I’ve certainly acclimated to living at just under 8,000 feet. The altitude really never bothers me at all unless I try to run. And I don’t run. Ever. If I do…there’s a bear or a cop and things are about to get bad. Something happens to me, however, when I get to about 10,200 feet. Every single time. Its like that particular elevation is my breaking point. My lungs start to hurt a little and its hard to breathe and it feels like an elephant is standing on my chest and I gasp with urgency a bit. Slightly anxious I’ll not be able to breathe. And I can’t move as fast above 10,200 feet. So my breath is racing and my heart is going a million miles an hour but I physically can’t move as fast as I can below that altitude.
I feel like I have been living above 10,200 feet for many years now. Full of urgency and anxiety. Trying to move fast to keep up. And I just can’t. I just can’t.
I grew up in the suburbs. With two married parents and two sets of married grandparents just miles away. Sundays we all went to church and had lunch at my Nanny & Pawpas. I went to a great suburban High School. Had great friends. Had a wonderful childhood and no complaints about any of it. It was pretty perfect. And I assumed I would do all of the same. The kids, the suburbs, the lunches on Sundays with MY parents. Its what I wanted. Its what I got. And it was beautiful. All of it. Until it wasn’t. And that’s the part nobody wants to hear I guess. That it’s not always beautiful.
I’ve met a handful of people who’ve been in amazing marriages. And boy are they lucky and blessed and work hard at it and all the planets aligned and life or God or fate or whatever you believe in melded two people together perfectly. But MOST of the marriages Ive seen have not been perfect. Some last. Some don’t. Some last waaaaay beyond the time that they should have in my opinion. Some end badly. Some end amicably. Some fizzle. Some blow up. Marriage is not easy. And the funny thing about it is that every single solitary person that is married has a different definition of what marriage is to them. To some its religious. To some its just a legal contract. To some its an equal partnership. To some they believe one partner should have more “power” in the relationship. My marriage was something totally different to me than anyone else’s is to them. And I don’t have any right to judge YOUR marriage or beliefs anymore than others have a right to judge mine. But we do. We do.
I posted some pictures on Facebook yesterday of my adventure in Wyoming with Dave. I got QUITE a few private messages immediately. Most had the best of intentions. The ones that made me laugh a little asked “hey…I see you cuddled up with some dude…is everything good with your husband?” And the asshole in me wanted to say “well of course- we are great- I just vacation with other men.” But I know people mean well. I know some of it is just curiosity. I live a life OUT LOUD and have been “reprimanded” on several occasions for things Ive said, done, posted. People judge. Its what they do. And people ask. And its ok.
People mean well also when they “warn” you to be careful. Or say “maybe you’re moving too fast”. Or “have you even thought of your children?” The meanest thing anyone has said to me recently was “have you thought about your kids?” Seriously? No. Not at all. It took years of miscarriages and trying so damn hard to have these kids that I adore and would die for that I just momentarily forgot about them while making some life decisions that would affect them forever. OOOOPS. Crap. I forgot about those 2 people that leave dirty dishes everywhere, fuss at me, slam doors, ask for money constantly, hug me without warning, tell me its all ok, encourage me, KNOW me. They are ALL I consider when making decisions. And they know that.
I think when a relationship or marriage comes to an end publicly its such a shock to everyone around that they don’t realize it is FAR from a shock to those living in it. Issues have been going on for YEARS sometimes. YEARS. There is no judgment, guilt, shame that anyone could bestow upon me that would ever, EVER compare to the guilt and shame and judgement Ive placed on myself over the past few years. What happens within the walls of a home are most often not known to others. As it should be. I feel extremely lucky to have had the man that is the father of my children, who was my husband for 20 years, my friend, the man who got me through my Dad’s death. He is a pretty fucking amazing person. And Dad.
I also feel extremely lucky to have found me over the past few years. Alone. Who I am. What I need and want and what makes ME happy. And far too many people stay in situations that they are unhappy in because they think its the right thing to do. And maybe it is…FOR THEM. No judgement. None. I love marriage. I love love. I don’t see the end of a 20 year marriage as a failure. I never will. Those two people eating cheese on my couch are the two greatest successes WE ever created and without that marriage I wouldn’t have them. Id do it all again. All of it. The good, bad, sad, happy, joyous, painful, beautiful…all of it. I refuse to live with regret. I also refuse to live paralyzed and unable to breathe and gasping for breath and anxious and full of a feeling of urgency to keep up with the Joneses and be someone Im not.
And that may not sit well with some. Thats ok. I don’t aim to be liked by everyone. Ill be 45 years old in a few weeks. And I feel more me than I have in a very very very very long time. When my Dad died on that highway 11 years ago I think my marriage died. I think my dreams died. I think part of me died. And admitting that has been the hardest thing Ive ever done in my life next to burying him. It took a decade but I have new dreams now. Grief is a funny thing. It sure doesn’t care how long its been or what other shit is going on in your life. It doesn’t care. Just like the mountain doesn’t care. You climb to 11,000 feet and its one giant “FUCK YOU”. She doesn’t give two shits about whether you can breath. Just like life. When I hit the 10,500 foot point on the mountain in Wyoming this past Sunday I just squatted and bawled. Hysterically and uncontrollably cried. The beauty was overwhelming. Divorce is overwhelming. Being a Mom is overwhelming. Owning a business is overwhelming. Life can be fucking overwhelming. But I didn’t have to stay at 10,500 feet. I didn’t have to. So I didn’t.