Re-inventing myself

As I had settled in my job and felt I had done well as far as career was concerned, and had settled in married life it felt like I had achieved what I had set myself to do with my life. My time was taken by making sure the family life was enhanced and improving where improvement was needed career wise telling myself I will continue to do this until retirement. However when the marriage came to an end I found myself having to think of ways to reinventing myself.

Like I mentioned in my last blog I pursued some of the options I had as far as moving my life on. Arriving at Luther King House to begin further studies was the start of the re-inventing process. During the orientation day as new students we were introduced to schedules of the course I suddenly realised how computers skills were going to be needed, a new world of learning was just beginning. Up until now my only use of computers was to send and receive e-mails in my own home country computers had just begun to be used more and more not to the degree they were used here. If I had to surf the internet it was just like a hobby yet here I was needing to rely on the internet for researching for my degree program.

To begin with it was a big challenge I told myself I was going to give of my best if I was going to achieve the new goals I had set myself as I was picking up the pieces of my broken life. Going back to studying as a mature student as I discovered has its advantage, I realized I was very focused as opposed to what I was when I went to college as a young person. There was an inherent motivation this time round to do the best I could.

At the end of the first semester I could not believe the transformation which was going on in me as a person the more I threw myself into course the more I enjoyed everything, I stopped concentrating on what had happened to me but focused on the new experiences and opportunities which were presenting themselves to me suddenly there was excitement again in my life which I was cherishing a lot. I was now on the road to start a new life cycle and nothing was going to deter me from that goal.

Picking up the Pieces

In my last blog I shared how the break had left me questioning if my marriage was all a lie because of what happened, the more I have reflected on how we were to each other the more I am convinced that it was a genuine relationship at the time. We loved each other very much like I said before we were best of friends and made each other laugh a lot. While it lasted we enjoyed each other’s company which made me come to agree with one of step children who said what had happened was ‘midlife crisis’ which had gone too far as far as my husband was concerned.
Having accepted that there was nothing I could do to salvage my marriage, I began to think about my next move towards rebuilding what was already destroyed as far as my life was concerned. First I looked at all the options which were opened to me, weighing them all up in terms of what would be worth pursuing. What complicated matters was that I was already in mid fifties which meant I was supposed to have started making plans of retiring. I was determine to rebuild my life I did not dwell too much on my age instead I carried on working out a strategy of how I was going to rebuild my life. Instead I concentrated on what I would offer to the job market with my experience.

Although I was not working I had registered with a South African distance learning to pursue a theological degree so that was the first option, secondly I had always wanted to write and had already started as I had designed training manuals which are still in use in my previous employment so that was another strong possibility so I had things I would start immediately. However there were things which needed to be done in relation to my marriage, I had to engage a lawyer to understand what was involved as far as divorcing was concerned. I was very clear in my head that I was not going to file for divorce but I was going to respond if and when my husband did file for divorce since he was the one who had started this process I wanted him to complete the process however long it was going to take, the ball was in his court.

I then looked up on the internet for where else I would go to pursue my theological studies, I found a college in England which offered what I wanted; a theological degree for those who are not intending to be clergy. I applied and to my surprise got a very favorable response this was around May time, after some negotiations the college and I agreed that I would be interviewed via the telephone. I got a place to begin my studies in the September of that same year. I then started the process of getting a student visa.
The whole exercise of deciding to going back to studying was a very liberating experience, as I did not sit and feel sorry for myself but actively worked a way out of my predicament. It felt like I had suddenly been given a new lease of life I felt very upbeat about knowing I was in control of my own destiny from now on. Nothing was going to hold me back from becoming who I wanted to be given the circumstances I found myself. I found encouragement in what Richard L.Evans said, ‘Don’t let life discourage you: everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was’ I told myself I was not going to allow what had happened to me discourage me rather I was going to use it to my advantage and make my circumstances the springboard of a new and exciting life which has already begun.
IMG00760-20140520-1257 Luther King House is a Partnership For Theological Education, an Affiliate of Manchester University. This is where I was offered a place to pursue my further studies in Theology. and this is where the adventure started and is here where the healing process began as I threw myself in my studies.

Dealing with heartbreak and betrayal

While I had braced myself to face whatever was ahead of me in the situation I found myself, I still had to deal with (a) heartbreak and (b) betrayal In the two weeks that followed my husband ending our marriage and me preparing to go back home, I had plenty sleepless nights trying to figure out what had really gone wrong, asking myself what I could have done to help us stay together. In those two weeks I then realised how much I loved my husband who apparently no longer loved me. What I found most hard was trying to work out how the person who had loved me to a point of marrying me could say they no longer love me. In my book you do not suddenly stop loving someone because loving someone is a very strong emotion which you do not shake off at the spare of the moment. For a moment I kept hoping that once we had a family meeting according to culture things would be normal again.
It was at that meeting that I realised the marriage was over I was so taken aback with the hatred expressed by my husband as he told both our families all things the that I had done wrong and that for those reasons he could not be with me any more. I guess what broke my heart were things I did to hurt him which he kept to himself and never talked to me about. In a marriage the couple are supposed to talk about the things that may be bothering either person. I still struggle about why he never brought these things up with me.

