On Friday January 19th, 2018, it will be 1,000 days since April 25th, 2015, when my husband ended our marriage. A marriage that lasted 13,688 days – or thirty-seven years, five months and twenty-three days. (Not including how long we knew each other before then.)
1,000 days seems a good time to stop and take stock. Where am I at this point in my life? What have I come through? Where am I going?
I’ll be honest, the first four hundred days were sheer hell. About 150 days in, I can remember sitting in my rental apartment, wondering how much longer I could survive the emotional pain. I wasn’t sleeping, had no appetite, and the weight was dropping off me. How long until I started feeling normal again? I asked friends who’d been through something similar. They couldn’t – or wouldn’t – give me a time frame, but assured me I would get through it. My grief was so overwhelming I wasn’t sure I could cope with such uncertainty. But I just kept putting one foot in front of the other, and chose a place in the river if the pain became intolerable.
And yet… and yet… some amazing things happened to me in those 150 days. I discovered a strength I didn’t know I had. I found myself a lawyer and apartment, and my friends and family rallied around me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. It was spring, so I was able to walk in the fresh air every day and watch nature turn into summer. (The dramatic weight loss might not have been healthy, but it looked good!)
I reckon I had a nervous breakdown about 300 days in. My brother and sister opened their homes to me, fed me, talked to me, walked with me and let me cry. That was probably my lowest point. I’d experienced my 60th birthday, 38th wedding anniversary, Christmas and New Year without him. This was real. There was no going back. The ugly truth of my husband’s lies and deceit had been revealed. The settlement was dragging on and I was lost in a fog of despair.
And yet… during those 300 days, I concentrated hard on eating well and walking at least 10,000 steps every day, so I was physically healthier than I had been in decades. I’d given a workshop at a conference that was so well received, someone tweeted that my workshop alone was worth the whole conference fee. I’d started travelling, and attended a wonderful music festival where I stood under a night sky blazing with stars while a friend commented how blessed we were to experience such beauty. She was right.
Most importantly, my daughter had a gorgeous baby boy.
Days 400-700 were a little easier, but still held challenges. I was fortunate enough to be able to take another couple of holidays with a good friend. I decided to say ‘yes’ to every invitation I got, as long as it was safe and I could afford it. That attitude resulted in me having some great experiences and making new friends. I bought an apartment, and after almost 40 years of not making any major financial decisions, discovered the process wasn’t so intimidating. Not when you’ve got great people helping you.
Day 468, we signed the settlement papers.
Day 681, the divorced was finalized.
Days 700 -1,000 – I started to find my new normal. I was sleeping. The weight was creeping back on – sigh. I was still travelling. Although I continue to have fears about my financial future – who doesn’t – if I’m careful, I reckon I should be okay. My concentration isn’t fully back, so I can’t indulge my previous passion for reading, but I’ve been to the theatre more in the past 3 years than for a long time. My friends and family have stuck with me, and they are amazing.
On the days I pass my ‘spot’ on the river, I feel a huge relief that it never came to that, but also anger that the man I loved could hurt me so badly I would even consider taking my life. Three years on, I now know he would not have been worth it.
Moving forward, I need to concentrate on my health, my family and friends, more travelling and get my career going again.
I need to accept that I may never totally get over the sense of loss… and that’s okay. It means I cared. My marriage was important to me. I loved my husband deeply, and though I may have been somewhat naive, love is nothing to feel ashamed about.
I believe I am through the worst of it. Way back at the beginning of all this, I never thought I would have a good day again, but my current reality is…I have way more good days than bad ones. So my friends were right. It takes time. No-one can give you a schedule to heal to… but you’ll get there.
Starting on Day 1,015, I have an adventure planned that I have dreamed about since I was 15 years old. It’s something I never could have done in my ‘old’ married life. I’m excited about it, terrified too – as I’ll be doing it on my own – but trying to focus on being excited.
If I pull it off, I’ll let you know!