Almost divorced

Divorce in dictionary

In 11 short days, I will be divorced. That brown manila envelope will arrive in the mail any day now. The one that includes the “official” papers that the government requires to announce to the world that I made a mistake and my marriage failed. I will open it with tearful eyes and hope the attorney doesn’t notice the little wet stains that remain by my signature when I send it back. I haven’t driven to check my PO box in days. The heaviness and fear in my heart forces my hands to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction and run for the hills.I find that reaction interesting, considering I have anxiously been wanting it all to be over. That is what scares me, it will actually be over.

From the first day, April 21 2012, that I fearfully packed two tiny bags of clothing, filled my car with the “important” things and hunkered in a motel room: to this morning, waking up to sunshine, birds chirping and a man who loves me laying by my side, it has been a journey. One that began with heart-break, desperation, loneliness and despair and will end with regret and fear but filled with a hope for a new tomorrow.

I made breakfast for my love this morning, shared a cup of coffee with him on the balcony, and watched with sadness as he drove away on his motorcycle heading to work. I haven’t shared with him the desperation that is in my soul, he knows nothing of the loneliness that I feel in my heart. It has nothing to do with him nor does he need to know. It has everything to do with the emotions and pathways that divorce carries you through. Those emotions, though felt by many, can only be understood by the ones experiencing them in the present.

When a person exits your life, its human nature to want to forget the bad memories and cherish the good. As time passes and the memories begin to fade, we tend to cling to the good emotions that were shared with that person, sometimes we clutch to tightly to the good memories and create a fictionalized character instead of remembering the person as they were. Once I was alone this morning, I stood on my balcony and I cried for the loss of my marriage. I felt guilty in participating in this new love in my life and I was overcome with fear, loneliness and a feeling of desperation: will these emotions ever end, was all that kept going through my mind. Will I ever stop crying?

As I sat there, overcome with emotions, a memory rushed into my mind of a similar day. My ex and I were in our fifth year of marriage. We had the perfect home, the perfect careers and the perfect little family, on the exterior: on the interior, my heart was filled with sadness, loneliness and isolation. The hubby was off to work, the kids were off to school and as I walked around my perfect little house, my heart desperately wanted to flee. I was over the passive aggressive nature of my husband, I was tired of the insults, the let downs and the control he had forced into my life. I dreamt of the day I could be out of his clutches, free to make my own decisions, trudge my way through life, and never have to feel the sting of his insults and coldness again. I sat on our front porch and I cried. I cried over the love I had dreamt of us having, the laughter and happiness I thought we were going to share, and the disappointment I felt in the emptiness in my heart. I watched the world go by and I longed for freedom. I longed to be the person I knew I was, the person who was not afraid to tackle the world.

I sat on my balcony today and I cried for many of the same reasons. The irony is, I have that freedom now, but long for that old known comfort of yesterday. It’s not so much that I miss him, but more that I miss the memories and comforts of having a life together. I watch couples together and I long for that comfort of knowing each other. The kind where you have been together long enough to know the favorite foods, favorite activities and moods of the other person. The kind where words don’t have to be spoken, it’s just being together that matters.

The last details of our 12 years together are drawing near and will soon be at the end. Where will I go from here? Who will I be now? Will I be strong enough to make it?

3redhearts

As we finish our property distribution, I clean out the storage unit that we shared together, and I mail the keys to our homes and cars to his attorney, I realize that its like burying the person you were and becoming a new person, one that you are meant to be. There is sadness, shock, isolation, and fear of watching that someone you loved, die. You stand idly by and feel the emptiness in knowing you will never see that person again, all that is left are memories.

Overcoming those feelings, looking to the future and seeing the doors and paths that have opened in front of you is the hard part. My wish for finality is coming true in a very short time. As I move forward in my life, making the way for a new love and new memories, I vow to not forget the person that I was. After all, it’s the person that I was that has made me the person I am today: a woman with hope, strength and most of all, love.

Finding peace

Its been quite awhile since my last blog. I can gratefully blame my absence on my new job, my relationship with Keith and day-to-day life. As time is moving forward, things are coming together. Time has changed to move forward: the days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and I am excited to say that I am able to take my super long beach walks again. (Its time to battle off those 6 pounds gained this winter!) On those days where the turf beckons, I put in place my ear buds, hit the button for slacker radio on my cell phone, and trudge through the sand finding myself lost in the salt air and the sounds of the waves hitting the shore. It’s during those beach walks that life philosophy rushes through my mind. It is easy for my mind to stray and become consumed in any random thoughts of its chosing.My beaten walking path.

During my walk yesterday, it dawned on me, in just over 30 days I will be divorced. It’s hard to believe that it has been almost one year ago since that fateful day that my marriage ended. My mind began to return to memories that I would have rather forgotten at a certain point in my life: but ones that I am now at ease with and can gladly allow myself to return to from time to time. The randomness of my own internal conversation is one that I will not share with you, for fear that I might prove myself as crazy, but the topic is one that has lingered in my thoughts throughout the weekend.

