, went back to school and got my degree last year. I am currently employed part-time. I love my chosen field, but could not support myself on my current income. It has potential…but I am 52! That’s a short time horizon within which to make up for lost time.

My husband is 9 years younger than I. He has a very sketchy employment history, lots of layoffs and job changes. We lost our house in 2009. We’ve no savings, no assets. I feel vulnerable and afraid of what will happen to me if I file for divorce.

I am contemplating waiting one more year, until my oldest graduates from high school (there’s no choice, really, due to financial circumstances and my oldest daughter is working through some significant issues). I am desperately unhappy – no joy, no happiness in this marriage. I can’t envision living the rest of my life like this. But what if I become destitute and impoverished in my old age?

On the other hand…perhaps my job will take off (odds are good). Perhaps I will find peace and contentedness. Perhaps I will meet interesting new people?

Help! I am paralyzed by fear.

Posted in family & relationships, work & money.

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15 Responses

  1. Vicky1956 Vicky1956 says

    Oh Honey…I am so sorry! It sounds like you have taken some really important steps. First of all, please know you deserve to be happy and peaceful. How in the world do we let ourselves get in these situations? But we do. And you are not alone. That may be of little comfort to you, but you are not alone.

    Can you go to a good counselor? Mine saved my life. And do you have good female friends? Again..mine saved my life.

    My divorce was just finalized. I was separated for over a year, and the women on here have been with me every step of the way.

    And…I have a date next week. I never, ever thought I would go on another date!

    Here is my advice. Go to a good counselor. Get a lawyer. Plan. Meditate, pray (I am a Christian, but there are others on here who can share their thoughts if you aren’t), journal, make friends, focus on your career and your children, find that part of you that has fun and cultivate it. Ger a new haircut, lose weight, gain weight…whatever makes you feel good about yourself. Read books that are inspirational…and fun.

    Do whatever it takes to get yourself BACK to yourself. You can do it!

    Keep us posted. We are here for you. you deserve to be happy!


    8 like

    • WhoKnew? WhoKnew? says

      Vicky, thanks for your kind and supportive comments. I’ve been reflecting a great deal this afternoon. Realizing that yes, I did go back to school at age 48, and got my degree at age 52, and have managed to get an interesting job with lots of potential. I need to give myself credit for that. I work in the legal field, and know some very good family law attorneys. A good lawyer (love ‘em or hate ‘em!) is essential.

      I am blessed with some very good (and strong) female friends and am reaching out and connecting with some people in my career field as well as a few students I went to school with. I want to expand my circle of friends and acquaintances, which goes counter to my somewhat introverted nature, but I need to do it.

      I just joined a health club and plan to work on getting back in shape. I figure…I’ve got a year to 18 months before I take concrete action to file for divorce. It doesn’t have to happen overnight. I am an avid reader and love to write in a journal. I feel strong in many ways, but scared in many others.  I am dealing with sadness, at the end of this marriage (and why, oh why did I stay in it for so long?). Also anger…I am not in a good financial position, and I know the changes on the horizon are going to be challenging and unsettling.

      I love this website and plan to visit often and post more (not just my stuff, but to contribute to what others are posting).
      Thanks again for your support. I need it!!! Oh, and I think legal separation for a year or so is a good idea/approach for a number of reasons. I’d like to explore that and discuss it further in future posts here. Good night for now.

      3 like

      • Barbara Elaine Singer- "Life Reinventor Coach" Barbara Elaine Singer- "Life Reinventor Coach" says

        Congratulations for being honest with yourself and for putting your situation into words.  I understand how difficult this can be. 

        Old age at 52? my dear, you are just hitting your stride.  Women are peaking “later in life” because we know who we are,,,, we know our worth and we know our power….now just claim it.  Fear…a four letter word but oh how much it can control.

        It is impossible to soar with the eagles when you are so weighed down. There are only 2 solutions to every problem- Change the situation or Change your response to it.

        If you are going to stay and give it one more year, than really give it your all.  Pull out all the stops.  Save your marriage. Get counseling, alone or together, get in the best shape of you life ( for yourself, your health and your ego), de-clutter, sell anything of value, get into housing you can afford on your salary, update your wardrobe and your hair/make-up …for you.  Get lean and mean. Get involved and engaged. Make family time and date night. Take Charge. Change your family routines. Take control of your finances, your health, your career.  Live within your means. You do have control over these things.  Then, when/if you do decide to leave, you will know you have done everything within your power. When you change…other’s respond to you must change.  I’ll never forget when my daughter said to me….you used to be a push over…What happened?

