by C Moore
A woman tries to pull herself together after a relationship gone wrong
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Starting Over 1516 word count
I picked up the jar of as-seen-on-tv anti-wrinkle cream I bought yesterday. Guaranteed to remove puffiness and smooth lines, taking years off in minutes. The stuff looked and smelled like baby food peaches. "Maybe it will make me look young enough to be a Gerber Baby," I thought with an anxious giggle. Dipping my fingers into the goop, it even felt like baby food. I let curiosity get the better of me, then spent the next few seconds frantically rubbing my tongue against the roof of my mouth trying to remove the plastic fruit taste. Yuck!
I inspected my face in the mirror. There seemed to be twice as many crows' feet as there were yesterday. Sighing as I began to apply the cream. I had never used any kind of fountain of youth in a bottle before. Never thought I needed too. I was happy with my aging body. How quickly things changed. Actually it wasn't quickly. This was the end result of twelve years in the making.
I was only seventeen when I started out. Everyone told me I was too young. "You can do better," is what I was told.
"You have a lot to offer and should expect a lot in return," my best friend Jaime told me.
Like most know-it-all teens, I didn't listen. I turned down offers that others would have killed to have. I knew what I wanted. I wasn't only looking at the here and now. I was looking beyond. I could see with a little work and commitment at were it would lead. All was perfect on my mind's canvas back then.
I scanned my face. The cream had removed the puffiness and seemed to smooth out some of the lines. It may have taken off days, maybe even a few months but years was a major overstatement. I looked my age and I felt it. The mascara was waterproof. "Good, I might need that protection today," I thought as I applied it to my lashes. Sometimes even now, I wanted to cry. I was too old to start over. With all of the competition you have to be prime choice to succeed. I wasn't sure I was there anymore. I shook my head. Why was I so worried? At least I wasn't still on the hunt. That was the worst. All the first impressions comparing each others wants and needs, all the while battling for some kind of advantage over the all those young thangs, so full of energy and spunk. Never again. I would go without first. "All you have to do Old Lady is to show you still got what it takes." Add some blush, lipstick and a touch eye shadow and my face was all revived.
I slipped into my dress, stockings and heels. No matter how much I sucked it in my stomach proudly announced it's extra volume. I gave up trying. Not much needed to be done to my hair, just a little fluff. Clara had made my shoulder length chestnut locks fall right in place. Still I halfway wished I had let her add a little color. I'd spied a few grays playing hide and seek between the curls. "Stop the over-the-hill babble. The curves are fine and the gray shows wisdom you have gained. You are smart, talented and..."
I tuned out the positive self talk. I had already heard it a million times. I knew I was over-reacting. Logic told me that, but emotionally was another thing all together. When you are with someone as long as I was with David it gives you a Richter 10 shock to find out that the last dozen have all been lies. I looked at the result in the mirror. I knew it wasn't only about my age or weight. The doubts in myself about my decisions and choices were rooted deeper. Back then I thought I knew all the answers. Well now I know I was wrong.
Here I was starting over. This was our first day since it became official that we both had found what we both were looking for. Like all those years ago John seemed perfect. Everyone around me approved of him, even Jaime. Yet those doubts were like weeds. Pull one and another popped up. Would I ever be able to trust? No, that's not true. There were plenty of friends and love ones in my life whom I still trusted beyond all of my doubts. It was solely this area of my life. Every time I turned around I heard about someone else who had gone though the same thing. It was also the look in the eyes of all those who knew. They all seemed to look at me as if to ask how I could be around day after day and not notice. The clues were all there. The late nights, the secret calls, and the all those out of town meetings. It left me in doubt of my own decisions.
For thirty-six years I was with this man. The right hand. I should have caught the difference. To be completely honest with myself I did catch it but I chose to ignore. Chose not to believe until undeniable, guilty of all charges evidence of David's wrong doings was placed right in my face. If I had allowed myself to accept the truth at the beginning I would have had to admit I was wrong and faced all the I-told-you-sos. In the end I had to face them anyway. I was publicly humiliated ten times worst. It was hard on me to accept the fact there would always be those felt I was liar and should be held as accountable as he was for allowing it to go on as long as I did. "You should have done something." "You should have acted sooner." "You knew. So don't expect me to feel sorry for you." Some of them were so close to me. Jaime never said it but her eyes gave her away. Now I had to look them in their judgmental eyes. This town was small enough that I had to see some of my critic on regular basis. I wished they would remember I was a victim. He took every penny I had been saving for my retirement. After all those loyal years he left me with nothing but debt and doubts. What if it happens again? Was the real reason John chose me, because I was expected to turn my head while events replayed? Or was I chosen for myself? Maybe he thought I was a dumpy old lady, desperate enough for a second chance that I would let him do anything he wanted. After all I let it happen before.
I watched my psychoanalyst emerge from the mirror. "Yes, you knew something was wrong. Maybe a little cheating going on now and then. Nothing serious. There was no clue to this. If you had known the gravity of it you would never have let it go that far. You can't expect others to forgive you and move on, which by the way most have, if you can't do it yourself. Forget about your age, weight, the betrayal, or your part in it. You were not the one who did wrong. Nor has John done anything wrong. Cast away those doubts.
As my therapist faded back into the mirror over my shoulders, I saw at another pair of eyes now staring at me. "You look beautiful." A strong set arms wrapped around me, while a soft gentle kiss was received by my cheek. This was my rock that kept me from being crashed during the earthquake. Always reassuring, Kevin never doubted me or blamed me. "You know you could always stay here with me. I can afford both of us you know."
"I know but it's more than just money."
He knew since he had listened to me rehash everything over and over for the last two years. It would be so easy to stay here especially if he kept nuzzling my ear like that, but something inside of me said I had to go back out there. I had to stop feeling sorry for myself or afraid of the embarrassment. Maybe the self-talk was working. I don't know, but somehow I had to remove the doubts and fears that dwelt. My backbone harden a little. Releasing me from his protective grip Kevin sensed my newfound mini determination. "Sweetheart everything going to be fine. You are going to be great. John is a good man."
I thought I heard my back crack a little. "You are the best at what you do. Not every boss is a low life back stabbing embezzler who robs the pension fund. You're going to be fine. You don't have anything to worry about."
"My brain agrees with you one hundred percent," I replied as a kiss my husband. "It's my heart that still needed proof," I thought as headed out for my new job as Executive Assistant to my new boss.
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