Tuesday, 8 April 2014

“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.” Buddha

You know how people say that life can change in the blink of an eye? I found out just how true that can be on November 20, 2013.  4 days after I posted my last blog entry about our wonderful 2 week trip to Paris and wrote about how lucky I was to be able to share Paris with my husband of 31 years, I found out  that Denis was gay.  I found out in the worst way imaginable and in that moment, my life shattered into a million painful pieces. All our dreams for the future were gone and every moment of my past was suspect. It was as if my life had evaporated into thin air and all that was left was anger, hurt, despair, deep, deep grief and so many questions about who the man I had spent my whole adult life really was.

The last 5 months have been a journey to hell and back.  Denis moved out to live with a person of very questionable moral character.  I learned that there had been years of lies, cheating and deception.  My daughter was understandably devastated that the father she has looked up to all her life could lead a double life and make decisions that put her mother at risk of STDs/HIV. She refused to speak with him and let him see her children.  My family was broken.  My life was destroyed.

I began to question all the memories of a shared lifetime ~  I couldn't be sure which, if any, were genuine.  Questions were now swirling around in my head 24 hours a day ~ how could he lie so easily to me, how many men had he been with, how could he choose such a horrible person over me and his family?  Why could he not have been honest about who he was ~ I would have stood beside him and helped him accept himself and live honestly with himself.  My future plans for a dream retirement, months in Paris and Greece, spoiling our grandchildren and growing old in each other's company was literally yanked away from me like a rug being pulled away from under my feet.  One weekend we were in Boston enjoying a great concert and making plans to come back and discover more of this great city, and 12 days later my world exploded.  The suddenness of it was so heart wrenching.  We had booked flights to Paris 1 week after we got back in October, were planning 2 weeks in Greece in the fall and our regular week at the cottage with our kids and grandkids in the summer.  Poof, all of that went up in a puff of smoke and I was left to wonder how I would ever find the strength to go on.  It was like someone died, the suddenness of it took my breath away and I couldn't see pictures of us together without bursting into tears and grieving over what had  been just a few short weeks ago.

I read a saying a few days ago on FaceBook ~ "They say God doesn't give us more than he thinks we can handle ~ God must think I'm a badass".  I guess God must think I am one hell of a badass, lol.  But God also gave me the most unbelievable love and support to face the biggest challenge of my life by providing me with family and friends who rallied around me immediately and ensured there was always someone there to talk to or just listen, always a shoulder to cry on, always strong arms to hold me up when I thought I couldn't go on, always people there to remind me that I was a good person, and that I had done nothing wrong to deserve any of this and that I could not only go on, but make a good life for myself.  I was surrounded by unconditional love, kindness, friendship, patience, wisdom, guidance and hope.  Hope that I could live through this trauma and come out on the other side still whole.

My daughter Danielle was just simply there for me every single minute of every single day.  She made sure we spoke several times a day, either on the phone, or through texts and private FB messages. We shared the hurt and grief and anger ~ in different ways of course ~ me as a wife who had lost the love of her life and Danielle as a daughter who couldn't reconcile the dad she grew up with, loved, admired and respected with the man who had just abandoned her mom and who had lived a life we knew nothing about.   I always hoped that she would find her way back to her dad one day.  Even in my deepest rage, I still wanted my family to continue, I wanted somehow to reconcile my daughter and her father.  I never wanted her to have regrets over not having her dad in her life once it was too late.  It took a series of amazing events, and life works in truly mysterious ways, but Danielle and her dad are now on speaking terms.  More on that a little later.

My son-in-law Paul was a tower of strength for his wife. He was there to support her in every way and did everything he could to help me cope as well.  I was always welcomed at their house for a meal, a visit and to fill my void with those 2 wonderful grandsons who sustained me when I didn't think anything could. Coming into their house and having Charlie run into my arms or having Seb hug me and simply say, "I love you, Grandma" made life worth living. Those boys just simply saved my life. I don't know if I would still be here without them, especially in those early days and weeks when I just couldn't fathom how to keep going in a world so totally different from the one I had shared so recently with my partner of 35 years.  I was drowning in sorrow, waves of sadness and grief washed over me and I sometimes thought I would never make it back to the surface. Those 2 little guys were the lifeline that dragged me back again and again.  I love them with all my heart and soul.

