The yowling of the distressed cats echoed the grief in my heart; my soul. They were making their displeasure known loud and clear. Not that it was my idea to dose them with tranquilizers. Nor was it my choice to drive them across the country.
No, that decision had been his. He had decided that he no longer wanted to be married. He had decided to throw away the last 26 years of my life; of our lives. Along with his two stepsons and the two grandchildren.
Last night’s conversation with Glynda replayed in my head, like an old record stuck in the scratch.
“So. Exactly how did you find out about the other woman?” asked Glynda.
“With the unexpected help of my car. I was leaving one night to go to the library. As I pulled out of the driveway, the dashboard screen started ringing, and lit up with the name Therese Stenko. Kristoff was inside calling her. He apparently forgot his phone was hooked up to the car’s Bluetooth.” I wiped away more tears. I was probably responsible for obliterating acres of rainforest with all the tissues I had used the last couple of months.
“He couldn’t even wait for me to get out of the driveway before calling her. The craziest part was when she tried to friend me on my Facebook page. Under my pen name. That move was right out of the WTF playbook.” I shook my head. How could she do something so hurtful…or was it stupid? “And he had the nerve to get mad at me because it hurt her feelings when I declined the request!”
The thrumming of the tires on the edge of road startled me, brought me back to the here and now. I wiped at the tears that had pooled in my eyes. So much for my promise to myself…no more tears. Right!
I came to a stop at the stop sign. After looking in both directions, I crossed the snowy intersection slowly, mindful of the trailer hooked to the back. This was my first time pulling a trailer. The tires crunched through the icy snow on the Minnesota road.
There would probably be many more firsts in my future. While I had driven across this beautiful country on more than one occasion, this was the first time I was leaving a home behind me with no clear idea of what was ahead of me.
All I knew at the moment was that my youngest son had asked me to come live with him in Arizona. He was a haven in the hailstorm of my current life. His house was too big for one person and he welcomed me and my two cats. Not too many young men would be so gracious or generous.
The fear of homelessness had clawed its way into my gut when Kristoff had said he wanted a divorce. A vision of me and my cats living in my car had swamped me temporarily. Marshall came to my rescue. His offer of a home drove away the dark, disgusting thoughts. For the first time in my adult life the word suicide had echoed through me.
There were the guns close at hand. Or there were the pills. Either would work. What point was there in going on when I was obviously unlovable? When my mere presence was perceived as a horrible thing. While it would be great to say those thoughts were fleeting, it wouldn’t be the truth.
Once acceptance came, so did clearer thoughts. My children and grandchildren still wanted me; still loved me. Not to mention the cats needed me. Then came the anger. It blazed a scorching trail over the S-word. Anger made me realize that no individual man defined me. I am the only one who has the right to define me. And I will not bow, bend, or break under the pressure of the pain, the stress, the lies, or the deceit.
Letting go of what I thought I had—love, respect, friendship, loyalty, honesty—is very hard. Yet I can do that without giving up. I need to love myself, respect myself, be my own friend, and be loyal and honest to myself, for the sake of my soul. I’m not just part of a couple; I have to re-establish myself as an individual, complete within myself.
The road ahead will have many speed bumps and pot holes. They may appear without warning. But they will not make me veer off from this new course I am on.
My heart was ripped from my chest, stomped into the ground, and flung back into my face. But I still have it…it will mend with time and nurturing. Cynicism may ride on my shoulder for a while, but I’m sure it won’t be there for long. There is a new path before me, just waiting to be explored. Most likely there will be detours. I will take them gladly, and with an open mind and heart.
I will not be defined by my past. I will use my past as a tool; to learn from it. My past will be only a learning process; stepping stones onto this new road.
I didn’t deserve the lies and the deceit of the past. I deserve this new road and I embrace it. I step onto this new road with my eyes, my heart, and my soul open to the next adventure.