40 and Recently Divorced
(My Thoughts at That Time)
I am so glad that I decided to write this in 1984, it is only now I am looking back and reading it, that I realise just how terribly unhappy I had been for many years before I could take no more. My self-esteem was non-existent, I didn’t care about how I looked or how I lived. I awoke with a start when I was driving through an underpass one day and realised that I had been so close to purposely driving and crashing my car into the wall. It was only the thought of my two children that had brought me back to my senses sufficiently to stop myself and to slow down. From that moment I knew that I had to take some action to escape the hell I was living in.
I should say that after a few years of being alone following the separation from my husband, I got together with a wonderful man, who was supportive, loving and kind and when he died 16 years later, I felt really upset that we had never married. In the time we had together our lives were full of friends, laughter, fun, music, travel and affection, leaving many happy memories for me today.
If questioned, I would therefore advise anyone in a bad relationship to get out of it, no matter how difficult it might be to do so, to give yourself chance of a decent and happy life thereafter.
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At last the door stands ajar, with shafts of watery sunlight lightening the dingy carpet that needs a shampoo.
I gaze through the windowpane, still smeared from being too hastily cleaned on a dull winters’ day. The weak sunshine is uplifting and long awaited. Summer was a long time coming this year, as day followed dismal day, cold, wet and ever depressing.
Everything in the garden is now luscious and green from the interminable rain. No colour can be seen anywhere. All the shrubs are much taller than usual, reaching to the sky to help release the sun from its prison behind the thick wall of grey and black clouds that seemed to be hovering for months.
The tightness of my skin and the tingling of sun-touched flesh make me feel good all over, after a day’s hard labour in the garden. It takes very little encouragement for the weeds to spring forth from the still cold ground and greet the welcoming warmth of the sun’s rays reaching down to them. They too have suffered because of the long winter.
No buds or flowers can be seen bulging and bursting forth. No bees can be heard humming whilst they gather the nectar of the flowers. It is the last week of June and the first of real summer.
I sit, wearily, empty cup in hand. The tinkling tones of the radio playing to itself as usual do not interrupt my thoughts. Everything is still and I am alone.
I keep going over in my mind what might have been, what is now, what will be and what will never be again.
The future will be different; things have to change in my life. I have changed. I am not the same person I used to be. I will grow and move on like the plants responding to the start of a new season, to germinate and burst forth into beautiful flower. They say life begins now, I hope there is life for me soon, away from here with its wretched memories. I do not seem to have been happy for much of my life,
You may look at me and wonder why. I appear to have had so much others envied: a husband, a thriving business, a large house, luxury car and two beautiful, intelligent children.
I always appeared happy and laughing, but don’t be misled, inside I was screaming. It was my public face; all forced, only what I wanted to be seen.
Married to a man I no longer liked, let alone loved and respected, working every hour god sent, getting up tired and feeling very, very old despite my still youthful years. Resentful of others’ apparent freedom to take holidays, not work on Saturday, and take days off when they felt like it and to stay in bed on Sunday without feelings of guilt. Not to have friends, good close friends to laugh with and share the good and bad moments, not just acquaintances who have problems of their own.
Not to be able to pamper myself in the bathroom or hairdressers without rushing around or feeling I was wasting time. To have to ask if I could buy a new pair of shoes or some new underwear, not daring to buy anything that was frivolous or un-functional. Not to know exactly what was in the drawer or under the stairs or where there was a needle to sew back the button missing for six weeks. And the unceasing rows !
Being told I was stupid so many times, and beginning to believe it must be true.
This is the life I had for 20 years. Now I am free.
What I have now is peace and inner tranquillity, but at the same time moments of intense fear of what the future holds and the worry that I will not be able to cope on my own for the first time ever.
But change is happening, my life is beginning to fill up again, slowly, but this time with things and people I want.
I can now drive peacefully home without worrying what to get for dinner, I bought the freezer my husband deemed an unnecessary expense, so unexpected guests are always catered for and welcomed and I don’t have to rush around to the shops in my lunch hour.
I now talk to my teenage children and am even invited occasionally to join them and their friends. I think they now feel I must be human after all. I am beginning to learn what type of people they have grown up to be and am very pleased that my unavoidable neglect of them from an early age has not resulted in difficult teenage years. They are both helpful, caring people and great fun to be with socially and at home when they will even jointly cook a meal, but leave me the washing up, of course.
I am beginning to cultivate a few friends, some new but some old, friends who have stayed away during my marriage for various reasons.
I had often heard it said you find out who your friends are if you are in trouble and that is certainly true. I have had some pleasant surprises.
I now have time to read, sew and knit, go to concerts or theatre, I have even gone back to my long lost love of singing for pleasure and intend to take a few lessons in the autumn to help me sing better and enjoy it more. Thus the opportunity of more lasting friendships presents itself because I am making the effort.
Not for me, the pubs, dance halls, discos and clubs a quick and easy place for a pick-up or one night stand. I’m not ready for that yet but I do admit to enjoying the flattery and blatant propositions I am receiving. One day I might feel able to accept one of the many offers of a date coming my way.
Even female acquaintances are genuinely complimentary about the new me. My hair has been cut short and it’s amazing what ten minutes with the make-up bottle in the morning can do. Ten minutes, I never seemed to have before.
I look and feel younger, overweight still, but who cares, while the compliments are still flying. My health is good.
I only wish that the affairs I was accused of enjoying for the fourteen years I was a virtual slave, had been real, perhaps then I wouldn’t feel so empty now and I would have someone close with whom I could share the lowest moments of my life so far.
All I want now is to move house, when the kids have left school and get myself a job of the standing I had before my marriage and to mix with a better class of person than the rubbish end of the population I have been forced to deal with every day. Some I knew were muggers, junkies, murderers, child molester’s, rapists and I do not want to have to lower my standards as I have for years to serve them on their level.
Like I said, things will change. I have. I’ve been down and there is now only one way to go and I intend to get there.
I never said I was perfect, I just want to be the best there is and for people to look up to me as they did before I said those fateful words, ‘I do’.
I know I can do it, and I will.
AND I am certainly not stupid.
I am here today only because of a wonderful caring doctor who sat me down one Thursday afternoon and made me talk. He listened, I talked; he talked, I listened. Together we worked out that life is precious and that is why I am able to write my thoughts today so you will know who I was, who I now am and who I will be.
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