In one month I will have been divorced 10 years. It is kind of hard to believe. I really didn’t expect to be divorced this long. As I reflect back on my life which by nature and inclination I often do I realize that I am now entering my fourth major life transition. Each one of my transitions was not marked by time or any external event but rather by my feeling about the situation and my thoughts about it.
Let me try to explain. My first transition came when I went to college. I grew up in a small town in Indiana and for a variety of reasons never really felt like I fit in. I will never forget that first day alone in college. I was free! No longer did I need to meet the expectations of others or feel the inherent limitations of life in a small town. It was like a weight had suddenly been lifted off my shoulders and I could march boldly into the future.
My second major transition came just four years later upon my graduation from college. For some reason I equated graduation with the need to ask my girlfriend to get married as I embarked on my new career making more money than I thought could be possible. It was an action oriented time and what I consider to be the best time of my life. Within the first 7 years we had three children, bought two houses and I was steadily getting promoted in my career. I loved marriage and family life and hated it when I had to leave on trips. It is what I call my “blissfully unaware” years because I was living in the moment but not really evaluating anything at the time. Haven’t you noticed that if you think too much about wanting to live in the moment that it is almost impossible to do so? It is something that is just done.
My third transition kind of started sneaking up on me about 15 years after I was married. As my responsibilities increased at work so did my stress level. I became aware that I had a family dependent on me and that failure was not an option. I changed jobs and that only made things worse. I commuted to my new job and was gone most of the week. I became overly preoccupied with just surviving one day at a time.
Well, marriages need nurturing. As time passes by boredom can set in and with me being gone for long periods the time was perfect for a Narcissistic “family friend” to find his prey. In this case it just happened to be my ex wife.
Well you might expect me to say that my third transition occurred with my divorce but looking back I can easily say it didn’t. It occurred the instant I learned about the affair. Maybe other people’s marriages can survive affairs but mine was over in that instant. Oh I had to evaluate and analyze and go through marriage counseling but it was over and what started was just a seemingly constant stream of difficult life and relationship decisions. Those things that were once easy became difficult as divided loyalties between my interest in maintaining a sense of family with my children came face to face with the expectations of women in my new relationships and what seemed like a rule book for post divorce behavior that everyone seemed to know about except for me.
And that brings me to now which is the start of my fourth major transition. This has not really been marked by any one thing. It just seems like a culmination of things that happened this year. Despite some moderately successful strategic changes for the business unit I am responsible for it appears that the business is dying. I can’t seem to make myself care the way I used to care. I have put together my worst case budget and realize I can live simply while leaving my retirement alone. A relationship I was in for 9 months has ended and I know part of it was because of my stubbornness to stick with behaviors that I have developed while being single. Part of it was that she said my women friends were more important than she was and I realized that she was correct because freedom still comes with friends but not so much with relationships. Finally I suppose the expected passing of my 96 year old Mother and the unexpected passing of my 65 year old brother brought to the forefront a lesson we all know but deny and that is our time is limited and we don’t know when death will come calling.
So I feel a little bit like I did when I started college. I am free! I don’t really know where my life is headed but I have wonderful children and two great grandchildren and life is an open door. I don’t see me doing anything too great. I just want to live simply and perhaps find a way to give back for being able to live 58 years. The rest will take care of itself.