What a difference 365 days make. February 1, 2015

Today marks 7 months into being single, but even more so, I was thinking back to last year on Super Bowl Sunday. I had met up with a friend, and ended up breaking down crying after he had asked me just the right question about my life. I just fucking lost it, revealing that what looked like a pretty great life and marriage was making me so unhappy that I didn’t want to get up in the morning. I’m not sure that I realized how bad it had become until those words came out of my mouth. After that, what I had known silently for longer than I’d like to admit was all I could think about. And I was scared shitless. I wondered if I could make it on my own. I had lived in Seattle for less than a year, and only had a handful of acquaintances. I didn’t have a car. What about our dogs? Financially, it seemed impossible.

And here I am today, 1 year later, and I love my life so much. I like myself, most importantly, and that took awhile. I beat myself up for waiting so long to face the truth of my unhappiness, but I don’t do that anymore. I embrace the strength it took me to leave, and start over. Today, I have a group of friends, real friends that I see regularly. I still don’t have a car, and I take the bus or walk everywhere. My ex has custody of our dogs, and I miss them dearly, but they needed to stay together, and I think he needed them more than I did. And financially. . . well, it’s tough, but I am making it work. And I’m proud that I am doing this on my own, everyday.

I didn’t know that I was going to write about this topic at all. I was planning on writing about dating, but these words spilled out instead. And it feels so good to have said them out loud. Even though I knew that I wasn’t the only person to ever feel like this, I wanted to see these words somewhere. The worst thing for me was feeling so alone, while working up the courage to ask for a divorce. This last year has taught me to live my life out loud, instead of fearfully, quietly using the voice in my head. It has been hard, and at times, I thought that I might be losing my mind, but the past couple of months have been different, and better, and I finally stopped questioning whether or not I made the right decision.

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Just when I think I’m safe. . . January 16, 2015

I thought I was moving along through the stages of the big D quite nicely, I thought I had been processing my feelings of guilt and loss. And maybe I am, but I certainly have not finished with these feelings yet.

My mind was particularly overactive all week about nothing in particular, just my day to day work responsibilities, and then IT hit. I just started crying, on and off for most of 2 days. Grief is unpredictable. I don’t have regrets about getting a divorce, except that we probably let our unhappiness drag on for too long.  This has been my unwavering stance since we decided to call it quits. Naturally, I thought I was over the crying spells, and I wasn’t prepared for this one. I am neither a crier, nor am I particularly comfortable with overt displays of emotion, so this side of divorce has been the most difficult for me.

It didn’t force me to completely shut down my life like the last spell of overwhelming grief 3 months ago, but it sure was prickly. My divorced friends warned that this would happen, but I didn’t believe it.

I’ve been feeling really out of control lately.  A couple of months ago, I promised myself that I was going to stop trying to control everything last detail in my life, and love myself a little more. I’ve been working really hard to do this, and some things have cropped up in my personal life that have left me feeling incredibly vulnerable and without any control. Part of my letting go has been through not trying to name emotions as they crop up. That used to be one of my measures of control. I would feel one way, and then analyze and name the emotion, and put it back on the shelf like a book. I spent so much time doing this that all I felt was numb towards the end of my marriage. When I moved out, I started connecting much more with people, and trying to just experience, rather than title every damn emotion and life event. That’s a really hard thing to do for a control freak like myself. So, when bad things happen now, I really feel it. I realize that this is a step in the right direction of who I want to be in my daily life, and letting the adventure happen is good for me.

I don’t know if that means that these prickly days will happen more or less often. Does that mean that I am holding too much in, or is this normal? I don’t really know, I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.

Divorce is like a head injury January 9, 2015

Divorce feels like a cross between an identity crisis and amnesia. I am 6 months distanced from the split from my husband, and sometimes I stop and think, “Who is this person I’ve become?”. I have either found myself again, or I am just a completely different person.

I am fit. I started a regular exercise routine about 2 months in as a way to clear those pesky obsessive thoughts from my head, and I have just kept up with it. Even though I loathe the first 1/2 mile, the rest of my run feels fantastic, and keeps me motivated to take on the rest of my day.

I am put together. I wear make-up and put some thought into what I am wearing every day.

I have a social life. I formed my own group of friends from people that I didn’t know before my divorce. And I reach out to them regularly to make plans, and meet up several times a week.

My anxiety went away. Throughout the entirety of my marriage, I had such severe anxiety that there were days where I couldn’t leave the house. If we were going somewhere that was necessary to drive on the interstate, I would devolve into a panic attack for the entire trip, certain of my imminent death. I am an introvert, but I never struggled with anxiety until I got married, and it confounds me that my anxiety disappeared after we split up.

As time goes on, I am starting to forget how it felt to be married and having that accountability to someone else. I do still talk to my ex, but as time goes on, we have less and less in common, and relating to him is more difficult.

