Today is December 29, 2016–my 47th birthday. It also marks the end of my second year of freedom. Well, maybe not freedom yet, but I am getting there. At any rate, I am more free than I was 2 years ago.
On December 30, 2014, I left my 13 year marriage. While not entirely responsible for it, that decision began an avalanche of change that was, for me, excruciating. That choice was the healthiest thing I could’ve done for myself. My marriage was like having an anchor tied to my waist and I was drowning. The moment I walked out the door, the anchor was liberated and I could breathe again. If you have ever been trapped underwater and completely disoriented, that first breath of air is–how do I even describe such relief? A miracle? A godsend? Euphoric? All of those things. I was terrified and giddy. But that choice was just the beginning of nearly unbearable growing pains because my roller coaster ride was about to get really ugly.
My marriage was just the first loss. I also lost my stability, my income and the home I had lived in for 11 years.
During the last and dying year of my marriage, I got sick. I was sick, all day every day for 8 months. I was having a lot of digestive problems and intestinal distress. Migraines were a regular occurrence, usually 4 or 5 a week. I was inexplicably gaining a lot of weight (about 50 pounds). Insomnia robbed me of any sort of respite from the suck that was my existence. And I was stiff and in pain pretty much all the time. I was also incredibly depressed. I was convinced, as was my family, it was nerves. My marriage had been over, I think, for a long time and I was just staying way too long at the party. Our finances were a disaster. Everyone was threatening to sue us or take away our house. I was miserable. He was miserable. It was not a healthy environment. After I left, I finally went to the doctor. I know, 8 months is a long time to be sick and do nothing about it. But, I can be stubborn. Really stubborn. After listing my symptoms, she knew immediately what it was and just had to test me for the antibodies. She was pretty sure I had celiac disease and told me I would need to adopt a gluten free existence. That was the next loss. My diet. Every food I loved. Bread, pasta, bread, cake, bread, cookies, bread, crackers, soups, anything breaded or batter-dipped. Did I mention bread? We had eliminated most processed foods, but that wasn’t enough. I was going to have to completely revamp my culinary repertoire. Great.
For about 7 years prior, I had been working farmers markets. At first I sold art, hand painted glass and jewelry. Later we added starter plants for the garden and then vegetables. The last two years, we gradually added a variety of cakes, breads and cookies and stopped trying to sell my art. We needed the money so I took it upon myself to work an ungodly number of hours every week (about 60-80) just to pull in an extra $200-250 per week. The vendors at the markets became an extended family for me. I looked forward to seeing, hugging and talking to them each week. Working a full time job meant that I had to drop the market scene. At least for a while. That was another loss. Two seasons since then and I haven’t been able to get back.
There was a lot of loss for me in that first year, but also a lot of gains too. I found a job I love. It’s retail and I never thought I would go back into retail–I was hoping for something using my degree–but there I am. I love the people I work with (most of them). I have made a lot of friends I wouldn’t otherwise have. I am gaining financial freedom that my marriage destroyed. I am not there yet and it may be a while, but I am baby-stepping my way out of my financial hell. Even though my apartment has become somewhat of a hell, when I first moved in, it was like my own piece of heaven. I could breathe, I could relax, I could just be. And it was mine. I lost about 30 pounds in the first six months. My health was getting on track and I was feeling so much better. My confidence that was pretty much non-existent came back. I feel good. I got promoted at my job. I started painting again. This year I actually started dating again. So that’s it in a nutshell: 47, divorced, employed, mom to 3 kids and just beginning to negotiate life and thrive again.