The other day I was looking for something in one of my closets and came upon a green duffel bag. I thought I knew what was in it. But I didn’t know all that was in it.

The first thing that fell out was a letter from my ex-husband written before we were married. When we didn’t even live in the same state. 

At the end of a letter, he would write: “I’ll love you till the day I die.”

That was 1997, and lots of things happened between 1997 and 2011. We got married in 1998. We were divorced in late 2011. 

I trusted him more than I had ever trusted a soul. He knew all my secrets. 

But I did not know his, I would learn years down the road.

You see I looked at him and thought he hung the moon.

I never saw him as an ordinary man. And I don’t think for a minute that he was ever truly ordinary. He was exceptionally talented as a physician. He had a very high IQ.

I think of him now, and still can’t see him as one man. I see him as my doctor all those years before when I was in my twenties. And I see another man who became my husband when I was 41. 

There is an imbalance in such a relationship. And now I understand that that imbalance doomed the marriage before it ever began.

I believed him to be above reproach, because he had saved me during a time when depression had all but defeated me. 

I was walking with my feet scarcely touching the ground and I had stars in my eyes. Thus I was devastated when I realized that he couldn’t be who I wanted him to be. 

I won’t lie. I hurt him too. I was angry when I realized that he wasn’t my knight in shining armor after all.  

My disappointment came because he had, ultimately, turned out to be merely human. 

I came crashing down to earth like a meteorite. 

When I think about him now, I still, unfortunately, see two different men. The one who led me out of the fog of lifelong depression. And the one I married and divorced. 

So when this letter fell out of the duffel bag and I read those words, I cried a little.

Do you ever look in the mirror and wonder “what could have been?”

I suppose we all do. And of course it is a futile thing to do.

Lots of things happened between us, and I doubt very much that he still believes he will love me till the day he dies. 

But I do think that, deep down, till the day I die, there will be a special little place in my heart for a man who I was convinced could reach up and hang the moon for me. 

The man I once believed was strong enough to hold it so high so that it would light a path for me and keep me safe.

I last saw him in a courtroom on the day we ended our 13 year marriage. 

I remember thinking there was such a big space between us as we faced one another and followed the judge’s instructions. 

I knew at that moment that the space between us had actually been getting wider with every year that passed during the time we were husband and wife.

And then, for two people who had been an integral part of each others lives off and on for decades, after that short court hearing it was simply over. 

I walked out of that courthouse into the bright August sunshine. I took a deep breath, and felt like a weight had been lifted, finally, from my shoulders. 

I walked to my car in the parking lot. I told myself I had a life to live, though I was by no means a young woman any longer. And I knew that I would be living it on my own terms. 

It has been five years now since that day in the courtroom. The pain and anger has faded as all things do with time. 

I did what I thought I could never do, and I am stronger for having done so.

I have come a long way. 

But I no longer have stars in my eyes for anyone.

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  1. You have grown, and you show , that you are very strong.. SO happy that life is good for you now.. Know one should have to live in a bad marriage and be miserable.
    Finding the letter, had to be difficult and bring back sad memories. Big hug for you.

  2. I too have bittersweet memories, I think most people do. But the difference between quitters and survivors are what we do with them. Destroy us or move on? I chose to move on and my life is mine! I choose to share it with an amazing man. But it's my choice to make, I know longer feel trapped in a life that didn't make me happy. I hope every woman will make a choice to live the way that they choose and not what we feel trapped into. Congratulations Brenda you chose to be you!

  3. There's a lot of what ifs and what could've beens, aren't there? Great piece, Brenda. Your writing always touches me. Your photos are amazing, too.

  4. Brenda, I was a reader of your blog in 2011 and read the post of your divorce, the move to Oklahoma, and the year in the little blue house. I read your blog sporadically in 2014-into 2016 as I dealt with challenges in my own life due to my husband's job layoff, two moves, and working at different jobs. But I read it enough to know of your move to the apartment, the challenges you faced with your blog being hacked, health issues for you and the pups, and so on. When you first moved to the apartment, it seemed like you were continuing to slog along and meet the challenges, but there was not much opportunity for true joy and contentment. I'm not sure when it began, but in the past year there has been a blooming in you that is remarkable and so rewarding to watch. There was a point where I hadn't read the blog for awhile, and then I did and I became aware of Israel helping you with projects and so many wonderful things were happening to the apartment and patio area. But what's truly wonderful is what is happening inside of you. It's like the hard surface of a seed has cracked and new growth is pushing out and up. When I read a post you did on clothing awhile back, I was astonished because it revealed a way that you were regarding yourself as someone worthy of some gifts to your personal self, directly on your body. You have given yourself gifts that hang on the wall or sit on a table, you give of yourself to the pups, but when you started to give to your personal self items that your skin could feel every second, it seemed like you were loving yourself more.

    Now, this post on your ex-husband is another sign of growth and wisdom. I know those old posts were lost, but I remember the pain you were experiencing as you faced terrible truths in your marriage and went through the hardship of leaving your lovely home and leaving pets and items you loved behind. The year in the blue house was full of growth but a lot of sadness and physical pain, as well as financial hardship due in large part to your ex-husband. To see that you are capable of writing about him now in a way that reveals truth about the two of you, yet doesn't wish for a hex upon him, is a real lesson on how someone can grow and gain a new perspective as they trudge along a very difficult path, as you have done in recent years.

