Make Happy and Glad, Out of Lonely and Sad

I’m not sad or lonely. I’ve been marathoning episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. Living vicariously through their life and death dramas, loves, passions, the insanity of being real people in intense circumstances.

I write to you about my past, want to pay it forward…after I discovered what happened to me, my marriage of over forty years. Why and how, even when it went haywire. How, desperate not to be lonely and sad, I let go and began to redefine myself and my life. I published a rebellious memoir, LEAVING YOU…for me.

But now it’s late now. I got up to go to bed and caught myself smiling as I went to fill my water glass. I love that I can do whatever I want, whenever I want. It is the bonus of being single.

Sixty-nine. Single. What the hell. I got this.

“I’ve never done this before…whatever I wanted,” I whispered as I walked up to my water machine, still smiling.

But the relentless voice in my head, the one that remembers more about me than I do whispered back. “Yes, you have. You had an awesome childhood. Ran free in a neighborhood with friends and no fences. Had great parents.”

So, then I wondered when had I stopped running free? I’d been daring and defiant, had to be to marry the boy I was madly in love with. I was seventeen and my dad and mom wanted me to go to college, have a career. To wait.

I didn’t want to wait. I wanted him. That must have been how and when it happened so quickly…that wanting him to want me as much. He made me work for that. Never easy. I stopped wondering what I wanted and tried to anticipate and become everything he ever wanted.

I think that’s how it started. My best guess, at any rate.

Then, I forgot to remember who I was. How it felt to be free. Being loved back was all I wanted. His approval. My parents proud that I was a good wife. My sisters shaking their heads when I cooked, cleaned, did laundry…even ironed. Mumbling that they never thought they’d see the day.

“No. It was more complicated than that.” I said this aloud so both me and the voice in my head heard it clearly, as I pulled back my sheets and lowered the blinds.

I’d still been independent and defiant in the beginning of our marriage…that night he didn’t call or come home from work until late. Very late. After work, I’d made dinner, but he said he couldn’t wimp out and tell his friends he had to call his wife.

I know now his girlfriend wouldn’t have appreciated it at all. But I didn’t know about her then. He was yelling at me. Telling me I was selfish, didn’t think of him, how hard he worked, how much he needed to let off steam sometimes, what it was to be a man. He wasn’t going to be pussy whipped and he was not going to argue with me. Ever. His mother and father yelled with hatred at each other.

“I won’t argue like that. We’ll just get a divorce and get it over with,” he said before slamming the bedroom door.

I think that was the night it began in earnest. I’d had to choose. I’d chosen us.

It was the birth of a codependent. Me. It’s how we begin. I wonder if it would have been the same if he had been capable of loving me back? Not marred by an abusive childhood, the genetic threads of narcissism inherent or created that rewire neurons to bypass empathy.

Now, I’m free, have a great life albeit alone, yet in moments of discontent I wonder what is it I want now? Then admit I’m afraid to want something I can’t have. I have enough regrets. Have seen enough disappointment in his eyes…in my own, to last the rest of my life.

On quiet nights I watch another writer’s vision of conflict and affection, lust and love on serial TV shows. And I talk to you. People who will never hear my voice. People who stop reading when their phone rings or the bath is ready to overrun.

Yet in spite of it all, I’m not depressed. This is better than my life with the man I once loved and lived for. I’m relieved and happy I left him.

I’m determined to make it…my life, better, and most of the time it is spectacular. Just sometimes, once in a while I wonder where I went for so long…before I remember to be happy…my feisty, daring, smiling self is back, and suddenly I know exactly what I want.

This…what I have in this moment when I’m focused on the wonderful-fulfilling things and people in my life. A focus with the force to quell those flashes of loneliness and regret. I want happy me to rule with squared shoulders, a benevolent and genuine smile…even when I’m alone.

Especially then.

No worries. I got this.

