Love is so many things. It is exhilarating, exciting, energizing, and sometimes confusing as hell. That’s just part of the fun. When you are young, that kind of energy is what you want. The roller coaster is welcome. You have the energy for that. I remember it well. It was fun.
One particularly fun moment for me was after a BYU football game. I had gone with my roommates, 5 other girls my age. I was barely 18, but had passed for 20 plus for years, due to my height, curves, and overall maturity. (Okay, I was boring for the most part, with interests in opera, literature, classical music, and learning, in general). But guys thought I was interesting.
We walked toward home after the game. As we walked, we heard someone running toward us from behind. It was a guy, of course. We turned around as he yelled, “Hey, wait!” This was the funny moment when my roommates looked at me, rolled their eyes, and left me standing there, alone, waiting for this guy to catch up. They were very entertained by the way college guys took to me. I was too. It was all new and exciting.
Yeah, he was hot. He was gorgeous and muscular. He was a cheerleader, no less. But…he was so in love with himself, there was no room for me…lol!
No matter, the rollercoaster was fun. Hot dates, great make-out sessions (sometimes), another date or so, then finding a new guy. Rinse and repeat.
No one has the energy for that at my age. Okay, maybe if they don’t have kids or a body that has lived through years of trauma. Or maybe they don’t have to finish school to attempt to find good, stable work. I have no idea. That’s just not my story.
What is slapping me in the face today is this:
Love in Middle Age is Wonderful. However, it doesn’t fix any of the Big Harm and Loss of the past. “Duh”, you say. And yes, I’ve been to years of therapy. I’m not talking about that.
The man I am with does a pretty bang-up job of loving me. He’s not perfect. But he does his best and it’s working. His attempts are better than anything I’ve experienced. So, I’m not complaining.
But, his love, no matter how generous and beautiful it is, doesn’t fix a lot of things.
- It doesn’t fix the feelings of inadequacy as I walk my three daughters through their choices of colleges, education, and vocation. I did all of that wrong, giving everything up at age 20 to dedicate my life and energy to their dad.
- It doesn’t fix the fact that I did that…and that I am literally 25+ years behind in trying to make a living for myself. And I am terrified I’ll never figure it out. In the meantime, I fake being okay, sending resumes out to jobs I can manage while I finish school, making connections everywhere I can, and praying with every breath that I’ll get “there” someday.
- It doesn’t fix the fact that I miss my home every day. I miss my sunrises and sunsets. I miss being woken up by the coyotes at night. I miss waking up to the sounds of birds in my giant maple tree. I can’t just get over that.
- It doesn’t fix the fact that my body hurts all of the time, trying to heal from the trauma of the divorce. The lies that ring in my ears. The devastating words written in final documents. These things have determined my life. It’s just not fair that HE (the ex) is still calling the shots when HE isn’t even present anymore. But he is.
- It doesn’t fix my credit score and the paralyzing feelings that come along with that. (thanks to my ex) I know I am essentially trapped. Humans don’t do well in those circumstances any more than mice do.
- It doesn’t fix the fact that I have only had 3 years since I got married that I could stand alone, financially, and not need HIM for his money.
- It doesn’t fix the fact that HE is singing in the Messiah this weekend in our small town (something he never did until a few years ago to coopt yet another piece of my life), thus forcing me to make the impossible decision to forego my first personal Christmas tradition. I started playing it when I was 12. It became my sacred space, my holy tradition, shared with other musician-friends of mine. It doesn’t fix that he won’t go away and leave me the hell alone to do MY life, as I have always done it.
- It doesn’t fix the fact that I could have had life all figured out by now, had I had even the most remotely-helpful husband. I had ample opportunities. But with 4 children, I needed help. Every day, when he left for school (or work), he made a choice about when to come home. His schedule was pretty much his to decide. But he NEVER came home when I needed him.
- It doesn’t fix the fact that the university that just hired him, hired me over 10 years ago to teach violin pedagogy, music ed classes, and be the concertmaster. It was a big stretch, them knowing that my music performance degree was not quite finished. But, they were desperate and I could easily pull it off. IF…if I would have had a husband to show up and help with the kids. It would have changed everything for me, personally. I would have been able to finish school in a place that I was surrounded by people who I loved and loved me. I could have had a stable, yet meager, income. But no…just to come home in time for me to go to work was too much to ask of him.
You see, I was always there, supporting him. I enabled the shit out of him, caring for the kids, alone, doing all of the shopping, cooking, cleaning, and bill-paying. And he was never grateful. Neither was he aware of what I was doing. I might have packed every single lunch for him for almost 25 years, and made breakfast for him for the same amount of time. But he couldn’t come home so that I could go to work. Yes, my dad would come sometimes and help. When dad came over, my kitchen was sparkly clean and the kids were asleep when I got home. Not so, when the husband was there. It was impossible. Every opportunity I had, I lost because of him. And it doesn’t fix that.
I know you are thinking that this is just a Big Pity Party, and you may be right. But, I know this feeling will pass just like all of the other overwhelming feelings. It has to. Because I have a lot to figure out and not a lot of time to do it in. I’m too behind to sit and wallow in my sorrows for more than it takes to write a blog.
But, I wish his love fixed any of those things. Middle Age Love is wonderful. And I am so grateful for it. What it IS, I will not go into today because I have written a lot about that. I know I am lucky to have him.
I write so I don’t have to weigh him down with it all. I write so he doesn’t have to feel helpless and useless, which I know will creep in, unwelcome as they are. I write because it saved me from more tears and I am already quite close to dehydrating myself today already, so I can’t afford that.
It Will Pass. And I Will Recover A Life. I Must.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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