Sleeping Solo: One Woman's Journey into Life after Marriage (5 page)

BOOK: Sleeping Solo: One Woman's Journey into Life after Marriage
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I
know
frustration.

But I don’t think anything has ever made me as utterly crazy
as trying to deal with the legal mess of a divorce.
 
It’s a limbo of the worst kind—I
really don’t know if most of it will be resolved next week or still be a hot
puddle of goo three years from now.

And yeah.
 
There are days that has stood me on the
brink of the Ocean of Crazy and blown a hard wind at my back.

But this is another one of these important places where
letting go isn’t the right thing.
 
I
can’t walk away, and I can’t give everything up—some of what is at stake
matters deeply, particularly for my kids.
 
So I need to see this process through to its bitter end, even if it
takes a very long time and every last patience nerve I possess.

What the waterfall gifted me is the conviction that the rest
of my life doesn’t have to go on hold until that day arrives.

I’ve tried that before, putting lines in the sand that must
be crossed before the thing that really matters can happen.
 
I’ll buy some non-trashed-by-pregnancy
clothes once I lose twenty pounds.
 
I’ll work on making friends when I’m not so tired.
 
I can have chocolate after I finish this
chapter (or a vacation after this book, or a month off after this series.)
    

I can have a life after I’m properly divorced and my kids’
financial future is stable and I pretty much know what the next phase of being
me looks like.

And honestly, I believed that for a while.
 
I worked insanely hard on coming up with
possible agreements that seemed fair to me—even generous.
 
I listened carefully and tried to
connect and understand, even with my bruised, grieving heart.
 
I spent lots of time on Google trying to
wrap my head around every issue, and lots of time in Excel calculating the
long-term impact of every possibility.

Willing it to be done so that I could move on.
 
Waiting, mired in frustration, for it to
end.

Fortunately, I suck at patience.
 
And I had this restless, bubbling
lightness knocking at the door and telling me to come out and play.

It knew what I didn’t, at first—
that
the quality of the rest of my life won’t be shaped most by what ends up in a
legal document.

It will come from what finds room in my heart.

Living with a cauldron
of anger and hate.
 
Just
in case you think I’m living through one of those neat, tidy, obnoxiously
friendly divorces, it’s probably time to do some truth telling around that.

My ex-husband is living in my basement suite.
 
It helps for parenting the kids, but
despite my very biggest efforts and fervent hopes, it hasn’t held our family
together.
 
I walked out of the
initial explosion shell-shocked, but determined to try to keep us a family of
four, even if marriage would no longer be the center that held everything
together.

It almost looked like it might work for a while.
 
We shared common space and a kitchen, we
had overlapping parenting time so the kids would still experience all four of
us together, we talked about how we hoped this would work for the future.

And then it all slowly melted to hell.

I was the last one to acknowledge it.
 
The kids were way smarter—by the
time I took a good hard look at reality, both of them had already fled for the
hills in every way possible while still contained in a two-thousand-square-foot
house.

So we shifted to a model where we parented separately.
 

Yup
.
 
In a
two-thousand-square-foot house.
 
There are good reasons for trying to make that work—we’re still
trying to make it work.
 
But as our
separate journeys out of marriage fallout deepened, it got pretty ugly.

I watched the guy I once loved, the guy I slept beside for
over twelve years, turn angry and resentful and full of hate.
 
I don’t know all the reasons why, and
quite frankly, knowing wouldn’t change a whole lot.
 
His feelings are his work to do, just as
I am the owner of mine.
 
But it
meant that there was a cauldron of harsh, nasty feelings stewing in the
basement of my home, and particularly in the dark of winter, it boiled over
with unpredictable, unfortunate frequency.

What to grab hold of, what to let go.

It was brutally hard to listen to my insides on this
one.
 
There was nasty stuff in my
house, spilling on my children, oozing under the door of my bedroom.
 
And somehow, the wires to all my
pushable
buttons had survived nuclear meltdown, which
wasn’t helping me to be sane or respectful or anything I could be proud of in
the middle of all of this.

Dealing with this in the way that I wanted to
meant
I had to rewire.

It meant I had to let go of some pretty big stuff.
 
Marriage is an agreement to slide into a
tandem harness with someone.
 
To
pull the same direction, to share the weight, to glory together in the strength
and speed and to stand quietly together when a wheel needs repairing or someone
gets tired.

The nuclear hit took care of some of those harness
lines.
 
And a couple of big,
important co-parenting ones need to stay in place, even if the track gets a
little or a lot rough.
 
But several
important
someones
in my life helped me to realize
that I was letting a bunch of other harness lines continue to hang out. Some
were frayed and tattered and hanging limp, but they still gave purchase for
angry grappling hooks reaching out of the cauldron.

Once I could truly see this for what it was, I dealt with it
in one fell swoop, because I’m that kind of girl.
 
I headed out onto the ocean with pen,
paper, my wedding ring, a couple of photographs, and a big-ass pair of
scissors.
 
My own private
harness-lopping ritual, most of it made up on the fly because the nice neat
ceremony I’d planned didn’t seem quite right as I stepped onto the boat.

The specifics didn’t matter—the intention did.
 
I stepped off the boat two hours later a
lot lighter, a lot clearer, and exhausted enough that it took thirteen hours of
sleep to be functional again.

I woke up a lot more in tune with the wisdom of my
insides.
 

