On my Way

Well, I’ve given up.  On day 4 of my antidepressant cleansing, I gave in.  That day, my boyfriend was off work and we took his daughter to the movies to see the new X-Men movie.  And I don’t remember much of it.  All I know is, my face was tingling and numb-ish, and I felt like the world was swirling around me.  So, after the movie, I took a pill and a half.  It took a couple of days, but it finally leveled out.  I feel better now, but the idea that I need medicine to be “normal” makes me sad.

I hate that I am chemically dependent, or dependent on anything for that matter.   At this time in my life – divorced, building a business, and wanting to get back to school – I am dependent on so much, from antidepressants to alimony.  For now, I rely on my monthly alimony payment to help make bills, though it runs out in December.  Then, for college, I am hoping to get some grant money so I can afford it.  I know that it’s okay to lean a bit while I go through this phase, but it doesn’t do much for my self esteem.  Basically, I feel like pond scum.

On the positive side, I’m on my way to being independent – for the first time in my life.  For 13 years, I basically depended on my husband to provide, and my father provided before that.  Sure, I had some jobs here and there, and I bought some cute clothes and kept my nails done.  But essentially, I did not provide anything other than “fun” money.  That behavior, however, has created some difficulty for me now because I am not in the habit of “regular” work and basically have no marketable skills.  I have 3 years of college, but no degree of any sort because I changed my major so much.  Soooo… I have to teach this old dog some new tricks.  Hmpf.

Lately, stress has been my constant companion.  I am expecting checks from clients but, due to a move, my mail has been held up.  Now, it is almost the 1st of the month and I am still broke and waiting. This situation forces me to call on some serious meditation and pinot grigio.  I am not a patient person, and am even less so when I am waiting. With every tick, I get a new grey hair.  (You laugh, but I can count them.)  Of course, when the checks arrive, they will be instantly deposited and then sent to bill collectors.  But nothing makes me happy like knowing I can pay my bills… unless it’s knowing I can pay them and still have enough left for Starbucks. Now that, my friends, is bliss. 🙂

For tonight, I am watching Netflix and enjoying a glass of cheap wine before I hit the pillow.  Maybe tomorrow the checks will come and the bill collectors will be held off for another month.  And, with any luck, there might be some Starbucks in my near future.  Here’s hoping!

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The Best Year Ever

2014 has arrived with style and, so far, it has been my best year ever.  I just found out today that, as of December 31, I am officially a single woman.  Finally!  My year had started off great, but the knowledge that I have been officially single for two days really made my year.

Needless to say, my girlfriends will be going out this weekend for some champagne and the shaking of my single tail feathers.  My god, I have waited for so long for this moment.

I knew from the beginning that something wasn’t right about us, but we loved each other and thought that was all you needed.  We were best friends who liked being together, and that was enough for the first five years.  But people do this weird thing called growing up.  At least I did.  And with that comes questions and insecurities and new ideas and, in a relationship like we had, this creates a rift.  A big one. I was always moving towards something, and I say something because I haven’t figured out just what it was.  Maybe it was me, a better and stronger version of myself was pulling me through the swamp.  Whatever it is/was, I’ve made it this far.

The incredible part of the finality is the peace.  I am simply overwhelmed by peace with myself, with my direction, with the manifestation of the decisions I made in the beginning of the journey called divorce.  I am one step closer to myself and the life I’ve always wanted, and I’m talking a Neil Armstrong type of step.  Baby, I have landed on the moon, and I’m gonna plant my flag and do a victory dance.   This is uncharted territory for me, and it’s scary and foreign and everyone is watching.  But, deep down inside, I know I’ve got this.   I have never been more sure of myself in my life. Never. 

So what now?  I figure I’ll dance a while and wait for that “something” to guide me in my next move.  It seems to have the GPS set for success, so I’ll let it drive the bus.  But until it’s time to get on board, you can find me right here:  Dancing. 

Say Something…

For starters, listen to this:  http://youtu.be/-2U0Ivkn2Ds

There are things no one warns you about when going through a divorce. No one tells you that, even after the papers are signed and life has begun moving along, there will be still and quiet moments of longing, of wondering why.  There will be a small voice within you, demanding an explanation.  “What did I do wrong?  How could he not love me?  Why does this hurt?”

For me, that little voice is the girl I was 13 years ago, the girl he married, the innocence.  She doesn’t understand and, now and then, she cries out and falls apart.  That little 20-year-old girl reaches out for her boy hero and begs him not to leave her. But all she finds is me, and I have to give her answers that I don’t have.   I am left with the duty of explaining the unexplainable.  This 33-year-old woman standing in a pile of shrapnel reaches out, takes the girl’s hand, and comforts her while she weeps from the fallout.

This song, for me, is the voice of my little girl.  “I’m feeling so small. It was over my head. I know nothing at all.”  But it is also the voice within me that grew for many years, that said to him “Say something, I’m giving up on you.”   I waited for years for him to say something.  Anything.  He was speechless.

And I screamed and acted out and made myself a fool.

Still, silence.

Then I realized, the silence meant something.

And I gave up.

That little girl may cry for a while, but I am stronger than her now.  And, one day, she will take my hand and walk with me.  She and I, we need each other. See, it’s her innocence that trusts and feels, and my intellect and life experience that tells me to think things through.  Now, please don’t think I’m schizophrenic.  I’m not. But I recognize that I have an emotional side that has tough moments in this process, and an intellectual side that has made sense of the war.  I think this is true for most women:  There is a life everyone sees, and then an internal dialogue with ourselves that we keep private and very guarded.   When we lose someone who has seen both of those sides, it is traumatic and soul-scarring.  And no matter how intellectual we try to be, our inner, fragile selves need an explanation.

