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Learning to walk away

Updated: February 20, 2013 11:31AM

We recently met Betsy who planned to retire with her husband Cal to Michigan. He moved there in the summer of 2011. She was going to join him in March 2012. In February, he told her he wanted a divorce.

Marriages rarely end with a clean break. Especially 30-year marriages. In May, three months after he said he wanted a divorce, he told Betsy he wanted to get back together.

“We went to counseling. I really thought that he was sincere. Then I got a letter from the husband of the woman who lived next door to him in Michigan. He said they were having an affair. I completely wrote him off.”

In August, Cal again told Betsy he wanted to reconcile. “I gave him another chance, but told him we had to move to Florida where we had spent some time. Michigan was not a place I wanted to be anymore. He quit his job at Walmart. Two weeks later, he told me he wasn’t ready to move to Florida. Again I wrote him off.”

Two months later, in October, Cal asked Betsy to move into an apartment in Michigan so they could work on their marriage while they lived apart. “My counselor thought it was a good idea. Again I agreed. We went to look at apartments together and found one I liked. I filled out most of the paper work. All I needed was approval.”

While Betsy was in Michigan, she was staying with Cal in their trailer. One morning, she took the dogs out for a walk and found Cal next door, making out with his neighbor in her kitchen.

“I walked right in and let loose at them. I was devastated. I went back to the trailer and he followed. He didn’t say a word. All he did was listen to me yell and cry and tell him how hurt I was. I’m fortunate I hadn’t signed the rental papers. I gathered my stuff and headed home.

“But before I left, I went to Rite Aid where the woman worked and called her out. Everyone in the store heard me scream that she was sleeping with a married man. She called the police and made a report, but by then, I was gone.”

The next day, Betsy gathered her two dogs and packed her van and moved to Florida. “I needed to start my new life away from my old life, and what better place than Florida?”

It’s not a very luxurious life. Her apartment is 625 square feet. She’s getting half of Cal’s pension. It’s not enough money to buy all the medications she needs.

“I’m careful how much money I spend. I go to the dog park every day, and my dogs love it. The people there are very social and it’s nice to have someone to talk to. I go to the Farmers Markets and flea markets.

“I take one day at a time. Once I’m situated, I’ll look for a part-time job. I’m not sure what I want to do. Right now I don’t want to do anything. My motto is this is my time, de-stressing, de-compressing and trying to relax. I am already happier.

“The moral of the story for women like me is: Put on your big girl boots and walk into a new life.”

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