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I wrote this last year, on the cusp of my 50th birthday.  Sometime before Friday the 12th (my 51st birthday), I intend to fashion Part II, a companion piece, to recognize the changes a year has wrought, to document the road I’ve traveled, the lessons I’ve learned.

When I found this in my blog folder, I was truly astonished as I re-lived the pain and sadness that accompanied last year’s birthday.  Even though many concerned friends had contacted me after reading this, back then I remember wondering why they were so worried.

I had become accustomed to existing in that tormented state, sad and hurting.  Much of my confusion and anxiety stemmed from my marriage’s demise and the increased frigidity between The Ex and me as we navigated our way through our changed relationship.  But more than that, what truly sent me into my downward spiral was the post-divorce affair; I had wrapped up in him  so much that it had consumed me.

For the most part, I am back to the self I was before the end of my marriage and the relationship that followed: I experience moments of doubt and anxiety, of course, but my natural optimism and enthusiasm for life has returned.  Now I can only recall faint echoes of the turmoil that led to such heightened and troubled emotions.  So even before I begin to write about the past year, I already know the basic ending to my annual reflective benchmark: Today I am in a far, far better place.

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I turn 50 tomorrow.

It’s only a number and it doesn’t really bother me.  Not the number part, at least.

But where I stand in my life right now….well, it bothers me a lot.

I turn 50 tomorrow…and I was supposed to be wrapped in [post-divorce affair’s] loving arms today.

I turn 50 tomorrow…and I was supposed to be living on my own.

I turn 50 tomorrow…and I was supposed to have moved on from my marriage, my former name, my previous life.

I n s t e a d . . .

I turn 50 tomorrow…and I’m divorced, but still living in my stress-filled marital home.

My ex is mad at me.

Instead of preparing for a much-anticipated party in my new home, I’m scrubbing the house in my old home with my ex.  This is not by choice.  It’s because [The Ex] yelled at me, continuing to harangue me until I began cleaning. Ironically, the house is a mess because my ex cut a hole in the garage wall, leading to a cloud of choking drywall dust and a chalky film deposited throughout the house…thereby necessitating the cleaning.

My children are mad at me.

Instead of just relaxing and playing (as I wanted to do today), I’m playing bad cop parent.  I’m watching over two of my children to make sure they finish projects delayed, as usual, until the last minute.  We’re sniping at each other.  They don’t like me hovering over them.  They’re irritated at me for making them work.  I’m irritated at them for procrastinating.

My daughter became particularly snotty, insisting huffily that she could finish her project tomorrow after school so she could have a friend over today (who, by the way, has already finished her project).

At that point, exhausted from arguing and policing and scrubbing, I burst into tears.  “Fine,” I yelled.  “I only wanted you to be free tomorrow night so we could do something stupid…like go out for my birthday.”  Then I stormed out of the house…to buy the last-minute missing materials for my son’s project.

Of course, my ex is too busy drilling holes into walls to ever help with projects.

I turn 50 tomorrow…and I’m stuck in limbo.

That place of my own…sigh.  I so want that place of my own.  I keep inching ever closer, but never quite close enough.  One more document is always needed, one last item continues to dangle just outside of my control, one more approval is constantly required.

Until I have a new address, I’ve delayed changing my name.  I’ve delayed changing my life.

I turn 50 tomorrow…and my ex’s “gift” is an ultimatum.

Be out by the end of the year, he said.  Period.  It’s fair and it’s in accordance with our divorce decree.  We’re divorced; we should be moving on, leading our separate lives already.  But his demeanor was frigid as he said it, and in my frame of mind, I accept that, of course, no one could possibly want to live with me, let alone love me.

It hurt.

I turn 50 tomorrow…and I feel so unloved.

The man with whom I thought I could fashion some sort of future no longer loves me. Worse than that, he feels absolutely nothing for me and wants nothing to do with me, except perhaps in an abstract, sympathetic, mostly pitying way.  No real kindness is emanating from him.

I am living in an icy house.  I don’t even know how to celebrate my birthday with my ex so close at hand.  If I leave to celebrate elsewhere, there’s hell to pay when I return.  If I stay in the house to celebrate, it feels distant and detached…not a celebration at all.

My children love me, but they’re also afraid of making their father angry.  And so they’re acting detached as well.

There is no compassion here for me.

I turn 50 tomorrow…and I am choking on tears.

I’ve been trying not show how sad I am, especially in front of the kids.  But holding back the emotions makes my head cloudy and my brain hurt.  The steady thrumming inside keeps threatening to explode.

And it did explode today…right after I stormed out of the house.  I couldn’t stop the great, gasping, choking sobs that wrenched from me.

I felt I had no one to call.  Warrior Goddess is recovering from yesterday’s chemo.  Devi was working.

Finally, I texted CE.  “I need a friend.”

God bless him.  He called immediately.

And at the sound of his soothing voice, my tears dried immediately.  I love you, CE.

I turn 50 tomorrow…and it means nothing and everything to me.

I turn 50 tomorrow.

Happy Birthday to me.

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