It was the end of July when I left the restaurant/nightclub where I had been employed for the summer. That was the first big decision that I had made in my single life: the money was good, the hours were reasonable, but I just did not fit. I was 39 and had spent the last ten years of my life in a professional setting with a respectful career. Returning to waitressing was an option I was forced into, but I could no longer allow myself to lower my standards and work with the types of people I were. The bar owner was in his 50’s, a horrid pervert and had spent the summer making lude and rude comments to me. My co workers were almost all in their 20’s: young, single and stupid. A couple of the bartenders had been caught prostituting out of the bathrooms – yes, you read that correctly, and two of the cooks had been arrested on premises for selling drugs out of their vehicles. Gossip was rampant, drama dominated and once I received my back pay, I knew I had to begin breaking away from the things that were bringing me down and holding me back from my authentic self. No matter how great my income, I could not allow myself to be associated with the people anymore, so I quit.
That was a huge decision to make at that point in my life. Here I was, 39, suddenly single, raising a 17-year-old daughter on my own. My career was over, my earlier beautiful home was no longer mine, and it was up to me and only me to make our lives manageable, was being unemployed really a smart move?
The day my daughter left for her dad’s for three weeks, I crawled into a cocoon in my bed and just laid there. I quieted the world, my heart, my soul and my mind, and just breathed. I did not think, eat, drink or move for two solid days. I slept like I was in a coma. Finally, I mustered the courage to step outside my door, walk the 50 feet to the ocean, and lay still in front of heaven. How had I spent the entire summer and had barely walked out my door? My condo complex is directly on the ocean and has an outdoor pool. In my depressive, isolated state, I had not allowed myself to see any of these amenities surrounding me. I was in self destruct mode for way too long.
Everyday after, I would arise early, walk to the beach, and bronze myself while I allowed the motion of the ocean to soothe my soul. I had forgotten how soothing the ocean was for my heart during my first divorce. After my first husband and I had separated, I had relocated to the beach and spent every day I could find with my soul mate, the Atlantic Ocean. I had been so damaged and destitute I had failed to realize the healing waters lapping at my back door.
August was destined to be a horrid month for me, the 17th would have been my 10th wedding anniversary and later that month would be my 40th birthday. I was determined to make it ok. I began making myself walk outside my doors and associate with my neighbors and those around me. I had noticed our maintainance man when I moved into the condo in June, but suddenly, I really noticed that he was a nice looking guy. I met my neighbors on either side of me, a couple in their 70’s one the right and on the left was their daughter and her husband who were in their 40’s. It was small talk, but I was making steps to make my life my own. I was too embarrassed and ashamed to tell them much about myself, other than that my daughter and I were living there, that was all I could manage. We had a security guard on premises who was in her 30’s, after speaking with her a few times, discovering she was a single mom as well, we made plans to have a girls night out. I was terrified. Would people tell my ex they had seen me in a bar? How would people react to my presence, especially those who had discovered the affair with R. through the locals gossip mill? I literally did not want to leave my home, but forced myself out into the world.
I began the task of putting in applications again, I was drawing unemployment, but it would not be enough to sustain my daughter and I’s small, sheltered lifestyle. Around the middle of August, I was offered a position with a restaurant just a few miles down the road, on the island, but with a higher quality clientele and rating. I was not eager to wait tables again, but it was the option I was given and beggars cannot be chooser. The first night I was there, I knew I had made the right choice in accepting the job. My co workers were more age proper and the customers in the restaurant were of the professional quality that I was used to living my life around. It was embarrassing to be my age and be a waitress, but I was surviving.
Things sound easy at that point, but they were not. I could not shake the unsettled feeling in my soul. There was something gnawing at my existence that I could not pinpoint or put my finger on. My tenth anniversary came, I asked off of work that day and I laid in my bed and cried for my marriage. Inside my mind lingered a desire for my husband to call, to want to see me, to miss me as much as I missed him on our day, but in my heart was the knowledge that he was moving forward with his life, and though I am sure he recognized the day, we were dealing with it in two different manners. The days continued, my 40th birthday was on the horizon. My birthday was on a Sunday, Saturday I had requested off to be with some friends who were going to take me out to celebrate, that Friday night, two days before my birthday, I was at work. My co workers and I were hanging out in the wait staff section, participating in general chit chat. By bosses daughter was in her 30’s and was honestly, one of the noisiest people I had ever met. She had been asking tons of questions about my marriage, separation, etc. and until that evening, I had been able to keep her at bay. On this particular night, she was on Facebook on the computer in our section, she asked if my ex had a facebook page, I reluctantly told her yes, she asked to see him, I opened his Facebook page and the entire room fell silent. My bosses daughter and two other waitresses were standing, looking at my ex husbands photo, in complete silence. They all began to look at each other, my bosses daughter asked one of the waitresses to go and get the head waitress to see his photo. She then began to tell me, my ex husband had been a regular client of theirs for almost two years. He had dined at least twice a week, for two years, with a woman in her late 20’s. They always sat in a dark corner of the restaurant, away from others, and spent “quality” time together. She told me to hold my breath, Nicole was the waitress they always requested and Nicole could either confirm or deny that it was officially my ex. Nicole came around the corner, not knowing that this was a photo of my ex, when my bosses daughter asked her who that was, she confirmed that my ex had had an affair with this woman, in the same restaurant that I was now employed, for almost two years. The room was silent, my heart stopped, but I felt nothing. I quietly walked out and went back to work. As the evening passed, more information was revealed, and suddenly, that feeling in my soul and the gnawing in my belly were gone. You see, in that one minute of revelation, everything made sense.
My husband and I had returned to the area exactly two years before, it was a month into our settling in that I crashed and my alcohol abuse, previously explained in a former post, had happened. Soon after, my husband began to take extra nights of duty at his work, using the excuse that his work was located over an hour away, he would simply stay at his work establishment for two nights every three days. I could never understand his absence and lack of affection when I lost my friend, when I was abusing alcohol, and the days after. I knew that there were evenings he was suppose to be at work, that I could not get him to answer the phone, but in the career industry we were both in, that was not unusual and gave me no reason to suspect any infidelity. In the days since the show of my affair, my friends were mind boggled at how quickly he walked away, seemingly unhurt and unscathed by my infidelity. They were lost his coldness towards my children and his lack of affection or compassion for them. Suddenly, it all made sense. Just as a confirmation to the information they had shared, my bosses daughter went and collected the credit card receipts for the previous six months, surely enough, four times in from February to July there was a copy of my husbands credit card receipt, his signature and dinner for two, the same dinner and drinks each time, had been purchased. I kept each one. After all the damage he had put on my name in society, the guilt he had laid on my heart, and the coldness he had offered for two years, I finally knew why, he had had an affair of his own, the entire time!