Monday, July 29, 2013

"Crossroads"



Defined by dictionary, a crossroad is a point at which a crucial decision
must be made that will have far-reaching consequences;
also defined as a place where 2 or more roads meet e.g. an intersection.

* A recent article, Silver Splitters...(the baby boomers who have it all and still aren't happy, at least not together) was sent me by a long time acquaintance which has prompted me to write of a past personal experience... hoping that  you (or friends) will gain support and respect in similar circumstances.

I Do!  I Do!

We met at a dance studio.  He was learning to foxtrot and waltz...and I to master tango, cha cha and samba.  He was a research chemist and I a teacher.  Well educated, as I was, our match seemed romance-bound.  We discovered similar interests!  He had skied in his home country, had played tennis at McMaster, and was a philatelist (collecting stamps was a new hobby I might entertain.) He indicated  he enjoyed theatrical stage productions. A chess player he was...and bridge was my game.  Within two years we married.  In those days, living together prior to marriage, was not universally accepted. As Mr. and Mrs. we settled into 24/7 daily routines; each became aware of unknown attitudes and habits of the other.  In lengthy discussions, 1 of 3 results occurs:: acceptance...compromise...or an ego-driven attitude that takes precedence. Within a few years, we had a son and daughter, whom we loved dearly. This we considered our “perfect family.”

To Be?  or Not To Be!

After about 10 years of marriage, our roads seemed to travel in different  directions.  He cared not to share my interests...although I tried to learn and play chess;  I began stamp collections of “cats around the world” and stamps portraying Japanese art; I attempted to learn Spanish (his mother tongue).  Negative attitudes (common with him) that I hadn't foreseen, developed and began to 'rub off’ on our son.  In group gatherings, he  just couldn’t circulate to enjoy himself…attendees found him unfriendly.

Questions arose in my mind:  Is this marriage to be? Or is it not to be?  There is little compatibility between us anymore!  There's nothing left to bind us together…except our children.  Do I stay in this marriage for the sake of them?  Do I want to be married to him for the rest of my life? It seems impossible to make this marriage work.  My mother, sister and aunt would be appalled if we separated and later divorced.  Our son and daughter are grand children, nephew and niece to my closest relatives. Divorce was not a practised word in their vocabularies.

This is My Life...and I only have One to Live!  How do I want to spend the rest of my life???  After 16 years, I came to a decision.  He was unhappy, at the point of being miserable and I was becoming depressed. Negative attitudes were affecting our teenage son.  He was also being “bullied” by senior school students which profoundly affected his proven advanced intellect...to the point of almost failing Grade 8.  I interceded with the school principal to “pass” him into High School  and I would take the responsibility for what happened to him in Grade 9. I was motivated to DO something. The message to me was clear! MOVE!

The easiest course of action…is to do nothing...
then, be prepared for the same previous results!
(Lesson I’ve learned over many years.)

* The author of the above mentioned article stated, “The important thing is that I'm wholeheartedly sure that divorce can be a good thing.  Why would you stay with someone just because you fear living alone?  You both maybe can't stand each other and haven't for some time.  It can lead to depression and anxiety when you are not connecting with someone.  There’s nothing more miserable than being lonely in a marriage.”

One evening my husband and I discussed our “separate lives” with my suggestion to obtain a “legal separation.” He asked, “Why?”  My reply was, “ So we could both attain some happiness in our lives!”  He responded with, “You'll never be happy.”  To him, I stated that it was not for him to judge and that we both have lives to live...and between us, there is no happiness to share except our children.   Reluctantly, he agreed stating, “I seem to have fallen off the wagon and can't get back on.” Over the years, peoples’ identities change which often disrupts the original roads trod together.

I agree with the Dalai Lama’s words:
Happiness is not something ready-made.  It comes from your own actions.

A Heroine?
(A woman of distinguished courage or ability, admired for her brave deeds.)
At this moment, I felt like no heroine ~ implementing the breakup of our marriage.
Plans now had to be set into action....now for the obstacles to overcome!

