And so I start my new life. A life that once offered such promise and now I know not what it brings. One could say we never do…know what life brings. But when I was married for 32 years, I know that life brought me hope, assurance, and feeling appreciated. Now I feel nothing…but empty. An all encompassing emptiness like the lack of sound around you as you stare wide-eyed at the snowy silence in a forest. That surreal reaction that feels so other worldly because it makes your ears hurt with the nothingness that fills them. That is kind of what leaving your children to get away from your cheater “I’m in love with our tour guide who is 20 years younger than you” feels like when you finally put your foot over the threshold. All the remains is a vast and unending silence. And while I am glad to be away from B’s constant lies, the price I am paying for doing nothing but believing in him…in us… in our family… is a heavy price to pay. He cheats…he has our kids. She cheats…she walks into my life and I am replaced. Everything I have poured my heart and soul is gone. Everything I loved into since I ran out my door at 15…never to return…gone. There was nothing to return to then and nothing to return to now…but emptiness…vacant hearts…desolate times in which I could not compete with the forbidden kiss of a woman across the world. A love, once whole but now dried up… falling apart… flaky and hard… like a day old biscuit.
Yet, every morning I put my feet over the side of the bed refusing to give into grief and pain that pulls at the roots of my insides, snapping like a rubber band against the skin…a wince coming just prior to letting go of the stretch. And so I stand, taking my first steps just like I did 58 years ago when first steps were exciting and everyone squealed in delight. Not terrifying as they are now. Falling when you are one = bandaids and kisses whereas when you are my age it can mean broken bones and even possibly death.
I feel like I should be grateful…I have a place to land unlike so many others in this world. But I feel no gratitude. Only the emptiness of once abundant touches…gone. “Hey, mom…I’m home!”…distant dreams. I miss my kids. I miss my life. But most of all I miss me. Who I was when I was their mom? When I was someone’s wife? When I thought I knew what I was and what I wanted. Now I look in the mirror at a stranger. A person’s whose eyes flash like a loud neon sign, ” Vacancy!” There is nothing here because I don’t even know the place that I am at, the language that is spoken, or the resources available to me. Life on this side of the aisle is so different and full of unknowns. Like being dropped off on a desert island with one match and being told, “Okay, now go make a life for yourself!” Does striking the match guarantee fire? Where to I even begin?
I have been reading Joan Didion’s book The Year Of Magical Thinking in hopes of reacting to grief in a normal way, yet, there is nothing normal about this. Grief when someone leaves you alone due to death protects the mind. While all encompassing you know that the person who left you didn’t have a choice. They didn’t want to leave you. Grief when your husband is in love with someone else is different. They had a choice and they choose someone else. They wanted to leave you or wanted you to leave. Either way it makes no difference. You are rejected for who you are and all you ever hoped to be. You are not enough…never will be. This kind of grief doesn’t allow for “what if’s.” It just allows for the coring out of your heart and soul…all that is left is dry dusty bones held up by pieces of your life that fill in the joints making it possible to remain upright like a medical skeleton hanging in a med school dorm. Something hanging there that no one even notices anymore in the age of the digital life. Something regulated to the obsolete.
I will be okay. I keep telling myself this because if there is one thing I have learned in life it is that it will be okay…eventually. It always gets better…eventually. And when my eventually comes I will kick up my heals and dance celebrating who I am and all that I have created. But for now I sit quietly contemplating the same life questions I did when I was 15, 20 and 35. Who am I? Who will I become? What do I want? How do I go about achieving this? The devil is in the details and the details have yet to be revealed.