35 with 20 Years Experience

I celebrated my 55 th birthday on Friday. It was a strange day, I felt “out of sorts”, not depressed, not really unhappy, I wasn’t sure how I felt.

Sometimes I get overwhelmed with feelings and I guess yesterday was one of those days. I woke up with no expectations ( I learned with JC that having no expectations meant you were less likely to be disappointed). My son called me first thing to wish me happy birthday and then I got a text message from my dad, his wife and then from a step sister. Throughout the day I got calls or text messages from old friends, one from an ex husband, and my mom. I had to work, but the company bought me a nice plant and BDAY card plus they ordered pizza in for lunch. It was funny though because we have two locations, I was told to go to one location and then they changed where they had the pizza delivered and forgot to tell me!! I was at the wrong location with a dozen other people (including the owner) waiting for pizza while at the other location every one was pigging out on my birthday pizza.

JC’S sister had been out all week doing some painting for the company and her and I had spent alot of time in the evenings together so my place was a mess.

All I wanted to do was go home and clean. I drove her to the bus station and went home. A guy friend was going to cook me a nice supper but I called and cancelled. I knew he would be disappointed but I needed to be home and I did what I needed to do.

Birthdays aren’t important to me any more. Over the course of 10 years with JC I had one birthday that he acknowledged in any way. I would spend my birthday trying to avoid confrontation. If I made it through the day without having a fight with him I considered it a good day.

The first year we were together he planned a nice birthday for me, had my family over to his place, we went dancing and for dinner, he bought me a beautiful cake and flowers.

The 2nd birthday with him he had me meet him where he worked. He made a big deal telling everyone how he was taking me out for a nice dinner and was very loving in front of everyone. When we left I asked if he wanted me to leave my car there and pick it up after dinner. He looked at me like I was crazy and said,” what are you talking about?” I said,”My car, do you want me to follow you to the restaurant then?” He said,”What the Fuck are you talking about? I don’t know what you are doing but I am going to the race track.” When I said I’d go to the track with him he said “No, just go home.”

I bought myself a bottle of wine and went home determined to not let him ruin my day. I poured myself a glass of wine and went outside to putz in my garden. He got home and my stomach was in knots, I told myself I would not bite the bait; I was NOT going to fight with him on my birthday. But he was relentless, calling me selfish for buying myself wine, (even though he had come home with a carton of smokes for himself and booze and coolers for himself.) I pleaded with him to not do this on my birthday, but he was like a dog with a bone and would not let up, demanding to know where I spent my money, wanting proof, accusing me of spending all my money on myself, saying I owed him thousands of dollars. I tried to walk away but he blocked me.

It finally ended with me being punched in the head and coming to with him straddling me as I lay passed out on the floor. With one hand he held my hands above my head and had his other in a fist raised to hit me again. At first I didn’t know what had happened, I hadn’t even seen the punch coming but as my head cleared and I saw his fist ready to hit me again I said,”Go ahead, hit me again: do you feel like a man?” and waited for the blow. But he got off me; looked at me with disdain and went out to his shop, leaving me laying there.

I don’t remember any other birthdays until his son was living with us. It was my birthday but nothing was said about it until I came home from work and mentioned it was my birthday. He couldn’t believe his dad hadn’t done anything so he went in his room and made me a card and made his dad sign it and then drew me a picture and talked his dad into helping him cook supper.

I have had birthdays where I was homeless, living in absolute poverty, alone, and depressed. This year I went home; I had to go home, I needed my home. I walked through the door and locked it behind me. I poured myself a hot bath and soaked. Then wrapped in my towel I poured myself a glass of wine, sat in front of my window and watched the ducks swimming. Then I laid back on the couch, closed my eyes and dozed off for a few minutes until my phone rang and it was an old friend calling to wish me Happy Birthday. My friend that wanted to cook me dinner text messaged a few times concerned that I was alone on my birthday. I tried to explain to him what I was feeling but I got the feeling he didn’t understand. I didn’t really care, it was something I needed to do. At about 9 he messaged; feeling any better birthday girl? I said I was, and asked if I could still come over and he said of course and asked if I had eaten yet. I told him no I hadn’t. When I got there he had a fire lit, candles burning and steaks marinating. We didn’t eat until 11 pm but it was delicious.

I went with my mom and brother to Ikea the next day to shop for my new place and for dinner. My friend has the dogs.

