Displaying items by tag: divorce

“Pre-Trip: Jacksonville”

I’ve always believed Christmas is a time to travel towards friends or family. It’s a time to surround yourself with loved ones next to blazing fires, sipping hot chocolate, while A Christmas Story plays on the television. It harkens delicious smells of roast turkeys and casseroles and the sweet aromas of pies for dessert. Just thinking of those things brings them to the center of your pre-frontal cortex, striking feelings of joy and excitement that race down to your core.

This is the picture so many of us have, myself included. I reflect back to the first Christmases after my mother died. They were ironically the most vivid. It seemed the adults wanted to make sure my siblings and I got everything we wanted, and so treated us like pampered royalty. Tons of boxes and bags in garish Christmas wrapping concealed the floor under the ornate trees at our house, Nan and Pap’s house, and Gram and Pappy’s place.

A massive turkey waited to be carved and served, while smaller dishes lined up in prostration around its succulent form. My whole family sat with expectant faces, taste buds ready to dig into the feast sprawled out before them.

Years later, by the time I got married, my own family’s traditions were slowly fading. My grandparents had passed on. My aunts were getting too old to host meals like they used to. But my husband’s family was bigger, younger, and still did all the Christmas traditions, so I was lucky enough to enjoy a few more years of the iconic Christmases.

That is until December of 2020, the year everyone’s Christmas changed, and mine even more so because it was the year my husband told me he was leaving me.

The pandemic was an unexpected monkey wrench in the world’s plans. Death, destruction, and the unknown hovered over everyone. In the midst of holiday pandemic plans, the fear, the loss, and the desperate hope for a better four years politically, I had lost everything in a different way.

I know loss of any kind is devasting. Loss of a parent or loved one. Loss of a friend or beloved animal. Loss of a marriage to the person you thought would be your partner forever. All loss resonates with us in similar ways. We feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. Our minds do not seem to function in the same way. Our bodies become tense and unfamiliar. We either cannot eat at all for the lump in our stomach, or suddenly depend on eating as a way to cope. My head knows all this and should have been prepared. But can we ever be completely prepared for the emotions and feelings associated with what is our loss, our life?

Months of pain, confusion, anger, blame, guilt, and tears brought me to my first Christmas holiday post-pandemic and post-divorce, alone and wondering who I was and who I was becoming.

I knew I could go home to the safety and security of my dad, my aunt, my sister, and brother. But there wasn’t much else. We would not have a typical Christmas celebration. There wasn’t a need for it anymore. We had no grandparents from the old generations and no children for the new. I would be going back for a visit, not a holiday gathering.

My ex-husband’s family was out of the question. Not one single person reached out to wish me a happy birthday in October let alone invite me to their Christmas meal. If my ex and his new partner were there, it would not have been a possibility anyway.

This realization led me to consider what I wanted to do for Christmas. Did I want to stay in a city in which I lived for almost 10 years, triggered by memories of my ex, or did I want to leave the bitter-sweetness of my adoptive home and explore uncharted territory? I chose the latter. I chose North Carolina.

The reasons were simple: North Carolina had both of my favorite things: mountains and beaches. The state was also conveniently half way between my home state of Pennsylvania and my current home, Florida. I considered living there, hoping for a magic message when I arrived, nudging me in the direction of this fresh start. I planned on spending two weeks exploring the areas of Asheville, Maggie Valley, Charlotte, and Oak Island.

Published in Travel
Monday, 27 September 2021 16:08

One Night, New Perspective

One night, I had an anxiety attack. I was in my apartment, with just my cat, Jinx. I had just indulged in one too many glasses of wine and a depressing amount of ice cream, trying to stuff down my sadness and quell my racing mind. I thought of reaching out to someone, a friend or my sister, but it was too late. I was inconsolable. I wailed and cried, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose. My shallow breaths caused me to panic even more. I heaved and wailed with my arms wrapped around my shaking shoulders, and tears stained the floor and soaked two dozen tissues. I couldn’t save myself from drowning in my own tears.

I kept chanting over and over, “Please come back to me, please come back. I promise to love you better. I promise I’ll love you right. Please just come back to me.” At that moment, there was nothing else in the world I wanted more than my husband to be in my arms.

After a few minutes of this, I had a sudden and uncontrollable urge to look at his picture. I hadn’t wanted to go back there since the day he asked for the divorce. It was too painful to see what we used to be. But for some reason, I wanted to see him on this night. I rummaged through my closet until I found what I was looking for: a mound of pictures of us in a Walmart photo envelope His was the first face I saw when I opened the pack. They were mostly on our wedding day, and again, I crumpled into tears, clutching the pictures close to my heart, promising I would love him better if he would come back to me.

Published in Relationships
Monday, 27 September 2021 15:46

Reasons and Lessons

Do things happen for a reason, or do things happen and we find reasons for them? That question has been on my mind lately. I always thought the former was true, but now, I wonder if it’s not the latter. There are so many things that happen in life that have no logical explanation. Losing my mother at age six is an example. That single incident changed the trajectory of every aspect of my life and many other lives.

I asked why all of my life, but never really got a clear answer. I began speculating on reasons for such a tragic loss. To make me stronger, wiser, more appreciative of how fragile life is? To never take life for granted? To challenge me in some way? My mother’s death could not have been for nothing, could it? It couldn’t have been some cruel joke played by a God who claims love over revenge, or a horrible random occurrence set in motion by the universe. There has to be a reason somewhere.

Published in Personal Development
Monday, 27 September 2021 15:28

Brain Dump

I was lying on the floor, curled in a ball, crying another ocean. It was the third time that day I found myself in that position. Constant memories attacked me like BB pellets I couldn’t escape. The tears threatened to drown me.

The memories were of my former life, the one when I was married, had a house, a dog, a loving and caring husband. In those moments of uncontrollable sobs, I missed him terribly.

I thought about reaching out to my sister or my counselor, anyone to get the inundation of feelings out of me. I considered screaming and punching something, but since I work from home and my apartment is fairly small, I thought better of that. Then I thought of the one thing that I have always had throughout my life when I’m going through something that crushes me: writing.

Published in Personal Development

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