Major Changes in the Autumn of Life
The past five years have been the most difficult of my life. The person I was in 2010 is dead, but it was a slow, agonizing death brought about by deceptions, betrayals, and even sexual assault. Just when I thought I couldn’t lose anymore, after having lost my community, my faith, my job, my home, and my very identity, my husband of 15 years moved out.
The one thing I thought was strong enough to survive anything, wasn’t. The one person I thought I could trust to be honest and genuine wasn’t. In his own words, he’s been pretending to be someone else for the bulk of our marriage.
I don’t even know how to process that.
He’s made it clear he doesn’t want me around, and I had nothing left in the States except a handful of dear friends scattered around the country, an unfulfilling job, and an empty apartment.
Facing a future without my husband or my beloved Buster and Shadow nearly did me in. I had no reason to keep living. Many a night I cried alone or in ear of a stranger on a suicide hotline.
Through my despair, one thing came to mind, one reason to live…and that was to live in Europe. It has been my dream for over 30 years to live in Europe. This is as good a time as any, so I took the shattered pieces of myself and came to Europe.
Now at 45, I’m rebuilding myself and my life here amongst the rich culture and rainy days. Due to visa limitations, I will be moving around every few weeks/months to remain legal until I can find a more permanent arrangement. I’m renting places via AirBnB and staying at other people’s homes as a pet sitter thanks to TrustedHousesitters.com. I work two remote jobs I can do anywhere with a WiFi connection.
I take care of myself. No one else is here.
To mark the break between my former life and my new one, I celebrated the day, formerly known as my wedding anniversary, as a day to pamper myself. On this day, I spent a fortune on getting my hair done black with silver streaks and getting a new tattoo. I also took myself out to a decadent lunch at The Albert for some Vegetarian Fish & Chips.
The tattoo is significant for a few reasons. It’s a butterfly because long ago during a spiritual journey, a butterfly came to me as my teacher. Her body resembles a semicolon, marking this point in my life. Through my PTSD and suicidal ideation, after having survived rape and betrayal, from struggling with debilitating depression and anxiety, I’m still here. I didn’t end my life. Secondly, it signifies leaving the past where it belongs, in the past, along with anyone and everyone who remains there.
Now is the time for me.
It is my turn.
If you want to be on the right side of my semi-colon you have to earn the right by actively taking part in my life and our relationship. Everyone else stays on the left side.
The sexual assaults are on the left side, as are the predators who perpetrated them.
Children masquerading as men are on the left side.
Narcissists and sociopaths, you are on the left side.
Liars, abusers, misogynists, and cowards, you are on the left side, regardless of whether you call yourself friend, family, or if we have a history. You are now history.
My marriage and husband are also on the left side.
They can all stay there. They are nothing but smoke now.
They no longer exist.
Similarly, I don’t have much need for pictures anymore, except to share my life with you, my readers and friends. It is still my instinct to share my life, even though I have no one in person to share it with day to day.
I no longer look at pictures from my past, so dearly loved, because those things are smoke. They don’t exist anymore. He doesn’t exist anymore. Pictures posted to Instagram or to capture a beautiful moment I rarely look at again. For then it too will be smoke.
I live each moment, enjoying my experience. My money is spent on doing. I go to theater. I go for walks. I go to the movies. I enjoy a special lunch or a daily coffee in the beautiful London air.
I work hard, and then I relax. I watch what I want to watch. I do what I want to do. I set my own boundaries.
Although I’ve said it for a long time, I am finally at a place, where I have nothing left to lose, to put it into harsh practice: I deserve better, and I will accept nothing less than integrity, courage, and openness.
It would be wonderful to find love again, but I don’t hold out much hope. Finding a middle-aged vegetarian man who isn’t afraid of his own emotions or mine, who isn’t a liar or a cheater, who is able to invest in a relationship, who loves and protects animals, who is honest and true and kind….let’s face it, my options are limited. Still, I would welcome love if it finds me, but I’m not looking for it. It will be so difficult to trust again, and my trust won’t come cheap.
Lie to me once, you’re gone.
Deceive me once, you’re gone.
Betray my trust once, you’re gone.
Tell me I’m too intense or too needy or too emotional, you’re gone.
If you play Jekyll & Hyde games or are afraid of commitment or intimacy, you’re gone.
If you’re aloof, inconsistent, uninvested, unengaged, unavailable in any way, keep moving.
I have neither the time nor the patience for you. No second chances. Not anymore.
I’m not playing this bullshit game any more.
I’ve gotten really good at cutting people out of my life over the past few years, even people who meant the world to me. When they consistently bring me more tears than smiles, they’re gone. When they even breathe like a misogynist, they’re gone. When they aren’t true to their word, they’re gone. If they objectify me, they’re gone.
I’ve learned to enjoy my own company. Even though the loneliness sometimes feels as if it will consume me, I would rather be lonely alone than lonely in another relationship.
I would rather no one call at all than to wait around for an uninvested man to recognize my worth.
Respect me, or keep walking.
Cherish me, or keep walking.
Engage fully with me, or keep walking.
Embrace everything I am, or keep walking.
You can envy my travels around Europe. The plays I see. The places I visit. But please also remember what brought me here. Remember the loss. Remember the betrayal. Remember the trauma I’ve endured before you wish to trade places with me.
I live in others’ homes because I no longer have one.
Other people’s beloved pets keep me company because I lost mine.
I deeply cherish my handful of friends who have stayed true and by my side through this, whether they be on social media, scattered around the US, or the ones here in London. Without them, it would truly be just me. I love you all so much.
I look forward to making new friends in each place I visit, more true friends like those who remain. The rest can stay as they are.
Friends and readers, please share in my joys, and know I’m not bragging when I post pictures of my adventures. I’m surviving. Find me snowshoeing in the Alps. Riding a Vespa through Rome. Hiking the Scottish Highlands. Studying French in Paris. Gazing at great works of art. Walking endlessly through the magnificent streets of London.
Just remember I walk alone.
Just remember I dine alone.
Just remember I sleep alone.
Just remember I cry alone.
Just remember I have lost all hope.
Because after the death of hope, there is life.
There is me.
May you all find peace.