It has negative connotations, doesn’t it? This was one of the excuses that my ex gave me for having an affair. At first, I felt guilty about it. Really guilty actually. It made me feel like I had turned into someone I wasn’t and that it was my fault. But then I realized….I was supposed to change.
Not just because I wasn’t happy. No this had nothing to do with that. It had nothing to do with a shift in my personality or me ‘leaving’ him behind. It had more to do with the fact that when you are married at 26, you should be changing. You should be growing together, or apart but either way, you should both be growing. It doesn’t mean that you are really letting go of anything; it just means that you are going from someone in their mid 20’s to someone in their 30’s. Which is actually a really big shift into adulthood when you think about it. If you aren’t changing then that really is what the problem is. No one wants to be Matthew Mcchonhay in Dazed and Confused, some 30 something-year-old hanging out in high school.
That’s the weird thing. If you aren’t moving forward, you’re not staying in the same place; you’re going backward. Because everyone else around you is moving forward.
So the basic thing I want to put into perspective with this is that change is not a good thing or a bad thing. It’s an INEVITABLE thing. Embrace it and take ownership of it.
Here are the ways I’ve changed and I dont think any of them are wrong:
- I became more confident
- I let go of excuses and blaming other people
- I trained myself to be more positive
- I built a support system of friends and developed adult relationships
- I repaired our credit
- I built savings
- I developed my own taste
- I moved forward
So let me tell you a little story about how I changed:
A few years ago, I was working at a coffee shop that is no longer open in San Antonio. I got up at 4 to open the store to start baking at 5am. My ex-husband was working at another restaurant and was working until two or three in the morning so you can guess how that worked out. I was making no money, eating like crap and was depressed because the owner was demining. I would come home and wait for my ex to wake up, spend an hour with him bitching and moaning about work and just generally wallowing in our own exhaustion and how unfair the world was to us. After he left I would take a long nap before getting up, cooking dinner and trying to stay up and wait for him to come home so we could spend time together before I passed out again. It was….a bad schedule. It was unhealthy, we fed off each others depression and lack of ability to take responsibility for our own lives.
One day I was coming up the stairs after getting groceries, hauling four or five bags. I ran out of breath. Going up one flight of stairs. I was never super sporty or super skinny but this was a new low. I had to do something. I was talking to my friend at work about it…Jess and about co-worker heard us. Judy. Remember that name. Judy.
She turned me onto 21-day fix and T-25. I started really doing them. 25 to 30 minutes a day. It wasn’t long but it worked. It worked really well actually. It wasn’t easy and there were days that I cried and days where just doing 25 minutes of pilates reduced me to a sorely tired mess. But it was working and I started to feel really good. Not just physically but mentally. I lost 30 pounds in a year. But work was still horrible. I worked hard. I wasn’t perfect but I was always there and did everything I could to try and impress the owner. It didn’t work. Even Jess who was the manager knew that I was her punching bag (And jess would know because she was too). I finally started putting out applications and two weeks later had a job. I put in my two weeks even though I hated it and leaving people that I loved.
This new Job was so much better and I was promoted to catering manager very quickly, and then actually was given even more responsibilities. My new Boss was great and while it took me a few breaths to get out of the fear that every day was going to result in verbal and emotional abuse, we got our footing and I like to think that Stephen knew I was loyal. With normal hours 8am-4pm, I was able to do more things and wasn’t tired all the time. I had more energy and decided that I was going to take my working out a step further. My ex was a cross country runner in high school and I had taken a few failed attempts to run right after college. I decided that it was time to try again. Not only that but my new Boss was a runner and ran marathons and half marathons. We bonded when I told him I wanted to try and he was always so supportive. I was always on call but he totally was okay with me not answering my phone for an hour a day because I was on a run.
I thought that I would be able to bond with my ex over this too. But he didn’t want to. It was going to work and come home and watch tv. He said we couldn’t afford things and yes alright. But we could go run. That didn’t cost a thing. He was encouraging but didn’t want to participate. Alright. I tried so hard to involve him, to ask him for advice but when there was no interest I started to do it myself. Because I was finding that I loved it. I loved working hard and seeing results. I loved being able to say I went on a long run on Saturday mornings. It was empowering. And while I started off slow and not that far (The first half marathon, I hadn’t been able to run more than 9 miles) I was getting better and my confidence skyrocketed. For once I knew that I could do something. That when I worked for something, someone noticed. I noticed and that was more powerful than any validation anyone could have ever given me.
That was when I got the phone call. That phone call about Judy. Judy was only 3 years older than me and she was in the hospital. She had gone into the doctor with an ammonia and they had found something totally different. Breast cancer. And it was so far along there was nothing they could do. The ammonia had basically destroyed her immune system and they couldn’t even attempt surgeries and chemo. We all went to see her in the hospital, people I hadn’t seen in months since I left and only had polite texts and conversations with. She told us, when she was coherent, that she had had a lump for a long time and ignored it because she didn’t have insurance or the money.
A few weeks later, she was dead. She was so young. She had so much drive and she thought there would always be a tomorrow. And then there wasn’t. I met up with Jess and some of the others there. I cried. They cried. I hated that her sister’s kids were never going to see their aunt that they lived with again. There wasn’t going to be a tomorrow for Judy and we all saw that even if we didn’t want to.
One thing stuck out to me as I drove home that day. There might not be a tomorrow. We weren’t children or even in our mid 20’s anymore. You needed to do it now and move forward, or there might not be time.
A few days later Jess called me. We had caught up as much as one could while bawling your eyes out at a funeral. She said that basically, she had been thinking the same thing. She wanted to take more control of her life. She wanted me to teach her how to run. She wanted to challenge herself. So on January 2017 first….we went out for her first time. One foot in front of the other. I really started to see the changes I had made when we were together running. I told her that I wasn’t a professional. That she knew me and knew I wasn’t one of those lean go-getter kind of girls and she said that’s why she liked it. I realized just how strong and positive I had to become while I was lifting someone else up.
And having her support as I trained for my first full marathon made all the difference in the world when my ex seemed to just let me do what I was going to do (Of course I know now that that’s because those hours I was out there trying to make myself better, he was fucking a 19-year-old). I decided to move my life forward and started looking for a house for us. I planned activities and dates. I asked him what he wanted to do. I asked him to come out with friends. I moved forward and thought that we could move into an adult like together.
So yes. I have changed. I have changed for the better over the past years. Events have happened that I couldn’t change, and honestly, I wouldn’t. I have changed. It might not be what I wanted but it happened.