In the early days, when I was still flooded with anxiety and feeling like my life was a giant pit of quicksand that kept pulling me down, there was a lady who said something profound to me. I was in line for my daughter’s dance show, stressed to the max due to PC’s inability to be on time, to be there for his kids, to be a human being. I was near tears at my son’s worry that his dad wasn’t going to pick him up at the venue, because he had already failed to pick him up at home. I felt a heaviness for my little girl, because while she was sad that “Dad isn’t going to be able to come”, I was sad because the truth was, Dad was choosing not to come. And he was likely hurting her to hurt me.
In line behind me, a lady watched all of this unfold. When PC texted me to “send him out” (because he didn’t even have the stones to walk in and get his son, and I was still too mentally mushed to respond appropriately) I asked her if she would hold my place in the all-sacred line, the line in which people arrive over an hour early to make sure they get a good spot. She said of course. When I returned, my daughter had just been led away by a friend to the backstage, and there I stood amongst families and happy siblings and dads holding bouquets of flowers for little girls and everyone rolling their eyes at the ridiculous cuteness and I just could not stop my eyes from welling up. I didn’t even want to talk to any of the people I knew, because at that point either people didn’t know my situation, and said insane things like “Hey, what’s new?” that I had no idea how to answer. Or they did know and I was afraid one simple “How ARE you?” would send me over the edge.
The lady, who’s name I never found out and who I’ve never seen since, caught my eye and smiled. It won’t be like this forever, she said. I nodded, blinking back hot tears, and attempted to ask her what she meant or how she knew but she just did. The same way I know I will see a newly divorced mom with a broken heart one day and I will just know.
She went on, in the calmest voice, to tell me that yes, she knew. She’d been there. She acknowledged that its awful, awful. That no one realizes it unless they’ve been there. She assured me that I would be better off. She assured me that my kids would be okay. She promised that she was better off and her kids were just fine. And then she said it again, “Picture it as a big wave. You can fight, fight, fight, but its going to knock you over. Or you can dive under and swim, go with it. That’s what you have to do. It won’t be forever.”
The line began to move, I went forward with a sense of understanding that for whatever reason, this lady was the one in line behind me. Despite living in a small town, I never found out who she was, and I’ve never seen her since. As I’ve noticed along this journey, the right people seem to be near me at the right times. Her words – it was not the first time I’d been told them, and would/will not be the last. But that was what I needed to hear then.
This won’t be forever. Everyone from my friends, to my lawyer, to my therapist assures me of this. I cannot say that I’m done swimming under that wave, probably not for a while. But I’m swimming strongly. And in some ways, the worst part is over. The shock and anger and complete sense of an overwhelming lack of control…it has all subsided. Or rather, I’ve just learned to live with all of this. Instead of constant thoughts of I don’t understand, why is this happening, what did I do to deserve this it’s more of a letting go. I can’t simply release PC into a toxic wasteland, never to be seen again, but some of it? Some of it I can let go because if I don’t, I surely will sink.
I let go of my hatred towards Trollup. It was purely a mental exercise and I can’t say that the first time I see them together I won’t revive it for old times’ sake…but I did let it go. I let go of my nostalgia for PC and I…and although it creeps in here and there its quite easily dispelled every time he pulls another asshole, narcissitic stunt. The problem is, when he’s quiet (as he has been for a few weeks) I tend to easily forget the bad and feel a sense of profound sadness for the loss of the good. I dream of things that never really existed. I miss the person I thought he was, even if I was deluded.
I’ve let go of my attachment to many things in the former life and in doing so, I’ve realized, the important things are the same. My family, friends, kids. One of the biggest things that has torn at me for the past 7 months is having to lose my home – either to sell it to a stranger who won’t understand how special it is – or to move out and let PC and Trollup come live in MY home. To have my children coming “home” where another woman lives and one of them has to give up their bedroom for Trollup’s kid. The thought made me sick.
And then a funny thing happened. I bought a house. A house with a history and gorgeous bones and a perfect yard and location and the need for a shit ton of work to make it livable. Every day since then, me and my arsenal of people have been working like dogs to get this house ready. Demolition, stripping wallpaper, ripping out carpet, painting, installing things, cutting down bushes, cleaning gutters, shampooing carpets.
My routine, during which much downtime existed to focus on the travesty of my life, has shifted. I wake at 5a.m. I do my stuff at this house—banking, cooking, packing—and then I take the kids to school and head to the new house. We work, usually all day. After school I cart the kids to wherever they have to be, we may or may not eat a respectable dinner, and I’m usually in bed, completely exhausted, by 9pm. I have bruises, broken toes, aching muscles and a crazy sense of vertigo from painting trim on high ceilings.
But. The house is slowly but surely unfolding. Rooms are done, rooms are in progress. More and more things are over there. Cooking is possible and we’ve slept there, campout style, on trundle beds. The dogs are there with us during the day now. I generally do not return to “this” house – which I once found so beloved that I shed tears over the thought of leaving it – until bedtime. I find myself feeling light and happy at the new house. Everyone who comes there loves it – despite the holes in the wall, the 1950’s kitchen, the brown flowered wallpaper, the world’s smallest powder room…everyone loves it.
Last night I took my kids and a friend to the park. We walked down the street and there we were. Baseball playoffs were in full swing and the place was packed. The girls ran off with friends and my son joined a pack of kids playing some form of Marco Polo on the playground. I saw multiple friends. My sweet but nutty dog was in heaven with all of the kids petting him and the random lady who let him have her last French fry. Never in my previous life, would I have spent a Friday night at the park with no agenda.
After, we walked home. Another friend came over. The little girl I was watching’s mom returned. We stood on my porch and drank a beer while the kids ran amok in the house. We chatted until the streetlights started coming on, and then we all gathered up our offspring and headed home. It was just such an easy, simple, unplanned night. And I loved it. And in my previous PC life, never would he have been okay with just chilling on a Friday night and maybe some friends would pop in but maybe not and either was okay. And if they did pop in, maybe we’d just hang out for a bit. No agenda. Not a wild “party”.
Life this way is so easy. And yes in 3 days I have to go back to court to fight for more money. And I need to let PC know about the summer camp I signed the kids up for and he will likely fight about it. I want to ask him if I can have our daughter back on his weekend so I can be the one to get her ready for her dance recital…and I know he will likely refuse. And I will watch her dance on the stage for the last time in a bun that another woman twisted into her hair. .
But. I will just keep swimming. The new house is like a huge giant bubble of breathable air, a place that PC cannot taint, a place with neighbors and baseball and live music down the street. A place where a newborn fawn was deposited into my overgrown yard and 2 blue jays have a nest outside my bedroom window. A place that was home before it was even mine.