I got a bunch of stuff for my place and had a great lunch with mom and my little bro. It was a great birthday.

How does 55 feel? Where did I think I would be at this age? Not here that is for sure!! Am I happy, yes……in a very subdued, peaceful way; not a “life is so exciting” way. I am happy in a level, realistic balanced way. The guilt that plagued me most of my life has faded into a healthy ability to look at my part in things yet not feel responsible for everyone else’s happiness. I no longer feel I must fix it for the people I love. I have learned to be comfortable with being kind to myself.

I am living my dream life to be honest. I am buying a house on a lake; something I had given up hope on ever having again. I am helping people and get letters or comments daily thanking me for this blog. Knowing that I have been able to help someone by sharing my experiences is most gratifying.

It may be difficult for someone to understand how I can be thankful for my experiences with JC; I hate to even admit it because the thought of him feeling he is responsible for my happiness makes me beyond angry.

I have always wanted to find my purpose for being on this earth, to make a difference in people’s lives, to somehow make the world a better place for me being here. Something beyond being a good mother or someone’s wife and I feel I am attaining that.

I know how life can throw a curve ball at any minute, but right now I feel confident, in control and grateful for my life. I can view everything bad that happened as a stepping stone to getting where I am today.

I feel an inner peace that I have never felt before in my life.

I still pack scars, I don’t know that its possible to experience what I have and ever be free of triggers that can send you running for cover. But now, like on my birthday; I can retreat, regroup and in a couple of hours be past the negative emotions. I don’t question what I am feeling, I don’t force myself to do anything that doesn’t feel good and I trust myself to be able to discern when I need to withdraw.

After Easter dinner I received an email the next morning from my mother, subject line FUN!!! In it she talked about how much fun she had and how much she and everyone else there had enjoyed my cousin Judy and my sense of humor. (Judy and I have always been close since we were kids and have the same quick wit and play off each other) Judy and I had everyone in stitches the whole evening and it just came naturally and it felt so good to laugh; really laugh until tears are streaming down your face.

After lunch with my mom and brother, my bother sent me a text message saying it was really good to see me doing so well and that I looked great. I really enjoyed my lunch with them; half way through lunch I realized I was totally relaxed, not feeling inferior in the least.

At one point I was telling Mark my brother about my new house and showing him pictures. He was saying how nice it was and I mentioned that I am still grateful every time I turn on a tap and water comes out. My mom said,”You never saw the way Carrie had to live the past year”. Then she looked at me and said,”I don’t know how you survived it.”

I don’t either; each day I struggled to find a reason to carry on, days turned into weeks and weeks into months. I guess thats how prisoners of war do it; they survive hour by hour day by day until things change.

Like they say; what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. What brought me to my knees in the beginning has been the catalyst to giving me inner peace and confidence.

Loving 55 so far!!

3 thoughts on “35 with 20 Years Experience

  1. K.L.Richardson

    Happy Belated Birthday! I have been thinking about you lately…seems funny since we hardly know each other but shared experiences can do that I guess. I have been struggling with turning 66, not so much the age I have accepted that pretty much but the fact that another year has gone by with me tolerating the niggling presence of my ex, always calling, always a shadow in the background no matter how I want him gone.
    Just now listening to a Gordon Lightfoot song brings him back to mind at a time when things were so much nicer-or so I thought but I realize now that so much of what i thought was reality was in truth fiction.
    You may not know it but you give me a secret strength sometimes to get through one more day.
    I honestly don’t know how you got through all that you did. The idea of being homeless terrifies me and I suppose that is why I still play “nice” when I would really like to scream “You are such an thoughtless prick!” because he is “allowing” me to stay in one of his homes. He was not as physically abusive as your ex but emotionally he has made me a dribbling idiot at times. Now that we are no longer married he wants to “be friends” but I can’t do that with someone who was such an intimate part of my life for 38 years and through so many trials. If he sees me he smiles like I am exactly what he wanted to see….so confusing.
    Well, much as you I have friends and some family who love me-I know that but…somehow..you know I’m sure it just isn’t the same.
    I am so happy I found your blog a few years back…here’s to the next birthday!


  2. ellie2013

    I have never made peace with the age thing, good for you!!! Hope you don’t mind Carrie, since MEV has been posting so much of your stuff I posted the link to this blog. Maybe a few will wander on over……….I am thinking the more the merrier!



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