My ex-husband used to say this all the time. I never understood what he meant until we separated. When I was in high school, I had a good time. I went to parties, I flirted with boys, I would sneak out of the house (sorry Mom). But then I started dating my ex. It was amazing! We would go to the movies and to Harper’s Ferry. We took trips to the beach and went camping. But we were old. We went to bed before the sun went down, we didn’t go on trips with friends. It was mostly just us.
Soon, things began to shift. When I look back, they started to shift in college. I started having horrible anxiety in my 3rd year at Radford. I can remember lying awake at night terrified that I was dying. My stomach would hurt and I would just lie in bed. In class, I would almost feel like I was outside of my body looking down. I couldn’t focus. The anxiety was all consuming. I kept the anxiety to myself for months. Finally, I had to tell someone. So, in the middle of going to the bathroom (please don’t judge), I called my ex in to share my fears. He was pretty amazing about it. But something changed in me. I started feeling my self-worth declining. While mine was declining, his seemed to be increasing. I started feeling like I was lucky that he wanted to be with me, as opposed to us being lucky to have found each other. I love to dance, but we never went because he didn’t like to dance. I am close to my family and wanted to visit with extended family, however, it was always too far out of the way (although we did go way out of the way to visit a hunting buddy of his). Story behind that. The cousin I wanted to visit, she was only about an hour, each way, out of the way. She was several years older than me, but was always so good to me. I would always get excited when I knew I would see Debbie. Everyone else thought of me as a brat (I was). But she never treated me like that. I will always regret sitting back with my mouth closed when he said it was too far. Right after we separated, I started talking with Debbie about flying out to see her. It never happened. She passed away suddenly. My heart broke. I never got the chance to really tell her how much she meant to me. How amazing she made me feel. I never felt like this young kid just tagging along. She always made me feel welcome with her.
I found that I started letting my life revolve around him. I’ve already told the story. I didn’t nurture friendships and it all came crashing down when we separated.
But, while it felt like everything came crashing down, did it really? The moment my ex left the house for the last time, my anxiety disappeared. Yes, that anxiety followed me through our entire relationship. There were many sleepless nights and tears. And, I felt old. My ex had started training for marathons and taking care of himself. Me…I was too afraid that if I didn’t support him 100% and ask for no support in return, he would walk away. I was overweight, feeling old, and completely forgot who I was before I let myself be controlled.
The moment he left, the ton of bricks became feathers that floated off my shoulders. I was free. I’m not saying I was instantly happy. The separation and divorce were a horrible roller coaster that I would not like to repeat. However, I started reaching out to people and making friends. I love to dance. I found friends that would go out with me and dance. Live music…I love it. I had never been to the Tally Ho before. Not only have I been to the Tally Ho, but I got dressed up in my best 80’s gear, without being told how stupid it was. Slowly, but surely, I was finding myself again. And I began dating. And I found out that people liked me for who I really was. I don’t apologize for who I am. I don’t tend to make plans, I just do what feels right. I see myself as a free spirit. I enjoy my life immensely now. I’m having a blast. And I don’t feel like an old lady anymore.
My ex was right. You’re only as old as you act. I had to let go of that relationship to realize just how old I was acting and that my life was not over. I’m realizing now how young I am and how much living I have left to do.