I believe that personal freedom and happiness are gifts received through responsible action in the face of tragic misfortune. I have been blessed in life with enough intelligence and physical beauty to get my name on honor rolls without diligent academic effort and to pick and choose partners for romantic experimentation. To others, I appear to have boundless energy and a type of personal force field that carries me through times of adversity. Yet inside my head and heart I have always lived with a critical voice that constantly monitors and judges my actions, thoughts, and decisions; making me second guess my self-worth and my value to society. This voice supports my critics and sides with my enemies. For years I have distracted myself from listening to the voice by actively building a career, living and working overseas, marrying and becoming a mother. Despite frequent sleepless nights and continual underlying feelings of anxiety and fear, I prided myself on my hard work providing food, clothing and shelter for my husband and children and creating an exemplary warm, nuclear family in which my children could grow and prosper. Yes- there were marital conflicts and disappointments- but I believed the many positives in our family, children and life far outweighed the negatives. My life took a tragic turn when my 47 year old husband announced to me that he had no intention of being with me in retirement, was going to start actively soliciting relationships with other women, but would stay married to me for six more years until our youngest son graduated. The nest I had built and nurtured during 16.5 years of marriage and 14 years of child rearing was suddenly destroyed. I was devastated. That voice from within me screamed that it was correct all along and that I should have listened. The next day I drove each of my children to school and asked them to shut their eyes and say aloud what popped into their mind when I said the word “MOM”. With eyes closed, they each smiled and said “love, warmth, happy”. Their response helped me decide to voluntarily admit myself into a behavioral health hospital. During my seven day stay, I realized I had the power to listen rather than suppress the critical voice and that by acknowledging it I gained the freedom to decide my own actions. I exercised this new power by organizing meetings with various marriage counselors and pastors, but my husband remained steadfast in his decision to divorce. It has been nine months now since my husband stated his intentions. We are now divorced and he has a 25 year old woman pregnant who he intends to marry. The stigma of divorce and rejection has humbled my spirit and altered my life priorities. With a pain deepened by the knife of voluntary choice, I grieve the loss of my intended life partner. I believe that each of my actions in this ongoing tragedy will shape the new life unveiling before me and determine the personal gifts that I will receive.
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