Then I Came Home to Austin

12841331_10153539649669053_1897104843100891352_oI believe that the worst part of my break-up with Chef was the unfamiliarity of my life without him. I hadn’t realized up until that point how important my routines — the very patterns of my life — had really been to me. Then, suddenly, everything was so different. It happened quickly, the crashing of my life, pretty much falling to pieces all at once, and without mercy. Over the last few years, it was hard to really enjoy the routines I had set up to replace the smashed ones left behind by the break-up. Yes,some tiny parts stayed the same. I continued to drink coffee in the morning, or listen to the news while I got ready for work. Others were different, like caring for stray dogs and writing on a blog. But those were just tiny parts of a whole that seemed to still not be functioning correctly. They seemed to be connected, somehow, to my old life. It was as if their very differences served only to remind me of what I once had, and what was now gone. Overall, I was struggling for every shred of happiness.

Then I came home to Austin.

As an adult, I have never lived in Austin before, but this is the city I was born in. I took my first breath here. I learned to walk and talk here, and it has forever been synonymous in my head to my father. Austin is where my dad and his family were, and in the back of my mind, I guess I always kind of wanted to just come home. I really couldn’t have timed it better. I’m fairly sure the Lord has something to do with that.

I have new routines now. The pattern of my life is not only different now, but it is unconnected to a painful past. I find myself appreciating the 12801417_521154491392629_6713478659555648885_nbeauty of this city daily, and I still get butterflies in my stomach when I realize again, I’m living in Austin, Texas. I’m still not so used to seeing my father’s face that I have begun to take it for granted. Instead, I feel a surge of gratitude each and every time I see him standing at my door. I love to see how Texas seems to suit my daughter Rebekkah; how she has flourished into a beautiful, confident woman, happy again, and no longer suffering under the burden of caring for a very wounded mother. I feel a certain pride every time I pay my rent from a paycheck I earned, and praise God at my ability to still buy groceries and other things I need with what is left over. Maybe that doesn’t sound like much to you, but I have learned only too well how it feels to have to choose between food and a home.

I’m filling up my life again, with family, with new friends, and with things. I have enough stuff in my apartment now, I can honestly say, I would need a truck next time I decide to move. I have things I picked for myself, this time. It is always appreciated when something is given to you, but when all you own in the world is stuff people donated to you, it makes you feel worse than just poor. Over time, I’ve been getting to know myself as just me. Not a part of a marriage, or a team, or a club. I’ve found that I love the colors turquoise and yellow together, as well as gray and yellow. I like rap music…who knew?! I have become both more social as well as less. I’ll save that thought for another time. I wear different styles of clothes now, and even my hair is different. I’m kind of enjoying figuring out who I am these days.

Today, I bought a new laptop; and believe it or not, it was that purchase that made me feel so reflective about my new life today. It was expensive, and I was able to buy it without despairing over ….well, anything. I needed a new one, so I bought one. The minute I paid for it, I realized, the hard years trying to recover from such a terrible break-up are officially over. Yes, there are going to be lean times in the future. There always are. But those lean times won’t be connected to Chef, or drugs, or biker clubs, or Oklahoma. They’ll just be the way life goes sometimes, and I’m good with that. I”m finally home.

~ Bird

 

Closure: Searching for A Sign This Painful Event Is Almost Over

sad girlA Wife’s Painful Question:

“What is/are the sign(s) of closure?

How is one supposed to know that there is closure in a past relationship?

I’m at a very confusing period of my life, I don’t know if there’s absolutely no chance of rekindling a relationship, or if there is?

I just need help/advice really. ~ Heartbroken Wife”

This question about broke my heart. I remember fishing for hope, grasping on any little proof that I might be on the road to recovery, secretly afraid the misery might never end.

For Heartbroken, and so many other wives who have traveled this cruel path, here is my take on how I finally emerged from the crippling pain and began to enjoy my life again.

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Dear Heartbroken Wife, 

In my mind’s eye, I see my life as a book, with various chapters and a whole crowd of people coming and going. I’m the central character in the story of my life. My husband of 20 something years was a major character, and his importance to my story was immense. So when he developed a drug addiction, cheated on me, made me feel old and no longer worth anything anymore, I found myself in an ocean of pain, being slammed against by every fear a wife could have. But love dies slowly, and I found myself torn about what my story would be without him. I wanted him in it, and somewhere in my mind, a tally had begun. The weight of the value of a marriage that I loved versus the weight of each terrible thing said or done, and the wounds that they left behind in my heart and soul. 

For a solid year I begged, cried, yelled, wrote texts, emails, letters, reasoned with him, provokedbroken windows him….I did everything in my power to save a marriage that I cherished.  The lies, disappointments, betrayals were stacking up, and the value of the marriage was diminishing. Not quickly, but steadily all the same.

At some point, though, I started to get used to my new life, and instead of feeling alone, broken heart birdsbetrayed, abandoned, discarded, feelings of pleasure started leaking in. My ex has always been fundamentally selfish, a major extrovert who needs an audience at all times. I’m exactly the opposite, and most of marriage I found myself the  unwilling audience for him while he watched movies that I hated (horror, bloody and disgusting) reality shows (Cops, Kennedy Documentaries) which I hated, and a whole bunch of other activities I felt I had no real choice in the matter. Not if I wanted some peace. 

Tcropped-broken-heart-pieces.jpghat was the area of my life where I started to notice that some of this new path wasn’t all bad. I liked having the whole bed to myself, or taking a bath without someone shouting unimportant questions through the door, oblivious to anyone’s needs and desires save his own. I liked cooking the kinds of stuff I like to eat, and my days off work were completely mine to do as I pleased. Mostly, though, I liked the quiet of my new life. I had not realized how thirsty I had been all this time for peace and quiet. Everything about our marriage just always felt so …loud. 

 As I found more enjoyment in things I chose for myself, the less I cared what he was doing, or saying, or sleeping with. The scales had finally tipped against the marriage, and before I knew it, there was no comparison between what I made me happy now and what made me happy when we were married.

I stopped answering every phone call or text. It no longer seemed so important that hesadness understand the agony he had caused for me. A knock on my apartment door, once the highlight of my miserable existence, now brought an opposite reaction. Instead of trying to force my shattered soul into some semblance of forgiveness, I found myself actually feeling it instead. Where anger and rage had ruled for a year of my life, indifference had taken up residence.

When my ex faded into the background of my life, that is when I knew I had achieved something I honestly felt I could never do — I closed the chapter of my life that told the story of my marriage. From the day I met him, how he became my greatest love, all the way to how is fell apart so tragically, and the grief that tore me to shreds. A story about how neither of us will ever be the same again because of each other. 

For me, the signs of closure were these:

  • When you no longer feel a powerful emotion about the person or event that hurt you so much – love, hate, bitterness, etc. The opposite of love isn’t hate. It’s indifference.
  • When you look back and upon the mental comparison, you find that you’d rather stay in the life you’re in now than to go back to the life that you once mourned. 
  • When you find yourself able to revisit the memories of the good times without the pain boomeranging into your stomach the very next minute. 
  • When you find yourself looking forward to the rest of your life, with a little more curiosity, a little more confidence, and a little more wisdom. 
  • When fear no longer paralyzes you, for you have learned the hard way, fears have more power hiding in our minds than when we are actually face to face with them. 
  • And lastly, when I realized one day that my opinion of myself was more valuable to me than his opinion of me, was. 

If I made it through, anyone can. I pray for peace and comfort for you, Heartbroken. It does eventually stop hurting so much. Just take things minute to minute, step to step. You’re stronger than you think you are. We all are. 

~ Bird

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