How to Make a New Life for Yourself
Start by becoming aware. Aware of how uncomfortable you are how many moments of each day. How often you stifle a ready response because you lack the energy or interest to sustain the conversation that would follow. Aware of how often you plan “away events” or volunteer to stay home with the kids or grandkids – all just ways of avoiding contact and exposure.
Become aware of how often you stay up late, futzing around, just to avoid having to go to bed with your partner. Become aware of how often you fake still being asleep in the morning so you don’t have to talk with him before he leaves for his golf game.
Become aware of how happily you move through your home and your life when you are alone. Notice the tendency you have to breathe deeply, to breathe through, to exhale with perfect ease and satisfaction.
Start educating yourself. Start finding out just what would be at stake if you filed for divorce? Gently yet firmly silence the Part in your head that says, “You’ll end up living in a cardboard box down by the Depot” by answering, “Thank you for your input but that’s not the way it will shake down.”
Listen to your friend who, over lunch, says, “You won’t be poor. Not in this state. Not after a marriage of such duration.”
Begin to believe you can do it. Consult with various attorneys. Find one with whom you feel safe. Listen to his every word. Take notes. Have a plan. Open separate bank accounts. Photocopy all documents, legal and financial records. Pay the filing fee. Find the right place and the right time to tell him you are leaving. Put on your foul weather gear. Brace yourself for the flak. Prepare for a bullshit, money-based plea from him to try to make you stay. Tell your children. Remain strong.
Exhale. You are just completing Phase I. Lean on your friends. The true friends want to help, want to support you. Prepare for the phonies to drop by the wayside. Be surprised which turn out to be which. Expect a miracle. Expect many miracles.
Talk to people you trust about your fears. Expect your children to be shell-shocked and to distance. Prepare to feel pain you could have never imagined with regard to them. Prepare for nasty surprises, twists and turns in their attitudes and behaviors toward you. Prepare for what feels like disloyalty and betrayal but is only their hurt. You are rounding out Phase II.
Find a new home. Recognize it when you see it. Do not let well-meaning yet biased and opinionated people tell you, you did wrong, you paid too much, it’s not “you”, it’s not nearly as beautiful as your last home, it’s not historic, it’s just a glorified, post-World War II box. Do not listen to them. Listen to the inner voice that says, “I’ll be safe and happy here. I can make this darling. I am surrounded by tall and glorious old branches, bamboo and vines that create a safe haven for my own personal and private tree house.”
Get to work making it your own. Invest in yourself. Invest in your home. Roll up your sleeves and get to work. Be grateful for the miracle of new love. New love that is the polar opposite of old loves. New love that is gentle, kind, sensitive, intelligent, sexy, fun, sober and, well, loving.
Take the time to understand and feel your new living space. Let it guide your actions. Tear down walls. Put up new walls. Replace old windows. Let in the light from the outside.
Begin to paint rooms in the outlandish colors that speak to you. Make your entry pink and orange with dove-gray pinstripes. Hang a gaudy, antique French chandelier. Put lacy, beaded shades on each candle bulb to give it that Bordello feel. Paint the Stairway to Heaven a cheerful aqua color just like Monet’s entry in Giverny. Mosaic the risers on each step. Insert little surprises in the mosaic – porcelain dogs, cats, birds, fish and mice, the heads of French nobles, piano keys, cups, ceramic book pages that say “spirit” and tiny, ruby red slippers made of sparkling jewelry. Seduce guests into crawling up your stairs on all fours just to get a better look.
Install a huge, wood-burning fireplace for each and every day and night that falls below 60 degrees. Burn fragrant things. Rescue two kittens from a dumpster so they can purr and sit on your lap while you read, write and sip tea in front of the blazing hearth.
Hang crosses all over one kitchen wall. Knock out cabinet doors to better display all your treasures, trinkets and miniature milk jugs.
Hang your own art.
Paint your living room purple, your dining room a jarring taxicab yellow and cover your guest bath in Mexican art. String colorful paper lanterns that you bought in a magical beach town on the central coast along the top of your living room picture window.
Invite your friends for meals and laughter in your home, on your deck and in your garden.
When you feel low, retreat to your Happy Place – the bed with the cotton jersey sheets and endless down pillows and duvets. Snuggle in. Read, sip hot chocolate, watch movies on your huge, bedroom TV. After that, fall asleep to happy, beautiful music.
Write a new gratitude list each morning. Pinch yourself often to be sure this is not a dream.
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