Sometime in 1995 (my mid 30’s), I began to change. Mind you this was not an overnight process. Rather, it was the beginning of a process that continues to this day. My husband and daughter went to northern Alabama with the church. They were going to help build and repair houses. I stayed home, probably because I had schoolwork or some other responsibility. Bridges of Madison County was at the theatre and I figured neither my 13 year old daughter nor my husband would want to see the movie. So I went alone. I remember sitting and sobbing as the movie came to an end – you know, when she chooses to stay with her husband, putting aside her passions for her family and marriage. It occurred to me that my response was much greater than was warranted. It occurred to me that this was personal; it touched on my own issues. I recall going to buy some special tea, some incense, and a candle on my way home. I spent the rest of the weekend trying to regain a sense of myself, a sense of the person who had gotten lost along the way.
I think it was about two years later that I volunteered to serve as chaperone for my daughter’s band as they traveled to Gatlinburg for a music festival. I remember buying a tape – Enya – and listening to it on the bus. This stands out because we (my husband and I) generally only bought music if we both liked the artist. I don’t think my husband had even heard of Enya at the time. I also recall having a discussion with someone on the bus about contact lenses. Members of my family had contacts, but I had never thought it possible to coordinate putting something like that into my eyes. Besides, why would I do anything to enhance my appearance? I dyed my hair, wasn’t that enough? In the end, I spent several months saving money and then finally went to the eye doctor and got my first pair of contact lenses. It was an adjustment both learning to use them and feeling exposed without my huge glasses. But it took me one step further on my journey.
The biggest change of the 1990’s came just after I turned 40 (1999). As frequently happens when one has a milestone birthday, I took an assessment of my life and realized that I was unhappy. Although I was only about 18 months away from completing my doctorate, I was very overweight, inactive, unhappily married, and unsatisfied with the direction I saw my life going. By February, I had begun exercising and losing weight. I had also begun to discuss the “D” word. By June 1999 I had started the process of divorcing my husband. Things became quite volatile and my grandma’s death in July 1999 only served to increase my distress. Over the next year, I lost about 60 pounds, moved my daughter and self into an apartment, finalized the divorce, graduated with my Ph.D., saw my daughter graduate from high school, and met someone very important online. This person has been instrumental in helping me achieve so many terrific goals. The end of this chapter occurred when this wonderful man moved me across the country to begin a new path.