Almost divorced

Divorce in dictionary

In 11 short days, I will be divorced. That brown manila envelope will arrive in the mail any day now. The one that includes the “official” papers that the government requires to announce to the world that I made a mistake and my marriage failed. I will open it with tearful eyes and hope the attorney doesn’t notice the little wet stains that remain by my signature when I send it back. I haven’t driven to check my PO box in days. The heaviness and fear in my heart forces my hands to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction and run for the hills.I find that reaction interesting, considering I have anxiously been wanting it all to be over. That is what scares me, it will actually be over.

From the first day, April 21 2012, that I fearfully packed two tiny bags of clothing, filled my car with the “important” things and hunkered in a motel room: to this morning, waking up to sunshine, birds chirping and a man who loves me laying by my side, it has been a journey. One that began with heart-break, desperation, loneliness and despair and will end with regret and fear but filled with a hope for a new tomorrow.

I made breakfast for my love this morning, shared a cup of coffee with him on the balcony, and watched with sadness as he drove away on his motorcycle heading to work. I haven’t shared with him the desperation that is in my soul, he knows nothing of the loneliness that I feel in my heart. It has nothing to do with him nor does he need to know. It has everything to do with the emotions and pathways that divorce carries you through. Those emotions, though felt by many, can only be understood by the ones experiencing them in the present.

When a person exits your life, its human nature to want to forget the bad memories and cherish the good. As time passes and the memories begin to fade, we tend to cling to the good emotions that were shared with that person, sometimes we clutch to tightly to the good memories and create a fictionalized character instead of remembering the person as they were. Once I was alone this morning, I stood on my balcony and I cried for the loss of my marriage. I felt guilty in participating in this new love in my life and I was overcome with fear, loneliness and a feeling of desperation: will these emotions ever end, was all that kept going through my mind. Will I ever stop crying?

As I sat there, overcome with emotions, a memory rushed into my mind of a similar day. My ex and I were in our fifth year of marriage. We had the perfect home, the perfect careers and the perfect little family, on the exterior: on the interior, my heart was filled with sadness, loneliness and isolation. The hubby was off to work, the kids were off to school and as I walked around my perfect little house, my heart desperately wanted to flee. I was over the passive aggressive nature of my husband, I was tired of the insults, the let downs and the control he had forced into my life. I dreamt of the day I could be out of his clutches, free to make my own decisions, trudge my way through life, and never have to feel the sting of his insults and coldness again. I sat on our front porch and I cried. I cried over the love I had dreamt of us having, the laughter and happiness I thought we were going to share, and the disappointment I felt in the emptiness in my heart. I watched the world go by and I longed for freedom. I longed to be the person I knew I was, the person who was not afraid to tackle the world.

I sat on my balcony today and I cried for many of the same reasons. The irony is, I have that freedom now, but long for that old known comfort of yesterday. It’s not so much that I miss him, but more that I miss the memories and comforts of having a life together. I watch couples together and I long for that comfort of knowing each other. The kind where you have been together long enough to know the favorite foods, favorite activities and moods of the other person. The kind where words don’t have to be spoken, it’s just being together that matters.

The last details of our 12 years together are drawing near and will soon be at the end. Where will I go from here? Who will I be now? Will I be strong enough to make it?

3redhearts

As we finish our property distribution, I clean out the storage unit that we shared together, and I mail the keys to our homes and cars to his attorney, I realize that its like burying the person you were and becoming a new person, one that you are meant to be. There is sadness, shock, isolation, and fear of watching that someone you loved, die. You stand idly by and feel the emptiness in knowing you will never see that person again, all that is left are memories.

Overcoming those feelings, looking to the future and seeing the doors and paths that have opened in front of you is the hard part. My wish for finality is coming true in a very short time. As I move forward in my life, making the way for a new love and new memories, I vow to not forget the person that I was. After all, it’s the person that I was that has made me the person I am today: a woman with hope, strength and most of all, love.

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Holidays and Divorce: Will I ever enjoy them again?

