This afternoon, I took time out to just sit and listen to a CD I recently bought. I settled on the couch, relaxed and enjoyed the beautiful voices of the Ten Tenors as they sang songs from artists who are no longer with us. The album is called Wish You Were Here.
It’s been over a decade since my husband, my childhood boyfriend, the father of my youngest child and I separated, and later divorced. As I listened to the songs of John Lennon, Roy Orbison, David Bowie and others, I thought about my husband not being here and it hit me. There were people from my life that I wished were here, but my ex wasn’t one of them.
In the years that we have been apart, I have lived a life I had not imagined I would when we were together. It took me a long time to stop wanting my life back the way it was. I lost my husband, my home, all my savings, and even my youngest left home and we drifted apart.
I worked my fingers to the bone to try to stop the roller coaster of debt and misery I was left with but I just didn’t seem to get off that roller coaster. I cried a lot, I felt sorry for myself a lot, I went through every emotion possible and asked “why me” so often. For the first year, I just tried to keep my head above water but soon after realised it was useless. I had to try to cope with changing my life, not holding on to something I knew in my heart was gone.
During the second year, although you couldn’t say I was happy, I finally let go of my home and started to build my life. I was not ever going to be comfortable financially and it was too late for me to own my own home again, as my husband had bled me dry and I just didn’t have enough working time left to recover.
I decided I’d try to study as I had always wanted to, but between a misogynistic father and life after I never got the opportunity, so when I turned 59 I enrolled in uni and at 61 I became a graduate with a Public Relations degree. I was working full-time so my free time and nights were taken up with study. I didn’t have time any longer to wish my husband was there.
Today I listened to the music and wondered what my life would be like now if my marriage had not disintegrated. The past few years have been hard. I no longer have a job to go to and that was, and still is, a big deal to me. My health has deteriorated but I won’t let that get me down. My biggest upset is having to live on a disability support pension. I don’t know why anyone would want to deliberately live on a pension; I’d much rather be working.
The thing is, I can finally say that I no longer wish my husband was here. He was selfish, self-centred, and a cheat. When I look back on my life with him, I realise the only good thing he ever did was give me a son, who I love with all my heart.
Since I have been on my own, I’ve learned to change the oil in my car, cook for one, and like my own company. Since I’ve been on my own, I have been on my first-ever cruise; a gift from my sons. I’ve spent Christmas on my own in Fiji and learned that I can make friends that won’t be scared away by the actions of my partner. I have been to Melbourne several times. I’ve seen artists perform like the Ten Tenors and Kenny Rogers. I’ve seen the musical of the Lion King and I’ve been to Sydney for a week with an extraordinary friend and a brand new friend. I’ve been to Brisbane and met my little great-grandson and been a guest at the office of Starts at 60 and met some incredible people there. Since I’ve been on my own I have written a little book, not much of a book, but a book all the same. I have taught refugees English and gained a certificate in English teaching. I have learned to stand up for myself and to fight the fight for women and older Australians.
So, as I sat and listened to the wonderful voices on the Wish You Were Here CD, I realised: It’s taken me a while, but I finally don’t care that a husband who didn’t deserve me is not here. I have done things I would never have done if he had been. Things he would never have “allowed” me to do. So yes, there are a few people I wish were here, but my ex is not one of those people.
I am at peace with my life and at peace with me, and all this because I listened to ten beautiful voices singing songs from beautiful artists that yes, I wish were still here.