Six months ago in a Chinese buffet surrounded by my husband, two grown kids and mother-in-law, I took the last fortune cookie left on the table (notice I didn't choose it) and this is what emerged.
It was prophetic.
In all the decades of unfolding fortunes after gorging on Chinese food I had never NEVER seen this fortune. I took it as a sign. I held it up for my husband to see as I read it aloud at the table's request. He nodded in acknowledgment as we both knowingly and sadly recognized the meaning of those words.
It was the universe sending me a message.
There is no easy way to change a relationship of 35 years (6 dating, 29 married) other than to take the plunge. And I know how much of a shock this will be to those of you who know us, because frankly, we have one of the better marriages around. Still, life changes and at this point in my life I've decided to move out and go it alone.
There has been no monumental event, no infidelity, no major upheaval nor anger. I still love my husband and always will. But as my contemporaries die prematurely (at 55, 59, 62, 63) I desire that my remaining life be filled with joy and companionship.
I've come to realize that there are two sorts of companionship: one where you actively engage and do things together and share interests; the other where you coexist, share a domicile, and take comfort in just knowing the other person is there when you want or need them. I need the former and my husband is content with the latter.
As I have long said, he is happy to be reading, writing, watching sports on TV, or doing yard work. All of these are solitary occupations. You need no one for these activities. I on the other hand feel solitary most of the time. My companionship comes largely from Netflix.
"How did this happen?" one might ask but the reality is that the things that once kept me occupied/distracted (two kids,a full-time job, caring for everyone) are no longer filling my time and the things that weren't a bond between us before have become more pronounced as the years have moved on.
When I got married I believed it was for life; I completely believed in for better or worse. But now, I find myself questioning whether I must honor my commitment when I need and want more.
Everyone (well, most everyone) who knows us is surprised and saddened. We seemed to be a pretty happy couple. Just before breaking this news, my daughter told me that we were one of the few marriages she knew that was good. Knowing this was coming, I hesitantly replied, "Appearances can be deceiving, honey."
I hate hurting my kids. HATE hurting their idea of what is possible in a relationship. And it saddens me to hurt my husband who is a really wonderful guy, but my life has come to the place where I have to go with "truth over harmony." I need to try to find more happiness in whatever life I have left on this earth.
If you've been reading my blog and reading about my past family history you know that for me the glass is always seriously near-to-empty. I haven't lived happy. THOUGH I've been happy I have never LIVED happy. I don't know if I know how, but I'd like to try.
Will I find more? I don't know. Is it a huge risk? Yes. Can I afford to do this? Not financially, no, but emotionally? I can't afford not to.
With my husband's generous consent (one of the many reasons I married him in the first place) at times I'm going to chronicle this next phase as I try to find happiness living apart from my marriage.
As a wise Chinese sage recently informed me...
You will make many changes before settling satisfactorily.
READERS: I am open to any and all comments, but for those of you who know us, I'd ask that you please refrain from using our real names.