Choose Your Own Adventure… Write Your Own Story

Choose Your Own Adventure… Write Your Own Story

If we each tell ourselves our own stories all of the time and constantly rewrite what really happened, I decided I had better write my own story so I could define my own personal history in a way that allows me to not be the victim of life this time. After the last 2-1/2 years, I found myself feeling ashamed as though I caused the events in my life. I feel I need to tell my story to give that shame room to breathe and be gone.


Two years ago, my husband left and began seeing a friend of ours (who also was a former employee) the day he moved out. Not a huge deal as our marriage had been struggling for years. She wasn’t the cause, but I feel a quick fix for him to have reason to leave and feel better. The two of them moving on together was painful in that I knew them both, the community knew them both and I it just hurt. So I was left here to heal with two kids, two businesses, three dogs and two cats. It wasn’t pretty, but I was okay being alone. Really okay.


A while after he left, I had the opportunity of a lifetime. The love of my life texted me out of the blue and asked if I was coming to California for my best friend’s birthday. We hadn’t talked in years. He had no idea I was separated. I had no idea he was single. So we began talking on the phone every night. We got to have surprise meetings in Charlotte, Chapel Hill, San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Italy over the course of a year. It was the most magical time I have ever experienced. He was gentle, allowed me to cry, to grieve the loss of my marriage, held space for me as I grew, sent red roses all of the time. He took amazing care of me from 2000 miles away. How many people get the opportunity to connect with the “one that got away” as a grown adult? We both felt lucky beyond belief. Our perma-grins when traveling hid nothing. We traveled with ease even with delayed flights, canceled flights, bad hotels, and bad weather. We both knew this was the real deal…


With luck on our sides, the love of my life got a job in Greenville and relocated from a small beach community in Los Angeles. What were the odds? Somehow we beat them. He moved here and we thought we were so lucky getting to spend our lives together. Something we had both hoped for since we met 25 years ago. I even remember him asking me, “So who gets to play us in our LifeTime movie?” But… the romantic travels ended and real life set in. We had to become instant family with two kids, two dogs and two cats. We thought because we loved each other it would be easy. Instant family wasn’t as easy to settle into as lost luggage. We had pre-teen angst and eight year old drama girl to contend with now. We had to merge two very different lives with different sets of beliefs; beliefs about parenting, food, homes, screen time, religion, et cetera. We did our best. We worked with therapists for the kids, therapists for us, another therapist for us… Eventually, we had to throw in the towel. As much love as we have for one another, it wasn’t enough to build a life on. We tried, we both gave in and bent as much as we could. Somehow our middle just wasn’t enough.


I wanted to curse God and ask, “Why me? Why was this man brought back into my life only to leave again?” Still not the right time. Still not the right place. A few weeks after his departure I found out he has moved on with a friend of mine. Someone I have known since I was 15. Someone we spent time with when we traveled to New York. Lightning striking twice didn’t feel so great. Shame, grief and anger kicked into high gear. Letting go of the dream of family with the love of your life is hard. Knowing he has moved on shortly after we finally said goodbye is too much to bear. So, some days I do curse God. Sometimes I miss that man like crazy. Some days I am happy with my place in the world as a single mom raising my children in a way that feels right to me. Some days it hurts like hell and my heart breaks all over again. I guess this is what it means to really be an adult. To love someone so very much you have to walk away because all you do is hurt one another and neither of you know why. To know that love of your life is right there and you can’t be there with him and can no longer trust him to be your friend and care for you. (something we always had even when we were apart). To have your heart hurt because I know if something were to happen to me tomorrow I would have wanted him holding my hand. And if something were to happen to him I would have wanted to be right there as well. Instead, some other woman will get the chance to be the new love of his life. She will get to marry him and be that person now.


So me, what will my story be? Maybe it is this (and yes, I had to confirm with my therapist because I don’t quite trust myself right now)… it isn’t me. Men moving on with friends of mine at a rapid pace has nothing to do with me. I am okay moving through grief and loss. I want to feel it and process it so it doesn’t burden the years and relationships I have left to go. I don’t need to distract myself from pain and discomfort. I am willing to feel it and let it pass through. My wounds have just barely begun to heal. The grief spirals in and out. But I will not let my wounds become me. As getting the call from one man reopened the wound from another, I get to heal all over again. My only hope is that I will come out stronger, wiser, more compassionate. I will most definitely take my time before allowing myself to love again. But for now I can heal (shame free) with my two kids, one business, two cats and two dogs.


Elizabeth Delaney