Monday, August 22, 2016

My Life-Changing Event - A BIG one!

By Courtney Pierce

A number of cathartic events have happened in my fifty-seven years, most of which changed me for the good. The bad ones tend to fuel my sense of humor. Those juicy, truthful moments come out in my books. I write colorful stories with themes of getting older and growing young with wisdom: marriage, losing parents, aging siblings who act like kids, menopause, and dealing with all the stuff we collect over the years. My characters make crazy-bad choices for the right reasons, and they also make the right choices with questionable intent. The ridiculous truth ends up being funny because of the way my characters react to serious situations. I’ve reconciled so much of life through their antics.

Now I’m going to get personal, deeply personal for my readers and RTG audience. No funny pictures. Only truth.

I did get hit with a life-changing frying pan this summer―a heavy iron one. The hurt is fresh, so bear with me. My heart aches as I mow the lawn, take out the garbage, and separate the recycling. When I heard the dreaded words from my husband of thirty-seven years, “I never wanted you to find out,” panic and disbelief steamrolled over me. No air to breathe. In slow motion, the long-standing vows I treasured―counted on―shattered like the free-fall of Steuben-blown crystal. Our respected relationship, held on a pedestal by family and friends, toppled in eight short weeks from discovery to divorce. I did find out about another woman, in more detail than I could handle.

A wife knows every nuance of her husband’s behavior after decades of marriage. We wives are like cats that go on alert when the furniture is moved. We puff up. Little white lies are deflected to keep the peace. We swallow to assess and process. Denial sets in with the fear that something solid has become liquid and unstable. Then a mission starts to form after finding a Viagra pill in the lint screen of the dryer. That pill in his pocket wasn't meant for me. A new emotion takes over―an obsessive hunt for who barged in and redecorated my life without my permission. I confronted; he denied. It was me. Paranoid. He had to work through whatever he was going through. I wrote about obsession to find truth through my character of Olivia Novak in The Executrix, Indigo Lake, and the upcoming Indigo Legacy. Confession―she’s fictional me in marriage counseling, working through my husband’s mid-life crisis. The therapist spotted his dishonesty before I did.

A drastic change in behavior told me everything: the avoidance of my gaze, the lack of two-way conversation, the abandonment every Saturday for a whole day of errands―and the compulsive texting on his phone. I'd never violated his privacy before, but I had to know because I have an over-active imagination. The screen illuminated with the confirmation of my worst fear. The back-and-forth words “I love you” in virtual print rang hollow. They were texted to someone else, and texted back by someone else to him. My head went in a different direction than my body as I wanted to retch in the sink. A whirl of thoughts circled the assets of loved ones in my life: his family, my family, close friends, colleagues, and our cat. Our fifteen-year-old sweet calico would be divorced too, through no fault of hers.

Women boomers can get stuck between the chauvinist expectations of the ’50s and the live-in-the-moment, free-spirited enlightenment of the ’60s. Strong, accomplished women can become a threat to some men’s fantasies of being singularly adored, a need to be greeted at the door with a cocktail and a kiss after their wives kick butt all day. This will be a cornerstone of my future standalone novel, titled Unfair Ratios. Write from the heart. Fix it in fiction. Drag the needle over “The Girl from Ipanema” spinning on the turntable.

I’ve found this relationship shift to be an epidemic among boomers with long-standing marriages of unbroken trust, for both men and women. Many boomers want to redecorate their lives when they face their mortality. It can happen with the offer for a senior discount, the development of an illness, or an increase in the amount of hair in the shower drain, never mind that deadline reminder to sign up for Medicare. Those immortal rock stars, once rock-solid, begin to die. We listen to their hits and dance in the kitchen to not let go. Suddenly the old concert ticket stubs and high school yearbooks make an appearance to prompt searches to connect on Facebook. The folk music reunion specials on PBS make us pine for those special moments of youth―but they look different, sound different. Not quite the same. A betrayal of expectations that grown-up life would hold all those same feelings.