First of all, stop trying to explain to yourself because there are no words.  Just cry, scream, laugh, feel.  Learn to let the emotions run through you.  I look around in our world and it seems everything has an explanation.  But I assure you, the emotional side of divorce is the exception.  No matter how you compartmentalize, organize, and prepare, emotions are going to seep through the cracks.  And you will only make it worse by hiding.

Do yourself a favor right now:  Play the video again. And again.  Listen close and close your eyes.  For five minutes just feel.  Fuck explanations and logic and any self-help book you may have read and just LET GO.  (That’s right, I said fuck). Acknowledge that you hurt, and that it’s okay.  FEELING IS OKAY.

Make the commitment to yourself to take a moment now and then and just feel.  Know that it will get easier with time, that you will never have an explanation, and that sometimes life defies logic.  Learn to accept yourself as temporarily broken.  I have.  And, in my brokenness, I have never felt more whole.

So, next time you hear your little voice demanding answers, say nothing.  But don’t give up on you.

At the Peak

newsFlagMountainI keep hoping I will sit down at my keyboard and bang out the words to something profound, something  groundbreaking on being single or an epiphany about the complicated feelings that go along with divorce.  But, in the mental space where I hover these days, words seem to escape me.  It isn’t that I’m broken or depressed or numb, I just can’t find the words for this middle space, this middle world where I’m making adjustments both physically and emotionally to the reality that I am now single.   I can’t muster words or anything remotely creative right now, and it’s making me a little frustrated.  And maybe that’s where I’m supposed to be.  Maybe, on the cusp of a breakthrough, it’s okay to be speechless.

Despite my creative frustrations in this new space of being, I am happy, and I don’t use that word lightly.  For me, happy is a complex emotion and an enigma.  Many people throw it around as a temporary thought, an emotion that passes a smile across the face and then disappears.  But in my circle of friends, when we talk about being happy, it is understood that happy is a soul-level emotion.  It is a deep-seated state of being that prevails even when everything is going wrong.  And now, for the first time in my life, I understand exactly how it feels.  The past couple of years have been an emotional hell, from admitting to myself that my marriage was over, to saying it out loud, to having the courage to do what I knew was right.  And now, as I stand near the top of this mountain of pain and look back at all the jagged edges and slippery footholds I have overcome, I can see that my quest for happiness was pretty rough, but I have arrived.  The question becomes, “What do I do now?”  My answer:  stake my flag in the peak and keep going.  I have arrived at happy, and that’s good enough for me.

Alone and Loving it… So Far

Our city has an event every other month called Gallery Night.  It’s a big to-do downtown with live music, street vendors, free cookies, and a whole lot of people.  Last night, I decided to brave this event… alone.

I was off work from the tux shop at 6, which is just a few blocks from downtown.  So, I changed clothes and went exploring.   Gallery Night alone was like a whole new world.  I got to stop in the galleries and look at art without someone else sighing or being anxious to go somewhere else.  I even got to sit and hear my good friend play a gorgeous grand piano at the music store.  Now that was cool.  As he played, people continued to gather in the store and I’m pretty sure there were more than 30 people gathered around at one point.  He played for 2 hours and had an audience the entire time.  For me, it was good to see that people can still appreciate quality music from a real musician.

After grabbing a cheeseburger and browsing the vendors, I went home.  For the rest of the evening, I watched some episodes of Sex and the City and fell asleep on the couch with my dog, Teddy.   A perfect day.

There is such a calm about being alone that I have never experienced.  To be responsible for only myself , my pets, and my own bills and time schedule…  How incredible.  So this is what I missed, this feeling of independence.  At 20, I don’t think I could’ve appreciated it as much as I do now.  It takes some living to understand the value of being alone, of getting out there and scrapping to make ends meet.  I’m working 3 jobs and it’s the most fun I’ve ever had.  And, truth be told, I don’t even know yet if I’ll make rent this month.  With expenses from the move, deposits and such, my funds are depleted.  Yet somehow, I know I will have what I need when I need it.  That’s the beauty of being on your own:  No one else depends on your money.  Of course, my pets will be fed and given what they need.  But I’m willing to do without to make my rent if needed.   I have a sense of pride now that nothing else has ever given me; not making straight A’s, not being a wife, not even doing well at my job.  Knowing that I can take care of myself is the most rewarding feeling I’ve felt.  This is the beginning of my journey, and I wish in many ways that I had done it sooner.  I’m 33 now, and there are many opportunities that simply aren’t available to me.  For example, I can’t go be a ballerina now: I’m to old.  Not that I want to be a ballerina, but you see my point.

I want to take a moment to encourage young women everywhere, especially the ones who have been raised to think that getting married and having a family is your highest and best use.  I was raised in a community where marriage was a grand achievement and career women were looked down upon and dubbed un-Christian.  Ladies, there is more to life than marriage and a family, I promise you.  Before you commit yourself to that life, take a moment to stop and look around.  Find your passion, something that drives you.  You may enjoy singing or painting or writing stories or any number of things.  Whatever it is, find it.  You are only young once, and there are many opportunities you have now that you won’t have when you are older.  Take your time committing to someone else and commit first to yourself.  Make yourself whole.  I promise you, when you have found yourself, the right commitment to the right person will reveal itself.  This may sound like selfish advice, but the best gift you can give your future spouse and children is the gift of a whole woman.   Take your journey.  You’ll never regret it.