All of these things have come together to validate the decision to split. I often wonder if I should have been married, since it feels like I morphed into the worst version of myself. And it feels awful to say that, because I don’t regret my marriage, and what I learned from the experience. This is something that I am hoping figure out as this process goes on, and more so after I actually enter into a relationship that finds that comfort stride. This makes me sad, because I do love being in a relationship, and I am quite fond of the idea of marriage itself. If you have any insight into this, I’d love to hear it in the comments.

I made it through the holidays alone, now what? January 2, 2015

Happy New Year, blah, blah, blah. . . I feel like I am supposed to begin this first post of the year with some rumination about how last year was the toughest, most emotional of my life, and yes, it was. However, it was also the kick in the ass to take charge of my own life, on my own terms. And I happen to be feeling particularly optimistic on this 2nd day of 2015. I am also so happy to be through the holidays, and starting to resume a normal schedule again. I am a sucker for changing seasons, new year, really any sort of a beginning that I can use as a benchmark for my own progress.

So, with this mother of all annual benchmarks, it’s time to start over. In the 6 months since the split, I have lived my life completely differently. New neighborhood, new friends, new routines. Though incredibly difficult to manage everything new for a few months (meaning I was behaving like a crazy person), I think I have finally hit my stride. As I’ve mentioned before, I am dating, casually. I am trying not to take anything too seriously, and remind myself to just enjoy myself, often. I am also a creative entrepreneur, as my full time career, which means that I normally work 60-80 hours a week, during non-traditional hours. My business was always a point of contention in my marriage, so this year, as I work out the annual goals for wrenbirdarts, I am really trying to think on a larger scale. I want to take bigger chances to try and grow my business, as well as my writing. And though I do hope that love has a place in my busy life, I am going forward, and being really honest that my business needs to be the focus of my attention right now.

I am more emotionally level than I have been in years. I feel reasonably happy, and I am so much more comfortable with my aloneness that I ever could’ve imagined. And that is something that is very different from loneliness. The other night I came home, a little sad that I was by myself, and then ended up trying on a bunch of outfits for New Years’, while dancing to the music that I like, and am sort of embarrassed to admit liking. All I could think of was how great it felt to be by myself, and just able to be my own goofy me, and give zero fucks about what anyone else thinks.

I am hesitant to admit to this, because I never know when I will have a little setback, and end up back in bed crying, wondering if ending my marriage was the worst decision of my life. But hesitation be damned, I think I am finally finding out who I am, and I am pretty great. This is a far cry from the shadow of sadness I’ve been hiding under for several years. For the last few, incredibly strained years of my marriage, I had no idea who I was, and knew mostly unhappiness. It wasn’t just my ex, but it was the person who I had become with him, and just didn’t like very much. I was afraid most of the time, I think afraid of myself, and I felt so hopeless. When the split finally happened, even though it’s been all things terrible, wonderful and scary all at once, it’s the event that if I had shyed away from following through, I would never have had the opportunity to live in this existence that I now love so much. I know that “happy” is an overused term, but I really mean it, I am happy being me.

Fear of Being Alone December 29, 2014

This is a big one for me. In general, I don’t mind being alone, in fact, most of the time, I prefer it. I run my business out of my home, and enjoy long stretches of quiet. Though some nights, I’d really like to just veg and watch tv with someone. And let’s face it, when you are in your 30’s most of your friends are coupled off or have kids, and are unavailable to sit around and watch tv. Loneliness was a big reason why I was afraid to split from my ex, and it continues to loom over me when I am at my lowest moments, and wondering if I made the right decision. What if I never meet anyone else that I just click with, who feels the same way about me? (And I do know that I made the right decision, but in these moments, my life feels like its crashing down around me.)

There is no easy fix to just stop that fear when it starts up. For me, I write (who could’ve guessed that one?). I write down every scary thought about being alone, and come face to face with what brought on those feelings. And these days, who knows that either, at least half of the time? I live somewhere in the gap of really wanting to be in a relationship, and feeling like I’m definitely not ready to exclusively date anyone. So, I write everything down, and close the notebook. Sometimes it just helps to get it out of my head, sort of a brain dump to stop obsessing over the same thoughts.

Something else that I’ve done that really puts things into perspective, is make a timeline list of statements from a year ago (or however long pre-split), up through today. For example:

1 year ago

-I was a wife

-I was unhappy with my life

-I felt trapped

Today

-I am independent

-I am dating

-I don’t know what will happen tomorrow

I add increments of time like 6 months ago, 3 months ago, and so on, sometimes using my journal as backup if I can’t remember how I was feeling around that time. I try and keep the statements as simple as possible, so that I don’t get lost in the interpretation. This helps me to see in list form, the changes that I’ve made in a pretty short time, and then I feel a little better, and will give myself a little slack for being so far from perfect.

