The Pain of Fibromyalgia

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I don’t write about it often. At times. the mental pain of B’s five year affair has occupied me enough so I figure who really wants to listen about the physical pain that resides in my body…not me. Usually, I ignore it. Pretend if I don’t acknowledge it that it doesn’t exist. But the pain of fibromyalgia is often with me and for the past month it has been my constant companion My legs burn all day long and at night I wake up often as the burning pain creeps from my toes to my thighs rumbling like thunder across the grassy plains.

The soreness and muscle fatigue also snake through my shoulders and down my arms until my arms are so heavy it feels as if they are pulling a tank.  My neck often feels as if it is missing the very threads needed to keep it on straight as if the parts don’t line up and the awkward angle throbs. Combined with the fibro fog in my brain which makes studying almost useless and retention of facts nearly impossible..well, let’s just say I have had better days.

Usually I have managed to keep the pain at bay by keeping stress down, meditation, light exercise like walking and getting enough rest. But since I left B the pain has intensified to the point of being unbearable at times. I don’t know if it because I am under a different type of stress or if the sadness I am feeling is just making itself at home throughout my body. Or perhaps, when I had my family I was so busy and was depended on to such an extent that I couldn’t just sink into the pain and let it envelope me. But now, in this new life I hurt. Every inch of me aches and this physical pain combined with the mental torment has produced a tsunami that is pulling me under. Today the pain was so bad it was difficult t get out of bed without crawling on the floor first to find the support I needed to lift myself up.

THIS SUCKS.

Long story short, I went to the doctor today crying like a fool and she has put me back on the typical meds available to fibromyalgia patients. There really isn’t a great treatment available unless you go the Dr. Paul St. Armand way which is probably the closest thing to finding a path towards relief. I have his book…somewhere… and plan to look at it again when found.

In the meantime, I have decided to try and get more sleep, eat more greens and increase my meditate time in an attempt to cleanse my body of things that damage it instead of holding on to those things that keep it in a state of disrepair. Perhaps with the meds and taking better care of myself I can bring myself back from the brink of never-ending pain to that of just manageable pain…and with it a way to view life in a more positive way because I am tired of these “growing” pains.OIP-1

 

A Loving Response To My Husband’s Affair

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A dear friend of mine read Running On Empty and took the time to write to me. They were loving words, get “off your ass” words and “let’s get with it” words. I appreciated each and everyone so much so that I decided to share it with you.

…. its understandable to feel these emotions and its too early to rejoice in the future.  This future offers promise, independence and peace.  You’ve had half a decade of discontent, mistrust, suspicion, self doubt and a self image that was devastated by uncertainty and malicious evaluation from someone who saw fault in you but not in themselves.  How much more do you have to torment yourself?  When do you say, its enough.  You’re a strong enough person to realize what has happened here.
B, unfortunately, was snared by someone calculating enough to realize that she found a money pit.  Someone who with the briefest of encounters was willing to support her financially, adopt her family and support them as well and to surrender his very existence to follow a myth that she provided.
I hate to say it, but to my way of thinking, B is a temporary inconvenience for her.  She’ll live well here, if, she is, as you say, on his list to bring over, but she’d be a queen in her own country and a family matriarch if she were to go back to Vietnam a wealthy single female.  B is financially worth a lot to her but I would think as benefactor of his will and insurance coverage, even more.  I honestly believe she’s set him up as a gullible westerner who is going to be sugar daddy to her family and friends.  The age difference allows an early exit leaving her beneficiary of his fortune,  My guess is that he’ll be taking care of her family almost immediately.
All of this is conjecture, you don’t know for certain but regardless….he has his life to live….good or bad.  But be more than a bystander with yours.  Your offerings are more than just what B provided you.  Dig down and rediscover yourself.  Be Lynn.  There was another person before B, you know. Find her again.  It may not be easy but there is someone there, just look.  You’ve been a genealogist and expert on others lives… how about reading about your ancestors and realize someday one of your heirs will be looking into their history and stumble upon your name.  Show them something. Show them something good. Show them what you are made of and what they inherited from you. Make them proud but mostly make yourself proud and become who you were meant to be.
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Driving a U-Haul Across Country

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So I made it home safe and sound in record time. If we count the near misses ( the car almost falling off the tow dolly and the freezing temps when I could not find a hotel and slept in the truck) well, I guess I can count my lucky stars that I am still in one piece racing across the country like Mario Andretti.

