Tomorrow

When I was growing up, my sight was always fixed on the future.  On tomorrow.  I wanted to run away from home to escape the sexual, physical and emotion abuse, which was my life with my parents.  But I KNEW I had to graduate from high school if I was going to have any kind of a chance going forward.  I tried to figure out ways I could graduate if I ran away, but I could never come up with a viable plan.  So I stuck it out.  Yet always, always, always, I was waiting for the day to come when I would receive my diploma and finally be able to escape.
 
I was 17 years old when I made that long-anticipated escape, at which point my focus became healing.  I looked ahead with excitement as I envisioned a wonderful future.  So much hope!  So much possibility!  Today was hard.  Draining.  Discouraging.  But tomorrow would be better.  Because I WOULD heal.  I would conquer.  I would overcome!  Nothing could stop me!! I was stuck in a massive mess of brokenness at the moment, but I fully believed I would unravel all the puzzles, untangle all the knots and put all the pieces back together before too many more years had gone by.  Then I could finally get on with life.  I could finally live.  Truly live.  I could finally be free.  Today sucked. Tomorrow would be better.  And I had a bunch of tomorrows to look forward to!
 
The dark side of life wasn’t finished with me yet…it continued to land some devastating punches.  By age 25, I found myself married to a man who told me only after we were married that he didn’t love me.  I had to swallow hard.  The closeness and acceptance I longed for and desperately needed slipped between my fingers.  I can deal, I told myself.  I’ll be faithful, be a good wife, he’ll suddenly have his eyes opened to the fact that, even though I’m a broken mess, I do have many redeeming qualities.  At which point he’ll fall in love with me.  My dreams will still come true.  And we will live happily ever after!
 
He wanted to be a fireman. When he couldn’t be a fireman because of a health technicality, he didn’t want to do anything much.  I was working, but it became more and more obvious that if I didn’t want to constantly worry about how we were going to eat and pay bills, if I wanted to have any hopes of having a weird thing called a savings account so we could handle those pesky emergencies, if I ever wanted to be able to retire or travel or enjoy life, I was going to have to make the money, honey.  So I worked harder.  And longer.  Stepped it up.  He tolerated me, but still didn’t love me.  And it got harder and harder to handle all the things I needed to handle.  Healing.  Housework.  Work.  Church.  Hobbies.  Friends.  I wasn’t doing a very good job of being very good in any of these areas.  But there was always TOMORROW!!!
 
Admittedly, the longer I was with him, this aimless husband who coldly rejected me, the less I could see about myself to love.  I tried to outrun the demons and disaster within.  When I couldn’t outrun it, I tried to ignore it.  When I couldn’t ignore it, I tried to hide it.  But I was shutting down inside.  And that meant I was getting worse instead of better.  I was less able to fulfill all of the requirements.  I was less acceptable.  I was failing.
 
I eyeballed the tomorrows I had left and felt nervous.
 
Yes, I did try counseling several times during my life.  Had some really horrible experiences.  Had some mediocre experiences.  My husband just wanted me to “get fixed.”  And I worked hard at it.  When my father passed away, I finally found a good counselor and began to work doubly hard, believing now that he was gone, I could tackle those tricky issues related to having been sexually abused by him.  I didn’t have to protect him any more, after all.  But I was still living with a man who didn’t want to hear it, who didn’t want to know, who didn’t want to be bothered.  So as I slowly opened up in the counselor’s office, I had to quickly shut back down before I reached home.  Get the poker face back in place. It made the process more challenging.  And longer. And less effective.
 
At work, I had to keep myself hidden away too.  Women with “issues” are not highly regarded, compensated, or promoted, regardless of how hard one might work or how good of a job one might do.  All the compartmentalizing, though “normal” for me, slowed down the healing process.
 
And then I ran out of tomorrows.
 
No, I didn’t die…obviously…although that would have been something I embraced.  My husband became my ex-husband.  He left me, having fallen in love with another woman.  After 22 years of my hanging in there and hanging on and working and struggling and believing and trying with all of the little bit I had in my soul.  He walked out.
 
When he left, he took my youth with him.  My best years.  My hard work.  My best efforts.  My hope and dreams.  My belief in tomorrow.  And I found myself utterly isolated and alone.  Welcome to Tomorrowland.  The future had arrived.  It was bleak.
 
Having few tomorrows to hang on to, I’m left with only today.  Today isn’t all that great.  Today is shrouded in debt and fear and struggle and pain and hopelessness.  Today is standing on the cusp of “growing old.”  Something it would seem I’m going to have to do alone.  Today is dipped in anguish.  I have a gigantic stack of “yesterdays” behind me.  A dwindling stack of “tomorrows” in front of me.  And this dark, hurtful, helplessly empty moment called now.
 
What if tomorrow, that time of hope and promise, has already come and gone and this is all there is?
 
The thought literally takes my breath away.  And leaves me consumed with terror.
 
 

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