What Are You Doing Here?
Psst..I have a secret to tell you…I’ve been married once before. Gasp!! Oh the horror 😉 Catch your breath and stay with me…
It strikes me how after a divorce, your exes can have a way of staying in your life and making you feel like you still have a cord connecting your neck to them. They’re physically gone, but you’re left with physical and financial reminders of when the two became one.
When my first marriage dissolved, I was “given” the choice to pay him alimony or be sued in court. I offered a compromise – to pay his student loans because it would cost me less. I’ve been paying his AND mine off through my second marriage and divorce and I’m still paying them off. BOY oh BOY do I resent that monthly payment!!
My second husband left me 6 months after we bought a house together. I had put a lot into it and the market was so bad here that I’d have lost money if I sold it. My business was phasing out at this time, so I basically had no job, no alimony and would have had no place to live. Sweet deal! Thank you, honey!!
So, I worked my a** off to find enough income to pay the bills while I searched for a way to get it refinanced into my own name and lower the payments.
I wanted to have some kind of stability in my life. I felt like I was losing so much, I didn’t want my house to be one more loss. I pulled it off and when I should have been celebrating, I thought, Damn it! No matter what I do this place doesn’t feel like my own. His memory, our shared dreams seem to live in the walls!@!
Cutting the Cords
So, I have a student loan that ties me to one ex-husband and a house that ties me to another. It kind of makes me hesitate to want to get into another serious relationship!
I want to feel like I can really start over free from the cords that bind me to them, to my past life. Right now I still feel like I’m working to pay off debts held in their names while they have had the luxury to escape any responsibility.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about recently is selling my house since the market has improved. I could proverbially “kill” two husbands with one sale ;p Student loan paid off. House gone. Some money in the bank to start over.
Sometimes, I imagine traveling overseas again. Using that certificate to teach English as a Second Language to make an income as I travel along. It sounds so cool to think I could just keep exploring and have some kind of income along the way.
At the same time, I struggle with this feeling that I’m acting like I’m a 20-something gap-year kid vs. the 30-something that I am. I wrestle with this image of a grown-up and I sometimes think that even having these thoughts is an indication that I am not one even though my age says otherwise.
I don’t know if you can relate to this, but often I feel like I’m playing at being grown-up; like a little kid dressing up in work clothes, gym clothes, dating clothes, oh-crap-the-washing-machine-is-leaking clothes, etc., etc. What fun it is to grow up and settle down into a fun-filled life of demands and responsibilities!! Why did we want to play dress-up so badly, again??
It’s Déjà vu All Over Again
It is darn tough to start over and I’m doing it for a second time around, now in my late 30s.
A major life event like a divorce brings everything you thought you knew into question. Where once you were so intertwined and perhaps even defined in part by your spouse, you suddenly feel like you’re on a raft in the middle of an ocean without an oar. Here you are floating aimlessly, scared sh**-less and realizing you’ve got to take some kind of action pretty quickly to survive. And your brain just wants to go over the why’s and how’s of it all. There’s not a part of you that doesn’t undergo an overhaul.
You’re never the same again, but WHO are you now? What do you want? What’s important to you? What’s not that big of a deal anymore? You finally settle things enough to have some order and BAM!! Old dreams come rushing back, new hopes, crazy amounts of fear coupled with an earth-shattering loss of confidence in yourself and major trust issues with others.
So, is it so crazy after all to want to scrap it all and take off?
As I’ve said in other posts, traveling alone teaches you to trust yourself. It is moment to moment. You decide what to do next. How to react. It’s the best kind of therapy I’ve ever known.
You could spend years in a therapist’s office working through trust issues or take an overnight bus through Colombia*, like I did, and get stopped by a road block littered with guys carrying guns and wonder whether they’re army or guerrillas asking you to get out. Trust me. You’ll know how to feel really fast in that moment. And you will trust your instincts.
I’m still working on what to do and what risks I’m comfortable with. How about you? What did you do after going through a major life event? What kind of risks were you willing to take? How did it turn out? Share, share, share 🙂
*(As an aside, please understand this is not intended to be a summary of the beautiful country of Colombia. Definitely visit if you have the chance. It has so many wonderful people, tons of beauty, deep-rooted culture and tantalizing cuisine to offer. Just maybe pay attention to warnings about taking overnight buses and other security measures as you would in any country you’re living in or visiting because there are real risks.)