Shortly after the brief conversation of divorce things didn’t seem all that different. We discussed the logistics of selling the house and getting a lawyer. We decided to split the house with the kids so that their worlds weren’t changed too drastically. He (the X, as I will refer to him going forward) would move in with his mom for the immediate future and I would stay in our house with the children. Every other weekend he would come back to the house to stay and I would find a friend to stay with for two nights. I didn’t mind this arrangement since I could use as many girls nights and as many cocktails as I could stand those first few weeks. I am lucky to have so many supportive women in my life that were more than welcoming and wanted to hear my story.
One particular evening X came by the house to pick up a few things. I had nagged him for weeks to get off the couch and finally move his stuff over to his mom’s house. Now that he was there, he visited often. We were having dinner like any other night which I didn’t mind and was certainly happy for the kids’ sake. It was comforting at first to ease into the new changes versus the pain of ripping off the band-aid. That was, until the jokes started.
X always thought it was hilarious to make jokes at my expense. This was a method of flirting when we first got together which I actually found amusing. I love a good banter and I grew up with three older brothers so I could take it. It eventually started to get old when he would start in on me in front of others at times when it wasn’t warranted. Eventually it stopped being funny at all. Now he was in the habit of doing it in front of the kids. As I am cleaning up the dinner I cooked for my children to which he helped himself, he started in with the jokes again. That’s when the light changed in me. We were no longer going to play happy little family anymore. I told him it was hardly okay when we were together, but it is certainly not okay now. I wanted him out of the house and out of my life.
In the weeks following, work started picking up. I was just warming up to my new role and the work was flooding in. This is usually how my life goes so naturally it was the perfect time to put our house on the market. I am fortunate enough to work from home full time so I would grab boxes and pack a few things here and there in between the dings from my inbox. If I didn’t have to be working through the night, I was painting, packing, or cleaning everything in sight. The X was almost no help at all so I did the bulk of it on my own. I would get random visits in the middle of the day from X to talk about literally anything. We were still buddies at this point and he likes to make small talk – something I have never been fond of. He would make empty promises to help clear things out of the garage but drop subtle hints that he wouldn’t be around and try to spin himself in a lie. Anyone with eyes and ears could tell he was dating someone. I had a feeling who it was but I didn’t want to be right.
Within a few weeks I was closing on the house, finalizing the agreement for the divorce, and starting a new life. The first stop after the house was sold was to my parents’ house. They were welcoming us with open arms as we started this new chapter. They live about 40 miles further north from the city and it was going to be a large change. The X and I talked about moving out there eventually anyway. So now I was going ahead with my plan, just without him. I thought I would spend a couple months with my parents to let the kids have some familiarity around them and then I would look for our new “rainbow” house as the kids call it. I promised them they could paint their rooms any color they wanted once we get our new home. This was the easiest way I could get them excited about changing their whole world.
It was the fastest summer of my life. In March, I was unhappily married going about life. By August I was divorced, living in the north suburbs, with my parents!, browsing countless Tinder profiles. It was hard work, but it was alarmingly easy. This is where the hard part starts. We are now in present day, October 2017.
Although my calendar is still always full with wedding events, pumpkin patches, wine nights and family parties, the tasks have been checked off, I have my old last name back and now I have to actually process what all just happened. How did I get here and how do I make sure this never happens again? How do I keep my girls from being negatively affected by all of this? They are already lashing out at times and getting mad at Mommy for not being there every other weekend. How do I reel that in and protect them? How do I show my father that I will be okay? He is battling cancer and losing, yet he worries about me.
There are so many unanswered questions at this point and I feel as though I need to do some serious internalizing. I have always thought of myself as tough as nails and resilient. I have been through hard times before and always powered through. I don’t like to complain much and am more comfortable being there for others than recognizing my own hardships. This is the first time that I have surrendered my strong exterior and admitted that life really really sucks right now. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe I need to admit that potentially losing the two most important men in my life within the same year is too much to handle. I can’t keep it together all the time. Enough is enough. I am going to allow myself to cry over this without apologizing for it. I am going to slow down, even if it is just for a minute to process it all. And when I do that, I know that I will come back stronger than ever.