The (Surprisingly) Best 50th Birthday Present Ever

by Jenny Kanevsky
Originally Published: 

Two weeks after my 50th birthday, my husband of 17 years said, “I don’t love you anymore. I’m done.” I’m sorry, what? Well, Happy Fucking Birthday to me. No wonder my present was a Fitbit from the kids and a card from him. Why spend money on someone you’re about to dump? And by the way, you’re getting a little thick around the middle, start walking honey. I’m outta here.

Did I mention 17 years? Two sons ages 10 and 13? A shit-ton of history and effort into making our marriage work for a two sentence send-off? Seriously? It was the sucker punch of all sucker punches from which I am still recovering.

But here’s the thing, that was seven months ago. And, although I am still dealing with the most painful, confusing and frightening life change ever (not to mention the most expensive), I also see light again. And I’m not talking about an itty bitty light at the end of the tunnel. I’m done with the tunnel. I’m out in the open (almost) and I see fireworks, sunrises on the beach, fireflies, candles and freaking tiki torches. I’m talking light, beautiful life giving light, in my future. My next chapter is going to be new and exciting, and I can’t wait.

Unfortunately, divorce sucks, and it’s going to be a hard year or two. However, even after seven months, I cannot imagine still being in that marriage. That was not me. I lost myself. In the last year, well before my husband left me, I started writing again. My voice was back–my funny, vulnerable, honest voice. I was on a damn good run.

And then, “I want a divorce.”

Maybe my new voice was too loud for him, but I’m still going strong–in fact, stronger–with my new voice, my words, my stories and my community.

Sometimes relationship issues can be worked through, but you need to want it and be willing to dig deep. It’s hard. Really hard. Other times, it’s time to be done. Happiness comes from change: painful, tumultuous, big-ass change. Early on, it feels like it will never get better. Discouraging thoughts ran through my mind head: I’m so old. I have nothing left. My poor kids. I’ll never make it through this. But slowly, there was a shift: I have the best years of my life ahead of me. I’m wise. I know what I want. I’m relaxed, and I don’t care about my crow’s feet, my arthritic knees or my muffin top. This body has lived, and there’s more life in it.

I am also a mother, now a single mother, of two incredible, compassionate, resilient and emotionally mature boys. It hurts to watch them struggle with this change. But, they already see the end game. I’m happier and more relaxed, they are happier and the tension is gone; we can breathe. We are still adjusting, but there’s more laughter, more peace and a heck of a lot less yelling. I haven’t yelled in seven months.

So, here’s to the best, albeit most deceptive, 50th birthday present: a second chance, a new chapter in the book that is Jenny’s life.

I’m ready to kick some serious middle-age ass, wrinkles and all. They are laugh lines, baby, and I plan to laugh and love and live now more than ever. I have found the strong, funny, capable, compassionate and accomplished woman who is me, who has always been me. She’s awake, she’s out there and she’s raring to go.

This article was originally published on