We have approached the point that a comment is bubbling up on marriage once again. Spurred on by the current set of changes within the house as Alison prepares to leave and live her life, I am closer still to confronting me, myself, and I on the state of my future.
Her stability can be checked off of my ‘reasons to hang on’ list. I know…staying for the children (even adult children) is not a good reason to live a lie or to force oneself to muddle through in misery. I did find plenty of ways to justify using her still living at home not to face these issues, but now that ship will sail.
I went outside to toss some garbage into the bins yesterday morning. My neighbor was out gardening. She’s a friendly woman, opinionated and perhaps a bit pushy, but well-meaning. Conversations rolled around to the soon-to-be new roof as preparation for selling our house.
“Where do you want to go once the house is sold?”
My overused line about “oh, just someplace smaller without a yard” popped out of my mouth, but this time I added the caveat, “although I’m not sure if going means just myself or both of us…” which allowed the door to swing wide and her opinions to be unleashed. This lady knows bits and pieces of my life. She knows I am not happy. She, like other friends, is supportive and loyal and has her own lived experience with unhappiness and marriage failure.
“If it was me I would just go up to the property and live. I know that I can get by on $1000 a month. That’s all I need.” As she told me that she would have packed up long ago had she been in my place (and this wasn’t a surprise considering what I know of her past) I mentioned what I believe to be the last remaining hang-up in this holding back phase.
“I’m not working,” I said. “Knowing what I know about myself right now, I can’t imagine being totally dependent on some sort of alimony as my sole means of income. I also don’t want to take everything he has, or screw him over. Just because we shouldn’t be married doesn’t mean that I want to be vindictive. We both worked hard for what we have right now. That also doesn’t mean I want to take everything earmarked for retirement and try to figure out how to live off of that just to get by.”
“Couldn’t you get a position teaching dental classes? After all the experience you have there must be some way to step into an academic position.”
Without getting into a long explanation of the qualifications required for this sort of position, why I no longer have those qualifications and the time/money that it would take to get them, and without telling her that I’ve already explored so many likely options over the years, I simply noted that my preference wouldn’t be the dental field anymore.
“Just get your resume out there. Post it on as many job websites as you can and you’ll get contacted. I’ve found my last two employees that way. They can answer a phone and they have computer skills. The rest is all teachable anyway.”
Here’s where that nuanced difference in both our experience and outlook comes into play. She left a verbally abusive marriage with small children. He was a cop who wanted nothing but total control. Given the same situation, I might be inclined to take what I could get and go. My conflict lies in the fact that I began marriage with a skewed viewpoint of myself and my own self worth. I lacked confidence and took on the roll of wife while never giving myself a chance to live just for myself. I have come to realize that very likely he and I really never wanted the same things to begin with.
She also seemed to forget that she is a business owner. She would likely not be looking for a job where she to be moving on at this point. Simply having experience, while now being five years out of the workforce and starting a new search at 57 years of age isn’t likely to be as easy as ‘just putting your resume out there…’ and waiting for the calls to roll in. She also has another place to live should she need to. I do not, which also increases the financial needs and burden.
I know that she means well. I know that she means to be supportive and encouraging and to remind me that I have a lot to offer as an employee. I am less optimistic than she is though, on the sorts of jobs that I might find. I also have that little fact that my reality for the last few years as been to care for my granddaughter(s). Of course, I made that commitment at another time, but it is a commitment I respect and would never back out of suddenly or without a great deal of thought and planning. Childcare is a huge expense and one that I find difficult to simply dump onto my daughter and her spouse. They have counted on me, and yes…I know that many will say this is just another excuse. It likely is that, in some ways, but I have this very real issue with my children’s needs taking precedence over my own. And yes, it is likely time that I get over that and perhaps begin to think of myself for once.
See, I know all the logic and I do know what I should do. I listened to my neighbor and agreed with her because she was right.
It’s that damn reality of actually ‘doing’ that hangs me up every time.