(This is a LONG read so get comfy…)
At the end of my second marriage I was sitting in a financial planner’s office, when he stepped out to get a printout. My eyes shifted to the poster on his wall. 21 Suggestions For Success.
Right at the top.
1. Marry the right person. This one decision will determine 90% of your happiness or misery.
By the time the planner stepped back in the room my eyes were brimming full with tears and while a few fell – I tried to hide my face and quietly wipe the rest away. But how could I hide this gut punch. How could I hide the shift that had happened to me in those 10 seconds. I knew Item #1 on this poster was right. And I had failed at #1, twice.
Sitting there twice divorced, trying to put my life back together, I was devastated.
My heart had taken a hit twice and my pocketbook had taken an even greater hit. Twice. I left both marriages with less financially than I started, and greater financial burdens. I never married for money. It was always for love.
And LOVE was never the problem. It was just all the other stuff.
The financial planner assessment was not encouraging…time was the only healer to repair the financial damage caused to my credit by my last ex. I left there with no hope of immediate financial repair. A second punch to the gut. I left his office in a cloud of despair.
How will I ever buy a house again? How will I ever be able to give my two sons a home like we just left. A huge big beautiful new home where we got to pick out all the colors. How will I ever be able to give them or me that life, ever again?
I missed the walls in the beautiful house we just left. I would visit my neighbor across the street from my previous house and I would cry at seeing the beautiful texture of her walls. When my second marriage ended, I moved my sons and I into a rental house around the block, 1/3 the size and 40 years older than the new house we had just left. I left our new house because I could not afford it on my own so I left it in my ex’s hands, trusting he would maintain payments until it sold. Well that didn’t work out as I trusted.
After two marriages I was left with my credit destroyed, no financial security, loss of my job at Apple after eight years, and now a cumulative loss of two houses, two sets of families and 2 sets of friends…because blood is thicker than water and everyone takes a side.
But I still had HOPE.
I had hope I could take my sons, now ages 10 and 12 and move forward. Rebuild those things I had lost as it was just “stuff”. I had hope and faith all would be OK. In time. And I worked to make it so. I was able to get a job at Apple again after a couple years and things started feeling better financially. Things were looking up. Feeling better.
And I still believed in LOVE. I knew love was never the problem. I knew I could love and be loved. And I wanted to have love again. I LOVED being married. I never wanted to not be married. I LOVED family life.
After 4 years I fell in love with the man who would be my 3rd husband. Within the first month of our dating we were talking on the phone and I was sitting on my blue couch in the living room and told him, I absolutely wanted to be married again, but I NEVER wanted to be divorced again. When he called me the next day I knew I had not scared him off. We were married 18 months later.
We bought a house together. Life felt better than ever. We made our good home great with super renovations and lots of sheet rock dust and lots of money and lots of love. We made our home something very special for all of us. Inside and out. For him, me, my two sons and his young daughter. I loved our life.
Four years later my heart broke like never before.
While he was kindly helping me (over the phone) navigate on his computer to use the scanner attached to his computer – messages popped up for him that led me to see another life he was living. I had not snooped. I didn’t do anything except wake up his computer and there the messages were…from other females. Lots of messages, that absolutely blindsided me.
I spent the next 4 days (when he was away) scouring his computer to see all I could. Gain as much information as I could, so I could truly understand what was going on with him.
My innocence was over. I was devastated. I had lost all sense of a firm footing in my own home, and our relationship. If I had not seen the messages with my own eyes, I would have never believed all the betrayals to be true. But I could not deny seeing his own words, written to others. I could not deny the truth. The truth that killed my trust in him.
We separated and the divorce was final 6 months later.
Item #1 “Marry the right person”, from the poster, was playing in my head stronger than ever.
I now had 3 failed marriages and one horribly broken heart.
This time I did not have hope.
I had loved him so much. I could not just “pick myself up again” and carry on.
I felt like I had just had my 3rd strike at bat and it was time to just sit on the bench.
And so I did.
I mostly sat on the bench. Until he called me one Friday night late. And then came by. And we drank champagne and he stayed til 5 am and left before the sun came up…
A month later he moved back in.
6 weeks later he moved back out.
Insanity was truly the thread here…doing the same thing and expecting different results.
Hope was even more elusive now. It felt like a 4th divorce him moving out again.
A year later after he had a failed engagement, he contacted me again…and we went to dinner and we talked and talked and talked.
