Three months after a lovely wedding, I left on a trip to South Africa. I was 57 years, excited to finish another semester of teaching at San Jacinto College in Houston, Texas, and eager to follow my passion for travel. Three weeks later, I returned to find my new husband had also followed his passion and was now in love with someone else.
Disbelief gave way to outrage as he bombarded me with one story after another of how an old girlfriend had contacted him the day I left town. In my time away, my new husband had rekindled an old love affair even though there were 1,000 miles between them. He delighted in sharing all the details.
Shell-shocked, I decided to write a book about this insane episode of my life. Initially, I wanted to expose this creep to the world at large. Although I wondered how much I should include about what I knew about my new husband but married him anyway. My friends had tried to dissuade me from marrying him, but I had plowed ahead and done it in spite of their warnings. Sharing all that would make me look really stupid.
Still in a state of disbelief, I picked up a copy of Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore. While reading I saw how two unlikely companions coped with a tragic loss by giving to others. Their book made me realize that I wanted to benefit a segment of society that often goes ignored and unsupported – women’s shelters. Women who seek refuge in a shelter experience far worse trials than I had encountered. Most do not have a job or training to get one. Although, they do have one thing in common with me – they had somehow gotten into a terrible situation, usually because of an abusive relationship.
One day while out walking, I thought about the many stories my ex-husband-to-be had shared with me when I returned from South Africa. One of the stories that kept coming back to me was his account of the morning before he flew from Houston to Denver to see his new love for the first time in 32 years. While sitting on the commode, doing what people do early in the morning, he looked at his hand and noticed his wedding band, the one I had placed on his finger less than 3 months prior to that day.
He took off the ring and while he looked around the room wondering where he should put it, he accidentally dropped it. And, yes, you’re right; it fell into the commode. He told me there was too much gold there to flush, so he had to dig it out. That phrase kept coming back to me, and I knew there was too much gold for me to dig out of this experience for me to learn from and to share with others. This is also the moment I realized that everything I had done, the things I had ignored, all of my ugly “stuff” had to be scrutinized – and would eventually become part of the book. It was what I had to come to terms with in order to glean the gold from this situation.
My story of betrayal is not new, but giving myself permission to fully understand my part in creating it was life altering. During the writing process, I realized I had to pass my own class; I had to accept personal responsibility for the choices I made, for the things I ignored, and for the times I lost myself in the relationship. Exploring the beliefs I formed about myself in childhood and tying them to the choices I made as a “mature” and educated adult gave me powerful insights. While processing all this, I shifted from seeing myself as a victim to realizing my ability to create a life full of meaning and purpose. Too Much Gold to Flush offers readers the option of claiming their own personal power, so they too can make different choices and thus transform their lives as well.
As a college professor, I celebrated the positive impact of education, particularly for those who were the first in their family to attend, so I was moved to start Empowerment through Education, a crowdfunding campaign that benefits exclusively women’s shelters. One-third of every dollar donated goes toward a scholarship fund given directly to the shelters. The other two-thirds provides copies of my book to women in shelters. Supporters can donate to the General Donation, which will be split among all the shelters in this campaign. Or, you can donate to a particular shelter by clicking here and then scrolling down the page and choosing a shelter. Once you donate, you will be asked if you want a tax receipt, which will be requested from the shelter. Click here to see all the shelters in this campaign.
The web address for this fundraiser is: try.tilt.com/empowerment.
Empowerment through Education’s goal is to raise $150,000 with this campaign, and we would love to have your support. Here are a few suggestions for ways you can help:
- Share this blog on all of your social media
- Post the Empowerment through Education link on your Facebook page along with a personal note about the positive intention of this campaign
- Send it out in an email to friends and family
- Get a group you are involved with or know of to take this on as a service project
To read reviews and the first chapter of Too Much Gold to Flush, go to www.patgrissom.com. You can also order a book or multiple copies for gifts. One-half of the cost of every book purchased goes to the women’s shelter you designate. On the right hand sidebar of this page, there is a two-minute video summarizing my quest to help women’s shelters.
Let me conclude by sharing the greatest lesson I learned through this experience:
True happiness comes from turning within and learning to love ourselves – not in finding “the one.” We are the one.