Starting over at 51 and afraid

Was married for almost 20 years and now divorced and don’t even know how to start over.  My ex husband was demanding and jealous so I devoted my entire life and all my time to him, my children and home.  Now he’s gone, the kids are grown and I’m all alone and don’t even know which direction to go

Periodic Contributor

I would learn how to nurture yourself.  Make nice meals, take a warm bath with candles.  Your assignment is to nurture yourself back to life.  Been there.



Silver Conversationalist

G'day to you, Gingerjem! Welcome to the wonderful world of being single! You're gonna love it here! Oh sure, maybe not right now but the day's not over yet. Give it some time. After all, you're only 51 and you were married (sadly, it sounds like not so happily so) for 20 years, you raised children, you made a home, you've sacrificed a pretty sizeable chunk of  the life you've lived so far. Don't look at your situation as "starting over". Look at it as you being on your way to a new adventure and this time, you're going to fly First Class! Nothing but the best for you now!


I've found myself starting over more times that I care to admit. Some were marriages, others just relationships that fizzled. The longest one of either was only for 7 years so I won't pretend to know anything about what 20 years together with someone might be like. The only people I've known for more than 20 years are my parents, my children and my siblings.They're all good people but I don't want any of them keeping me warm at night. <wink, wink!>


Right now, it's about as tough being single as it was being in a bad relationship. But I didn't stay single or in that bad relationship forever. Things do improve and times change. But everything has always, eventually, gotten better. One can only go down so far before they're coming out the other side. Covid 19 really did a number (no pun intended) on social activities. It would seem too, that it's not going away by this weekend so we all need to practice and use new coping skills.


The best ting I did when I realized (read that as found) myself single again, was to pick myself up and get back in the race. (Fr: That's Life by Frank Sinatra) Life doesn't stop for anyone or any of us, no matter the reason we wish it would. But if you use your signals and just a little common courtesy, I bet that you'll soon be riding the highway of life and enjoying the scenery with the rest of us. Just merge on in there. Watch for an opening, smile and don't forget to wave to say thanks! Gratitude is appreciate by many of us. I wouldn't be in any big hurry to attach a trailer to your bumper anytime soon either. You'll find, I did anyway, that you'll get better mileage if you travel lightly. You can find what you need when you get to where you're going.


If you see me out there on life's highway, tap your horn at me and wave!! Even it it's not  me that you see, smile and wave anyhow. There are a lot of people in this world that don't have smiles of their own, so I always try to give them one of mine to wear, until theirs returns. I always get new ones in return, usually even more than I give away, so there's never a shortage, always a surplus. you'd be surprised!


This will all be okay, I promise you and you'll see. You've got this and you'll get through it. You've made it through every other less than desirable event that you've been tested by and lived to tell the tale, this is just another bump in the road. Just drive safely but go now where YOU want to go!! Look where you're going to, not where you've been. It's gonna be amazing! Good luck!   😉

It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice.

Hello my fellow "ginger"!  I want to echo much of what the folks below have said so beautifully've got a whole new life ahead of you!  If you're in the early stages of this transition, it will feel daunting and uncertain, but oh what wonders can await you on the other side!  I "started over" at 49 and was really spinning in circles for the first year.  It wasn't until I realized that the direction was mine to choose based on my likes and my passions.  It's quite liberating!  And yes, people will tell you "Oh, you'll find somebody else, etc.".  Well, yes you may if you choose to do so.  Or you may choose not to pursue another relationship and just focus on you.  That's okay too!   Stay social, engage in friendships, reach out to others when you get lonely, and discover you again (or maybe discover you for the first time!).  We're all here to help, so don't hesitate to reach out!  You got this girlfriend! 👍

Bronze Conversationalist

What a great, supportive post with some really good ideas.  Nice one, AZGINGER!!!

Periodic Contributor

I read your post and I can so relate!  


