Musings and Milestones

Boy, it’s been such a long time since my last post. Call it pandemic fatigue. Or working full time. Or just plain exhaustion. Or all of the above, because they’re all true.

Last week, I turned 60. S-I-X-T-Y. How did that happen? I can still remember my 40th vividly. Heck, I remember my 21st in detail as well. I’m now old. OLD. Social Security and Medicare are a few hops, skips and jumps in front of me. Just yesterday, Kevin and I were newlyweds and moved to Colorado. Next month, Kevin is retiring from Raytheon after 31 years. How did this happen?

I’ll be honest and say that my 50th was the worst birthday ever. It fell on Good Friday, back when I was a good Catholic. It came with a lot of realizations (the unkind ones), relationship reflections (mostly the utter failures or outright disappointments) and shingles. I got shingles two days before my 50th birthday, and they hurt like hell. I woke up that Good Friday morning and realized that there was more of a vista in my rear view mirror than my proverbial windshield. I had a failed marriage, some regrets and personal shame. Victoria and I were barely speaking: she was 18 and leaving for college in New York and I was overprotective and controlling. We fought all the time and were both miserable. When I dropped her off at college, it occurred to me that we might never recover from our rift. That terrified and saddened me, and I was floundering on how I could get back on track with her. IF I could make that happen. Valerie was still a minor, and I completely blocked out any plans for how I’d navigate her path in adulthood. It was too stressful to allow myself to see in that crystal ball. I was literally and figuratively running from myself and my fears. I felt like I had lost my footing and I was sick and tired of being afraid.

One decade later, life is very different. Geography, time and effort healed my relationship with Vic. I got shingles a second time a few years later, but I’m happily free of them now. I have better and closer relationships with my loved ones. I’m acutely aware that my parents are facing their own mortality and probably none too happy with losing friends and loved ones all year long. I worry about their next move while actively trying NOT to think about it. Val is an adult and happy. Even though I am her legal guardian, I’m trying to build her life with more self-sufficiency and independence (that’s a work in progress).

My 60th birthday was the polar opposite of my 50th and absolutely enjoyable. I spent it traipsing around cemeteries with my loved ones. For whatever reason, I felt the need to head to Abbeville, South Carolina, to walk on ground where my Dunn/Agnew/McGee people lived and died. God knows that I do love genealogy, but it is really about spending time and making memories with my living loved ones that gets me going. I want to spend the next decade devoting my energy to cultivating my relationships with them.

So I think I’m going to switch gears here on the blog and do a little work on leaving a better genealogy legacy for myself. After all, I want to mean more than a birth and death date when my time is up here. Who doesn’t want to be remembered with love?

It’s been years since I devoted most of my energy to self improvement. I spent 5 years in hard core self work after Kevin left. I knew I needed it to figure out my part in our divorce and what I needed to do to be… happy. It sounds dumb and insane, but it took me a long time to realize that happiness is an inside job. I tended to blame Kevin for making me unhappy. I decided that I was going to turn that paradigm around and just BE happy and let everyone else own their crap.

Last night I stumbled on a blog by a guy whose posts really resonated with me. I honestly don’t know why, because my divorce is almost 17 years in my rear view mirror. There’s nothing left from the post-mortem, and I’m happy to say Kevin and I are friends and co-parents. Yes, in that order. It surprises me that I’m wanting to go back and dig a little deeper into some self-reflection. Surprise is actually a watered down word, because I’m actually stunned I want to pick at an old scab and see what’s underneath. What is wrong with me?

Maybe I just want to gain more introspection. Or to learn more about our human condition. Either way, this guy rocked my boat at 11 pm last night. I read his blog until 2:30 am this morning, and my body knows that was crazy. Val and I are going to have to pencil in a nap in our schedule today. At any rate, this is the exact post that hit my solar plexus. How damn inconvenient.

It has been such a long time since I’ve permitted myself to go back in time and reflect on how I felt. This is not to say that I want a do-over to get Kevin to understand this, nor do I want to rehash this stuff with him. It’s soul sucking, and yucky. Would I like a magic wand to wave over that part of my life and change it to a happy ending where we are not divorced? Hell, yeah. But pigs aren’t flying and that’s not possible. And I desperately want the world to do better in respect to relationships, marriage and expectations.

So I’ll settle for giving Matt Fray a plug and for providing all of you the opportunity to have a happier outcome than Kevin and I had. If you are a little lost in your marriage, please give this guy a closer look. Because I love you guys and you’re worth it. I want you to experience marital joy and love as my 60th birthday present to me.

Author: Betsey K.

Mother of two daughters, two Siamese cats and a 3 legged dog. Genealogy hack. Research nut. Search engine proficient. Daughter, sister, aunt, cousin, niece and ex-wife. And a person who strives for balance and peace.

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