I sit down to write and the words won’t form. That’s foreign to me. I can always write. About my life. About someone else’s. About work. My kids. Anything. It’s my escape and coping mechanism. But for the past few months, I get a few sentences or paragraphs in and I go blank. I can’t finish what I so desperately need to get out.
It’s been a similar situation at work. I stare at my to-do list and find I’m unable to do anything for longer than a few minutes or, if I’m lucky, a whole hour before I crack. Before I close my office door and cry. Because facing anyone or trying to explain the situation isn’t worth their awkward reaction. It’s not worth making them feel bad because they don’t know what to say. And, quite frankly, it’s none of their business.
So then I try to run it out. As if I could outrun the reality that’s chased and haunted me for the past year and a half of my life. The night I broke the news to my parents, my Dad said, ‘You know, all this time I kind of wondered what or who you were running away from.’
Wait, what? You mean it’s not normal to suddenly take up running and – in the span of 18 months – complete four half marathons, four 10K races and three 5Ks, all while logging dozens of miles in training runs each month? But even that caught up with me. Call it burnout. Lack of energy. Emotional and physical drain. Whatever it is, I reached a point where I barely have the motivation to run at all these days. So I lace up my shoes, put in my headphones and then halfway through what should be six or eight miles, I stop. I give up. Because all I have the energy to do right now is walk. And I’m strangely OK with that.
I don’t return texts or phone calls or Facebook messages from friends in a timely fashion. If at all.
I don’t have the brain power to read through all the paperwork my 5-year-old brings home from school.
I do the basics and hope my kids won’t ever realize or remember how much of a mess I am right now.
Numb from pain and exhaustion. Paralyzed by emotions I finally forced myself to face. Scared by the silence of my new reality.
33 years old.
3 perfect, beautiful kids.
Chew on that for a second.
Divorce. I could stare at that word for hours and still not grasp what it’s done to my soul or how it turned my world into a tornado of feelings I struggle to comprehend.
When they find out, so many of our friends and family members want to know why. What happened? Who did what? Who’s to blame? Do I think I gave it all I had? The answers to all those questions are deeply personal and, for the most part, off limits. At least for me.
The man who was my husband for 8 years, 1 month and 5 days will tell you I’m “a tough case to crack,” because I don’t easily open up about what’s deep inside my heart. Sure, I’ll talk. I’ll give the surface rundown and keep repeating the same superficial, couched response that gets the point across.
It’s a long story, I’ll tell you when you’re older.
No, we don’t hate each other.
Yes, we’re on decent terms.
The kids are actually doing well. That’s what’s most important.
The most common reaction from people when they find out? “I’m sorry.”
And that one kills me. I’ve already heard it so many times. I know they don’t know what to say and sorry is the natural, awkward response. But I just want to look at them and ask, “Could you not be?”
Toward the beginning of the process, a close friend told me this would show who my real friends are. At first, I didn’t know what that meant. But now? If that ain’t the damn truth, I’m not sure what is.
I knew certain people had heard about what’s going on, and when they didn’t come to me – even with a Facebook message or an invitation to meet for coffee – it stung.
I guess I never really knew how much of an impact a simple text, email or phone call could have on someone going through this situation. I do now, though.
I know the value in having a friend ask, ‘Can I take your kids for a couple hours today? I know you need a little space to think and get things done.’
Or, ‘Can I bring you guys dinner tomorrow?’
Or, ‘I’m here. Whatever. Whenever. Wherever.’
Or, ‘Look, you don’t even need to respond, but I heard this was going on, I don’t know what to say other than you’re incredibly strong and loved more than you even know.’
We had a few (I can count them on one hand) neighbors and friends who did that. I’ll never be able to articulate a proper thank you to those people who just seemed to know what I needed on a particular day or time. Even if I never responded to their outreach.
As I sit in the quiet of the beginning of my new life – in transition between where I’ve been and where I’m going – I noticed the other night that I’m finally able to exhale. It sounds strange but for me, that’s progress.
During one of THREE mandatory parenting classes we attended during the divorce process, the instructor told us all to go home and find a box. She told us to fill that box with our anger, resentment, bad memories and any other negative thoughts or feelings about the person we were divorcing.
“Now I want you to find the most beautiful ribbon you’ve ever seen and tie up that box into the most gorgeous bow you’ve ever tied,” she continued, her voice growing soft. “And then, I want you to give that box back to the person you were married to. Give them back everything you’ve been holding onto for so long. Because you don’t need it. And if you’re ever going to move forward, you have to let all of that go.”
I felt my face grow hot as tears filled my eyes and ultimately spilled down my cheeks. That was the moment I realized I needed one Big. Ass. Box. And here’s the thing – filling it up is still a work in progress. Some days I throw in a bunch of shit just to drag it all out again. I never imagined how difficult it would be to truly let go of the negativity.
But I know l’ll get there. I’ll make peace with the past and be open to a future of happiness for my kids, myself and yes – the father of my children. They deserve it. I deserve it. And we’re all going to be OK.
I'm a mom to 3 beautiful, spirited, tiny humans, I'm addicted to running + strength training, I have no filter & I work full time in the corporate world. But behind the scenes of all that is where it really gets interesting...