This weekend is the 5th anniversary of the completion of this project. I’ve struggled for some time, trying to decide whether to delete this blog or simply update it to reflect how things have transpired. It would be easy to do the former and let this idea die forever: despite the fact that the site averages between 100 and 200 unique visitors each week, readers are no longer reading this in real time, and so much of the writing feels embarrassing or outdated. There’s also inertia…
But the site still averages 100 – 200 people each week! In my opinion, that speaks to a need we all have to be encouraged during difficult times, and to make sense of our lives regardless of our experiences. I get that, and I want to honor the human aspects of this project. Moreover, the fact that some of the stories have aged poorly over the years isn’t embarrassing – it’s expected. We learn, we grow, we change. The difference between 30 and 35 is everything! I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made, and proud of who I am.
Mostly, though, I have to respect the integrity of my journey. I owe my readers an update.
I hope it doesn’t surprise you to learn that “Mr. Wonderful” wasn’t wonderful at all. He was broken, and I was trying to fix him. This was futile, because it is impossible to change someone else. (If you don't already, you need to know that.) In total, I spent just shy of 11 years trying to make him someone he wasn’t. He was narcissistic, and emotionally abusive. He was immature. And I don’t just think he was broken, either – I think he didn't love me, and I’m not sure he ever did.
Sometimes I’m angry at myself and embarrassed that it took 11 years to see and admit this. But the calmer, older and wiser version of me kicks in, and I know I learned invaluable lessons through this relationship: I learned what I can and can’t control, and I learned how I want to be treated. I learned humility, for sure, in the face of so much hardship. I developed resilience. I haven’t seen him in well over 3 years.
Here’s the most important thing I learned through that relationship, though: you cannot have regrets. I cannot know what life would have looked like if I hadn’t been with him. I cannot tell you that I wouldn’t have been in another, equally awful relationship. I can tell you that I accept where I’ve been and, therefore, where I am. I can tell you that that the place of acceptance is where happiness is.
But here’s the bigger lesson that I’ve learned over the last 5 years: I am responsible for my own happiness, and you are responsible for yours. That’s some powerful information right there, and I learned it through this project. How could I possibly regret it? It was the beginning of my journey to find my own happiness.
And, just so you don’t think this Epilogue is all bad news, I DID find that happiness. 😊 I met my husband in September 2015, and he is a truly wonderful person. He’s kind, humble, smart, funny, hardworking, successful and generous. He’s the husband who lives to make his wife happy, and his wife doesn’t take advantage of it. She also doesn’t take it for granted. He’s seen his share of pain, but he’s dealt with it. He’s whole. He’s the person people of all ages love to be around (kind to the elderly, kind to children), and he’s going to be an amazing father. He is tender and patient and wise. I’m beyond lucky to be his wife.
I’m lucky, too, to have given up my unfulfilling career, which evolved from boring at the conclusion of this project to exhausting and harried – 60-hour work weeks and way, way too much business travel. It required shouting about things that I did not believe in, and dealing with a toxic environment that left 60% of the organization without jobs in the span of about a year. I, though, left willingly, and am more fulfilled than ever: I fold laundry; take care of the dog; clean the house; comfort the many community members who come through its doors – for advice, for comfort, for a cup of tea or a home-cooked meal; I read; I meditate; I write. I’m a matriarch. And a storyteller. It took me a long, long time to realize that, but of course I am.
Nothing looks the same as it did five years ago – literally very, very little. I don’t have the same house, live in the same town or wear the same clothes. But I have the same family, most of the same friends and an answer to the reason why I’m here. I’m also happier than ever.
And more grateful and humble, as well.
I hope you’re feeling whole, too. I hope you’re doing well.
With much love and appreciation,