So anyway, it's been a few months since the big "Separation and Moving On" post, and to give the short version update... Some things are better. Some things aren't just yet. But the world keeps on a turnin' and we are doing OK. Really, we are truly doing OK.
The long version is as follows... Ha!
So when shit hit the fan and everything fell apart in January, I think I spent a good three months just trying to figure out which end is "up". It felt a bit like that moment when you jump (or more likely in MY case, fall) into the deep end of the pool and you fall so deep and so hard that for a nanosecond or two, you are so disorientated that you can't really figure out which way is "up" and what going toward the surface even means... So you panic and suck in some water in the process and then you kinda regain what you THINK is control and you think OH YEAH, I GOT THIS and you have "up" figured out, but after pushing against the water a second or two more, you think IT'S TAKING TOO LONG to get to she surface... is this really "UP"???? So you start to second guess yourself and that control and confidence you had in "up", and panic sets in again and you suck in a little MORE water. And then your lungs start to ache and your eyes start burning and you are thrashing around desperately trying to just find "up". And this process just keeps repeating over and over again until finally you hit the surface gasping and sputtering and thanking god, inside your head of course, that you are still alive but your lungs hurt so bad and your eyes feel like there are razor blades inside your eyelids and all of your limbs are limp noodles at this point from the struggle. AND to top it off you are pretty sure you almost just died, but you have to act like "oh no... I'm cool and it's totally fine" because all of your people are standing around the pool at a BBQ watching you sputter and snort and gasp and you don't want to seem like a drama queen so you try to ungracefully play it off, even though you are pretty sure you just had a near death experience. Yeah, the first three months on my own... was kinda like that. Hahahahaha!
Now looking back in hindsight, yeah it sucked and it was scary and it was a little like almost drowning, but I really was in no danger. Not really. My people were around me all the time ready to pull me out of the water, if I really really needed it. For example, my parents... apparently my mom still watches over her 38 year old daughter with hawk like scrutiny scanning and surveying the situation, ready to swoop in at a moment's notice, should I give the signal. And for the most part, she has been very good about not swooping in, unless I specifically ask for help, but she also makes herself known that she is there and ready for whatever. Financial help? Moral Support? Bear fight? She is pretty much ready for anything and everything and she can throw down with the best of them.
She respects my independence and basically sits watchful and ready and yes... sometimes acts a little like an agitated bird and very annoyed that I'm moving too slowly on some things or won't give the signal some days when SHE thinks I need help, but we have an understanding of our limits of how far to push. She might even squawk a bit at my stubbornness to not give the signal, but she won't swoop unless I specifically ask. And that's been really important. While it seems like it would be easiest to have her or someone else (anyone else) to take care of me. I know that doing that will not help me long term. I need to figure shit out on my own. I need to drown a little so I can figure out how to swim. I appreciate the help if I need it, but I need to learn to swim on my own. All on my own. But I love you mom. You have no idea how much your hawk safety net has helped me physically, emotionally, spiritually and yes, even financially, as much as that pains me to say that I did ask for that help too.
I hate that I had to borrow money from my family to put food on my table one month. I had to make a choice between hot water heater and food and so I asked for help of my parents and my brother along the way over these past months. I also took a loan out on my 401k to cover the gap and give me a buffer and I asked for help from my family because I had to swallow my pride to get me back on my feet until I could find "up". And so I did. Not proud of it, but I did. So I made some life changes to tighten the belt, I asked for a well deserved raise and promotion and consequently take on more responsibility at work, I work odd jobs like proofing and reviewing books and take online surveys that I can do late at night after kids go to bed, and I had to restructure how I spend. All of it. It was a total money overhaul. But I survived and 9 months in, I feel better about where I'm headed as long as I keep my eye on the ball and be as mindful as I can, until I can rebuild my life into a better place for me and the kids. It still sucks some days and I wish I could bury my head in the sand, but I can't. That just isn't an option in my life anymore.
So once I got finances SORTA figured out or at the very least figured out which way was "up", the next task was to get my house in order. Like my physical house. So there is a small part of me that envies that he left our physical house. I would be fine all day, until the kids would go to sleep and then I would catch myself wandering around my house looking at every piece of furniture, picture, and book and it reminded me of the life that we had built together. The life I wanted to be good but underneath the layers of happy pictures and funny pieces of decor, was sadness. Even the happy memories in these items were so painful to look at... because I would break down and ask myself how blind was I to how much he hated being here with me? Was any of it happy? Or was it all a lie? Or if it was good sometimes, how come I couldn't make it good ALL the time? Why didn't he love me? Why didn't he fight harder for us? Why didn't he fight at all? Some of these questions are valid and some are unfair... for both of us... but it doesn't change the fact that I thought them. I still think about them from time to time and I suppose that is all part of the process, eh?
