When you get divorced, I suppose it’s like a death occurs in the family.
And I suppose that’s why you field questions for months - people are concerned that your shoulders are visibly stooped from a toxic form of grief.
“But how ARE you?”
“Are you doing okay?”
“Are you making it through the days?”
Their brows furrow together, and the concern is written all over their faces.
They like to ask how you pass the time - as if your now not-spouse was the only thing that ever occupied you. Who you really are is as lost to them as it is to you, and you kind of can’t blame them for forgetting. Your name was even lost in the fire, and when you picked it up, the letters left your hands ashy and dirty.
Everyone talks about how hard the nights are. How the darkness descends and the quiet suffocates and the blankets are not warm enough. Everyone likes to talk about the night.
But what about the morning? When the sun comes up and another day is fresh and clean and you wake up wondering if this is the day - if THIS is the day that things will finally feel less confused. You wake up, and you eat breakfast. Alone. You do your makeup and your hair. And you’re alone. You pull on your shoes, and you pour a cup of coffee that you brewed yourself, and you wonder
what happens to the rest of the pot?
Aimlessly, you look around your kitchen, and there’s no one else.
You dump the coffee out into the sink, and the steam feels hot like your tears, and yes. Mornings are suffocating and cold and quiet, too.
When people ask how you’re doing, the truth dances like the devil in between your lips. Do you think they really want to know how the dishwasher broke, or how you had to figure out how to reprogram the garage code with a phone call to the manufacturer? Do you think they really want to know about how you tripped over one of your newly minted not-spouse’s shoes, and you threw it so hard at the wall that you thought you’d probably leave a hole — and when it didn’t? You picked it up again and you threw it again and again. Over and over.
The truth dances between your lips like the devil and the stories dance across the heat of your breath in and out, and maybe they don’t care to know about how it feels like the dentist’s drill sounds, or how you don’t know how to just cook for one.
You put a bookshelf together by yourself and the toxic grief rolls off of your shoulders, and perhaps that’s not what people want to hear about, either. The victory of researching tire choices, or learning how to caulk the bathtub, or killing the spiders are bricks that heave off of your chest and suddenly, you start to think that maybe -
when people ask you how you are, maybe -
You just tell them that you’re fine.
Or that the sky still rains the same way, and people still don’t use their turn signals enough, and you have a date for next Saturday night.
You will tell them that you were destroyed.
You will tell them that hope is coming back to you in chunks, and you’ve been using them as triage for the parts of your body that are bleeding the most.
You will tell them that the fire from what you burned down has singed every single part of you - even the sparkling, unmarred part of your soul is charred.
You will tell them that walking back to yourself has been the longest hike, the hardest marathon, and the slowest sprint that you’ve ever taken.
And then, you will reintroduce yourself.
And you will use the ashy name that you saved from the inferno.
I joined Facebook in ...
I had to use my Peru State College email address because as Bestie Betsy said, "They only let college kids in." Bestie Betsy. She was still a sophomore ... she hadn't even yet begun law school.
I was living in a shitty apartment, I was newly married, and it was way back when your status updates started with, "am" or "was" because your linked name always came first.
We were babies.
Lord have mercy.
Fourteen years ago.
I was 22.
I've been to Australia, Rome, and to divorce court. I've gained a baby and lost a gall bladder. I dance in kitchens, listen to Indie music, and slow music, and country music. I dream about Texas and being a full time writer and bed and breakfasts.
I kiss a little boy goodnight, pray for a little boy during the day, and love a little boy every single second of every single day.
I have made some CHOICES in the last 14 years. Some good - some so gratifying that I carried them with me during the trying years.
Some were scalding, terrifying, and wrong.
I have been wrong.
But in the 14 years since I posted my first status update -
I have grown.
And THAT is what we're really all trying to gauge in the end anyway.
The one that worries about me, too.
The one that laces his boots, zips up his coat, and heads out into the cold - or into the fray - or into the arena with me.
The one that dances in the kitchen on Sunday mornings, Saturday nights, or Tuesday afternoons - when the afternoon winter light hangs in the air.
The one that's still there.
The one that stands in the low light of a living room and with careful words, fights for what you have. What you've crafted. What you've built.
The one that's still there when the smoke clears.
The one that listens to the music on the radio on Sunday afternoons, taps his hand on the console, and sings along. The one that raises his voice, bangs on the steering wheel, and laughs when I join in. The one that still doesn't stop singing.
The one that says yes every single time.
Chin out. Shoulders back.
(But not too far back.)
Confident steps, one foot in front of the other.
Breathe it in and out, close your eyes, and
I can do this, it's going to be okay.
I can do this, it's going to be okay.
(But can I really do this?)
I think it'll be okay, but -
Smile bigger. Yes.
That might be an answer.
Your shoes are cute.
I like your hair today.
You're so smart.
I'm so glad you're here.
Tell them every good thing.
Cheer them all on.
And then smile.
Confident steps. One foot in front of the other.
No one is keeping score.
(Are they, though? I think they might be.)
Eyes open at night, a movie playing on the ceiling.
My day, in chunks.
My day, dissected.
My day, a mess.
Tomorrow will be better.
Tomorrow has to be better.
The grocery shopping.
The trash cans.
The dinner dishes.
The ... the ... the ...
Be a go-giver.
Be a go-giver.
Be a go-giver.
Hair down. Hair down.
Why do I have long hair?
Nobody starts a business at 35.
Nobody makes new dreams at 35.
Nobody whispers out into the dark at 35.
(They do, right?)
(But only if -)
Maybe more tomorrow.
On a piece of paper, tucked in between notepads, near my desk - scrawled hurriedly across yellow lines -
And even if you have to crawl.
Sometimes people tell me I have pretty handwriting, but this is anything but. These letters, pushed together look so much like my brother's handwriting that when I saw them the other day, I actually did a double take.
Did I actually write that?
Yes. I did.
It was a passing thought written in a margin and just like always - if it doesn't come out at that second, then the words will clang around in my head.
And I write to feel the quiet.
"I feel like I'm a fraud," I whispered to Craig one night not long ago.
His arm, heavy with assurance and faith, pulled me closer.
Sometimes, my confidence slips down through my toes and before I reach down to gather the remnants,
I have to take a second.
I need a pep talk, I called out to my friends last night.
You can do this.
Baby steps are still steps.
Tell me something good.
And they showed up for me. And sometimes, their words don't even matter. Sometimes, all that matters is the gentle nudge. A hand reached out, a hand that answers.
A second to catch my breath.
When Craig and I first started dating, I told him that sometimes I feel like a banging piano during a refrain. It was the first letter I'd ever mailed him, and I wanted him to know -
Sometimes I have bad days.
And I just think that even on the bad days.
Even on the days that I doubt every single thing about myself.
Even when I feel like I'm not a good writer or teacher.
A good mom.
A good girlfriend.
A good daughter.
Even when I think that I cannot do one thing right -
Even when I don't feel brave or courageous or progressive -
Even when my breaths are shallow and the tears are plenty -
Even when I go to bed early just to stay awake all night -
Even if I have to crawl -
an exhale is coming.
. About Moi .
I love, love, love flannel sheets and I am really passionate about lists on post it notes and most of the time I'm sad that no one else is as excited as I am about Diet Mountain Dew. I also adore run-on sentences. And if you need an awesome virtual assistant, who is full of personality and really good jokes? Email me. I'm your girl.
This website uses marketing and tracking technologies. Opting out of this will opt you out of all cookies, except for those needed to run the website. Note that some products may not work as well without tracking cookies.Opt Out of Cookies
He saw her before he saw
anything else in the room.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.