Editor’s Note: The following article is an excerpt from my manuscript detailing my own abuse. Please see “My Story of Abuse” under the category link.
Michael wasted no time calling me when we returned from the conference. We spent some time talking on the phone and getting to know each other. Michael had been divorced for about nine months. He had one son, Jesse and his ex was still being a pain. There were regular fights about Michael’s visitation and what time to pick Jesse up and what time to bring him home. His ex was a beautiful woman but had issues with drugs and alcohol.
We started dating and things were going well between us. Our first few dates were fun and exciting. Somehow, I expected Michael to respond to things the way Broch would have responded. It took a couple of months for me to realize what I was doing. Michael helped me through the grieving process over Broch and his unfaithfulness. I still held Broch up on a pedestal really high and made unconscious comparisons between the two. Michael grew weary of this in no time flat. He’d say, “I’m not your dead husband.” When Michael starting saying such things to me; I was aware I needed to stop talking about Broch all the time. I think it would be a fair statement to say we helped each other grieve the loss of our spouses.
The more we dated, the more it did become about the two of us—or the four of us. After about six months of dating, Michael wanted to marry, but I didn’t feel ready for that huge step. I still was privately grieving over Broch. It took me a really long time to get to the point of not continuously thinking about Broch or the last year of our marriage.
A big thing that helped me through the grieving was starting back to college at the age of 34. To my surprise, I was doing quite well. It was the over-achiever in me. I was dedicated to my education and knew I’d have to support Joshua and myself one day. It was difficult being a full-time student, a mother, and a significant other all at the same time.
I graduated from the community college at the top of my class. I received so many honor awards that it actually started embarrassing me to go up and receive the award. My family was in attendance, including my Mother who brought a dozen yellow roses with her to give me after the ceremony. And as well as I did—it still didn’t feel like it was good enough. Michael was there video-taping the entire ceremony and I was thrilled to be finished with the first chapter of my education.
My next move was to a four-year institution for my bachelor’s degree. Michael was still talking marriage and it seemed when he was ready—I was not and when I was ready—he was not. Joshua was finally starting to settle into a life with just one parent and he was well behaved and got excellent grades. He continued with his karate classes that he’d started before Broch’s death. We were finally moving forward with our lives.