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!

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!

Suddenly Single – Who am I?

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.

 

The view from our balcony,

The view from our balcony,

The condo we rented. I never noticed the wet bar, until I just downloaded this photo off of the realtors web site. How did I not notice a wet bar?

The condo we rented. I never noticed the wet bar, until I just downloaded this photo off of the realtors web site. How did I not notice a wet bar?

The blue eyed bandit

How many times in our lives, have we been led by our heart-strings and ignored those warning signs and gut instincts in pursuit of happiness?

The warning signs with R. were present immediately. From the first day of employment two years ago, I knew he was arrogant, flirtatious, over bearing and yes, TROUBLE!

I think back to the first days after meeting R. and hearing the things our co workers said about him and seeing proof of their feelings in his actions. I’ll never forget how he would find an isolated spot in the building and sit with his pre paid phone and text some person on the other end for hours. He would laugh out loud, grin really large or command some dramatic performance to instigate you to ask whom he was talking to or about. Once you took the bait, he would answer with subtle sarcasm such as “If I told you, I would have to kill you.”

My co workers talked for years of R.’s flirtatious nature and they hinted on several occasions to his previous marriage and the affair with his present wife. It wasn’t until after R. ended our love affair that the truth of his history began to show itself.

R. was born to a family of 4, two older brothers and one older sister, R. is the baby. They were raised poor, his dad a truck driver and his mom never worked due to mental illnesses. R. was born and raised up north (no need to mention locations) but his dad, being a truck driver, fell in love with our area and purchased a little trailer home for them to have for summer visits. When R. was 17, he impregnated his girlfriend and married her. He was a junior in high school, by the time he graduated at almost 19, his wife had given birth to two daughters. I am not really sure what happened to that marriage, I do know by his early 20’s he was divorced and moved to our area to be closer to his parents, whom had just moved here as well. His ex-wife and their two children relocated to the TX area and most of his communication with his children fell to the way side around that time.

R. shared stories of working on our island, he found employment with the city and worked on the beaches in varying positions, from a lifeguard to  emptying the trash cans at the public access locations. It wasn’t long after moving to our area that he met and married his second wife. R. shared with me his detest of being alone. In one of our long conversations, he openly stated he did not like being alone and was not a happy camper if he was not in a relationship.

He never shared much about his second marriage with me, but we do live in a small community and stories have made their way to my ears. He and his wife lived in a small trailer, in a run down trailer park, just north of our island. I’ve been told, the trailer had holes in the floor, his wife loved to bring in stray animals and their home was filled with cats, the cats usually made their entrance and exit through the holes in the floor of their home. R. had a difficult time securing steady employment, he worked with the city, then with a few different landscaping companies, finally obtaining a position with our former employer 18 years ago. I assume life settled in for he and his wife, she became pregnant with a girl, they moved out of the trailer and purchased a split level home in the area. Their daughter was born and by R.’s version of the story, life became too boring and routine. He said his wife wanted to do nothing in the evenings but cuddle together to watch The Home Network, shop to fix up their house and she allowed their daughter to sleep in their bed nightly. Around that time, R’s sister took a position at a local gas station. R. would venture in to “Visit” with his sister, but word on the street is, he was aggressively pursuing the owner, the same woman who is now his present wife. I can picture him, entering the store, with his Cheshire cat grin, pulling up a chair near the female owner and looking deeply into her eyes while encouraging her to talk about her husband. B. was married, they had two grown children, her husband was also part owner of the gas station. Somewhere in their story, B. opened up to R. that her husband had partaken in not one but several extra-marital affairs. This opened the door to just what R. was looking for, one weekend night, he and his wife hit the town with B. and her husband, R.s wife and B.s husband both left early, B. drank a bit, R. offered to drive her home, and their affair began. B. is 15 years older than R., owns a successful business, a half million dollar home, and likes to spend her money on lavish items, such as new cars, boats, campers, etc. It wasn’t long, according to rumor, that R. left his wife and moved into his sisters trailer. The local gossip has it that B. kicked her husband out soon after and only a few weeks later, R. was moving into their home.

R. would spend hours fussing about his ex-wife and their daughter. She has always struggled to find full-time employment, she is a mechanic, and she and R.’s daughter have always drawn welfare and Medicaid. R. would fuss constantly about having to pay child support, or buy his daughter’s school clothes, etc. All the while, he had left his ex and their child in that position to marry a millionaire.

