After 19 years of marriage I decided it was time to try living on my own. It took another year and a half for me to actually do it. I had married my husband when I was barely out of high school and promptly gave birth to three sons in rapid succession. I wonít go into the details of those 19 years. My husband was a good husband and an okay father. After about 10 years I realized that we were two completely different people with absolutely nothing in common except for our sons.
Moving out was the most devastating and liberating thing that I ever did. I first set myself up in a small above-garage apartment. I had no furniture except my bed and my computer. My first night there I sat in the empty living room listening to the sirens in downtown Lake Worth, a far cry from the peaceful cocks crowing in Jupiter Farms. The emotions running through me were a strange and horrible mix of elation, sorrow, and fear. What had I done?
After a few weeks I began to settle in. I had a full-time job with FPL, I saw my sons often, and I discovered the joy of solitude - something I hadnít known in a very long while with three boys and their friends always under foot. In the mornings I would have a cup of coffee on my balcony and then take a walk to the Intercoastal, which was only two blocks from my apartment. My chaotic soul started to slowly heal and slow down to a peaceful pace.
In the silence of that apartment I had plenty of opportunity to look hard at myself. I took advantage of the silence and finished writing the two books on healthcare and childcare in the late 1800ís that I had barely begun a few years before. Those two books were published a year later. I renewed my love of poetry and spent hours reading the works of Pound, Rich, Atwood, and others. I decided to return to college.
I spent four months in my sanctuary over the garage. Then I went home. Everyone thought I would be the same, that life would be the same. Maybe I even thought that too. But I was different. Four months on my own, something I had never done before, had changed me in more than one way. I saw myself differently. There was a sense of self that I had never experienced before. I was no longer Karen the youngest of five children, no longer Karen the child bride, no longer Karen who was perpetually anxious and depressed. I was Karen, a 38 year old woman who had dreams that were pursuable, and attainable.
I stayed in Jupiter Farms for seven months after that. I thought I should try to make my marriage work, I owed that to my husband, my children, my family, and myself. But my husband could not accept who I had become. He couldnít seem to find it in himself to even like the independence that I had learned. When the new year 2001 rang in, I rang out. This time the move was much sadder because I knew, because everyone knew, it was for good.
Being on my own for the first time changed me in so many ways. I had always done what my family wanted me to do, I had always been who my family wanted me to be. Finally acting on the dream of returning to school and being on my own was very difficult emotionally. There were several times that I thought I would rather die than push my way through one more day.
Finally I have learned that it is okay to make mistakes, I have learned that making mistakes can even be a good thing. There are so many doors to choose from in this life. I feel like I am a contestant on The Price is Right and I intend to open as many doors as possible.
K. Y. Hamilton, BA, MA - Copyright 2006