Don’t misunderstand my last post, Newness surrounds me. I was far from being healed, and to be honest, I still am. It is now the middle of January, and though life is moving forward in all aspects, some days I still awaken with that “Alien” feeling in my soul.
September came, I was still working at the new restaurant, my daughter had returned home and was settling into a routine as a senior in high school and working at a local pizza restaurant. My job provided the financial support that we needed to survive, thank God for that, but after spending 10 years in a “professional” setting I never did adjust to being simply a waitress and longed for that feeling of stability that a 8-5 job provides. Every day, venturing into work at 4:00 p.m., I longed for those evenings of coming home after a long day, sharing a nice meal with my family, and settling in front of the TV for a football game or my favorite comedy. Life still felt out of sorts, though I was more adjusted to my routine and able to accept where life stood.
The cooler weather moved in, the tourists moved out, and the entertainment that I had found in the last month of summer was now gone as well. The security guard’s position was only seasonal, after Labor Day, I never saw her again. The landscaping crew was out less, the maintainance man was only scheduled 3 days a week and my neighbors began to come down only once a month as opposed to their usual 3 weeks here, one week at their regular home. LIfe was quiet again.
Though the smooth sand is beautiful, there are no footprints with mine. There is a silence in the cold salt air that becomes one with the loneliness in my soul.
Once early September moved in, one of the gentleman that arrived at my home on my birthday begun to pursue my affections. He was 40, single for the last 15 years, had a daughter that was 18 and in college and was the supervisor of the landscaping company that he worked for. It began simple enough, after my birthday weekend, he would venture over to my condo to say “hi” on the two days a week they were scheduled to keep up our condo property. His affections were never doubted, he was not shy in knocking on my door or throwing pebbles at my balcony door to get me to come out and talk with him for a few minutes. We exchanged numbers and a few random text messages here and there. He was attractive, funny, and obviously enamoured with me (not to sound vain), but my heart, though moving forward, was not sure I was ready for even simple dating. After several attempts in asking me for a date, I finally gave in, and on my one day off in the middle of September, I agreed to an afternoon motorcycle ride. I arrived at his home and was impressed. He owns a beautiful home, immaculate without being OCD and the landscaping in his front yard could be on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens. By my own confessions, I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a 40-year-old landscaper. The motorcycle ride was great, I previously owned a motorcycle that I had to sell to secure the down payment for my condo. I had missed the wind in my hair. He was polite, well-mannered and respectful to me. He never tried to touch me, hug me, or over step the boundaries that he knew I had placed around myself. The evening ended, I was flabbergasted. After all the energy he had put into pursuing me and he didn’t even attempt to kiss me good-bye. I was surprised that I had actually WANTED him to kiss me. Wow! This was forward progression.
Time moved on, we began to see each other on a regular, once a week basis. He eventually kissed me, held my hand, hugged me goodbye, etc., all the usuals of a new romance, but always with respect and off standish. It was a whole new world. For eleven years I had been with the same man. When the affair with R. began I dove in so quickly and gave so fully of myself that I was extremely guarded while entering this relationship, I was unsure if I liked this slow pace or if I even was enjoying the affections of this new man.
We gradually began to learn about each other. He was married in his 20’s, they had a daughter, she cheated with his best friend, divorced him, married his best friend, and they now had a son together and he had partial custody of his daughter since his wife left 15 years before. He was guarded as well: he spent the first 6 years after his divorce in the same isolation I had placed myself in. He trusted no one, talked to no one, moved in with parents to reestablish himself and even to the present, he had placed walls around his heart to never experience that pain again. This was a double-edged sword. On the one side, he understood everything I was feeling and experiencing: on the other side, he was difficult to understand and in moments that he did let his guard down, the walls would instantly go back up and instead of one wall, there would now be three, for extra protection. Getting to know him, was an experience that resembled looking into a mirror. Sometimes what I saw, I did not like, but I knew was a reflection of what was happening in my heart, in a way, it was helpful in my healing process to share the same stories with someone who surely understood.
