Midlife: Living Life in Dog Years!
My marriage of 28 years wasn't awful. I hit my midlife crisis at age 53. He stuck his head in the sand via the "easy" chair. We stopped talking. The silence and lonliness was palpable. My daughter hit 18, and we barely saw her, which was okay, I understood the natural order of things, blah blah blah. What I didn't get was what happened next--Nothing. I had envisioned both of us taking time off to travel, maybe a cruise here and there. I was the only one with that vision. His vision was the way things were, i.e., I worked, stayed home quilting (my hobby) and he did what he always did, camped, fished, golfed, hunted, football games with his buddies. I wanted a companion, so I got a shelter dog and our evenings were spent at obedience training and dog parks. As I had a few menopause issues, I started reading some blogs about the issue, and was most distressed on the sections I read about long term marriages and their unhappiness and these women who felt stuck and hopeless.
Then I got the email from my former high school sweetheart and ex-fiance. His wife had passed away, and he had a 13 year old son to raise. Having survived a tragic death in my own family, I was able to give him advice, help and sympathy. It made me feel good to be able to share my thoughts with someone I had been so close to three decades ago. That's all it was, and he lived two states away, how could it be anything else?
Somehow, gradually, I became more "interested" in his emails. Was I reading between the lines, looking for more that was there? I didn't think so, it wasn't his style to flirt like that for no reason. I even looked up the term "emotional affair", was I having one? It wasn't sexual at all, but I found out later that we both started getting up earlier in the morning to check our In box for that special name.
I had been working hard at eating healthy and working out every morning, walking my dog, and now I was doing it with a smile. I was getting compliments from co-workers that I was "glowing". Surely from the exercise and better diet? But it must have been more. Life at home continued to be lonely and I started visiting a great group of women at a Life Coach meetup group. My husband continued in his negative, self-absorbed downward spiral, and we continued to disconnect. I felt the emotional equivalent of a ping pong ball bouncing around our big lonely house, desperately visiting friends during the week, taking my dog with me. I even tested it one week, just to see how long he would go without communicating with me. He would get up off the couch, walk into the bedroom, shut the door, leaving me to sit on the couch. It offended me that he wouldn't even say "goodnight" anymore. Didn't I deserve the most basic of manners?
Fast forward three years....I decided that life was too short to be unhappy, that I deserved to live NOW, so I made some huge changes. I asked my husband to move out, visited my ex-fiance for several long trips, got an apartment, a divorce, quit my job, moved two states away (back to where I was born in fact, and where my grandmother is buried, and also where my mother is from), and life since then has moved FAST! I love it!
This is where the "dog years" come from! No time to waste after mid-fifty hits it seems! In three years, I've had some great jobs, which I consider learning experiences, and in my mind, the great six month job was like 2 or 3 years in dog life, then the one year job in customer service would be the equivalent to 7 years in dog years, especially from the great people I met and things I learned at each and every job. On paper, the resume looks good, and if I could make the timeline in dog years, it would look even better!
My sweetheart and I have had our ups and downs as far as adjusting to each other, and thank goodness for that! We have found "Us" and it works. We have developed trust and understanding, and gotten in dog years to 21 years together! We have lived life to the fullest in the last three years and life has been richer because of our being together. We agree that communication is crucial, good or bad. We have the blow ups to back it up, but also the make ups, and we agreed that there would be no dealbreakers, that we would always work things out.
It hasn't always been easy, but it has always been real. Mostly because of him. I feel lucky and blessed to be loved by this man. Anytime the doubts creep up about my decisions, he does something so loving and sweet it brings me back to reality. There have been times I missed my ex, and all I have to do is call him to remember the negativity that pushed me away. I do wish him well and truly hope he is happy and more satisfied in his new relationship. My sweetheart and I are excited about growing old together and want to make our life full and complete with each other. No sitting on the sidelines for us at this point, that will come soon enough, especially if you count it in dog years!