Money be damned!
The decision to leave my life as a Texas oil wife and to move to the wilds of British Columbia resulted in deep, peaceful satisfaction. During my twenty-year marriage, travel to another country was nearly as commonplace as a trip to the grocery store. I had a maid, a gardener, a personal trainer, and my children attended private schools. My Facebook life appeared flawless.
My husband was personable, athletic, and financially successful. Only my children and a few intimate friends knew the abusive, toxic drama that went on behind the scenes. With three homes in the United States and Canada, my husband was rarely home, leaving for drinking binges and disappearing for days without communication. Each time I would bolster myself and prepare to file for divorce, another grandiose gesture, combined with emotional manipulation, would lull me back into compliance.
Alone for days after yet another vicious tirade from my husband, I looked at the twenty-year anniversary ring on my finger and knew that the problems were never going to end, and in fact, were worsening. I filed for divorce. Outsiders wondered why I would give up the homes, the travel, the financial security. There was no peace in my life and I could no longer respect myself for allowing a man to abusively disrespect me daily. Each day I stayed in the marriage, I demonstrated to my teenage daughter that it is the norm for a man to abuse a woman.
A Brutal Divorce Experience
The ensuing months of navigating the divorce process were nothing less than brutal. Each day I determined to put one foot in front of the other. It is said ignorance is bliss. If I had known the harrowing, gut-wrenching trauma I would face throughout the divorce process, I could not have done it. The damage to my teenage daughter was heart-wrenching.
Through therapy the two of us slowly assembled a new life, leaving behind the trappings of the past to focus on a simpler existence. We religiously frequented our local yoga studio and ran many miles together, as we struggled to form a new life. After what felt like an appropriate interval of time, I began to casually date a few men in my social circle. While I had fun and enjoyed meeting new people, I did not feel a connection to any of these men. A year after my divorce was finalized, that would change.
As summer neared its end, I traveled to Canada to put my vacation home on the market. The adjustment to single life and single parenting had been tenuous. While long term friends had remained steadfast in their love and support, the social dynamic had changed and I gingerly felt my way through my new life.
A New Life and Love
On a hot August afternoon, the lake behind my house beckoned. I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather with my beach towel and a book. As I settled into a lakeside nirvana with a book of humor essays, a handsome, extremely fit man pedaled up on his mountain bike.
I watched out of the corner of my eye as he surveyed the crowded lakeside scene and settled on a blanket about 5 feet to my immediate right. After sun screening his gleaming muscles, above and below his European style speedo, he relaxed with a book. I can honestly say that if Radmilo had spoken to me, I would have rebuffed him. Lacking confidence, after a twenty-year marriage, I was still unsure of the dating dynamic.
Radmilo steadfastly remained engrossed in his book. I could not help but observe that the lakeside scene, abundant in bikini-clad young women, held no interest for him. After an hour had passed, each of us contently reading, my piqued interest was greater than my reticence. I mentally said to myself, “Take a chance, be friendly.”
With an uncharacteristic boldness, I turned to my right and said, “So what are you reading?” As this handsome man held up his book titled, Buddhist Studies, I was instantly smitten. His deep bass voice, delivered in a Slavik European accent, shivered me with a thrill. Radmilo and I spent the next half hour chatting, culminating with an exchange of contact information.
Upon my return home, I emailed him and suggested drinks that evening. We would return to the same lakeside spot with a bottle of red wine and a cozy blanket to temper the cool Canadian night. As we conversed and star gazed, I felt a burgeoning feeling of expectation and promise I had not known for many years.
After I returned home to Texas, Radmilo and I wrote to each other for months. Writing is a wonderful way to get acquainted with someone. We wrote about the books we love, our life stories, our children, our hopes, and dreams. By the time I returned to Canada for Christmas skiing, I knew the potential for a serious relationship was there.
As my friends realized my feelings for Radmilo were deepening, many expressed concern about how I would adjust to life in a foreign country with a European ski pro. From the humidity of South Texas to the snowy Canadian slopes was a huge leap. But Radmilo, versed in change himself, proved an apt inspiration. A successful journalist and award-winning documentary film director in Sarajevo, Bosnia, he had gravitated to professional ski instruction in Canada, after combating the many difficulties immigrants face.
Being on the mountain all day, combined with the study of Eastern philosophy and yoga, gave him a radiant peace that was deeply appealing, after the stress filled trauma of my prior marriage. While my intellect kept reminding me of our lifestyle and cultural differences, my heart’s compass steadily pointed me towards a future with this amazing man. We married 20 months after our chance lakeside meeting.
What did I give up as I joined my life with what some would call an unconventional partner? I gave up constant stress, a consumer lifestyle and apathy towards others. In return, my marriage to Radmilo brought me peace, self-respect, and an awareness of life experiences money simply cannot buy. Do I miss the jet-setting lifestyle? No, I am fulfilled as Radmilo and I spend hours hiking the British Columbian mountains, harmonious in our appreciation of all that the simple life now offers.