And this time was different.
I had spent almost a year in a Divorce Recovery Class trying to find hope again, or at least stop crying…and he had found the rooms of AA in our time apart, after a near death experience.
We had both experienced huge shifts in our lives and he was now almost 9 months sober. He invited me to an AA meeting with him and I immediately fell in love with AA. I loved the reading about “rigorous honesty”. My eyes welled with tears hearing all the stories of restoration within the rooms. I loved feeling hope again. I felt if we could have rigorous honesty in our marriage we would be fine. My love for him had not waned. I only wanted for us to be together.
And together we stayed.
And he proposed again and we joined a marriage enrichment course.
My sobriety started 3 weeks after first entering the rooms with him and we spent the next 14 months reunited with each other and our families. We enjoyed many events together; weddings, family and friends celebrations, gatherings of all kinds. Sober. It was different for us. Different good. Different awkward at times. Doing life without alcohol made celebrations different and at times awkward as we were both in the early stages of sobriety and we had much to learn.
During the 14 months together we traveled the US from West to East Coast, attending concerts, 4th of July in DC at the US Capital and AA meetings in cities all over the country – and finally the AA international convention in Hawaii, where our relationship was laid to rest.
Rigorous honesty was no longer the lead actor… Rigorous honesty had drifted into the background and lies and deceit and defensiveness were prominent again.
Our last day in Hawaii, when he took my hand over coffee and said “It’s not you, it’s me” I felt the fatal gut punch… I knew our final run at reconciliation was ending.
As Bonnie Raitt says “I Can’t Make You Love Me”, if you don’t.
I had to let him go. He wanted to go. He wanted to pursue whatever or whoever that might be…and so he did.
For the next 15 years he charted a course separate from mine. He lived his life and I lived mine and never the two did meet. Our communication was just a handful of times.
Last year I learned he had serious cancer and I reached out to him immediately, that very day. He died 3 days later. I was able to share “I couldn’t have loved you more” before he passed. I am grateful I was able to connect with him one final time. I am grateful GOD gave me a sign to connect one last time – before he passed away.
Today I have 16 years and 8 months sobriety. Only the first 14 months were spent with him and the other 15 years 6 months I have been alone in my sober walk.
I have dipped my toes in the relationship world (and maybe a few other body parts) over these last 15.5 years…but barely, briefly and with great hesitation.
I still feel heartbroken.
I still cry when I think about all the good times we did have.
I loved when he took my hand leading me to the dance floor when we first met.
I loved when his knees went weak when we kissed in the parking lot of the dance club.
I loved him doing home projects.
I loved him helping me do school programs and projects with the kids.
I loved his total kid like behavior of eating the cookies at open houses we toured.
I loved his knocking down walls and building a deck before my son’s graduation party.
I loved him mimicking people’s mannerisms and making me laugh hysterically. Especially his impression of Chuck from Sears air conditioning.
I loved how he asked my sons how to spell vacuum after leaving a family portrait session.
I loved the Cheerios Box Gift he gave me.
I loved how he always told me “I have great plans for us!”
I loved how he loved me, when he loved me.
My heart still breaks today…27 years after first meeting him.
So what is the cost of this heartbreak?
I have not picked up myself and truly moved on in the last 15 1/2 years.
Life has felt hard and sad.
I gained 57 pounds three years after our split and have struggled for 12 years at getting it off.
I have 40 more pounds to go.
Last night I put together a summary of the costs of my broken heart, over the last 15 years.
The costs of me not getting back up again, very well.
The costs of not pulling myself up by my bootstraps as I had always done before.
The costs of not thinking clearly because my heart ached so much.
Here’s my list….as of the 15 year mark.
$1,500,000 – Loss of home
$750,000 – Loss of income over 5 years
$400,000 – Loss on buying/selling another property
$2,650,000 – Total loss at the 15 year mark.
40 extra pounds
Horrific sleep for 13 years due to financial stress and weight gain
All I can say is thank GOD for Hallmark, AA, Country Music, Apple and my kids/grands.
So do I have another LOVE left in me?
Love is never the problem.
Love is always worth it.
Love gives me HOPE.
Yes to LOVE.
NO THANKS to a Broken Heart.
Please check back in soon..I have some great plans for ME and others I will unveil soon.
I have HOPE again. And it’s time to get back up like never before.
Stronger, wiser, gentler and kinder with myself.