Job:  I must return to full time teaching...since I had been off for 5 years to be home with our children. At that time, there were no full time openings in any local schools.  A career change became mandatory.  Real Estate projected an opportunity, securing a receptionist position working for the developer of Lakeside Village in Stoney Creek, a condominium concept of 10 or more buildings plus recreational facilities to be built.  While there, I challenged myself to study the 3 phases of Real Estate by night school courses...this arranged, so my husband was home with the children while I qualified as a Sales Representative.

New Home:  A Government sponsored program for First Time Home Buyers was in place with an interest free loan of $5000 to be repaid at the end of a five-year period.  This became my down payment on a new house to be built in Brant Hills...a new subdivision north of the QEW.  I bought a two-storey 3 bedroom semi-detached home (sight unseen)...from house plan on paper and selected a deep lot for its location on Manchester Drive.

Informing My Children:  Prior to moving, I had a necessary conversation with them paralleling my situation with one of my son's friends, whereby their friendship had ended....reason being that he and Eddie had nothing in common interests any more.  This, they understood, but lacked the reality of  Mom and Dad calling their marriage “quits”...a child, even teens, believe parents are around forever.  I fully explained they could talk with and visit their Dad at any time other than school days...and that he would forever be their father.  Hopefully  we would all see family improvement in a new environment.

New Schools:  Our Brant Hills home enabled both children to attend new schools. Academically, in Grade 9.he excelled. Vitally interested he was in the Music Program and joined the Computer Club.  (Today, as a graduate from the University of Windsor, holding  a degree in Computer Science, he works as a Technical Analyst). While attending M. M. Robinson High School he had a paper route and maintained summer jobs.  My daughter made  new friendships and was truly happy.  She attended College and became a financial planner.

Letters:  To my mother, sister and aunt, I wrote similar letters detailing reasons for our legal separation, the move to a new address and new telephone number. Because I wanted no interference from them regarding my decision, I hadn’t previously informed them.  These letters I mailed to them after I moved.   My sister called in a few days...my mother and aunt in about 10 days. 

Stolen Goods:  While waiting for the opportune time to move, I had purchased a bedroom suite, a few furniture pieces and lamps, draperies and accessories plus dishes for the kitchen.  These I stored in a locker and covered with blankets at The Shoreliner where I worked.  When my moving van went to retrieve these items, we discovered the locker had been broken into and all items stolen. Such a disappointment and loss of money spent!

Friendly Communication:  In cases of Legal Separation and Divorce, it is most important to retain a good relationship with the other parent.  “Be kind to each other,” is the philosophy to follow in the best interest of the children.  After I moved, my husband became very saddened and discouraged. He needed to leave the premises in which we had lived. His name I placed on waiting lists at apartment  buildings on the lake and had assurances from him that if any called, he would go to view said unit.  Fortunately, an apartment overlooking Lake Ontario became available and he was delighted to move.  This location lifted his spirits immensely…reminding him of the Pacific Ocean he had so frequently visited. Since he had no sense of d├ęcor and colour, I decorated his apartment for him.

Request for Divorce:  A couple  years following our Legal Separation, he came to see  me.  He had met a former friend from University days with whom he’d reconnected.  Her marriage with two boys had fallen apart. My husband asked if I’d agree to a divorce so he could marry her.  I was happy for him; he agreed to pay for the uncontested divorce…using the same lawyer who handled our Legal Separation.   For him it was a marriage where he would live as happily as he was able to…for the remainder of his life.

Nora Ephron, who spent a lot of time writing about divorce, stated, “A good thing about divorce is that it makes clear something that marriage obscures ~ that you are on your own!”

I felt now at this stage,  perhaps…I have been a “Heroine”!

We arranged our Legal Separation amicably (before the s___ hit the fan!)
I challenged myself to change careers when no opening for full time teachers.
The Government subsidized Program enabled my home purchase.
My son and daughter were happily in new schools and making new friends.
My ex-husband had remarried and seemed content.
My three prime relatives had accepted and seen the reality of my decisions.
The neighbours were understandingly friendly in this new community environment.