There are scores of us discarded wives who count ourselves among the Gray Betrayed. But no one will ever see my gray. No way. I’m still that tow-headed blond girl, married at twenty, who grew up. I’m going to be smokin' hot in life’s third act, me and my Post-menopausal Zing (a real syndrome worth Googling). A new author photo is forthcoming. Post-marriage-me will be better, a free-me reaching for my unrealized potential.

But how does one unlove someone after nearly four decades? Darned if I know. There are no tears left to shed. I’m on a day-by-day self-discovery of my identity as one, not two. All I know is that life is too short to settle for mediocre. Start with new bedding and a re-paint of the bedroom. No shoes in the house. Rearrange the furniture and art on the walls. Change the smoke detector batteries. Make it mine, and mine alone. 

And then there’s that prod of Zing I mentioned, an insatiable urge for intimacy. It happens to women in their upper fifties who’ve never had children. I don’t know how to date. I don’t want to catch a disease. I can’t even think about a relationship with any semblance of trust. I'm assured that when I least expect it the trust will spark with someone wired like me. But I do have one unattached man in my life. He lives in my nightstand. My doctor―God love him―recommended this extra-curricular activity to relieve the stress. He said it’s perfectly healthy. Okay . . . I’m a good student. I love me as I pay the bills and swagger around like Slim Pickins searching for his horse. An itch I can't scratch.

My Mom and two sisters have been amazing, just as I captured them in the Dushane Sisters Trilogy. They rallied to protect the injured middle cub, and I treasure them for it. I certainly wrote truth in the series, but I didn’t know how real their arms would become.

There you have it. My life-changing event. Am I angry? You bet. But my new path is illuminated with the bright lights. I’m taking the high road, the only road I know that's not fraught with danger. I'm going to be a hitchhiker on that road to what life has to offer. Route 66 is pretty barren of predators these days. 

And like my cat, I’ll land on my feet―better, stronger, and independent. A tougher writer too. Time to double-down. The other side holds the promise that my life isn’t falling apart, but that the pieces are finally coming together. Sage words from my massage therapist. It’s all going into my writing, and the pain will be tragically hilarious. That’s how I deal with tragic things. Stay tuned.

Courtney Pierce is a fiction writer living in Milwaukie, Oregon. She writes for baby boomers. Her novels are filled with heart, humor, and mystery. Courtney has studied craft and storytelling at the Attic Institute and has completed the Hawthorne Fellows Program for writing and publishing. Active in the writing community, she is a board member of the Northwest Independent Writers Association and on the Advisory Council of the Independent Publishing Resource Center. She is a member of Willamette Writers, Pacific Northwest Writers Association, She Writes, and Sisters in Crime. The Executrix received the Library Journal Self-E recommendation seal. 

Check out all of Courtney's books at: and Both print and E-books are available at and through most major online book retailers

The Dushane Sisters are back in Indigo LakeMore laughs, more tears . . . and more trouble. Protecting Mom's reputation might get the sisters killed―or give one of them the story she's been dying to live.

New York Times best-selling author Karen Karbo says, "Courtney Pierce spins a madcap tale of family grudges, sisterly love, unexpected romance, mysterious mobsters and dog love. Reading Indigo Lake is like drinking champagne with a chaser of Mountain Dew. Pure Delight."

Colorful characters come alive in Courtney's trilogy about the Dushane sisters. Beginning with The Executrixthree middle-age sisters find a manuscript for a murder mystery in their mother's safe after her death. Mom’s book gives them a whole new view of their mother and their future. Is it fiction . . . or truth? 

Get out the popcorn as the Dushane Sisters Trilogy comes to a scrumptious conclusion with Indigo Legacy. Due out in early 2017. 


  1. What a heart-felt post. You're amazing, strong and coping in a way that will benefit all your readers!

  2. Thanks, Linda! For me, moving forward with squared shoulders in the only acceptable path. I'm actually doing great, albeit with some shrapnel to dig out. This article was somewhat of my coming-out party. I took a deep breath when I hit "publish".

  3. An amazing post. I admire your courage in sharing it.

  4. Thanks, Liz. Only honest words go viral. I hope this article connects with so many other women who've gone through such a drastic transition.

