20 First Dates - Perspectives

[Editor's note - It's thrilling that others want to share in their dating and rediscovery journeys! We will be calling these posts, "20 First Dates - Perspectives". Here is our friend Patti writing about her journey.]

On Thursday, December 11th, 2008, daybreak seeped through tiny cracks in the blinds illuminating a room that should have seemed familiar. I had awoken here for the last ten years and though everything was still in its place, nothing was the same. Less than ten hours previous a marriage that had stretched through twenty-two years, enduring ups and downs and creating two precious children, came to an unexpected and emotionally brutal end. In one horrendous moment of betrayal my world slipped from its axis and everything changed. My husband was gone and my children were grown and on their own. I was alone for the first time in more than two decades and the silence around me was deafening. As I moved like a ghost through the house that first morning I couldn’t stop wondering who I was if I was not someone’s wife, someone’s mother, even someone’s daughter. Finding that answer would take me on a journey deep within myself.

When something catastrophic happens, time is transformed. Seconds drag on without mercy and only begrudgingly give way to minutes, hours, weeks, months, years. Though it is easy to lose yourself inside the span of a single second, finding yourself can take years. And so it was with me…seven years, really. After my divorce was final and my house was sold I moved to a small apartment and, surrounded by the remnants of that previous life, started to build a new one. Luckily, I had a good job and the demands of it required a lot of my time. In the beginning being busy was a comfort. It kept me from being alone with someone I barely knew; myself. The quiet moments were the worst as I would get lost in thought, unable to picture what the future might hold. For the first time in my adult life I was unencumbered by the needs, wants and desires of someone outside of myself. I was free to go, do, be whatever I wanted. The problem was, I had no idea what that was. What I did know was that I was going to figure it out.

Being both an artist and a scientist I often found my stable footing lies in the middle ground between emotion and logic. As the tumult of hurt, fear and worry swept in I would restrain it with logic and reason. I was not the first, and sadly would not be the last, to take this journey. The good path is knowable, I told myself, and I would learn the steps and everything would be okay. Easier said than done. In those first few years I really struggled with loneliness. I dated off and on and found myself in a relationship with someone that could not have been more different than my ex. This was by design. I was determined to avoid the same mistake I had made the first time around and had convinced myself that different was better. What I discovered is that different is just different. The more important thing I learned though was that wanting different was actually reactionary. This simple observation set the course for some really positive changes.