I allowed my mind to roam over the 11 years that C. and I were married. For probably the 100th time since last April, I dotted from the first night we met, to the first few years filled with happiness, the years that I forced myself to believe it was acceptable to be unhappy because I was married, and the heartbreak of the last few years of our marriage as I watched it crumble out of my control. For the 101th time, I wondered why it took so long for freedom to find me and how I ever rationalized and convinced myself it was ok to be sad and lonely. For some reason I cannot explain, I began to think about an old co-worker. We had both been hired with the same company on the same day in 2005. We went through a lot of training together and we eventually came to know each other pretty well. He was an unattractive, ill-mannered, honorary sort of person, that made you wonder if there was ever anything in life that made him smile. His outlook was always pessimistic, his sarcasm flowed to the point of annoyance and his wife was exactly like him. They would go on vacations to exotic places and he would bring in photos filled with them on the beach, on cruises, at nice restaurants. etc. Not one of those pictures ever included a smile, hand holding, or their arms around each other. My manager and I would rudely talk about their relationship behind his back. The company moved him to our sister site ,just 15 miles down the road from us and the office rejoiced in knowing that his negativity and bad attitude were gone. For him, he welcomed the move. The place was a satellite office, he was the only person on staff and he welcomed not having to be around people. He and his wife shared the same mentality, they had no friends, partook in no social activities and lived in their own miserable isolation. Fate intervened, unfortunately, during St. Patty’s day weekend in 2008 when his wife died of a massive heart attack in her sleep. He was devastated. His world collapsed and many of us wondered if he would survive. As the months moved forward, we all took turns taking him out to lunch, bringing meals to his home, inviting him to social activities. At first, he refused our offers and appeared doomed to a life of isolation. As time moved forward, not only would you find his door open when you visited his home but we all began to notice his heart open as well. He began sharing his life story with us: from his mother dying when he was a very young age, to his father dying a year before his wife and his brother-in-law committing suicide just a few short months after his wife passed. He shared meeting his wife in NY at a very young age, not one of us ever knew that she was 15 years older than him. When they met, she was settled into her teaching career and he was just a lad not quite sure what he wanted to do with life. His wife convinced him to move in with her, she enrolled him into college without his permission or consent and slowly began to take control of his life. I have to assume, loosing his mother at such a young age, conjured up feelings of inadequacy in his heart and meeting an older woman, willing to take him in, guide him down the path of life and share her maternal instincts with him was very appealing at his young age. He was 17 and she was 32 when they married. At one point in his life, he had been happy, vibrant and full of life: he shared old photo albums with us and I almost fell out of my chair at the pictures of him smiling and having a good time. As we all became closer to him, we began to edge him on to go out to dinner, we put together on online dating profile for him, we convinced him to sell his fathers house and when he was ready, we all drove to his home and helped him box his wifes belongings. Over the last two years of my employment with our company, he became a very close friend of mine and my ex husbands. It was amazing to watch him transform into a man who I never imagined possible. As the years of our friendship moved forward, he shared stories of he and his wife’s life together, and we all began to realize just how controlling of a woman she had been. In the early years of their marriage, she had layed the groundwork for how they would lead their life, and she gave him the option of an early out if it was a life he did not feel he wanted. She did not like parties, church, festivals, basically any activity that involved having to be around people. She would work, pay half of the bills, clean and cook and in return, she expected him to work, pay half the bills and remain faithful. I was shocked to know, the last 10 years of their marriage, they slept in separate rooms. They were married 30+ years when she died.

In the beginning, I watched him mourn. He flowed through the patterns like clock work. He lost weight, he cried at the drop of a hat, he felt sorry for himself, he hated going home, he would not move anything in the house: for the first year after her death, he refused to sleep in the bed, he would sleep on the couch where she died. He carried photos of her in his pocket, in his car, on his desk; photos that had not been there before her death. It broke my heart to watch him in those first stages, he genuinely was devastated. That first Christmas, we literally yanked him by his ear, tied him into the backseat of the car and forced him into a Christmas social at the local Catholic Church. That night, I saw a spark ignite. It was wonderful to watch him excitedly begin to relish in a new life he had never known. He became a whole new man. He began to date, his social calendar was NEVER empty. Heck, sometimes we would go a month and not hear from him, only to find he had been on vacation for a week in Bermuda, met a woman there and brought her back to the States. Eventually, he began to date a woman who had no traits or comparisons to his deceased wife. She was vivacious, full of life, laughed all the time and feel head over heels in love with him. They became engaged, he sold his house and the last time I talked to him, they were living in Virginia near her son and he was enjoying being called Granddad. (he never had children)

I began to wonder why his heart led him to lead a life of isolation for so many years, denying himself the life he longed for. What made him be accepting of existing and spending his days brimming with unhappiness and negativity? Why would you spend over ten years of your marriage, never touching each other, sleeping in separate rooms? Did he ever long for laughter, a soft touch from his wife, a tender hug or that look of passion that you share with someone who knows your soul? How many days did he spend, convincing himself it was ok and acceptable , just because he had found a life of daily routine and a comfort that he was afraid of losing? It took almost two years to convince him to break that comfort zone, but once he did, you cannot imagine the differences in him.

I look at the differences in myself since a year ago. I remember the loneliness, emptiness and just plain sadness that I carried in my heart for years. I remember feeling unloved when my husband would berate me, I remember feeling unworthy when he would aggressively insult me and I remember wondering what I had to do to make him love me. I changed everything about myself for him and he still never loved me like I needed him to. I changed my friends, my beliefs, my appearance, my daily activities, etc. By the time I realized the err of my ways, there was a comfort in the sadness. I could depend on being lonely, I was not let down anymore at the rejection it had become my crutch. I convinced myself because he did not physically hit me, cheat on me, do drugs or drink to excess that I would be a fool to leave. Because he could present himself in the public as such an upstanding person, he had a great job, and we could afford things I could never have on my own, I bowed my head and accepted my life. I accepted my fate and I learned to live with all of it.

As I was returning home, ironically, I passed a gentleman walking his dog that carried many resemblances to my old co-worker. I came in the condo, logged onto my Facebook and searched his name. As I was scrolling through hundreds of profiles looking for a familiar face, there he was. His face stretched in a “possum eating” grin, happiness radiated through the computer. His arms wrapped tightly around his new wife, hers around him and they looked happy.

I have no regrets. My life has led me to a great place of peace and I may not be here if I could go back in time and change anything. I am a work in progress but I have pride in myself. I know who I am and the things I want and I am willing to work hard and honestly to get them. I have made mistakes, I have made bad choices, but bottom line, I forgive myself. I have to. I am loveable, deserving and human and I will accept no more than what makes me happy.

I , by no means, am comparing myself to someone who has lost a loved on in death. Instead, I have revisited too many times the death of my marriage. I have mourned, I have cried, I have carried guilt and anger. Now its my time for happiness. I forgive myself and I open my heart to the many wonders of the world that I have yet to experience. In honor of my friend, whose radiance I envy, I trust myself enough to carry me through my future. I can do this!

Try – My anaology of a song.

My favorite song, at the present moment, is Pink’s – Try. I’ve loved Pink for many years, even when she was struggling to become the kick ass singer she is today. Her songs are real, heartfelt and lots of times, speak about moments and feelings that I have experienced in life. Try makes sense to me; I always think of R., our affair, the ending of my marriage and my present relationships…through the few words of Pink, I find a bit of peace knowing someone out there may understand.
“Ever wonder about what he’s doing, How it all turned to lies, Sometimes I think that it’s better to never ask why”

I wonder what “he” is doing a lot. I think about R. often still, just not every day like I used to. I wonder where he is working, what his daily routine is and if he is happy. My heart is mending from the damage he caused but I am not sure if I will ever forget him. Time has put a distance between us, Feb. 26th will be a year from the date we started the affair. May 8th will be a year since he left my life. I always wonder what happened to make him decide to flee my presence. What words were said, conversations held or ideas ran through his mind that I will never know about. Then again, I don’t want to know. I will never understand the promises he made, the life visions that he gave me, and the love I thought “we” felt, and how quickly he forgot it all. If I knew why, it may just break my heart all over again.

Chorus
“Where there is desire, There is gonna be a flame, Where there is a flame, Someone’s bound to get burned, But just because it burns, Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die, You’ve gotta get up and try try try”
I’m not sure I will ever believe in love again. This statement is more profound to me than anyone can know. The truth is, when the heart is involved, it’s a promise that someone is going to get hurt. There is no perfect relationship, no perfect marriage, and even those that spend their lives together experience that heartbreak when the other dies. It takes effort, after having your heart broken, to put yourself back out there again. To place your faith in someone and trust they have your best interests at heart. For me, it’s a day to day process still. I have to remind myself, it’s not my first heart break, surely will not be my last, but my heart is not prepared to be hurt again, let down or disappointed.

“Funny how the heart can be deceiving, More than just a couple times. Why do we fall in love so easy, Even when it’s not right.”

Can I get an Amen? I fell in love with my husband, though the red flags were blowing in the wind. Things fell apart, but I didn’t want to let go, for fear of failure. By the time I met R., I was desperate and longing for affection. He was willing to give it, I opened my heart and fell head over heels, though we were both married and talked many times about the consequences if we were caught. Not even a year later, I am dating a man that I am telling “I love you.” I care deeply about him, but I’m not sure I LOVE him.

Chorus

“Ever worried that it might be ruined, And does it make you wanna cry? When you’re out there doing what you’re doing, Are you just getting by? Tell me are you just getting by”

More days than I want to admit, I think my life is ruined. I never expected my life to be like this at 40. I had pictured myself working hard at my career, owning my own home, enjoying the empty nest with my husband, planning exotic vacations, having BBQ’s and poker nights with our friends and simply enjoying the fruits of my labor. Instead, I find myself struggling to pay the bills, facing having to work two jobs this spring to get ahead, and there is no prospect in the future to be in my own home. I do not even own a bed or a couch, thank God for fully furnished rentals. Every day is a struggle. I am grateful for the advancements that I have made, but there is no relief on the horizon. I’ve been projected into a whole new world of solo responsibility and sometimes, I miss who I used to be, I miss the me I thought I would be today.

I am finally reaching a point of being able to hold my head up again. So many days I was embarrassed and ashamed of the affair with R. Everyone in my old work industry knew about it, my ex made it a point to tell as many as he could in the community and my life had been ruined over it. When I was in public, I would hang my head low if someone was around that had knowledge of it. Sometimes, I would feel so ashamed, I would come home and cry for hours. I wasn’t sure I would ever get over the guilt, but as time is passing, it is not so much of a burden to bear.
I have been afraid of love and emotions. So many times I have convinced myself I am not worthy of love that I am sure I have missed many opportunities to be happy. I also am fearful of trusting again. I don’t know if I can, I include myself in that equation. My heart continues to make mistakes, mistakes that cost me more and more as time goes on. How do I know I can be faithful to someone? Am I strong enough to make it when things begin to falter or damage myself by following my heart? I am not so sure it needs to be released into the wild, ever again.

I ran into my ex-husband Friday night, for the first time since our separation. K. and I went to a hunters banquet, we were sitting at the table and “poof” there he is. He is walking in the door with his new girlfriend. At first, it was awkward. I moved to the opposite side of the table and made a point to not be in the same area as him at any given time. Then it dawned on me, I was feeling NOTHING. Actually, I was feeling something, grateful that it was her and not me sitting by his side. I watched as he carried on his politicking around the room. Smiling, shaking hands, making her walk behind him as he put on his pretenses: and I felt free. He never held her hand, never walked beside her, and many times, left her awkwardly sitting at the table while he did what he wanted. I realized, though my affair was admittedly wrong and should have never happened, everything happens for a reason. A good friend told me after the separation and R.’s disappearance that maybe R. was destined to be in my life for long enough to give me a reason to leave my marriage. Maybe fate never meant for us to be together for more than we were, the end result was to guide me out of years of unhappiness that I had locked myself into. As my eyes grazed over my ex and his new girl, I focused on K. walking behind them. He was laughing with his friends as he was filling a plate with desserts for us to share. There were no pretenses, fake presentations or passive aggressive gestures with his actions. There was only my simple redneck boyfriend, bringing his girl some dessert, and having fun with his friends by simply being himself.

As my ex passed me by, he sarcastically looked right at me, with hopes of making me uncomfortable,  in his true passive/aggressive demeanor; he spoke and asked me how I was. I caught him off guard when I smiled a heartfelt smile and answered honestly “I’m doing great, thanks for asking.” The anger showed in his eyes, his cheeks turned red and in that moment, I think he realized he no longer held any power over me.

Maybe Pink’s words are true. I’ve experienced deep heartbreak, but I am still here. Maybe, soon enough, my heart will be willing, who knows, maybe K. and I will find “love” or maybe I will be in the right place at the right time and some non-expecting gentleman will give me a reason to get up and try. Time will tell, for now, my only regret is not looking at the new girlfriend Friday night and telling her “Good luck with that.” Life choices rid me of that unhappiness…..

Dating: Why do we do it?

A young ex coworker of mine forwarded a letter to me yesterday that made me begin to think about dating, between the age groups and in general. This young  is a ripe old 24 years of age. When she was 16 she met the love of her life. (hopefully there is more life ahead for her to change that.) They dated steady for 6 years, until she caught him with another woman two years ago. She broke it off, as she should have, and is now heartbroken that this man is now in a heavy relationship with is lover, they are engaged and they have opened a successful restaurant in our area. I have spent hours with her, seeing her heartbreak and her struggle to move forward with her life. She did the wise thing and she took a break from dating, she made only one mistake, she worked three jobs to occupy her time and never did much for herself. Once she began to throw herself back into the dating world 9 months ago, she did it with a vengeance. She posted many profiles on more dating web sites than I care to mention. She has a record of living in 4 week relationships, she will meet a guy on a dating site, sleep with him immediately, change her relationship status on her facebook page, and post an obnoxious amount of posts on her sweet boyfriend and their activities. It doesn’t matter who the current boyfriend is, it’s the same cycle for her every time. She then grows tired of them, for one reason or another, and way too fast for me to keep up with, she is off and running with the next. About a month ago, she began to post pictures and comments on her new “boy”. (that is probably a HUGE problem there, even twenty years olds do not want to be referred to as boy.) I noticed a difference with this one, she looked really happy. On valentines day, she texted me that he had purchased them a couples massage and had purchased some of her favorite french chocolates on the internet and they were delivered to her work. She was over the moon and I was happy for her.