One of the hardest things to deal with in my house was our bedroom. Because that was the only space that was truly ours and just ours.The bed that we shared and his side seemed so empty and far away. The "his and hers" bedside tables. The items that still sat on his bedside table, gaming magazines, spare change, and books. Drawings taped to the walls on our respective sides of the bed made by our children saying things like Super Mom and Dad Rocks! All of this STUFF, were the last things I saw before I went to sleep at night and the first things I saw when I woke up. It was... I'm not even sure if there are words for it. Exhausting? Soul crushing? Devastating? Because this room was not a happy place of love anymore. Hell, I don't know if it was ever a happy place of love or just a space of two people in obligation to one another. Maybe that is why we never really did anything with it in over 10 years of marriage.
Now, I'm sure there will be people that say "Well, you asked him to leave. You deserve this and should have thought about it before you told him to go, if you couldn't handle it." And I say to them... sigh... Yup. All of that is true. But, it hurt anyway and I couldn't make it STOP hurting. I cried myself to sleep a lot and sometimes I would pick up things from his bedside table and it was like drowning again. My chest felt like it was being crushed from the weight of his absence and I just needed air again. And that is how it was until April when I again asked for help.
I asked mother hawk and dad the carpenter to help me and change the space because I couldn't live in this sad sad space anymore. I don't care what we do to it. I just can't live in this space with so many memories anymore because I don't want to be so sad every time I wake up and every time I go to sleep. And mother hawk swooped and brought along dad the carpenter to help me and the only question they asked was... How can we help? I said well I just would like some storage in my closet and to repaint and new bedding and that will help me along the way and they said... Done.
So a time was set to reinvent the space in May and then the really hard part came. I had to clean out the room. I asked my ex to go through the space and take out his stuff. He declined or rather he said he would "later", but took out one box of stuff and left the rest for me to "figure out". I took a deep breath and did what I do best. I procrastinated the hell out of the project until it was two days before mother hawk and dad the carpenter were coming to visit. I couldn't bury my head in the sand any longer. I had to deal with the stuff that was in front of me because change was happening. A decision was made and it was going to happen.
So I turned up the music to full blast and tried to remain positive while I boxed up the stuff in the closet, while I boxed up the things on my side table, while I swept dust bunnies from under my bed, and while I sorted two bags of crap that I no longer needed. And then I couldn't avoid it, I moved to his side of the bed. I turned the music up even louder to drown out the thoughts in my head. I sang as loud as I could and tried so hard to stay upbeat and work mindlessly through this task. And I finished the side table and put the boxes to the side. And then I sat on his side of the bed and looked at the pictures our children had made for him. The loving childish drawings of adoring babies to their father. He didn't take them with him when he left. He left them. I may have been the one to ask him to move out, but he didn't even put up a fight. And truthfully, he left us in spirit YEARS before I said the words. And all I could think as I sat and stared at these pictures was WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED TO US? How did it go so wrong? Why didn't he fight for us? Why didn't he love us? Why didn't he love me? And if he did love us, why didn't it last? Again, some fair thoughts and some not so fair, but I thought them all the same. And I slipped into the intense spiral of grief, anger, sadness, bitterness, confusion, lots more anger, and incomprehensible hurt. I fell into the deep end of the pool again. And when I say deep. I'm talking miles deep pool. And I sat on that bed and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed until I was out of breath and gasping. My daughter came in and said.... Mom?Are you ok?... I couldn't even answer her. I just tried to wave her away and tried to smile but I couldn't breathe and she just stared at me, not knowing what to do for me, but I couldn't speak. I couldn't breathe. All I could do was sob even harder, gasping for air. I wish I could go back in time and change that moment. I wish I could have pulled my shit together and she didn't see me like that. But I can't. It happened. I again tried to wave her out of the room and FINALLY sputtered out. "I'm OK. I just need a minute." to just get her out of the room and let me have my cry. She gave me a half hug and reluctantly left the room. But I couldn't stop crying. I think I balled my eyes out in there for a good half hour and I just couldn't stop. I needed help.
