The past five years have been the most difficult of my life. The person I was in 2010 is dead, but it was a slow, agonizing death brought about by deceptions, betrayals, and even sexual assault. Just when I thought I couldn’t lose anymore, after having lost my community, my faith, my job, my home, and my very identity, my husband of 15 years moved out.
The one thing I thought was strong enough to survive anything, wasn’t. The one person I thought I could trust to be honest and genuine wasn’t. In his own words, he’s been pretending to be someone else for the bulk of our marriage.
I don’t even know how to process that.
He’s made it clear he doesn’t want me around, and I had nothing left in the States except a handful of dear friends scattered around the country, an unfulfilling job, and an empty apartment.
Facing a future without my husband or my beloved Buster and Shadow nearly did me in. I had no reason to keep living. Many a night I cried alone or in ear of a stranger on a suicide hotline.
Through my despair, one thing came to mind, one reason to live…and that was to live in Europe. It has been my dream for over 30 years to live in Europe. This is as good a time as any, so I took the shattered pieces of myself and came to Europe.
Now at 45, I’m rebuilding myself and my life here amongst the rich culture and rainy days. Due to visa limitations, I will be moving around every few weeks/months to remain legal until I can find a more permanent arrangement. I’m renting places via AirBnB and staying at other people’s homes as a pet sitter thanks to TrustedHousesitters.com. I work two remote jobs I can do anywhere with a WiFi connection.
I take care of myself. No one else is here.
To mark the break between my former life and my new one, I celebrated the day, formerly known as my wedding anniversary, as a day to pamper myself. On this day, I spent a fortune on getting my hair done black with silver streaks and getting a new tattoo. I also took myself out to a decadent lunch at The Albert for some Vegetarian Fish & Chips.
The tattoo is significant for a few reasons. It’s a butterfly because long ago during a spiritual journey, a butterfly came to me as my teacher. Her body resembles a semicolon, marking this point in my life. Through my PTSD and suicidal ideation, after having survived rape and betrayal, from struggling with debilitating depression and anxiety, I’m still here. I didn’t end my life. Secondly, it signifies leaving the past where it belongs, in the past, along with anyone and everyone who remains there.
Now is the time for me.
It is my turn.
If you want to be on the right side of my semi-colon you have to earn the right by actively taking part in my life and our relationship. Everyone else stays on the left side.
The sexual assaults are on the left side, as are the predators who perpetrated them.
Children masquerading as men are on the left side.
Narcissists and sociopaths, you are on the left side.
Liars, abusers, misogynists, and cowards, you are on the left side, regardless of whether you call yourself friend, family, or if we have a history. You are now history.
My marriage and husband are also on the left side.
They can all stay there. They are nothing but smoke now.
They no longer exist.
Similarly, I don’t have much need for pictures anymore, except to share my life with you, my readers and friends. It is still my instinct to share my life, even though I have no one in person to share it with day to day.
I no longer look at pictures from my past, so dearly loved, because those things are smoke. They don’t exist anymore. He doesn’t exist anymore. Pictures posted to Instagram or to capture a beautiful moment I rarely look at again. For then it too will be smoke.
I live each moment, enjoying my experience. My money is spent on doing. I go to theater. I go for walks. I go to the movies. I enjoy a special lunch or a daily coffee in the beautiful London air.
I work hard, and then I relax. I watch what I want to watch. I do what I want to do. I set my own boundaries.
Although I’ve said it for a long time, I am finally at a place, where I have nothing left to lose, to put it into harsh practice: I deserve better, and I will accept nothing less than integrity, courage, and openness.
It would be wonderful to find love again, but I don’t hold out much hope. Finding a middle-aged vegetarian man who isn’t afraid of his own emotions or mine, who isn’t a liar or a cheater, who is able to invest in a relationship, who loves and protects animals, who is honest and true and kind….let’s face it, my options are limited. Still, I would welcome love if it finds me, but I’m not looking for it. It will be so difficult to trust again, and my trust won’t come cheap.
Lie to me once, you’re gone.
Deceive me once, you’re gone.
Betray my trust once, you’re gone.
Tell me I’m too intense or too needy or too emotional, you’re gone.
If you play Jekyll & Hyde games or are afraid of commitment or intimacy, you’re gone.
If you’re aloof, inconsistent, uninvested, unengaged, unavailable in any way, keep moving.
I have neither the time nor the patience for you. No second chances. Not anymore.
I’m not playing this bullshit game any more.
I’ve gotten really good at cutting people out of my life over the past few years, even people who meant the world to me. When they consistently bring me more tears than smiles, they’re gone. When they even breathe like a misogynist, they’re gone. When they aren’t true to their word, they’re gone. If they objectify me, they’re gone.
I’ve learned to enjoy my own company. Even though the loneliness sometimes feels as if it will consume me, I would rather be lonely alone than lonely in another relationship.
I would rather no one call at all than to wait around for an uninvested man to recognize my worth.
Respect me, or keep walking.
Cherish me, or keep walking.
Engage fully with me, or keep walking.
Embrace everything I am, or keep walking.
You can envy my travels around Europe. The plays I see. The places I visit. But please also remember what brought me here. Remember the loss. Remember the betrayal. Remember the trauma I’ve endured before you wish to trade places with me.
I live in others’ homes because I no longer have one.
Other people’s beloved pets keep me company because I lost mine.
