When, exactly one year ago today, I decided to leave my marriage of 17 years, I chose to move back to this small capital city (where I lived for many years before my marriage,) in which I've always felt at home.
I recall when I first saw it, at the end of a long weekend spent with good friends at a beach about 4 hours drive north - I was enchanted by the old buildings, the small size, and the feeling that I'd finally found that for which I'd been searching during all the many moves from one place to another - a city to call home. My love for it has never wavered, and during the years of my marriage, when we always lived somewhere else, at the insistence of my ex-husband, I felt a never-ending longing to return to this city; it has been my home whether I've lived here or elsewhere.
So much has changed in this first year of being single again after so many long years spent trying to make a marriage with a sober-but-not-in-recovery alcoholic work. I entered that marriage with a great naivete, believing that because he'd been sober for 8 years when we met, he was "cured." I was disabused of that notion pretty quickly, but lived in hope for a long time. It was only when I was reeling from the sudden illness and death of my beloved friend that I was able to admit to myself, my Higher Power and another human being - friends in program - that I had given all to that relationship that I was willing to give. I was finally able to admit to myself just how abusive he was to me, and that he had no interest in changing or improving the way he behaved.
If there was going to be change, it was only going to come from and through me. When I asked for guidance, what I received was the feeling that it was my destiny to move on in my life without him, to strike out on my own.
So I gave two dear friends some of my possessions to keep for me, loaded up my car, and drove home to this clean and lovely city beside the sea. One year ago at 10:50pm, I was sitting in the kitchen of a local Transition House, speaking to a counsellor about the many years of verbal and emotional abuse I'd suffered in that marriage. I'd spent so much time and effort minimising, that it was hard to hear some of that behavior labelled "abusive" but with a little time and distance, I was able to admit the true depths of my unhappiness.
I was out on my own for about 4-5 months before I one day realised that in that marriage, I'd always felt like a bad person.
I spent many months working a very intense fourth step about the marriage, with my new sponsor, who incidentally was at my very first Al-Anon meeting 28 years ago. We worked though a lot of old guilt and old feelings that I think were the reason I stayed so long with a man who treated me so poorly. He was, like many unrecovered alcoholics, an expert manipulator, and guilt was his main weapon. As I once heard an old AA guy say, "The rocks in his head fit the holes in mine."
I loved living alone, the peace and serenity of it was balm to my soul, and I became ever closer to my Higher Power. About two months ago, I met a wonderful man, and we began as friends, sitting drinking tea and talking, talking, talking for hours about everything and anything, and laughing. He has program experience, a very 12-Step attitude to life, and a powerful gratitude, which is very attractive to me. It became clear fairly quickly that something more than friendship was growing between us, and I can still be amazed by the acceptance I feel for, and from, him. We get along astoundingly well, and the time spent in his company is a gift and a pleasure. He made my birthday 4 days ago the best birthday I've had in a very long time; we went out to dinner with my sponsor, and had a wonderful time eating and laughing and enjoying each other.
I feel a comfort in his presence, and he brings me great joy with his humour and his loving gentle ways. It's a wonder, to be in love at my age of 56, and in love with a decent man I can respect and trust. God has been so good to me, all I had to do was listen for his guidance, and then follow it by taking that leap of faith out into the unknown, believing that I would be looked after. Life is good.