Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Turning point

I am going to go with Dipu's theme of the week, which is to describe a major turning point in my life. There have been many, but I have two closely related huge ones. The first was choosing to move to Austin to support my then-husband financially while he went back to college to get his degree.

This was undoubtedly the best choice I have ever made, and I made it for all the wrong reasons. Rather, the wrong reasons for a (healthy) marriage. But as it turned out, the healthy-for-me reasons. It was 1994, and I had been married just about 4 months when my ex decided he wanted to finish college. We were living in Bryan/College Station, Texas, where he had grown up and where I had gone to college. It was two years after I'd graduated and I was SO ready to leave. However, one of the sacrifices I'd made when I married him was agreeing to stay there because he liked living in a smallish town -- even though I've always been a city girl at heart (Red Flag Alert). So when he decided one day he wanted to go to St. Edwards, a private college in Austin, I felt a glimmer of hope: this could be my big escape! He saw it as a temporary move until he graduated, then we'd move back to BCS. Um, no. But being the "good wife" that I was, I kept my mouth shut, thinking to myself that he would get to Austin and realize how cool it was and I'd be free, free, free of small-town America Forevah!! (Red Flag Alert).

I had three job interviews in Austin and three job offers. I was a Technical Writer then. Of the three jobs, I was only torn between two of them -- one at a start-up that paid significantly more than the other one, which was at National Instruments. Though NI would pay less, I had really good vibes there. It was larger, more established, and they had a whole department of tech writers. Whereas the higher paying gig had none, and I would be the sole writer. I went with my gut and made the 2nd Turning Point decision: I chose NI. Ex was actually ok with this, because he felt safer with me working for a more established company, plus the insurance rocked. So we moved. He went to school, I went to work.

NI was life-changing for me in many ways. It was where I met all my dearest friends in Austin -- to this day we are all close. It was where I finally felt important, professional, like I belonged. I felt like a grownup. Even though I'd been a tech writer in College Station, it had just felt like an extension of college to me. This was the "real" world.

Through my new co-workers, all of us at about the same life stage, I discovered Austin and all it had to offer. I started growing. I opened my mind to new ideas that I'd never had. Ideas like, maybe there WAS a good life other than being married. Maybe the reason I felt so disconnected from my husband and uncomfortable in my marriage was because I wasn't supposed to be there. As I grew, we grew further apart. He hated that I was becoming independent. That I was forming my own opinions. I'd always just nodded along with whatever he thought, but I was finding out that he was not always right, nor did I agree with him on a bunch of major issues. He didn't like my new friends, he felt threatened. He didn't like who I was becoming, which was a Red Flag because I was becoming ME. Finally. And he didn't like the real ME. But luckily, I did.

The rest is history. I continued to grow, right out of the confines of the marriage, and almost 8 years ago we divorced. I am still here in Austin, still writing but in a different field, still surrounded by my best friends, people that understand me and respect me and have known me through the whole process. He finished school and moved to a small town with his new wife, barely a year after we split, where he still lives with his wife and two children. And people, let me say that I am SO GLAD I'm not there with him. Whenever I think that it could have been me, I physically shudder. It's not that I don't ever want to settle down or have kids; I just didn't want any of that with him. And that's okay -- we are both happier the way things are now. And yes, it did take a long time for both of us to realize that.

So, in summary: if I hadn't moved to Austin and taken the job at NI, who knows where I would be, or with whom. And I would rather be single and childless forever than married to the wrong man.

Things usually work out the way they're supposed to, thank the heavens and all that is holy.


Crazy MomCat said...

And, may I add, we're really glad you made that move as well! You know, you have really come full circle on your reflections of that marriage. You sound really in a good place with it now...able to talk about it, recognize it for what it was and where it got you, and let go of some of the pain it caused you as well. To that, I hold up my iced tea glass and say cheers to you, girlfriend!

Babs said...

gosh, I remember that girl I first met at NI... I was like "dang, she's my age AND supporting a husband?!?!" I also think I remember catching my first glimpse of the real YOU, dancing at one of the company Christmas parties to Adam Ant. Cheers to YOU, the girl who's been evolving & growing all these years. I'm glad you moved to Austin, too!

Alison said...

Hi, Lisa, remember me from NI? I just came across your blog for the first time tonight through Dipu's blog, and it was very interesting to read this, because I was actually thinking of you--and your marriage, oddly--just yesterday. (You may recall I was also putting my husband through school at that time...which I would hardly recommend to anyone!) I'm glad to see you are doing well and feeling good about things. I also find, looking back, that I'm really thankful for some of the hard things I went through and some decisions I made for the wrong reasons, because those are what made me who I am now and brought me to a better place than I would have been otherwise.

Oh, and BTW, I did exactly the same thing with Netflix that you did! I never watched the stupid things, and paid a fortune to not watch them. In Austin, I really loved Movies On Demand from Time Warner Cable...you just rent them right from your cable box, watch them as much or little as you want in the next 24 hours, and the charge goes on your cable bill. They don't have a huge selection, but they do have 25 or 30 at any time & it was so much easier & cheaper to me than going to the video store (where I always racked up huge fines) that I started doing that the majority of the time. Meanwhile, I just moved to Florida & am stunned & horrified that my cable here doesn't offer that! They do have some pay-per-view movies, but only a few & they all start at specific times, not whenever you want. Thank goodness I got a DVR here (like a TiVo), because that almost makes up for it! These things are amazing.

Anyway, I didn't mean to take up so much space on your blog...if you want to drop me an e-mail through my web site, please do!