In one short 24 hour period, it all changed. After their loving cupid day together, her sweet boy sent her an email the next day that included the following:

“I need to part ways with you, not want, need. The reason is simple, I can’t see a future that includes marrying you. For a Christian man, dating without the purpose of marriage is honestly pointless and sinful.”

Now, just to add my opinion, this is a 25-year-old kid who just wasn’t that into her. He wasn’t very Christian when he slept with her on the first night and you should have seen some of the photos she posted of them partying together. With that said though, is it ever ok to date without the purpose of marriage and if you do, are you leading on the other person who may not feel the same as you.

My life is totally different at my ripe old 40 years. I refuse to post anymore singles ads, the two I posted last summer attracted no takers and I really was insulted by that! I do not believe in one night stands anymore, I have had two in my lifetime and they always ended with me being disgusted with myself and no matter if my intentions were to just have sex, I felt nasty afterwards. I have absolutely NO intentions of ever getting married again, two strikes and I am out.

With these feelings on dating and relationships, I’ll update you on my current “relationship”. K. and I have been seeing each other almost 6 months now. After I spent New Years alone, I had full intentions of breaking off our once a week meetings and moving on. He returned home from his holidays with his family a totally different man. What was before once a week sex sessions has advanced to my having to fight him off with a stick. The three weeks he spent away with his family made him realize he was in “love” and after the third week of January, he found enough nerve to tell me so. Time moved on and a few weeks ago, I told him I love you back. We spend the majority of our free time together, my new job is dominating most of my life now. More times than not, I enjoy his company and our time together, but the above question has been on my mind recently.

I see no potential of a future with K. As ashamed as I am to say this, the negatives outweigh the positives, and that is a deal breaker. He is a good hearted man and he treats me well, but he is also a mama’s boy who has yet to slice that umbilical cord. He lives in his own home, that he built adjacent to his parents property. IN the mornings he walks over and eats the breakfast his mom cooked for him, in the evenings, its dinner. His mom still does his laundry and helps him clean his house. Not the future I would hope for myself.

He is also a mans man, a southern redneck who loves his Nascar, hunting and beer. He is not big on emotions and really has no clue how to treat a lady. By the last statement, I mean, he is not a romantic. For an example: last night it snowed for the first time this year. In eastern NC, we rarely ever see snow, so it was a rare treat to watch the snowfall last night. I stayed at his home so we coudl enjoy it together. At one point, it was snowing really heavy and was just beautiful. I was standing at the window, feeling so peaceful and relaxed. In my mind, I envisioned him coming behind me, wrapping his arms around me and standing quietly enjoying the moment with me. I tenderly looked his way, asked him to come watch the snow with me, to which he replied “I can see it from here hun, the race is on.” I stood by myself and watched the beauty of nature, as loneliness washed over my heart.

 

What I was craving

What I was craving

I no longer am willing to simply accept someone in my life because I am lonely, I want to feel loved. There is so much I want from this life and some days, I wonder why I am wasting my time. So what am I doing in this relationship? I care deeply for him, but I have already stated, there is no future for us. Is it ok for me to continue us spending time together even though I have these feelings? We both have agreed we never plan to marry again but I am a little nervous, he has been making references lately on my moving in with him and that is a no go. At what point do I send him that email that says “I need to part ways”? When is ok to date, when you know there is no future? Any and all input would be appreciated.

What I received

What I received

Pride vs. neccessity

 

“Pride is a personal commitent. It is an attitude which separates excellence from mediocrity.”

 
There comes times in all of our lives that we are forced to ignore our initial instincts and allow survival mode to guide through a trying time. My survival mode kicked in immediately after my ex locked us out of our home. I knew, as a newly single mother, I had to make everything right for my daughter, regardless of what it took.

After I was terminated from my place with the company R. and I were employed with, I was terrified. I cannot explain to you just how terrified. In less than two weeks, I had left my home, my marriage, and was now awaking to a new life, in a 6 week rented condo, with no hopes of an income in the future.

We all are aware of the present economy and unemployment statistics and many of us know that a new job is not landed overnight. With that said, I had no choice but to hit the streets, putting in applications at the local restaurants for waitressing positions. The timing of my separation and unemployment could not have been better, tourism season kicks in just before memorial day, so the popular restaurants begin to up their staffing numbers around May. I cannot complain, I was employed within the first week: but my morale was low and I could not find happiness in being a 39-year-old waitress. At the age of 31, I had put myself through college and worked hard to earn the degree that was now taking up space on my living room wall. I had been in my current career field for 8 years: it was a field of nobility, notoriety and stature: here I was, now tying on my black apron and carrying around my order book every day, with embarrassment and shame. (don’t misunderstand that analogy, I do not carry disdain for anyone that works as a bartender or server: for me, it was a huge step down from the suits and heels and five figure income I was used to) ID_no1_6722

In my current state of mind, I think the shock and numbness of the trauma I had suffered was enough to distract me from the harshness of reality and that was probably a good thing. It wasn’t until the end of July, when the distraction began to wear off, that I realized how extreme my situation had become. I was surrounded by everything that I had never agreed with. My co workers were young, average 20’s, enjoying a lifestyle full of drugs, alcohol and, the majority of them, welfare fraud. They all came from varying backgrounds but shared the same mentality for life: if you can’t drink it, smoke it or have sex with it. it’s not worth your time. I isolated myself from them, by not allowing myself much interaction kept me safe and far away from the drama that surrounded their daily work environment. Eventually, my quietness became an appellant for them and the drama was carrying over into my life.

Just before I quit my job at the first restaurant, there was a situation involving a 22-year-old waitress that I never did like. In mid July a close friend of mine was coming for a week’s visit. In casual conversation with this chick, I mentioned my friend would be in town soon and I planned on getting some much needed “Girl” time. I saw no harm in releasing that information, if I participated in a conversation randomly, I was able to camouflage myself more easily. A few days later, I’m not sure if it was nerves or a stomach bug, I called in sick. I had been up all night hugging the toilet and there was no way I was making it in that day. The next day, I returned to work and was confronted by the head waitress. She explained that the 22 year old had heard my call when I let them know I was sick and had spent the day telling everyone she could find that I was not sick, but hung over. She said I had bragged a few days before about hitting the town with my company and getting “crunk”.  I still have no freaking idea what she meant by “Crunk” so that is definitely NOT a term in my vocabulary and I explained that to the head waitress. I had a doctor’s note in my pocket book, I left my supervisor standing on the second story, I marched myself downstairs, found my doctor’s note, walked straight up to the 22 year old, put it in her face, and let her know, the next time she had something to say, to get her facts straight. You should have seen the looks on her 20 year old friends faces….it was a priceless moment, regardless, in that moment, I knew I could not carry on that daily process anymore. My friend did arrive the next week for her stay and over the course of the week she could sense my distress in my employment situation. It was only a week later when I submitted my resignation and quit. It was a tough decision to make, there was still 6 good weeks left in the tourist season, which meant a great income for another month, but ultimately, my morals and pride took over and I simply could not put myself in that situation anymore.