Driving across half the United States in a U-Haul by yourself gives you plenty of time for self reflection and a lot of time to release all the hurt and anger. Mile upon mile the conversation went something like this:

‘HE DOESN’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE! GET OVER IT!!!” (add loud screaming while this was being said out loud as I passed a million truck drivers looking at me like I was nuts)

“So this is your opportunity to craft a new life for yourself…how are you going to do that?”

THAT FUCKING PRICK!!!

I HOPE SHE GIVES HIM A DISEASE!!!!

“You have got to let go of this anger. it is only hurting you.”

“Maybe China would be a good start.”

THAT ASSHOLE! HOW DARE HE REPLACE ME!!! (He will marry her when our divorce is finalized)

When he realizes our kids are probably going to move to be with me at the end of the school year then it will hit him all that he has lost due to his thinking with his dick!

“Okay…cancel, cancel, cancel….Look at the pretty blue sky…anything to get your mind on something else!”

Gosh, I can’t believe that trucker wanted my phone number…ain’t happening dude!

“NHI YOU FUCKING CUNT. HOW DARE YOU DESTROY THIS FAMILY. I GET IT…YOU WERE SELLING CABBAGE RIGHT BEFORE YOU MET US. I GUESS THE BOOKS I SENT YOUR DAD AND THE MONEY I SENT YOU WASN’T ENOUGH AND YOU SAW THAT B WAS A MUCH BIGGER CATCH. BUT YOU HAVE TO LIVE WITH YOURSELF…ONLY YOU DO AND YOU HAVE NO CONSCIOUS.”

“Okay, you can’t blame her. She was just trying to lift herself out of poverty and it was B who broke his vows to you…not her!”

Let’t try this again…concentrate…what do you want to be when you grow up and reach 70 in 11 years? How are you going to achieve it? How do you want to be remembered? What is your legacy?

FUCK THIS LEGACY STUFF! I DID HAVE A LEGACY AND NOW IT HAS BEEN TURNED UPSIDE DOWN AND BACKASSWARDS!

HE DOESN’T LOVE YOU AND HASN’T FOR A LONG, LONG TIME. ANYONE WHO HAS CHEATED AND HURT YOU OVER AND OVER AGAIN DOESN’T LOVE YOU…GET THAT THROUGH YOUR FUCKING HARD HEAD!!!!

“Okay, he doesn’t love me. So what? I am still loveable even if he doesn’t!”

“I CAN DO THIS!!!”

FUCKTARD…FUCKTARD….FUCKTARD…(must have been said 10,000 times)

“Okay, you have a lot of offer the world. What do you mean what? Well…I am funny,  persistent, hard working, adventurous, fun loving…hold a decent conversation,,,and I look hot in thigh high black boots…I mean really how many almost 60 yo can pull that one off!!!”

“Maybe a tummy tuck?”

Nipple piercings?

“Maybe now you can finish your novel…hey….that thought for a new novel is brilliant!”

SLOW DOWN FOR GOODNESS SAKES…IF A COP PULLS YOU OVER YOU WILL START CRYING AND THEY WILL PROBABLY THROW YOU IN A CELL BECAUSE YOU ARE ACTING LIKE YOU ARE OVER THE EDGE….OKAY…THAT IS BESIDES THE POINT!

“I like it…maybe joining the Peace Corps isn’t a bad idea…and look at that…an assignment in Madagascar….now that would be exciting! If you are going to have to start working again at this age it has to be meaningful work!”

And so it went for almost 2000 miles. By the time I got to my home I was hoarse from all the shouting at myself, asshole and mistress. My eyes had a permanent bloodshot and glazed look about them after all the tears. But I also had released all five years of deception, lies and destroying myself as I tried to be someone that would make B happy but couldn’t because it really wasn’t about me at all. It was about him. A man who is a coward. A man who thinks fantasy is reality. A man who didn’t tell his therapist after two years of seeing her that he was having an affair. A man who couldn’t share his feelings and blamed me for it. A man who on the second day of meeting NHI said to her as I was taking their picture together on the steps of the palace “You are going to be my second wife!”

