It's been about 18 months since the Ex and I agreed, over the phone and on the way home from work that the break was better than the marriage and one of us said the "D" word for the first time. In those 18 months, I've taken a good hard look at a lot of things. At what I want vs. what I have. At who I want to be vs. who I am. At how I want to raise my kids vs. how I am raising my kids.
The truth is that this divorce has been good for me in more than a few ways. I've grieved and I've cried and I've gotten mad. But all in all, I can only say positive things about the shape of my life now compared to the shape of my life then.
For the first few months, I battened down the hatches. I didn't change anything, didn't go anywhere, didn't expose myself to anything. Because I was tender and bruised and a little broken. Because I was afraid of what was waiting for me out in the big world.
In the last few months, I've made some big changes, though. Changes that have helped me find my feet and feel a little more like myself. I got my Jeep, which I love and which has yet to mysteriously quit working for months on end. (Suck it Ford.) I took my kids on a real vacation, something that I always figured was completely out of reach. I've created a lot of new traditions and rituals that make my life go smoother.* I painted my living room. I know that doesn't even seem like a big deal, but it makes my house feel a little bit more like my house and a little less like the House that Marriage Failed. I've done social things. With real people. In real life.
One of my challenges has been to figure out who the single me is. I was married a long time, you know. Well, a long time from my seat.
One big part of that challenge is that who I believe that I am is basically who I was when I was 22. I know, intellectually, that this can't be true. I must have changed. I've lived, loved and lost and that usually adds up to older and wiser territory, but all I can see when I look at myself is an awkward kid who likes to drive with the windows down, loves rainy days and is still trying to figure out what to be when (and if) she grows up.
Someone once told me that an alcoholic becomes arrested at the age they started drinking, failing to mature and grow. Sometimes I feel like that's what I've done. Just stopped. Like I put everything on hold and refuted change and growth for a decade.
But then I look at what I've accomplished, what I've done and I know that I have grown up. I just wasn't looking.
Last night, I was watching Doctor Who with the girls (major parenting win), and I said, "When I grow up, I wanna be River Song." Brynna wrinkled her nose in that way she has when she's really thinking hard about something.
"Mommy," she finally said. "You are grown up and you've got a job and you're who you are."
"I don't think we ever quit growing up," I responded. And I was right. We don't. We don't stop changing and growing and working toward something else. Something amazing.
But she was right, too. I am who I am. And who I am is fine. Better than fine. Who I am is pretty darn great.
Sometimes, I still find myself mourning the life I thought I'd have that's gone forever now. But never the life I had. And never myself. I'm not going anywhere. Except for someplace amazing.
*I'm still working on this one. Getting the kids to do chores is still spotty at best and getting home before bedtime is still rarer than I'd like. I'll get there, though. I know I will because I've already come so far.