I started over at 47 with a special needs son ( it's been 13 years for me).  I tried dating for a while but didn't have any luck.  So I choose to invest the time in myself and I have had so much fun!  There are days that I spend at home watching movies, cooking, reading, doing crafts and others that I'm out and about.  I have found a comfortable mixture of both and I'm very happy with it.  


Have a fun and safe weekend.



Super Contributor

I passed that milestone a long time ago.  My next biggie will be 80 and I have 6 years to go.


Someday you will have grandchildren I hope to keep you company. Only in America are Mother's forgotten. Instead of being the center of the family, alot are pushed to the side. It hurts like hell. No doubt. I hope you find solice in church groups, singles groups, friends, part time or full time work. Just go find your new life. You will meet someone who deserves you. ♥️

Bronze Conversationalist

Did you say "A LOT?"  I know families that think their Moms are loving, fun, and filled with good  advice.  And my Mom was NEVER pushed to any side...nor were my Grands or Aunties.  They were very treasured and given respect.   Please don't assume your attitude that "only in America," because you would be incorrect.  Thanks!

Trusted Contributor

Gingerjem. I'm new to the Community and I just saw your post.  


51?  You are young and have your hold life ahead of you. Get to know yourself, have some fun. Get up and do a dance, you are free.  Free to do whatever, whenever, however and with whoever. Don't waste this precious time.  There must be something you have always wanted to do. Get about the business of doing it.


I have spent most of my life making sure everyone was good but me.  I was told by someone that I was doing sacrifice and not service.  


I am pushing 70 now and it has taken me all this time to finally get it. You are not alone.  Yes, it will be lonely sometimes but even couples feel loneliness from time to time.


The beauty of it can go in any direction you want to.  Pick one, pick two or three, just pick and go.  You still have time to change your mind or direction when ever you want to if you don't like the one you picked. .


I was in an abusive relationship, more than one to be exact. Now I'm trying to play catch up. 


Message me anytime if you need a ear.  Sometimes we just have to talk through it to get past it.  


Now, I'm not saying it's going to be easy, but it will be a new experience and journey.  Enjoy it. 

Social Butterfly

Hi Gingerjem; hope you're doing well, staying safe and sane. If I may, You start over one day at a time one step at a time. It's easier said than done but take this time to find yourself. Do want you have always wanted to do for yourself. In time you'll know when you're ready to move forward.

AARP Expert

Hi Gingerjem,

A whole new world for you. You can do whatever you want. No more catering to a demanding, jealous man. Or seeing after children. They are still young though, right? Or they were part of a family you had before the 20 year marriage? In any case, you don't have to guard over them and instruct them, mother them and clean up after them. So, wow. You have decades ahead of you to shape to your own pleasures, preferences, tastes. 


Before kids and a husband laid out your daily plans, day in and day out, what did you want to be when you grew up? I'm 60. I moved out to the Oregon Outback, a high desert rural wasteland, i live in the middle of no where. I moved here when i was 56. I'd lived in an urban area with terrible traffic for all 56 of those years. I'd always wanted to live in the country. And now i do. I always wanted to knit and sell some of what i made. And now i do. I wanted to be a psychotherapist since i was 17. Since i moved here, that's what i've been doing.


It's amazing what you can do after the kids have flown the coop. You and i both survived divorce. We can spend all day Saturday in our jammies. Make coffee as strong as we like it, and heavy whipping cream in it if we want. Who's to say no? NOBODY.


I certainly do not mean to make light of the "good grief now what" feeling of free floating anxiety. What i want to affirm in you, Gingerjem, is that you have already accomplished so much. And now it's your turn to DO YOU.


I for one want to hear what adventures you have next. Keep writing. There are lots of categories to share within. I'll find you. I can't wait!



Honored Social Butterfly

Two suggestions:


Speak to your children, they may be a source of assistance, comfort, and direction. After all, you supplied them with the same as they grew up.

Speak to a counselor.

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