And me? I am sad. I am relieved. Not living with a liar is a gift.  I have a chance to become whatever and whomever I want to be. I can do some really great things for myself and others that will bring happiness and meaning to my life. I get to discover who I am at almost 60 without kids, spouse, and cats. I get to lead my own parade with clowns, floats and big brass bands.

Most importantly….I got another page in my book…. and I will use it well.

 

 

 

Funny The Things We “Think” When We Leave

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I arrived back in California early in the morning. I had nothing at my home. No beds, no chairs, no spoons…no nothing… except lots of memories and heartache. This is the house where I first separated from B and the place I would leave in order to “rekindle” my hopes and dreams about our marriage. And it hurts to know that soon I will return as single person after 32 years of togetherness tricked into believing in a carefully crafted mirage. But I digress…

The only thing that was open at 12:30 a.m.  was a Walmart in a town about an hour away from my house.  I stopped. If you have ever been to a Walmart at that time of the day it is depressing. The buzz of the automatic floor cleaners greeted me while nary a person could be found. Silence permeated a place that usually roars during the hours of 8 a.m.- 10 p.m. It reminded me of the hours that teens spend locked away in their rooms avoiding their parents.

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I wandered through the aisles in a daze…on a autopilot…aware…but not really…of what I was doing. It was as if I was looking through glass…seeing the light shining through but what was behind the glass was GONE. There was nothing to look back on and no future to look towards. Just a vast empty place…the place where my heart once beat rapidly whenever I saw B. A place of comfort and security. A place that no longer existed except inside my head.

Soon I came to the aisle loaded with dishes, cups, and silverware of every shape and color. I picked up one of each thing to put in my cart and then, just as quickly, put them back onto the shelf. I just couldn’t commit to anything permanent. The bowl in my left hand seemed too weighty, too purposeful. Even though this is what I needed…TO BE GONE…it didn’t seem real and I wasn’t even sure that I wanted it to be true yet. It felt like a commitment to being forever single and baking lots of bread that I cold never consume all by myself.

“Maybe living back in my fantasy of how it once was is better than how it is now,” I thought as I fought back tears.

So I headed over to the paper goods with a mission. It’s a place full of throwaways…things to dispose of…items not to be kept forever… just like my marriage. It felt comfortable but sad. Cheap plastic cutlery, paper plates, and red DiXIE SOLO cups stared me down. I picked them up, the weight of them almost bringing me to my knees. I went to the self-check out (a very lonely place at 1 a.m.) and scanned each item checking my cart for any items left behind. All I saw was my heart, lifeless and barely pulsating….  according to B it wasn’t worth much… so I left it there at checkout #8 quivering on the conveyor belt. After bagging my necessities, I headed out the door with my twin-sized blow up mattress. It sat high in my cart advertising my new single status like a Vegas neon sign to the homeless man and his dog sitting at the cart return.

Two days later I felt stronger and headed down the mountain to Goodwill. There I found some 1980’s juice glasses, a variety of mis-matched silverware, and a nice set of four matching bowls. This I could do. It made my departure a little more real but not so real as to overwhelm me. This GONE thing was becoming more doable. Yet, I am homesick…missing my children and feeling guilty for “Abandoning” them…when I really haven’t.

Three days later I was feeling even stronger and more sure of my decision then ever. I was contemplating buying a matching set of dishes at a store a step up from Goodwill. The fact that a complete set of dishes is now a thought although not yet a reality is encouraging. For picking out a set of dishes signifies permanence to me and I have not felt quite ready to admit defeat. But each day I am stepping out and dipping my big toe a little deeper into my new life. It is a re-birth and it takes time. And this time around I want to craft a life for myself that is purposeful and meaningful in all areas of my existence…emotional, physical and spiritual. And while Goodwill is a good place to start this adventure… I know I do not want to begin with the left-overs of others. This time I will choose exactly what I need and want to nurture myself and my new beginning. I deserve to give this time to myself and I will. For I am worth it.

