Sleeping Solo: One Woman's Journey into Life after Marriage (2 page)

BOOK: Sleeping Solo: One Woman's Journey into Life after Marriage
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And yet, my ribs clamored.
this time.

I still don’t know how I knew so clearly that the lovely
lady and her smart questions were entirely the wrong choice this time
There was simply the
persistent conviction, coming from somewhere deep under my frozen ribs, that I
needed a very different kind of push, something where my usual choice for how
to process things wasn’t allowed to be front and center, running the show.

Words weren’t going to fix the monsters under this bed.

This was too big to trust my strengths.
Too important.

I know that sounds strange, but when business as usual has
just had a fairly spectacular failure, it’s kind of a wake-up call.
My head had seen the evidence of the
months leading up to nuclear meltdown—but it hadn’t followed that data to
the right place.
I’d seen splinters
on the decking, not the impending fracture of the whole damn boat.

And my best instincts, the ones that felt the energy shift
and had no words to communicate that the boat didn’t feel right anymore, hadn’t
been the ones in my head.

I was also in a hurry.
I wanted far out of this place of frozen
and I needed—really, really needed—to set my feet on solid
parenting ground.
For all the words
I knew I could spill into the lovely lady’s lap, that wasn’t the way.
Not fast enough, not solid enough.

My house was on fire, and I wanted a fire hose.

And a new house.

So I listened to my ribs—and a house is exactly what
came next.

Four walls, a roof, and hope.
I remember the first time that I took a
full, deep, free breath after the 2nd of December.
It was less than a week later, and I had
left my son and my husband sitting in the car and followed a realtor into a
vacant house.

It was a couple of weeks before Christmas, and I probably
didn’t look like a serious buyer.
had no agent, I had no questions,
just walked in the
door of the brand-new listing and meandered slowly through the main floor of
the cozy, newly renovated ranch house.
Here in Victoria that era still built houses with modest amounts of
character—textured walls and coved ceilings and big, beautiful windows
that even in the gloom of December called in beautiful, slanted light.

I’m sure the realtor was talking, but I didn’t hear a word
he said.

I was listening to my ribs

Most people thought I was crazy to be looking for a new
Driven by pollen allergies
and overcrowded schools, we’d just uprooted ourselves from our home of seven
years and moved across international borders to Victoria, BC.
A place none of us had ever lived
before, where we had no close family, no credit history, no idea where to find
the right kind of hot dogs.

For me, it was a kind of coming home—I grew up in
Canada, just not this part.
We had
a week to scout the city, find a neighborhood,
a house.
The one we settled on was
the best option available at the time, and I figured I was adaptable enough to
adjust to the things about it that weren’t ideal.

Four months later, I was already browsing real estate
listings, sobered by the new realization that I was a lot pickier about the
space I called home than I had understood.

Then the bomb of December 2nd went off, and my
less-than-ideal house was suddenly ground zero and I was the cold, sad body
curled up on one end of a couch in a home that wasn’t ever going to meet my
needs for safety and security and privacy.
Or anyone else’s, either.

It didn’t take long for clarity to work its way through the
I had to move—we had to
There had to be a very
different kind of space supporting us as a family if we were going to keep
things remotely sane for the kids.
One with different energy and better separation of space, and one
that would drain our finances less.

I didn’t actually expect such a house to materialize.
But even as I tried to figure out how to
erect emergency shelter in the home I had, I began to look for an alternative.

The first couple I toured had possibilities—if we had
still been an intact family.
It was
a spiking, terrible sadness to know that we weren’t.

And then I found the brand-new listing for a small, freshly
renovated ranch house with big windows and a separate suite downstairs.
It was tucked away in a nearby
neighborhood I hadn’t even known existed, four blocks from the beach.

That’s the house where I left my son and husband sitting in
the car outside.

It only took about ten seconds to know I’d found
Maybe two minutes longer
for my brain to agree with the certainty in my ribs.

In this house, I could breathe.
Here, I could create a home for my
family in whatever
that took in the coming months
and years.

A nest, cozy and full of light.
That was the promise of the tiny dining
nook with windows on two sides and the old, gnarled tree just out the window,
glistening with shiny drops of winter rain.
The home stager had put a high table and
bar stools in the small space, and it was exactly right for perching.

There were lots of good reasons to like this
house—practical, sane, rational arguments for uprooting us all from the
place we’d barely landed.
My lawyer’s
daughter brain
them all, and finally
agreed with my ribs that this was a smart decision.

But it was my ribs that knew the most important thing.
When airplane disaster strikes, put on
your own air mask first.
A house is
a pretty oversized air mask, but I could tell, even then, that it was going to
be a

The outlines of a space where I could

Air masks aren’t panacea—they don’t fix
I was still really cold
on a dismayingly regular basis, eating was hit or miss, and I still spent every
night dozing fitfully on a couch in a house full of ghosts and sadness.
But every time I felt all the air
squeeze out of me, I pulled up the pictures of my little ranch home on my laptop.

