Category Archives: new normal

status change

My change in status, from married woman hoping to have children to single, (almost) divorced childless woman has sparked a whole host of growing pains and discomforts for me.  I now find myself in a completely different category, and at times I think that others aren’t quite sure what to do with me, what to talk about with me (no husband, no kids, hey, let’s talk about my dog!!!!) and I’m sure it’s not unrelated that many times I’m unsure about what to do with myself.

This is not as true with people I know well, but comes up with a vengeance with new introductions.

As a married woman, people knew how I “fit.”  As a single woman well out of her carefree twenties, well, it seems I don’t quite fit into society’s roles and rules.  And the fact that I am not alone in my position, the fact that there are countless other women in my shoes, so to speak, does not really change the fact that there is a bit of awkwardness in the small-talk circle.  You have a husband and/or kids:  they know what to do with you.  You don’t:  um, so how’s your job?

And I am coming face to face with the fact that I myself used to see (still see?) single and/or divorced women my age as somewhat pathetic.  Now I have crossed over to this category, and my own belief system has become exposed.  As Hirshmann and Munter say, “The world that exists outside of us exists within us as well.”  The prejudices of the world have been stamped in my brain and have become my own.  Unlearning them will be a big part of becoming comfortable in this new space called my life.

 

in the quiet

This new place I’m living has a lot more quiet.  Once you take out the eleven-year-old niece, the fairly-dysfunctional grandparents who are raising her, and all the noise I kept going in my head to keep their noise out, it’s really, really quiet.

And that’s good.

And that’s also a little uncomfortable.

The quiet isn’t just the house, which is a lot more quiet.  It’s also my life here (so far anyway).  Without any immediate family to speak of, save Miss Famous, my interpersonal obligations will be kept to work and whatever friends I decide to see.

That’s good.

And so far, not too lonely, but there is a smidge of discomfort somewhere in the background.

So what’s that all about?

Well, once I got back into the quiet–which I am definitely, definitely happy about; I would not go back to my parents’ house if you paid me–I felt a bit assaulted by memories and associations.  I moved quite a bit in my years with Mr. X  (4 times, give or take).  This is my first “real” move on my own.  (I’m not really counting when I left him, though I guess I could.  I was so shaky and out of it–it felt more like extreme lifesaving measures than simply “moving.”)  Somehow I kept imagining what it would be like making this transition with him.  Suddenly, he (who had been gone for quite a while) was around every corner and in every other box.  Suddenly, I was pushing him from my thoughts again, finding myself saying, “I don’t care what he thinks,” or “he’s not here.” (I use a lot of italics when I talk to myself.)

And today, in the middle of the HR orientation (which, I must say, was much less boring than I expected), I realized what was going on.  Without the distraction of my family’s dysfunction to focus on, I could finally get back to my own stuff.  So here I was.  Here I am.  And I have realized, in meeting new people and being thrust into new and exciting situations, that I feel much more fragile than I would like to admit.  I feel very vulnerable in a deep way.

I want to write for all of you, who have been my stalwarts, my cheerleaders for so long that I’m jumping up and down with joy every moment of the day.  I want to tell you I’m all better, so you can keep making those happy comments that make me smile.  I certainly have those moments, and I certainly can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be right now.  But I know that I’ve been wounded in a deep place, and that fragile feeling may take a while to shake off.

ok, NOW, let the happy dance ensue

I got the job from my interview last Friday.  I start on Monday (the 14th).

I plan to move in to my new abode this coming Friday and will have the weekend to get me and Miss Famous settled.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

on the cusp, a.k.a. cautiously optimistic

I have been somewhat AWOL from blogging this past week.  Totally not intentional, and I have thought about blogging a lot, does that count?  Yeah, didn’t think so.

So I had a job interview on Friday, and I’m trying really hard not to get my hopes up too much, but it seemed to go pretty well.  I am also trying to work out the logistical details, ahem, with my future housemate.*  I may move in this coming weekend, pending our meeting today over coffee following another job interview (I am much less hopeful about this one for technical reasons–it’s part-time, I probably won’t have my permanent license in hand by the time they require, etc.).  Still, doesn’t hurt to go and talk to them, make the connection, etc.  And a friend from grad school works at the agency, so maybe I’ll see her.

It really feels like the job from Friday is it, but we will see.  I have been known to be wrong before (see: Mr. X, entire history).  All in all things are moving forward, and I am holding myself back (for the moment) from jumping up and down and doing the happy dance.

But that day is coming.

*She wasn’t very quick to return my calls, but was very apologetic once she did.  Her sister has been staying there, so it may be three of us for a short time, until housemate’s sister’s apartment is ready.

domestic futures

As you probably know, I have been living with my parents for the last few months.  Actually, in looking at the date, we’re coming up on five.  Five months of living with mom and dad.

I have been very grateful for all their help, but lately (like the last two months or so), I have definitely been feeling ready to move on.  The problem is there was a disconnect between my feeling emotionally ready to move out and having all the other pieces fall in place (like, um, a job, a place to live, etc.).

My goal has been to move to the nearby Big City for a number of reasons (friends there already, Jewish community, great place to live, close to family).   The main snags in moving to Big City is a) no job yet and b) is very expensive.  In fact, when I would tell people my plans, often, many people would mention how expensive it is to live there–of course, this is compared to the place my parents live, which is EXTREMELY economical, but emotionally not really an option for me for a number of reasons.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw my good friend, the Domestic Wonder Woman.  When I saw her, one of my goals was to ask about our mutual friend, “Nanette,” or more specifically, Nanette’s house.  You see, Nanette owns a house in “my” Big City, but she does not live in it.  Nanette has a very exciting job as a stage manager for a certain company and spends much time travelling and living in other places, which apparently she likes to do, because she has been living thusly for years.  The Domestic Wonder Woman thought Nanette (her best friend from forever) would love to have another tenant (she already has one–but DWW spoke highly of her), so I wrote Nanette an email (actually a fa.cebook message) and waited for her reply.  And waited.  And waited.  (OK, it was only like four days, but it felt like an eternity.)