R.’s approach to me, was the same that I have to assume it was to however many women have been lured in by his seductive blue eyes and startling smile. I have knowledge, just before our friendship began to progress to the affair, that he was pursuing one of the clerks at the local Dry Cleaners, much in the same fashion he pursued me and I am sure how he stalked his wife. Many days, we could not find him for work, and would find him perched on the end of the counter with the said woman or at lunch with her and her female co-worker. Our co-worker, W., lived just down the road from this woman and her husband and would come in to work with stories of seeing R.’s truck backed into her driveway. R. always had some lame excuse, but the signs were ALWAYS there.

When our relationship began to progress, I would share with R. the situations that were taking place in my marriage. R., in return, would talk about his marriage with B. He would tell not only me, but our co-workers as well, that B. had a drug and drinking problem. He would fuss to all of us how every night he would come home, to find B. sitting in the garage drinking if not drunk already and how she would spend the evening demeaning him. R. catered to her every beck and call, he did the grocery shopping in the home, if he was not cooking supper every night he was out picking up whatever she wanted to eat, he checked her gas station every morning and every night to make sure all was secure so she did not have to leave their home, etc. She in turn, was in control of all of their finances, cleaning of their home, and three days a week, she worked at her gas station.

R. would tell me how age had affected her appearance, drinking and smoking had made her wrinkly and gray: their sex life was nothing, she would claim at her age, early 60’s now, she just wasn’t interested anymore: she would insult him at home and in public, after purchasing the landscaping company for his to run, she told everyone he was her short dicked lawn mower boy or she would badger him to not get used to her possessions, he did sign a pre nup and they were hers when he left. As he told me these stories, his eyes would become sad, his voice would tremble and I fully believed he wanted nothing more than to be loved and respected by this woman and she wasn’t willing to give it to him, my heart strings would tug and I wanted nothing more than to share a big hug with him and hold him tight.

In the beginning, the excitement was the bait and switch. My heart would race when he would sneak a kiss in the back room of our employment, my cheeks would flush and my breathing would become rapid when he walked past me, just a little closer than he should. As any marital affair, it was the prospect of getting caught and participating in something that we shouldn’t that kept it excited. As we began to share our stories, open our hearts and fall in love, that excitement waned and i simply just wanted to be with him. As wrong as our situation was, as quick as one would be to assume we were evil, I feel in love with this man, more than I have ever loved anyone in my life. His presentation was authentic and perfect. He wanted to know me, wanted to know my history, my childhood, my life story. He remembered everything that I shared with him and he took special life events and recreated them to make new memories. For example, the story I shared about my friend that died always leaving a gift in my car on special occasions and then he did the same.

Whatever was happening in my life, he was supportive and by my side, so to speak. When my son graduated from Basic in April, R. was the one who was upset when I did not send him photos, R. was the one who phoned me night and day just to hear my smile through the phone, R. was the one who cried with me when I shared my pride of my son achieving one of his life’s dreams. My husband had never been that type of man who cared about anything in my life.

My feelings for R. becoming deeper than they should, it was I who did not want anyone hurt, it was me who encouraged R. to quiet our affair, work on our marriages and see if this love was real. R., in turn, would become irate and irritated. He became almost stalkerish in his many text messages, he would call my home phone in the evenings, he would sit and hold my hand and literally cry at the thought of us not being together intimately, on one occasion, he became extremely upset at just the thought of my husband and I being intimate together. He did not want anyone with me, but him. HIs actions, body language and words led me to believe that he felt the same as I did. In my love induced state, I did not want to remove him from my life either.

From the moment that our affair became public knowledge, R. visibly tucked his tail between his legs and ran. I knew from the first phone call and his impulse reaction to run to his wife’s side, that I had made a grave and fatal mistake in trusting this man. I pushed those thoughts aside and prayed to be wrong. I was hoping it was just the initial fear of change and once R. saw my willingness to disrupt my entire life for him, he would do the same. I have never been so wrong about any one person in my life.

After R. returned to his wife, trashed his cell phone and removed me from his heart, conversations and facts were brought to my attention. It seems the day R. and were terminated from our jobs, R. ran to his wife, informed her of the reason for our termination, claimed that I was a stalker, who had mistaken his offers of friendship for love. He told her that I phoned him non stop. followed him everywhere and could not understand that he was a happily married man. The only reason his wife kicked him out of their home temporarily was because my husband phoned her and confirmed I had admitted to an affair with R. My husband and R.’s wife participated in hours of conversation in the first few weeks of our separation. He told her things about me that were in accurate, she in turn, would share them with R. and R. would turn the story to his advantage. For example, when my friend John died, I shared that my husband had previously accused us of having an affair a few months before his death. My husband told R.’s wife of John and I’s friendship, of the accusation of the affair and of how damaged I was when John died, obviously, I would NEVER be that distraught over losing a friend and he was upset that John had died being he would never have any way confirming his thoughts on our relationship. R’s wife, then told R. about the same conversation, R. was obviously aware of what John meant to me and I had shared many stories about him: R. then tells his wife, that is just proof that I have mental issues and am a stalker—-these two men, took intimate details of my life, shared them with R.’s wife and turned around facts in trying to destroy me and my reputation, two men that supposedly loved me.

