The kids have been gone for three nights. Three little nights; that’s it. It weirdly feels like a long time in ways, and I have a to-do list a mile long, but it’s hard to focus and get it done. Truthfully, I think the lists and the busy tasks are all to keep my mind off the idea of solitude and the quiet house.
I play music all the time. I’m going to the gym every day and staying for an hour or more. My friends have been great about checking up on me, and my usually relaxed social schedule is actually mostly full for the rest of the week. I’m going to a concert with a friend tonight, watching the kids on Thursday during the day as their father needed help with childcare, and then I have plans on both Friday and Saturday night. Which is not normal for me at all. But I don’t even know what normal me is anymore.
Normal me used to be busy with work and kids and then happily on the couch with wine or knitting and Netflix at 8:30 every night. I’ve always been someone who was not scared of solitude, but I can’t explain it. A quiet house just feels so itchy and unnatural right now.
I fell off the train on Parenthood, a show I once adored, and I have picked it back up again thanks to Netlfix. Just two nights ago, I got to that episode where a recently separated Julia has to spend the first night alone in her house without her two kids, and it resonated with me so much. She’s tossing and turning and not sleeping at all and eventually moves to her daughter’s bed. The next morning, she’s up with the sun and going for a run which is pretty much my mode of operation this week as well. Her sister on the show has been a single mom for a decade and tells her it will get easier. Everyone says that, and I know it will. But I’m ready for easier. I am impatient for an easier time to be here already. But I know that’s not how it works.
I’m doing so much better than I was in November when I couldn’t eat or sleep or even talk about my life without anxious tears. As I said before in this space, I am not sorry anymore. I know I have the core to push through this. And I can’t explain it, but I even know somehow that there is something really good down the road waiting for me. I wish I could see it more clearly, wish I knew the time and place and had the foresight to see exactly how things will unfold for me. I don’t, of course. And I can’t see the future. But I have this tiniest space of peace inside me, and it’s covered often by a yearning and a list of worries. But sometimes in the still moments, I can feel it just the littlest bit.
I have a sign hanging on my wall in the kitchen, just next to my coffee maker so that I see it as I begin each day. I found it for cheap the week I moved in this house, and I hung it immediately. It says simply “Joy comes in the morning.” It’s a reference to Psalm 30:5 which says “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” There is an echo of this concept in every major religion. Yin and yang, life and death, pain and rebirth. I know my morning is coming, and that, more importantly, you don’t grow in the easy seasons of your life. It’s the trials that give us substance. I know that transitions are important, and when you skip them and move straight forward to some false kind of happy or distraction immediately, you have a major price to pay years later. I know the internal work is the most important part. I know all of this. But just when I think I am moving forward and making major strides on any internal wreckage, so to speak, I see that the kids have shielded me a bit from the loneliness that people experience after divorce.
And I have so many friends checking on me all the time. (A huge THANK YOU to you guys if you are reading this.) I had lunch with a good friend yesterday followed by book shopping and a sunny stroll. And so many fun plans are lined up for me this summer to fill my time away from the kids. But this is work, y’all. The knowing yourself, the moving forward with real purpose and intention and thought so that the next chapter will be the bright morning light I know it can be. It’s just hard. That’s the simple truth as I’m feeling it now, so I’ll just say it.
I’m listening to lots of good new (to me) music to fill the time and the silence in my house. Redbird has been an obsession lately, and there’s a particular Gospel Whiskey Runners song that has been on repeat a lot. Isn’t it weird how art – whether it’s visual or literary or musical – can echo your own thoughts sometimes? It’s that human moment of “Wait, you feel that, too? I thought I was the only one?” And that’s why I write, friends. You get it out and write it down and see it on a page or screen and know that it’s the human experience. Pain and joy, crying and smiling, death and rebirth, dark and light. It’s all here for us, and at least when you’re in a season that stings, you know the next one is around the corner.
Anyway, here’s a little listen for you if you want. “My bones are tired but they’re still shaking, and my heart is torn but it’s done breaking, and my hope is set on things unseen” Amen and amen and amen.