Unexpected Emotional Cesspool

Wow, it’s been quite an unanticipated emotional roller coaster since I moved out of my house on January 6. I’ve been sharing bits of my journey on my social media platforms, and my most recent post talked about this and my upcoming cross-country move  a little bit (basically as a reason for why my accounts have gone silent). I said something along the lines of calling this time I’m in my emotional cesspool because it’s been a quagmire of excitement and anxiety, exhilaration and fear, and unexpected mourning and grief.

I realized I have to embrace and really feel all of these emotions, no matter how uncomfortable or exhausting, in order to fully move forward. It’s not fun, but it is necessary. And I also realized that the definition of cesspool – an underground reservoir for liquid waste (such as household sewage) – really fits. I know I’m not alone in this, as one of my SM followers posted a comment that resonated with me on several levels. It was:

“You’ll never know how many women who read your posts are in painful , scary, confusing, and even dangerous situations. None of us has known how we would EVER get through it. But, we do, scars, lessons, strengthening and all. We need each other in those times to see glimpses of another’s courage, hopefulness, and success. So thank you on behalf of all of us who are on our own journeys, for your generosity and courage in sharing yours.”

Wow. It brought tears to my eyes to read this, and reading it again now, I’m tearing up yet again. (This is likely due in part to the fact that being in the place where I am, it doesn’t take much to make me cry. My emotions are like raw, exposed nerves and it doesn’t take much to set them off. But, to be honest, I’m a sensitive and emotional person in general. I cry at sappy movies. Heck, I cry at stupid TV commercials. It gives my kids no end of entertainment to look over at me to see if I’ve teared up over something.)

I started this blog as a way to work through my own sh*t, and for whatever reason it felt like I’d have to work through it more seriously if I was writing it in a public space. But her comment is the other main reason I started this blog – to perhaps show others that we are never alone, or even all that unique, in what life throws at us. That it IS possible to make changes, no matter how scary change may be. For so many years I felt afraid and just stuck, and I felt all alone in this. I only talked to a few close friends about the details of my marriage. I felt like I was stuck. Rationally I *knew* I wasn’t the only one in an unhappy marriage, but I felt very alone.

I was afraid to be on my own, supporting myself, after so many years of not being the primary breadwinner. I was afraid of damaging my kids by splitting up their home. I was afraid my ex would make my life hell – he said he would many years ago, in a fit of anger, when I said I wasn’t happy and didn’t want to be married to him anymore. At that time, it scared the hell out of me because my kids were very little and I could not imagine putting them in such a situation, or splitting custody and not being there. So I backed down and soldiered on.

This time around, my kids are grown and off to college. I finally realized I had two choices – to stay where I was, content sometimes, miserable other times, probably more financially secure because we had two incomes. I could see my life stretch out before me – kids gone (because, of course, that’s what we do as parents, prepare our kids to leave us), just the two of us at home, the inevitable arguments, and the constant undercurrent of anxiety about when the next blow up would be. I could no longer do it, and the alternative of being on my own, wholly supporting myself , splitting up our home, was terrifying, but I knew it was the direction I had to take.

Change is f*cking scary. But what lies on the other side of the fear of change and the unknown? We’ll never know until we confront the fear, and walk through it.

I’m doing it. Some days kicking and screaming, others weeping and afraid, still others completely bogged down in grief. But yes, some days are with excitement and anticipation. Time will tell what’s on the other side for me, and for any of us finding that where we are doesn’t work, and has to change.

Courage is not the absence of fear …

Courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it. ~ Mark Twain

When I thought about courage, I always envisioned people being super brave, on the outside. I never really questioned how they might be feeling on the inside. I’m sure there are some people who ride off into the sunset on grand and crazy adventures without a qualm or question. I always thought they were the brave ones.

The ones nearly crippled by fear but doing the scary thing anyway? I’m not so sure I considered them courageous.

But you know what? These days I think the people who are terrified, and doing that scary thing in spite of it, have a shitload of courage. It’s easy to do the wild and crazy thing when you’re eager to do it, looking forward to the adventure with open arms; chomping at the bit, so to speak. It’s substantially more difficult to do that wild, crazy, or scary thing when your insides feel like jelly, when your inner voice is screaming “holy shit, WTF are you DOING?!” And everything in your being is crying out to stay where you’re safe and comfortable, where everything is known (the good and the bad).

That’s where I’ve been sitting for the past six months. Having made the decision to end my marriage, I’ve been in this place where part of me says, yes, it’s the right thing to do, everything will be fine, you’ll be fine, you’ll be able to support yourself, you won’t end up worse off than you are. Meanwhile, that obnoxious OTHER voice (I call it my Gremlin) pipes up at nearly every turn to push me back into my comfort zone. To make me stay where I am; to make me fear the unknown future, being on my own, supporting myself for the first time – by myself – in 22 years, questioning every decision I make. It’s incredibly exhausting.

But, I’m forging on. Telling the Gremlin to shut up and go away.

My divorce is now final. I moved out of the house I researched and helped design with my Dad, and moved in with a friend for the time being.

A few months ago, I made the monumental decision to move to New Mexico from my east coast home, friends and family. Another terrifying decision, but it came down to honestly answering two questions: if I don’t go, will I always wonder “what if?” (YES), and if I don’t go, will I forever regret not giving it a chance? (YES). The answers to those two questions gave me my answer: yes, I’m going to New Mexico. Leaving my kids at their east coast schools, leaving my parents, family, and friends. Leaving the community in which I’ve finally started to become a part. Making a giant change, and a terrifying leap into a completely unknown future.

But I’m doing it anyway. Maybe I’m courageous, or maybe I’m crazy. Time will tell. I’m telling myself I’m only moving for a year, because thinking beyond that is more than I can handle. I’m not really mastering my fear, I’m just doing the scary thing and being scared all at the same time.

I was supposed to move at the end of December, but things got a bit complicated and delayed. Now it’s looking like mid-February. I feel like I’m in a limbo between lives – old one is over, new one has yet to begin. It’s an uncomfortable place to be, and I feel like it’s making me mourn moving out of my house more than I would have, had I moved out and immediately on to New Mexico. But it’s also giving me more time here, to visit friends, breathe deep, try to plan and, or course, worry (and try not to worry).

Now that my divorce is final, I’m starting to feel lighter. Starting to hope that maybe life will be better. Feeling myself take deep breaths and feeling almost as though I’m coming back into myself. At the same time, strangely feeling very sad when I think about my ex living in our house all alone. I hope that we’ll both be happy, and find what neither of us could in our relationship.