A Woman Lost: My Journey to Midlife Enlightenment Took Me to a Tropical Island
I am terrified.
I’ve run away to a tropical island in Malaysia, far from everyone I love and everyone who loves me.
I am lost. I feel empty, apathetic, lonely. I am confused, hurt. Without motivation, without drive, and incredibly not myself. But wholly myself, at the same time– and that scares me.
I was fired a week before Christmas by the tech company I worked for. It was the first job I had ever had outside the arts (if you don’t count all the waitressing and bartending gigs). I had become tired of two decades of the actress/short film producer slog, living paycheck to paycheck, contract to contract. I knew what that life was, but that’s all I knew. I had loved it but would go months without creative work.
Life had more to offer, no?
Most importantly, for the first time in my life, I felt devoid of passion, no longer believing in my work or my voice. I had lost the eternally optimistic attitude that had always given me the strength to pursue my dreams. My drive was gone. Surely a steady paycheck would be amazing, learning a new job exciting and fulfilling?
I was 42 and half-way through my life (if I was lucky) so… what was the second half of my life going to look like? I had finally fallen madly in love, so my future was not mine alone anymore. I couldn’t just wing it, the way I always had. I wanted to build a life with him, maybe buy a house one day, or at the very least have a bit of a nest egg.
At 42, I had no money in the bank and $15,000 in credit card debt, so I took the job. I quickly discovered it wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. The company didn’t value its employees; we were mis-managed, and I told them so. Too old and tired of being mistreated, I started looking into worker’s rights, got my colleagues on board to negotiate better working conditions– and got sacked because of it.
December found me jobless, being kicked out of my beautiful apartment I loved so much because the landlord wanted to renovate (don’t worry, I got a settlement which went straight to my credit card debt), and I started suffering from vertigo almost every day.
Have you ever had vertigo? It’s like living on a boat.
My brain was trying constantly to get my body to steady itself. My vision and perspective was all off, like I was on magic mushrooms. Although I know better now, at the time, I attributed it to the early stages of menopause, because the internet told me so. Add to that that I didn’t know what I was doing with my life and you’ve got a recipe for paralyzing fear.
I was flailing. I needed a drastic change, to do something so outside my comfort zone that it couldn’t help but shake my shit up. So, I got in touch with an old friend who co-owns an outdoor education camp for kids in Malaysia and within 2 weeks, I had basic wilderness survival and first aid certifications.
What was I thinking? I don’t even like kids!
How long would I go for? 3 months? 6 months? A year? Was I really going to leave the love of my life behind? I had constant vertigo, for god’s sakes, I couldn’t venture across the planet! But I was determined, I’m a stubborn woman, if ever there was one.
I knew that an extended time away would give me the space I needed to reflect on what really matters to me now; what are my core values, what fulfills me, what makes my heart trill?
For 20 years, I blindly chased the same dream, even though I had changed so much.
There are so many events, so many words, so many thoughts, feelings, hurts and laughter that make up a life, a person. My childhood, losing my mom to cancer as a teen, fighting addiction, being raped– all the choices I’ve made, good and bad, that have led me here… they all made me Holly.
I knew I wasn’t completely lost– that Holly was still in there somewhere, yelling at me to get on with it, to calm down, breathe and listen to my heart. I just needed to go somewhere quiet where I could actually hear her. Somewhere like a tropical island half way across the world. So, forget fear, I’m going on the adventure of a lifetime…
A Woman Lost: My Journey to Midlife Enlightenment chronicles Holly’s journey to where she is now: working at a camp for kids on a tropical island in Malaysia. This seismic shift will force her to confront her core values, priorities, and beliefs about purpose. How lost can you get? How lost can you actually be?