The Chapter In-Between
Making the decision to move on with my life and leave behind a marriage of 8 years was not easy. While, I thought each step would get easier I was completely wrong and somewhat blindsided by someone I thought I had known. There is some truth to if you want to really and I mean really get to know someone, get a divorce. We were terrible as a married couple, I was certain undoing a sacrament would be a much smoother process. I know now that was the furthest thing from the truth. What I thought would take a matter of months turned into a process of over two years.
It was February 2015 when I decided I was done with existing in a relationship that was not allowing me to be the best person I could be. I was mentally and emotionally exhausted trying to hold it all together. I was tired of being unhappy and there was nothing I could do in my relationship that would ever be enough or right for that matter. I was tired of asking for a friendship. I had never felt so alone. Many nights I would find myself huddled at the edge of my bed crying myself to sleep wondering what I was doing. My answer; I am sleeping in the bed I made. You know, that age old wisdom passed down from my grandmother.
One morning as I was making my (our) bed as I routinely did every day, I looked over at my husband who was getting ready for work and said, I’m done making this bed! He looked over at me somewhat puzzled because the bed was partially made, I repeated myself and followed up with I want a divorce. His immediate response; I want you to change your last name (back to my maiden name). He walked away and then turned around to tell me he wouldn’t be single for long. I knew within those couple of minutes I was making the best decision for my life.
It seemed like the split would be amicable and we would each go our separate ways. Initially, we decided to see a mediating attorney for the divorce. I figured we would have time to think about how we would proceed with the divorce while waiting out our mandatory 6 months separation. Collaboratively, we came up with ground rules for our separation/divorce. One, we would put our children first, putting in a conscious effort to make this transition as painless as possible. We agreed to stay living together in separate rooms and still do things as a family unit.
Over the next couple of month my husband went for a Hail Mary pass, it was already too late for me to accept any last-ditch effort. I feared it would turn back to the way things were, just as they had been for a very long time. The anxiety of the unknown had me doubting the move I making. Was I really certain this is what I wanted? Could this get better? We each spent the summer doing our own things. Alternating weekends with the kids. We were going our separate ways and moving on with our lives. As more time past, I knew I would be more than okay.
As the end of summer neared he asked if I could wait till after the holidays to file for the divorce. He didn’t want the kids having a terrible memory of their holiday being clouded by a divorce. I was finally doing stuff for me again. One of the biggest changes for me was opening a business. This gave me the opportunity to focus my attention elsewhere. I started to feel like I was living again.
Over the summer I noticed my soon to be ex had moved on just as he said he would and by the fall I decided perhaps it’s time for me to dip my toes in the “dating” waters. I tried online dating for a while, and while it was fun and I had my share of laughs, it held no fulfillment. This was when paradigm shifted. It was going downhill fast, we went from being two adults going through an amiable divorce to two people who could not be in the same room. I kept my word and waited out filing till after the holidays.
The holidays came and went and it was clear a mediating attorney with an amical divorce was not in the cards. This is when the hard just got harder. The arguments happened almost daily. A few weeks after filing it was no longer a good idea for us to live together. Our children deserved better. He refused to leave the house and as much as I didn’t want to move the kids back and forth, I had to do what was best.
I wanted to prolong being in two separate houses because I knew I would have to give up my kids half of the time. I was a stay at home mom for the last 8 years, the thought of not seeing my kids everyday crushed me more than anything. No longer crying over a marriage that was not going to work, I was broken hearted with having to share our children. A piece of me wanted to be selfish and fight but this other part of me knew it wasn’t fair to our children, or any of us for that matter. They love us both and they deserve to see us equally.
I spent more time focusing on the business and getting back to me. I was making more time for yoga, CrossFit and meditating. I had my moments. I was living with my best friend and God knows she helped me get through some of my most terrible days. She was there to comfort me, guide me and even check me when my ego was coming into play, to be the rock I needed. Refocusing my extra time on me was the glue that kept me together during the toughest days.
The legal system seemed to take an eternity a constant hurry up and wait, phone calls, emails back and forth with the divorce attorneys. Not to mention all of the years of paperwork I had to find and copy. As if the emotional turmoil wasn’t draining enough, having to put together years of paperwork was over the top exhausting.
I gave up the whole dating thing for a little while, it wasn’t working out. I was trying to fill a void. The only thing I was really doing was wasting my time. In my heart, I knew I wasn’t ready for a relationship. I just wanted to feel loved, to feel I was enough for someone. Truth of the matter is I wasn’t convinced I was good enough for myself. By trying to fill that void with the company of a stranger I was postponing the chance to really get to know me. I didn’t even know what I was looking for in a partner. I was seeking that “light at the end” feeling of hope and that was not going to be found in quick fix relationship but in refocusing on living in the present moment.
I did not want to be in the in-between, that grey area of uncertainty. I was still in the battle with myself. I wanted to be at the end without having to feel or work through the hard. The same mentality of going to one CrossFit workout and thinking I’m going to walk away with washboard abs. I had not been “single” in over a decade. I did not know exactly how to be “single”. Initially, there was a little bit of discomfort with accepting this as my life. I actually felt more loved and cared for single than I did while I was married. I no longer felt alone because I was surrounded by people I cared about and those who genuinely cared about me. The stress of struggling trying to be enough for someone was lifted. I could be me 24/7. I could do what I wanted, eat breakfast for dinner, take up the entire bed and hog all of the covers. Have guests over for dinner just because. Not having to answer to anyone or feeling guilty for enjoying life’s simple pleasures have been some of the best parts about being single.
In the beginning of the divorce process I made a list of all the things I desired as if I had a tabula rasa on my adult life. I really truly believed I was getting a second chance to start all over. It wasn’t until I accepted and embraced this in-between did I really get it. This lesson of the letting go and surrendering to the in-between has been a lesson all on its own. I let go of the thinking of “when this happens…”, because whatever I was waiting for was happening, I just needed to see it was happening in small steps.
Life takes crazy turns. Letting go of the unsatisfying whether a relationship, job or just that feeling of being stuck requires us to being willing to sit in the uncertain grey area and demands us to work for what it is we really want. Being fully committed to doing the hard work and living in the present moment opens us up to living a more authentic life and sets tone for the chapter in-between.