Tag Archives: midlife

Falling to Pieces: Excerpt from Memoir


This is an excerpt from my Memoir

Through the Woods to the Sea: A Journey of Becoming Me

It seems a long time time ago I felt like this. Life has changed several times. Life is changing now as I live day to day. Sometimes moments have these feeling but mindfulness and the changes I have been through help pull me back into the beauty of life. All I have to do is look out over the ocean to remember that life has its waves and flow and eventually the sea will be calm again.

Falling to Pieces

The outlook is shadowy and indistinct. I feel empty and non-existent. Nothing makes any sense and answers are lost in the distant fog. I have been wandering aimlessly for years unable to regain any focus. This confusion is unsettling. Inadequacy and doubt like vertigo distorts my balance. I fearfully wander in a vast and empty, yet deeply emotional wilderness.

As I wrestle with the darkness, a rush of panic rips a hole in my heart. I struggle to catch my breath as I drown in the depths of emotions that are rising and falling, like storm waves of a violent hurricane crashing against a rocky shoreline. An immobilizing lack of confidence and fear has forced me into a junction of significant change.

I find myself in a place where I have lost my sense of identity, questioning the structure and the rules of the world and my faith in God. I am standing in a time of uncertainty with negative thoughts, fears, and judgments escalating all the voices in my head.

My life is falling apart. I am watching my life fall away, piece by piece. I have even helped pack it up and send it on its way. I am about to become an empty nester. My daughters, Nikki, Sam, and Monica are going off to begin their own lives as young adults. It should be exciting to watch my girls all flying off to begin their lives full of new discoveries and adventures.                                                                        

Yet I am overwhelmed with fear. Panic racing through my body and mind. I am falling into an abyss. The only thing that has mattered in my life, my daughters, are now leaving me. The lifeline that held me together, my reason to go through each day is abandoning me. Being their mother has been my focus, the central core of my day-to-day life. I have been nothing but a stay at home mom for seventeen years.

Now I can get back into real life, go out into the real world. Time to get a real job and take care of myself. I dread real life and the real world. I explore job opportunities. Every resume I send out and every response I receive to my queries makes me nauseous. As I get closer and closer to landing a position that would take me back into the ‘real world’ – I get so sick to my stomach that I am throwing up.

I don’t want to live in this so-called ‘real world’ or live the way I am expected to live it. I have never felt comfortable in that world of corporate life and material things. I know that if I take one step in that direction, I will once again fill my life from a place of doing what I am expected to do, and doing what I think I should be doing. I will only be trying to please other people. I will be making choices and decisions based on circumstances and social expectations.

Most of my life I have built around a false sense-of-self or no-self. It was built from outside circumstances, events, expectations, and demands. If I stay here and rebuild my life from this empty shell, I will just reconstruct another false self and false life. I know exactly where this road will take me. I know that I will live in a void of emptiness inside. This thought scares the hell out of me.

I don’t want to continue living this way.  I have been trying to play the part I have created for myself and the part others expected of me. My whole life has become a play in which I have been pretending day after day. I have been a character in the play but have felt like I was in the audience watching my life rather than being a part of it. I fear I am being sucked into the direction of expectations and the responsible path. If I go that path, I will step into a world I don’t like and don’t want to be in anymore.

I know that this person I have been-have become-is a cover, a hard shell around my heart that I created. I fashioned myself from a core that was broken, pushed down and controlled when I was young. From that point on I hid who I really was. I hid in shame of who I was. I have lived my life with a deep-rooted belief that I am not good enough. Who I am inside is not acceptable in the outside world. I believed I had to become who I was expected to be. I never felt comfortable in that shell.

Yet the pull to get sucked into living a facade is strong. I am at my weakest moment. I have always tried to fit in, to make myself into someone who would be liked and accepted. Yet I have never felt accepted. Even the false creations of myself who were fashioned to be the person others wanted me to be, were not accepted. I have felt rejected and abandoned then and now.

This is the theme of my life, trying to please everyone and pleasing no one in the process. It runs through every choice, every decision I have ever made. Because of these deep-rooted feelings I have isolated myself from life, others and myself. Everything within me is telling me this is the moment to break free but can I? The conflict of following the ‘right path’ and following my soul is paralyzing me. All I can feel is fear and panic.

 My soul has been crying out for years. I have done what I can to pacify it. The thought of continuing to live with this emptiness inside is unbearable to my soul. I don’t want to do that anymore. It has become too painful. The truth of the matter is that I have wanted to run away from my life for years. I have wanted to get out and get away but responsibilities and obligations have kept me trapped. Fear has kept me from doing anything about it. If I stay here, I will drown in the sacrifice of myself. I’ve already given myself away but sacrificing myself knowing full well what will happen to my soul is suicide.

It is time to do some deep soul searching to go within. It seems scary to turn inside when it was in turning inside myself that forced me to live outside myself. How could doing the very thing that sent me into this empty chasm of a person be the solution and answer to becoming my true self? As confusing as this seems I am being drawn into this idea that this is the way out.

