Digging Deep: 40 Words

empty

When you unpack a marriage, untangle and unwind all the bits you’ve woven over ten years, you’re bound to hit a snag.  A year ago, as I was packing up the house, selling off the baggage of my old life, and sifting through the physical manifestation the relationship, I had no idea how much lighter I would feel a year later.

Things here have been good for the most part, settled, at least, in this beautiful place we are now privileged to call home.  But I found that the more I dug in to this writing exercise, looking for moments to share and distill, the more it hurt.  There were layers I had pushed back far far away, while living in survival mode.  It’s amazing how a simple writing practice can get at those pain points.  The one thing I’ve learned this year, has been to listen to those feelings, and so, a week in, I realized I just wasn’t ready to go on writing.  I needed to sit quietly, for just a little longer, before I took the feelings on.

As Alice Hoffman said in the opening to the original article that inspired all of this, “Our lives often appear to be moving in one direction, and then, quite suddenly, a door opens and everything changes. A possibility arises, we daydream, we take a chance, we allow ourselves to feel joy. What’s on the other side of the open door becomes the moment that defines us and charts a new path. It could be almost anything. Suddenly we stop and make a turn. We imagine something completely different for ourselves. Something we never expected.”

So friend, if you are walking that same path I am, or rebuilding a life when you least expected it, I have this wish for you: I hope you can let go enough to let yourself feel joy.  And I hope you are kind to yourself, for through that kindness you will find all the strength you need.  It’s right there, inside you.

 

succulent divorce mourning

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Separation Chronicles: Moving with Kids

The day we told our kids we were moving into two houses, my oldest had just one question: is it going to be fun? Of course, the answer had to be yes! But moving can be stressful even when your whole world isn’t changing. And moving into two houses can also feel like a loss. So how do you keep it fun?

Here are my tips for surviving with your sanity intact:

This one is for you, and is the most important: you will stay sane if and only if you take care of yourself. Need help in the self care department? yes, you do. You are not made of rock and sorting through the physical artifacts of your marriage sucks. It will be hard. Get a moving buddy! I cannot stress enough how important this is. I was lucky (incredibly, amazingly lucky) to have my brother to help me with both our yard sale and with packing. Your moving buddy can help by telling you that no, you don’t need to keep that incredibly charged item, and by making sure you eat and nourish yourself during the pack. You will need this. It will save you.
my buddy

Now what about the kids? Here are some things that worked for me:

1. Make the kids feel involved: set aside time in your pack and prep schedule to have them pack up some of their things, choose some things to donate or sell. These activities will take longer than when you do it yourself, but will help them understand and cope with the move.
Boxing day
2. While packing, keep a kid-safe space free from chaos in your home, where they can rest and play.
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3. Label everything! write on the outside of the boxes, not just “toys” or “books” but be specific: then when you want to find the legos and magnatiles in a sea of cardboard, they’ll be easy to find.

4. At your new home, first things first, set up the kid’s sleeping and play space so they have things to do while you get your place sorted. (Here I’ve put up some temporary shelves with a few toys and books. They have a place to sit and play away from the chaos in the rest of the house.)
playroom shell
5. Embrace chaos! your house will be messy during this transition. Accept it and move on. Let them explore the new place and make it their own!
spaceship down
6. When all else fails, take a break! Find a place to refresh and recharge.
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And keep this with you: soon all this chaos will end. This is temporary madness. On the other side, you will have a space of your own! As I sit here, only a month after moving into my own, I feel such an incredible sense of space and peace, that five weeks ago I could barely imagine. That will soon be yours.

Making Space

Much can be said for the need for self care during the process of separation. My quiet place is mostly about visuals. I have little control over my present surroundings, and so I count the days (forty-seven to go!), and pin, and pine, and plan my new space: light, uncluttered, and full of love and laughter.

Here is some of my inspiration:

bedroom

kitchen via an-magritt
sources: 1. 2.

This Is Not What It Seems

Circus

The children in this picture are unaware.  They are filled with promise.  It’s an early spring evening, one of the first warm ones of the year.  The air is sweet with the scent of newly opened buds.  We are at the playground just a little longer than we should be as evening draws near.  They are full of joy, and laughter, and openness.

What they are unaware of, is that in eight short weeks, their life will change forever.  They will leave the small, cozy apartment they’ve lived in for the past three years, and board a plane headed several states over, and when they land, it will be into a very different world: a world where they have two separate families.

Six months earlier, during one of those conversations husbands and wives have, I asked their father what kind of a life he wanted for himself, and for us, as a family.  His answer sent shockwaves: “I don’t know, but I don’t want it to be with you.”  It hung there in the air, the fault lines immediately forming.

I can’t say I was completely surprised.  For a long time, something felt wrong, and I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  But I always assumed, whatever it was, we would face it and fight it together.  That night, I began to realize that what I was trying to hold on to was not there.

What followed was quite surprising: there was, of course, hurt, rejection, and anger.  But we still had something together: a strong commitment to the lives of two young boys.  Somehow, through all the strong feelings, I decided to focus forward, on creating the life I wanted for me and the boys.  And most surprising of all, to put aside strong feelings temporarily, and with the help of a very kind therapist, continue to live with the man who wanted to leave me. To continue to share a home with him for seven months.

To say it’s been an easy journey would be false.  Its taken levels of restraint and acceptance I never knew I was capable of.  An incredibly supportive and discreet small group of family and friends created the backbone without which this would not have been possible.  But as spring fully takes hold in these parts, with five months behind me, and two short ones to follow, optimism is starting to occupy more and more space.

This journal has been an intermittent place for me to chronicle my creative and family life.  I’ve always tried to keep it positive (perhaps that is why there are so few posts-it’s hard to positively chronicle unease.)  But I’m going to allow myself to chronicle this new journey here.  There have been many folks online whose inspiring lives and stories have been a comfort for me in this time, and maybe this story will someday bring comfort to someone else.

There are fifty-seven days left in this leg of the journey. On the other end of those fifty-seven days is a horizon filled with what I hope is endless possibility.  There is a community that has already been so surprisingly welcoming, open, and supportive, that their love buoys me on those dark days that do still come.

And there are two boys, filled with joy, and open hearts.

Horizon