        Like Steve Harvey says from his hard hitting book “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man, “The Calvary ain’t com in’.”  You have to make your own luck, make your own life by making your own decisions. You won’t always make the right decisions but make the best ones you can given your current information.  No one has a crystal ball and knows how it will play out.  Operate from a position of joy. That is where the power is.

        Let me hit the play back button for you:
        No house, no savings, no assets. I am desperately unhappy – no joy, no happiness.
        How much more “destitute and impoverished do you want to become?”
        On the other hand…perhaps my job will…. Perhaps I will find….Perhaps I will meet…

        What are you trying to save?  I am deeply sorry for your despair and for the daughter’s difficulties.  Teenage and mother/daughter relationship’s can be very trying.  What are the top 3 things you could do right now to help her?  Is staying one of them?  And what is going to change when she graduates from high school?  Will she moving out? Go off to college and live in a dorm?
        You deserve so much better, but you must act.  You can’t start a new life and keep one foot in your old life.   Be HONEST with yourself.  Play out your worst fears in your mind.  Think outside the box for alternatives to your current situations.  Talk to your spouse and talk to a lawyer. Monsters hide in the dark.  Shine a light into every nook and cranny and know what you are dealing with. Fear of the unknown. Money will be an issue regardless of your marital situation unless you change it.  Money is only 1 of many currencies that determine happiness.  How do you finish it?  I am rich….princess in a glass castle, money but not freedom, money but no time…everything but nothing.  Nothing, but at least I know these demons. The number of birthdays I have had has changed the meaning of “rich” for me. And you? 

        What is going to change in the next one year ?  

        Courage is not the absence of fear, it is being courageous in spite of fear.

        I write this in the hopes to help you discover your strength and to empower you. Love starts out all butterflies and sunshine…keep your eyes and heart soft and looking for good.  Lean and mean is not hard and cold.  Stay open and light. Here are some of my favorite mantras. 

        Life is meant to be fun and I am willing to enjoy it. 
        All good things are coming to me now. 
        I am open and eager to see what comes next.  
        Abundance is my birthright. 

        8 like

  2. WhoKnew? WhoKnew? says

    Wow…those were very empowering and positive posts. This is exactly the kind of support and nudge in the right direction that I need.
    With regard to my one-year to 18 month timeframe…my husband and I have discussed that our marriage is over. We are on amicable terms and are committed to making it a smooth transition for both of our daughters. We have a legal entanglement that will conclude next spring (discharge of our Chapter 13 bankruptcy). My father inlaw is in hospice and we are dealing with that. I am very close to my inlaws (ironically).
    I plan to do many of the things suggested in the previous 2 replies. I am going to focus on getting myself strong and together and ready. I know I can do this. I am scared. I think that’s to be expected.
    I am very appreciative of all the responses. Excellent advice and suggestions. I want to take a strategic approach to what I am about to do and make sure I get myself in the best position possible.
    I was thinking this morning that the next 30 (or more) years of my life awaits. What do I want it to be? That is up to me!

    3 like

  3. WhoKnew? WhoKnew? says

    I particularly liked this comment by anmmc, ” It’s seemed best to recognize the lessons I’d learned about myself through that experience and move on, not continue to sift through the rubble.”
    Thanks again everyone.

    4 like

  4. Generic Image sem719 says

    One of my favorite comments was, “Money will be an issue regardless of your marital situation unless you change it.” Money, or should I say lack of, causes constant stress and fear. It can make you stop dead in your tracks and stop moving forward. Something I am very guilty off. After reading these wonderful posts, my first step for myself would be to get a better handle on my financial situation and not let money have so much power over me. Nothing is more degrading to one’s soul than the knowledge that you are staying in an unhealthy relationship because of the fear of money. It makes you feel as if you are selling your soul to the devil.Thank you everyone. I see changes on my horizon.

    4 like

  5. WhoKnew? WhoKnew? says

    sem719, I liked the money comment, too! Lots of food for thought there. I recently had the thought that I can be broke and unhappy (my current situation) or I can be broke and happy. Ha! I think I’ll work towards self-sufficient and at peace.
    One thing for sure, everyone’s situations are different and the variables are many.
    I love this website and the conversations about change and divorce at 50 and beyond because the approach is about focusing on the positive rather than the negative, and also about really examining the things that keep us stuck. I’ll admit it – I’m still in a place of “stuck-ness” to some extent, but am trying to take a hard look at why I have allowed myself to remain so.
    Regarding money – I am a very non-materialistic person and don’t fret that I’ll be living modestly. Rather, I do worry about not having enough for the basics. Right now, I work part-time. It’s a tremendous opportunity that could evolve into something more. The next 6 to 9 months will let me know.
    I guess the theme for the next 12 months is that things will unfold as they are meant to. I can’t control every detail. But, I can control getting myself to a healthier emotional and physical place while figuring out how to get the financial piece to also work out.

