Cali’s story is one of taking her time to find ‘that special someone to settle down with’. Because of her age this meant choosing to be happy with that person without the option of having children. Before then she had a narrow view of love and happiness and she very wisely advises others to ‘be open to the fact that you might be happy later in life without a baby. ‘ I agree completely with her six word memoir which is ‘it’s all OK in the end’ because yes it is.
The name of her website is Gentle Warrior and, having met her a couple of times it describes her and her healing perfectly. The first time we met was at a talk by Elizabeth Gilbert and, I was delighted when she recognised me in the middle of a crowd, the first time that’s happened to me.
Over to Cali,
Where are you on your journey now?
I’m 50 years old and I’m very happy with my life. My husband and I have been married for just over four years and living together in our house for five years. This time has flown by. I’m very excited for the future as things I have been working on for a number of years are finally coming to fruition. I have been practising Buddhism for nearly 30 years and I feel that I have a very solid grounding in life.
What’s your story?
I was the archetypal Bridget Jones career girl living in London. I did have an opportunity to get married in my early twenties and, for various reasons, said no to it. As a teenager and young adult I wasn’t bothered about having children. I loved my London life and was busy building my career, travelling and having a lot of fun. From my mid-twenties I started pining for that special someone to settle down with though in truth, I don’t think I was ready to settle down. I just thought I was.
When I was 29 a maternal urge kicked in. My body suddenly felt as though it wanted to have children but I was rocking up to 30 with no husband in sight.
During my thirties a lot of my friends got married and some started to have children. I found this very hard as my body seemed to be screaming to have a baby but there was no-one to have it with. I didn’t seem to have the skill to pick a nice man and form a relationship. I was single most of the time and any relationship that came along only lasted three or four months. I fell in love with one of my co-workers and, at the time, would have loved to have settled down and had his babies but he just wanted to keep things on a ‘friends’ basis and not be more involved.
It took me years to get over him. On one hand, in my thirties, I was having a blast. I lived in Central London, I earned good money and I had a very full life. On the other hand, there was always sadness and frustration that I was single and that my biological clock was ticking ever louder.
I never expected to be in my late thirties and still single and wanting a baby. I had assumed earlier that things would have worked out for me.
When I was 38 I did consider whether to have a child by what I called 21st century methods, such as with donor sperm. My rational was that by this age, when you are dating, men seemed to be able to smell the desperation of the biological clock and this drove them away. I figured that if I took care of the baby thing myself then in time I could truly see a man as himself and not as a sperm dispenser.
I gave myself a year to think about this, knowing that I shouldn’t rush into it. During the course of that year I realised that what I wanted more was a partner and the partnership that it would bring. I didn’t want to have a baby outside of this.
Approaching 40 I met the man who is now my husband. We were at school together though we weren’t romantically involved back then. We knew very early on in our relationship that we had the potential for marriage, but he also told me that he didn’t want to have children. His parents had been in their 40s when he was born and he didn’t want to be an older parent.
Having spent all my thirties miserably yearning for what I didn’t have, I didn’t want to continue this. So I had a choice, I could be happy with what I had or continue to pine despondently for a child. I chose the former and have never looked back.
What helped you to heal/how did you deal with your grief?
Healing has been a continual journey. During the most painful time of being single I used my Buddhist practice a lot. I also read a lot of personal development books and books about dating. In their turn these were both helpful and frustrating at the same time. For example, sometimes I would get frustrated that I have been doing my Buddhist chanting about this for years, so why hasn’t it changed? None of my other friends are Buddhists but they seemed able to form relationships and have babies if they chose, so why couldn’t I? I would also get upset that I had read every dating book going but I was still single.
I think what made a difference was continually seeking to heal myself and learn what was really going on. I gradually learned about self-acceptance and how we attract the mirror of ourselves. Initially I thought, well there’s nothing wrong with me and I want to marry that man and have his babies so how can you say that it’s me that has a commitment problem? Over time though, and with a couple of years of therapy, I did see that there were areas of myself that I had been hiding and where I had papered over the cracks with a fabulous exterior. I gradually came to understand that a profound deep level of self-acceptance was required to truly accept myself warts and all. However this isn’t a quick journey. You can’t just say – self acceptance, boom, done. It’s deeper than that.
I sometimes felt mugged by my subconscious. In your conscious mind you want X, Y and Z but your subconscious has other ideas. It is a gradual process to reveal what is going on at a deeper level and make changes to your actions and choices.
Another turning point was treating myself with more self-respect. Sometimes I had been casual with sex but towards my late thirties I realized that this wasn’t getting me anywhere. I made the determination not to sleep with someone again until we had established that we were in love with each other. This was quite scary because I didn’t know when this would happen. However I met my husband a few months after this and we did indeed establish that we were in love with each other before entering a physical relationship.
Is there anything missing in your life? (and what do you plan to do about it?)
No. I love my life and feel very blessed. I wouldn’t change anything about the past, even the mistakes that I have made. I think my journey through being single and childless set me on a path where I had to deepen the understanding of my life and this has brought me so much.
Sometimes I am concerned about how my husband and I will cope when we are older without children. My parents are elderly now and with my brother, we do a lot to support them. My husband and I won’t have this. However, this is an incentive to me to make good choices with my health and well-being so that hopefully I will enjoy good health as I age. I also work hard to ensure that we have a decent retirement fund as we will have to pay for all the help we need. At the moment a lot of retirement villages are being built. I think this will be a good choice for us in the future.
What advice would you give to women who are not as far down the road as you are?
Never give up and be open to what love looks like. Also be open to the fact that you might be happy later in life without a baby. In my late thirties when I was so desperate to be with someone and have children my scary age was 43 – I thought that if I hadn’t had kids by this age then I didn’t know how I could continue. However, when I reached my 43rd birthday, with a man but without children, I was so happy. I was so content with my life and I would have never have believed that was possible when I was in the depths of my despair.
Also, in terms of being single, look at the choices you are making. Even though I constantly said that I wanted to be married and have children, I wasn’t making choices in my lifestyle that was congruent to this. Sometimes we don’t know ourselves as well as we think.
What’s your 6 word memoir?
It’s all OK in the end.
Bio: Cali loves to encourage people to make a start on their creative projects no matter what else they have going on in their lives. She has a part-time day job in IT and writes in her spare time. You can contact her here
How did Cali’s story resonate with you?
Please share your comments below to help other women.
If you would like to take control of your life and your story and inspire others I’d love to feature you. You can use your real name or any other that you chose to give me, and I’ll happily promote your website or blog. Some of the feedback I’ve had from the writers includes ‘I’m so pleased to have told my story now’, I’ve been astonished by the amount of messages I have received …. all grateful for me sharing this part of my story’, and ‘… seeing the response has been utterly humbling and beautiful. I’m so grateful to you.’
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