Lessons from Kevin - Catalyst for Escape

One of the critical factors in my escape was Kevin. I knew Kevin less than a year, he was my boss, and I worked for him only for about 2 months. He is an example of how someone that passes through your life briefly can change everything. For me he was like a booming voice of validation in a sea of confusion.

As long as I live, I will never forget him, and I will be forever grateful. Kevin gave me complete and unwavering support, and I leaned on him heavily for the strength I needed to get out.

He never got to see the result. Nor did I ever get to thank him or show him my appreciation. Kevin passed away a little over a month after I told him I need to get out of my marriage. It's hard to believe that was just 2 short years ago. A lot has changed since then, I am in a completely different world now.

I still have all his texts, and I review them every now and again. They are a record, some of the events I had written to him I had forgotten. So if you are in that situation now, write things down somewhere. You will forget due to the stress, and the things you forget will shock you. Kevin's words are imprinted in my brain, and at critical times they provided me the strength to carry through. It is without a doubt, because of Kevin there was no risk of me ever returning to that marriage.

It is also because of Kevin, that I make a point of really telling people what they mean to me. One of my coping mechanisms when I am emotional is to back off, and withdraw. I need to be alone to process my thoughts and feelings. The last message I got from Kevin was "How you doing? Checking in" It took me a month to answer, huge mistake. When I first got the hairbrained idea that I could try and keep the farm, I called Kevin, I left a message on his voicemail. I later found out, he had died the day before. I had not even know he was sick. After his last text he had received a cancer diagnosis and was gone within 3 weeks.

Kevin was the first person I actually had the guts to really tell what was happening. One of the pivotal messages was when I told him that I stopped having sex with my ex-husband. Kevin responded "Well, you were just being used" The way he said it, the depth and sincerity in his voice, the understanding and the empathy got through to me. When ever I had doubts and started to waver, I remembered the certainty in his voice. It helped me keep my resolve. Prior to saying it out loud to Kevin. I didn't know that was the feeling I was feeling. But once he said it, I knew he was exactly right. I was being used, I was nothing but a prop to my ex. I was completely interchangeable, I think I read somewhere once, that for some people sex is just using someone else to masterbate. I think that describes sex in my marriage perfectly. In retrospect, I realize now, I was being used in lot of ways during my marriage.

Kevin was older than me, he was also in an unhappy. The reasons were different, but the empty feeling was the same. Kevin told me how he felt like a complete failure at life because of his life circumstance. He was eligible to retire, for quite some time but didn't because he said he didn't want to have to spend so much time at home. He was finally going to retire that spring, which he was dreading. When we talked, and I told him I was going to get out, he said once you do, tell me how you did it. I told him, that once I got out, where ever I landed I would have a room in my house for him so he could follow, and he could find happiness too.

When he died, I was still not sure how I was going to make it on my own. But I swore to myself that in honour of Kevin's memory I would get out, and I would stay out. I would make sure to live a life of meaning. I am on that journey now. I wish I could tell him now that I did it.

There have only been a couple people I have really been able to open up too. I often didn't even tell my closest friends my deepest feelings. Certain things I just kept completely private. I didn't trust sharing my emotions with anyone, especially those deep very personal ones, the ones that make you vulnerable.

This is not good, its one of the weapons that gets used against you in an abusive relationship. It makes you easier to isolate. It prevents those that love you from seeing what's happening, and possibly helping you avoid or escape it. It also undermines the quality of your relationships, you really need to be able to be open to people to be able to have rich, deep and mutually beneficial connections.

It's been one of the things I have been determined to change about myself, to tear down the wall that was keeping me from the world around me. It wasn't protection, it was a prison. But Kevin had no problem getting through to me. I trusted him very quickly, mostly because I think he just let me emerge at my own pace. What ever I would tell him, he didn't really react, he just listened and supported me. I trusted his judgement, and I knew he only had my best interests in mind. I don't remember him ever telling me I had to do this or that, but he listened. This was the beginning of me opening up to trust others.

I went to Kevin's wake and his funeral. I was staying at my uncles house at the time, and it was my during my first tentative steps of being on my own. I went there to support his family. I cried the whole time, and they actually ended up comforting me. I sat and talked with his sister and his brother, I did get the chance to tell them that Kevin mattered and would be remembered by those that had the gift of meeting him.

From Kevin I learned some major life lessons.

1) Don't take anyone's presence for granted. Tell people what they mean to you, every chance you get. If they impact you let them know. Value those connections, they are rare and they may not last. Even if its uncomfortable and awkward for you, make that effort to reach out you may never get another chance. I wasn't the only person who Kevin helped, at his funeral I spoke with another girl who said, it was like losing her dad. I felt the same. One thing Kevin was not, was a failure. But unfortunately he didn't know that. 2) You can't tell the future, don't assume all is lost One of the things that made leaving my marriage hard was the thought I would lose my home that I love. He wrote to me "there is no telling the future, you may have your space again." When I left the message on Kevin's voicemail, telling him I was going to try to buy the farm, it was a complete pipedream. Well wouldn't you know, just like he said, I have that space. When the idea crossed my mind and chances of success where maybe about 1%. I remember thinking at the time, I will just try it, worst that can happen is I fail. But not trying was a guaranteed fail. This was one of the first times in many, many years I was ready to take any type of risk. That was one of the things that kept me trapped in the marriage, unwillingness to risk losing anything. Because of that I lost me for a long time 3) Go Live your life Do those things you want to do, get out there. Make that list go after it. Kevin told me he had felt like a major failure in life. He felt unfulfilled. When I learned of his death, I made a promise to myself, that I would make the changes I needed to make to make sure I didn't end up feeling the same way on my deathbed. Kevin was not able to change his own situation in his lifetime, but he changed mine. And I am hoping by sharing a little bit of his story, he might change yours too. 4) One of the most important things Kevin taught "Establish a clean break, you can't do an assessment in a firefight" Take your time and make a rational decision. I followed this advice and think because of it, I didn't falter later.

So tonight I sign off with gratitude,

Thank you Kevin, for listening with non-judgement, for reflecting what I was saying back to me. I hope that your are out there somewhere and you can feel the love and appreciation that I have for you. On the day I get married again, this time to a loving supportive and kind man, that actually loves me. I will remember you.💗

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