It was the 20th wedding anniversary of a dear friend and it might also have been mine if I had chosen to stay in my first, very miserable marriage. That would have meant 8 more years of absolute suffering, just to reach some magic number that no one would care about.
By chance, my friend and I were both first married on the exact same day and year.
Yesterday, we video chatted and exchanged stories. I explained that the day was chosen for me by my ex mother in law but am not sure if I mentioned that I paid for nearly the entire wedding and reception and honeymoon on credit cards.
At that time, I was deeply a co-dependant and didn’t speak up or stand up for myself. I didn’t want to get married but thought that I “should” and that everything would be ok.
In the evening, my friend went to dinner with her husband and their friends (overseas) and I chatted with my second lovely husband about making choices in life. We toasted to my “non-anniversary” quite gladly and I looked at the pretty sunset on the shiny buildings of downtown, so glad that I have the life that I do today.
We all play the “what if” game I suppose-some scenarios out of curiosity, others out of discontent perhaps. I’m quite content in my personal & retired life now.
*I stayed in Idaho and married a local guy who liked fishing, camping and outdoorsy things? I would have been trying to be someone I’m not. I’m not naturally a tomboy. I’m as far from flannel as one can be. I like opera, dresses, heels, the great indoors, dinners out and being quite coquettish. In fact, when I was about 2 or 3, I INSISTED on wearing dresses while camping (to my mother’s dismay). My husband loves that I’m so feminine and I can be myself.
*I stayed in my miserable first marriage? I would still be paying for everything, be drowning in debt and would have stopped taking good care of myself. I would have lost my right kidney by now and possibly be on dialysis and been let go from my job from having to do dialysis. It’s likely I would be in a lawsuit for being let go because of the Endo disability.
Career-wise, I have played out the scenarios of not being a geologist or making different career choices:
* engineer or IT manager-the workplace would still be tough as a woman and the IT budget would be “flat to down” every year. I got the chance to speak with a woman who lived that choice-she said it was awful.
*professional dancer or cheerleader. The regimen is extreme, pay low, career short-lived and treatment barbaric (I read an article last year about what it’s like for NFL cheerleaders). After age 20-something, what would I have done for work?
*actor -I’m not one for massive fame, the pay would be obsurdly low, and I would have had no way to pay for so many surgeries. Also, I would always wonder about being a scientist.
*The only one I’m really curious about is language teacher or UN translator. I have a gift with languages and wonder what the workplace might have been like. As a scientist, I felt bullied much of the time though I was fascinated with the work. UN former workers describe “no healthcare” and “low pay” and “lots of beaurocracy”. The low pay could be reports from interns. The “no healthcare” would have been a real issue for me and it’s not clear about professional pay. Salary.com describes similar pay to what I earned as a geologist, so perhaps I could still have saved a lot for retirement. As a University professor, I would have had to deal with a lot of issues that my stepdad did and travel would have been limited.
Also, I wouldn’t have met my husband and had this peace in my home, been able to travel all around the world, and retire so young. I help advise a young woman reliving my former life (it’s uncanny the similarities and the workplace for women is TOUGHER today).
So, I continue to live the exceptional life that I was supposed to and am only halfway there.
I’m still learning:
Every day is something new and I’m happy.
Incidentally, the gift for the 20th anniversary is China (plates, they mean, but what about the country?) I have travelled with my husband many times to China and have a Chinese wedding necklace that I like to wear (above).
It means “double happiness”.