It was the middle of July when I began seriously submitting resumes to anyone and everyone. I applied for every professional position you can think of: administrative, accounting, law enforcement, health care. It was my goal to not have to wait tables in more and return to being proud of myself and my career. ultimately, it wasn’t in the cards at that period in my life and I reluctantly began to send applications to restaurants again. It was in August that I was hired with the second restaurant.

I carried high hopes walking into that job. It was a higher scale restaurant than the previous bar I worked in, the client’s was one of a professional nature and my co workers were older and more mature. At first, I felt content and accepting of where life had led me. There was not much drama associated with my employers and I felt comfortable in my environment. I still carried the hope of returning to professional setting and carried on with submitting resumes to potential employers, but I did not feel the desperation that I had before. At least I never felt that desperation, until mid October, when the owner of the second restaurant returned to run the establishment.

She was in her 50’s: she and her “Boyfriend” had purchased the restaurant together 16 years ago and through the rumor mill, I knew she had a history of alcohol abuse. Currently, her 32-year-old daughter had been helping the boyfriend run the establishment. John was a laid back man, quiet and easy to get along with. He oversaw the kitchen part of everything. He was essentially in the kitchen with his crew all the time and he allowed Michelle to run the restaurant and patron part of everything. Michelle’s mom, Carla, had been in the hospital since July with pancreatic failure and kidney issues. For the first few weeks of my employment, they had not expected her to survive, but here she was, in the middle of October returning to work and man, was she hell on wheels. An alcoholic for over 30 years, you can only imagine how unhappy she was at being told by her doctors to never drink again. She was vile, pessimistic and she created much more drama than you would ever expect from a 50 year old woman. Within two weeks of her return, 4 of our staff quit, which left only myself, Michelle, the bartender and the kitchen crew. Her focus became making my life hell. She would cut my hours, send my home without warning and more than a few times, I caught her pocketing my tip money. I was frustrated, angry and everything felt hopeless. For months I had sent out resumes and my friends had asked everyone they knew, with no responses. After my daughter moved in with her Dad, I even began sending resumes to job openings in cities hours away. At that point, if it was in my destiny to move to a new town, then so be it.

All seemed hopeless. December came, my mentality was at its lowest. My daughter had been out of my home for a few weeks, my heartbreak was still fresh and though time was moving forward, I was still feeling “lost”. I made the decision to take a months break on the job hunt, I could not take the stress anymore. I had spent hours upon days upon months browsing the internet – Craigslist, indeed.com, LinkedIn, meetup, etc. to no avail. I was done, simply put. I reached a point where I decided to hang my head low, keep my mouth shut and do my job. Every fiber of my brain wanted more than anything to drive to work and tell Ms. alcoholic bi-polar bosslady to shove it where the sun didn’t shine, but I was at no point financially to do that. I simply had to accept what was my present fate. Then, everything changed.

It was a cold rainy day in December. I had driven to my girlfriends house to sit in front of the fire-place, sip some white zifandel and forget the world for a bit. We were having a heated discussing over the Home Networks “flip it” when my cell phone rang. It was a number I did not recognize and I almost did not answer it. Something in my belly twitched and my heart fluttered so I answered the call. It was a local law enforcement agency phoning about a position open with our county as a tele communicator. In mid August, I had forwarded my résumé to them, at the same time, their HR Department was transferred from their old office across town into a new office, and here it was December, and they were just now finding my résumé. They offered me an interview for two days later that I EAGERLY accepted. I could not believe my luck! I was ecstatic. Two days passed, I entered the interview with confidence and nailed it. They phoned the beginning of the next week and offered me the job. I did not hesitate to accept, I did not care if they saw how excited and happy I was, for once EVERYTHING FELT RIGHT!

It was week before Christmas, my new job set to start mid January, when I reported to work and informed my boss of my new job. I offered to stay with the restaurant until New Years, but when I informed my boss fbba8ff3-6896-4d3f-8eb0-e9ad9ff5d34dI would not be working New Years Eve, she not so nicely told me that was a deal breaker. Then began the rant of innuendos and insults that I had endured for the two months since she had returned. I quietly put on my jacket, grabbed my purse, and walked out the door.  I have no regrets about that.My Grandmother raised me to treat others as you wish to be treated, but sometimes, after you have taken more punishment than you deserve, you reach a point where you just don’t care. The necessity for the job was not there anymore, my pride took over. I was no longer in a position to be treaded on, mistreated and used. I walked out the door of that restaurant with an unfriendly, go (bleep) yourself, gave myself my Christmas in GA with my son, welcomed in 2013 in a calm, settled environment and allowed myself to know, this year was going to bring changes. I walked into the new year, hopeful for a renewed peace and content in my life, I have earned it!

Tis the season to be blah

Thanksgiving behind me, I began to look forward to the promise of a New Year and the hopes for healing and peace in my heart.

The sickness from Thanksgiving lingered for a few weeks, but life returned to normal. Work had become really busy, it was time for all the company holiday parties. I was scheduled to work six nights a week, every week, until New Year: my financial future was looking good, every party on those books had $$ signs shining through the pages. As the first of the parties began, it was to my disappointment, that my greedy boss and her daughter decided to hire a young man to help in serving food and busing tables, in lieu of having any of the wait staff help, and cut into their tip. This continued for the entire Christmas season. We would have parties scheduled for over 150 people, with an open bar and live bands. The bosses daughter was a horrid person, as time had passed, her true colors began to show themselves and this woman simply, was a monster. She was the type of person who everything was about her. If you cut your finger, she had cut hers worse when she was 7: if you were heartbroken, her life was horrid because her husband did not give her enough attention, etc. She was overweight, lazy, u un-compassionate and had not a bit of couth anywhere in her body. The nights the Christmas parties were booked, she would have the bus boy serve all the food and alcohol, as she sat in the back of the kitchen playing on Facebook. I would wait the tables that came in for the restaurant, unless a known big tipper came into the front door, and then her mom would wait the table for her and slip her the tip.By the end of the night, she was walking out with several hundred dollars, after paying the bus boy an hourly minimum wage and rubbing it in my face that she was making bank. Finances were not well and none of this was helping my mentality. Since I had left the first restaurant at the end of June, I had placed over 100 applications for “real” jobs, finally throwing in the white towel, I had decided to take a break for the month of December, regroup and begin again in January. Of course, I was depending on making enough money to place into my savings through the holidays, now everything just seemed out of sorts again.