 

A Toast…To ME…And The “Quest”

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So, here I am 59 years old and back in school…who would have thought! Certainly not I, that is for damn sure. As a stay-at-home mom with two special needs kids; B and I let my professional license lapse as we never thought I would go back to my career. Then during his affair he kept trying to push me to go back to work because a divorce would be easier if there was no spousal support to pay and probably because he was supporting/compensating “affair woman” too. Let’s face it,  all he had done became too much for him to handle, and as he saw it, my working would reduce his burden in so many ways. Of course, I didn’t go get a job because with the boys autism issues, school interventions and all the doctor visits there was just no way to do so… but still he kept trying to push me back into the workforce even though financially it made no sense… at least until you calculated in the cost of the expensive mistress…at which point it made perfect sense.

Needless to say, this “about face” on B’s part had left me feeling vulnerable, scared and rather pissed in the face of a “maybe” divorce. No career, no livelihood … no nothing to depend on except a husband with whom we had made joint decisions for the “good” our family… decisions that he now wanted to abandon or amend. Yep, I could count on him looking out for his “affair needs” but not mine and at my age I found it to be a very nerve wracking thing to have staring me in the face. It was definitely a wrinkle I had not counted on and one which Botox could not cure.

Now that things are better between us I decided that I need to secure “my or our” future… whatever that turns out to be… and so last week I started online schooling. This program will allow me to work from home in the medical field and earn $50,000+ per year. While it is not what I am used to living on it will allow me to take care of my family should the need arise. It will allow me to help pay for college for our kids, would allow B to retire early if that is what WE choose and it will allow me to provide a decent living for myself should I find myself alone.

Starting to plan on a new career is a scary thing and goes against what the lawyers have told me. But I am feeling that I need to step out and take a risk for my own sake and safety. While I would like to believe that B and I are healing our marriage with a two steps forward one step back approach; I also know that the time has come for me to trust in myself again and to find a way to be able to be less fearful no matter what comes my way. If we stay together that would be great but if we don’t I am taking my first scary steps to my own financial independence and to relying on myself alone. And while I am still pissed that I have been put into this position in the first place, at this point in time I find I am grateful to have the opportunity to shape my own destiny even though I do not know what the future holds. This truly is my first step to letting go of fear and trusting in myself, my “maybe” marriage, and what is to come.

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So, here’s to me and the two A’s I have received on my first two tests. I’ve got this and I finally have my own back too. And with the holidays upon us I am proud to say I have given myself the greatest gift of all…leaving limbo by reclaiming my own strength. While I may have been betrayed by others, I will try never to betray myself again and instead will face the world standing in quiet confidence.

So starts a new journey and quest. This tough old broad is ready. Bring it on.

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Letting Yourself Alone Or Self-Acceptance

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I sometimes wonder why it takes so long for most of us to get to the place where we just let ourselves alone in peace. Finally, we get to the place were we no longer pick ourselves apart, engage in negative self-talk, worry so much about what others think, or put so much emphasis on “what we should be” but instead accept ourselves for just what/who we really are.

I don’t know if it takes age to know you are tired of feeling crappy about yourself or if it is finally coming to an understanding that you are done with letting others treat you in ways that you don’t deserve. I am unsure if it is a greater self awareness or just the desire to experience positive change that finally allows us to say ENOUGH! I WANT MORE! I DESERVE MORE! But I do know that as I get closer to 60 that I have come to realize exactly that…that accepting myself is one of the most important things that I can do before I punch out on life’s time clock for the final time.

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Acceptance. It’s easy to say we should accept ourselves…yet it’s hard to put that belief into practice. But I am finally learning that self acceptance involves being realistic about my good qualities and playing them up. It means giving those best parts of me the respect that they deserve. By honoring them and giving these positive attributes the opportunity to expand and grow, it is making me a better friend to myself and a better person in general.

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Acceptance also means that I reexamine my “flaws” by asking myself how they have helped me in the past. Then I look for ways to challenge my old notions and accept those parts of myself that I am less than comfortable with by giving them the opportunity to change and not by regulating them to a distant corner of my life. I let these “fixers” out so that others can see them and help me find the good in them too. Just like I accept my friends good and bad qualities it was wonderful when I began to grant that same grace to myself. Sometimes I find it helps to ask myself “Would I say to a friend what I am saying to myself? ” If the answer is no, I try to gently remind myself that negativity directed inward is not helpful, and then I find something positive to focus on instead. This is exactly how a good friend would act… they would talk you up not down. I deserve nothing less.

