There are many things I did to keep myself from thinking too much, from missing the company of a husband. I worked and exercised and made new friends. When you are in real estate, you have to make so many friends. It was not easy for me. I had not been put into a social setting in so long. I had isolated myself in the last few years of my marriage. I had gotten rid of my old friends. Those who still thought my Husband was the salt of the earth and our marriage solid. I did not have the heart to tell them the truth. I just could not recount all the reasons that brought me to my fortieth year alone. I once waited on a couple. They must have been closer to eighty than to seventy. They where very sweet together. After ordering dinner, she left the table and her husband called me over. He wanted to make sure her tea was not too hot. And that she had extra honey. Right after salads were served, the husband left the table and his wife called me over and wanted to make sure that his steak was seasoned a certain way. They both looked after each other. I wanted that. I wanted fifty years of a loving marriage. I had put almost twenty years in and had come up without the prize. I loved being married. I loved the certainty of it. The routine. It gave me something that my childhood had lacked. There was a safety in it. At least that was what I had told myself, during all those years, stung together like pearls on a string. Hard bits, that grow in the soft flesh of the heart. And just as surely as that pearl must hurt the tender oyster, those years caused me great pain as well. The trust lost, the love wasted on one unworthy of it. I was going to have to make changes. To learn new skills. I had not been prepared to look out for myself. But I knew at least, in myself I could trust. And I promised to never turn my life over so willingly again. For someone who had such little trust, I had bestowed much on the wrong people.
I needed to work on my most important relationship now. The one with myself. I had hidden from me. First the child I had been, and then the woman who she became. I floated and drifted and let time pass. If I was going to keep myself from making the same mistakes, I was going to have to discover why I did the things I did. I could put my faith in the hands of the wrong person, but I shunned the right ones. I did not trust them. If a man was mean or had a bad temper, I gravitated to him. It was the devil I knew. If a man was nice to me, he was not to be believed. He must be up to something, it was a trick. It came from my childhood I knew, like so many other things I dragging behind me. It was fear. I feared what would happen if I believed in the good man, the right man. He let me down, and it would be devastating. Better to pick the bad boy. Yes he would let me down, but I expected it. It was what I knew. Realizing these things made me sad. That my thinking was so backwards. I set myself up to fail from the beginning. I ticked off all the signs, all the reasons my marriage had not succeeded. I did this, not to torture myself, or to bring myself down. I did it to build myself back up. I had to find the weaknesses. To understand what drew me to the wrong men, so as not to do it again. Nothing good was ever built on a foundation of blame and so I chose to build on experience and faith. I had lost many things, but hope was not one of them.
I did not date. Not at all. I was asked, and I would fall back on that ring. The symbol as faux, as the marriage it was to represent. But it was well worth the money I had paid for it. It kept me on the right side until I could trust myself. That was something I was going to have to earn. I held myself accountable. I would not be satisfied in simply blaming my husbands. That would be too easy and nothing would have changed. I refused to see myself as a victim. I was not. I did not deserve the way I had been treated, but I had put myself in harms way and I could not be surprised by the results. It was a time for growth. My business grew, as so many other agent's did. It was a great time for real estate and I was in a booming housing market. I kept the bills paid and food on the table. It brought me great confidence. My children where getting so grown up. Amber had graduate. And moved out on her own. It broke my heart. I was happy for her. I was excited for her future, but I missed her. I wanted them all to stay children. What was I going to be, if not a wife, if not a mother? I had over twenty years invested in these people. And one by one they were going to leave me. Back to counseling I went. I had to find acceptance of so many things. We found a new relationship, my daughter and I. We went to lunch and had coffee. I grew to enjoy this new phase in our relationship. But, I knew what was coming. I could see it. The other two would be gone soon. They were already so independent. We still snuggled on the couch or in my bed to watch scary movies. But I knew my days were numbered. They were planning their escape and I could do nothing to stop them. I started making bundles for them. With things they would need. Can openers, and cork screws, toasters and towels. it was all I could do. I could make their going easier. I could give them my blessings and my love and I set my heart to doing it. Those years, spent in that marriage where hard, but the treasures were worth it. It is too bad the oyster does not benefit from that little pearlized bit of sand for which it suffers so.