2 comments on “Make Happy and Glad, Out of Lonely and Sad

  1. How long did it take you to start feeling the moments of joy, contentment? I must still be somewhat in a dissociative state or suffering from cognitive dissonance. Intellectually I can spot a good moment. I can experience the gratitude. I can see the progress. I rarely cry anymore. I know loneliness is playing a part cause I self isolated so much during and haven’t yet had the energy to rekindle all those relationships I lost. I work towards it, slowly. Right now the focus is my kids. But deep down I guess I have a fear that I will be stuck in a cycle of numbness. An outsider looking in. And that fills me with regret and overwhelming despair. Cause my kids are growing and I don’t want to accept less than truly joyous connected meaningful experiences with them. I don’t want to miss those moments. I want to intellectually will myself into that state but something is blocking it. Any ideas of what? Or how long before I would truly start feeling myself, the fire, the passion, the gratitude, the contentment again ?
    Ex narc is NOT the father of my children and I have been No Contact for months and for months before that only intermittent short interactions. It’s not him I miss, I miss me. And until I find me, I can’t possibly consider dating or expecting to find a partner or companion that would ease the loneliness. I fear that part of my life just may over.

  2. Hello Shauna, If it helps at all…to respond… I have to take myself back to where are now. I’m having the absolute time of my life…but more on that later.
    I remember the numbness vividly, when spotting good moments was like catching flashes in the dark…bright, but brief and no matter how hard I chased or tried to cling to them, they they were flighty. I wonder now if numbness was my autonomic system standing sentry, guarding me as I moved through the stress, fear and loneliness. Too many people swell with anger, wanting justice, & revenge to make them stronger. Numb is better. You’re healing.
    You’ve taken action, are committed to moving forward and that’s huge. My biggest surges forward happened each time I faced a new challenge.
    We don’t just leave them, we leave our life and lifestyle. Our mind imagines us with the people, places and friends we left behind. We feel disconnected from our life and it does feel like we’re lost. Searching for ourselves is exhausting, but we buck up, put on a smile for our children because none of this is their fault…and yet doing this makes it even harder to maintain forward momentum. We can feel stuck. Spinning our wheels. Sometimes it felt like I was doing this so alone, stranded, and no one was looking for me, no rescue on the way, because I pretended to be fine.
    Thing is…I just kept walking, bandaging up… I sucked it up at first, “Fine. If I have to be alone and single, I can do this.” I thought I was testing myself when I finally did date (after my first year out).
    Hindsight is better than a pair of binoculars, because I can see now, that I needed validation at that time. To be wanted, desired. I thought that would drive the loneliness away. It wasn’t…isn’t what put me back together, but did kick me out of a rut or two…or three. LOL
    It does not come together at a steady pace, either. I started getting out…attending Meetup groups helped me make new friends. I wasn’t looking for a date, but have met the most amazing women. There are legions of us out there, single, working on putting our puzzle back together one piece at a time.
    Then my ex’s girlfriend moved in with him. It felt like an invasion. She was in my closet, bath tub, kitchen, and on my side of the bed. I stuttered a bit, receded a few steps, but realized I didn’t want to trade places with her. I began to consciously enjoy the freedoms being single possesses…Even loneliness is better than loneliness with a side of rejection, right? I make a bit of a ritual of my first cup of coffee…take it on my deck, even if I have to bundle up. I set my alarm so I don’t miss sunset. Things like that seem simple, but are important.
    Each of these moments were pieces of my new puzzle…recreating, redefining who I was becoming. My new life … piece by piece began to come together.
    Then a year later our oldest son was getting married in Cabo. I was going to spend a week in the same hotel as my ex and his new wife. I didn’t recede a step or two, I fell smack on my ass. I scrambled to look as good as possible. Didn’t know my self confidence was under me when I bottomed out. Shattered it like cheap glass. I had a few really bad days. It was dark again.
    But I was better at navigating the darkness. Lighting matches. Finding my way back. By the time I got to Cabo my puzzle began to come together. I had more fun with my sons, my grandchildren (especially the few in their 20’s) We laughed, walked downtown for massages, visited in the hot tub. My best friends, (Jo and Chrissy in my book) came with me…insurance against the awkward moments of a single wandering around. Seeing my ex was a lot like a high school reunion when you run into the kid who bullied you. We’d grown up…I recognized him as the bully, but I wasn’t the intimidated little girl anymore. It was easy to say hello, to stand next to him in the wedding photos. I’d grown up since he bullied me. I know I sound a little nutty…but it’s like that for me.
    When I stopped obsessing over being single, I began to see how exhilarating my newfound freedom really was.
    It will come for you, too. Unfortunately, you’ll earn it…but trust me, it’s so worth it.
    I worry just a tad that I’m a runaway train…having so much fun and fulfillment being single, I almost want to warn the man I have a date with Saturday night that I’m not the marrying kind. LOL
    My best to you. Your image … your new puzzle is going to be amazing.

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