    2 like

  6. Generic Image cricket1951 says

    Women are awesome. 
    We love to help one another.  This post all the ladies responded to helped me to get some fresh insight on my situatuion as well. 
    Thank You,  Ladies!!!!

    4 like

  7. Angel Brown Angel Brown says

    Thank you ladies for all these amazing posts! Reading through this thread has uplifted my spirit in a way that just can’t be expressed with mere words. You all are such a warm, loving, caring group, and I’m deeply gratified to receive your thoughtful insights, knowing how much it helps the women here whose hearts are feeling battered and frightened. Women empowering women is an unstoppable force and I lend my spirit to the uplifting that’s benefitting us all. Thank you, WhoKnew, for sparking this conversation, and for honoring your own soul to put yourself out there and receive all the love that’s flowing here.

    3 like

  8. Leen0110 Leen0110 says

    I have the following quote posted upon a mirror at home, ‘I have an unbelievable ability to wholeheartedly accept the present moment. I never focus on what was lost, and I never let injury define me.’ I used to journal and found it a tedious tool while reorganizing so many other areas of my life. I did go to counseling and support groups for many years after transitioning out of a poor marriage with addiction issues. There was alot to get clear in my mind. I had to find who I was during and after the divorce, which  was final 12 yrs ago. He succumbed to his disease a few yrs ago. That marriage was my third marriage, and guess how many had addiction issues attached to them.I’m still standing and daily place the focus on me. I found that placing focus upon me was not, and is not, a selfish action. One of the actions taken to this day is to harvest strong, positive friendships. The healthy interactions in my current life far outweigh the unhealthy. I can honestly state; the unhealthy relationships are within the worksite and not outside of work. A great improvement for sure! I made the choice to remain at said negative environment job, as the economy turned down and I aged up. The pay/benefits are excellent for my area. There are plenty of moments that assure me, that I’m right where I need to be-for now. I’m headed for retirement yrs. I have a Financial Consultant, who assists me by problem-solving financial ideas and taking action for current time, and the future. I highly suggest initiating this type of contact within your community. They are not expensive and we women, overall are fairly under educated about how money works. There may even be a non-profit organization that provides sessions about how money works. One of the best things that happened to me, while going through my divorce was discovering such a resource, it is called, ‘Money Wise Women,’ and I gained a much needed education. In fact; that is where I met my now, Financial Consultant. The empowerment gained was worth stepping outside of my then routines and habits.

    I flourished and continue to flourish within the knowledge freely shared by so many wise and wonderful humans.

    I have my inner battles and they are in my mind. I find that using simple statements, daily reinforces the focus of my mind into better, healthier outcomes. Yes, outcomes…honestly…I promise! Here’s an affirmation I used today, ‘I ask for more understanding so that I may knowingly and lovingly shape my world and experiences.’

    Today the focus is to go to the gym and write. I am off from work all this week and that is a good thing! Ahh.

    Peace to your heart!

    2 like

  9. Generic Image GotTheTShirt says

    I’m going to give you an abbreviated lesson that has taken me 32 years to learn. Don’t stay in an unhappy marriage waiting for the “right” time to leave. I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you don’t sound like you are exactly flourishing right now, so the only direction you have to go is up. Envision a positive outcome and it will happen. I believe it’s called a self-fulfilling prophecy… if you think you are going to fail, you will fail. So think only positive thoughts!

    Start making your exit plans:

    1. Save money in a hidden account or in an old purse, any how or any where…just save it somewhere. If you will be the one leaving your home, keep in mind that leaving isn’t cheap… for example you will need money for an apartment deposit and first month’s rent, utility deposits, boxes, movers, restocking the refrigerator and pantry, etc.

    2. Is your husband abusive? Start secretly recording and videotaping his interactions with you, including your telephone conversations with him. It’s illegal to record if no one being recorded is aware. However, it is legal to record if you are present or on the phone call. Verify this with your legal counsel.

    3. Where will you move to? Start checking out apartments/neighborhoods. What is the rent and deposit costs? What are the terms of the lease? How’s your credit score? The apartment/landlord will probably run a credit report; require copies of your payroll check stub, proof of employment, etc. Do they accept pets? Is the water, cable, internet included in the rent?