Another thing that has come to the forefront for me is that the concept that “Trying” to accept myself will not work. That is like “trying” to diet…I will fail miserably. It is only when I practice “seeing” myself with kindness and compassion that self acceptance can occur. And then, finally, one day I suddenly realized that my “bad” parts were okay and I finally embraced them.

Rituals can help promote self acceptance. Every morning I have taken to looking in the mirror and saying out loud, “You are wonderful just the way you are.” Somehow putting those words out in the universe makes me accountable to them and encourages me to find small ways throughout the day that make that statement true.

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I wish self acceptance came easier. I wish it came earlier. I envy those for whom self acceptance is just a natural part of their being. Yet, I am glad that this feeling of acceptance is working itself into my life now. I enjoy the freedom it brings. Freedom from pain. Freedom from so many worries. Freedom to be myself. But instead of concentrating on the “I should haves” I am now just being thankful for the “better late than nevers” no matter when they are discovered and put into practice in my life.

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Who Are You And What Do You Stand For?

I could write something profound and meaningful about the question of who are you and what do you stand for. Always an important question in my book but one I will leave for others to debate. Today, I want to ask you the questions in regards to art. Precisely, designing your own coat of arms.

Several weeks ago I wrote about how my therapist has been encouraging me to paint. I am not good at it but I am finding that it is getting those “after his affair/almost divorce” feelings exposed in a way that is finally helping me to examine them and let them go. Who knew?

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This week I decided to take on a new project. I am designing my own coat of arms. I was inspired to do so, believe it or not, because of Meghan Markel and her now husband, Prince Harry. Seems that when they married they needed to have a coat of arms designed for their household. A big task to say the least. It is said that Meghan took great pains to make sure that emblem represented who she is and where she came from. As such, California figured predominately. First, she incorporated the state’s flower, the California poppy. In addition, the blue background on the shield represents the Pacific Ocean and the yellow rays across it come from “The Sunshine State” logo.  She also acknowledged her own power of communication through the open beak of the song bird and the quill.

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In designing my own pennon, I have looked hard at myself. Who am I? What do I believe? What do I love? What represents my authentic self? And for the past week I have been designing my crest.  I am not ready to share yet but I will share with you some of the symbolism that I have incorporated.

  1. The first thing you would notice on my coat of arms is the Phoenix rising which signifies that I have arisen from the flames a winner having beaten life’s challenges and defeating the hard times. It is a concrete symbol of my rebirth as a person, female, wife and mother. Around the neck of the Phoenix is a heart with a number in the center which is meaningful to me.
  2. Instead of a traditional crest I have used an open book with symbols of what I believe contained within the pages. This works because I am an open book and share openly and freely. I also love to read and write.
  3. Within the pages of the book is the earth meaning I am a traveler and a person who sees all people as being in and on this planet together. There is also a musical note…self explanatory. The scale of justice sits high upon the crest because of my believe that we are the same and therefore the scales should be balanced for all equally. A pen representing my writing career also has its place. A symbol of Korea is also represented since the country has played such a major role in my life. And there is a very large ? showing that I am a seeker as well as a person who questions everything.

Needless to say, designing this coat of arms has been an interesting process. It has helped me clarify some things and made me look hard at what I value. Further, I have tried to approach this design as my 26th Grandfather must have approached his. Seven hundred years later his crest still stands embedded within the doorway outside of his castle reminding all that enter what his life stood for. I want my coat of arms to be the same… a testament to my great-grandchildren of just who I was and what I stood for.

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My 26th Great Grandfather’s Coat Of Arms At Craigmillar Castle

A Little Art Therapy

About a month ago my very bossy therapist (LMAO)  encouraged me to start painting. She wanted to see what emotions would emerge on paper, the colors I used, and the feelings I could name for what I drew.

