On my 21st birthday my parents and fiancé threw me a party. Attended by family and friends, we drank and danced into the night. I was young and carefree, though ready to face the responsibilities of adulthood. Later that year, I qualified as a nurse and by the time my 22nd birthday came around, I was married. The year was 1984, almost a lifetime ago.
In many ways, my life has gone to plan. There has been a successful career, a long marriage, a child, a home that we almost own. But in other ways very different. I imagined that I would always care for patients at the bedside which has not been the case. That the marriage would be forever and that there would be more than one child. Friendships have not always lasted, decisions taken have proven not to be the best. Plus I now realise a happy, healthy sex life is far more important than I could ever have imagined.
I wonder then, if I could give my 21 year old self advice. What would that be.
If you are sure you are in love, then get married. Perhaps, wait a little longer. Live together, have fun, travel. You aren’t going to have your child for 7 years after all, so there is no hurry. Ignore the advice of your parents who don’t like the idea of you living together before marriage.
Work at your relationship, don’t let it go as soon as the first problem occurs. But don’t allow yourself to be lied to in the way you will. If an excuse seems far fetched, it probably is. It isn’t normal to attend weddings and other functions alone because your husband says he is working away from home. He doesn’t have that kind of job, never did and never will do.
Don’t believe that you are to blame for his mistakes, his infidelity. The moment you realise you don’t love him, don’t want him any more, walk away.
You will be a good and caring mother, follow your instincts and all will be well. Put your child first, but remember that he will still be there if you walk away from the marriage. The child’s father is meant to share being the parent. You don’t have to be both mother and father.
Your son will always have you and he will always have his father. You don’t need to be married to each other. There is little more advice to give on this, other than always keep channels of communication open. Your son will always return when he needs you.
Friends and Family
Don’t put family before friends all of the time. A social life involving parents, brothers, their wives and children is a wonderful thing. But when times change and marriages begin to fail, you could end up with very little social life. Invest time in those friends willing to give time to you. Accept that not all friendships last the course and family members do lie. Don’t be frightened of your mother, her bark is worse than her bite.
Enjoy your time as a nurse. Don’t be afraid to change jobs. Believe in yourself. When the patients start to get you down try something new. Don’t fear a job in management, the pay and the hours are better. Never regret moving on and do so when you no longer enjoy what you are doing. Make friends, but accept that they work friends may be transient. Take any opportunity for further education and training and use it to your advantage.
Recognise that being loved is important. Never forget that you need to be held, protected and touched. If the man you are partnered to does not turn you on then the relationship is wrong. Don’t fear being alone, you will meet the right person for you. Embrace the sexual feelings you have. Don’t be afraid to go in search and to try new sexual experiences. Preferably leave one relationship before embarking on the next. Infidelity invariably ends in tears and in the main they will be yours.
Trust your instincts and do be prepared to take a risk. If a sexual experience feels right, then it probably is. But take care. Try not to put yourself in danger. Learn about safe calls. You might not need them but it’s a good idea to be prepared.
When you meet the right man, you will know. One day you will be happier than you ever imagined you could be.
By all means look back on what you have done, where you have been and who with. Remember and reflect, but never regret. When possible look forward and enjoy. Life to be embraced, enjoyed and lived.