Really, everything that’s going on right now is pretty.. formulaic. Coffee and I are working on our separation agreement (the legal one as opposed to the verbal one) and, individually, working on how to separate our lives and create our own, independently.
The hard part is that I’ve spent 20-ish years asking his advice on everything. Not in a terrible way – not asking for permission or whatever – but in the way you ask someone who’s known you forever to help you steer your thoughts. Like, you know me really well, so if I do this thing will I be happy with myself? And now I have some huge choices ahead of me and my life consultant has other priorities in the big picture. So, this is hard. He has been very graceful in making time and space to help me figure some stuff out.
I had posted on facebook that everything was amicable – and it’s true. The only point where we disagree is the big one – he wants this divorce and I don’t. I asked him if he was absolutely sure this is what he wants, whether there was something I could do to change that, and he said he was sure this marriage is over. Ultimately, he knows himself better than I do – if being married to me no longer makes him happy in the way he wants to be happy, there is no point in arguing. It wouldn’t be fair to him. We agreed to end things as intentionally and gently as possible.
I know the whole “we’re going to stay friends!” thing is a cliche. I know that it’s a thing to cling to in a moment when things are falling apart and there is loss on the horizon. And I don’t know if it’s possible to be friends, honestly, when there’s history (good and bad) but, for the moment, we both plan to try our best. He has been my human for 20 years. My best friend. My partner. My family. He has seen me at my objectively worst and best, ugliest and prettiest, nicest and awful-est.
Anyway, what I’m pondering this morning is about living an independent life.
Being with someone else means, at times, compromise. It means being a part of someone else’s routines and choices and decisions. Some of those have been really good – like drinking coffee in bed together every morning, talking about things (“the podcast”) and starting the day off feeling connected. Some have been through default or circumstances. Some haven’t been great at all.
I am now starting to try to create my own habits and routines and rituals – but my touch points and anchors are missing. Getting ready for sleep at night seems to be taking me three times longer than before and I keep finding myself wandering off to do something else, absentmindedly breaking my patterns and then climbing in bed to wonder why the curtains are still open. Did I brush my teeth? Quadruple-check the alarm. Why is that light still on?
There’s no morning coffee in bed (but, for now, Coffee is prepping the caffeine for the morning so I can just show up and pour a mug). I’m trying to figure out what my brain wants to do with this space in my day. This morning I got out of bed, started some laundry, grabbed some coffee, and now I’m at my computer writing. This feels nice but awkward. I’ll try to stick with it for a bit and see how it evolves. Writing, I mean. I’m out of practice.
The funny thing about divorce is that, with so many people having done it (including me, once before), there’s a lot of advice and opinions and perspectives. People who got fucked over in the process of ending a relationship say certain things. People who are still friends with their exes say other things. Some of the best advice came from a coworker whose husband died. People tell me to rearrange all the furniture, create my own space, shake things up. Other people tell me to keep everything the same, as much as possible, and slowly push those routines into other things. One friend, whose wife died suddenly, sent me an unexpected message on fb to tell me that while our situations are different, the grief is similar and, having been through grief, I should just let it flow for a while.
I don’t know what I’m doing – a combination, I think. Trying not to make big decisions while realizing that I will, at various points, have no choice.
(I mean, for fuck’s sake, it hasn’t even been a week since I learned I was going to be single.)
I am looking forward to making this space my own.
I am terrified that I will be broke and lose the house.
I am excited about painting a few rooms.
I am terrified that the furnace will explode and that there are unexpected termites in the attic and I will have to sell both of my kidneys to fix that.
I am wondering if I will sleep on the couch sometimes.
I am scared that I will live out my final years eating No Name Brand cat food.
I have a lot of friends and acquaintances – I have friends, online, that I’ve known for 20+ years. But I don’t have a lot of close friends. I am not particularly outgoing, I have social anxiety and it takes me forever to get comfortable around people. And I have grown accustomed to being able to just “nope” out of things and not find myself lonely. Socializing exhausts me for so many reasons. I panic when I feel obligated. I panic when I don’t know what’s expected of me. I always feel like I’m fucking it up – I forget the important date, I talk about myself too much, I didn’t know I was supposed to bring something with me, what are the fucking rules of engagement? Can I get a little laminated card?
The funny thing is that just before COVID hit, I had been talking to Coffee about how I wanted to be more social. I wanted to hang out with people and do things. I wanted to meet new people, maybe. Dip my toes in the water of humanity.
(And I did – a little bit. Mustang stuff, mostly. Meet ups. Cruises.)
But sitting here, alone in my home office, I feel very much the absence of a community at what may be one of the worst times to possibly need other humans. I am terrible at asking for help (and, right now, I don’t even know what help I might need). I am terrible at reaching out for support. I’ve been amazed by the messages pouring in, the people who’ve popped up for a quick “hey, I hope you’re okay” (in words or otherwise). My single friends have just popped up to tell me that I can handle this, on my own, and that it will just take some time to figure things out. It is all a bit overwhelming and I am wildly grateful for it.
I was talking to a friend last night about some of this. He reminded me that it’s hard for everyone to ask for help but that people like to help. I know this. He started listing off the ways he can help me – big things, small things. But who will I call at 3 am when the roof caves in, I asked. What will I do when I hear a weird noise? Who will I sing the washing machine cycle-ending song with? Where will all the ‘inside jokes’ go?
And then I remember to take deep breaths. Change sucks. But.. just because things won’t be the same, doesn’t mean it’s going to be bad.