“HOLD ON THERE, ” I thought. “I can’t even draw stick figures.” And so, like most things my therapist suggests, I resisted. I mean, writing comes easily but drawing….NEVER. And if I was going to invest in something; I wanted to do something I would excel at. The truth was if I couldn’t be Rembrandt I wanted no part of it. Yet, since my therapist is Miss All-Knowing, I decided to take her cue and give it a try.

Frankly, I was surprised what emerged from my hand onto the paper. The first pictures screamed in rage but as I drew I found that anger lessening with each picture. Those pictures that I was unable to express the images I felt … I found them, copied them, and then added to them to make them my own. They are rough, scary, beautiful…all of what my heart and soul has experienced during the past three  traumatic years.

And here is the funny thing. When I first started drawing I found I could not leave the words out of the pictures. Since I write professionally, I guess it should come as no surprise that words gave me comfort and a sense of familiarity that was hard to walk away from. But Miss All-Knowing insisted that I take the words out so I could no longer hide behind those words. What a struggle that turned out to be!

As much as I hate to admit it, doing all this artwork is producing a change in myself. I feel more at peace and my anger/pain has diminished.  Although I will never be a great artist there are several things that I have learned about the similarities between art and life in these few short weeks as I have explored this unused side of me and what I have discovered is this:

  1. The fewer words you use; the less explaining you have to do.
  2. Getting “stuck” in life or in art curtails the creative process. Just keep on forging ahead even though nothing fruitful appears to be emerging..
  3. Art, like life, is meant to be fun. Don’t take it all so seriously.
  4. Chances are, the more you try to fix, something the bigger mess you will end up with.
  5. Almost nothing turns out the way you expected when you first started your masterpiece.
  6. If you go with the flow and just let the colors end up where they are supposed to you will cut down considerably on your stress.
  7. Life, like paint, is meant to be free flowing, not stagnant.
  8. Leave your painting/emotions alone and come back to them later. Often you will see things in a different light later on.
  9. Less is often better in painting and in life.
  10. Trying to control all aspects of your life and your creation will often result in untold and needless suffering.
  11. Do anything enough and you will get better at it whether it be artwork or improved communication.
  12. Shut up and let your actions/work speak for themselves.
  13. Trying too hard is just as detrimental as not trying hard enough.
  14. In life as in art; have no expectations about the results.

Funny thing. While I am still not crazy about drawing and the like I have developed enough of an interest that I have found the need to learn a few of the “how to’s” of painting..  And so this weekend I attended my first water color class. While I am unsure whether this turn of events is due to the curiosity factor or my foolish need for “perfection” I am unsure; but either way I find I am enriching myself and growing beyond the artificial borders that I once set for myself… and what more could you ask of yourself?

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Veterans of War

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Last night I eyed the little old man sitting across from me in the Taco Bell. He was wearing a WWII veteran cap full of medals and although almost ancient he sat ramrod straight as if an officer might call him out for sloppy posture. In his hand was a Sudoku book and he was busy placing the numbers when he wasn’t looking around the place. Suddenly, he looked directly at me, his shiny blue eyes piercing my soul and gave me a smile that warmed my breaking heart. Then he went back to his game.

I had come to Taco Bell after sitting alone at a table in a restaurant waiting for my fellow book lovers to show up for our annual party and book exchange. As I waited tears would well up as I thought about the previous evening when B and I decided to divorce after I realized there was no hope that his feelings for me would ever change. I was devastated and contemplating life alone or, God forbid, someday dating.

Sitting there in a room full of strangers I felt more alone than I have in my entire life. Crazy thoughts of “my family would be better off without me than putting them through this ” circulated around in my brain, and although I knew I would never act upon them, tears leaked silently as I contemplated how my 30+ year marriage had reached such a gut-wrenching low. As I scanned the email to ensure I was at the right place I realized I was a week early and decided I needed to escape all the holiday merriment going on around me. That is how I ended up at the Taco Bell across the street.

I watched the old veteran for several minutes. He looked happy yet I felt a sense of loneliness cradling his well-worn soul. I decided to take a chance and invite myself to dinner. When I asked if I could join him he looked delighted. He introduced himself.

“Ken?” I asked, wishing that my soon-to-be hearing aids had arrived.

“No Kent,” came the reply. “Like Clark Kent, superhero, although I am afraid the red suit would look a little wrinkly at my age.”

