In the past ten years, this is what I’ve learned:
Kids change everything. Not for the better, not for the worse, but they make things different. Some days you’ll miss the ability to just drink coffee and read comics. In some ways it forces you to grow up. At the very least you redefine what matters for you and thus adjust your life as appropriate. This is not the big sacrifice that it seems.
You are forced to find yourself, because time is increasingly short, and you risk losing yourself by reflecting your kids needs. I wish I had a better sense of self from the previous 40 years. If the kids reflect you, what are they seeing if you are not sure who you are?
Work will not save you. It will break you. Career changes can save you.
18 years, and that doesn’t mean you’ll be acknowledged when you leave. Not even with a ‘good luck’ email. You will learn that it is alright to have your foot off the gas pedal of work. The effort to be the last one to leave the office no way reflects the acknowledgements from others of doing this.
Time away from places will at times reveal hox toxic things were for you and others. You probably have a bit of catholic guilt and martyrdom (urge to self-sacrifice) breed in to you.
Years of lack of self-care, and caring for others will make it hard to care for yourself when the time comes. There are times when you have time to do something for yourself, and you will be crippled by the choices, and waste that time trying to make up your mind, or taking the easiest choice (for example reading vs going somewhere).
Recovery takes longer than you think, both physically, mentally, and spiritually. Especially spiritually. Your body has the receipts for what you’ve put it through in all the above categories, and when the time comes, it’ll cash them. Invest in you mental and physical care. These investments compound.
You need to surround you with those who understand you, and those you want to understand. You need to remember you are the sum of the five people you associate with. Some relationships should be buried, but not all need to be buried to the same depth.
You didn’t have time before to be dragged down by negativity, and you definitely don’t have that time now.
Ponder this in your actions and with what you leave behind: “Do you want to be a ghost or an ancestor?”
Legacy is not for you to determine, it’s for others to put on you.