One evening, in our once a week dates, I mentioned being fired in April. His response, “Yeah, I knew a guy that worked there. He’s a friend of mine. He was fired around that time too!” My heart stopped, my words were stuck in my throat and I was finding it very difficult to breath. To that point, I had never mentioned R. or the affair. I had shared with him discovering my husband’s affair at the end of August and I simply let him assume we had separated under amicable conditions in May. I never lied, I just let him assume. I didn’t know what to do. It was mid October by this time, we had been “seeing each other” for over 6 weeks, and though we were not serious, this was my opportunity to be honest with him. I took a deep breathe and explained that we were both fired for an “assumed” affair. He sat for a few minutes, quietly staring at me, taking it all in, then asked me to please tell him R. and I had not slept together, R. was an ugly man to him, who had participated in MANY affairs over the years and he didn’t want that image of me. I gulped a huge sip of tea, looked him square in the eye, and told him no, R. and I had not had an affair, we had just been friends and our boss had assumed there was more. I looked him in the eye, and lied! He laughed it off, sighed deeply and said “thank God, I would hate to think you were caught in that train wreck.” Tears welled in my eyes, and I excused myself to the bathroom. There it was, the truth. I was not the only notch in R.’s headboard, how could I have believed in him so easily? The pain tore through my soul but I knew I had to keep up my composer so as not to clew him onto the lie that had just escaped my lips. How could I be seeing someone who had been respectful to me and I was lying to him already? I felt disgusting.
In November, I posted about my daughters move out of my home and in with her Dad. That was the second hardest day of the year for me. I cried as I watched her brothers drive off with her belongings and her. I will not be repetitive and repost my feelings on that issue, but again, the emptiness settled in and my heart-felt cold.
The holidays were upon us. Bryan and I were still seeing each other every Tuesday night (landscaping supervisor), my job was existant and my bills were paid, but everything still had a haze to it. What would Thanksgiving be like without my husband and kids? For 12 years, I had spent Thanksgiving cooking for our family for days, gathering at the 8 seater kitchen table at 11 a.m. Thanksgiving morning and grubbing for hours, laughing and being a family. My sons were off for the first year as US Airmen: my daughter was living with her father, and I didn’t even own a kitchen table. I was terrified. Bryan’s daughter would be in town for a few days, I would not see him any that week.
Reluctantly, I agreed to spend Thanksgiving Eve with a girlfriend and her family and travel to my Dads for lunch on Thanksgiving day. I awoke Thanksgiving morning with an upper respiratory infection, a congested chest, iron lungs and a sad heart. My oldest son and daughter did meet me at my Dad’s for lunch, but it was not the same.My relationship with my Dad has never been worth mention. He and my mom divorced when I was 5 and I did not lay eyes on him again until I was 12 and he was marrying his second wife. During my teens, I traveled to PA to see him a total of three times, and would see him every other Christmas, when he and my step mom came home for a few days. After my first husband and I were married, the small contact we had vanished. In 1999, after the divorce from my first husband, my Dad phoned to tell me he was getting a divorce and moving back home. That meant nothing to me, he had been gone for over 20 years. In 2002 he married his third wife, she is nice enough, but we have never connected. By the time my Dad returned to the area, I was in my 30’s and not interested in building any type of relationship with him. He lives with my current step-mom and her two sons two hours from me. There is jealousy on my part, my Dad has never offered any help, emotionally or financially, ever: but is supporting and bonding with my step brothers who are in their 20’s. The tension is always in the air when we are together, there is always a lack in conversation and we are both unsure how to respond to each other. This past Thanksgiving, was terrible. Not only was I surrounded with “family” that I don’t really know, my heart ached for the past. I missed the horrid trips to the grocery store searching for the right ingredients, the three-day preparations and hours in the kitchen running my husband and kids out when they would come in for a quick taste, I especially missed my children and my husband and I sitting around the table, stuffing our bellies with turkey and gravy and taking turns telling what we were grateful for. Nothing was the same, including my soul. My breaking point came when my step mom, in her own form of ignorance, decided to bring out pictures of my ex husband and I, and pass them around the room for everyone (including me) to see. This is the ignorance that people have in their response to divorces. The last thing I wanted to see that day was a picture of my husband and I, in happier days. I excused myself early from my Dad’s, drove the two hours home, and crawled into my bed, struggling for air as the sobs overtook my soul. For the three day weekend following Thanksgiving, I was bed ridden with a horrid chest cold, repiratory infection and broken heart. I still wondered, would anything ever be normal again?