Since my split, I’ve also taken up meditation and running, neither of which I am particularly fond of, but both help to manage the irrational thoughts in my head, and keep the crazy in check. Plus, it’s better for me than drinking too much, and having a moral hangover the next day.

As I sit here and type, I wonder, as I often do, when and how will it be once I finally meet someone that I want to date. Will it be awkward? Will I get too attached? Will it be scary? Right now, those questions make my palms sweat, and I feel slightly nauseous. Is that good or bad?

My first Christmas alone-ish. December 25, 2014

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I’ve been dreading today for the last couple of months, and as it turns out, it’s really nice to celebrate the holidays on my own terms. This is now my life, and I get to choose what plans I make and who I want to spend my holidays with, and it’s been a beautiful thing. Since I was a kid, I always jumped from Christmas to Christmas, and then the same thing while I was married. I wasn’t ready to see my family this year, and have to explain everything that is happening, and awkwardly avoid looks of pity.

Post divorce, I have made new friends that are more compatible with my now single life. For me, it’s been important to make friends who didn’t know me before I was divorced. I enjoy not explaining what’s happening with my ex and how I am doing. When I want to date someone, I can do that without judgement from people who knew me as a part of a couple. That helps.

And I am dating. Dating without definition is what I can handle currently. I am someone who tends to fall pretty hard, so much of what I am doing is trying to encourage myself to just get out there and not let myself wonder about the what if’s. I fell really hard for the first guy that I dated post-split, and I don’t think it necessarily had to do with our connection. Though we did have a really great rapport, I think it was more about my fear of loneliness, and I wanted someone new in my life so much that I just transferred a lot of who I am in a relationship directly onto him. I know now that it was a mistake, but I also think it’s probably pretty common. And in this post-split life, it’s all about the life experience. I don’t want to say that I have to make up for lost time, because I don’t regret my marriage, but I haven’t been single for so long, that getting out there, sometimes fucking up, and picking myself back up is pretty great.

Like I said, this is me living my life on my own terms.

The day my ringless finger stopped feeling weird.

I have this habit of looking at ring fingers while I’m riding the bus. It’s mostly on the bus that is filled with people who work at Amazon in their mid-20’s through early 40’s. I spend most of my bus ride comparing the ring wearers with the non-ring wearers, trying to decide if there is a difference in the way each group sits/looks/interacts. A couple of months ago, I was really sensitive to these differences, but now, it all sort of muddles together. I don’t necessarily want to keep re-living this weird time of going through a divorce, but I also don’t want to forget how I’m growing into the person that I am today, about 6 months post split.

I took my rings off the day that we decided to call it quits. My hand felt disconnected and looked naked, which seemed fitting, because that’s what my physical body felt like for the first 5 months. My skin felt very thin and raw, and I could never shake the feeling of nausea. For me, there was a lot of truth to the unintended break up diet. I think I lost 25 pounds in the first 2 months. I am finally starting to eat normally again, though my sense of taste hasn’t quite returned.

Back to the rings-I hid them way up in a cabinet (while I was drinking), and found them just the other day. As I slid them on my finger, they looked awkward, like they didn’t belong, and felt even stranger. They felt heavy and cumbersome.

Yesterday, as I was doing my ring scan on the bus, I noticed that I don’t “feel” married anymore. I’ll be honest, I loved being married, loved being part of that defined companionship, and I will likely marry again. But right now, I don’t have that sense of losing my other half, and I really don’t miss that feeling. I am getting comfortable being alone, which has been the most difficult part of this process for me.

I still don’t feel whole, and sometimes I wake up wondering what the fuck has happened to me, and who am I. The answer that I keep giving myself is that I don’t know, and that’s what I am trying to figure out. I have mostly stopped crying daily, and generally don’t plan my life, let alone my day. And that also helps. Planning makes me feel panicky, and reminds me that I still don’t quite know who I am.

Also, I’ve stopped beating myself up for feeling confused. Nine years of marriage is nothing to scoff at, and my life really has changed almost completely. Sometimes I wonder if I have mental whiplash as a result. I’ve lost a lot of friends who just couldn’t be there for whatever reason,  both of my dogs to my ex, and half of my family (in-laws), not to mention the changes in my material life. No more 3 bedroom home and regular hair cut and color appointments, I don’t have the money for expensive jeans, and I sleep on a futon. Going from a 2 income household to living off of my modest artist income is a huge change. I do think that it has made me a lighter person. I don’t really mind living in my studio, less to clean, my hair is wild most of the time, much like my life, my jeans haven’t worn out yet, and one day, I’ll splurge and buy a grown up mattress, and it’ll feel divine.