We both chuckled.

Kent was 92. He had been married to Doris for 65 years and she had died four years ago. They used to come to Taco Bell and sit across from one another enjoying each other’s company while playing Sudoku. He missed her and the life they had built together.

“What is my purpose here?” he asked me soon after introductions were made. “I just want to know why I am still here and what am I supposed to do with the rest of my life. I have no clue.”

“Well, that is obvious,” I replied. “You are suppose to be sitting here eating dinner with a sad middle-aged woman and telling me the story of your life.”

And so he did. He spoke of being too young to join the war when the United States was attacked on December 7, 1941, and how two years later, on December 7, 1943, the principal of the school told all the young men that he would grant them their diplomas, a semester shy of graduation, if they would only go and serve their country. Being the good All-American boy that he was; Kent went and signed up that day.

When he went home to tell his father, a WWI veteran that he enlisted; his father told him that he would regret it, but he didn’t believe him until his first Christmas far away from home, with guns firing in the distance, with regrets that flew fast and furious like bullets around his head. On that wintry night narrowly escaping death he realized his old man was right after all. He just wanted to be home.

“When staring death in the eye, men act in three different ways. There are those who want to flee, those who cry, and those who pray. I was one of the later but if I am honest there were times I experienced all three as I fought in the Pacific,” he explained.

Kent still marveled at his first airplane ride and laughed as he re-counted his complete and utter embarrassment at getting air sick and throwing up in a hat in front of the pilot. He talked about endless days at sea and wondering if their big boat would be someone’s prize target. And he narrated the story of a fellow veteran who was in the Merchant Marine, whose ship was stopped by the Japanese, after delivering supplies to the troops. For an entire hour the enemy shined a light on the American boat until turning off the light and slipping into the night.

“Why didn’t they kill us?” his friend asked the commander.

“We were high in the water so they knew we didn’t have any supplies and they didn’t want to waste their ammo on us. They just wanted to give us a bit of a scare,” came the reply.

Eventually, Kent ended up in Saipan surrounded by water and the Japanese. He recalled how the enemy would slip into camp and night with a wire garrote and strangle an unsuspecting solider and how they learned to walk with their back to the huts so no one could attack them from behind. But by far the saddest day of the war for Kent was the day a plane load of soldiers were flying home soon after the war had ended. As the plane took off over the base personnel could hear the sputtering of the plane and watched as soldiers tried to parachute to safety only to hit the roofs of the buildings because there was not enough time for their chutes to open.  The ones who didn’t jump drown as the plane went down.

“A whole plane load of boys who had survived the war and were jubilant to be going home only to die as they were taking off. It never made sense to me,” Kent said with a far-away look in his eyes.

We spent two hours talking about the mundane: weather, walnuts (he was a farmer) and dogs and important topics like war and marriage.

When asked how he stayed married for 65  years he offered this advice:

“You wake up every morning, look in the mirror and tell yourself that come hell or high water, and am going to love this person no matter what. When you get to be my age you realize you just don’t remember those bad days but you do remember the good and the good far outnumber the bad anyway. Why hang onto bad feelings when you don’t have to?”

I told him my story. Married 30+ years, six kids, travel, building houses together and multiple moves to a man I had adored until he no longer adored me and did everything in his power to try to get me to leave. The night before, I had read him what he had written a year ago about how he loved to feel my touch and how much it meant to him. When I asked if he still felt that way he said, “No I don’t…. I’m just being honest”  which is his newest mantra. It was then I knew that it was time to end, what had been for the most part, the happiest years of my life with the person I adored most in the world. This veteran of marriage was being discharged.

“That husband of yours must be crazy,” Kent said quietly as he leaned forward and looked into my eyes. “Too bad he doesn’t realize that he’s got a good woman if she comes up and invites an old man to dinner. My wife used to do that too. Believe me when you are my age you are lonely and you appreciate someone taking the time to show you a little love and concern. But don’t worry, a nice good-looking gal like you will find love again. Just don’t waste your love on someone who doesn’t appreciate it.”