  5. Truly, Courtney, thank you for sharing. I hadn't heard the term "Gray Divorce" but years ago I did trainings for a Displaced Homemakers program...another euphemism for women being divorced by husbands after a 25+ year marriage. So grateful you have an outlet in your writing. Love your stories.

  6. Stay tuned for UNFAIR RATIOS after I finish this last installment of the Dushane Sisters. It'll include all the shock, pain, humor, and the determination to not only survive but thrive. A hilarious take on being devastated. Writing is better than any therapist, but I have one of those to help me when I stumble.

  7. What an amazing woman and writer you are! So courageous! I hope you got custody of your cat. You deserve it.

    I just finished The Executrix and loved it. My mother is 90 with health problems, so I could really relate to your characters. Writing a review and ordering the next book are on my 'To-Do' list.

    You never know what life will bring or what blessings will come out of heartache.

  8. Every day is one of discovery, Sarah. My crisis management skills came in handy. Thank you for the kind words and your honest review. And yes, Rosey, my sweet calico stays right with me. She was a provision in the divorce decree. She got a whole legally binding paragraph. It was important to me for nothing in her world to change, except for that extra pair of hands. Just means I have to love on her twice as much. I end up with tail fur in my mouth in the morning because she's taken to sharing my pillow. That's a-okay with me.

  9. My heart breaks for you, having gone through the same thing 10 years ago. I
    have moved on the hurt is still fresh when confronted. After 38 years of marriage my best friend announced one night that he was moving out, he didn't want to be married anymore. What he meant was he didn't want to be married to me.

  10. What a courageous, heartfelt and brave woman you are for sharing this Life changing moment with us. I can tell you are tough as nails, and you'll make it to the other side of normalcy. Glad Rosey is with her Mom.

  11. I echo what others have said. You are brave to share this publicly. More than that, I know your strength. As Helen Ready said: "I am woman, hear me roar!" :) Forgot the lyrics? Check out

    I'm sorry you've been inducted into this club without your permission. I've had several friends in the past few months also inducted into the club. Each one is finding their path--some with extreme grief, others with plenty of anger, and most of them with a combination of the two but a definite sense of protecting their interests and not falling apart. Another advantage of being a baby boomer.

    In sharing her experience, Debbie has somewhat answered your question of: "But how does one unlove someone after nearly four decades?" The answer is you can't unlove them. The fact that you are angry shows how much he matter(ed). However, like death, you can come to accept it. Divorce is a type of death because it means the relationship is no longer available to you. In some ways it's harder because you may end up having to see him, deal with him, or run into him with another person. At least not having children helps to allay some of that. Even if you move across the country, like I did after divorce, it is still a process of accepting things have changed and you need to adapt.

    It sounds like you are already finding ways to adapt, and I'm really happy that you shared you have been with a good counselor or therapist. I am a trained counselor, but when I went through my divorce I still needed to see someone for myself. I'm not surprised at your get up and go because that is who you are--a look forward person who makes a plan and then executes that plan. Putting your experience in a book is what great writers do. The best part is you can make it turn out however you want.

    I believe your next book is going to be a bestseller because there are thousands and thousands of baby boomers who have experienced this type of betrayal (men and women--though definitely more women).

    Like death, each person grieves loss differently. You will find your way through it, and you are absolutely right that it will change your life. Will your life be changed for the better? I think that is an unreasonable goal because it negates the past. However, I would say your life will have different opportunities and you will be presented with the chance to love again when you are ready. Just keep saying those words from Helen Ready...

    I am invincible
    I am strong
    I am woman

    And the roaring part is helpful too. :) Hugs!!!

  12. It has been a day of sharing and a few tears for me at everyone's love and support. I hit a nerve today that resonated with many people. I've heard from dear friends, family, my writing colleagues and pals, and also from strangers who now feel they know me. I think I learned what writing and the power of words is all about. I crested a very tall hill today because of all of you. I thank you from my super-boosted heart.

    Hugs all around. My next post will be lighter and more fun . . . I promise.