The universe didn’t make me wait long.

The house was vacant, the realtor and seller were motivated,
and I had enough dollars to juggle to somehow make it work.
And my ribs never wavered in their
certainty that no matter how fast and furious and possibly insane this looked
to the rest of the world, it was absolutely right.

And if I hadn’t been convinced, the universe wasn’t quite
done showing off yet.

Buying a house requires a lot of help.
Lawyer, bankers, home
insurance agent.
I’d worked
with these people six months previously, closing on the original home I’d
purchased here.
They’re the kind of
people you want on your team—competent, personable, and obsessive about
doing things right.

I had no idea they were also fairy godmothers.

It started when I stopped in to ask my banker how fast they
could do the mortgage paperwork, so I could pick the date I wanted to close
when I put in my offer.
I had
visions of paperwork vanishing down the black hole of the Christmas holidays,
and I wanted to be realistic.
asked me how fast I wanted the house—and I was shell-shocked and bruised
enough to tell her the absolute truth.

As fast as humanly possible.

I won’t bore you with all the logistical details of this
circle of women who rose up to deliver my holiday miracle.
I’ll only tell you this—they had
me in my new house in just over two weeks.



I didn’t move in right away—it was a few days before
Christmas and I didn’t want to disrupt the kids until the presents were opened
and the tree came down.
But I spent
time there every single day, painting, turning in slow circles, sweeping.
Sitting in the middle of an empty living
room in grateful tears.

Beginning to imagine a future in which I could breathe.

The total awesomeness of my very own bed.
I had my nest, but I also needed to be
Lots of the old stuff
was moving with me to the new house, including the guy who had just blown up my
We’d be sleeping separately,
but our use of the rest of the house was going to overlap.

Which meant that the one space that was entirely,
completely, totally mine was my bedroom.
Four lovely textured plaster walls and a window.
Which is about all I had for a bedroom
at that point, because after one very miserable, nauseous night spent in the
bed of my imploded marriage, I’d been sleeping on a couch ever since.

So I got to start totally fresh.
I splurged on a really amazing mattress
and beautiful sheets.
Nobody in the
whole wide world has a bed as deliciously comfortable as mine, or at least
that’s what I believe every night when I slide into it.
It is pure, selfish luxury, and I
totally adore it.

The rest, I did on a budget.
A cheap bed frame and small dresser in
simple white.
plant stand
for a touch of whimsy.
White shower curtains to cover my window when I want to cocoon.

And my very favorite part, the bit that makes me happy every
time I walk in, wake up, or look up from my laptop.
The results of a single can of screaming
teal paint.

I’ve painted a lot of bedrooms in my lifetime.
I love paint and the new, clean, personal
vibe it can give a room.
Even when
I was a student on a really tight budget, I found the dollars for a can or two
and a way to get it on my walls.
But never, in my whole entire life, have I had a color on my walls that
is this perfectly
It’s daring and comforting and bold and
cozy and so entirely right.

I remember very clearly the night that I finally finished
building the bed frame and crawled into my luxurious nest of a bed.
I was tired, and a little cranky from
trying to figure out what to do with eighteen kinds of screws, and still
treading gingerly with my very bruised heart.
I sat there a moment, ensconced in
silk-soft sheets and a pile of pillows, surrounded by my deliriously teal
walls—and felt my soul exhale.

I’d just come home.

To a small part of the world that was,
even as unfinished as it still was, clearly meant to be my oasis.
The place where I get,
all the time, to be absolutely me.

I think, even then, the seeds of sleeping solo had taken

It’s been one of my secret joys in the past eight months to
continue to decorate this room.
I’ve bought very little, other than a small painting called
that I fell hopelessly in
love with at first sight.
it’s been a process of finding treasures.
Things I had tucked away in boxes, bits and pieces that I made over the
Pebbles collected from the
beach and trinkets from friends.
clutter—this room is a place of meaning, a place of self-expression.
The very first time in a long time that
I got to create something that was purely, simply, deeply about me.

It’s not done yet.
There are still bare spaces on a couple of my walls, and a sense that a
few things that are meant to be here haven’t quite arrived yet.

But when I walk into this room, my heart sings.

I know all that now.
I just knew I finally had my
bulwark—my place to stand while the world stormed around me.

My place to heal.

Because, silly me, I assumed that’s what the next many
months were going to be all about.

The sneaking of the light.
The three weeks of frozen were very
scary for me.
I’ve never felt my
body do that before.
I stopped
eating—stopped being able to eat all but a very few things without
feeling nauseous.
I’d already been
teetering on the edge of anemia and adrenal fatigue and several other
consequences of long-term exhaustion.
But I’d always managed to pull it out.
To keep feeling okay.

This was different, and it was a pretty abrupt wake-up
I have two kids to be present
and accounted for, and they need a mom who isn’t sick.
My body was sending me a very clear
message—that dangerous edge had just gotten a lot less stable.

BOOK: Sleeping Solo: One Woman's Journey into Life after Marriage
3.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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