Sometimes it is amazing how God puts someone who we need right in our path when we need them which implants a beautiful facet of multi-colored lights within our soul.Yet, I have found that most of the time it is up to us to seek out for ourselves what it is that we need whether it be companionship, a safe haven or the quite assurance of a hug. For it is in the seeking that we find out what we truly need, that we become confident and brave, and it’s how we realize that we are never alone in this world even though it often feels that way.

Thank you Kent for being my guiding star last night. Your light helped to lead me out of the darkness into a world that is open to possibilities for this old broad. Your purpose in life seems fairly obvious to me…you are a beacon of hope offering your light to those that will take the time to listen.  I can hardly wait to see you next week when we meet for dinner again.  You truly are a great first “date” and you have given hope for the future.

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Middle Age Sweat

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In the past six weeks I joined a gym and while exercising is not at the top of my “fun things to do” list, it is slowly getting bearable. I try to do at least two miles on the elliptical and then at least a 1/2 hour of weights five days a week. I also hired a personal trainer who I meet with once a week to give me ideas of new things to try with my various medical issues that make exercising a little more challenging. And while I have lost a bit of body fat already I have to confess that this exercise thing is really not my cup of tea. Why? Because of sweat.

I HATE sweat. For most of my life my body has refused to sweat no matter how hard I worked it and frankly; I liked that. IMHO, sweaty people are gross. While B would have sweat pouring down his face and dripping in his eyes during the most mundane of household projects; I would look and smell like I had just stepped out of the shower. But not any more. Recently I have discovered that with old age comes sweat. Not the menopausal “TURN DOWN THE AIR CONDITIONING” kind of sweat but the honest to goodness stinky sweat that antiperspirant companies make a mint off of. Frankly, I hate it. These days doing two miles on elliptical makes my hair sweat and my eyelashes too. YUCK! To me that water is far worse than exploding diarrhea oozing out of a baby’s diaper!

These days when this nearing 60 body works out; I look like a linebacker with sweat under my arms, dribbling down my back, and sloshing between my boobs. When I sit on the seat of the quad weight machine, a sweat line from my butt appears with two flabby cheek imprints on said seat, which requires me to have to position myself in such a way that allows me to quickly grab the disinfectant to spray down the seat before anyone notices. I almost killed myself doing this maneuver several times and today I almost took out a line of jazzercisers who were prancing around near by. For me, avoiding sweat at all costs is almost as dangerous as raising my heart rate to my target zone.

I don’t see what is so special about sweat. I know a lot of men who equate sweat as akin to having sex…it is something to strive for at all costs. Yet, I have always avoided it to the point of refusing to watch those movie love scenes where the bed sheets end up looking like a swimming pool. I mean, who wants to slide around on someone else’s recently released bodily toxins anyway? Not me. And further, since the government always wants to get into our business, shouldn’t OSHA have some sort of fact sheet posted in all bedrooms so consumers know what environmental hazards we are being exposed to when sweaty skin to skin contact occurs? Shouldn’t the EPA be instructing us whether to use bleach or plain old soap after being sweat contaminated?

As you can tell, sweat is a subject that gets me all hot and bothered. It also almost deters me from grunting, running, and lifting on a daily basis. But I have hope that I can cure this aversion because today when I was gyming; I met a sweaty woman who has lost over 100 pounds. Her story was inspiring and awesome. And as the sweat soaked through her bra and down her back as she was telling me about how she lost that weight she said, “it’s no sweat off my back to come in and work out everyday. It’s really just fat off my middle.”

“Wow,” I thought. “What a strong and amazing woman…such a great attitude. She really has it all together.”

And then she stuck out her hand to shake mine. I swear that I almost broke out in a sweat at the thought of her sweaty palm touching mine.

“Oh what the hell,” I admonished myself. “Time to stop sweating the small stuff.”

And with that, I stuck out my hand and clasped hers in mine, upon which which we both quickly wiped our hands on our towels and started laughing at the near mirror images of distaste written all over our faces .

“I hate sweat,” she said.

“Me too,” I answered.

And as I walked away, I decided if she could get over her distaste for sweat enough to lose 100 pounds then I could push myself a little harder in the days and weeks to come… right after I get some antiperspirant that I can rub all over my body to minimize all that pent up middle age sweat!