Rebuilding a life.

photo(44)There’s really no shortcut to forgetting someone.  You have to endure missing them every day until you don’t anymore. ~ Anon

Whenever a spouse is lost, whether to death or divorce, the partner left behind must build a new life.  The longer the relationship, the more difficult the rebuilding can be.

At the beginning of our separation and divorce journey, I read numerous articles and books about divorce.  It gave me something to do.  Some sources were excellent while others were a waste of time.  I devoured all of them trying to make sense of what was happening to me.  I read somewhere (I’ve no idea where.) that it takes one year of recovery for every five years of togetherness.  “Hmmmm,” I remember thinking.  “Surely they jest.  I don’t have that kind of time.  I’m in my sixties already.  I’m sure I can do it faster.”  Little did I know how ingrained my way of life and my reliance on my husband had become.

It wasn’t long before reality came calling.  Despite all my research, I could not for the life of me move it along any faster.  The fact that I am still writing about it is a small hint that I haven’t been able to expedite the process.  This past December 29 was the sixth anniversary of the D-Day announcement.  We were married for thirty years.  If I include the time we were together before the marriage, it’s a few years more than thirty.

How do I rebuild a life?  How do I go from being one of a pair of perfect (OK, not so perfect) yellow dandelions to a globe of fluff and still be sane and vital?photo(45)  I’ve asked myself these questions many times.  They are not rhetorical questions.  They are not philosophical per se.  Certainly I can and do philosophize about them, but I have truly sought practical answers and solutions these past six years.  In the grand scheme of life I don’t seem to have been very successful.

I’ve tried to do all the things the so-called experts have suggested.  I go to church, I volunteer, I have membership at a gym, I meet regularly with friends, I spend time with family — and then I go home alone.  Certainly there are worse things than being alone.  My sister and I were discussing last night the fact that we prefer no company to bad company.  D and I had become bad company for each other.

What is missing in my life, deep in my core, I think, is trust.  I can recognize now that it may have been time, under the circumstances, for the dissolution of the marriage.  But the trust issue still looms over me like a festering ominous storm cloud.  After so many years together, I had come to trust my spouse.  That was a giant leap for me, the child of an alcoholic.  I had learned early on that the only one I could trust to do for me what needed to be done was me.  If you want something done you must do it yourself rang through my head as regularly as the chiming of Big Ben.  Moving away from that notion to one of acceptance that there are people I can trust was huge.  I’m not sure I can do it again.

I have come a long way in the past six years.  I am no longer miserable, though I am often  lonely.  I am a people person and I would not have chosen this solitary life.  As I look out my window at the blue sky and sunshine after several days of gloomy weather, I find myself grinning like the Cheshire Cat. photo(46) Today, as the temperature warms the ground, dandelions will appear, and I will be reminded that a dandelion alone is a beautiful thing.  I shall stand tall today and remind myself that this dandelion has not gone to seed just yet.

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18 thoughts on “Rebuilding a life.

  1. I loved reading this. I obsessed about my divorce…”was it the right choice?”, “would I regret it?”, “doesn’t the fact I still love him matter?”…in the end, it came down to what you and your sister said- it is better to be alone than to be with someone who doesn’t make you happy or who makes you feel bad about yourself.

    Keep writing, I really felt connected to what you wrote. If you get a chance, I just started one too- I am a divorced, child of an alcoholic too, so I am also part of that “elite club” 😉

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    • I’m not going to call you donothingtaker. Is there a name or nickname I can use?

      Welcome to my blog. I am truly humbled that people read what I write. So, thank you. I visited your site briefly this afternoon and can see that despite the fact that you are much younger than I, we do indeed have a great deal in common. BTW, I’m a retired Spanish teacher. I have a group of girlfriends. There are six of us. We are all teachers, most of us now retired. Another thing we have in common is that three of us grew up with an alcoholic father. Somehow we find each other, don’t we?

      Thanks again for stopping by. I shall subscribe to your blog so I can learn more about you. Take care. Pat

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      • Thank you! I am trying to avoid my friends and family from reading my blog because it is something I am doing for myself. But…since this is technically on your page, my name is Meg 🙂

        It is funny that we have quite a few things in common. I really felt a connection when reading your blog. And thank you for checking mine out, as you can see I am just getting started. It is funny how life brings people together…I am not sure I would have made it through high school without having friends in a similar situation and I know that going through my divorce would have been so much more alienating if I didn’t also have a girlfriend going through one as well.

        Please keep writing- it is very inspirational to read other people who are brave enough to share such personal parts of their lives.

