It was a cold winter night; I was sitting around the dining table with my family; my husband and three kids. We looked like a picture-perfect family, but the reality was far from that.
I and Paul have been married for 20 years now. At the time of marriage, I was a 21-year-old fresh graduate from college. I studied cosmetology and aspired to start my makeup line and a salon but marriage changed all my priorities. I didn’t even realize how it turned me into an industrious housewife and devoted mother.
Even though I couldn’t pursue my dream of being an entrepreneur, I never complained, being a mother, housekeeper and a wife kept me quite busy, I felt wanted, my kids needed me all the time but as time passed, things changed. My kids grew up and they didn’t need me as much as they used to. I had so much time to spare and no one to spend it with.
It was then, that the cold reality hit me; my marriage was an unhappy one. It had been years since I and Paul had planned anything fun together, we didn’t confide in each other anymore, didn’t talk about our feelings, hell, we didn’t even talk about our day. I realized I had stopped looking at my husband as a source of comfort, support, and partnership. The next thought was even more terrifying, what if my husband felt the same way? I felt a strange, sinking feeling into my stomach, the realization that I was an unhappy housewife who felt trapped in her marriage.
“Is this how the world saw me? My family, friends, children, neighbors??” I felt as if everyone around me pitied me, for my miserable life.
An unhappy marriage is like a cold, that leaves you drained and fatigued. It affects you physically, I looked at my reflection in the living room mirror, my pale skin with early sign of aging and bare face without any trace of makeup depicted a middle-aged woman who had stopped taking care of herself.
That night when we were getting ready to sleep, I asked Paul, “when did you stop loving me?”. He looked at me with a strange look in his eyes, almost like I was holding a mirror to his face.
“What kind of question I this?” he replied with a question, clasping his hands.
“We don’t talk anymore; you don’t even look at me.”
“c’mon this is absurd, you’re just tired, of course, I love you.” He said as he pulled the blanket over him, leaning in to sleep, turning away from me.
There was no need for him to verbally explain this to me, his body language and the look in his eyes had explained everything. My marriage had been over for a while now, I was just realizing it today.
Suddenly the food I cooked, the housekeeping I did, the efforts I put into keeping the family together all seemed dull and replaceable. I felt sorry for myself, almost a pity, that at forty, I couldn’t make much out of my life, I had so much potential and yet I wasted all of it.
I was unable to hold back this continuous sadness, that had become a part of me, it came out in the form of warm tears.
After the conversation with Paul, I felt like the lid from a boiling cauldron has been lifted, emitting all resentments and conflicts in our marriage. Unfortunately, I did this to myself by starting this argument about why he won’t look at me anymore.
That night in the faint light of night bulb I realized that despite me keeping a tight lip about it and denying it all my life, deep down inside I longed for recognition. I promised myself I won’t let this happen to me; I will not be one of those people who die with regrets.
The next morning, I dig out my very first business project idea, I wrote in the final year of college, from the pile of my books and other work, I had kept into the attic. I checked my savings account; how much money I had in it. I had $20000 that I saved over the course of years. It still wasn’t enough to start a business, so I started to write down a business proposal. I asked for help from my friend who works in marketing for a million-dollar cosmetics firm. She said my idea had a lot of potential and if done right, I might be able to pitch it to her company as well.
Drafting the idea of sustainable custom eyelashes Packaging boxes for middle-aged women in college, the thought of becoming one never crossed my mind, funny how life plays out.
The next week I spent in study, refining my business proposal, and creating a presentation. My husband and kids felt the change but they didn’t ask. The first day when there was no dinner on the table they ordered pizza and my youngest daughter left two slices for me in the study. The next day they ordered from outside again, by the third day they all came home already eaten out and no one cared I had eaten anything or not.
This made me the validation I was looking for; how correct my decision to get my life together was. I was just giving, giving and giving and not asking anything in return. I was doing everything out of love for my family but they thought it, not a favor, but their right. The sense of entitlement the had developed was my fault. But now I was determined to get things back on track.
Next Monday I was standing in front of the board of a multi-national cosmetics company giving my presentation and presenting my idea. My idea was well-received and this is how I started my brand of custom eyelashes and sustainable packaging for them. Paul and I ended up getting a divorce, my oldest one lives in her apartment, younger two live 6 months with me and 6 months with their dad. Looking back, I have no regrets, I’m happier than ever, I own an apartment in New York City, but most importantly I feel accomplished.