Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Decisions. Decisions. Decisions.




The e-mail from the lawyer’s office was one simple sentence.

The final papers for the divorce were ready for my signature.

I sat and stared at the message, unable to decide how I felt. Relief, anger, frustration, confusion, sadness, anticipation, bewilderment: all of these emotions rose to the surface, swirled together like an oil stain on a driveway after a rain.

Seven months ago, I would have been confused by this colorful variety of emotions, but ever since HOB had announced that he was leaving our marriage, I have been forced to accept my inability to articulate a single emotion for very long.


And so on the scheduled Thursday afternoon, I drove to the office to sign the papers.

It tore me up to know I would face those legal papers again—the black and white starkness of the paper and lettering like a graveyard in the winter time. HOB had already signed on the solid line on the left-hand side of the paper. The blank line on the right-hand side waited like the other tombstone on our thirty-year marriage. All I had to do was inscribe my name and the date and it was done--set in stone.

I climbed the stairs to the office and found I was oddly calm as I opened the door, greeted the secretary and reviewed the papers. My heart raced a little, a few tears formed, but then the business-like nature exuded by those papers, and the emotionless language in front of me formed a temporary barrier to any tenderness that may have crept through.

I placed the pen on the paper and signed my name.

Stepping outside the office, I realized I was still lost in a vortex of emotions. Nothing specific surfaced. I tried to force myself to pin down what it was that I was feeling, but the oil slick of emotion just moved and slithered into another indescribable pattern.

I was walking away from a process that had dominated my life for the last six months. It was a process that had been initiated by HOB. It was a process that had been directed by and shaped by his desire to leave our marriage. My normally predictable life had been taken hostage by his decision and the accompanying requirements to meet the demands of the process. I had been run ragged by marathon of changes that I had to make, by the myriad of details I had to attend to, by the dictates of lawyers and the legal system. All this and the incredible emotional toll upon my heart and soul had affected every single second of my day and night.

As I slowly walked down the steps, compressed memories of our journey together came back to me and like spikes on a bar graph, I quickly saw that all our major decisions within our marriage had centered on HOB. Our move from Kansas to California thirty years ago had been HOB’s idea. Our moves to three different cities within the state had been prompted by his education and his job opportunities. To be sure, I had been a willing participant in the decisions we made, but the fact remains that they were always based on his education and his career.

I reached the bottom of the stairs and realized that not since I was a junior in college had I thought of my needs and myself first.

Every decision I had made in the last thirty years had been based on the needs of my husband and children. This had been the way I had chosen to live my life and it wasn't that I regretted it, it was just that I realized that now life would be different. Very different.

I had been playing a fast-paced game of ping-pong for years but had never served the ball.

Now what?

It was a scary and daunting question.

I started the car and drove to the end of the parking lot, where I sat for a minute before I turned out into the street. All my thoughts and planning had been aimed just to get through the signing of the documents. I had not thought about what to do afterwards and so I sat there and briefly considered my options. I could turn right and go get something to eat or go shopping. I could turn left and go home. I could take the freeway and go back to work. I could....

As I sat there, looked from side to side, and thought about my options, there suddenly arose a sound from my throat. It was a sound I had never, ever, in a million years, expected to hear at this dramatic time in my life.

It was the sound of my own laughter.

I sat there in my car and heard myself fill up the air with bubbles of laughter.

I honestly didn’t know which way to go and it was honestly OK!

There were so many choices. It was scary to think about but also exhilaratingly powerful.

Decisions? Lots of them and all mine to make.

Pitfalls? Yes and they were mine to fall in.

Triumphs? Mine to have.

Mistakes? Mine to make.

Lessons? Mine to learn.

Tears? Mine to shed.

Happiness? Mine to discover.

I must have sat there in the car for a full minute, listening to my own sincere, absurd, astonishing laughter.

Then, still smiling like a maniac, I turned left, toward where the sun was shining.

Toward my home.

