Fresh Starts and Feelings

The minute I learned when the official day would be I circled it in my calendar, red marker with big capital letters – DIVORCE DAY – declaring it a sort of personal holiday. The kind of holiday that signifies a completion, and acknowledges new things to come.

The kind of holiday you throw a fucking party to celebrate.

But as the weeks neared, “House boat on Lake Shasta, 70:1 beer:person ratio!” whittled down to “Night out on the town in Bend!” and to “Afternoon backyard get together” before finally landing on “Just kidding there’s no party I’m going out in the woods to crew a 100 miler for a friend I barely know.”

I mostly blamed the deteriorating plans on laziness – the logistics of corralling people (what if no one can come, or I forget someone?) and fear of hosting (I still didn’t have chairs around my dining table) were easy scapegoats. But I think deep down I wanted to keep the “celebration” to myself. Making a spectacle over my newfound singledom, around people who’ve only known me in this stage of my life, felt disrespectful to the years Brian and I spent together. Our marriage wasn’t a sham or anything I wanted to throw away (although I did a lot of literal throwing away of things in the weeks leading up) and without anyone here who knew us in our good days, it just didn’t feel right to celebrate its ending at all.

I wrote the passage below the night I decided to cancel the “Divorce Day” party. It’s pretty hippieshit and personal, not something I’d typically share with many people, let alone blab all over the internet. And I know this is “supposed” to be a “running blog” (please do the hand gestures), but in the end I felt like it would be good to air out the thoughts and let them breathe, in case someone would relate somehow.

And even if not, it just feels good to get the words on paper (/screen.)

*we filed a Summary Dissolution which means instead of appearing in court you fill out some papers and then just wait six months and voila, divorce. it pays not having kids, lots of money, or things to fight over.


One of the things about our divorce that I’m most grateful for (other than skipping over the meat aisle at the grocery store and sleeping in the middle of the bed) is the opportunity for a fresh start. Combined with the move to Oregon, I started 2015 with as clean of a slate as you can possibly get. New town, new friends, new job… Squeaky fucking clean.

And while I was settling into all this new-ness, I realized for once I had complete, unbridled control over what stayed, and what got kicked to the curb. Sure, there’s the literal packing of things in a move, and the literal separation of belongings in a break up. But what about the other things in my life? The non-tangibles? My hobbies, habits, ideas – all the things that make me “me”? How many of them were intentionally developed, and how many either fell into my lap out of habit or laziness? How did I feel about bringing all of those things into this new phase of my life?

Am I really such an introvert I can’t make small talk with the person behind me at the grocery store, or is that a personality trait I’ve slowly acquired over the years?

Is it fun to pass on participating in things because I’m not super good at them just to protect my competitive ego?

Do I really hate olives, or did someone tell me they were gross and I never gave them a chance?

I’ve spent a lot of the past months thinking about these things – who I am, who I want to be, and how I see this new chapter playing out that is being written only by me. (That sounds depressing when you think of it as, “instead of co-writing with the person you said you’d be together with forever,” but ridiculously invigorating as, “you’ve got the pen, girl, write the motherfucking chapter(s) of your dreams!”)

What surprised me the most about this whole deeply intrinsic, uncharacteristically personal self-assessment was how much I think I’ve been wrong about my interpersonal relationships.

Being open, approachable, and welcoming do not come naturally to me. None of the folks who know me – from any stage in my life – would describe me as any of those things, I’m pretty damn certain. Plus, I have a severe case of Resting Bitch Face that I just don’t think there’s ever going to be a cure for.

But I realize that a lot of the walls that I had built up were there for silly reasons. To protect myself from some unknown something or another that I worried would hurt me. That exposing any part of me to people I hadn’t screened, put through a personality test, and checked their FICO score would make me foolishly vulnerable and soft. That if I relied on someone they’d let me down, or even worse, I’d let them down. I kept myself impermeable to any threat of hurt, and in doing so kept myself from fully experiencing the joy of moments and people surrounding me.

It still takes me a while to feel comfortable around someone, but I realized I kind of do like discussing thoughts, feelings, and ideas with people. Instead of squirming at the first mention of emotion and running for the hills when shit gets serious, it’s really liberating to let everything air out, both as the presenter and the audience, even if it’s uncomfortable as shit. Having those thoughts fester privately in my own brain (or pretending like they don’t exist) has never done anyone any favors, no matter how well I like to think I’ve managed it over the years.

