I was just watching something about how survivors of an airplane crash have this new attitude toward life and what’s important. About how they have this “second chance” approach now.
In some ways, that’s how this divorce after a long marriage thing works, too. At least in my case.
For nearly 30 years I was in this life where I did what I had to do; I responded to what was right in front of me. When Mr. Ex lost one more job, I decided that I had to put younger daughter in full time day care, find after-school day care for older daughter, and get a job. I did that. When it became apparent that without more income we wouldn’t be able to pay for school supplies, camp, after-school activities, or bat mitzvah celebrations, I found it. When I was offered an opportunity to take on more work at my full time job – an offer that I knew would bring us just a little more security – I grabbed it (by the way, when Mr. Ex left, this was one of the things he threw in my face: that late at night he would beg me to close the laptop and I insisted on working until the wee hours. It occurred to me that was like a wife who sits home doing her nails all day yelling at her husband for working too hard).
My home was never a sanctuary. Never an inspiration. Never my muse. It was filled with hand-me-down, dog-eared (literally), bought-because-it-was-cheap furniture. I dreaded coming home when he wasn’t working and seeing the house look just like it looked when I left – couldn’t he do something? In the days when he was playing at becoming a cantor I would come home and say “what did you do all day?” and his answer was always, “studying.” I guess – because he certainly wasn’t cleaning, straightening or throwing away.
Okay, okay. I can’t write those things without thinking, “WTF? Why on earth did I put up with that for 30 years?” Enough – I could be in therapy for the rest of my life (and I imagine I will be) and I can’t come up with a better answer than I did what I thought was best for my children. And then, when they weren’t an issue, I guess I figured we’d make it work since it was just the two of us. Whatever.
But now I have this chance to remake my home into a muse.
I want to come home and breathe. I want to come home and fee like I’m being hugged. I want to come home and feel like I’m in this nurturing and inspirational environment.
And all in a space that I may still want to sell, so it can’t be anything weird or too “out there.” Luckily I’m not “out there,” so I can probably make it happen.
I’ve already started with the purging. Not only was it cathartic to get rid of all of Mr. Ex’s things, it’s been incredible to just be able to see the floors, not have stuff on every surface, and to be able to walk into a room without picking my way through piles. After I put those bookcases up in the office I went in there at least five times just to admire how it was so neat and tidy and all the books were on shelves just like they’re supposed to be.
But it’s got to be more than that. I need to be surrounded by the things I love and be able to put away the things I need to keep but don’t have to have in my face all the time. I need colors that speak to me and textures that inspire.
I need the flaws fixed. The water-damaged ceilings need to be fixed, the leak in the roof needs to be fixed, the downstairs bathroom needs to be – yeesh, I have no clue what THAT needs – I just know it needs something . . . And it all needs to feel pulled together.
Ironically, I can afford it, too. I have some money from my mom – not a lot, but certainly enough to do some of this. I don’t have to have anyone else agree with me; I can whatever I want, wherever I want to do it, and however I want it done.
It’s almost overwhelming. That’s the problem. I have too many choices. I’m not used to options. I’m used to settling. And now I don’t have to, and it’s almost paralyzing.
Step one: verbalizing the problem. Step two: making a plan.