When I was 25 and getting married to the man I adored, the man I gave my heart to, who gave me reason to be optimistic, I was so excited about the future. I was continually looking forward. To the life we would build. The places we would go. Memories we would make. Adventures we would share. To becoming closer. To growing stronger. I felt sure I could heal from my abusive past and leave it behind me with him by my side. It would just take a little time. Time to figure out who I was. What was damaged. What was left of me after being nearly destroyed by my parents. What I needed to fix and what would be required to fix it. I figured I would probably need some professional counseling…which we couldn’t afford. But down the road. There was time. I was young and I had plenty of life ahead of me.
Looking forward was exciting. Even though there were many obstacles to overcome, there was so much hope. So much anticipation. I believed. I truly believed the future would lead me to the fulfillment of all my dreams. I believed if I worked hard and did the right things, the right things would happen. I believed I would be set free. That I would be loved. And that love would heal the broken places.
I turned around twice and suddenly, time was gone. I was old. The marriage lasted 22 years, but only a few months of it were happy. That first year, he started telling me he didn’t love me. He didn’t want to know about any of the brokenness. He didn’t want to hear anything negative. He didn’t want any confusion or pain or worry. Nothing that would ripple the serene surface of his existence. Twenty-two years of believing in miracles. Believing he would come to love me. That we would someday have the beautiful marriage I had dreamed about at the beginning. Twenty-two years of holding on and keeping on and surviving day after day of his rejection and disappointment. Of never being good enough. Never being enough. Never being valued. Having to keep everything buried deep inside of me. Having to perform to justify my existence.
It has been over 9 years now since he left me and I’m still alone. Life is empty. I have grown old. Time has run out.
Now, instead of looking forward, I find I am looking back. Looking back with regret. And it is intensely painful. Intensely. Painful. I feel as if I am being ripped to shreds. I feel so stupid. I feel like such a failure. A failure with no future.
Here I stand, yet again on the cusp of a new year. I have been at this point so many times now. I have watched many years come and go. I used to think to myself, “Maybe this will be the year!” Year after year. Until I lost hope. Until I realized there were no miracles for me. Until I realized I couldn’t put the pieces back together again, no matter how hard I tried.
And I have tried. I’ve been in counseling for so many years now, I’m ashamed to admit how long it has been. I’ve written in my journal, prayed, sought God, sought insight, evaluated and re-evaluated. I’ve gone through 12-step programs and groups and classes. I’ve read books. I’ve pondered. Cogitated. Tried to change. Tried to see things differently. Yet for all of my effort, I’ve made little headway.
I’ve lost so much over the years.
So as I stand here, facing another year, getting closer to the end of my days, I am broken. I am hurting. Deep pain. Regret. Sadness. Hopelessness. I have forgotten how to dream. I haven’t any excitement left. I am empty. My world is empty and small. I am afraid. Afraid of growing older, older, older alone. Afraid of losing what little I have. Afraid of not being able to take care of myself. Of not being able to go on. I am crippled by depression and none of the current medication gives me any relief. No easy or magic cure is available. I don’t have very many friends and the ones I have are not close friends. I do not see them often. I am weary. Except for my dogs, there is no love in my life at all. No touch. Only silence and loneliness. Isolation. Hurt. Pain.
I want to believe that this year will be different. That there will be a breakthrough. That something good will happen. That I won’t be so alone.
But behind me are decades filled with experience that tells me I am a fool to believe.
Now, as the years slip ever more quickly through my fingers, I want to scream, “Please, wait, slow down!” I want to cry out in anguish and beg for more time. For a second chance. But in life, there are no second chances. I have spent my minutes foolishly, believing that tomorrow would hold answers and wholeness. Believing I had plenty of them. That soon, any moment now, I would find solutions and healing and love. But my minutes are almost gone. And I am yet broken. The answers have not come. I have not found any significant healing. And love has eluded me completely.
Regret weighs me down with chain after chain after chain of despair. This is how I enter the new year. And this is probably how I will exit it. Only I will have even fewer minutes. And so it will go until my time has totally run out.
Terror knocks the air from my lungs. Time continues it’s relentless march. Regret leaves my mouth filled with dust. I cannot change the past. It is finished. I cannot affect the future. I have no power. And today slips through my grasping fingers even as I try one last time to change my destiny.