Yesterday I spent the afternoon cleaning out the house I lived in with my ex-husband. It was physically and emotionally grueling. A the end of the day, I felt drained and yet cleansed. It’s a task I’ve avoided since the divorce, but something that needs to be done. Unfortunately, there is a second house that needs to be cleaned out (long story as why there are two houses, but just take my word for it.) and so next weekend will involve more cleaning. Houses are just houses, but it’s amazing the energy they take on from the time spent living in them. This house was particularly rough because the end took place there. I felt some of that old energy grip me as I cleaned. So I’m glad it’s done.
By the way, I have a computer desk, a bookshelf, printer, lamps, an exercise ball, oil based space heater, two baby gates and some random dishes for any takers. E-mail me…
There was something that my ex-husband left at the house that I needed to get back to him, so I took it to our former best friends’ house. The husband of this couple was out in the garage. Suddenly I felt like I had been hit by a tank. And I couldn’t’ talk. He asked me what was new. The answer “everything” seemed appropriate. I heard myself trying to tell him how happy I am now and that I’m doing really well, but it was out of body. He looked at me with a look of pity and possibly a little judgment and I was wiggling in my skin. I rambled on for a little bit longer, handed him the thing and left, sending greetings to his wife and telling them to call me for a drink if they were in my neighborhood. (I’ll be surprised if I hear from them.)
After the awkward delivery, I needed some time with my friends. The friends who have been there for me to help me clean up this entire mess. I called the one friend I know I can always go to.
What are you doing?
Beer in two?
And beer and yummy Mexican food later, I felt the energy from my new life return with a big ‘ole virtual bear hug.
I’ve sorted out the “totalled car” situation and to make a long story short, I’m driving a car, the car, I drove in college and throughout the first part of this decade. It’s a little surreal to be back in this particular vehicle, but I’m proud of myself for this decision. This car has been with me for a long time. It’s seen me through college, first jobs and been with me in five states. There is something comforting in that.
My bachelorette party was a small affair. My maid of honor, Shannon and my other Stephanie took me out in Wilmington, N.C. On the whole, it was pretty calm. No naked men, male genitalia cakes, no games etc… I liked it this way. Shannon did bring with her some Mardi Gras style beads. She intended for me to hand them out to young lasses, but apparently I had my own idea of what I should do with these beads. Two bars into our crawl, I became appalled at the amount of young college-aged women grinding up on guys who could care less about the brains attached. These women needed saving. They needed beads. I began distributing the beads, with the advice, “Stay in school, don’t trust men and focus on your career.” It seemed everyone wanted some beads to wear. Soon, girls were coming to me asking for the beads. Now remember, even though this is a calm affair, I’m still a bachelorette and I’m wearing a veil on my head. Advice+veil did not match.
My friends dubbed me the “Bride Mother Teresa.”
And since the marriage didn’t work out, I can’t exactly wear that title anymore. Out of respect for Mother Teresa’s faith, I will not go with “The Divorced Mother Teresa.” Making her a bride was bad enough.
But my intentions to save others remain the same, so I’d like to present Stephanie’s rules for divorce — for the ladies in the house. Kindly note, these beads of wisdom are not intended to meet everyone’s specific divorce situation. For example, I didn’t have children. Take my ramblings with a grain of salt. However, unlike the last time I dispensed beads, I am sober.
- First and foremost: Take care of yourself. At this point, your marriage is over. You are not a “we” and you must start to think like a “me.”
- Find a place to live where you are completely at peace. This is going to be your retreat, your refuge and your new life will start here.
- Try, try not to go down negative paths with your ex or his family. You will slip and fall here. You will do and say things you regret, but be strong and use as much self-restraint as you can.
- On that same note, DO NOT engage in ANY communication with your ex’s new girlfriend. (If you are so lucky to have an ex with a new girlfriend.) Even if she tries to engage in diaglogue with you, be the bigger person and don’t, don’t, don’t lower yourself to that level.
- Find your true friends and lean on them. They will rise to the top. They will be the ones who answer the phone at 2 a.m., who bring you tissues and junk food, who allow you to text thoughts intended for your ex, who will celebrate your triumphs and most of all, who won’t judge you.
- At the same time, find your inner strength and know you can make it on your own. Slowly you can start to wean yourself from the dependence on your ex, your friends and your family and you will find a powerful new you.
- Date when you are ready. It’s ok to pull the cord on dating if you decide it’s not for you, but if you even have an inkling to date again, go with it. It can be a lot of fun. It can also provide some perspective on your situation.
- Use retail therapy with caution. A little can be ok.
- Take life one day at a time. Time is your enemy and your best friend.
- Read anything that makes you feel better. Not every divorce guide book is for you, but find a few that you can glean some nuggets from. It will make you feel better to…
- Know you are not alone. E-mail me if ever want to talk.
I’m a huge fan of this trilogy. And sometimes, I think about what it would be like to travel back in time and freak yourself out with your future self. (Hi, Dorks McGee, much?)
My past self would probably faint if she knew where life was going to take her. This was an epiphany I reached last night as I was sitting on a couch surrounded by all new friends, completely happy. And I was thinking that if my life hadn’t changed so much, I never would be here, never would have met them, never would have experienced this moment of happiness.
Regardless of all the pain and hardship there is a little bit of thrill in the idea that my past self had no idea what was about to transpire in her world. You just never know the curve balls life is going to throw at you. And that’s why it’s onward bound for me… (And future, future self, please don’t come knocking at my door anytime soon because my current life is baffling me enough. I get it. I don’t need any previews. I’ll roll with it, whatever it is. Past self, you have no idea… but you’ll be more than ok.)
So, I heart facebook. Seriously. And I heart old friends. In the past two weeks, I’ve had lunch with a Jr. High best friend (and if anyone can be friends with you when you are 13, they can be friends with you when you are 30!), dinner with a Jr. High boyfriend, later best friend (who reminded me that I once sent him the lyrics to “I’ll Get Over You” in a note folded like a triangle), connected with my high school boyfriend and more than five high school friends. Not to mention, countless e-mails from college friends including her. Here’s why old friends in my life rule:
- They knew me as me, no other person. They liked me that way.
- They know goofy things about me like incidents that happened in 7th grade cooking classes involving way too much orange soda and laughter. And they still like me.
- They call me Steph.
- There is so much to talk about. Say the past 15 years or so…
- It reminds me that I have always, always prevailed. And I have always, always surounded myself with quality people.
- It reminds me that I have a diverse network of people to call friends.
- History. Just good history.