Milestones; every life has them. Some of them are subtle, others are in your face and cannot ignore. Others still may have a major impact but not realized until much later.
Like everyone else, my life has been marked by milestones. Many of them have been standard events that are common to more or less everyone. Others are unique to me.
Other than the obvious such as significant childhood birthdays and such, probably my first major, life changing event was when I was 16 and went through my first major depression. I didn’t recognize it as a turning point, but it was the harbinger of something that would impact my entire life. Then there came my first marriage, and more importantly my first divorce. The marriage left an imprint, sure; but it was the divorce that really counted, as it led into the real milestone of the time.
I was hospitalized for depression after the breakup of my first marriage. I’ll never know if the depression was due to the breakup, or the breakup was due to the depression, but either way, it was probably the most significant thing that had happened in my life to date. Not only was it the first of many hospitalizations, but I also met wife # 2 while I was an inpatient.
So now there’s wife # 2. Again, the marriage was not that significant in itself, but several years later I had my first daughter. Talk about a life changing event! Then it happened a second time! Neither one was more significant than the other; both were life altering and changed forever who I am. I went from being just another guy to being a Daddy! And as the old saying goes, any man can be a father, but it’s someone special who is a Daddy.
Even with the joy of being a parent, there were still negative milestones. During that time I had several more mental illness hospitalizations. While each one had an impact of course, the biggest event was my first suicide attempt. It marked the lowest point in my life up until then, and was damned near successful.
Much like Wife #1, the divorce from Wife #2 was much more a milestone then the marriage. It impacted my children, it impacted my financial security, and it impacted my mental health.
There was another marriage and divorce, but I think it was more of a milestone for my kids then it was for me, as unknown to me she was brutally abusive to them.
The fourth wife was the first time a marriage could be considered a major milestone. This time I truly felt like my life had improved forever. I was in love like I had never been before, and being married and securing the rest of my life was huge.
It was during this marriage that I finally accepted the fact that what had shaped my entire life was the fact that I was bipolar. Having that realization finally explained what had happened up until then, and what I had to face going forward.
Today is a milestone for me. In spite of my expectations and hopes, my marriage to wife #4 ended just like the others. The divorce isn’t final yet, but today would have been the first anniversary since we split up. It’s a sad event for sure, but what makes it a milestone is that this is the first time since the breakup that I’m able to face it without excruciating pain. I have realized that it wasn’t all good times, and that there were issues and signs all along that should have clued me in that the relationship wasn’t the fairy tale I had believed it to be. The corner I have turned today is one of hope. Hope that I can finally have some peace; that the loneliness can pass; that a new and meaningful relationship is possible and even likely.
You don’t live as long as I have without many major and minor milestones. There are too many changing points to ever remember or even realize. And I’m not done. I have many new opportunities and high points, even low points and disappointments ahead of me. Until the ultimate milestone that marks the very end. Or maybe that even that last one will be the beginning of even more milestones yet unimaginable.