Getting Married Again?

A friend recently asked me if I think I’ll ever get married again. At the time, I hadn’t given it serious thought, so I told him I didn’t know and continued to avoid thinking about it. I’ve had plenty of other things to occupy my mind, like completing my move out of my house in Wisconsin. Jeff and I made lots of memories together in that house during our nearly 10-year marriage, and I dreaded facing those memories this past weekend. However, the memories that most affected me while I packed were from long before I met Jeff. And while facing those memories, I found my true answer to my friend’s question.

My maternal grandmother’s name was Dolly, and she was magical. She was also very well known as one hell of a cook, and she used her culinary talents to bring people together, especially her own family. With seven adult children spread across the country from Connecticut to California, it wasn’t a given they’d all come home to Ohio to celebrate Christmas. Many of them had young families of their own, and, as in all families, not everyone got along. But grandma exerted a strong pull. Her months of preparation culminated every Christmas Eve at a bountiful table set with her cream and gold wedding china and overflowing with the delectable results of her hours in the kitchen. For the short duration of that meal, all differences disappeared and we came together as a family. Those Christmas Eves are the happiest memories of my childhood.

When Grandma Dolly passed away in 1998, my mom packed her china away. I was in college then, so I had little use for the ornate dishes, but thanks to my mom’s foresight, they eventually made their way to me after I settled in Wisconsin. Most of the time, they were simply tucked away on one of the highest shelves in my kitchen, safely separated from their everyday counterparts. This past weekend, as I carefully wrapped each piece in newspaper or bubble wrap to protect it during my move out of the house, all the magical family memories grandma created when I was a little girl collided with my current reality, and I sobbed as I placed each dish in the cardboard box.

I’m 36 years old. I’m going through a divorce. I don’t have a home of my own. My future couldn’t be more uncertain, but I still believe in the magic of family. I’ve witnessed it from my earliest years, first in my grandmother and now in my mom. They both nurtured in me the ability to create that magic, and I still want the opportunity to put it to use. I still want to fulfill my part as a wife, mother (or stepmother), sister and aunt who trusts in her ability to bring people together as a family.

I won’t be approaching every potential relationship I have with marriage on my mind because that’s just psycho. But, yes, I do hope to get married again, though I’m in no hurry. For starters — and this one is a no-brainer — I need to finish getting divorced. Even more than that, I have to be absolutely certain that the relationship has the right elements to allow me to be fully myself within it, and that it challenges me to grow. And that I do the same for him. Time is the only avenue to figuring these things out, and true magic is worth waiting for.

Present and Future

Hindsight, as they say, is 20/20. With the first month of separation from my husband behind me, I now get to apply hindsight to all that has occurred since I left Wisconsin in August.

One of my greatest regrets from the past 10 years is knowing I hurt my mom greatly when I pulled away from her and retreated into myself. That past pain makes me incredibly grateful that we’ve largely picked up right where we left off. Occasionally I beat myself up for being 36-years old and living with my mom. Then, I remind myself that the arrangement is quite temporary and, therefore, I need to enjoy the time we have together right now in the present.

Since my move, I’ve lost 15 lbs and still counting. I’m doing it without dieting – believe me, when I want french fries, I have them. The difference is that my brain has shifted it’s connection from my spirit to my stomach. Instead of trying to use food to comfort and fill the bottomless pit of an aching spirit, my body now knows when it has had enough. It is as it should be.

So, with my immediate present going well, my mind is turning to the future. Shortly after I arrived in Temperance, I started throwing around thoughts about where I might move to. I’m not doing that anymore. Instead, I’m focusing on two jewelry-related goals: building my portfolio and elevating my artistic professionalism. Both will serve me well, no matter where I end up geographically. The only place I’m ruling out completely for my future home is Wisconsin. Otherwise, I’m trusting the right place to call home will make itself clear to me in time. Letting go of this decision, at least for now, is a wonderfully freeing feeling.

However, there are two giant, glaring impediments preventing me from achieving complete forward momemtum.

I need to finish moving out of the house Jeff and I shared. It’s just stuff, but as long as it remains there, that house will remain my home, at least in part. Even though I don’t know where I’ll plant my roots, I need to finish the uprooting process before I can move forward.

But more than anything else, we need to legally begin our divorce and establish an end date. I do not know what my future holds, but I do know that I want to be free to love and be loved if life gifts me with that opportunity. I also know that as I achieve my two jewelry-related goals, the question of geography will take centerstage again, and I would rather not move until after the divorce is final, especially if I don’t stay in the Midwest.

These two glaring impediments pushed me to make a phone call last night, to Jeff. It was the first time we’ve spoken since I left Wisconsin. The details of Jeff’s situation are different than mine, but the impediments are the same. As much as I want to be able to move forward, I want the same for him. After our conversation last night, I’m hopeful that we will work together to do what we need to do for both of us to find our forward momentum, sooner rather than later.

I’ve always been a silver-lining kind of girl. I will never relish the pain caused by divorce, but I have to believe that good will ultimately be born of it. It’s still too early to know the full extent of the good that is to come, but the first 30 days have included many more peaks than valleys. I’m betting on hindsight revealing that as a continuing trend.

PS: I want to include more humor in my blog posts! There is just a lot of serious stuff happening right now. But I promise more humor in the future! Halloween is apporaching and already showing early indications for a humorous forecast.

