We never know what life holds for us. Growing up, all I ever wanted out of life was a college education and a husband who loved me. I grew up in the day and age where this signified security for girls. I was conditioned to believe it and thought that everything would simply fall into place for me as long as I was a good wife and mother. Well, surprise, surprise! It took 40 years of living for life to teach me that it didn’t happen that way.
I am now a 60-year-old, twice-divorced woman with a very gifted and talented 33-year-old son. I was devastated after both divorces but especially devastated after the second. I thought I had matured and had learned to make better decisions for myself. I was depressed, upset with myself and had a very negative attitude towards men. But, I had two people on my side; God and my son.
I have always been a religious and spiritual person. I try to rely on God and prayer to direct me. When I was younger, I organized Prayer Breakfasts, Prayer Seminars, founded two Christian support groups for women and attended many Christian retreats and had even helped organizing married couple’s retreats. Unfortunately, this did not count with Church members when I decided to divorce my husband. They came down on me like a ton of bricks for “divorcing that boy’s father”. They totally forgot that it takes two to be married and two to divorce. After ten years of marriage to my son’s father, I could not take any more. Therefore, I divorced him! Did I forget to tell you that my Church does not believe in divorce? Sorry, well there it is! My “Christian friends” told me that I was wrong and that it was entirely my fault. I never told them the fact that he did not know how to be a husband and that he had no desire to learn. I was so hurt by their criticism that I didn’t attend Church services for a year. When I did decide to return, I found another Church to attend.
“Mom, we can do this. It will be alright. If we stick together it will be o.k.” This was the advice of my precocious nine year-old son. (When he was four months old, his pediatrician told me that I would received twice as many blessings in this child to make up for what I did not obtain in my first son who had Cerebral Palsy.) My son gave me the strength I needed to work hard and to secure a future for us. I had to make him proud of his mother. I always held a management position that paid well. My positions made it possible for me to take care of most of our needs. My son and I went through some very rough times over the years because he pursued a career in entertainment. The times were rough but we stuck together and had many wonderful times as well. He has a beautiful singing voice and has always made me proud. I tried to instill in him a good religious foundation. I also, in time, got involved in the activities of our new Church.
The second divorce from my paranoia schizophrenic husband was just the tip of the iceberg of problems for me during the mid 1990’s. When I moved back to my townhouse in the San Fernando Valley after the divorce, my son moved out. He told me that he needed to survive on his own and that I he didn’t want me to worry about him. The expenses incurred when I moved back were overwhelming and I had to file for bankruptcy. This broke my heart because I had always had A+ credit and was proud of taking care of my responsibilities. I lost my home and was renting again for the first time in almost 30 years. I kept all of this a secret from my family and all but one of my dearest friends. When I confided in her, she told me that bankruptcy was made for people (like us) who needed it. She told me that she too had gone through bankruptcy. Her words made me feel better but I still had that awful feeling in my stomach whenever it crossed my mind.
I lived in and around the greater Los Angeles area for over 55 years. I stayed there because I thought I needed people who lived there and I wanted them to need me. I did not feel fulfilled unless I was “doing things” for someone other than me, many times letting my own needs get pushed off to the side. I’ve gotten over that feeling!
Another reason I stayed in Los Angeles was because I thought that some friends and family members would not do well sans my assistance. Not true! I have gotten over that also!
I started having severe problems with osteoarthritis in 1986-87 that got progressively worse over the years. I was in excruciating pain all the time. I asked myself one day, “What would make me happy?” My answer was, “Peace and freedom from stress and pain would make me happy.” I needed to get out of Los Angeles and move to a dry, warm climate. Without telling anyone except my son, I decided to move. He was ecstatic! With my son’s help, I found a wonderful senior secure complex in Las Vegas and moved within two months of my decision. When I told my son how I was directed to Las Vegas, by a little man the size of a Leprechaun (whom I had never seen before and have not seen again), he laughed. My son then told me that he had wanted to move to New York for a long time but did not want to leave me alone in Los Angeles. Everyone was shocked and told me that I was crazy. You see, I moved away from everyone I had known all my life to “Sin City” where I knew absolutely no one. Las Vegas was a warm, dry climate. It would be good for my Arthritis. There would be no one to bother me with their problems which would lower my stress level. I saw myself as a woman bettering her life. Everyone else saw a 58 year old over-the-hill woman who had lost her mind!
Before I moved from Los Angeles, I started designing and making beautiful pillow toppings on men’s hankies. I got the idea from a dream I had one night. The Christmas before, I tried to give my son two packages of handkerchiefs. He would not take them. He said he preferred using tissues that could be tossed. In my dream, I was teaching a crafts class. This was so weird because I never considered myself a crafty person. At the end of the dream, a man was painting hankies. I woke up the next morning and went to a fabric store, bought lace, trim, pearls, etc., and began designing the hankies to create decorative pillows. I showed them to Paul Lambert. He was impressed and asked me to design pillows for the internet site First Wives World. I could not believe it! It made me a USEFUL AND PRODUCTIVE PERSON AGAIN!!!!
You see, God has been good to me over the years. I prayed so long for something or someone to come into my life that would lift me up and help me believe in myself again. For seven years prior I had been through a great deal on three different jobs that I’d felt “beaten down” and useless. I believe strongly in the power of prayer and putting yourself completely in the hands of God. When I listen to God and not my own thoughts, things work out for me.
I believe that my prayers led me to Las Vegas and to a lifestyle that I never thought possible. I now live in an environment that allows me to be myself without feeling guilty. I can give into my self-indulgences because it is finally MY TURN!
I realize that I can truly live by the “Rules of Happy Living” from Our Daily Bread:
- Do a kindness (I do this when I can; and when I can’t, I no longer feel guilty.)
- Give thanks to God always (I do this every day for everything!)
- Work with vim and vigor (I do this with my pillows)
- Visit the elderly and learn from them (I live with them!)
- Laugh often – it’s life’s lubricant (This is so true!)
- Pray to know God’s way (I do this everyday)
- Plan as though you will live forever (I do the best I can with this one)
- Live as though today is your last day on Earth (I enjoy myself each day)
For the first time in my life, I’m now happy and truly free to pursue my wants and desires and not just my needs. I feel useful again! I have found a wonderful Church and I attended services the first Sunday I moved to town.
If I had it to do all over again, would I divorce the men I married? You bet I would! Don’t let anyone fool you. You can definitely find happiness after divorce. Just have faith in yourself and don’t give up, no matter what happens.