I don’t know who I am anymore.
When I was 25, I gave birth to my only child and she became my focus. For ten years, I struggled to pay the bills with freelance contract work and provide for my daughter and myself without any support. My financial goals were always clear and immediate — keep food in the fridge, keep the lights on, keep clothes on our backs.
“It was challenging, but I never wondered who I was and I didn’t have time to think about where I wanted to go.”
When my daughter was ten, I met a wonderful man and we became a little family of three. A few years later, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. By the time my daughter moved away to attend university, I was attending weekly appointments at the doctor’s office with my husband. He had major surgery, then radiation therapy, and finally chemotherapy. I was a full-time nurse and researcher, clicking through peer-reviewed studies on groundbreaking drugs while making dinner, or paying the bills in between loads of laundry. Things weren’t as financially desperate as they had been during my days as a single mom, but it was still touch and go because we had taken on financial obligations in better times. We had a mortgage to service and car payments to make. My husband was growing increasingly ill and his consulting business employed us both. I wondered how long he could keep working, but I didn’t wonder what I wanted or where I was going. The needful was always right in front of me.
My husband died at home in August of 2018. My daughter and I were by his side. His last words were of love and admiration. I kissed his forehead as he exhaled his last, shuddering breath. It was amazingly heartbreaking and beautiful. I still miss him every day. He gave me so much confidence and taught me what it means to be loved unconditionally. After he died, I was truly on my own for the first time in 25 years.
Fortunately, there was a life insurance policy. When we took on a mortgage, I insisted on it. As my husband was the backbone of our money-flow machine, I wanted to ensure the mortgage could be paid if something terrible happened. Now, at 52, I’m trying to find my way on my own. I have money in the bank. I own my condo and my car. No one needs me to care for them. My days can be filled with whatever I want, and that’s left me stuck. For so long, I’ve defined myself by who I am to others: a mother, a wife, or a nurse.
“Who am I to myself? What do I want for myself now that I’m on my own?”
Goal setting feels impossible but essential right now. I’m trying to be patient but it’s difficult. Should I start a business or look for a job? Should I stay in the city or move to the country? Should I get my PhD or expand my mind through travel? There is no immediate need, so no obvious plan. Fortunately, I have Tracy and Kamal in my life. They teach me to focus, and follow the three-step path to planning. I’m working to focus my goals down to two or three objectives, and attach timelines to those objectives so I can find the right financial strategies and products to reach my goals.
I don’t know who I am, but I’m looking forward to getting to know myself. I’m excited to meet me!