Here are some personal facts: I am going to turn 51 this year. I have 2 children, a girl (30) and a boy (18). I have been married for 31+ years. We are coming to the end of our marriage. I’ve made peace with that and I’m happy about it.
I am not necessarily trying to be “self-helpy.” If something that I have experienced can motivate conversation, awareness or the sharing of ideas and information, that’s great. This posting will include some things that I believe other women in similar situations will strongly identify with.
My writing is my own opinion and observation on my life, my point of view. I am writing honestly and openly. I am not looking to lay blame or to judge. This posting will be about me personally and it’s going to be a long one.
I had a turbulent childhood. I’m not saying that it was terrible, just unsettled. I never really had a steady or sure footing. The majority was pleasant, but some of the experiences were not. In addition to the pre-determined physical traits that we are born with, certain personality characteristics are inherited from generations before us. Our personal path is forming with these traits and characteristics while we are growing up.
I’m not sure when I decided this, but the goal or purpose of my life was to finish school, get a job, get married, have kids and live happily ever after. This seemed like a neat, organized plan; working through life to get to that happy place. I graduated high school at 17, got a job and went out with my friends. I didn’t date much, but I was looking for someone who would fit into my plan. I got married at 19 to a man who was in a similar situation; turbulent and unsettled childhood. We met, started dating, moved in together, got married and became parents in a 2-year period. We were both looking for the same things at the time. We were looking for stability, first and foremost. We loved each other.
So there I am, wife, mom, working a full-time job, moving from used cars to new ones, an apartment to a house, all steps forward to the happy place. Not that I’m unhappy on this journey, my daughter is smart and talented, my husband is hardworking, my job is secure and I’m learning. I’m feeling happy and accomplished. We are blessed with a second child at, what seems to be, the right time to encourage our daughter to spread her wings a bit. My friends and family are both supportive and surprised that I have this bundle of boy-joy. One of the things I can tell you is that we didn’t know how much our lives missed this child until he came into it. I will also say that at this moment in my marriage, the rumblings of unsettlement were there. When my son came along I had a renewed sense of purpose on my way to the happy place.
I am a caretaker. I took the kids where they needed to go. I juggled the bills, I robbed Peter to pay Paul, I went to work, I shopped for groceries, I took care of the house, and I did the laundry. These are not complaints, but statements of fact. I was running the household while working and taking care of the kids. It’s become my job because I made it my job. Because of the unsettled feeling of my pre-adult years, I needed the management control of my life. I was going to steer us in the right direction. I was hoping that I knew what that was, but I wasn’t sure. All I did know is that I wanted me and my kids to do a little better then the generations before me.
The thought process that I had was that while this is hard and stressful, once my kids were raised, my husband and I will finally make it to the happy place. This state of being that will be more relaxed, settled; a state of mind where I would look back on the hard road with a smile and appreciate the calm. I didn’t expect THE CHANGE.
I’m not talking about the change that happens to women of a certain age. I’m also not talking about the event that made me appreciate my life more, although it was a contributor. I’m talking about this unexpected sense of thinking that the happy place that I had envisioned all this time might not be the place where I should end up. I was suddenly filled with an uneasiness or feeling of being trapped in a situation that didn’t seem right for me anymore.
I spent most of my adult life taking care of those around me. While it gave me a sense of fulfillment, I was tired. When was I going to feel taken care of? When was it going to feel like a partnership, where I wasn’t in charge for a little while? When was I going to feel like someone would take the reins for awhile if I let them? Would I feel safe or settled enough to let him? I realize that wasn’t the norm; it wasn’t how things were supposed to turn out or how I steered them. But I was changing; myself, my thought process, the rules of this journey, my journey. I was changing, I couldn’t help it, I wanted to embrace it, but the guilt was overwhelming. I did the majority of the changing in this relationship and I will own it. I changed the rules and adjusted to suit myself and what I wanted. Was that fair? Probably not, but I have discovered, sometimes, life isn’t fair.
While your kids are yours forever, I am coming to the time of my life where the day to day caretaking won’t be necessary. I thought that MY life was going to really start when I was through raising my kids, basking in the happiness in the happy place. The end of the raising kids part has come up fast and personal happiness seemed a million miles away.
I started communicating to my partner a really, LONG time ago that I was unhappy and disillusioned; that we were heading for trouble instead of the happy ever after. I told him that I while I loved him I wasn’t thrilled with our relationship. He would say things like, “when these kids are out of here, it’s just you and me!” It would strike fear in my heart and I wanted to run. He never took what I said seriously.
There’s a line in one of my favorite songs, “Need some action, all you get is talk.” Well, that sentence could accurately describe me. I talked, I complained, I screamed, I yelled, I didn’t DO anything; I just said how it could all be better. So, I imagine, that what my husband has heard all this time was– wah, wah, wah. Blather. Threats. Nothing really to worry about.
Something clicked. I’m not really sure when, I’m not really sure how. I’m certain that my friends around me who had been listening to me where waiting for the day I would find my real voice. I put a plan in motion. My daughter got married. My son turned 18, he is graduating high school. I wanted an exit strategy that would be painless. I have since learned there is no such thing. No nice neat little package tied with a bow and everyone will be happy. There will be pain, but its part of the process.
We have grown into two completely different individuals that want different things from this life. You can’t change who you are to satisfy someone else, no matter how long your relationship has been. We grew apart. I know that sounds a bit cliché, but it’s true. We want different things in our lives and that doesn’t make us bad people. I’m letting myself off the hook and releasing the bad feelings I have had for my partner. We both deserve more happiness and satisfaction from this life.
I’m moving on. I am moving out of my home into a space of my own. I have never been on my own. I went from my family to moving in with my husband. This will be completely new and different. I am excited. I am terrified. I am elated. I am confident. I am sad; this is a death that I have mourned for too long. It’s time to put it behind me. It’s a job well done, but it’s time to find a new job.
There will be those who will be surprised. There will be those who could see from the outside that this was where I was headed. There are those who are completely supportive of my decisions and my continuing journey. In the end, it’s what I want that counts. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – self-preservation is not selfish. Living a life you like is a concept we should all embrace. With love…