‘Making peace with my demons has allowed me to live retirement with gusto’

Jan 08, 2020
Wendy has used her surgery recovery as an opportunity to reflect on her life. Source: Stock Photo/Getty Images

Lying around recovering from my second spinal operation in seven months I’ve been reflecting at the many turns my life has taken and wondering, with happy anticipation, what’s next.

I was the second born daughter, my sister being five years older than me. Mum and Dad loved us and raised us into a middle class family with many of the trimmings; new cars, private schools, nice house and clothes etc. Dad was a pharmacist and had his own chemist shop and Mum was his support act. Both my sister and I worked there from time to time as well. I guess I was the black sheep of the family always looking for fun and laughter, which lead me into many strange places. My parents spent a great deal of time trying to tame me, but alas that was not to be.

I met a ‘life in the fast lane’ guy and we ran away to the other side of Australia for an adventure. It was a life of parties, drugs and alcohol. It was such fun, but we both got homesick and came back after a year. It was hard to settle down initially into life, it felt like we had never been away at all, but we managed to secure jobs and purchase a caravan, which we put in his parents’ backyard. We lived there until we purchased a house, which was a furnished deceased estate.

Our first son was born during our time in that house and we were overjoyed to be parents. Now that all seems pretty normal right? Unfortunately my then husband, became addicted to drugs and alcohol, which made him a violent man occasionally and it all slid downhill from there.

We had three sons, a newly built home and a trucking business, but because of his lifestyle we lost it all and sadly our marriage ended. It was not exactly how I envisioned my life would turn out, though I had always dreamed of marrying and having a family.

The boys and I rebuilt our lives with the help of our family and friends and with hard work we managed to live comfortably. I was able to give them good schooling and happy home life. Their father unfortunately was not able to participate in their upbringing, which was difficult for my boys to understand at such a young age. Eventually he left the country for many years and was returned with an armed guard after serving jail time and violating his visa. By then the boys were young men able to make up their own minds about their dad with one deciding to keep some contact with him and the other two not wanting anything to do with him at all.

I’d rekindled a teenage romance with a lovely guy, the total opposite of my boys’ father and we have been together and married for 30 years. The dynamics of this relationship is quite interesting, he has a son who is also lovely and we get on really well, his daughter is totally different. My eldest son also is different and hard to manage while the two younger boys call him ‘Dad’ and adore him.

All in all we have been blessed with our blended family. Even with their idiosyncrasies they have provided us with love and laughter and, more importantly, grandkids.

In our retirement I am blessed, yes blessed, to have lead the life I have so far. Its ups and downs have shaped who I am and where I am and I would not have it any other way.

I’ve also been fortunate to meet a beautiful lady who has helped me make sense of all of this and be at peace with the twists and turns. I think it’s important that we make peace with our demons. It felt like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders and I am now free to live retirement with gusto the way it should be lived.

Embrace who you are and seek help if you need it, that is my new mantra.

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Have you found peace in reflections of your youth? What twists and turns has your life taken you on?

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