Exactly a year ago was the last time I ever saw my husband of 34 years. Our marriage was within weeks of ending in a divorce and I never knew why. I was in Phoenix to visit my mom and he asked me to pick up something from our house. He told me he would be gone and to get it out of the garage. As I was getting ready to leave, a knock on the window startled me and I looked up and into his tired face, one that I had missed terribly over the past six months.
He asked me to come into the house and I hesitantly followed him. I was filled with mixed emotions…was he going to tell me he had made a mistake and that he didn’t want the divorce after all? I was filled with hope and dread….why was he finally willing to talk after all these months? We both were uncomfortable and just looked down at the floor. We were lonely strangers after being together for over half our lives. I finally asked him why he had left me…why he wanted to end our marriage. He told me with no emotion at all, that he had not loved me for years. It was simple as that. He had fallen out of love with me. There was no discussion, no turning back, no effort to fix our marriage…he simply no longer had any feelings for me. I walked out devastated and numb. How did I not ever see this coming? Did I just love him so much that I thought it was enough for both of us?
It took months and months of battling the sadness and disbelief inside, to finally crawl out of the deep and dark rabbit hole that was trying to consume me. The little faces of my grandkids were always in the back of my mind, keeping me from killing myself. I researched the topic every day, while praying to God to make Will love me again. God never was able to do that, and I turned away from my faith, crawling back into my rabbit hole of despair. The months slowly drifted along, with me planted in shock on the sofa, leaving a forever dent in the cushion even now, almost a year later. To describe my darkness is impossible…I could hardly get out of bed, or eat, or shower or breathe….I just wanted to end the smothering sadness that was taking over my soul.
Springtime came and with it, a hint of hope and a desire to get outside, back to nature and the things I love to do. As spring spilled into summer and the time spent with my grandkids increased, we were back in the pool, them learning to swim and all of us splashing happily on the pizza float and the cupcake float and the kick boards. The summer ended with us tan and freckled and I was feeling alive again. I had survived and was strong from all the swimming and time with my little ones. I joined a gym and started admiring the older guys that came in to work out. I signed up for several dating sites and started a dating marathon that included breakfast, lunch, happy hour and dinner on some days.
I met an abundance of eager guys but was not successful in my quest. Most were not near as nice as my Will and many were not working and bored, doing nothing more than watching TV, drinking, or smoking pot. Their favorite past-time was sitting in a bar or at home on the sofa watching sports. Didn’t any of them want to go to the movies or a play or eat out or take a drive somewhere? Nope. Just drinking, watching TV and begging for sex…sometimes even on the first text or two on those infamous dating websites.
Thinking that my life was finally back on track, I was stunned to get a call from my son one night, asking me to return home right away from a first date with a nice man. My mind raced as I imagined the worst about my 88 year-old mom or my precious little grandkids. The minute we pulled up and I saw my son’s face, I knew something had happened to my former husband. But I never expected to hear that he had hung himself. I was in total shock and excruciating pain. I would never see his face again, I would never hear his slight southern accent and I would never be able to convince him that we should be back together once again.
Weeks later I met with my investment adviser. He was kind and gentle and asked me how I was doing through this horrible ordeal. Over the course of our meeting he asked if I was still enjoying retirement. I wanted to laugh in his face. Retirement killed my husband. He was bored, had no purpose in life and did not know how to move through one day to the next. He left in his suicide note that he realized that I had been his glue, that kept his life together and healthy. He realized too late that he actually did still love me, but our lives together were over. His suicide ended every possibility of reconciliation behind. I would never see him again on earth.
I took a job at that firm that my kind adviser started twenty years ago. In two months I have studied for licensing, attended seminars, read books, listened to weekly conference calls, attending training sessions, sometimes several a week, bought a house much closer to the office, moved into an office at the headquarters and am starting to wow my team and mentor, the kind man who was so worried about how I was doing after my former husband’s death.
I have stopped dating as the men I met were not who I needed in my life. I tried to “fix” them and help them like I would have done for my husband. I “dumbed” myself down and became whatever they needed me to be, just like I did for 34 years with my husband. I was always afraid to stand proud and show what I was like in the business world that he knew nothing of. I was afraid it would intimidate Will and once again these men who have no passion for learning something new. I realized that I do not need a man to complete me. I need only myself and my overwhelming desire to learn and my drive to succeed at this new business, traditionally owned by powerful, smart and confident men.
At 63, I have been to the bottom of that dark rabbit hole that threatened my life, and I am now on the top of the highest, most spectacular mountain that I have ever conquered in my life. I am mentally stronger than I have ever been, healthier than ever before, and happier than I knew was even possible. I feel like Rocky Balboa running up those steps in Philadelphia. I am a fighter and I will never allow anyone to make me into something that I am not. I will not allow someone to determine my self worth by loving me or not loving me. I cannot be defined by another person. Women do this their entire lives and I not going to allow myself to ever do that again.
I am a survivor and I am proud of who I am. I would not change a thing in my life. I am thankful that God gave me my younger son Justin, who never developed beyond 2 months of age and lived to age 29. I am grateful for Will being in my life for 34 years, but also grateful that I learned to not need him any longer. All of the pain and joy in my life have made me into who I am today…..confident, brave, honest, curious, loving, kind, generous and tender.
My tenderness is what makes me have empathy for others and why I help so many people in life, teaching them about God through my writing and through my messages. Teaching people about protecting themselves and planning for their financial future with a great company called Transamerica. And sharing my joie de vivre with everyone, no matter how life tries to knock me down at times. I have never known a stranger. I love talking with everyone I meet, even in the dairy section of my local store.
I have been reborn like a Phoenix rising out of the ashes left behind from my past life, more confident than ever before. The human will to survive is unstoppable. We must listen to our hearts, pray for God’s guidance in our lives, and believe in ourselves, fully confident to take on the world.