My life right now is governed by fear. A fear that is impacting everything- my sleep, my capacity to get work done, my interactions with others.
I was writing a letter to an old friend who also recently went through a divorce, and I found myself typing this:
“I am SO hard on myself. But think about going through a divorce after 16 years, and having no experience of being an independent adult. Then combine moving back to the US, moving to a city where you know essentially nobody and have no support system. Alone. Into the house in which you lived with your spouse. While dealing with PTSD, and an anxiety disorder. And trying to write a dissertation (no life structure), apply for competitive jobs/post-docs/fellowships and graduate.”
I think I write things like that to people as a reminder to myself that my anger at myself for feeling sad and lonely is unwarranted. I also do it because I hope that it will prompt someone else to tell me I am strong, because I NEED to hear that. Or maybe it’ll prompt someone to save me, because I am so tired from trying to prop myself up.
I was in a bar on Friday in my yoga clothes. I was nursing a beer, and consciously forcing myself to breathe in and out, slowly. I was terrified. I felt like I couldn’t go home, because the solitariness of the space would torment me the way it does as I write this. First the sadness, then the despair. I couldn’t go home. So I sat, with my eyes darting quickly left and right, thinking “how did it come to this?” and asking myself:
“L, what do you WANT? What do you want your life to look like?”
That was an easy question to answer.
“But within the realm of current feasibility, what can I do to move towards a life that is more like what I want?” That’s what I need to figure out.
The bartender smiled at me curiously. I smiled back. I like that bar, but I feel like I always bring my dopey-sad eyes to it.
I have been keeping it under wraps, because I’ve been wrong in the past, and because this feels almost too good, but I met someone. Someone whose divorce situation resembles mine to an uncanny degree, who I can talk to with such comfort that it makes my heart hurt. But his marriage resulted in two kids, and they are of course his first priority (as an amazing dad and person). So I can sometimes only see him 1-2 evenings a week. This would be painless if I was in
any situation other than the one I am in right now. One of feeling like I need a babysitter until my new housemate moves in.
So I am still wrestling with all of my stuff. And actually, it gets hardest when I’ve met someone I like and I can’t see them that often, because I stop being able to use online dating sites as a way to distract myself. (Even when trying not to date, I find myself sneaking on.)
And right now my fear and sadness are keeping me from being able to do my academic work. But I must work. And even though he knows more about what’s really going on with me than anyone I’ve dated since this all started, I’m still scared of driving M. away. His family is in Houston, so he’s not gone off the rails as far. He has a local support system, and his kids. Meanwhile, my phobia of being alone raises my anxiety to the point where I get sick.
All of that aside, he makes me realize the difference between actual compatibility and just wanting something to fit.
(Ed. note: I was trying to be good about the dating thing but he reached out to me and I HAD to meet another person in their mid-30s who’d just left a 16-year relationship/marriage. It’s not exactly common, and hearing how much our experiences overlap has been so good for me. So if nothing else, it’s been phenomenal to talk to M.)