I acknowledged my wrong doings (according to him) and asked for forgiveness and promised to change even that was not going to change what my husband had decided ‘to end the marriage’I actual realised that he was not interested in working things out or even our marriage a second chance. Yet in my understanding marriages have to be worked at if they are to survive as it is about two human beings who were brought up very differently and yet try to be one. For days I lost appetite did not even feel hungry I was in turmoil as I had invested a lot in this relationship I was in a dark place as it was reflected in the colours that I was drawn to. If I was going to buy a dress or something I was drawn to the greys and blacks which was the state of my mind my whole world had curved in.
What broke my heart was when I learnt that my husband was already in a relationship, and was planning to get married to someone else he actually got married a year after we had separated, we had not divorced that was a very big betrayal. I guess what got me was how quickly he could fall for someone else to a point of getting married in such a short time. Was our relationship been all a lie I questioned myself, till to this day I have never contemplated falling in love with someone else because I had loved him so much. It is sad that while I was putting all effort to make the marriage work my husband had other ideas.
If ever there was a lesson I learnt about relationships in my predicament the lesson was: ‘never assume things’ as you are bound to get a lot of surprises which I did in a big way. I never suspected that my husband would be unfaithful as I had no reasons to doubt him at all.

The Break -up

With all the political upheaval that was going on at the time in Zimbabwe my husband decided we should leave the country for a while. He got a job to teach at Sanford International school in Addiss Ababa in Ethiopia. At first I was very reluctant to leave my family friends and the only country I had known and was my comfort zone. I felt very much in control of everything about my life. In the end my marriage came first than my career so I resigned from my job of twenty nine years and followed to join my husband who had already living in Ethiopia for three months.

Living my job was the most difficult thing I had to do as my job had become my life. As a wife of an expatriate the law of the land (Ethiopia) did not allow me to work as that would have deprived a national of a most needed job. It took me a while to settle in Ethiopia simply because it was a different culture and a different lifestyle. I did settle in eventually and discovered that Ethiopia is a very beautiful country with very friendly people who in my own experience are very keen to make a foreigner very welcome. Every time I explored life in Addiss people were very helpful and very soon I developed very good relationships.

As I was not working I had the opportunity to do voluntary work among the Sudanese refugees who had settled in Ethiopia fleeing the strife in their own country, I teamed up with the other expatriate wives.
I also got involved with the local church of England worship, the vicar who together with his wife became friends of us both got me doing things in the life of the church. I led worship and facilitated in the midweek bible studies which filled the gap of what I was missing from my old job.
I was at home 24/7 for the first time in our marriage my husband and I saw each every minute and hour of the day that I did not notice that we were drifting apart. I mentioned in the last blog that the one thing which was beautiful about my marriage was the friendship which existed between my husband and I. I noticed that my husband was becoming very with drawn and very secretive, when I inquired what was wrong I was simply told it was pressure of work. I did not want to read too much in this sudden withdrawal and carried on as good wife making sure the house was well kept and that everyone was well looked after.

There were a lot of calls which came from women I did not know, faithfully I took the messages which I passed on to my husband to call back the one thing my husband was good at was relating all people. I was a bit naive that I did not see that something was not right.There was one call which came one night at about 11:00pm local time and we were in bed I answered the call and passed it innocently because I had not suspected any unfaithfulness going on. This put him in a very awkward position because of the proximity between him and I. In my sleep I just commented on the fact that it was an odd time to be calling and was told it was the airline confirming the bookings. That telephone call decided the fate of my marriage. The following photograph summarize what had happened to my life

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Two days after the call one evening as we were having supper my husband from the blue told me he no longer loved me, my reaction was to tell myself that he was winding me up and I just laughed it off. He then took off the wedding band which I had given him when we got married saying that he no longer wanted me to share his life with me. I was dumbfounded as I realized that he meant every word he was saying I continued clearing the table and proceeded to do the washing up not knowing how to react to the news I had just been told. It was the longest night of my life, here I was in a foreign country with no-one to run to talk to.

The following morning I then started realizing that he had removed all the wedding photographs and any photographs we were together from were they were displayed which I had not noticed until that day. It then dawned on me that he had been working on this for a long time, he had told the home office to withdraw my residency and I had two weeks to leave the country. That was the most challenging two weeks I ever experienced now that he had told me that he no longer loved me the dynamics in the relationship changed dramatically, he would not eat anything I prepared. The hardest thing was that I had to pretend all was well in front of the son who was still leaving with us. My whole world had crumbled in front of me and there was nothing I could do about it.

I finally managed to talk to my sister and two of my friends, this was the first time I broke down and cried my heart out. Those three phone calls gave me a space to off load all my emotions. In the two weeks as I was packing to leave I resolved that I was not going to allow what had happened to me define who I was going to be, I was going to work through it even if at that time I had no clue as to what I was going to do.
I spent a lot of time in prayer seeking God’s face and pouring my heart out to him about what had happened to my life. While my heart was broken I was not resentful I began weighing out my options and looking back on the eight years of marriage and looking for the lessons I would learn from the experience.