It would be easy to think the Elizabeth had it all. At 42 she is beaming with a happiness which can’t be faked.
Never has the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover” been more true than with Elizabeth, from Cottingham in the East Riding of Yorkshire. To meet her now you see a confident woman.
Five years ago, she made the biggest decision of her life, which would change things for ever. She said “I was bord of my ‘nice’ life. In a world of colour my life was beige, and I was drowning. I needed to save myself, so I packed up and left”.
To the outside world she had it all, a decent job managing a care home, her husband Mike was a teacher. They lived in a spacious three bed semi and it would be easy to think she had the perfect life.
Things couldn’t be further from the truth. Beneath the smiles there was a void, an emptiness that absorbed feelings, keeping them locked away. The void was what kept her going, keeping the feelings away from the surface meant they would never have to be faced, or felt.
Twenty years ago, there was still an expectation that a nice young woman, would meet a nice man and get married. That was what Elizabeth did. In 2003 family and friends gathered to celebrate the union. “The day was great, its very rare you gather all your friends and family in one place”.
Once the honeymoon period was over, and the dress has been put away, life goes on. The familiar slog of getting up go to work, come home and cooking dinner, drinking a bottle of wine and going to bed. The same routine over and over again.
Fast forward ten years life was very different, there were no fights because fights mean emotions were involved. “I never knew you feel so alone whilst sleeping next to another person.”
“The final straw was when, for my 37th birthday I never even received a card.” For the next six months she saved every penny she could, taking all the overtime that was available.
With the help of some close friends a deposit was put down on a flat and the papers signed, she packed what things she could in the back of a friend’s car and left the house for the last time.
Mike’s reaction to her leaving proved beyond doubt the marriage was over. Elizabeth said “The only thing he seemed interested in was if I was still going to pay his Sky subscription. He was in for another shock, the contract was in my name so I had arranged for it to be transferred to my new place.”
To say the new flat was basic was the understatement “the bed was a mattress on the floor, the sofa was threadbare on the arms with ominous stains all over it”
Over time, the flat became homelier with the addition of a desk and book cases, wall art and flowers displayed in pretty vases.
“For the first time in my life I was enjoying being single.” Something empowering happens when you take control of your life and live it the way you want.
After being single for six months, Elizabeth decided it was time to do something she had never had the courage to do before…join Weight Watchers. “I’ve never been huge, but I wanted to lose a couple of stone.”
As with most slimming groups most people who attend are women, with a handful of men throw in for good measure.
“I was really scared getting on those scales for the first time” What she didn’t expect was a friendly voice behind her saying “take a deep breath and close your eyes, it’ll be over in a second”.
Stood behind her with a broad smile was Tony. He was the only man in the group and loved the attention.
“At the end of the class he gave me his number, to call in case I needed help with the plan”
They met for a coffee mid-week. The conversation was easy, they spoke about everything that was going on in their lives.
He’s a private chef, catering for anyone who will pay him. She discovered that although he’d never been married, he had was engaged twice.
The phone calls became a lot more frequent. Discussing everything from what was happening on Master Chef to the crazy lady in the supermarket who was arguing with herself over which bottle of wine to buy.
“I’d always wondered what a male best friend would be like, and now I know” she said smiling from one ear to the other.
There was one other surprise Elizabeth didn’t see coming. With what could only be described as New Year Eve magic, and a bottle of fizz.
“Sounds clique I know, but at the stroke of midnight there was only one person I wanted to kiss”
“It’s very easy to become stuck in the ‘friend zone’. You want it to go further but are scared in case the feelings are in your head, you end up believing that this is better than nothing.
“If you really want a chance to see how it feels to kiss someone, the holidays are perfect. Everyone kisses everyone, and if the sparks fly great, if not, it was a festive ritual that you were following”
Things have gone from strength to strength “I never use to understand when people would talk about being part of an unbreakable team, but now I get it.”
Sometimes people come into your life teach you a life lesson, and once that lesson is learned they leave. Others are destined to be with you forever.
“My first husband took a lot from me over the years, and it was only after hitting the bottom that I could see the route out.
“Tony is my safety net, if he sees me wobble, he’s right there to catch me before I fall to far.”