It Takes a Village to Survive Divorce

The kids and I moved last weekend. Halfway, anyway. Our mattresses are here, the couch, the dining table, 99% of the kitchen items. The bunk bed in Miles and Grant’s bedroom has not been put together and won’t be assembled until I can sweet talk a girlfriend or brother into coming over to help me. Isla’s bed frame turned out to be broken (bed jumping injury from the old house) so I’m going to have to beg a brother to come over and fix it for me.

There’s nothing pleasant about a divorce, but in my case I’m putting up with the trauma, delays, financial pitfalls and hassles knowing that having it finalized will mean much less stress and anxiety and negativity in my life than during my marriage. But without my friends and family, I’m not sure I’d be doing as well as I (think I) am.

My friends, my sister, my aunt, my uncle and his wife – they’ve all listened to me as I struggled with the decision, made the decision and moved on with the decision to file for divorce from my husband of 10 years. When Zachary called the police on me because he believed I was in violation of our custody agreement by moving back into our house temporarily after I realized the roommate I was renting space from was crazy (I was not arrested; I had a letter from my lawyer ready to show the police officer stating I had a legal right to be in the house), a friend and her husband offered their home to me so I could have a safe place to stay when I was not with the kids. Even though they have two children of their own and busy lives, they were generous enough to let me have a room to myself for six weeks (two more than we’d initially agreed upon) and didn’t charge me a cent in rent. Another friend with an unfinished basement let me store some of the belongings I’d had in my car the night of the police debacle in her home. In addition to the sympathetic ears of married or single friends or family members, I have friends who’ve gone through divorces of their own who give me advice and show me that life will go on after this is all over.

There have been too many acts of kindness to list here, and if I try I will forget someone and feel bad. Like Hilary Swank or Sandra Bullock at the Oscars.

My dad and brothers helped me move heavy furniture up two flights of stairs into the new townhouse I rented. I should add that my dad, who is about to be 64, has moved me about 1,342 times in my life. To college 300 miles away and back home, to apartments, to and from another state, and now this. As he finished putting the dining table together in my new place, the dining table that once belonged to him and my mom, I thanked him for helping me and said that if I ever had to move again I’d hire movers. “Yeah,” he said, his eyebrows raised. But even though he was exasperated, he still helped me. That’s a good dad.

There’s nothing pleasant about a divorce, but the support I’ve received has made it more bearable. My new home is much, much smaller than the old one and we have no yard. I’m worried about how I will afford everything I need to afford. I don’t know for sure when the rest of my furniture and boxes will make it here. I don’t know who I’ll get to help me assemble and fix the beds because even though I know my friends will help me I’m afraid to keep asking, to keep needing their assistance and so I hesitate when a need arises and first try to figure out if I can do it on my own. Maybe Miles is big enough to hold the pieces of the bunk bed. If I buy a drill, maybe I can figure out how to fix Isla’s bed.

I don’t wish a divorce on anyone, so I can’t say that I hope I can return the favor one day. But I can find ways to pay the kindness forward until the days my friends may need me for something. I offer profuse thanks and am trying to be more gracious in accepting help. Like compliments, I’m sometimes too quick to brush off offers because my independent streak wishes I didn’t need help.

Thank you, dear friends and dear family – the listeners and the entertainers and the supporters and the reality-checkers and all.

In Limbo

I am not a fan of ambiguity. I like decisions and plans and paths and so to have things in some undefined, neither here nor there space makes me unsettled. “I don’t know,” may be my least favorite phrase in the world.

My life is currently undefined. I’m neither divorced nor married, just waiting in a place between the two. I have no static home because I go back and forth between the house where the kids are and the room I rent 30 miles away, closer to my work. I have a job working for myself but the income is not consistent so instead of feeling fully employed I feel half employed. Under employed. Applications and resumes submitted go unanswered.

Beginning next summer, when the school year ends, the kids will have to go between two houses and I’m starting to understand how trying this will be for them. When I leave the house to go to my townhouse for my days away, I have to carry all the things I need for work and all the clothes I think I’ll wear and all the documents I might need to access and chargers and laptops and makeup and shoes and two coats and I feel more like I live in my car than anywhere else. How will this be for the kids, then, when they have to go from Zachary’s home to my home and they forget something at one place but need it at the other? How will we keep track of homework and permission slips? What if they want to play with a friend from one neighborhood when they’re spending the night at the other? Will they wake up wanting to wear a certain shirt and realize it’s at Dad’s house?

Soon my life will take more definition. The divorce will be final and I will have a new, loaded label. I will find a job. I will have my own space where the kids and I can shape a new home. But right now I feel like I’m floating in space and flailing my arms and there’s nothing to ground me so I just bounce around with no ability to control my direction. I need some direction. Direct me.
Written to participate in Just Write.

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