So much of my life was spent waiting, rather than living. As a child, I waited to be adopted, believing that when I was adopted, I would finally be happy, secure in a family of my own, loved, free of the fear and anxiety I felt being moved from pillar to post, one foster home after another. Back then, 50 years ago now, a child was moved from a foster home if it was felt that he or she was becoming too attached to the foster parent. This is an excellent way to create an adult incapable of commitment, for fear that the loved one will be snatched away, just as every person one dared to care for as a child was snatched away.
When finally adopted at the age of six, I realised very quickly that my new home was not going to be much of an improvement on the foster homes, because my adopted mother was a woman so full of rage and fear that she was unable to nurture or love a child. She used physical force to get her point across, and beat me regularly. I settled down to wait until I was sixteen, and could leave home.
(It wasn't until I was an adult, sitting in the kitchen one day with my first husband's youngest daughter upon my lap, chatting to me about a movie she'd seen, and playing with my then waist-length hair, that it struck me how frail and delicate she was - her hands and wrists were tiny. I'd been told for many years that the beatings I suffered were my own fault, that I had caused them through my own choices. I took that information and internalised it, accepted it in some internal measuring place we all have. It wasn't until that day in my kitchen, that it struck me all at once - I had been about the size of the little girl in my arms, and there was no way a child that age or size could have "deserved" the beatings that were administered to me. I just wasn't that "bad.")
When I left my adoptive home I quickly became involved with a raging alcoholic - my first husband. For ten years I hoped that he would change, and waited for things to improve, so I could be happy. It didn't happen, and I left that marriage no happier than I'd entered.
My second husband was a sober alcoholic, but not in recovery. His ego was the size of a mastodon, and I was miserable in that marriage, too. I had figured out very quickly, when he moved me to a town in which he'd lived before, where he felt comfortable and I knew no-one, that he didn't care how I felt, as long as he was content. I tried to work my Al-Anon program and accept my lot in life, but I had the feeling that there must be more to life, and to a relationship.
When I left that marriage a year and 3 months ago, I grieved for my little dog, whom I'd had for six years, but had to give back to the breeder. I knew I'd never be able to afford to look after her the way she deserved, since I was going to be living on a disability pension. I grieved for her, and for the death of my dear friend, who had died a few months prior to my leaving.
During that marriage, I had learned to find happiness in my friendships and my siblings, in gardening and art., but on some level, I was still waiting.
Alone, and once again living in the city I love and where I feel at home, I had begun to find a real happiness, and life was a wonderful adventure. I met Robert after almost a year, and we became first friends, and then as we realised how well matched we are, more than friends. I found myself eagerly anticipating the next time we got together, for the conversation was wide-ranging, our interests intersected in plants and gardening, and other areas of life, and we can make each other howl with laughter. I slowly, ever-so-slowly, allowed him access to the part of my character which had before then been closed away for over 50 years - my deepest feelings. I trust him completely, and it's an astounding feeling, this amazing trust. I had stopped waiting, because life had given me everything about which I'd dreamed.
We had 3 months of bliss uninterrupted, then I was diagnosed with cancer. I began once again to wait, but the waiting was of a very different kind this time around, because I have a partner who waits with me, for the tests to take place, and soon, for the results of the tests. I'll know on Oct 10th exactly what it is that I am facing, whether surgery is an option, or if the prognosis is grim. This time, I have only been waiting for short periods of time before I've pushed that thinking right out of my head, and gone back to dealing with the glorious delight of daily life in a relationship with a man I'm crazy in love with, who loves me. Somehow, even facing the most frightening possibility of my life, I am waking up full of joy and delight, turning to catch sight of my beloved's sleepy face on the pillow beside me, and greeting him with a bursting affection.
I'm waiting for the results of the tests, but I am also living in a way unknown to me before now, and this I wouldn't give up for a clean bill of health. I'll take it all, good and not-so-great, because all of it makes up my life, and life is good.