Yesterday I found two little pieces of metal in my pocket; my engagement ring and wedding ring which slotted together so neatly had come off the tie that attached them to my keys. Despite being separated there was something comforting about having them there, like a souvenir keyring of a trip I’d been on, although not the safest place for them. Just the day before I had decided I was going to do something about them, release them, and make a positive step forward.
Finding them, however, brought home a new reality as, like my marriage, they were irreparably broken: the stone from my wedding ring (slightly out of alignment for the majority of my marriage – if I was suspicious I might’ve seen that as a sign) had disappeared. Gone. Forever. Now I was left with a gap between two gold brackets, that slotted into a wedding ring designed for the purpose of letting it fit snugly together. Both no longer fitted their intended aim and provided a stark symbol for the end of my marriage.
I had intended to sell them as a pair. It would have paid off some debt to my parents, maybe given a little bump to our savings account. My wedding dress, and a few select pieces of furniture were also good to go. I needed space more than stuff in my life, time where I’m not cleaning and tidying but instead enjoying my kids and prioritising my vision for what life could be next.
The rings were not the only thing to go a little askew: a mostly unused black/white board that was being donated/sold could not be as while cleaning it I discovered that my dad’s not child-friendly doodle from half a year ago may have infact been done in permanent marker and was not coming off. The table that I thought was in my shed waiting for its new home, in place of the sticker-littered one, had in fact been lent to a friend. I also managed to cancel T’s nursery sessions for the week pre-Christmas and utterly forgot about it, although that was at least easily fixed. This few days was still the easiest of the last month.
This is my first lesson for 2019: life can be shit sometimes.
The above is annoying and minor in comparison to my crisis of faith/church, crisis of career, and general feeling of loss of my health/my twenties/freedoms/prospects, etc. Being ill, exhausted emotionally and physically, and then receiving unexpected divorce papers, adding to your busy weekly agenda solicitors consultations, plus parent’s evening, plus the usual keeping children entertained, well-rested, and alive, whilst trying to keep your day job going smoothly in order to pay the bills, is not easy.
Most of that was survivable but extraordinarily painful to walk through. The little annoyances of life bounce off after all that.
There is an intense weight that comes with questioning so much in your life, but friends and family can help bear it. I don’t know what I would’ve done without the smile of my sister, the jokes of a friend, the company of another (who cleaned whilst I got T down for sleep!), kind words of a former colleague, the hug from my mum, the list goes on.
Second lesson: things don’t get better by withdrawing from the world.
People can make things so much easier just by their presence. I’ve never been good at reaching out; it was a long held habit in my marriage to stay silent about struggling to cope, or the sadness I held, or the panic as I saw things falling apart. I’ve never been one to have my heart on my sleeve so to the majority I was fine, coping, and just the normal level of single-parent tired. It was a lie. I needed to call people, to share news, to hear about good things in their lives, to laugh, and cry, and be angry sometimes.
I’m learning that by paying attention to how I’m really feeling, and letting people in, I can start to move forwards. By connecting with people you may not have spoken to in years you can start to remember who you once were. By sharing you allow them to understand, share, and help you feel less alone in this ridiculous world.
Third lesson: strip back the mess and start from the basics.
When you have very clear facts at your disposal, either good or bad, you can’t do anything but make a decision. If someone has made it clear that there is no future with them, you must move on. If the job goes to someone else, you must find another. If the shoe doesn’t fit, there is little point in forcing the thing and will likely cause painful blisters.
So literally and figuratively I stripped things back. I went through my budget and worked out if I could stop tutoring for awhile. I cleared the house of unnecessary items, fabric, craft supplies I was unlikely to use, furniture that was waiting for repair, extras that filled space rather than held real value (functional or beautiful). I took time to just stop, watch rubbish, cook simply, and be with my daughters.
I also went back to the self-care routines I’d tried a year ago. Things slip when you feel low and it is the worse time for that. Ensuring I was actually eating, sleeping, clean, and seeing people should have come naturally but when you’ve been putting your own needs behind you for so long you need to relearn it.
My bucket list is also growing by the day. I would argue that in life unless you do what you love you are not thriving but surviving. I don’t want to just survive. I am a single working mother of two excitable girls and I will not allow them to believe my life ended when my marriage did, or that they can’t hope for dreams to come true.
My rings meant something to me once. But before my wedding ring was formed into that purpose, it had been my Nanna’s ring.
That hurts: that I could’ve twisted something precious into something I don’t want to wear again. However, like life, that also suggests it could be twisted into something beautiful once more. The materials can be used for something new, a new creation out of the old, like me.
Changing direction, changing course, with new decisions, ideas, and plans takes energy but it also gives a richness that I did not have before.
Who would like to come on some adventures with me?
No? OK, I’ll start enjoying myself anyway.