I woke up this morning and as I lie in bed with a smile on my face, and warmth in my heart, I realized just how far I have come from the sad days that preceded my separation and divorce.
I know the holidays are a difficult time for you. They were for me those first few years. I had hoped to try and brighten your day with one ounce, of realistic perspective on the things you may seem to be paying attention too right now.
A few years ago, I can recall being at the grocery store just before Thanksgiving. The stores were jam packed with mostly women, busily and intensely cramming their shopping carts with all the traditional fare the holiday calls for. I remember purposefully observing many of these women, looking down at their ring finger to see if they would be spending Thanksgiving with the “ideal”- mom, dad and kids intact. A twinge of envy would nip at my heart when I envisioned these women’s holiday ahead. Waking up in the arms of the man they still love, the man that loves her back. Happily making her way to the kitchen to begin the hours of preparation for the beautiful meal ahead. Soon, the sound of waking children’s voices ensue and complete the Hallmark moment… STOP! *******INSERT LOUD RECORD SCREACH HERE!!!!*******
I remembered being one of those women…for years. But not quite the way described…
The reality was, after the “honeymoon phase” (which was not that strong to begin with) wore off, and towards the end of my marriage when we all still lived under one roof and my husband and I still woke up in the same bed… that same trip described above to the store, really felt like this:
It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I’m just now going to the grocery store for the dinner I’ll prepare tomorrow. I wake up and turn to look at the stranger lying beside me. A wave of emptiness washes over me as I try and feel an ounce of excitement and gratitude for the next day. Slowly I get out of bed and as I do, stumble over some toys on the floor left behind from my youngest son. I make my way downstairs to make my coffee and notice how very quiet the house seems. I feel a bit disassociated with my own body in the silence and loneliness. A slight resentment begins to build as I finalize my shopping list for the dreaded trip to the store. I think to myself “so he gets to sleep in, while I trudge to the store to shop for and then prepare the entire meal, by myself.” I work just as hard as he does, I think to myself feeling more annoyed. When I finally make it to the store, I catch myself waiting in lines and observing the woman there, without rings on their left finger. I’m slightly jealous at their exciting, carefree, single independent lives….
Anyone following me here? I’m trying to show you perspective, and how often our own, can be warped and distorted.
Thanksgiving is about gratitude. It’s about finding happiness in “what is”. And when we appreciate what is good, somehow more of it seems to show up.
You can be that woman in the first scenario. You can be married to a man. You can have the white picket fence, the dog, and the kids. All under one roof. Will that ideal alone, make you happy and fill your soul? Sadly, you will still feel very lonely in the wrong partnership, and unfulfilled … looking back, would you still want to wake up the stranger in your bed today, tomorrow and next year? Just to preserve your ideal vision of “what should be”.
Yes, the “ideal” is well… ideal! Who does not want to wake up the day before Thanksgiving to the person that fuels our soul, with a family still intact? Would be great to whistle on the way to the store to pick up all the items you’ll need, to lovingly prepare a beautiful meal for your perfect and appreciative family.
Don’t linger in sadness over what you wanted your marriage to be like. The bottom line is, it was not the way you wanted it to be. And when we come to
that realization, it is sad. It is disappointing, and isolating. But so is staying in this same “union” for 20, 30, 40+ years of your life…like many of those woman I saw, you see… shopping for Thanksgiving for their seemingly beautiful life back home, were.
You have a second chance! For some, maybe a third or more… for your “ideal”. And because you are older and wiser now, that “ideal” albeit special, will be more realistic and based on more realistic expectations. Don’t look at what “was”- or do, because really, was it that great? What are you truly mourning right now? Ask yourself.
Today is a day of gratitude, for not only what is, but for what your future holds. And you are in control of this next chapter and with that, another chance at falling in love, all over again and living that “ideal”. Be grateful today, that when one door closes, another opens. Be excited about the possibility of what is behind that door. Whether you open it today or next year, it is there for you!
And yes, this outlook comes from walking through where you are now and being very honest with myself… and yes, there may be a special new “someone”, tugging at my heartstrings this Thanksgiving…J