    4. File for divorce while your husband is working. My husband has always worked, has a college degree and a year after his job was “eliminated” he decided to open a lawn service business “because he didn’t want to work for someone else and take a chance on another job elimination” and because he couldn’t find another job at his former salary. When I filed for divorce, my attorney asked for his financial information, as did his attorney, ask for mine. While I complied and furnished the information, he did not. So guess what happens next… we have to go back to court in two months and until then I have to pay him temporary SPOUSAL SUPPORT. He was actually rewarded through the judicial system for not complying with the Divorce Petition. I have no doubt that when we go back to court, the financial information he provides will be lowballed because of the nature of his business, he will hide income, bank accounts, etc. So start making copies of income tax returns, bank statements, retirement accounts, 401ks, savings accounts, car titles, etc.  Start listing all of your assets including furniture, cars, ATV’s, guns, boats, etc.

    5. Since you don’t have a house or boat loads of assets at this time, there won’t be a community property battle , like the one I’m facing. (Not that we have a lot, but we do have a new house, retirement and 401k plans to deal with.)

    6. I don’t like being dependent on anyone, so I’m suggesting that, if you don’t already have one, find a job with benefits (medical, dental, retirement, 401k).

    I’m 54 years young and although I still have 4 months to go before the divorce is final and no idea how long it will take to settle the community property, I can’t even begin to tell you how much better I feel mentally and emotionally. I no longer dread going home after work since he’s not there to interrogate, demean or scream at me. It’s wonderful to do little things, like make plans to go to my sister’s or mother’s to visit or go to my friend’s house to float in her new pool without catching hell – before, during and/or afterwards. While everyone’s situation is different, I couldn’t be happier an I’m looking forward to the future- enjoying life, laughing and having fun instead of remaining in a unhappy, stressful marriage. I  wish you all the best.

    3 like

  10. WhoKnew? WhoKnew? says

    To anonymous (most recent post), thank you! The timing of your reply is interesting as I have been a bit overwhelmed these past several days, as I sort through what I need to do to move forward. I feel a bit like a deer in the headlights. Many of the subjects you touched on in your post are things I have been thinking about and trying to prioritize.
    I agree, waiting for the “right” time to leave is a bad idea. That’s the conclusion I’ve arrived at over the past few days. But as I begin to plot my escape, I become overwhelmed at the sheer volume of things I need to do. I’ve decided to move forward in what I am calling “bite-sized chunks.”
    My first chunk is to make it through the summer with a modest goal to lose a few pounds (I’ve started to stash cash). My father inlaw is in hospice and is not expected to be with us much longer. My daughters are both very close to their grandpa, and I adore him as well. We need to get through this time.
    The next bite-sized chunk is this fall, when the kids go back to school. Stash more cash, attend to my health. I plan to look for a good attorney and get some consults. Knowledge is power. One thing – I work in the legal field, in a support capacity. I am very familiar with divorce laws in my state (I took a family law class and I have done my homework).
    Then I am looking at 2013. In the spring, a legal entanglement that my husband and I have concludes. Once that is behind me, it’s time to take action.
    I figure that gives me about 9 to 12 months.
    One wild card is my job. Right now, I am employed part-time, for a very busy, very talented attorney. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement, as I gain skills and he gets some support. The work I am doing is incredibly challenging and an awesome opportunity, and I am getting experience I would never get if I were a cog in a wheel at a law firm. He has a strategic plan going forward, which includes hiring a partner and transitioning me to full-time with benefits. The compensation is attractive.  There are times when I panic and feel like I should look now for a job in a law firm, full time with benefits. But I have a strong feeling that would be a mistake. The bite-sized chunks approach is helping in this regard. First, make it through the summer. Evaluate options then. Then head through the fall, evaluate as I go.
    So, yes, I am a bit of a deer in the headlights! I think many things will be revealed over the next 9 to 12 months.
    I won’t even get into all the concerns I have about my husband’s job stability or lack thereof, which is why I’ve decided to file sooner rather than later. I don’t want to give him an opportunity to become unemployed or to take a job at a lower salary.
    I’ve made my decision. It’s up to me to make it happen. I need to be responsible for myself and as self-sufficient as I can be.  I need to move on, and the sooner the better.
    I will definitely be hanging around VibrantNation as I go through this next year!

    2 like

  11. Wanderlust Wanderlust says

    I typed in the google search engine “Paralyzed with Fear”…and what I found was this Thread.  It was the perfect answer to questions I have been having. Im 58 and thinking of making the next move in my company. There are a lot of things in this move that just Paralyze me. After reading a lot of the earlier posts Im feeling a lot more relaxed and I know I need to get out my flash light and look for those monster in the cracks….I think thats where most my fear comes from is the unknown.
    I joined this site by the way and hope to read many more inspiring stories like this one

    2 like

  12. Alicia Alicia says

    I know about the fear of the unknown; I stayed for 36 years because of it.  I struggled terribly about getting a divorce (abandoment), but one sentence did it for me, after years of trying to make a decision.
    “Try to let the side of you that is trying to save yourself…..win.”
    I did.

    4 like

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