It has been a crazy couple of weeks over here. I am moving to my new place in 3 days, and I hope to write more on that process soon. There is SO MUCH that I’ve learned about the post-divorce real estate process that doesn’t seem to be written anywhere. Important things that can help women avoid headaches I’ve endured. I hope to write those down here soon – if nothing else so that I don’t forget them. When you’re in the fire and it’s all happening at once, it is intense. Then I think people look back and smooth out those rough edges, and we forget the details.
Truthfully, there are details I hope to forget.
This week, my ex informed me that he’s engaged (via text message, no less), and I didn’t expect it to be such a hard pill to swallow, but it is. My kids. I hate this all so much for them. I don’t know what to say or do when they ask questions. I, frankly, know very little of the situation or the person involved, except that the relationship began before my marriage was over and that it is moving at lightening speed with an engagement already and a shared home my kids will visit twice a month.
This process of relinquishing control of my kids in light of a troubling situation and immense heartbreak is unbelievably hard for me. I felt like the dust was beginning to settle a bit, but now there is new mess to clean yet again. I feel frayed. At loose ends. Open and raw. I hope to dig into some books this summer about kids and divorce and remarriage, but time is so precious right now as I pack a house, do the daily duties of mothering them, and then also manage to carve time for my paid job at what is undoubtedly the busiest time of the semester. I haven’t read much yet on how to ease this transition for them or get them to feel secure in the midst of marriage and cohabitation.
But the big hit came with an email I received on Friday night that I guess was supposed to be some sort of consolation or comfort. An email that explained that she hopes one day I find someone who “completes me.” I can’t fault someone who is ten years younger than me for saying something like that, I suppose (especially someone who has been engaged since she was 21 – minus a 3 months break before her engagement again last week). Age teaches us so many valuable lessons. What is it Maya Angelou says? “When you know better, you do better.” … But her “completeness” comment is still itching, still crawling under the surface of my skin, and I can’t get it out.
When I was married, I never viewed my husband as someone who “completed” me, and who knows… perhaps that is why we didn’t work and he found someone who fills that hole. But to need someone else to fill you up is such a dangerous place to be as a woman. For men and women both, really. But especially as a woman when we receive so many messages about what we should or shouldn’t be, that lone voice inside has to guide you and complete you. People are not half-broken pieces looking for a fix. People are not half-empty vessels who can only be filled through a particular man (and then another particular man, and then another one). Or perhaps some people are, but I refuse to be.
But even though I say this, the comment still stings so much. The announcement of their engagement still stings so much. And here is the ugly part, friends, as I pour the rawness out here like I always do. The ugly part is that I need to ask myself why it stings. Why her comments succeeded in hurting me. Why I began to heal, but now the wounds are raw again. I am the one who can control that hurt and reaction. The words aren’t rolling off. They are sticking and stinging. The message that I am less than she because she has someone whom she feels “completes her,” and I am alone and somehow broken and inferior as a result. That message succeeded in reaching me, and I’ve given it far too much space in my head these past couple days.
I’ve been reading here and there when I can – which honestly is pretty seldom these days. And I’ve flipped a bit through my old copy of Eat, Pray, Love remembering that I read this long before I divorced, but it begins with that rock bottom moment of Liz Gilbert leaving her marriage. Some passages are catching my eye that went by unnoticed before.
The only way to get through is through. Could I find someone to put a band-aid on the wound? Absolutely. It’s not hard. Brokenness typically tends to attract similar brokenness, and two wounded people come together like magnets. But where that would lead frightens me, and more than that, I have been through enough pain with this, and I don’t want it to be wasted. Pain is senseless suffering if you don’t grow from it. The only way through is to keep trudging, keep moving, not cling to someone else’s body or emotions or flattery as a means to escape my own pain. But I’m going to be honest that this is hard. It’s hard to swallow the feeling of being alone when you haven’t been in quite some time.
I’m learning there is a difference between loneliness and solitude. A major one. But sadly, this week I also learned that no matter how comfortable you are with your own solitude, it still stings when people ask you questions, when you see happy couples, when you receive a consolation message from someone who wants to wear her relationship like a badge.
Completing yourself is hard work. But it is THE work. It’s why we are here – to know myself, to feel whole, to fill myself up, to know my purpose and the role of the divine in that purpose. To stand on my own feet and hear my own voice as I guide two little people as best I can to hopefully one day teach them these same lessons. I hope to reach a point one day when that voice inside is loud enough to drown out the others, but I’m not there yet.