I’m a late bloomer. A really late bloomer. In fact, I haven’t actually bloomed yet so I guess I’m a not-yet bloomer. I know it’s going to happen. I’m pretty sure it’s going to happen. I hope it’s going to happen. I’m a typical gifted underachiever and I’ve waited all my life for the moment when my drive to achieve would override my debilitating desire to hide. I was so busy waiting that I stopped paying attention to how much time had gone by until my husband mentioned that I was about to turn 50. I fell apart. I truly fell apart. How was it possible?! Fifty?! Wasn’t I 38 just last year? Where did the time go?! I lost all those years doing what? Nothing. I hadn’t achieved any of my personal goals and now my time is almost over. 50?! It couldn’t be possible.
I was totally devastated. I took to my bed. I cried a lot. I listened to Adele on repeat so she could keep reminding me that I too was so mad of getting old it made me reckless. I felt reckless and angry and sad and desperate and so very lost. I had let myself down. I had carried all of my baggage with me and I had given my abusers free reign and let them steal my life. I felt like I just lost my whole adulthood in a blink and I had nothing to show for it. I stayed in bed leaving it only when I absolutely had to tend to my family. I continued on this way for six months.
My husband, Rob, and I have a daughter, Molly, who at this time was 11. I noticed that Molly’s behavior was starting to change. She went from an agreeable, happy, child to someone who cried and was sad and frustrated. One night when she was leaving to go to a sleepover, Molly and I had an argument because of her new-found behavior. After she left, I went for a walk instead of going back to my bed. This was a big deal. I used to walk every day before my breakdown and hadn’t walked since. Taking this walk was a pivotal moment in my life and was going to mark a before and after. Partway through my walk, as I was trying to process what was happening, I heard these words spoken in my head, “You’ve been saying goodbye.” I was so stunned by the words. Was I? Was I really saying goodbye? Is that what all this was coming to? I realized that I had been slowly leaving parts of my routine for others to take care of. I left groups and friends and stopped living. I was done. I had been absolving myself of more and more so that no one would notice when I was gone. At least that’s what I told myself. I was teaching my husband and daughter how to do what I do so that they could get along without me. I just didn’t realize that that’s what I was doing. I was waiting in bed to die.
I walked home and called Rob up to talk to me. I looked at him and said the most difficult words that I had ever had to say to him, “I’ve been saying goodbye.” He was angry. No that’s not big enough. He was livid. He felt betrayed. He was hurt and frustrated and terrified. I told him that I was sorry. Molly’s behavior was because of me. How dare I say goodbye? He said to me. How dare I believe that they could survive? How dare I be so selfish and weak and insensitive? I just felt numb. Paralyzed. Please don’t ask me to stay. Please don’t ask me to carry this for one more day. He thought I was going to kill myself. I was dumbfounded. I’m not suicidal, I just want to die. There’s a difference, I swear there’s a difference. Isn’t there? I don’t think he cared much for the distinction since the outcome would be the same. I was saying goodbye. Getting out of bed was the first brave thing that I did. Taking the walk was the second brave thing and telling the truth was the third brave thing. I faced the truth and owned it. Now what?
Sometimes bravery is just taking that first step.
If you enjoyed this episode and want to dig deeper into the story, my my husband Rob and I do an exclusive companion podcast on my Patreon page. We give further background into the story and include the spouse’s perspective. Each one of these episodes averages 45 minutes to an hour.
Find the link below.
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