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  2. This broke my heart on so many levels. I too am a child of 2 alcoholics so I get the trust issue loud and clear. I attend Ala-Non on a regular basis so I can definitely recommend it to you. It’s a such a normal way to feel…a betrayal by someone you love is multiplied 100 times with our history. I love someone like you loved your husband and we too are not together…i never write about it…too personal…too painful…it’s as if your arm was lopped off even if it wasn’t such a good arm…In the short time we’ve known one another I’ve really come to admire you. You are so independent even if it was thrust upon you. You love so many things like reading and writing…baking…listening to your favorite authors driving leisurely to hear them in person taking in the countryside…enjoying…staying in your day. You may have lonely moments as do I but you manage beautifully with grace and appreciation. That’s not nothing lady 🙂

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    • Thanks, Susannah. I have noticed that you mention 12-stepping from time to time. I went to Al Anon for a long time. My younger sister attends Adult Children of Alcoholics. We are so battered and bruised that we never really get over it, do we? We learn to manage, to survive. I no longer attend Al Anon but I learned some wonderful life skills there and they continue to serve me well. I highly recommend it. I really appreciate your kind compliment and I give a lot of the credit to Al Anon. I think I would be floundering more than I am had I not had that experience.

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      • I’m on my way to a meeting right now. It saves me. I choose not to be direct in my postings but if you are a friend of Bill’s as they say, you’ll know right away. It saves me from falling off that cliff. I know you’ll be happier one day. You’ll see. You’ll wake up on day and realize you really are on the other side of that tall, painful mountain. Me too.

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  3. I feel there are many angles to grief in divorce. I am finding that I need to grieve each part separately, feel the pain of each, write down the pain, face it, deal with it, then put it behind me. The trouble is I keep finding more angles to grieve!!!

    I understand you completely on the issue of trust because when you have trust (which I thought I had) it wraps around you like a warm blanket. You do not have to think about it or analyze it. It is just there. When that is whipped away from you, by the very person who should have protected you, there is this huge gaping hole. And like someone who has been run over by a truck, no matter how much the surgeons try and put you back together, there will always be this scar. So this is something that widows do not have to deal with. This is where the ‘time’ they say it takes to heal from losing someone is not the same in divorce as it is in death – because there is also the trust issue to deal with.

    So hard as it is, I keep trusting in me and my own values.
    That is getting me through.

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    • The angles are endless, aren’t they?

      I have a friend who is my age. She’s a widow. She told me one time that she felt lucky when compared to a divorcee who suffers from the rejection that lost trust brings.

      Thanks for your thoughtful reply.

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      • Yes, and what do you do with the memories? Are you supposed to still look back with fondness and happiness?
        How can you?
        A widow does not have that problem, she can have all her photo albums out on display;
        and leave her wedding rings to her daughter with pride …..

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  4. Hey Pat – I understand. I grieve over the loss of trust in my life. I also had a traumatic childhood and my husband helped me to move beyond it. I placed my heart – no, my whole being – in his care. Even though we are still together, I have placed a wall around my heart and my inner being. No one is ever going to get inside of it ever again. As I clutch my heart and gaze across the wall, I grieve over that loss. But I cannot tear it down. Not yet anyway.

    Perhaps you could consider a “Golden Girls” type of arrangement. I always thought that if I ended up alone I would find people to live with because I don’t enjoy living alone. I have a co-worker in her 60’s who is divorced. She recently found a housemate – another teacher in her 60’s who was also divorced and alone. They have laid down firm house rules and schedules to prevent the common squabbles from popping up, and they are doing great. The new housemate rents out her house to pay her rent and she has money left over for fun.

    My son and one of my daughters are also doing this. They both own their own homes but are single. They both have housemates who share the expenses and they share their lives with each other. They are happy and I am comforted that they are not alone.

    I have no idea if you would even be remotely interested, but just thought I’d throw it out there.

    Love & prayers,
    DJ

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    • Hi DJ. Thanks for your thoughtful comments. “Golden Girls” is one of my favorite TV shows. And yes, I have thought of the possibility of having a house mate. The configuration of rooms in my house doesn’t lend itself to sharing in my opinion. I have plenty of space and bedrooms, just not ideal for sharing with another independent person. Still something to think about. I could sell this house and buy another. It could be a very practical solution.

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  5. Without wishing to be too personal, you always seem so lovely to me, that it is hard to imagine how you could end up on your own. I am glad that you have your children and grandchildren, your sister and a community to keep you company. You have many friends and fans out here in the Blogoshere, and I am certainly one of them. On a slightly different note, it’s snowing here so not a daffodil in sight, but still the ground and roofs look beautiful with their fresh white coating

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  6. You are so right, Pat – trust is a huge issue and though your head knows what you ought to be doing, your heart can’t always keep up. A friend has reminded me several times of what I believe was an advertising slogan: Keep your eye on the doughnut and not on the hole! In your case, keep your eye on the dandelion – they are the most persistent of weeds 🙂

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    • Thanks, Cat. I chuckled at the doughnut advise. I certainly feel as if I’m staring at the hole sometimes. As to dandelions–maybe that’s why I like that little yellow gem–it’s persistent.

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