You were supposed to be able to go to college, but the money ran out. You thought s/he was The One but s/he wasn't. Your marriage didn't last and your kid didn't turn out to be who you hoped s/he would. What now? Thrive in the face of it -- perhaps the greatest lesson that I learned from my parents.
I didn't think I'd make it home from college in time to see my father before he died from the debilitating stroke he suffered at the beginning of my senior year, Jon's sophomore, and when Alison was a senior in high school. He lived -- but they said he'd be a "vegetable". He wasn't. But they said he'd be half paralyzed and unable to live a normal life. Yet over the next 10 years, there were times when my father would pull all-nighters manipulating his own half-paralyzed right side, determined to bring his limbs back to life. He had limited success. Eventually he walked again with the assistance of a walker. But he did bring life back into himself.
As breast cancer bounced around her body she:
- traveled to China while the Great Wall was still up, and had the nerve to wander away from her tour group to take Polaroid pictures of children who had never seen themselves on film and give them copies of the photos. (Eventually they found her with a swarm of people around her.)
- hot air ballooned
- Went parasailing
- Slid down a natural waterslide formed by a waterfall in Puerto Rico
- Sang in the great concert halls of Europe with the Cleveland Orchestra chorus,
- Cuddled her first grandchild
- Appreciated her relationships
- Loved aging in spite of it.
So when she died, I quit my job, traveled, took creative writing classes, took the art class I'd never found time for, took voice lessons, improved my eating habits,
Yes, your situation stinks. But you can re-imagine yourself and build a new life. Building a life takes time, so start by taking small steps that will make you feel good about yourself. Join a spiritual community if you don't already have one, enjoy the comfort of old friends and make new ones as necessary, treat yourself to something you've always wanted to do, find inexpensive ways to enjoy activities you've always dreamed of engaging in. Do the thing you want to do, anyhow. You may have to endure a period of discomfort and even loneliness, but these activities will knit themselves into a new life.