On this Christmas Day, as 2022 ends, I find myself focused on the future and not so much the past. I’m talking near-term future as so much potentially is going to change. It’s not like this year wasn’t full of change. Oh boy, was it. It’s just that what I expect to unfold in 2023 has me super excited, and I must admit, a bit unnerved. Before I get into what’s ahead in 2023, a brief retrospective seems important to set the stage.
If we take the way-back machine to January 1 of this year, you’d find me pretty much the same as now, at least on the surface. If you could peak under the hood, so to speak, you’d find a man trying to stay strong and provide support for his adult children and elderly parents, all the while struggling to deal with nearly 30 years of emotional debt.
At the time, I was still married, at least in the eyes of the law, but single, and solely responsible for my youngest son. Being a single parent wasn’t new to us. The separation was already into its ninth month. My son, William, and I had as much time in our new life, as he had followed me out the door when the heart-breaking destruction of our family happened. We were two men living in a two-bedroom apartment within walking distance of his college. We had just experienced the first Christmas in our new family dynamic. It was remarkably peaceful and enjoyable for me (ditto for this year). While I won’t speak for my son, or his older brother, Kirkpatrick, I will say we came together in a way we hadn’t before. We were thankful. They were loving, encouraging, and committed to moving the family forward without the suffocating weight that had been pulling us down for years.
Ahead of me at that time were two substantial changes. First, I was about to start a new job within the company I had worked for six years. A new team, new challenges, and so-much unknown. Second, and most importantly, the long, difficult, and jaw-droppingly-asinine divorce effort was about to move into mediation. I had no hope of a successful negotiation and fully expected a court battle, based on the past months of behavior from the “other side.”
While part of me wants to go deep into what led to the divorce and the legal shenanigans I experienced, I’ll spare you the recap. Instead, here is the conclusion. Surprisingly, we agreed to a settlement. I filed the signed “dissolution of marriage” paperwork with the court on Valentine’s Day. Yes, that was intentional, and I now refer to it as “Freedom Day.”
The new team thing worked out, too. I’m so happy to be part of a supportive new organization which values me for my experience and skill. It’s been my privilege to build such a talented and large team (double my previous team).
2022 included much more than that! Both good and bad. Both of my parents experienced health scares. I got my vision corrected with a “laser.” I enjoyed my first root-canal. I had minor surgery (again) because the same procedure late last year didn’t end well. I had to figure out how to fund my son’s last year of college (no help offered from his mother – financially or otherwise). I began selling the comic book collection I started when I was ten years old. I marked my one-year anniversary of therapy, which I started about a month before my separation (I’m still doing it to this day). I met a few amazing women, but the timing just wasn’t right. I helped organize and attended my 40th high school reunion. I marked one year of consistent workouts at the gym. My sons and I stayed close. (William and I meet up with Kirkpatrick at least once a week and we all regularly visit my parents nearly as often.) And finally, after skipping a year, my elaborate decorations went back up – this time at my parents’ house – for both Halloween and Christmas!
That brings us to 2023. What’s next that has me excited and unnerved? My life. And I mean “MY” life. If all goes well, William will finish up the classes he needs to graduate at the end of March. Our lease at our college-area apartment expires soon after. So, I will be looking for new digs in 2023 and I expect to be a true bachelor again. Now I’m not kicking William to the curb. I plan to support him as he launches. But he will launch.No Doubt. This will be a milestone. Empty nest. Most of my decisions will be about me. Not my kids. It’s a shifting role that I’m working on in therapy. I’m being encouraged to be a little selfish. Figure out what I want to do. Then do it. If it doesn’t work. Do something else. This is a concept they call at work a “two-way door.” It gives you permission to fail. I want to give myself that permission.
What will I do? Who knows. I want to travel. I’ve been mulling around the idea of taking my remote working position to another country for a month. I’d like to take a cruise. I think I want to learn to dance so I can stop doing the white-guy shuffle. I wonder if I should get back into singing. I’ll need some lessons there, too. And I want to meet new people and rekindle old friendships.
Dating may be a thing, but I cringe at the thought of those match-making apps. I’ve stuck to the advice that you should wait a year after the divorce before dating. That’s anniversary is coming up soon. Freedom Day will be here very quickly. The good news is I’ve done the work. I’ve learned so much about myself during this journey. I have a lot to offer someone. I now just need to find the right one. Or not. Alone is alright, too.
I’m not worried or afraid to be on my own. I’m super comfortable in my own skin. I enjoy being by myself. I’ve traveled for business on my own often. I’ve explored Tokyo, Munich, Bangalore, Luxemburg, Amsterdam, and other places on my own. I love experiencing new things. That’s what 2023 will be. New. I hope to make the most of it. You should try, too.