Toward my own beautiful, uncertain, exciting future.



54 comments:

Mamma has spoken said...

It's nice to read that you are in a good place now especially since I know you had MANY days that were hard on you. I will say a little prayer of thanksgiving for you. And keep in mind: it's his lost....

Catherine said...

And now you are driving down the road of "you". Everywhere you look, everywhere you turn, everywhere you go, you can concentrate on yourself and become who you are, who you are meant to be, who you want to be. Freedom for your future!

Stay positive sweet Betty! Life ~ it's all yours for the taking!
xo Catherine

Daisy said...

It's Betty time! And that's a very good thing. :-) I'm sure you will shine, as you already are such a wonderful light in this world.

Leah J. Utas said...

Yes. You. Good for you for getting there, getting through it, and getting on with you.

Old Kitty said...

I say bravo!!!

It's a brave new wonderful BB who emerged into the light! Take care
x

Lin said...

Wow.

Betty, I love you. I do. You are incredible. You are brave. You are dignified. You are strong. You are....you are.....You ARE. :)

Thank you for sharing your story with us. I wish I was there to give you a big hug and cheer you on, pally. I wish you happiness as you venture forth to the rest of your life.

You are something, girlie. And I'm proud of you that you made it.

baygirl32 said...

there is no doubt, you will make an impact Betty!

Olga said...

Beautifully expressed. I loved the ping-pong metaphor especially. All the best on your new path.

Shelly said...

God bless you, Betty. The best is yet to come, I just know it.

Marg said...

YaY, Betty, way to go. That is such a good attitude. Well done. Have yourself a wonderful day.

Pearl said...

Oh, Betty. You are wonderful. Just wonderful.

I'm excited about this next stage of your life. :-)

Pearl

Teresa Evangeline said...

I'm happy and excited for you and it's only going to get better. Your very own journey of discovery!

Flartus said...

yay! I am so happy to read that last line--that you consider the house yours, regardless of its history.

I know it's been a really long, hard slog for you, but gosh, six months seems like such a short time for a radical change in your life. It's like getting off an hours-long flight to find yourself on a different continent, adapting to a vastly different culture, language, etc.

I'm really looking forward to seeing where you head next!

Ami said...

I so appreciate the way you've shared what's in your heart and in your head as you've gone through this huge... thing.

You can now do ANYTHING. That has to feel amazing.

BECKY said...

Hi Betty! Well...it seems as if Congrats are in order! I remember in years past, if someone said they were divorced, my usual thing to say would be, "Ooh, I'm sorry." But for a very long time now, I'll stop and look at the person, see if I can tell what emotions they're feeling...and usually say, "Oh! Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" You are free to be YOU now! I also love the ping-pong metaphor!!

Madi and Mom said...

God Bless you BB you have finally been released for a type of limbo that was not your making. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Seize the moment you are now Mom to Evan and SOB and your own person!!
Hugs Madi and Mom

Slamdunk said...

I am glad that you have found some peace in this extreme challenge Betty. I will enjoy reading about your many joys to happen.

EmptyNester said...

Wow Betty. I just continue to be in awe of you! You are quite an amazing woman! I still think you need to write a book- so many can benefit from your talent and your story. I'll buy the first copy!

Lydia Kang said...

I'm so glad that you now have complete ownership of your life and your heart. You were too good for him. You will always be too good for him. He never deserved you and never will.

(((hugs)))

Talli Roland said...

Yaaay! Oh, I love this post. The glory of possibilities, of the unknown! And of London! :) :)

Mandy_Fish said...

This gave me chills! Sooooo good. And sooo good for you.

Tabor said...

Congrats on the first good decision you have made today. Perhaps you made tea or worked in the garden or just listened to some music when you got home. I am now waiting for the post when "former" or "ex" or "long-gone" appears in front of the term HOB on the very rare occasions you may have to type it in future posts.

ellen abbott said...

It was a tough slog, I know. But now? The world awaits.

