So many times, it’s the hidden part of a situation that’s the most complicated. Most things were obvious, splitting the possessions, deciding who was getting the house, the dog, the furniture. Making sure the financial problems were all ironed out…all the physical, visible things to be taken care of were painful, but tangible. When my marriage fell apart, and it was obvious that it was for good, it was the intangible that I stumbled on. It was hard for me to place who I was.
When you are young, you’ve never been anything but single. You are a toddler, a child, a teenager, a young adult and while you are all those things, you are single. Then you marry. Even if you got married suddenly, you probably had thought about it during your single years, maybe even day dreamed about how it would be. Even before you met “the one” you had preconceived ideas about married life. You saw how your parents, or other couples interacted and you took for granted that one day you would also have a spouse. When you became a spouse, mentally and emotionally you slid into the role and even if it didn’t fit like a glove immediately, you grew into it and identified as a married person.
Then your life is turned upside down and you are single again, but it’s not the same as the first time you were single. I remember having a tear-filled conversation with my dad, telling him, “I don’t know how to BE! I’m not married anymore, but how can I go back to being single?” So many things had changed, not only in my life circumstances, but in me. Now I owned a home…by myself. When I was single, I rented a small apartment. During the years I was married, most of my single friends had also married, and still were. How would this change my place in their lives, especially the friends that shared friendships with my husband and me? How did I reclaim my identity as a single person instead of half of a couple?
How do I reconcile in my mind that I no longer am responsible for taking care of another person? This one was, surprisingly, a big one for me, because frankly, I really missed taking care of my husband after our split. Funny, I didn’t miss him taking care of me, because he hadn’t, except to take the garbage out…I miss him for that.
During the violent years, I had also lost some “friends”. Some of these people had been in my life for many, many years. When things got tough for me, they bailed. Now that my abuser was no longer in my life, some of them tried to reestablish a relationship, but I just couldn’t do it. I had been hurt way too much to let in someone who had deserted me when I needed a friend the most. There were the friends who, even though, during my troubles, they didn’t know what to say or what to do, I knew that if and when I needed them, they would be there. And they still are. So, my friendship garden was weeded of all the pretend friends, and I’m left with the real beauties.
It all worked out, though, as things in life tend to do. As the days went by, the rhythm of my life established a pattern and I slipped into it minute by minute, day by day. I found myself again, as I healed and got stronger. I became a single person, and this time I had wisdom that comes with trials. As I reached out to help other victims, I relished in the freedom my single life provided, to give my time and energy to others who were walking the road I had just walked down myself.
My parents did a lovely thing for me the first Christmas after my marriage ended. They gave me a gorgeous black onyx ring set in a delicate gold setting to wear on my left-hand ring finger. It was my “single” ring. I love it and wear it contentedly, now that I know how to “be.”