I Stayed Too Long. Will You?

Nothing prepared me for loneliness that swallowed me whole when I went thru a divorce, empty nest, two moves, total disability due to a severe hereditary illness, and the death of my 15 year old dog. There were too many losses, including financial devastation, in such a short time. Just as I stopped reeling from one, another hit.

Suddenly, everything that defined me was gone. My coping mechanisms ripped away, leaving raw emotions with no distractions. I couldn’t run. I couldn’t shop. I couldn’t lunch with friends. I couldn’t bury myself in work. It was just me, trapped at home with my ruminating brain …… and that’s never good!

In this season of loneliness and despair, I felt like a turtle without a shell – naked and exposed; completely vulnerable. In that raw vulnerability, however, I learned some invaluable and sweet life lessons. Now I pray for healing and seek out promising research of new drugs so I can hopefully take those lessons back out into the world.

I’ve learned that I can never take tomorrow for granted. I thought I knew that, but when faced with endless days, months, and years of being stuck at home, often in bed, I have found that sometimes tomorrow promises nothing but the same. Where I previously was limited only by time, I am now limited by ability.

I’ve lost my desire for the empty material trappings of this world. It now seems so foolish to have traded time for things – things that eventually ended up in the dumpster or on Goodwill’s shelves.

Most of all, I’ve learned that I am not defined by what I do. I’m defined by who I am, and I’m please to say I’ve become kinder, gentler, more forgiving, and much more thankful for the little things.

If my regrets have a theme, it is this: I stayed too long – too long in a sick marriage, too long in jobs I disliked, too long without my dream travels. I stayed because I was afraid. Yes, many of my fears did come to pass, but they all had an exit door when I looked hard enough.

I now live a fate I didn’t even know to worry about; a fate with no visible exit door. And you know what? I’ve still found my way after 5 long years of hell in divorce court. I found peace, contentment, and even joy – all from my bed most days.

What about you? Will you stay too long and come to regret it? Will you be dictated by fears – fear of things that may never happen? Will you stay until an illness or injury sidelines you, taking away your ability to find that new life?

Will you, too, someday regret having wasted the best of yourself? If I’d have had a crystal ball, I’d have left long, long ago.

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