Brian said...

The world is ready and waiteing for you...and we're here riding shotgun for you!

jenny_o said...

There is a time and place for giving to our loved ones, but there is incredible freedom in only having ourselves to be responsible for. You have earned that many times over. Enjoy it to the fullest, dear Betty.

Nat said...

Betty, the future is everything that you make it... and I know you will make it a great one!
All the best to you....

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Betty, after all you've been through, that's a wonderful attitude to take! The world is yours now - go get it.

Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I wish I had that same sense of peace about it. I didn't and I still don't but our situation is quite unique. Now you can officially move forward, Betty. Bravo!

annie said...

I hope you are always smiling from now on Betty.

Hilary said...

You inspire. May the road ahead always be smooth.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

You are one impressive person. I laugh with you.

Gigi said...

Ah Betty. I imagine now that the legal stuff is behind you it must feel very freeing. I'm excited for the next chapter in your life.

Many hugs.

Ann said...

as heartbreaking as divorce can be it can also be very liberating. There's nothing quite like the feeling of being in total control and it sounds like you have taken over the reigns quite nicely.

Ms. A said...

I think I may be as surprised by your laughter, as you were! You've come a long way baby... yeehaw!

Larri @ Seams Inspired said...

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields...
and may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Happy Wednesday to you, Betty!

Shan said...

Love this!

The Green Streak said...

How ironic that the person seeking freedom isn't the one who found it. Love you, Betty. Big hugs!

Out on the prairie said...

Very nice, I had a sigh of relief with you.

Retired English Teacher said...

Cool. Way cool. These comments may sound a bit simplified, but that is how I feel about your reaction to signing those papers. You get to go on and make yourself a life. It will be good, Betty. Very good.

faye said...

Another giant step forward...
they come easier now..
love the laughter.. it resonates

Anne Gallagher said...

Yay for YOU! I'm so happy for you. Life is an open road now, so drive it baby -- 80 miles an hour with the top down, radio blaring!

Susan in the Boonies said...

What a poignant, powerfully written piece, Betty.

Thank you so much for sharing it with us. Thank you for being vulnerable.

I can't imagine how daunting it must be at times, and yet, how heady all that freedom is!

I'm so glad that you took a moment to allow yourself to feel whatever bubbled up, and so grateful that what bubbled up was laughter!

Love,

Susan

SueAnn said...

Good for you...and keep laughing and feeling your new found wings. Fly dear one...fly!!!'
Hugs
SueAnn

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Betty .. so pleased it's done and dusted and you're laughing .. enjoy your own decisions now .. and have fun with your wonderful family, your boys and your friends .. cheers Hilary

Pat said...

YES!! My fist is pumping in the air! "YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE IT AFTER ALL!"

I am thrilled to be reading this! You go girl!

LittleSilkDress said...

It's time for Betty!

Sarah said...

Now your real life begins. In a way your self centered partner had done you a great favor. Have a party first!

Baby Sister said...

Oh I am so happy that you're in a good place. :) I can only imagine that having this behind you has taken such a big load of your shoulders. You're amazing, Betty. :)

Claire Hennessy said...

What a beautiful post. I so hear you. When I got divorced I felt similar emotions and freedom and laughter were definitely two of them. Best of luck. It just gets better :) New follower.

Heidrun Khokhar said...

You have come a long way. The direction you chose made the best sense and laughter is the healthiest way to improve a negative situation. Love the image you chose for this.

Mommy on the Spot said...

Beautiful post!

Leanne said...

SMILING ear to ear as I read the last part of this one! SMILING EAR TO EAR! In your honor, my friend. Happy Future, Betty!

The Empress said...

Oh, Betty: what a spirit you have. I pray that someone today finds this blog, and reads your words, and can look to them to just take one step at a time.

Pat Tillett said...

GREAT attitude!
One chapter (a long one) closes and a new one begins. It's beginning well it appears...