I believe in Karma and the old adage “Everything happens for a reason.” I also believe in the silly old saying “when one door closes, another one opens.” Sometimes, we spend too much time looking at the door that has closed to realize the one that has opened.
By May 2012, I awoke to find myself in shock and terrified. I had always prided myself on being a strong person, an independent woman, who had walked through many disasters in my life with pride and determination. Suddenly, I could barely find the energy to crawl out of the bed in the mornings. I had no desire to move, eat, sleep, cry, talk, or even live. Everything I had ever believed in was proved to be a faux pas, I had no faith in anything. I did not want to look in the mirror, I did not like the image that was looking back at me. My soul had been shattered, to the core, and I had no idea how to begin to piece it all back together. Surely, I had to be the only person experiencing this pain and isolation, which only encouraged me to isolate more. I was embarrassed, ashamed, I felt worthless and unloved, unworthy of love. I felt like a failure, period.
The feeling was one of being kidnapped by aliens and finding myself living on another planet, in another dimension, with no hopes of being returned home.
To the ripe age of 39, my life had been spent focusing on others and ignoring myself. I touched on my childhood in an earlier post. My parents divorced young and I was raised by my Grandparents. At the age of 12, my mother became tired of the badgering from her friends at not raising her own child, she removed me from my Grandparents home and we relocated a half hour away in a neighboring town. My mother was an alcoholic and has suffered mental issues since finding her Father dead when she was 14 years old. Most of my adolescence was spent sitting up most of the night, waiting for her to come home, so I could pour her into bed safely and run off any of the stray men that were lapping at her heels, hoping to take advantage of her in her drunken state. By 15, this had become a tiresome routine for me, I moved out of my mothers home, in with a friend and her mom. By the age of 16, I was living with my first husband and his family: at 17 I became pregnant with my oldest son, 18 with my second and at age 22 I was pregnant with my third and last child, my baby girl. Other than my brief time as a single mother of three children, I had always taken care of a husband and even in that single phase of my life, my children were small and offered a lot of distractions.
In an instant, I was 39, my two sons were both off into their adult careers with the United States Air Force: my daughter was son to be 18 and in her last year of high school, and then there was me. Who was I? Who was this person that I was waking up with every morning and spending everyday trying to get to know?
In my ten-year marriage, I was able to drown out the sounds of my thoughts and beliefs with a distraction of an orderly and daily routine. I would arise in the morning, get my children up for school/work, make the hubby breakfast, head into work, drive home planning dinner for tomorrow in my mind, arrive home to chaos, dinner needed to be ready, homework needed to be completed and there was ALWAYS something that needed to be cleaned: evening hours were spent tidying the kitchen, preparing everyone’s lunch for the next day and by 9 p.m. I would fall face down in the bed, exhausted. Weekends were spent with distractions as well, the usual motherly/wife duties of feeding everyone breakfast, lunch and dinner: laundry, cleaning: but my hobbies were home repair and working in my yard. The home we owned was nestled on a two acre lot in a beautiful sub-division, and it was with pride that my yard was immaculate year round.
Now, I was waking to an empty bed and teetering around an empty, much too quiet condo. Once I found the energy to muster out of the bed, I would find a cup of coffee and move to my balcony area for much-needed breathing space. The summer months were in full force and the tourism in our area was booming. I would sit on my balcony, watch mindlessly as the multitudes of families either arrived for their summer vacation or were awakening to spend another gleeful, cookout, yelling by the pool, “day in paradise.” unfortunately, for too long, I never noticed the breathtaking view from my balcony: I did not see the indoor/outdoor swimming pools on the property, along with the miniature golf course, the water slide, tennis courts, hot tub, etc. All I saw were happy families just out of my reach. I would stare, with tears streaming down my face, as the husbands/wives unpacked their minivans of their supplies for the week, as their lot of children ran gleefully in circles, squealing with excitement. I would watch the bathing suit clad couples, as they walked hand in hand, down the boardwalk for their morning/evening beach stroll and many nights, I would sit and listen as groups of people would emerge from their condos for an outdoor bar b que and a night game of volleyball. It never occurred to me that I could simply leave my condo and join them. At that phase in my life, I did not see the new world that was available to me and waiting for my taking. What I saw was a life that was no longer mine – I was a failure, the happiness that exuded from those families, used to be mine. Now I had nothing: nothing to offer, nothing to share. I was consumed with heartbreak and loneliness.
How was I going to make it? What was my belief system? How could I live my life with pride and integrity when I had participated in an immoral and unjustified extra marital affair?
Those were the big questions: the little questions were not simple either. What were my interests? Who was the person walking around inside this body called me? Do I like chocolate or vanilla ice cream? sweets or salty snacks? cats or dogs? What was my favorite color?
I can honestly tell you, I walked around for the entire summer of 2012 on auto pilot, stuck in this limbo. Nothing felt normal, or right, or human. Even the smallest activities, such as cooking dinner, created a large amount of stress for me. I began to wonder if anything would ever be “normal” again. Would I ever be able to spend a full day without crying? Would there ever be a time that I would find myself laughing? Would I ever awaken again, with peace in my heart?
It wasn’t until my 40th birthday, at the end of August, that life finally began to move forward and I was able to begin the journey of answering those questions.