So new chapter Sarah is making an effort to chip away at some of those protective walls, to see what happens when the drawbridge is lowered and the alligators are deported from the moat. Independent, closed-off Sarah is rolling over in her grave over it, but I think it could be good.

And if not, at least I can’t say I didn’t try. (ahem, olives.)

In closing (does that make this sound like I’m speaking to you from a podium?) I’m seeing this separation as a fresh start to so much more than just love. While I’m scrubbing such a big corner of my life clean, why not wipe down the rest of the walls too, right? Reflecting on why our relationship failed made me reflect on myself as a partner, friend, and human in general.

All of those things can always be improved.

 

 

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25 thoughts on “Fresh Starts and Feelings

  1. Thumbs up to this. You’re a very talented writer. Enjoyed this immensely even though I suppose the topic is not the most joyous. But give me real and gritty any day of the week than some contrived “look how great my life is” BS. I think we only grow by being uncomfortable and putting yourself out there. So posting this seems like a step in the right direction. Oh, and do keep writing. People don’t write anymore. *i* sure as shit don’t. But need to. Anyway. Good shit Sarah. Now hook me up with some damn Picky Bars. Go Cavs.

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  2. I have high walls, barbed wire at the top, so I completely get this. I am sorry about the dissolution of your marriage. I have never been married but can only imagine how the emotions can have highs and lows. Also I don’t like olives…no need to try them. :)

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  3. Wow, this was me when I got divorced a few years ago….
    I took a pretty hard and honest look at the adult I had become (10 years total time in a relationship means that significant time has passed…)
    Dude, not to sound cheesy but you CAN hit a pretty amazing reset button on your life right now. Seize the day and all that! It’s weird to figure out what YOU like (not what *ahem* “we” like.) Prepare for a period of time that is both liberating and strange as shit, hahahah…..
    Good luck to you, I’ve been there, and things are pretty amazing on the other side :-)

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  4. So, I can relate on some levels. Almost 2 years ago I called off my engagement, left “our home” and ended things completely. One of the things that hit me the most, was how I almost felt an instant relief once I said the words out loud “I’m leaving. I’m done. I’m not willing to do this anymore”. YES there were plenty of hard days and nights, but like you I did a lot of self assessment and found that I really wasn’t “me” before and finally felt like I could be. All of a sudden I was enjoying being in control, I was enjoying feeling like I could say things without fear of being judged or told my opinion essentially didn’t matter. I realized that what I personally wanted DID matter and someone else can’t be in control of that. Were there good times before, absolutely- we wouldn’t have been in the position we were (living together, engaged) if there weren’t- but it doesn’t mean it was the best of times or more importantly the best of me. The relationship took much more of a toll on me throughout it’s time than I realized. After I left I slowly started taking the walls down. At first it was super slow, like I think I built them higher at first- but then as time went on it got easier. It got easier to let people in, but it also got easier to let people go(friends and relationships) who were no longer a positive addition to my life. Be picky, be choosy, not everyone deserves a place in your life- but don’t let fear keep you from at least trying to find those great people to be around. Some you’ll kick to the curb quick (even ones you knew in previous “life”), but others you’ll realize, are honest to goodness great people who add value to life.

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  5. I loved this and your last post (which I never commented on). I went through the same thing this year. Last October I split with (okay, I got dumped by) the person who I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with…and separating not just your personal, financial, and other tangible things after 10 years together and 3 years in the same house, is not easy, but separating the pieces of YOU that were a part of that relationship, but not necessarily a part of you on your own has been the hardest part for me to figure out. It’s terrifying and exciting all at the same time, but sounds like you’re on the right track! Thanks for these posts!

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    • No, thank you for sharing and letting me (/anyone else reading) know it’s not as lonely of a time as it seems. Others are going through it, and coming out on the other side even better than before. xo

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  6. I was kinda the same way when I got divorced over 3 years ago. Just decided I was going to start going after what I wanted and say yes a lot more than no. I’ve grown so much since then just by not being afraid of the what ifs. You said it all so well!

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  7. Cheers to new beginnings and learning more about ourselves every. damn. day.