So I texted my brother who was downstairs in my house and said "Can you help me?" He came upstairs and found me holding childish drawings, sitting on the side of the bed, and unable to stop the ugly cry of my lifetime. My brother. He's a good egg. Not a real emotional touchy feely type and he doesn't really like hugs. But he wrapped his arms around me and said "It's Ok. Everything is gonna be OK. We are gonna figure this out." And he let me shake and sob and cry until I had nothing left in me. His shirt was a tear stained snotty mess and he just said.... It's cool. Don't worry bout it.
And then he said... "Now turn the damn sad music off. Let's get this done." He squeezed my shoulder one more time and then pushed my husband's dresser out the door. And then the boxes. And then the everything else. And then my room was a bare empty shell. No my stuff. No his stuff. No our stuff. Just an empty room with a bed and some sheets. I wondered how it would feel to sleep in this room when I went to bed that night. It turns out, I was so damn exhausted from the day, I don't even remember much of anything after laying my head down. Just silence and emptiness and I immediately fell asleep.
The weekend came and mother hawk and dad the carpenter and even Aunt Squirrel (that's a whole other story by the way, HA!) came to help. My brother, my cousins, and my uncle all helped too. We didn't just start to transform my bedroom or house even; we started a transformation in ME. I had to let go of the sadness, the anger, the STUFF and bring everything down to bare bones to rebuild. For months I was trying to learn how to swim in fetid waters, contaminated with so many bad memories and emotional baggage. The reason I couldn't find "up" so many times in those first few months, is because I was still swimming in shit. I had to drain it all out. Clean and scrub and decide what do I need and what do I need to let go of and then actually LET IT GO... then I could refill the pool and try to learn to swim.
So.. I remodeled my room. And I already know that some of you will be like... Seriously? You were worried about having money for food on your table and you decided to use money on paint to make you FEEL better. You can't eat feelings and you better get your priorities straight. No wonder you don't have any money.... you spend unwisely.... So first of all, I don't buy ANYTHING without a sale, coupon, or deal. I've been frugal in whatever I can and I do the labor myself and with my family. The work for pizza and hugs to which I'm eternally grateful for... And yes. I did think about the cost on all this too. I still think about that actually, and if I made the right decision to make these seemingly outwardly poor financial decisions to update this space and the other spaces that followed the bedroom. But I maintain, it helped me feel in control of something in a time when I felt that I had no control over my life. I was mentally and emotionally feeling like I didn't know where to start with anything. It was all too much to get a handle on but in this one place I could make a list and I could get a handle on which way was "up" on this... and this feeling of being able to do stuff on my own went into other branches of my life. And it was the best decision I could have made. It calmed my mind from a toxic daily environment of bad feelings and constant reminders of my failure as a wife and frankly as a person that I felt for so long. And quite frankly... "Ain't nobody got time for that!" And that is the truth. I needed to alter my space to give me confidence in my decision making, surround myself with things that were good and joyful, and as a team with my family I now know that I had a slew of people to help me when things got rough. It was as much a bonding experience as it was a physical transformation of a room. I felt that love was put back in that space.
This process saved me and pushed me forward in a way that I could once again receive love from others. Kind, good, and unconditional love from my family that I wasn't sure I deserved at the moment from my epic failure in my marriage. It changed my natural instinct to turn inwards and allowed me to let people help me and accept love and caring again. And that made me able to replenish my depleted storage of love for MY kids and family too. That's the crazy shit about love. It bounces around and each time it hits another person's soul it gets bigger and bigger and you can give more and receive more and around and around it bounces again and it is sooooo good.
So that's been the big news in my world these days. I'm working on my house piece by piece, little by little, and I'm taking it all down to the basics. Some pieces of my house were so broken that they can't be repaired, both physically and metaphorically. And sometimes the decisions on if I should keep or pitch some things in my life are still hard for me to make and that's ok. Sometimes those decisions need to sit for a bit, but I can't and won't avoid them forever. And that's a decision in of itself right? So I'm rebuilding my broken house into a new and stronger home for whatever comes in the future. And that's it.
So like I said. I'm Ok. Some things are better. Way better. And some things aren't quite there yet. But I'm Ok. We are Ok. And that is good enough for today.
Love you all and as a special sidenote, thank you to mother hawk and dad the carpenter and brother... and all the other people that sent love, good thoughts, and messages to check in on me and the kids over the last 9 months. You all are so special to me and I'm eternally grateful for the people in my life in big and small ways and everything in between. I feel your love. I do. Xoxox