In the aftermath.

No one will be surprised if you go a little crazy in the aftermath of a failed marriage.

Maybe you’re even supposed to.

It’s like a wilderness reintroduction program, this post-divorce life. You were kept safe for so long, locked in this cage of togetherness and commitment and fidelity and all the other bits that come with a marriage and then, just like that, suddenly the door on your cage is opened and you’re staring down an entirely different life, an entirely different landscape, from the one you were used to, from the one you planning on inhabiting for the rest of your days.

Turns out, the wild is a scary place. There’s love lurking in places where you don’t even hope to find it, but it’s there, waiting for you, rattlesnake style, sending some slight sort of warning and then latching itself to you, venom and all. And really, how the fuck are you supposed to navigate that when sometimes you still have to check to make sure your heart is still beating, to make sure it didn’t just up and fucking quit?

It’s a lot, facing the world alone, as a person not attached to another person anymore. The world is big. There’s all these options, like you’re standing at this trailhead with 15 different starts and you’ve got to pick the path you want, you’ve got to pick the you that you want to be and you’ve made all these other mistakes, all these catastrophic turns and so you really, really want it get it right this time.

You stagger at the start. You’re dumbed from the cage, shocked by the brilliance of another’s kindness or the vastness of what’s still left for you to discover, by the adventures you thought you’d never have again, some terrifying, some perfect. There’s so much to figure out – how to flirt with someone, how to kiss someone who isn’t your husband after how ever many years of marriage, how to handle your shit on your own, how to pay the bills, how to clean the whole fucking house. You don’t need a fucking chore chart anymore. It’s just you, baby. Just you.

I used to put on this mean face when out at the bar sans husband because that seemed like the safest option. I’d push my hair behind my ear with my left hand, always, in the midst of conversations with men, just so they’d see the ring, know that this girl right here was fucking taken.

But I’m not anymore. I’m not married anymore, not really. The papers aren’t quite signed, but it’s coming and I’ll end this year divorced. Again.

I wondered what to do for a long time, how to move forward, how to do any of it, how to proceed, and the only thing I’ve figured out is that I just need to live. That’s it. It was hard to do at first. Really hard, but it got easier.

I feel pretty confident that love still exists, not just in general, but for me specifically. I spent a few months determined that love was an illusion and that I wanted nothing to do with it ever again, but that’s not fair. It’s not love that broke my heart.

Divorce is shit. I’m not gonna lie. It’s a fucking shitshow of heartbreak and awful and terrible things, but there’s this you somewhere in the midst of the us that you used to be a part of and rediscovering that person is a weird and sad and amazing sort of adventure.

I’ll be honest: I don’t know who I am. I have some idea. I know I laugh too loud and eat too much popcorn and that I’m a runner. I know I take my coffee iced with just a splash of soy milk and I’ve got four pets and a great big house and a job I really fucking like. I can tell you my favorite color and food and song and animal and season, but I don’t know who I am just yet, or even who I want to be.

I’m still just leaning my face out the front of the cage, trying to figure out which way I want to go.

13 thoughts on “In the aftermath.

  1. Tia

    Yes. All of this. Great post.

    Right now is when you truly realize how strong you are, and it’s liberating as fuck. So on the days you aren’t sure if your heart is still beating, hold on to that. Because not only is it beating, it’s alive and thumping like a goddamn WARRIOR.

  2. Christa Western

    On the bright side, now you don’t have to “be” anyone. Let all that figure itself out. Whoever and whatever you are is awesome. Rock it until you decide to rock something else.

  3. Brandon

    Terra,
    You are one of the strongest damn people i know. You have always demanded to shake the world despite it’s ways. Freedom is something i know you are good at. I know this feeling….its like traveling into deep space and finding a whole other universe. It is certainly like being a rescue animal being put back out into the wild once again. You have the inner strength to do whatever the hell you want and nothing or no one deserves to stop you. Stay Born Free Terra.
    Brandon

  4. I’m so sorry that you’re going through this, but the way you wrote about it is absolutely beautiful.

    When I went through something similar a few years ago, it was one of the scariest & most liberating feelings ever (kind of like standing on the edge of a cliff) When my relationship fell apart and I asked myself what I really wanted, the first thing that popped into my head was “see the world.” I think it’s through these really horrible experiences that we really learn who we are. Although we’ve only met a handful of times, I really like the person that you are now & I’m sure the woman you’ll be on the other side of this, when the dust settles, will be even more awesome.

    Sending lots of Canadian hugs xox

  5. Wren

    Does anyone really know who they are? I figured we were all just making it up as we go… at least that’s how I do it. Hang in there! I think I saw you out running a few months back. 🙂

  6. I’ve always enjoyed and admired the person you are today; look forward to seeing what’s ahead for you. I echo what Pete said above and am sending all the hugs. You know where to find me if you need anything
    xoxoxo

  7. I love what Margaret said. It’s so true. Every day shapes us into who we are supposed to be and who we are supposed to be can change daily. Also, this: “It’s a lot, facing the world alone, as a person not attached to another person anymore. The world is big. There’s all these options, like you’re standing at this trailhead with 15 different starts and you’ve got to pick the path you want, you’ve got to pick the you that you want to be and you’ve made all these other mistakes, all these catastrophic turns and so you really, really want it get it right this time.” This is EXACTLY how I felt but I could never put it into words as eloquently as you just did. Now I wonder if maybe we are supposed to make some mistakes? Maybe they have to happen to lead us to where we are meant to be. I don’t have all the answers, but I do know that you are pretty badass, Terra and I know you will end up where you are supposed to be. Xo

  8. Steph

    Terra-

    Just wanted to say I am thinking of you as you go through this. Beautiful post… I haven’t kept up, but your blog is one of my favorites. I look forward to reading about your many adventures ahead. I’m sure the Virginia dating pool will be hilarious… once you get around to it. Hugs to you.

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