A super-special guest post from the sister of our heart, Susan.
We love her so. ❤
How My Life Began (Again)
When my husband of 16 years left me to be “alone”, I was absolutely devastated: more so than I would have imagined. Problems and disconnects in our marriage had been an ongoing issue since a tornado in 2006 destroyed our dreams. But we had finally reached a point in our relationship where we agreed that there was a problem and we needed to fix it. We decided to relocate back to Montana where we were both from. For the first time in five years, I had genuine hope for our future. I believed in him, I believed in us.
Three days after his truck pulled out of our driveway, I got the dreaded phone call. He hadn’t thought of me or missed me since he left our house. To him that was a sign. He was certain he no longer loved me as a wife and wanted to just be my friend. For a couple months, I begged, pleaded and cried for him to give us a chance. He insisted it wouldn’t work.
It truly hit home, when he called me and told me about a woman he met. The way he described her, the happiness in his voice, was absolutely sickening. The reality of the situation began to penetrate the fantasy world I had built around my heart that this was just a phase he was going through.
I cried myself to sleep every night for over two months. I went to work, I came home. I stocked the house with food my two children could prepare on their own, so that I could disappear on the couch in a movie, or in my bedroom in tears. I tried drinking for a bit, but it didn’t help. My bed (and my pile of clean laundry on his side of the bed) became my sanctuary of desperate sadness.
Eventually, I added hiking and running to my list of depressed sanctuaries. I would walk through the woods, crying my eyes out, pushing myself harder and harder. A fast walk became a run. I broke my toe in the middle of a three-mile trail and had to hike myself out. I tackled every house chore on my own with determination, bitterness and resolve. Every time I succeeded, it helped me create a new exterior and reshape my interior. I became a bad ass.
My heart was now surrounded with a new attitude: “she believed she could, so she did”. But I took it one step further: no one can do it better than I can. This became my armor. If I could do everything on my own, then I would need no one. Depending on no one meant that I would never be hurt or let down again. I used my new attitude to drop over 20 pounds, become a better mom and move myself and my children across the United States to the state I have always wanted to live in: Washington. I landed a fantastic new job and secured myself in that job within two months of employment. And The Bad Ass was still the boss.
And then I met Andrew. Eight years my junior, Andrew was full of life: confidant, slightly cocky and gorgeous. We met when he slid on the stool next to me at the bar one night. My friends and I were there on a bit of a man-hating mission (one of them had just gotten dumped). Andrew started conversation with me, and he stayed by my side for the rest of the evening. I gave him my number, thinking it was the last I’d see of him.
He called me four times the next day. Our first date happened two days after we met. It was an adventure in climbing down a ravine to a secluded swimming spot on the Pilchuck River. It isn’t a secret place, so there are usually many people enjoying the gentle current of the swimming area. The spot is worth the difficult hike and set the tone for the rest of our relationship.
Andrew pushed me to the limits of enjoying life. He was a surprise in many ways. He had a memory for details that paralleled my own. He personified “life in the moment” drawing my attention to the spectacular in the even the most mundane moments. From floating the river to a magical moonlit walk in Seattle, he helped me see how the darkness can lead to light, beauty and romance.
Like a candle in the night, he illuminated the beauty within The Bad Ass. He reintroduced me to laughter and happiness. He made me his queen. By exposing my vulnerabilities in a blanket of trust, he revealed my true self. He loved me. His love broke through the armor and opened my heart. Suddenly life was full of possibilities; the future existed.
As our relationship grew, Andrew opened up to me as well. He exposed his past, his pain and his loss. I loved him through all of the hard truths; through some of his hardest moments. Lost in his darkness and with a desire to shield me from his inner demons, he chose to block my light and walk away.
Sadness seeped into me again. The Bad Ass lectured The Queen about the decision to allow someone to hurt her again. The battle between them raged within for some time. The Queen was reluctant to release her king, believing he was responsible for her happiness.
Happiness comes from within. It took my reaction to two opposite events to teach me that. My husband left because he didn’t love me. Andrew left because he did. The Bad Ass was necessary after such a devastating life change. I needed to be completely self-reliant after being abandoned by my life partner. The Queen was revealed through love of another human being, acceptance of his flaws and recognition of the potential within each of us.
Over a cup of coffee and my journal, I realized that my life has finally begun . . . again. The things I used to love to do have returned: quilting, scrapbooking, reading. I have written in my journal every day this year. The Bad Ass forgot how to enjoy life because she needed complete control.
Despite Andrew’s inner conflicts, he taught me to embrace and value myself. He reminded me that my children are blessings. His belief in me was the mirror I needed to see my own worth. Life is about balance. The attitude of The Bad Ass is a necessary part of who I am, but I must acknowledge my heart as well. Queens are strong and loving. I had discovered how to conquer a life I had lost control of. But it took exposure of my heart and falling in love to remind me that battling through is not living. The only way to live life is to love it.