It is Easter Sunday morning and my heart is full of sadness. I didn’t expect Easter to be hard. After all, I trudged through my 40th birthday, our 10 year anniversary, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, and Valentines Day alone, what is one more day? I was wrong, it is just as hard as it was the first special event that I faced alone. To explain my feelings to you: I feel empty, lonely, sad, isolated and ALONE! More than anything, I feel forgotten, not worth fighting for and I wonder if anything I ever did in my last 40 years meant a thing to anyone. To add more depth to that statement, I am not suicidal: I am pouty and feeling more than a little sorry for myself.

As a kid, all of my holidays were spent with family. Though my parents divorced when I was 5, my Grandparents (maternal and paternal) more than adequately filled the void that a child may feel living in a one parent home. My mother was not a “holiday” person, for as long as I remember she was Bah Humbug about everything. My Grandmother’s (plural) were of a different sort. Holidays meant pre holiday evenings spent in the kitchen, making all the men and grandchildren favorite recipes: the day of the holiday was filled with food, laughter and family love. My Grandmothers birthday was 5 days after mine, every year, our family would gather at my Grandmothers house and have a huge birthday pig picking, Thanksgiving was the same, Christmas meant going to both sets of Grandparents and enjoying different traditions with each. My maternal Grandmother made a nummy nummy sweet potato pie and my paternal grandmother would can cinnamon pickles. The memories of my childhood holidays are filled with warmth, love and laughter. As I began to grow into womanhood, I knew in my heart, this was the feeling and memories that I wanted to share with my husband and children. In my first marriage, my MIL was a traditional woman who spent every holiday in the kitchen. I was elated the first Christmas she invited me into her kitchen to help her cook. A tradition was began and every holiday after I could be found with my apron on and my hip bone permanently planted in front of her stove. Age set in, illness and time passed and eventually I took the traditions into my home. As my kids grew, I would be that excited Mom, looking forward to placing flour paw prints on our floor Easter morning, placing baskets filled with their favorites at their door and smelling the aroma of ham, green bean casserole and fresh-baked bread fill our home. After the excitement of all the Easter candy, we would make our way to church in our little pastel outfits, to return home and devour our meal. Easter afternoon was spent in the recliner, on the couch or in the bed, napping off all those carbs, but there was not a person in my home who was not wearing a smile.

Once the first husband and I divorced I refused to give up my traditions. My kids were still young and holidays were still celebrated in our home, just without the presence of a male role. My second husband and I met and I remember the excitement in showing him my cooking skills our first Thanksgiving together. He loved the way I cherished the holidays and I would see excitement on his face every year too. As my kids grew older, found a life of their own and were sometimes not present at our holiday luncheons, I stood my ground and still refused to give them up. I remember it only being my husband, daughter and myself for a few holidays in the most recent years. Though my heart hurt looking at the empty seats at my dining table, I was mature enough to accept life goes on and children grow, and I was proud that the hubby and I had not forgotten or gave up on our traditions.

This last year has been so different.

The first special day was our 10 year anniversary in August. I did not get out of bed all day and I never stopped crying for 2 days. My 40th birthday was lots of fun and filled with great friends but there was that emptiness of not having that special someone by my side, celebrating my life. Thanksgiving and Christmas were horrid. In divorce, the public has a common misconception: they believe divorce is an option (whether you were for it or not) and they tend to not realize the emptiness and loneliness that divorce leaves on a soul. In my circumstance, once the holidays were over, I received many phone calls asking about my holidays. Once they discovered I was alone all day, each day, they gave a heart-felt apology and the common statement “Oh, I just assumed you’d be with your family for the holidays or I would have asked you over!” was offered. What they fail to realize, I lost my entire family in one short year. My two sons are 22 and 21 and both left for Air Force Basic Training in Jan and May respectively. My youngest son is in GA, 9 hours away and though my oldest son is based here in NC, the military rotates holidays. That are not going to always have holidays off and even if they do, they may not have the time available to make it home. My daughter moved out in November, is enjoying her life as an 18-year-old and honestly has no interest in holidays with mom. Need I remind anyone, in 21 short days, I will be officially divorced.

Christmas 2011 was filled with the sounds of my three children running down the stairs in anticipation of what was under the tree, the smells of turkey and gravy simmering in the oven, the sight of ripped Christmas paper all over the living room, my husband spread out on the couch snoring and the overwhelming amount of dirty dishes in the sink. That was the last holiday we were together and I am beginning to believe, it will be the last holiday I ever really want to remember.

Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years and now Easter: there are no sounds of children in my condo, there is no smell of ham or turkey wafting through my home: there are no colored eggs, purple peeps, or chocolate bunnies in sight. I woke this morning, wanting to attend the sunrise service, but simply could not muster the energy to drive there alone, sing alone and celebrate alone. I knew it would only make me cry.

I joined a web based divorce support group that sends daily divorce care emails. In the email I receieved today, the topic was loneliness and isolation. The email encouraged you to force yourself out your front door, join in some public activity and fight your way through the loneliness. Honestly, I don’t have the strength. More than anything, I want to be driving to church in my easter green dress, hearing my kids whine about being up so early. I want to return home, rush to change, make sure all the food is warmed and the table set. I want to watch my sons tear into the ham like they are starving, fight my daughter for the last boiled egg and feel upset when everyone is too full to eat the dessert I spent two hours making.

My heart misses those days! I don’t think they will ever be the same!

Newness surrounds me

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It was August 24, 2012, a Friday evening. It was only 2 days before my 40th birthday and nothing in the world seemed “right”. I was working at the new restaurant, settling in to their evening routines. My daughter was due home from her summer break at her dad’s on the day of my birthday and I had yet to reach any calmness or quiet in my soul.

The few weeks of vacation I had granted myself had brung me out into the world to inhale the fresh salt air of the last weeks of summer. Instead of lying in my bed, hiding under the cover, begging the Lord to take my pain: I decide to lay poolside or ocean side, hiding behind a magazine or a novel, if my pain was going to diminish any, I needed to be tan right?

During my daily 22 feet walks to the pool, I begun to build an acquaintanceship with one of our condo’s security guards. She was 30, had separated from her husband in November 2011 and was raising three children on her own. We didn’t have much in common, but she touched my heart with her story and plight, reminding me of my former single life, when I was in my late 20’s raising three kids on my own. I would invite her over to my condo, during her breaks, or on her days off, what would it hurt to begin creating new friendships? Said security guard had a much different prospective on life than I did. She was angry over her separation, still desperately wanting her husband to return home: in turn, her anger was projected by placing herself, overwhelmingly, into the dating world. This woman had over 30 personal ads with internet websites: was communicating with so many men, she had code names for them so not to confuse who they were: and threw herself at anything that walked on two legs and was male. I, as you know, was her total opposite: I was a recluse in my misery, isolated by my choosing, I was not ready for any interaction with a man, ever a simple “hello” overwhelmed me. This boggled her mind. She could not fathom why I would drown myself in misery and began to encourage me to “put myself out there.”  Many times, without my permission, she would share my phone number or approach men and drop the hint that I was single. Her interference in my hibernation mode offered a much-needed bit of humor to my mentality, though I still was not ready. There was something in my heart that was weighing me down: a feeling in my belly that I could not rid.

That Friday evening, I ventured to work, and my husband’s affair was brought to my attention. (see The Truth is set free) After work, some of my co-workers encouraged me to stay and share in a few celebratory birthday cocktails since I would not return to work until after my birthday. The conversation was light, no one brought the husband’s affair back up that evening, and sitting with those women, it suddenly struck me, I belonged there. In that moment, that very evening, it was my fate to be in that place, with those women and just that quick, my soul began to let go.

I drove home, not looking forward to the weekend, but not suffering from the “Oh my goodness, I am going to be 40” doldrums either. I crawled into my bed, pulled the covers over my head and for the first time in months, fell into a peaceful deep sleep.

Around 3 a.m., I am awakened from my peaceful slumber by Kelly Clarkson‘s, What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. my favorite ring-tone. I fight the sleep gremlins off my back, reach to my phone, and do not recognize the number on display. I do what any sensible person would do and pull the covers over my head looking for that peaceful sleep that someone just ripped me from. Again, Kelly Clarkson blasts through the sound waves, again, I do not recognize the number. After I ignore the call for the second time, my mind is not as foggy from sleep and I realize I have text messages. The first message says “Look outside your window”, then “We are here”, and lastly, “open your door”. What the????

