I looked at my calendar just now. I had this nagging feeling that there was something significant about tomorrow's date. January 18 ... what is that? Stuart's birthday? No, that's Jan. 28 - exactly six months before my sister Jenn's birthday. What is it about January 18 that I'm supposed to remember.
And then it hit me.
January 18 is Becky Rice's wedding anniversary. Becky and Matt got married on my then-husband's birthday. Yep. That's it; tomorrow my ex turns another year older. Strangely, I don't even know what his age will be. (Well, we can do the math on that one; he was born in 1969, so he's 42.)
How did I get here? How is it that, in five year's time, so much can be forgotten, left in the past where it belongs?
Buckle in. There's a story here.
See, five years ago tomorrow (the actual birthday) was my last day believing the marriage could work. He let it be that way; there were presents involved. Mind you, I was unemployed at the time, but I pulled out all the stops. We went to dinner at our favorite restaurant. I showered him with gifts. (Literally everything that was on his Christmas list that he didn't get then, he received for his birthday.) We had what I thought was a perfect evening. It felt magical. Even though I knew things were not settled, that night, everything felt so right, I believed we would survive.
On January 19, 2006, he told me it was over. Classy, huh?
I fought it. I wept over it. I tried to find a job so I could fix what was broken (as if the budget was the only problem.) I wracked my brain trying to figure out where I'd gone wrong and how I could once again be someone he could love.
I lived in sadness, 24/7, until I was ready to stop doing that.
Time passed. I worked a part-time job. I worked two part-time jobs. I searched tirelessly for a full-time job I could love. I found friends, I rekindled old friendships, I tried to figure out who I was, without him. All of that took time, energy and antidepressants. None of it was easy.
Now, I could regale you with tales of his cruelty, and I could tell how about his wild life wooing the woman he swore was just his friend (which clearly explains why they're married now.) But this is my story, and they aren't part of it, so I'm not going to go there. Besides, if you read old posts long enough, that story is probably here in the blog history, so why beat that dead horse?
So I hunkered down to do the work, and four years ago began the job I currently hold. Starting this job was what I call Turning Point #1. On most days, it is exactly where I want to be. And on days when it's not, they still pay me, so it's a pretty good deal. I'm a writer. That's all I ever wanted to be. It took me 13 months to find a full-time job, but here I am, and I'm loving it. Still.
I continued cultivating friendships, singing karaoke, spending time with people who were good for me (and occasionally not.) My days were pretty much filled with work, friends, food and home. Not a lot of activity, just sort of surviving. And then, as I was about to turn 41, it occurred to me that if I didn't make some changes, I was going to have a pretty short life. And when it was time to pat dirt in my face, I was going to be a fat corpse; nobody wants that! So I joined a gym. This was Turning Point #2.
My first day heading in to Life Time Fitness in Schaumburg, I was terrified. Everyone walking in was thin and fit. I was going to be the only fatty in the entire building! (So not true, but that's how it looked.) But I went in anyway. I was determined not to care. Unless I was willing to always be the fatty, I needed what they had inside those doors.
I walked in. I worked out. I thought I was going to die. I finished, and I left. This was to be my routine. Then, one day as I was walking in, I held the door open for the woman behind me, who turned out to be my ex-husband's cousin. What are the chances? She and I began working out together, and with her encouragement, I tried my first Group Fitness class. (Turning Point #3.) We took Aqua Fitness (water aerobics; perfect for the fat girl!) and had a great time. We got pruney, and then we sat in the hot tub, where I met a man named John and a woman named Linda. After a few classes, they became friends. It's been years since the cousin has been at the gym, but she ushered in a whole new era for me. I will always be grateful.
John and Linda encouraged me to try different classes. Soon, I found myself in Hip-Hop, Salsa Funk and strength training classes. The weight slowly began to melt off. My life slowly began to blossom. Without my knowing, I was creating a life. We'd talk after class, we'd attend classes at other clubs together, and we'd inspire each other to reach for more.
Years past. Friendships solidified. I changed.
It was August of 2010 when I completed my first race. (Turning Point #4.) It happened pretty much as a joke, but I did it, and I was hooked. I signed up for more. I completed more. I have many more coming. I am a runner.
I'm not a good runner, but I'm a runner. And sometimes, I pause and I think about the past five years and I wonder, "who is this woman?" She is joyous. She is incredibly strong. She is funny, she is full of life, and she tries a little harder every day to amaze herself.
Happily Ever After is not just something reserved for happy royal couples. I know. I'm living mine. So, happy birthday, Christopher. Thank you for your part in making me whole ... even if all you had to do was leave.