Aftermath

Instagram Self portrait

Self-portrait with Myles - Instagram

Before I start talking about my adventures, it’s only fair that I discuss what happened after the divorce was finalized. If you were to peruse my blog and possibly my facebook posts, you might think that life was all sunshine and roses once I left Rob. My life is certainly better, but that wouldn’t be an accurate description.

I would liken my first year post-separation/divorce to the summer between high school and college — carefree and filled with revelry. I had spent years putting my wants second to Rob’s wants and needs that I felt deprived. I did the typical divorcee thing and made up for it with a vengeance. Some women party and go on dating sprees. I traveled and started running. If there was any opportunity to pack my bag and get out of dodge, I would take it without a moment’s hesitation. I never thought I would see so much of the United States in a single calendar year. If not for my new beau D and Myles, I am certain I would’ve been wandering the country visiting my various friends.

Man with dog

D and Myles at the beach

If I wasn’t traveling, I was running or traveling to run. I had it on good authority that becoming a runner was in “The Divorcee’s Handbook”. I didn’t question it. I loved the way running was shaping my body and I became addicted to feeling of satisfaction that came from finishing races. Running was my therapy. It gave me a sense of accomplishment that I hadn’t felt in quite some time.

Additionally, I was making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Movies. Festivals. Concerts. I attended as many as I was invited to.

It sounds great, right?

The second year came along and reality came banging on my door. Until the divorce was finalized, I put off thinking about or planning for my future. Years of running a household and struggling to make ends meet had left me exhausted and inert. I had put all of my focus on getting out of my marriage and none on what to do once I was free. Once it was finalized, I was left asking myself, “What now?”.

I assessed my situation. It was depressing. At 36, I was nearly broke, working part-time as a home attendant for my grandma and living with my parents. I went from living in a place of my own with my husband and dog to my family’s bustling, noisy household. I wasn’t just living with my family. Being in this household has brought many demands and expectations. I scarcely have a moment alone or time to think. I suspect this is why I haven’t blogged much nor have I done much design work. I’m pulled in many directions and don’t have as much time as I used to for myself. I can’t clear my head. Running gives me a little “me time”, but not much. I am definitely a person who thrives on being alone.

To add insult to the situation, I’m treated like a 18-year-old. I have a curfew and have to account for my whereabouts at all times. I’m not exactly sure how this came about. It may be because the last time I lived in this house I was still in college and the 12 years I spent living independently have been stricken from everyone’s memories.

For a time, I was even “forbidden” to date. My bad marriage apparently was a sign that I had poor judgment and couldn’t be trusted to make relationship decisions for myself. It was also suggested that my marriage to Rob was my only shot at marriage. To say that this has made dating D difficult doesn’t adequately describe it. Luckily for me, D has been very patient and understanding. This is why my relationship with D has been so low-profile. Another reason for the low-profile relationship was to keep some of the gossip and criticism at bay. I was bombarded with well-meaning and not-so-well-meaning comments about it being too soon for a relationship and that D was probably just a rebound. I hadn’t planned on getting involved, but sometimes life has other plans. D has been one of the best things to come into my life in a long time.

The adjustments that I had to make were not limited to my living quarters. When I packed up and moved from Los Angeles to Virginia Beach, I changed my lifestyle drastically. Because my 1st year in Virginia Beach was such a whirlwind, the gravity of what I had done didn’t hit me right away. Out of the blue, it hit me. I miss living in a city. I can’t say that I miss L.A. exactly, but I miss its resources. I miss the ability to find nearly anything my heart desires within a drivable distance. I miss being able to get REALLY good Thai at 1AM. Hell, I miss getting really good Thai food without paying an arm and a leg. I miss the food trucks and the immense variety of food that I had available. I miss farmers markets and all the fresh produce my heart desired. I miss having an enormous flower mart and garment district as my creative playground. I miss all the great paper and stationery shops. However there are things that I don’t miss. The traffic. The pollution. The crowds and the incredibly high cost of living.

So where does this leave me?

My inner circle let me gripe for a bit, but then basically gave me an ultimatum. Make a change or shut up. {Tough love goes a long way.}

I sent my résumé to the four winds and nothing happened. Not a call back. Not an email. Nothing. My years of work experience in L.A. left me in a weird position. I had paid my dues in an industry that was non-existent here. I was not qualified for the design jobs that were available here. I had zero experience with web design and that’s all most employers wanted here. I could try my hand in another metropolis like D.C., Philadelphia or New York City, but I lacked any of the capital to move again.

I was crushed and heartbroken. I guess I believed that magically everything would’ve fallen into place once I left Rob or put in a little effort to getting my life in order. In a way, I thought the mess my life had become was caused by the “mistake” I had made in marrying Rob. This for a short time translated into me not wanting to do anything for fear of making another mistake that I couldn’t remedy or digging myself into a deeper hole.

Thanks to Cicely, I got moving again.

I decided to go back to school to learn web design. I applied for grants and loans. I enrolled at my local community college last fall and managed to finance the endeavor on my own. Presently, I am taking a full course load. It is a lot of work and took a lot of adjustment. Prior to this, I hadn’t been in a college or university setting in over 10 years. I’m doing well and am enjoying the learning experience. I’m really hoping that this will be what gets my career back on track and gets the rest of the pieces to fall into place. I love my family, but am ready to have the degree of separation that allowed us better to appreciate one another. I’m looking forward to living in a place of my own again. More than anything, I miss my independence.

As rough as this sounds, I don’t regret marrying or divorcing Rob. It’s an experience that has shaped me, but not crushed me. I’m not where I want to be, but I know I’ll get there… eventually. Until then, I’ll keep fighting hard to move forward and live the life I’ve always wanted to live.

Wish me luck 🙂

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