I stumble out of my bed, gently pull my blinds open, enough to peer out but not enough for anyone to see in, and to my surprise, there are two men outside my balcony. I recognize them to be employees of the landscaping company that maintains our condos property. (My lady security guard and I had spent hours sitting on my balcony watching these gentleman break a sweat, in the summer sun, with their landscaping tools. You get the picture!)  I am afraid of what is about to happen as I peer out my window, but there is lightning flashing in the background, a summer storm on the horizon, and I simply cannot leave them sitting there.  I slowly open my balcony door, step out into the humid summer air and suddenly, my balcony is rushed with a horrid rendition of “Happy Birthday to you”. It is so terrible, I cannot help but squeal in delight and clap my hands like a kid.

Against my usual rigid demeanor, I invited these two gentleman in, the storms were moving in and the thunder was rumbling in the background.

That evening, brought an unfamiliar ease and peace. I sat with these two strangers, in my home, at 3 in the morning: there was a steady flow of conversation and laughter. Around 6 a.m., the summer storms passed, we ventured out to my condo’s over look deck and watched the sun rise over the Atlantic Ocean. Reluctantly, after having breakfast together at the famous golden arches, I drove them home and our short evening ended.

Sunrise in my backyard

Sunrise in my backyard

It was my birthday eve, 8 a.m., and I could not go back to sleep. My mind kept going over the details of the last 5 hours. Two random men, at the urging of my security guard friend, had walked three miles down the beach, to come to my balcony and serenade “Happy Birthday” to me, JUST BECAUSE THEY COULD and wanted to make my day special. No one in history, had made me feel so important on my birthday than these two gentlemen. That was sad in a bittersweet way!

Around lunch, my son arrived and my girlfriend and her son showed. We walked to my old condo’s establishment (next door) and sent the afternoon lounging pool-side, enjoying the water slide and sipping a few beers. That evening, a group of other girlfriends were meeting me out at our local beach front tavern for a 40th party. That night, after returning home from a GREAT time, I came home to find my condo door and balcony decorated by my neighbors. What had I done to receive such attention?

My son crash landing at the bottom of the waterslide.

My son crash landing at the bottom of the waterslide.

My birthday morning came and the day was supplied with my children’s arrival home, we spent the afternoon lounging ocean side, and enjoying the end of August weather. Again, we arrived back at the condo to find gifts adorning my door handle: a boa, earrings, “fabulous and 40” pin and a princess tiara, all gifts from my neighbors. I sat and cried. Never had I been showered with such attention, at least not since my childhood when my Grandmother and I would share one birthday party and everyone would bring me a gift too! I could not fathom why these people found my presence special, why they wanted to celebrate my day with me. They were new in my life, not knowing anything about me, but yet they were willing to go out of their way to make my day a happy one.

Then, like an epiphany moment, it was the first time in a very long time that I realized….I am worthwhile. I am worth attention: I am worth being happy: I am worth living for. That day, my healing process began!

Suddenly Single – Who am I?

I believe in Karma and the old adage “Everything happens for a reason.” I also believe in the silly old saying “when one door closes, another one opens.” Sometimes, we spend too much time looking at the door that has closed to realize the one that has opened.

By May 2012, I awoke to find myself in shock and terrified. I had always prided myself on being a strong person, an independent woman, who had walked through many disasters in my life with pride and determination. Suddenly, I could barely find the energy to crawl out of the bed in the mornings. I had no desire to move, eat, sleep, cry, talk, or even live. Everything I had ever believed in was proved to be a faux pas, I had no faith in anything. I did not want to look in the mirror, I did not like the image that was looking back at me. My soul had been shattered, to the core, and I had no idea how to begin to piece it all back together. Surely, I had to be the only person experiencing this pain and isolation, which only encouraged me to isolate more. I was embarrassed, ashamed, I felt worthless and unloved, unworthy of love. I felt like a failure, period.

The feeling was one of being kidnapped by aliens and finding myself living on another planet, in another dimension, with no hopes of being returned home.

