Reflections on the Lost Years

Vintage Wedding display

A friend had a birthday recently and was asked the question on whether she would go back and live part of her life over, if given the chance. If so, would she go back to her 20s or 30s or when?  She then asked her friends the same question.  This is what I replied.

You couldn’t pay me enough to go back to my 20s. I didn’t know who I was and man, there was a lot of turmoil and angst and pain in those years. I really came into my own in my 30s. I was confident and sexy and strong and had some great adventures. My 40s were a wasteland. Just a really really bad decade, mainly due to an awful marriage. I left him in the dust when I turned 50, in fact damn near right after my 50th birthday and my 50s have been amazing for the past 5 years. I know who I am, I like who I am and I am following my passions. And I have the most love in my life I have ever had. While it hasn’t been all roses, life is pretty great and I feel very blessed.

I don’t feel 55, I don’t act 55 and I think I am making up for those lost years in my 40s. So really, the only reason I would go back, and I would go back to my 30s, would be to say yes to a couple of opportunities I said no to at the time, and I would say a big fat NO to the man I unfortunately married. Knowing what I know now…..would be a wonderful gift and would give me back those lost years.

She then asked about the lost years. Here is my answer.

I met him in my late 30s and from day one it was his goal to get me to marry him. He played the part of the perfect boyfriend to perfection (even taking me to London for Valentine’s Day) until after we were married, and then he felt safe in showing me just how damaged he was. From that point forward I did everything I could to salvage the marriage…including allowing him to verbally abuse me and making up excuses for his behavior towards me and others in his life. I was brought up that marriage is for better and for worse and along with a fierce sense of loyalty, and love, and just plain stubbornness, made me try my damnest to make it work.

Being consistently verbally abused, by an attorney no less, who fully knew the power of words, did a number on my psyche but he was never able to make me feel completely worthless, as I kept a strong sense of self from having a successful business and validation from friends and family who loved me.

But I was miserable all the same, and vowed that I wouldn’t let the rest of my life be lessened by this toxic treatment. I made the decision that he needed to get his act together and learn to treat me with the kindness, care and love that I deserved….and if he couldn’t, I was done. The deadline was my 50th birthday. I went on a long blissful 2 week road trip with a girlfriend for my 50th birthday and after I came back I asked him to move out. Done.

He begged and pleaded….spent many months trying to get me to take him back….but I was truly done. He had an amazing woman in his life, and he squandered my love. I was a really good wife to him, far better than he deserved…and he knew it. He knew he had blown it. But it was too late. DONE.

It’s a remarkably common story.  I have heard many versions of it over the years. I have helped counsel women who are still stuck and miserable, or at the beginning of the pain of the end of the relationship. And I tell each of them….what I told myself when things were really rough….This TOO Shall Pass. It’s my promise to them. It worked for me and it will work for them as they keep going. I am happy now..they will be happy again too. I have joy now…they will have it too. And best of all, they will have love.  Much love. As do I.

 

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