So what have I done this past year, that's good?
I have found out that I have a lot of true friends. I have people that will ask, "What can I do?" And then they will step up and do that thing. I LOVE my community. I also feel a small twinge of schadenfreude at the things other people are saying about Mr. Gone. I am trying to move beyond that to a better place, but still, it makes me feel loved, supported, and that I don't have some insane personal perspective, that what he did was WRONG.
I have started on my new career path. Balancing work/school/parenting is tricky, but I did the whole thing: GRE, essays, applications, financial aid. And I did it all myself. Not much help from anyone. I got into one of the most exclusive schools in the country! That's saying something. Of course, I'm going to the state school instead because exclusive = expensive.
I have cut my hair really short, let the coloring grow out, gotten new hip glasses. My hair is salt and pepper grey now, actually kind of cool looking. Ten years ago it was mousy brown. Now it's very dark with grey streaks. I look older, but I've always looked very young and am finally looking like a grownup.
I'm enjoying eating what I want to eat without catering to the whims of someone who was, looking back, really kind of picky. We can have mac n' cheese for dinner! The bizarre list of things he wouldn't eat included cheddar cheese, fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, salad, anything "vegetarian" or "healthy", egg things like quiche or souffle, melon of any sort . . . yeah, he was meat and potatoes all the way. Cooking has been simplified so much.
I'm watching my kids step up and grow up. Sometimes I've lost it with them, I'm short on patience. But they are really trying to do what they can to help, when I'm not here to start dinner, when things need to be cleaned up, laundry put away . . . and I'm also finding more fun times with them. Used to be I was the homework and chores parent and Mr. Gone was the fun parent. He now gets to be mostly disneyland dad due to the visitation schedule, but I'm trying to make sure that I get to do fun things with them too.
And I'm finding strength, ability, and resources to fix up things around here that need fixing up, and prioritize and get household repairs done without having to wait, go through a long conversation with another adult with different opinions about what's a priority (ya know, water in its many forms is always a priority!) and adjust expectations. I fixed two cracked windows (lots more to go), and am reglazing the whole darn house! I'm learning drywall! I can flux a pipe! I feel like Rosie the Riveter, only my guy is not coming home from the war.
Things are better than I thought they would be. I still wish for a time machine to go one, two, three years back and fix the cracks in the marriage. But honestly, they were not cracks I could have fixed; they were mostly defects in Mr. Gone's character and personality. I'm still not OK. But I'm going to be.