    Thanks so much for sharing. My life has had some similar challenges, and I too have been on a long, hard journey that caused me to be in a frame of mind like yours at times, such as not thinking much about my personal self beyond being neat, clean, and appropriately covered up with a top and pants. When you wrote of shopping for clothes, I realized how I have not thought about clothes for oh so long, and I maybe I could shop for something too! I experienced a tiny little crack in my own hard seed, and I know your blog was responsible. You truly are helping other women to heal too, and I am so grateful that you have the courage to open up and follow what seems to be your calling. I haven't re-read this so I apologize for any errors. I have many challenging tasks today, and rather than be perfect in this post, I'll go tackle them. You've helped me get to a place where I have the ability to get invigorated.

  5. Thank you once again Brenda for seeing into my heart and expressing it so well for me..I am still working on accepting it and moving on..I cry a lot because there are reminders all around me..but I know there will never be stars in my eyes again…

  6. I'm so sorry that didn't work out. But, it sounds like you've grown from that experience and are doing well now. You know what they say. Don't look back. You're not going that way.

  7. I am appreciating your Fine Print posts. There is always some fine print in every relationship (and in everything we do) and I'm so glad you have given this part of our lives a name! Shows that you are a creative and deep thinker. I have not gone through anything like your experience but still can learn much from your writing. Thanks for your openness.

    1. Experience, like everything else, is relative. Some bloggers miss my Tuesday Tweak It party I used to have. But readers, I don't think, do. I hope Fine Print is a worthy replacement.

  8. Brenda, I find that I couldn't just read your post and move on. This is such a poignant reflection, I find myself tearing up for anyone who is moved to relive difficult times from the past, but who, like you, is able to move beyond the moment and choose life. Thank you for your bravery in sharing this with us.

    1. We are reminded of our past in some ways every day. I feel that writing about experiences might have bearing on another woman's decision, so it's worth it to me to put myself out there in case it helps just one other woman.

  9. Thanks for sharing this difficult memory. As a retired Christian mental health professional, something of anger rose up in me for abusing his power with you. He knew everything about you….true, but you certainly didn't know everything about him. I am glad you are healing, proud of the courage it took for you to take the steps you did, and honored you would share this story will all of us. The photographs of the flowers are stunning. Did you take them?

    1. It was a very complicated relationship. When married to him, sometimes I'd wake up and wonder if he was still my doctor, as he was for three years when I was in my mid-twenties. It was very confusing. Lesson learned: Never marry someone who was ever your doctor.

  10. Brenda… I feel your pain and I hope I can some day feel as strong as you feel now too♥ I am now learning that maybe it is not best to have stars in my eyes for anyone… especially a man. Thanks for sharing this story. Hugs♥

    1. Well, I know you are younger than I am. I didn't have much sense about anything in my younger days. It took till age 50 to get my legs planted firmly underneath me where they would support me. Wisdom comes with both age and experience.

  11. A great reminder not to give our power to anyone! Women need to remember we will never let ourselves down! It's great when I see young women not putting men on pedestals the way I did.

  12. Brenda, I love how you are so willing to bare your soul to us, your readers. I always see myself in your personal posts, and I can relate to what you have to say. I am sure many of us who read your post today will do the same. God bless you, and yes, we are much stronger women than we may have first believed.

    1. Why is it, I wonder, that we women find ourselves loving the wrong person, yet we cannot seem to walk away from them? I guess it is the part of us that is naturally nurturing, and we think we can fix things. But what we need to learn is that you can't change anyone who doesn't want to be fixed.

  13. Brenda this is so sweet and bittersweet all at the same time. Wow girl you have grown since your divorce that is the good that has come out of your marriage. I am a big believer that some people come into our lives to stay forever and some come into our lives for a short time to teach us something and help us grow. Your post reminded me of this today. Thanks for sharing. Just love your writing style. You need to publish a book!!!!

    1. I share your belief. I believe that everyone walks down our path toward us for a reason. Though it was a painful lesson, it made me a stronger woman.

  14. Well said – All on this journey of Life. You Found Your Strength. That is an Exceptional Thing to Find. You Never Know what's Just Around the Corner. 🙂

    1. Anything can be around the next corner, so we should live life to the fullest. During my marriage to him, I was so in awe of him for awhile there that I wasn't living life to the fullest. And then it all came crashing down. I will never let myself be in that type of situation again. And yes, that is how I found my strength.

  15. Your story could be my story. Also, I go along fine and happy now until as I go through things I find a letter or a trinket that makes me remember to much. It takes me all the way back to that place. Like you I no longer have stars in my eyes. Hugs….

    1. As I was writing this, I felt that it could possibly be many women's stories. And like you, when I find something like the letter or a trinket, it all comes back, like a dream. And for awhile, I am there again, with stars in my eyes.

  16. Brenda,
    That is a very hard lesson to learn. But you are right, you are stronger and know that you can depend on yourself. I don't know why we have to go through tough things in life, but we do. And now you can appreciate who you truly are! Thank you for sharing your soul! God Bless you! Angie

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