Time For a Change

It’s a funny thing about getting older.  One never feels like  he/she is at that age.  I still feel like I am young until I peer into the mirror and see the gray hairs starting to pop up or the wrinkles that speak of a life well lived.  I still feel like I have a lot left in me, and in my head, I can do anything I once did physically, yet life is different….I am different.  Age is part of it, but then I have perspective and strength born of tragedy.  I know what it is to be tempered by fire and to be stronger than I ever thought possible, and I know what it is like to not quite fit in any more.  It is a strange feeling.

I have spent my entire adult life affiliated with the military.  At 21, everyone looked like me.  We were all young and we all were having families.  Now, even the people that are my age that are still in the military are an anomaly.  Most have long retired or are so high ranking that they are out of my stratosphere. When I drive through the gate, I am greeted by people younger than my youngest child.  My children are the middle ages of the military culture. 

There are the retirees at the gym, hospital, or commissary, but they are years ahead of where I am.  I am the youngster in this group.  The key is belonging.  Where do I fit?  Right now, it feels like nowhere.  I am the third wheel when it comes to hanging out with couples.  Where Phil and I seamlessly fit in with couples, everything has changed.  Lifetime friendships ended not because I chose for them to do so, but because some people didn’t know what to say, some felt strange seeing me without Phil, some felt like maybe my moral compass had changed, and still others may have seen me as the visible reminder as to what could happen to their spouses.  In any case, I didn’t just lose Phil, I lost my couple friends, too.

I understand that I wasn’t a whole lot of fun to be around initially.  I was lost and my heart was broken.  While I rarely cried, I was shattered and it showed.  At the three year marker which is quickly approaching, I find myself looking in the mirror.  I am lonely—lonelier than I have ever been in my life.  Work and my running races save me, but I am, for the first time, saying that I need something more.  I work largely in a position where I either work alone, or I work with people that have been here so long that there is no room for me.  I am the outsider.  It isn’t all that they have been together for so long; some of it is that all of my children are grown, my life experiences, my running, and my single status.  Church?  One would think that would be a good choice, but I have tried three churches and I am finding the northeast a tough nut to crack.  People are entrenched here and I am the newbie.  People my age are connected by families and history. 

Like most people, when I had children and a spouse, I was too busy to be a good friend always, but now that I have the time, I am standing on an island stranded and alone.  I decided to attempt online dating to see if I could inch back into the dating realm, but that was an epic  failure on every front.  People understand divorce, but the minute people find out how long I was married, how Phil died, what I have done and do, then it ends without ever starting.  Granted, I haven’t met any of the people, but I am no longer even trying.  Did I try?  Yes, only to be bullied, watch others bullied, to feel like I have been beaten with an ugly stick, that only the scammers would want me, or that I am too broken for anyone to want.  Why is it that being a widow is almost as bad as being an adulterous woman in terms of the scarlet letter?  Why is it so difficult for any quality person to understand that I am who I am because of my faith and because I was not only loved well, but I loved well?  Wouldn’t that be a good thing?

I am not looking to replace Phil.  That could not be done.  I am simply looking for a Chapter two.  I have holes in my heart, but between those holes, there is room for me to love again.  Will it be different?  Yes, because I am different.  I have needs now that I never knew I had with Phil, and I have learned just how short life can be.

I know that the person who needs to make the changes is me.  I am on the threshold looking at the fork in the road.  I am reaching towards one more move in large part for a familiar lifestyle and my network of people that get me and with whom I have something to offer in return.  I am finishing school again  knowing that when my time is given back to me, I simply cannot live in the silence of being alone for however many years I have left.  I need to find my path.  This does not necessarily mean dating, but I do hope for a chapter two.  It does mean finding a place where I fit. It does mean finding a niche and connections that I have not had in a very long time.  I know that the person to make this change is me.


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