    Hey – if you ever get a craving for some southern CA, please come stay with me. I have an extra room and a bed and although we only met once at a bar (where I was very drunk on a Sunday during a very bad period of my life) it would not be weird at all. Promise. I live close to trails and the beach and my girlfriend likes beer just about as much as you. With that comes the assumption that I can totally come visit you in Bend! :)

    Hugs.

    P.S. 100% pictured you giving a speech from a podium.

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  8. Thank you for this. We are currently in the pre-divorce phase right now. We don’t really want to be there, but we aren’t sure we are ready for the big D yet either. You have no idea how much what you just wrote about appeals to me. I’m ready to get back to “me” or hell, just find “me”. It’s been 5 years of being told that I’m this or I’m that, and I don’t know who I am anymore. I’m ready for that next step, even though I know it will be hell to get there. Luckily, like you, no kids, little money. Just need the balls to take the next step.

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  9. A year and a half ago i called off our engagement because of all my protective barriers and walls (i was to afraid of the idea of marriage + a ton of other excess baggage). I can completely relate to reseting the way you are as a person in society, saying hello to strangers etc and how to communicate with other people and also being the person you wish to be. It took a year of couples therapy, putting myself out there and trying new things with new people, but all is good now and I can honestly say, i like this version of me better. The OCD, type A part of me doesn’t have control anymore, and it’s a beautifully, freeing thing. Keep being honest, we love your writing. <3

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  10. My middle name is impenetrable walls (wait that’s two words), but your post is relatable to me. Thanks for being a real person that has more to her blog than weekly mileage. I’d totally want to be your friend in real life. Too bad Bend is three hrs away and I can’t convince my husband to move there (yet). Happy Holidays and here’s to a great next chapter!

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  11. The thing I find the hardest about divorce is how you lose memories and moments. It is like you no longer have permission (or want to) to bring up old events that happened while you were married. Yet, there are so many great things that happened during my now “former life” and I don’t want to forget them nor do I want to look back on them with sorrow. So, I made a conscious decision not to! I can completely relate to this post and trying to figure out who the hell I actually am. Still working on it!

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  12. Divorce is pretty intense for so many reasons, but the identity crisis/who am I really part was probably the piece that was the very best for me long term. I got to spend time figuring out who exactly I was and that was a pretty great experience – I found that I was way happier with the new version of me. I’ve had so many people over the years say that they’ve never seen such a real version of me, leaving me to wonder if I was altering my personality inadvertently all along…
    One random recommendation- look for your local Hash House Harriers if you haven’t already!!! I would honestly say that the hash really helped me rediscover myself and I was surrounded by like-minded people. Plus, I met the greatest guy on the entire planet.
    All in all, divorce is a real blower, but now looking back, it was definitely the best thing to happen to me and I’m SO much happier than I have ever been in my life. Have fun on your path to rediscovery, I’m sure you’ll find that you’re even more of a badass than you were before :).

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  13. Divorce is hard, man. It’s hard to have to take that deep look at yourself and figure out where something that once was so good went wrong. Good on you for having the courage to really take some time and do the work. This post was deeply personal and beautiful. Best of luck to you in your adventure!

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  14. Great read Sarah – I feel like you are on really solid ground after this whole thing. Enjoy this time! It won’t be everyday that you can just drop everything and crew a 100 miler for someone you barely know (yes, part of me is envious that I no longer have these options with a 33″ tall ball of energy to take care of).

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  15. So very impressed at your writing such candid and honest feelings on this blog. I hope that you know how loved you are by your virtual community. You got this! I hope 2015 is your best year yet! :)

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  16. Thank you for writing this. I’m reading it at work and having to pretend that I’m looking for something in a drawer so no one can tell I’m crying. I’m smack in the middle of getting a divorce – some days feel like a giant well of sad, and others are full of possibilities – the excitement of grabbing the pen! Hang in there :)

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  17. Sorry to hear about the divorce! Such a bummer. It seems like you have a really positive outlook though! I have been following your blog for a while and I was stoked when you started posting about Bend because I randomly applied for a job in Bend and just ended up moving here about a month ago. Let me know if you ever want to meet up for a beer!!!

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  18. I love the way you write. I feel like we are talking face to face. Your honesty is much appreciated. It is nice to know that others go through real humans things and life isn’t perfect paces and small waist lines, even thought it is sad that we have to go through hard times. Thanks for sharing! I hope finding yourself brings you such great accomplishments and happiness. It took me a few years after my divorce to find it but now that I have, life is good.

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