Now…the Question is how to convince ME  to feel like a  Heroine!  This is not easy!
Sometimes, you just have to die a little inside
in order to be “reborn” and “rise again” as a wiser version of you.
(Author Unknown)

I have a commission paying job; with no closings, I have no income.
There are mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities; car maintenance, insurance, gas.
Activities for  my children with minimal financial support from their father.
My bridge club friends show some rejection…first of 8 on the road to divorce.
They and a few other friends,  make me feel “like a loser” ~ I refuse to succumb!
While other close friends continued to befriend me and were sympathetic,
visiting their families, I felt like a 3rd or 5th wheel. Gradually, invitations ceased from them.
My son asked me once why I didn’t invite a neighbouring family
with 2 small children for a Sunday  dinner (a testy question to understandably  answer).
When their little girl died of a rare disease, we bought a tree for them to plant in their yard
...they were so eternally grateful.

I was BUSY working (with often Sunday Open Houses)…performing dual parent roles during the week…raising children who shared chores…caring for home and property…grocery shopping, etc.   Time spent with them was  Imperative! Although busy, it was so easy to convince myself that…”My life is a Job and My Life is a Responsibility.!  What can I do?  How can I achieve the best  for my children? How can I achieve the best for me?” These Crossroads can be quite besetting!

I Must!  I Must!  I Must!

I MUST pick myself up! I MUST take charge!  I MUST redesign my life!   I MUST create a new lifestyle!  I MUST rebuild…as homeowners do when their house is ravaged by storms…as a road needs repair when a “sink hole” appears…as my car requires oil and lubrication!  Only I can help me!  And I did!

I took special interest in  major activities of both my son and daughter…this was Our Time Together! Whether an equestrian event for her…a ski day or fairway game of golf  with my son.
I swallowed my Pride…I found the Strength…I Got On With Life!

We all pursue Happiness, but it’s very elusive.
You cannot let Life slip by!
You have to take action ~ one way or the other!
(from a novel…The Horseman)

Merle Baird-Kerr … written July 1, 2013
To comment…scroll down…may sign in as “anonymous”
or e-mail…inezkate@gmail.com

Summary:  Both men and women are affected by relationship breakups (and more so the children.)
                   They feel loneliness and incapable of living on their own.
                   They fear anxiety of what their friends will say.
                   They fear lost friendships and loss of personal esteem.
                   They fear starting over…and some fear failure.
                   Most women fear to leave unhappy situations.
Solutions:    Assess and analyze the situation; then design a workable plan.
                   Escape the woes (negative)…for a walk into the future (positive)!
                   Open your mind to optimism by building a new lifestyle.
                   Select new hobbies and recreation.
                   Create a new circle of friends.
                   And VOILA!
                   The Doors to Happiness will re-open!
                    
                  

4 comments:

  1. Dearest Merle,
    I must firstly say that I admire your fine feminine courage in exposing yourself and your feelings to us in your personal blog.
    What your writings do for me is give me courage and grace as I advance in my lifetime. I am forever going over my past and relishing every moment of what was and what is now and what will be, as this is what life is all about our memories over time. our Manifesto about our own lives. Thank you so much for this fine entry today . And just to let you know I have passed this along to others who need inspiration as well.

    Cheers ,
    Sherrie

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    1. Thanks Sherrie for your appreciation and understanding of my experience that may enlighten others and inspire some to "get off the pot" and make decisions to better their lives. That I give you courage and grace is a compliment to the success of my writings. Forever, your friend!

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  2. My nephew writes: "The writing of yours, dear Aunt Merle touched me deeply. I recalled some of the passages that were hidden in my memory and a few actual facts witnessed. So sorry that marriage with you and my uncle did not work out. I understand and admire your courage as well as treasure your trust and friendship; also that you made your best effort, understanding the profound incompatibility there was between you. I really believe you are a heroine; you will always be my favourite aunt!" Sending you my love!

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  3. Your kind words, I truly appreciate! Looking back, the decision at the time, though difficult, was wise and all benefited from the results. Continue being the wonderful father and husband to your family...Love, Tia

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