I Don’t Even Remember How to Flirt

After dating exclusively for 4 years followed by 10 years of marriage, the entire concept of dating is foreign to me. When I walk into a bar or restaurant, I might as well be Neiletta Armstrong – taking one giant leap for womankind across a distant lunar plane. During dinner last night, our waiter, who introduced himself as Mike, proved to be very interactive, asking questions and participating in playful banter. After leaving with our drink order, I turned to my mom and asked, “Was he flirting? I don’t even remember how to flirt.” She replied, “I’m not sure, but look at it as an opportunity to re-hone your own skills.” Then, of course, I buried my face in my hands and melted onto the table.

The truth is that while my heart grows heavy with dread over the idea of learning how to flirt and date again, it gets light and giddy at the thought of holding hands during a walk in the rain, sharing a first kiss full of eager restraint and resting my head on a shoulder while I revel in the sheer bliss of being wrapped in the arms of a man who treasures me.

And, at 36-years old, I also now fully understand the part of my junior/senior high school sex education classes that baffled me at the time – the lesson about women peaking sexually in their 30s. From age 16 to about 25, I had plenty of hormones cheering me on and they made it hard to believe that my peak was still 10 to 20 years away. Now that all those years have passed, all I can say is, yep, I get it now.

But prime time or not, I don’t plan to hop in the sack at my first opportunity. I only recently embarked on the journey to find myself again, and I have more to accomplish before adding sex to the mix. But I do look forward to that first time, whenever it happens. And the time after that…and the time after that…and then doing it all over again (men of the world, consider yourselves warned).

With Every Ending Comes Something New

After over 14 years of calling Wausau, Wisconsin my home, my time here is drawing to close. I will be moving to Temperance, Michigan next weekend (August 24-25). Except for my cantankerous kitty Miranda, I’m making this move alone. Without Jeff, my husband of nearly 10 years.

I was in Ohio during the first two weeks of July to be with my dad at the end of his life. If you knew him, regardless of whether or not you liked him (and believe me, liking him was something I frequently struggled to do), then you also know Dad relentlessly approached everything – friends, family, work and even having a good time – with passion. I stayed by Dad’s side all night the Sunday before he died. When his girlfriend Teresa took over the vigil on Monday morning, I didn’t make it out of the nursing home’s front door before my sobs started. Then I got to my car and disintegrated. Witnessing the sight, smell and sound of my father navigating the dying process changed me. The initial trauma has subsided, but I can’t undo the experience; I can only figure out how to put the changed pieces back together.

I started with questioning what I’d do if faced with a battle for my own life. Would I fight as hard as my dad did to stay alive? I want to be able to say yes, but the life I was living before my father died lacked the comprehensive passion required to fuel such a fight. I’ve been lacking that critical fuel for at least 3 years. As a result, I’ve withdrawn from the world – and from myself. I’ve stopped calling my family and friends. And I’ve pulled away from Jeff.

Throughout our marriage, Jeff and I have supported each other as husbands and wives do, but somewhere along the way we stopped confiding in each other. We are good friends, but I’m no longer capable of changing the platonic love I feel for him. Jeff is a wonderful man and genuinely good person. I also love his family very much – they have embraced me as a daughter, sister, niece and cousin for 14 years. If I could put myself back together without hurting and disappointing them, I would. There is healing to be done all the way around. I believe Jeff will eventually come to find that he also needs to re-find himself. If I can ask for a favor from all of our friends and family, it is to help him along in that journey. I hope someday he will find a woman who can give him all the love I cannot. He deserves it.

Why Temperance, MI? My mom and her husband Greg live there, and they’re taking me in for at least a few months while Jeff and I work to resolve our marriage as amicably as possible. Although I’m aware of the stigma attached to a 36-year old woman moving in with her parents, I confess that I’m overwhelmingly excited to spend time with my mom. There is no healing balm quite like her. And because I shut myself off from friends and family alike, I have much work to do on repairing those relationships.

I also need to work on my relationship with myself. Recently while messaging an old friend, I was acutely reminded that writing is an essential part of who I am. For me, the need to write is an actual, physical feeling in the pit of my stomach. I’m now experiencing that feeling for the first time in at least 10 years. The journey back to myself will have highs and lows, which is ultimately why I started this blog. I’m not alone in the need to find myself again. I will be capturing my thoughts, feelings and experiences in words. By sharing the results, I hope to transmute the sadness of ending my marriage into a positive that will help others taking steps along the path I’m about to tread.

As I close this chapter of my life and start anew, there are many people I want to thank. I can’t possibly name all of you, but please know that you’ve touched my life and your gift is appreciated: to Jeff and his family for loving me; to Mom for giving me life (over and over and over again); to Greg for treating me like a daughter and sharing your wife, roof and iPass with me; to Ty for being the supportive, loving and protective big brother I need; to Ella for wanting to drive a red mini-van when you grow up; to Krista for bringing people together and being the unicorn while still managing to throw glitter on everything – I will continue to find my shimmy; to CCE, Miriam, Denise and all of the devastatingly intelligent women in the Lusty Lady Literary Society – once a Lusty, always a Lusty; to Laurel, Peg, Lois and Lorrie from the Central Wisconsin Creative Writers Group for possibly reading this blog but never getting to critique it; to Lindy for all the wonderful memories; to DeAnne for being a good friend and knowing it’s all copy; to my boss Melissa for always having my back; to Jared for reminding me, once again (for like the 10,000th time), what the precious present really is; to Loni for being Mary Sunshine; to Matt, Jen, Amy and all of my coworkers at OptumRx for making every day slightly less crazy than it would be without you; to my jewelry clients who remind me to embrace my artistic heart. Because of you, I am saying goodbye and hello with all the joy and sadness needed to fuel a life filled with passion.