Most battles don’t matter—walk away.
 

The ones that do aren’t about the
words,
they’re about the energy.
 
Focus on
the energy.
 

Rain washes
many things away, as do
oceans and showers and tears.
 

I can live on the side of an active volcano and choose
misery and fear—or I can be happy.

And yes, there are definitely days where that feels like
trying to tap dance in my skintight mini skirt and four-inch heels.
 
But slowly and surely, insistently, and
occasionally with big swinging swords, my ribs have brought me to a place where
the cauldron in the basement isn’t the focus.
 
There’s no denying it’s there, and some
days there’s just no ignoring the hot, furious venting.
 
But there’s also an earthquake fault
somewhere deep under this island I live on.

Life has fault lines.
 
Ones I can’t fix, fight, or keep away from my children.
 
Some things are just bigger than me,
some things aren’t mine to deal with, and some things maybe have a purpose even
though I don’t like them very much.

I have a friend who is an artist.
 
She talks about the power of contrast.

I don’t like how I feel when the cauldron boils over, even
now.
 
But it feels so very different
inside my skin than it did a few months back—a particularly vivid
measuring stick of just how far I’ve come.

I walk away differently now.
 
I get angry differently and I fight for
different things.

Not always.
 
But often enough that it matters.

Staying in my own skin.
 
Listen to the wisdom of my ribs.
 
I had the lesson.
 
I understood it and I believed it and
I’d seen the awesome cool things it was capable of rendering in my life.
 
I wanted to keep going.
 
But man, sometimes my feet hurt.
 
This was hard work, in a very intense
environment, and it’s not always so easy to keep listening.

Because when you’ve spent forty-four years hanging out in
the ether, your head, and the faraway corners of imagination, it’s impressively
hard to stay present in your own skin.

I didn’t want to have to do this on sheer guts.
 
This new magic of mine was so much more
fun when I didn’t turn it into a test of exhausted endurance.

So I went seeking experiences that helped keep me in my
body.
 
(No, not that one, not yet at
least!)

I tried a bunch of things, and some of them make me giggle,
even now.
 
But four became my
touchstones.

The first I already had in my tool kit from the early
days.
 
Go outside.
 
Touch the elements as deeply, as simply,
as fiercely,
as
often as possible.
 

The next one came from my kick-ass guide person, who has a
whole lot of experience with those of us who have troubles staying put in our skin.
 
She sent me off to hold bottles of
things and rocks and crystals and see how they felt.
 

Not what Google or a label or a helpful shop owner said they
should do.
 
How they felt.

Yup
.
 
Deep woo.
 
The kind of stuff that
my wildly skeptical brain might have cast a veto over, except that the bottles
and rocks did have things to say.
 
Lots of things.
 
A pretty orange rock laced with red talked
of bravery and voicing what needed to be said.
 
A gentle pink one made me want to curl
up and sleep on a cloud.
 
Then there
was a bottle that held ancient heartbeats, and one that welled up grief the
moment I touched it.

I carried these things in my pockets for months, whichever
one or two called to me at the time.
 
Touched them.
 
Felt the
meaning they held for me.
 

And I opened to
the woo
.
 
After the chatty bottles and rocks, I
was pretty much game to try anything once.
 
I badly wanted a massage one day, and I figured it might be a good way
to sink into my skin.
 
The massage
therapist who came up closest to me on Google maps was also an
aromatherapist
.
 
And an energy worker, and a bunch of other things she doesn’t put on her
website, because there aren’t a lot of words for the work that she does, or
maybe because she might scare people.
 
One day I’ll have to ask her.

I’ve spent most of my life fairly oblivious to sensory
input.
 
So it was an entirely
overwhelming experience to sit in a warm, cozy room and smell a parade of
little bottles and see how they resonated inside my skin.
 
But it was also a deeply eye-opening
one.
 
My nose has strong
opinions—and fascinating ones.
 
The essential oils I love most are almost all ancient trees, ones that
play deeply in the realm of spirit.

I am possibly still in denial on some of that.

But after I smell my little parade of bottles each time,
then I get a massage where a special blend, made just for me and where I am on
that day, gets to sink into my skin and into every cell of my body.

I have several of those blends at home—the warrior one
and the lazy-sexpot one and the one that is so clear and pure and cuts through
everything.
 
I can awaken clarity or
bravery or fun with one whiff.

I’m so not in Kansas anymore.

The last of my touchstones is the one I have the least words
for, yet, or rather, the least verbal grasp on exactly why it works so well for
me.

I have always loved music, always wanted to sing.
 
As a child, I had dreams of my voice
soaring up over a rapt audience, every note laced with magic and potency and
grace.

As an adult, what I have is a very middle-of-the-road,
polite choir voice.
 
I still love to
sing, and I joined a community choir here in Victoria the first chance I
got.
 
But that polite choir
voice—it made me a little crazy.
 
I wanted better.
 
Different.
 
Something that
felt more like the voice that should belong to me, so I signed up for voice
lessons.

That part all happened prior to December.
 
I’d had a few lessons, gotten past the
total embarrassment of singing while no one else was making any noise, learned
some interesting things about how to improve my vocal sound.

And then, the first lesson after all hell broke loose, I
dissolved into tears in the middle of some song that I have no memory of whatsoever.
 
Words,
entirely
choked off.

BOOK: Sleeping Solo: One Woman's Journey into Life after Marriage
11.72Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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