The closer Christmas came, the more anxious I began to feel. Thanksgiving was horrid, the sadness and loneliness had almost consumed me for that short four day weekend. Christmas was due to be a 6 day weekend. No invites were offered my way for Christmas. Though I had not acted upon any of them, I had been invited to maybe 6 different homes for Thanksgiving, but nothing was looming for Christmas.

When my ex had placed my items into our storage unit over the summer, he had warmly and nicely packed every single Christmas decoration that referenced our past and had kept every single Christmas decoration that had not. I found this out after deciding one Sunday to at least decorate my balcony and condo door. Over the years I had acquired several nice door wreaths from Macy’s and Dillard’s and just last year I had purchased a few boxes of icicle lights and four crab pot Christmas trees. (only sold in our area for the time being, eastern NC) I had driving to the storage room, almost excitedly packed my car with the two storage containers and the 4 crab pot tress and drove home humming Christmas carols. Maybe this was just what I needed to put me in the mood! Upon opening the two storage containers and barely leafing through I quickly figured out the motivation to be so “willing” to set certain items free. The first container was full of CHristmas decorations, the decorations I did not want to see. Or first Christmas, our first home, our wedding cake topper, etc. The second storage container was filled with our entire families stocking, FAMILY stocking holders, even our puppy dogs stocking and Christmas decoration. (the puppy dog he still has). I threw the lid on the storage containers, through them in the back of what used to be my daughters room and sat in the dark, crying for hours. There were no outside lights, no door wreaths, no tree skirts, or tinsel: he had purposely gone through every single decoration and pushed them out of his home, heart and memory. I really did not know what to feel.

The days moved on, finally, I pulled up my boot strings and stopped into Wal Greens to buy some lights for my balcony and a tiny Charlie Brown Christmas tree for the condo. That was the extent of my Christmas decorations.

Two weeks before Christmas, Bryan and I still doing our thing, he told me his daughter would be down for a week before Christmas, he was going to his brother’s house on the opposite end of NC for the holidays and would not be home until after New Years. My only hope of entertainment now gone, my heart-felt sad, I have never felt so alone.

My youngest son, who is stationed in Macon GA phoned my just before Christmas. He was scheduled to have a ten-day holiday but didn’t want to spend the money to come home and was worried about being so far away from base for so long. A light bulb in my brain snapped on, my one mainstay financially has been my Marriot rewards card, I had enough points for a three day free hotel stay, why not drive to Atlanta and see my son for Christmas! GENUISE! I shared the idea with my son and he was excited at the thought. Immediatly, I hung up the phone, booked a hotel room, and that was it, Christmas was now back on. I phoned my oldest son and daughter to let them know I would be away for Christmas but back right after: they could have cared less. My oldest son even gave me a “Huh?! Ummm ok, why are you telling me this!”

I worked Saturday night, excitedly came home to pack and leave on Sunday morning. It was going to be an eight hour drive, but well worth it to make son happy for the holidays. All my life, I have always gotten great pleasure at making my kids smile. The entire nine-hour drive, visions of sugar plums, smiles from my son, dinners together, walks through the park amid all the Christmas lights and maybe even a nice Christmas lunch dance through my head.

I have to explain one thing to you before I go ahead with my story. My youngest son is ADD and suffers from EXTREME middle child syndrome.I had all hopes when he joined the Air Force, they would break these issues, but I think they have actually became worse. On the way down, I texted my son when I was half way there. His home base is only an hour from Atlanta so I had told him to give me three hours and then begin his journey to meet me at the hotel. Did he listen? No, do they ever? When I arrived at the hotel, I found my son sleeping in his truck, in the hotel parking lot, with a tow truck backing in beside home to tow him away. He had left Macon at 12:30 and had been asleep in the parking lot since 2, I arrived at 5. I had to rush inside, tell the clerk who he was, check us in, rush out and beg for forgiveness from the tow truck driver: all the while, my son is still sleeping. After the tow truck pulls out, I bang and bang and bang on my sons window, for a moment, I thought he may have been dead. He finally wakes up, clueless to the action that took place only a few moments before. I am livid. He explains that he “forgot” I told him that it would be a nine hour drive for me, rushed out to meet me, and then when he realized that I was still a ways away, he tried to check in and had an argument with the hotel clerk. (the room was booked in my name) He didn’t think to call me, he says!

We settle our vehicles in the parking garage, I open my trunk and begin to pull out my four pieces of luggage for our three-day stay. (a girl must be ready) My son walks over, grabs two bags and stands there. I ask is he going to make a second trip to get his bags. He doesn’t have any bags he answers. WHAT?!?! You have nothing, no toiletries, no change of clothes, nothing. Nope, he didn’t think he would need anything for just one day! WHAT?!?!?! One day, I told you we would be here from Sunday-Wednesday! Oh, he says! WHAT THE HELL DO YOU MEAN OHHHHHH? I think in that first ten minutes of arrival in Atlanta, I felt 100 new gray hairs blossom on top of my head!

How we made it to the room in one piece, I cannot explain, but when that door opened, and I saw that nice King bed and those beautiful shower stalls, I was in heaven. Nine hours in a vehicle, driving alone, in traffice, two days before Christmas, had not made me a happy camper. Then to arrive to that fiasco, Mama was ready for a nap, a shower and then a nice sit down dinner. My son was not having it. His ADD afire and well rested after his three hour nap in the parking lot, he was pinging all over the hotel room with franetic energy. I could not stand him at that moment and I began to realize, those visions of sugar plums, yeah, they were popping around like a little kid blowing bubbles out of a bottle.

I rushed to take a shower, rushed to dress, after all, this trip was to keep him entertained and make sure my 21 year did not spend Christmas alone. We drove over to one of my favorite restaurants in Atlanta, Gordon Buersh. At least I could get a cold beer, a nice hot sandwich and watch Dallas in the division title game. Maybe that could give the relaxation I needed. There I went thinking again. My son was like a three-year old, non stop chatter, bouncing around in his booth seat, and anxious to make plans for that evening. I had found several things for us to do over the three days, his ADD was wondering why we had not done them already. He barely touched his burger and I could not enjoy my chicken salad for his constant bouncing. I gazed around. I was in Heaven, with the exception of my sons presence. Fresh ale was brewing in the window behind me, the bar was lined, I MEAN LINED, with nice looking gentleman sipping beer and watching football ALONE!, my salad was refreshing, Dallas was winning..I wondered how I could make my son disappear long enough to slip my single self up to the bar and begin a NFL conversation with this one gentleman that was catching my eye?

