Getting Real With Tammy Bartholomew

We live in a society that pretty much molds us to live like “The Jones”. What I mean by this is we are told the formula for life is graduate from high school, go to college, get a great job, get married, buy a beautiful home, have 3.5 kids and live happily ever after. For me, I was living like the Jones. First I have a whole bloodline of them and second my life pretty much was molding that way. By 36, I was right on track for my pipe dream: I had finished college, gotten married to a wonderful man, and had 3 kids, a great job and a beautiful home.

I was perfectly content being a wife, mother and worker bee. I was patiently waiting for my husband to come home from his 3rd tour in Iraq, for us to be out of debt, raise our children and retire. That pipe dream went drastically wrong when three little words were uttered: “Go find yourself” that winter in 2009. What? What do you mean? I am not lost!

I was stopped in my tracks, being the control freak that I am. I scrambled to figure out what I was supposed to do. I didn’t succeed very well as my new road consisted of finding myself on unemployment for two years, finding myself divorced after 17 years, having my best friend move to the coast, having one of my twins move to Washington with his father and the new wife, losing my house, losing my favorite uncle to cancer and getting fired from a job for the first time in my life. To keep this PG, What the crap?

My life was not just turned upside down, I think someone threw me in the dryer on the tumble cycle forever. I just felt like I was in a vicious circle going around and around not knowing how to get out. When I was done crying and could think, I reverted back to what I know best, counseling! We had done three tours in five years and it was the only thing consistent. Military One Source I called. Off I went with all my emotion and drama. I didn’t even know where to start.

The counselor would ask, “How do you feel?” I said, “I have no clue,” as I was numb and in a coma.  She would say, “Are you mad, glad, sad or bad?” I was all those and so, so much more. That was when I began writing my poems. I wrote all the time, all hours of the day, just to process it all. I just didn’t understand what to do or where to go, so I just wrote. It was my release for the next year and a half. I realized I didn’t have my own goals, We had family goals. When we marry, we become a “We and an Us” and we lose our “I”. My goal was to find my “I” again. I loved being a wife, mom, aunt, sister, worker bee and friend, but I needed to find me.

So off I went. What did I want, what did I need out of this life? Well first, I went searching for a man, more of validation of men as women have always been my strength and my relationship with my father wasn’t the best. That didn’t work so well and I am still single and took wife off my resume for a while. My next goal was to finish writing my poems. 100 was my goal; I finished my series “Airing the Dirty Laundry” in September 2010. My next goal was to lose weight, but first you have to understand how, which is a process in itself, as is getting motivated…I do okay with that as I have lost 25 pounds – divorce does help. I continued to pour myself into my kids, and then I remembered something I loved doing from ages 14-25. Tennis. I signed myself back onto a USTA League.

After the dust settled, I realized it didn’t take me going through all these changes to go find myself. It was truly someone else wanting to go find himself. He just gave me a little nudge and here I am, just turning 40 and looking forward to my new life, created by me, for me – and not settling for less.

Keep Smiling, Tammy