A number of years ago, about 29, I was going through some personal struggles. My marriage was unraveling, I was facing decisions I had known were coming and had put off repeatedly. I was a mess. My home life was chaotic, I was disliked at work by many of my co-workers, and I just wasn't a pleasant person to be around. To be honest, I wouldn't have liked being around me either. Of course, I couldn't avoid me and that probably made things worse.
I worked the "graveyard shift" at the phone company (Pacific Telephone) in San Diego. Instead of leaving home about 11:30 PM, I would leave at 11:00. The trip took just 15 minutes but the sooner I left, the better. When I arrived, I was irritable and belligerent. I would argue with the evening shift over procedures and upcoming problems. I created a rift between myself and one of my oldest friends at work. I would be surly with my shiftmate when he came in. I put down his efforts and I sulked a lot. I drank way too much coffee. On top of everything else, Ma Bell (AT&T) was buying the office I worked in, we were being given the choice of staying with the office or finding another place in Pacific Telephone, and I wasn't sure which way I wanted to go.
That year was probably one of the worst of my life. My wife and I separated in the Spring. I hit bottom emotionally but thought it could only get worse. I was wrong but it would be some time before I realized my life was changing for the better. Just before the separation, I went to a co-worker's party. Mike was holding one of his "29th birthday anniversary" parties. Mike was a good guy who had his own demons he was trying to drown and we got along probably because of that. Unlike me, Mike was not taking his misery out on those around him. Instead, he was a happy, outgoing, friendly guy who was liked by everyone who knew him. He listened to me and understood what I was going through, he empathized. At his party, he was standing next to a young lady and called me over. He introduced us and quietly slipped away. She worked in our building but not with our group. I had seen her a few times but didn't recognize her dressed up and not in her usual jeans and T-shirt.
We chatted for awhile but eventually we went our separate ways, mingling with others at the party. My separation hadn't yet happened and I wasn't thinking about any possible relationships. I got roaring drunk but somehow managed to find my way home that night. When I got home, my wife was awake and waiting for me. Surprisingly, we didn't fight. It was at that point that I knew the marriage was over, that there was no saving it.
Over the next year and a half, I went through a number of changes. I dated some, fought with my estranged wife, moved across country and returned, and I began a long term relationship that has lasted to today. And that is why today is special. Today is my wife's birthday. She is the love of my life, the one who took me as I was, somehow felt I was worth knowing, and put up with me for several years while I sorted out my life. I tell people she saved my life and she did. She saved me from drowning in my own misery. She became my best friend when I had very few and none I thought I could count on. For all she is, for all she has done and all she has sacrificed, I am eternally grateful. I would be lost without her.
Happy Birthday, Faye. May we share many, many more.
A Night Unremembered
2 years ago