Once I discovered the things R. had told his wife, I texted her the truth. I phoned her cell phone and requested a sit down meeting so she could know the truth behind R’ and my affair. She refused any and all communication with me, told me she had been through enough and it was ending then, and called my husband to tell him I was now stalking her.

In the months that have passed since R. and I’s communications ended, my heart has been overwhelmed with so many emotions. I have been angry at being abandoned, angry at the lies and manipulations that he passed between me and his wife, angry that I lost everything and he is still sitting comfortably, in his home, with his wife. I have been devastated that he walked away, heart-broken at his use of words without backing, my soul has been shattered at his presence and sudden departure from my life.

I see him often in our town. The first few times I would pass him driving on the road, his body would shift and he would start the entire time. I think he was waiting for some signal from me that I was still into him, I truly believe if I had attempted to speak to him or stop him, he would have been elated. As time has passed, we don’t look each others way anymore. The pain returns each time I see his truck heading my way, I still want desperately for him to stop me, for him to give me a reason for everything that happened: but see, I know the reason. R. is a self-centered, manipulate man who lives in a dream world that he has created for himself. He wants to be a martyr, save the damsels in distress. He doesn’t think rationally or normally when he finds a woman attractive. He has no dedication to anyone in his life, his children, his wife, even not to himself. He presents himself as this heartbroken man, who just wants love, he plays on the emotions of women who are in unhappy marriages and he takes whatever he can get for himself, never thinking of the pain he brings to others.

I was not the loser in this game: I actually was the winner. I loved genuinely and truly, at some point, both men. Though I am alone today, I am no longer in the control of my empty, heartless husband. I am no longer tied to a man who never will and never has loved me. As for R., “we” weren’t enough. He wasn’t enough: he is not a man, but a fox in sheep’s clothing. In a sad way, I feel for his wife. Given their marriage began with an affair while they were married to others, you know in her heart she knows the truth, for reasons of her own, she has chosen to stay with a man who wants nothing more than her material items and will never be faithful or true to her. He will cheat again, if he already hasn’t. I am no longer spending my time with any man who is not willing to spend their time with me. I may be alone, but I am happy with me! I just sit in waiting for Karma to make her way around.

I can see your colors!

At this point in my blog, I want to take a moment, and reflect on Chris and R. separately and from my hearts prospective on our relationships. Simply because, after discovering the truth of my husbands infedility, my heart released the negativity it had been clinging to and I have since begun a slow healing process. In the healing process, I have learned to see deeper into myself to find the reasons that I responded to these men as I did. My future blogs are going to be focusing on that healing process and leading to my present life today, but I want to take a moment and reflect on these two men who played such dramatic parts in my life.

First, I want to give my description of my husband. My husband is an hypocritical man, with very low self-esteem, that was unfortunately, born into a family that has never known how to love or show love. Therefore, he has never been taught how to love. He was raised by a manipulative mother whom was controlling and demeaning to not only her children, but her husband as well. She became pregnant in the 50’s with Chris’s oldest brother by another man, that said man died in a car accident early into her pregnancy, she soon after meet Chris’s father on a blind date, slept with him and convinced him the baby was his. He naturally married her and though they NEVER slept in the same bed together, she interestingly found a way to become pregnant every couple of years until she bore five sons. By the time the youngest was born, the oldest was in his 20’s. Soon after the youngest reached mid teens, Chris’s father died of a mysterious and unknown illness that left him paralyzed and a mute for the last two years of his life. By all stories told in the communities, Chris’s father had been a gregarious, out going, handsome young man before meeting Chris’s mom. Chris’s mom, however, was shy, a loner and withdrawn. AFter their marriage, some of Chris’s dad’s childhood friends have stated, his dad’s mentality began to change and after just a few short years he was an angry, bitter, ill, loner himself. There are no family portraits in their family, only pictures of Chris, his brothers and their mom. If Dad is in any of them, it is in the background. All of Chris’s brothers and Chris himself only have memories of their Dad yelling at them and always spanking the oldest. By the time Chris and the youngest came along, their dad’s illness was creeping in.