I deeply cherish my handful of friends who have stayed true and by my side through this, whether they be on social media, scattered around the US, or the ones here in London. Without them, it would truly be just me. I love you all so much.
I look forward to making new friends in each place I visit, more true friends like those who remain. The rest can stay as they are.
Friends and readers, please share in my joys, and know I’m not bragging when I post pictures of my adventures. I’m surviving. Find me snowshoeing in the Alps. Riding a Vespa through Rome. Hiking the Scottish Highlands. Studying French in Paris. Gazing at great works of art. Walking endlessly through the magnificent streets of London.
Just remember I walk alone.
Just remember I dine alone.
Just remember I sleep alone.
Just remember I cry alone.
Just remember I have lost all hope.
Because after the death of hope, there is life.
There is me.
May you all find peace.
27 Comments Add yours
Thanks for sharing this deep and meaningful piece of you Christine. You may walk alone but there are those who care where you walk and enjoy you for being you. Stay true to you and you will find what you need.
Peace and blessings to you.
I know there are, Marnie. Thank you. I’m blessed to have such people in my life. Peace to you as well. xo
It is a courageous post. I wish I could say something supportive, but I don’t have anything very inspirational. In the place of a bumper sticker wisdom, I just wrote this. Best wishes.
Thank you for your comment, Brenton. I’d certainly rather someone just be here than spout platitudes. I’ve had enough of platitudes to last several lifetimes. Thank you for your kind sentiment.
That was a beautiful and brave thing you’ve written. Not because of the things you’ve survived and weathered, but because you are hopeful of the future. Because you’re not letting the past define who you are going to be. The semi-colon is a perfect way of showing that. I’ve only known you for a short while,, but you never cease to amaze me with your resilience and honesty. I wish you nothing but joy and peace on your new adventure! 😀
Thank you so much for your kind sentiments and wishes, Heidi. Joy and Peace are both on the right side of my semi-colon! As well as travel, simplicity, silence, and kindness.
Peace and love to you.
I was so sorry to read all that has happened. I am truly sorry you’ve had to endure all these trials. But what a tremendous achievement to make it through all this and be the person you are. To be able to rise above it and make the changes you have. I applaud your courage. I am married and alone a lot. and i agree with you on your statements. It’s not much fun. It may just be better to be alone and rely on yourself. I wish you all the best and happiness. Please keep n touch.
Thank you so much for your comment, Diana. It is so hard being alone in a relationship, so I’m sorry to read you feel that way. 😦
I’ve been debating the pros and cons of divorce. Also debating about my married surname Rose. I don’t really want to revert to my maiden name, as it’s very difficult to pronounce (and also a reminder of the past). I’ve thought about going as Christine Marie, which is a popular surname in France (and my middle name), but since I’ve built a readership and known as Christine Rose, I might just keep that name. Perhaps it can become a noun, like Christine Rose Above It All. 🙂
My heart aches for what you’ve endured but the fact that you came out on the other side is a testament to you. It is an accomplishment you can hold up for others to see because it is definitely worthy. The old adage, what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger is definitely true in your case. You’ve weathered the worse and made it. Kudos to you and thanks for sharing as there are those who will truly benefit from your post.
Right now, I’m living my last few months in Europe and can’t wait to get home to the States. I can’t imagine not living there after being here nearly 5 years. Austria can be fun and exciting and oh, so scary. I really never wanted to live in a city but here I am right in the heart of Vienna. I’ve learned to love things I never thought I would like public transportation, the open air Naschmarkt and the Christkindlemarkts during the holiday season. I’ve also learned, I’m really not cut out for city life despite the things it can offer. I’m truly a country girl at heart.
Sending you hugs and good karma that you will find a special someone, that you will have furbabies of your own again some day and the home you so richly deserve. I know I would have never survived Vienna if it weren’t for Pup Harry. Frankly, I think if we’d landed in London instead of here, I’d been just fine…LOL!
Good luck in everything you do! I’ll be dropping by from time to time. And again, thanks for sharing.
Thank you for your comment, Lynn.
Vienna! How wonderful! I’m going to Austria for my first time ever over New Years, and I’ll likely be going to Vienna as a base. I want to snowshoe in the Alps there. I hear Austria is glorious that time of year. If you can recommend anything I absolutely must see or do my few days there, please let me know. 🙂
Wow, I’m so sorry for all you’ve been through. I can’t even imagine 😦 Losing your husband would have been hard enough, but your dogs too?! I really feel for you; I’m so sorry 😦 Moving to Europe was a great idea, so you can have something to live for, which is so important after going through a living death. I must say so much of your post is spoken like a true Scorpio 🙂
Thank you for your kind words, Lindsay.
I’m not only a Scorpio; I’m a triple Scorpio! Yikes! 😉
Europe is rather magnificent, indeed. It’s good to be here. Today is my 46th birthday, and I’m going into Edinburgh to explore the city and treat myself to coffee and lunch.
Oh wow – a triple Scorpio! I can definitely relate, as I’m a double Scorpio – Scorpio Moon and Pluto on the ascendant, which is basically the same thing as Scorpio rising.
And Happy Birthday to you, Christine!! I hope you enjoyed it. Hope you’ll be able to find happiness bit by bit.
And on the right side you find: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6G1UltoANIk
Thank you John! ❤️