Again, my bubble burst, dinner was over, we walked out with 2 To Go plates and we headed to downtown Atlanta for a little ice skating in the park. The traffic was horrid, parking was expensive and the line to the skating rink was over three hours long. The rink closed at 10, it was 9. We walked through Centinnel park for maybe ten minutes and my son was out did. His excitement gone, his temper in full force, he began to whine like a three-year old. I was tired, my excitement gone, I began to whine like a four-year old and just like what normally happens when you have a whiny three and four-year old, you send them to their room for time out. A $30 dinner sitting in our hotel fridge, $20 parking lot fee, and one ill me later, we were in our room by 10 and lights out.

The next morning was Christmas Eve, there was a sad and cold cloud of rain over Atlanta and the weather channel called for it to settle in. It mimicked the coldness in my heart. My son was awake, depressed, irritated and not the person I wanted to be around at all. HAving battled the ADD the night before, it was now time to battle the middle child syndrome. My kids father was having his annual Christmas gathering at his home that day. Every year for 15 years, he has had a massive amount of people from his neighborhood come to his house, grill out, open presents, play games, etc. The kids have always loved it and that was where my oldest son and daughter would be. My youngest son felt left out. After all, the middle child never gets his way. You have to understand, when my son gets in this mind frame, it is horrible. He stomps, pouts, sighs, kicks, curses, you get the picture. The rain settled in and my plans for our Christmas Eve were shot right out of the water. The walk through the Botanical Gardens and the return trip to the ice skating rink were now off the options list. It was Christmas Eve, though we were in Atlanta we didn;t really have any options. Across the street was a huge shopping mall and one entire end was Macys. I decided to walk over and spend a few hours walking around, my intention, to get away from my son, but no he decides to follow me over. This lasted as long as ten minutes, after the 50th time of him walking ten steps behind me cursing under his breath and mumbling, I grabbed him by his ear and pulled him out the door, like I used to when he was 6. ENough was enough, this was not going to happen!

We drive to a restaurant, order lunch, and I proceeded to down four beers, just that fast too, gulp gulp. I think the waitress thought I was off my rocker….now that I think about it, I think I WAS off my rocker. By 2 p.m., we were back in our room. All I wanted was to come home, at least I would be alone, literally alone.  I feel asleep and by 4 p.m. things were at their all time low, my oldest son had texted photos to my youngest son of the crowd exchanging gifts and playing horseshoes. My youngest son was unmanageable. I called my ex husband, passed him the phone to talk to his son, and proceeded to listen to a 2 hour conversation between he and everyone else at his Dad’s party. I felt sad, lonely, and not enough. I had traveled nine hours to make this holiday a nice one for us both and all my son was focused on was what he was missing. I knew what I was missing and did not want to think about it! I stood at the window, on the ninth floor of our hotel and watched as 6 p.m. came, the stores turned out their lights, the traffic whitteled down to nothing and Christmas Eve settled in. My brain took me back to all of the Christmas Eve’s before. The ones with my first husband we spent with his parents, siblings and neighbors, opening gifts, eating lots of food and then packing the kids in their car seats to anxiously wait for Santa. The ones in my former single life where there was no father figure, I was Santa, Chef Du Jour, and entertainer all in one. We would bake cookies on Christmas Eve, make hot chocolate and my three kids and I would sit in the floor and unwrap toys and play for hours. Then there were the Christmas Eves with the ex: I would cook appetizers for us all to eat as we opened gifts and then we would drive to his brothers house for dinner and gifts there. I remember the 22 years of the kids excitement and energy over Santa. I remembered it all, this year there was none of that, and I felt sad.

My son gave me my phone back and when I turned to face him, tears streaming down my face, for one second, I saw the happiness in his eyes and I thought there may be hope for my Christmas Eve. True to the male gender, he never noticed the tears, never saw the sadness his mom was feeling: he had decided, as a gift to his Dad, he was not going to tell anyone but me….he was going home for Christmas to surprise his family, his family being his Dad and Step mom.  Just the thought of it, made him excited and happy, so much so, he was ready to leave right that minute for the nine-hour drive home. It was 8 p.m. Christmas Eve night. I talked him into waiting for the next morning, I never made mention that I had driven down just for him, I was the one who would be alone the rest of the holiday and how much it broke my heart that he didn’t notice these things. By 5 a.m. Christmas morning, he was gone. Excited and bouncing around like a happy three year old, he was gone. I ventured down stairs for a treadmill workout, informed the clerk we would not be needing the last nights stay, at my continental breakfast alone, packed my bags, and by 8 a.m., I was on the GA interstate making that long trip home. I was let down, heart-broken, and totally alone.

What felt like years but was really 7 and one half hours later, I pulled into my condo. I was achy, tired, and did not have much energy. I made it in the house, threw my bags to the side and passed out on the couch. The next morning, I woke up with the flu. Yep, you read that right. That nasty bug that is still dominating our country with fever, fatigue, aches and pains: that was my day after Christmas present. I thought I was going to die, literally, I have never been so sick in my life.

From Christmas Eve night on Monday, until Friday morning, my phone never rang, dinged or vibrated. No one called, inquired about me, or knew of my existence, not even one of my three children. At one point, my fever was 103.7, my chills were dominating and my achy body could not be still: I pictured the landlord knocking on my door in early January and entering the condo to find me cold and hard, dead for WEEKS. Headlines in the local paper

SINGLE WOMAN FOUND DEAD IN CONDO FROM FLU. AUTOPSY FINDINGS REVEAL SHE HAD BEEN DEAD FROM STARVATION AND DEHYDRATION FOR WEEKS BEFORE BEING FOUND BY MONEY HUNGRY LANDLORD WANTING RENT MONEY. Family attempting to be notified, if anyone has any knowledge of Jane Doe please phone our local Sheriffs office.