Memoir: Divine Intervention

This is an excerpt of my Memoir Manuscript

Through the Woods to the Sea: Stepping into Myself, Stepping into My Life

By Cathy Teoste

Divine Intervention

Bittersweet that’s what these last five months have been. All of my daughters have gone off to begin their own lives. Monica, my youngest daughter, in her youthful wisdom said, “Mom, go have your own adventure.”

I don’t know if I have the courage or the strength for that. I don’t know if I am capable. I am not that young adult stepping out excitedly into the world for the first time. I am already supposed to have a life but for years all I have been is their mother. Now that role has diminished. It has become one of letting go and letting them fly on their own. I have given them wings to fly but my wings are damaged and broken. I am not sure I can fly on my own. Unlike them I am not moving on to some wonderful new adventure. I am running away from the life I would be left with if I stay. I am running away from being alone with myself because I don’t exist.  People talk about the empty nest syndrome. It has all happened too fast. I was not prepared for this.

I want my own life but I am not exactly sure of how I want to live that life. What I do know is that it sure doesn’t match anyone else’s idea of what my life should look like. I don’t know what is right for me I only know what isn’t right for me. I don’t want to get caught up in a life of busyness, work, chasing money and collecting material possessions filled with stress and emptiness. I don’t want to live in yet another creation of a false self. But what choice do I have? Do I have another option? What could it be?

I am tired. I just want to rest. Resting isn’t allowed. Taking a break from life isn’t allowed. You are expected to move from one phase directly into the next, from one situation into the next without pause.  Inaction is laziness. Inaction is unacceptable. Inaction is irresponsible. I hear all these words over and over in my head. I know that silently people around me are whispering them about me.

I asked for diving intervention. It was Fourth of July weekend. It was the last time I would be with Monica and Nicole before they left. We went to visit with my family. I decided to just relax and enjoy the few days. Leave my search and concerns for the future in God’s hands. I prayed that the solution and answer would be waiting for me when I arrived back home.

Returning home I went through the mail, nothing. I checked the phone messages, nothing. I went to the computer and checked my e-mail, nothing. Heaviness started to fill my body, I felt dejected. I walked into the dining room and wrote on a piece of paper. “Dear God, I expected a miracle today. Where is it? I expected that you would have sent me a sign, guidance as to what I am supposed to do? Where is it?” I folded the paper up and threw it onto the middle of the table and walked into the kitchen. I made a cup of tea and retreated to my rocking chair by the living room window.

The sadness overwhelmed me, panic was swirling around me getting ready to grab me and take hold. I felt forsaken by God. All hope seeping out of me. Faith lost. Then the phone rang.

I got up, went into the kitchen and answered it.


“This is Sister Johanna from The Christine Center. Is this Cathy?”


“We would love to have you come. Are you still interested?”

“Yes” was all I uttered in disbelief.

“Will the date on your application still work for you?”

“Yes, I can be there on Sept. 7th:

“Are you sure you don’t want to think it over?”

“I don’t need to think it over. I will see you then”

Inside I was thinking, oh my god, this must be my answer, this must be my miracle. Maybe just maybe my prayer has been answered. This has to be divine intervention. What else can it be? I have no idea why this is my answer or why this is where I am to go but there is no reason to hesitate.  I must grab onto it and go for it.

I have spent most of my life trying to accept and create the vision of what others said life should look like. It seemed everyone around me except my girls thought it was high time I was responsible and got a real job. But for years my only job was being a mother. The war that was raging within and without had taken such a toll on me physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually that I have no energy, no strength left. How can I find the courage to do what is right for me? I have never really been responsible to myself. But being responsible to myself now means I will have to be irresponsible in the eyes of others.

Most of my family and friends especially my mother think I have lost my mind, gone crazy even. I hope not. Strangers think I am brave and courageous. I am not. I am panicked and scared but I am finally being responsible to myself even if it means being irresponsible in the eyes of others.

I am relieved. I am at peace with my decision. I am taking a leap of faith into the unknown and uncertainty of who I am or who I want to be. It is not courage that has pushed me across this threshold into the middle of the woods but panic. I am afraid of being alone, of the voices of others, of my own voice. I need to get away from all that has held me strangled, the emptiness, the buried hurt, and all the reminders of what I have lost and am losing.

I have given away just about everything I own. I have kept only personal and sentimental items.  I am walking away leaving unfinished business I can’t resolve or handle. I don’t care if I lose everything else that is left because in reality what does it all matter anyway?

Mid-life and all its changes has handed me the opportunity to step away from my life and away from the world to journey into all the hidden depths of myself and to begin to unravel the past that has held me down, rendered me empty and invisible. All I know is that I am braking free of the chains that have held me tight. And so I am leaping without looking and am heading deep into the woods out into the unknown hoping to find myself and to begin a new life.

This is an excerpt of my Memoir Manuscript

Through the Woods to the Sea: Stepping into Myself, Stepping into My Life

By Cathy Teoste