And Now, the Rest of the Story

So for 13 years, I was married to a man with an addiction, and it was after my mother died, that I decided to move on. Divorce was considered taboo in my family, and now that both my parents had passed away, well, there was nothing stopping me from finally moving on to greener pastures. I had a wonderful son from this marriage, who was only five-years-old when I decided to leave. He was my main concern, but I knew at the end of the day, this was not a healthy environment for him to grow up in.

The time was before Internet dating, and I was fortunate enough to have some friends introduce me to another friend of theirs’…someone they had known their whole lives. That being said, how could I go wrong. He was funny, didn’t drink, smoke or do drugs. He seemed very nice, but as time went on, there were some red flags. He was a bit controlling, overly jealous and he had no real love for my son. Regardless, once again, I thought this was the best I could do, and definitely an improvement over the last.

But, this marriage was filled with emotional and verbal abuse. Both my son and I were victims of it. In addition, he sexually assaulted me throughout our marriage–blackmailing me to have sex with him. If it wasn’t blackmail, it was put downs or insinuations that I was having affairs and that’s why I didn’t want to have sex. I, unfortunately, did not recognize what was going on until my daughter brought home information from her health class at school and said, “Dad does every single one of these things,” as she pointed to the characteristics of verbal abuse. I literally thought everything was my fault, and I kept trying harder and harder to please him so that he wouldn’t get mad. I covered for my son–taking the garbage out if he forgot so that my husband wouldn’t yell at him. We sought out numerous counselors, all of which told him and me that HE was the problem. He would agree, say he wanted to change, but nothing changed. Then one night he accused me of having sex with my son. He accused me in front of our 12-year-old daughter, and I said, “That’s it–get out,” and I never looked back at my decision.

Yes, we had a daughter, who is actually now 17. She’s amazing–actually both of my children are. Given the circumstances that they have had to grow up in, they have beat the odds and have turned out to be just about perfect. People tell me all the time what a great job I have done and that I am a wonderful mother. I would like to take all the credit, but somehow I think it’s God’s way of giving me sunshine through the darkness.

So, that’s my story. I have now been officially divorced from my second husband for about three years. He had a girlfriend before our divorce was even final, and he’s still with her today. I often wonder if she has to deal with the same treatment that I did. I, on the other hand, have not dated at all. I’ve been busy raising my daughter, but I’ve also been scared. Scared that I don’t even know what a healthy relationship looks like. Scared that I’m not attractive to the opposite sex. Scared that I will settle again.

My daughter will be leaving for college in two weeks, and now for the first time, literally, in my entire life, I will be alone. It’s my time now to figure out who I am, what I want and then get it and become what I aspire to be.

 

 

How Did I Get Here?

Have you ever woke up one morning and thought, “How in the world did I get here?” Here we are, in our 50s–well, I’m actually pushing 60 (3 years and counting), and is life everything you imagined and more?

For some of you, life may be great. Amazing (or close to amazing) husband, loving marriage, successful children, grandchildren, mortgage is paid off or about to be…wow! Life is grand. Sure, you’ve had your ups and downs, but for the most part, you’ve been “blessed”. Which, by the way, I detest the phrase, “I’m so blessed.” Really? And the rest of us haven’t been?

Then for some of us (and I include myself in this category), life did not turn out how we fantasized it would be back when we were in our youth. I always thought I’d find Mr. Right, be happily married and ready for retirement, traveling the country, and maybe even the world, with my husband. My children would be grown, successful, and I would have in-laws that I adored and grandchildren galore.

So, I have one of the things I listed above–successful children. Or, at least one is. (“I’ve been blessed.”–UGH!) My other child is just ready to begin college, but has high aspirations and the potential to be a successful musician one day. (Yes, musicians can be successful, but that’s a discussion for another time.) Everything else–notta. I suppose I can also say I’ve been reasonably healthy, which I am very thankful for, so I don’t want to sound like my whole life has been a crap hole.

So, how did I get here? This is where I go into the psychoanalysis of me and why I made the not-so-good choices in my life. For whatever reason, I, like many women, suffer from extremely low self esteem. Why? I’m not sure (subject for another blog). As far as I can tell, my parents adored me. My parents were farmers, and they didn’t have much time to spend with me. To add to the lack of attention that I felt, my parents were quite old when I was born. My mother was 45, and my father was 51–pretty unheard of in the 1950s. Having much older siblings, I grew up as an only child.

I was fairly shy among strangers, although very outgoing among friends–often the life of the party. But, among the opposite sex, I had very low self esteem, believing that I wasn’t attractive. Part of this could have been the fact that every one of my high school friends had a boyfriend and was married within two years after high school graduation. Or, maybe I really wasn’t attractive….(see, I still believe it was me). I was the only one who went on to a 4-year university and obtained my Bachelors’ degree. Truthfully, I would have been happier to stay in my small town, marry a farmer and raise children.

So, at the ripe old age of 21, I thought I was an old maid. I was getting ready to graduate from college and no boyfriend or any prospects of marriage. Good lord, what would I do when I graduated? So, one night, I met a gentleman (well, not really a gentleman), who was interested enough in me to call me after a night of 25-cent beers, and continued to call me, until finally he whisked me off to a jewelry store three months later to pick out a ring. Wow! He must love me, I thought, and I had little to no regard as to how I felt or even who he was, but I can tell you, I wasn’t feeling love, and I didn’t know anything about him.

So why would I marry him, you ask? Please tell me that there aren’t others out there who didn’t do the same thing? You’re well-educated, smart, successful, but maybe no common sense, rose-colored glasses? Maybe didn’t believe you could do better? Yes, that was me. For better or for worse, I married a man that I didn’t love, a man who was addicted to alcohol, drugs and gambling. A man who had been married 3 times before me (yup…you read right…I was wife #4). For 13 years I stayed in this relationship, because for better or for worse, it’s what I chose, I believed it was all the better I could do and so I needed to live with it.

And later this week, the rest of the story….