Oh the life of a single woman! By Saturday, I had survived. I was walking, more like the walking dead, but walking, talking and eating again. My kids, remembering they had a mom, decided to make a day trip down to see me that weekend. (how nice of them) They arrived around 12, the flu still lingering but ,as I stated, I was functional, we decided to ride around in my oldest sons new car and stop in at some of the local surf shops discounted summer sales. My daughter was involved in a text argument with her boyfriend, my oldest was engrossed in a text conversation with his new love pursuit and my youngest son was yet again, bouncing off the walls in anticipation of the nine-hour return drive to GA the next day: I stopped, watched them, and listened – at that moment, I realized I was not suffering from empty nest syndrome, I actually FINALLY understood why spiders eat their young! Not two hours later, boredom had settled in, the attraction of Saturday night dates and the lure of the opposite sex was too much to take, and just that fast, they were gone! That was their Christmas gift to me, not one phone call, not one gift or card, only a day trip to spend three hours ignoring me. Merry Christmas to me!

This was Santas gift to my kids this year!

This was Santas gift to my kids this year!

Newness surrounds me

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It was August 24, 2012, a Friday evening. It was only 2 days before my 40th birthday and nothing in the world seemed “right”. I was working at the new restaurant, settling in to their evening routines. My daughter was due home from her summer break at her dad’s on the day of my birthday and I had yet to reach any calmness or quiet in my soul.

The few weeks of vacation I had granted myself had brung me out into the world to inhale the fresh salt air of the last weeks of summer. Instead of lying in my bed, hiding under the cover, begging the Lord to take my pain: I decide to lay poolside or ocean side, hiding behind a magazine or a novel, if my pain was going to diminish any, I needed to be tan right?

During my daily 22 feet walks to the pool, I begun to build an acquaintanceship with one of our condo’s security guards. She was 30, had separated from her husband in November 2011 and was raising three children on her own. We didn’t have much in common, but she touched my heart with her story and plight, reminding me of my former single life, when I was in my late 20’s raising three kids on my own. I would invite her over to my condo, during her breaks, or on her days off, what would it hurt to begin creating new friendships? Said security guard had a much different prospective on life than I did. She was angry over her separation, still desperately wanting her husband to return home: in turn, her anger was projected by placing herself, overwhelmingly, into the dating world. This woman had over 30 personal ads with internet websites: was communicating with so many men, she had code names for them so not to confuse who they were: and threw herself at anything that walked on two legs and was male. I, as you know, was her total opposite: I was a recluse in my misery, isolated by my choosing, I was not ready for any interaction with a man, ever a simple “hello” overwhelmed me. This boggled her mind. She could not fathom why I would drown myself in misery and began to encourage me to “put myself out there.”  Many times, without my permission, she would share my phone number or approach men and drop the hint that I was single. Her interference in my hibernation mode offered a much-needed bit of humor to my mentality, though I still was not ready. There was something in my heart that was weighing me down: a feeling in my belly that I could not rid.

That Friday evening, I ventured to work, and my husband’s affair was brought to my attention. (see The Truth is set free) After work, some of my co-workers encouraged me to stay and share in a few celebratory birthday cocktails since I would not return to work until after my birthday. The conversation was light, no one brought the husband’s affair back up that evening, and sitting with those women, it suddenly struck me, I belonged there. In that moment, that very evening, it was my fate to be in that place, with those women and just that quick, my soul began to let go.

I drove home, not looking forward to the weekend, but not suffering from the “Oh my goodness, I am going to be 40” doldrums either. I crawled into my bed, pulled the covers over my head and for the first time in months, fell into a peaceful deep sleep.

Around 3 a.m., I am awakened from my peaceful slumber by Kelly Clarkson‘s, What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. my favorite ring-tone. I fight the sleep gremlins off my back, reach to my phone, and do not recognize the number on display. I do what any sensible person would do and pull the covers over my head looking for that peaceful sleep that someone just ripped me from. Again, Kelly Clarkson blasts through the sound waves, again, I do not recognize the number. After I ignore the call for the second time, my mind is not as foggy from sleep and I realize I have text messages. The first message says “Look outside your window”, then “We are here”, and lastly, “open your door”. What the????

I stumble out of my bed, gently pull my blinds open, enough to peer out but not enough for anyone to see in, and to my surprise, there are two men outside my balcony. I recognize them to be employees of the landscaping company that maintains our condos property. (My lady security guard and I had spent hours sitting on my balcony watching these gentleman break a sweat, in the summer sun, with their landscaping tools. You get the picture!)  I am afraid of what is about to happen as I peer out my window, but there is lightning flashing in the background, a summer storm on the horizon, and I simply cannot leave them sitting there.  I slowly open my balcony door, step out into the humid summer air and suddenly, my balcony is rushed with a horrid rendition of “Happy Birthday to you”. It is so terrible, I cannot help but squeal in delight and clap my hands like a kid.

Against my usual rigid demeanor, I invited these two gentleman in, the storms were moving in and the thunder was rumbling in the background.

That evening, brought an unfamiliar ease and peace. I sat with these two strangers, in my home, at 3 in the morning: there was a steady flow of conversation and laughter. Around 6 a.m., the summer storms passed, we ventured out to my condo’s over look deck and watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean. Reluctantly, after having breakfast together at the famous golden arches, I drove them home and our short evening ended.

Sunrise in my backyard

Sunrise in my backyard

It was my birthday eve, 8 a.m., and I could not go back to sleep. My mind kept going over the details of the last 5 hours. Two random men, at the urging of my security guard friend, had walked three miles down the beach, to come to my balcony and serenade “Happy Birthday” to me, JUST BECAUSE THEY COULD and wanted to make my day special. No one in history, had made me feel so important on my birthday than these two gentlemen. That was sad in a bittersweet way!

Around lunch, my son arrived and my girlfriend and her son showed. We walked to my old condo’s establishment (next door) and sent the afternoon lounging pool-side, enjoying the water slide and sipping a few beers. That evening, a group of other girlfriends were meeting me out at our local beach front tavern for a 40th party. That night, after returning home from a GREAT time, I came home to find my condo door and balcony decorated by my neighbors. What had I done to receive such attention?

My son crash landing at the bottom of the waterslide.

My son crash landing at the bottom of the waterslide.

My birthday morning came and the day was supplied with my children’s arrival home, we spent the afternoon lounging ocean side, and enjoying the end of August weather. Again, we arrived back at the condo to find gifts adorning my door handle: a boa, earrings, “fabulous and 40” pin and a princess tiara, all gifts from my neighbors. I sat and cried. Never had I been showered with such attention, at least not since my childhood when my Grandmother and I would share one birthday party and everyone would bring me a gift too! I could not fathom why these people found my presence special, why they wanted to celebrate my day with me. They were new in my life, not knowing anything about me, but yet they were willing to go out of their way to make my day a happy one.

Then, like an epiphany moment, it was the first time in a very long time that I realized….I am worthwhile. I am worth attention: I am worth being happy: I am worth living for. That day, my healing process began!