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? 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. 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.