Chris’s mom is full of piss and venom, and the 11 years I spent around her, I never heard her utter a positive word, or even anyone in the community utter a positive word about her. She was always spiteful, talking ugly to people and behind their backs and never had any friends. Her days, since her husbands death, were spent sitting in an empty house, staring at blank walls. I even remember my husband, on several different occasions, telling me if he ever became that negative to just put him in his grave, to not let him live to be that miserable. (this was his MOM he was talking about)

With the family background, its easy to see why my husband was so cold and distant. In the beginning, it touched my heart that he had never known or felt REAL love and it was my goal to make sure he did. I was in that “oh I can change him, mode” in the early stages of our dating.

You see, I was born to parents who never should have had children. I did not have a bad childhood, my parents did not want me, divorced, went their separate ways and left me to be raised by my Grandparents. My Grandparents were angels on earth, but they were not huggy, touchy people: they showed me their love by supplying a warm home, hot meals and buying me ice cream. That, in turn, is how I learned to love, by acts of kindness for others. This did not mesh with my husbands need to constantly be touching me, holding me, asking me where I was going and not even letting me leave him alone in the living room for five minutes. Early in our relationship, this kind of banter was suffocating to me. If I were on the couch, he needed to be next to me, holding my hand in a death grip: if I left the room to get a drink of water, he would ask where I was going and go with me to the kitchen….I viewed this as controlling and suffocating. I, on the other hand, would spend hours upon hours, cleaning his home, buying his groceries, cooking his favorite meals, making sure his fav TV shows were turned to at the right time, etc. This was my way of showing my love: his negativity and harsh words in response to me doing those things crushed my heart and only made me feel less loved.

It was our love languages and the differences in our backgrounds, even present in the beginning of the relationship, that was the pitfall of our marriage. I never felt good enough, he found power in making me feel less than special and thus began a vicious circle. My lack of family in my childhood has always left an emptiness that I never wanted my children to feel. My marriage to their Dad destroyed by divorce, I did not have the strength or the motivation to end this viscous circle for fear of hurting and damaging my children.

So I began to change me. I deleted friends from my life, changed my personality to what I thought my husband wanted me to be, gained a lot of weight and gave up believing in myself. My husband was at great fault for the verbal abuse he put me through, but only I am to blame for allowing him to take away my confidence and control me with harshness.

I never could understand why I was never good enough? Why he never seemed to love me after he won my heart? All I ever wanted was to feel protected, loved, admired, RESPECTED….respected is the big word. He never offered any of those emotions, ever. He was too wrapped up in a mentally deranged image of himself that he wanted to present to the public. My husband is literally a hypocrite. He would tell me for hours, what a damaged mess I was, I was the devil, I was a liar, a looser, a piece of garbage: while in the all honesty, he was only talking about himself and deflecting those things on me. He would go in the public, bible thumps that he was, speak articulately, always smile and offer polite compassion and words of encouragement to everyone, he was a deacon at church, attended every bible study class there was, president of his rotary club, president of the FDA and was always volunteering for some charity benefit. We walked in public, hand in hand, smiling at everyone, as I stood quietly to the side and let him take the lime light. Others would gossip about me behind my back, I was called snobby, not very friendly, heart less, cold, etc. My husband never drank in public, unless he was out with his guy friend, never cursed, or showed any inclination of inappropriateness, ever.

Behind closed doors, his favorite name for me was “you stupid bitch”, he would have me venture to the local ABC 3-4 times a week and purchase him Canadian Mist all the while telling others in the community that I had a drinking problem: he smoked cigars, belittled myself and my children and talked nasty about everyone behind their back.

He was heartless and cold. His older brother died in 2006 and I never saw a tear fall from his eyes. Not one! INstead, he stood at the door to the chapel, before the funeral, making sure to shake everyone’s hand that entered, and thank them for coming: that same night, he drank almost a fifth and downed every person that he had been so polite to their face.

All the while I was battling my alcoholism, grieving the loss of my friend and my job-he was in the public, nastily telling others about my problems and berating me to others. After the affair with R. was discovered, he was quick to call me a slut, trash, etc. He accused me of giving him a Veneral Disease and took no time in telling his friends in family about the affair, all the while, he had been involved in his own discrepancies for two years.

How could I have ever loved such a fraud? Was my heart and life so sad and empty that I was easily manipulated by this man who, obviously, suffers from severe mental illness?

It hurts to know I gave so much of my life to him: it hurts to know how much effort I put into our marriage, how desperately I wanted him to love me and how easily he returned every picture, every memory, and walked away. It hurts to know I was willing to sacrifice myself and my children, for such an ass. I don’t miss him at all, I miss the husband and the man that I wanted him to be!

The truth is set free

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!