To the ripe age of 39, my life had been spent focusing on others and ignoring myself. I touched on my childhood in an earlier post. My parents divorced young and I was raised by my Grandparents. At the age of 12, my mother became tired of the badgering from her friends at not raising her own child, she removed me from my Grandparents home and we relocated a half hour away in a neighboring town. My mother was an alcoholic and has suffered mental issues since finding her Father dead when she was 14 years old. Most of my adolescence was spent sitting up most of the night, waiting for her to come home, so I could pour her into bed safely and run off any of the stray men that were lapping at her heels, hoping to take advantage of her in her drunken state. By 15, this had become a tiresome routine for me, I moved out of my mothers home, in with a friend and her mom. By the age of 16, I was living with my first husband and his family: at 17 I became pregnant with my oldest son, 18 with my second and at age 22 I was pregnant with my third and last child, my baby girl. Other than my brief time as a single mother of three children, I had always taken care of a husband and even in that single phase of my life, my children were small and offered a lot of distractions.

In an instant, I was 39, my two sons were both off into their adult careers with the United States Air Force: my daughter was son to be 18 and in her last year of high school, and then there was me. Who was I? Who was this person that I was waking up with every morning and spending everyday trying to get to know?

In my ten-year marriage, I was able to drown out the sounds of my thoughts and beliefs with a distraction of an orderly and daily routine. I would arise in the morning, get my children up for school/work, make the hubby breakfast, head into work, drive home planning dinner for tomorrow in my mind, arrive home to chaos, dinner needed to be ready, homework needed to be completed and there was ALWAYS something that needed to be cleaned: evening hours were spent tidying the kitchen, preparing everyone’s lunch for the next day and by 9 p.m. I would fall face down in the bed, exhausted. Weekends were spent with distractions as well, the usual motherly/wife duties of feeding everyone breakfast, lunch and dinner: laundry, cleaning: but my hobbies were home repair and working in my yard. The home we owned was nestled on a two acre lot in a beautiful sub-division, and it was with pride that my yard was immaculate year round.

Now, I was waking to an empty bed and teetering around an empty, much too quiet condo. Once I found the energy to muster out of the bed, I would find a cup of coffee and move to my balcony area for much-needed breathing space. The summer months were in full force and the tourism in our area was booming. I would sit on my balcony, watch mindlessly as the multitudes of families either arrived for their summer vacation or were awakening to spend another gleeful, cookout, yelling by the pool, “day in paradise.” unfortunately, for too long, I never noticed the breathtaking view from my balcony: I did not see the indoor/outdoor swimming pools on the property, along with the miniature golf course, the water slide, tennis courts, hot tub, etc. All I saw were happy families just out of my reach. I would stare, with tears streaming down my face, as the husbands/wives unpacked their minivans of their supplies for the week, as their lot of children ran gleefully in circles, squealing with excitement. I would watch the bathing suit clad couples, as they walked hand in hand, down the boardwalk for their morning/evening beach stroll and many nights, I would sit and listen as groups of people would emerge from their condos for an outdoor bar b que and a night game of volleyball. It never occurred to me that I could simply leave my condo and join them. At that phase in my life, I did not see the new world that was available to me and waiting for my taking. What I saw was a life that was no longer mine – I was a failure, the happiness that exuded from those families, used to be mine. Now I had nothing: nothing to offer, nothing to share. I was consumed with heartbreak and loneliness.

How was I going to make it? What was my belief system? How could I live my life with pride and integrity when I had participated in an immoral and unjustified extra marital affair?

Those were the big questions: the little questions were not simple either. What were my interests? Who was the person walking around inside this body called me? Do I like chocolate or vanilla ice cream? sweets or salty snacks? cats or dogs? What was my favorite color?

I can honestly tell you, I walked around for the entire summer of 2012 on auto pilot, stuck in this limbo. Nothing felt normal, or right, or human. Even the smallest activities, such as cooking dinner, created a large amount of stress for me. I began to wonder if anything would ever be “normal” again. Would I ever be able to spend a full day without crying? Would there ever be a time that I would find myself laughing? Would I ever awaken again, with peace in my heart?

It wasn’t until my 40th birthday, at the end of August, that life finally began to move forward and I was able to begin the journey of answering those questions.

 

The view from our balcony,

The view from our balcony,

The condo we rented. I never noticed the wet bar, until I just downloaded this photo off of the realtors web site. How did I not notice a wet bar?

The condo we rented. I never noticed the wet bar, until I just downloaded this photo off of the realtors web site. How did I not notice a wet bar?