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If you’re a golfer, you’re familiar with the term mulligan. It’s an unofficial chance to replay a bad shot. Sometimes, all it takes is a fairly easy chip-shot to put you back in play, but for some of us… it takes more effort, patience and perseverance than we ever thought possible.
This, my friends, is My Mulligan Story.
When I met my ex-husband in my early twenties, I knew marrying him meant I’d eventually move 5,000 miles across the Pacific. I’d always been an adventurous spirit, and Asia, in particular, fascinated me.
It was all so new and exciting in the beginning. I fell in love with my adopted country’s customs, history, food, and most importantly, the people. I still have a deep affection for the Asian culture.
However, as the years went by our different cultural expectations surrounding marriage began to clash. While I thought of us as a partnership, my husband had very different views, and his family’s interference in our lives began to take a toll on me.
I’d been warned before we married “that I would always be an outsider” but I thought after my daughter and son were born, things would be different. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Even worse, over the years, my husband had become more verbally, and at times, physically abusive. I think I went into shock the first time he berated me, let alone hit me; I couldn’t believe it was really happening. I was too educated, too independent, and too worldly to be in an abusive marriage, yet here I was.
Growing up, I naively viewed divorce as a failure, so I made a vow to myself to stay with him for my children’s sake. Regrettably, I remained in an unhappy and harmful marriage for years, even as the abuse escalated in frequency and magnitude.
I finally made the difficult decision to seek a divorce. I did not want my children to think it was normal for a man to throw insults or hit a woman… ever!
So, in the spring of 2008, I secretly returned to the United States with two suitcases, and my two most valuable possessions-my children.
I’d spent twenty years immersing myself in the Asian culture, raising my children and creating a career I loved, all which had afforded us prestige and wealth. This country had become our home. With no good-byes to anyone…I left it all behind.
I knew it was going to be difficult, but I had no idea just how much...
Two days after arriving in the United States, my mother, my only living parent, passed away. I hadn’t even unpacked or found a suitable place for us to live; I was devastated.
Grief overwhelmed me, as I was still heartbroken over my 31-year old nephew dying unexpectedly a week earlier. All this, in addition to having recently lost my brother to pneumonia. Losing three close family members within six weeks was almost unbearable.
The loss continued to mount as I discovered my investments were half of what they were just a few months before we’d left Asia. It was 2008, and the world’s economy had gone into a free-fall, and my savings along with it.
The best option was to move into a trailer on my sister’s property for eighteen months until I was financially stable enough to move us out on our own; I was humbled to my core.
In just a few months, I’d lost treasured family members, a host country I’d grown to love, my life-savings and my beautiful home. If it had not been for my kids, I may not have gotten out of bed for months.
My children’s zest for life kept me going, as they needed me more than ever. They needed me to help them learn English, to navigate the American school system, and to adjust to new customs on this side of the Pacific.
The first several years were filled with angst. As a single parent, I worked a part-time job, attended graduate school to earn my teaching degree, and engaged in a never-ending, bitter divorce. After two years of paying lawyers on both sides of the Pacific, I was emotionally and financially drained.
When you hit rock bottom, the only positive aspect is life can only go up, and it finally did…
I landed a full-time teaching position three years after arriving in the States, and we were finally able to move into our own apartment. We were genuinely happy for the first time in years.
In a relatively short amount of time, I had created a beautiful life with a rewarding new job, great friends, and of course, my children. My life was full.
My children were amazingly resilient through it all, and were now busy with school activities and going out with their friends on weekends. So much so, I often found myself, alone, on the couch playing online Bingo.
My daughter, however, had a different view of my cozy-couch-life…
One Friday night as she was getting ready to go out with friends, and I was relaxing on the couch completing a small kite in Bingo, she announced, “Mom, it’s time to get life.” Translation: You should start dating.
I could not think of anything more dreadful. In fact, I’d already decided I would never marry again, and I definitely didn’t need a man to complete me.
Around the same time, a friend kept trying to set me up on blind dates. I didn’t think I had the time, energy, or desire to date, but my girlfriend was relentless.
So on one unusually warm spring day, I accepted her invitation to what I thought was a girl’s get-together, and surprisingly found myself sandwiched between my girlfriend and her handsome friend at a collegiate sporting event.
This was the first time I was fortunate enough to spend time with Robert, and I was shocked at how much I enjoyed his company. He was goodlooking, easy to talk to, and had a wicked sense of humor. He was so fun to spend time with; I’d never felt so at ease.
Many more wonderful times followed as we discovered we shared many common interests, including our love for beer, sports, and travel. Also, our views of the world and our place in it aligned.
With Robert, I laugh all the time.
My kids took to Robert right away and before we were even married, they started referring to him as their “step-dad.” He blended into our family, and definitely stepped-in when he was needed most.
From the beginning, our relationship developed so naturally, with such mutual respect, that after five years together we decided to get married.
Robert is my mulligan, my do-over…my official chance to replay a bad shot.
We were married on a glorious sunny day on a golf course overlooking the 18th-hole. We’d found our oasis in the desert outside Las Vegas, following what had been the most difficult period in my life.
Robert has made me believe in love again and I couldn’t be happier.
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If you or anyone you know is being abused, we encourage you to seek help. The Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 is available 24/7/365 to be a confidential resource for you. https://www.thehotline.org/help/path-to-safety/
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After raising her two children, the author is enjoying her next phase of life with her college-age children and her new husband. During her bleakest of moments, the writer came across this quote which she still leans on today, “What lies behind us, and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson