Midway Mindset


I felt the eyes of an older gentleman behind me in line at Home Depot staring at the purple splotches on my arms that were peeking out from underneath my long sleeved shirt. As I yanked on my sleeves to cover the imperfections, he looked at me with concern and said,

“My wife had bleeding like that when she wasn’t much older than you. She died a short time later. Are you sick like that?”

I replied with a weak smile and said,

“Gee, I sure hope not.”

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A few years ago my husband and I ended our marriage of 26 years. It was my fault, it was his fault, it was my decision, it was his decision. We both own so many bits and pieces of it that it’s difficult to remember where one disappointment ended and another began. We wanted it over and we wanted it never to end. We desperately needed our family preserved, but for either of us to survive, something had to change.

For some, divorce might be easy. But for most of us, it’s not. My personal journey stretched over daily prayers, years of therapy, a good portion of the Barnes and Noble self-help section and a lot of wine and chocolate.

The divorce hit me hard, differently, but no less devastating than the loss of my parents. When they passed, friends and family talked about what beautiful people my parents were, the way things used to be and the life changes that were to come. There was a marking of their time on earth, talk about the significance of the loss, and casseroles – lots and lots of casseroles. I went through similar stages of grief with my separation and divorce. I kept waiting for the cards, the phone calls, the turkey tetrazzini…but they never came.

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As a woman of uncertain means, I’ve ventured into new experiences using discounts from sites like Living Social and Groupon. The list of sources I like massages from is a short one – my boyfriend (still waiting), my daughter, and the chair at the nail salon. Though I have had a few massages from strangers, they tended to leave me feeling a bit less touched by an angel and a bit more ‘where have your hands been and what are you thinking of?’

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I didn’t think it could happen to me.

If I could choose one mindset that succinctly sums up most of my life it would be those eight words. The unimaginable.

A near fatal blood kidney disease was the last thing I would have thought I’d deal with my junior year of high school (so were the hickeys I gave the guy I was kinda seeing the night before his confirmation.) I didn’t think I’d be married by the age of 21 or have three children by the age of 27. I wouldn’t have wished that my youngest child was autistic, but it happened all the same.  It would have hurt too much to imagine I would lose both of my parents by the age of 38, just six years apart, or that my mother-in-law would be murdered in 2001. I would have been devastated to think I’d be divorced by the age of 49.

And I certainly never thought I’d take a 14,500-foot skydiving leap as a way to cope.

I never dreamed I’d be dating a hunky fireman at 52 (well….I might have fantasized once or twice after a few glasses of wine) or that I would be sending vaguely inappropriately pictures of New Kids on the Block to my best friend each night, a 48-year-old woman with special needs.

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