My son Derek accepted the news of his dad as soon as he heard it and just wanted everyone to be happy.  Since he lives with me, he has seen me at some of my worst moments and although he's a man of few words, he held me in his arms and let me cry many times.  He told me he loved me whenever he saw me and would kiss the top of my head on his way through the family room where I sometimes sat for hours, lost in thought, staring at the walls, trying to come to terms with what was happening to me.

My family ~ my brothers, my sister and my mom ~ were in constant contact with me to make sure I was ok.  They were there to talk, to let me pour out my sorrow and my hurt, to let me rant over and over again about what was happening. True love is letting someone tell you their deepest fears, their darkest moments, letting them cry it out as many times as it takes and still staying patient, kind, giving and caring.  The people in my life let me do this so selflessly, so compassionately and so constantly for months on end.  They also saved me, gave me the courage to keep going, to work through what was happening and to encourage me to see that time truly can heal.

My darling, sweet friends ~ I am blessed with so many truly wonderful friends.  Childhood friends I have known for over 40 years, friends I have met over a lifetime, both in real life through work, travel and just life, and online, people all over the world I bonded with through our shared passion of Paris.  These friends who were always there when I needed them ~ spending weekends with me to take me away from my pain for a little while, meeting me for drinks and meals, sending me love, strength, courage and healing thoughts through e-mails, FaceBook messages, and texts, checking in on me day and night, and always there to listen and listen and listen as I poured out my anguish and worry about how I would get through this week, this day, this moment.

My therapist ~ who helped me find myself, who helped me see that I might not be losing what I thought, who gave me amazing insight into the life I thought I had and what I had really lost and what I might be gaining.  She told me that everything I was going through was normal, that my feelings were valid and that I had to go through this pain to get through the other side.  She helped me make sense of what was happening when I thought there would never be order ever again in my world.  She helped me understand that sometimes we don't really have what we thought we had and that things happen that are totally out of our control.  We can't control what happens, but we can control how we react to it.  This takes a long time to learn and that's ok.  It's all part of the process.  She was a big part of helping me find my way back from that long dark tunnel I was lost in.

One step at a time and one day at a time.  My journey is not over, but it's not the abyss it was a few months ago.  There is hope in the future. After many, many selfish choices and after causing oceans of hurt and tears to me and his family, Denis has recently made some decisions that have allowed  the healing to begin.  No details, but he has taken the first steps towards being honest with who he is and what he wants out of life.  He and Danielle have reconciled and his grandchildren are back in his life.  He is facing some serious health issues, but I know that the love and support of those he loves the most and who love him the most will help him face these challenges and will sustain him in his recovery.

He and I are on amicable terms and I am so relieved my family will have some continuity.  We will both find our way forward to different paths, but I know that I will be ok and that although life will be different, it can possibly be better.  I truly want him to be happy with who he is and to come to terms with his life honestly.  I hope he surrounds himself with good people and makes good choices.  I want us all to be able to spend time together as a family, and in time that may include new people for both of us and that is all good.  Life is so much easier when peace and hope, kindness and compassion, forgiveness and love surround us.

And life does go on ~ I am on my way back to my beloved Paris in 3 days!!  I leave on Friday for 8 nights, my first solo trip ever and I am so excited, I could burst.  I will explore my city with new eyes, a new heart and a renewed soul. I will meet up with many wonderful friends who are waiting to hug me, share a glass (or 2) of wine with me, enjoy a delicious French meal with me.  It's truly the beginning of a new life, a new me and I know I will be able to face it with laughter, hope, a zest for life and all the good things that life can bring.  My journey is just beginning.  I won't ever forget what happened and I know there are thoughts, memories, dreams and words that can and will bring sadness back at a moment's notice.  But that's ok.  That's life and I'm not as scared of the past and the future as I was.  I know I can make a good life for myself.  The love and support I've received over the past 5 months have given me the solid base to build that life.  I know I am a strong, intelligent, funny, capable woman and life will be what I want to make it.  And I want to make it great!

See you in Paris on the 12th!