Over the next few weeks I sloooowwwwly began to examine how to make my next move in moving away from the business that I started and planned on having until long after retirement age.
I spoke w/trusted friends and confidants, wrote endlessly in my journal about being frozen, unable to move forward, and continued to sport a growing spare tire made not of rubber but of fear, stress and uncertainty. I also felt an incredible pull to spend time with my dear friend, Thalia, who lives in the desert. It was more of a soul craving. This woman entered my life years ago when her life had taken a 180 degree turn. I was a sort of “way show-er” for her then but the tables turned very quickly and she became one of those deep soul connections and wise ones that I turn to when I need the guidance and clear headed-ness of a mother figure. (She is not old enough in chronological years to actually BE my mom, but her wisdom is timeless and ageless!)
I spent the following weekend in her nest, under the wings of her friendship and love, sipping champagne, floating in her pool, and talking about everything except the current situation in my life. It wasn’t avoidance. It was healing and restorative. My ego and life plan had taken a huge hit, and just needed some good old fashioned unconditional love for a couple of days. I got it in abundance, along with some much-needed Vitamin D and laughter.
Funny how, when you put some distance between you and the problem, things start to clear. (This is a lesson I have been invited to learn over and over and over again in the months since!) I used to say it was like being in the eye of the storm; you can’t see what is out there beyond because you are too close to it. But in reality, isn’t the eye of the storm the most CALM?
Anyway, the plan began to take shape. On the advice of a trusted attorney friend of a friend, it was decided that the best thing to do was to sell my shares and simply walk away from the business, and start over again (whatever that meant!) After all, my partner wanted to be on his own so badly, he had already offered to assume all of the debt AND agreed to me retaining all of my clients (about 90% of all the company’s client base), allowing for me to continue selling and designing without the overhead burden. In hindsight, where’s the loss?
The loss was to my ego. This was MY business too. It hurt me deeply to think that someone could commit to building something with you and then, without notice, yank the proverbial rug out from under you without warning or the possibility of a changed mind. But, like my partner used to say, this was a marriage without the love. In my mind, this “marriage” would have continued indefinitely. In his mind and in his real life, he was about to enter a 2nd marriage. Guess there’s only room for one “wife” at a time, huh?
As I looked back, I saw that his previous “real” marriage had ended as he and I began the business together, and not because there was ever anything between us. Remember, it was a “marriage without the love”. I wondered about his commitment abilities in the face of adversity (Nice projection, right?) In my hurt and pain, I was somehow able to keep the snide remarks about “warning” his new bride about his 5-year commitment expiration date to myself, though I know I journaled about it!
I do not claim to be faultless in his arriving at his decision to end our partnership. In the first couple of years, we used to laugh at how easy it was to run this business, compared to the struggles our previous employers encountered; how clients and business just found their way to us, without much effort on our part. I guess we both got comfortable. When the economy took its nosedive, we didn’t react in the most timely of manners and it took its toll. And, I just didn’t react at ALL. I just let it flounder and suffer until it was on life support. Instead of pulling the plug on the entire thing, he simply chose to amputate the dead weight: me.
I used to think of us like those sons in the Bible – the good son and the prodigal son. My partner always seemed to have his shit together while I, much older, was still struggling to pay my bills, spending everything I had as fast as it came in. I had virtually no savings and no plan. He had used what was given to him wisely. Me? Not so much. Mixed in with the hurt was a huge dose of guilt and shame. He was calling me on this without ever pointing a finger or saying a word. I see it now as a wakeup call for me, albeit at the expense of others in the process. It was a painful lesson but, as I later discovered, life had gone on ahead of me, making the way for me while I took my time to catch up…
In April my soon-to-be-ex-partner married his soul mate. At the reception, his mom spoke of how proud she and her husband were of their son, coming to America and learning a trade and now, ultimately owning his own business. I was now officially nothing: in the room and yet invisible for the contribution I made to that business. As the 7 stages of grief go, pain & guilt were moving on. Anger had arrived. I was pissed!