FINALLY, Nanette wrote back.  And this is what she said:

I squealed aloud from my desk when I read your email….(it kinda gave away the fact that I WASN’T working, oops!) I would LOVE for you to come live at my house.

And let me enumerate the benefits for you:

  • fenced in yard for Miss Famous
  • decent neighborhood
  • furnished (remember, I don’t have any furniture because I left everything behind–I had expected to have to buy everything, but now I don’t have to!)
  • and the bestest, bestest, bestest part?  CHEAP!!!  Nanette’s price is basically what I was paying for a 1-bedroom apartment in a much-cheaper city before TR and I got married (i.e. YEARS ago)–AND IT INCLUDES UTILITIES, INTERNET, AND CABLEhouse

There are still some logistics to work out, not the least of which is, when I will actually move in.  I’d like to move in tomorrow, but I can’t do that without Mom and Dad’s help before getting a job, and I don’t know how up for that they’d be.  Meanwhile I am applying for jobs like a madwoman.  The good news is, I won’t feel so crunched if all I can get is one of the lower paying jobs, as my rent/utilities/etc. are! so! low!  And this in the “expensive” city!

I know it isn’t perfect (what is?).  I would prefer to not have a housemate, and when Nanette (infrequently) blows through town, I’ll probably need to give up my bed to her.  But, really, it would be hard to get better than this.  I never even imagined I would end up in a place with a yard for Miss Famous.  And to not have to worry about furnishing an apartment from practically scratch is such an economic help as well.  I am so excited, I can’t even tell you.

Now I just need a cotton-pickin’ job.

progress notes

It has been over two months since the Great Escape.

I can see progress.

If I ever complain about how I’m doing to my dad, he is very quick to remind me that “at least you’re not doing this like you were,” and makes a shaking motion with his hands.  I think my shaky hands made quite an impression on dear dad.  I shook a lot those first couple of weeks; later it came sporadically.  Now I don’t remember the last time my hands shook.  Progress.

When I first got here, there was one friend I was willing to see, the Bread Maven.  I spoke on the phone to several people, all of whom (except this one) lived far away.  The Bread Maven didn’t tell me this until quite a bit later, but seeing me the first time shook her up a bit.  She told me that I wasn’t myself; I was timid and hesitant, and it was so unlike the friend she remembered.  By the next time we saw each other, she was reassured, and by the next, she felt encouraged enough to tell me all of this.  So, progress.

When I got here I was very happy to hide out at home, go to the grocery store every so often, and help mom out with her house projects.  That was exactly what I needed at first and it gave me enough to do, but not so much that I felt overwhelmed.  I was able to keep busy, but didn’t feel overwhelmed by responsibility.  (Shaking hands don’t hold responsibility well.)  Then, a couple of weeks ago, I kind of started a downward trend, emotionally.  I was eating emotionally All. The. Time. and felt really restless.  Somehow my focus had gotten skewed and helping mom was feeling somewhat dysfunctional.  I’m going to talk about this more in the future, I’m sure, but now I’ll just say that in the past I’ve put myself in the role of mom’s emotional caretaker (and she lets me) and this is No Good for me.  Once, however, I took my primary focus off of “helping mom” and put it back onto “helping me,” things shifted.  Last week I got my driver’s license for this state and my car is now fully registered, with plates and everything.  This felt like preparation for some kind of movement towards job and income, as I have also become discontent with relying on the parents’ pocketbook for cash.  All of these things are progress.  (But, no, I have no real specifics about any job, just a feeling that I could really use one right about now–and that it probably shouldn’t be social work).

Last weekend, I reached out, via the social networking behemoth, fac.ebook, and contacted those friends of mine who are in a relatively close geographical area.  I was starting to feel strange about being so close to them, yet their not knowing.  Since that time, I’ve seen three of them, which is a lot in less than a week’s time, especially if your only social interactions have been with your family and store clerks for the past two months (other than the Bread Maven).  Seeing that so far I haven’t had a breakdown from all this socializing, I would say, this is progress.  The fact that it has not been hard for me to tell my story over and over, and over, and over and over–and, then over again, well, that’s progress, no?  And actually, I would go so far as to say it’s been healing, even, to reconnect with these friends who knew me well before I ever knew the name Mr. X.  And it’s so healing to see myself again as a person who has friends, because for so long, my only friends lived far away and I never talked to them, and my entire existence was centered around Mr. X.

Progress, progress galore.

My list of woes is still woefully long.  My own dysfunction runs deep, and at times I fear, is unplummetable.  This new normal is not normal to me, not yet.  But I can finally see that I am digging my way out, I am making strides, I am taking my two steps forward even when that one or even two steps back daunts me time and again.

I know can do this.

But seeing progress helps.

Were you looking for Victoria?

One of my all time favorite bloggy people is Victoria–she has been around since the old blog and she asked a few questions a while back, and I have been very aware that I wasn’t answering them in a timely fashion–sorry Victoria!    But, see, this way, you get a lot more attention!  🙂  Below are Victoria’s questions, and no, of course, I’m not taking time to write this post because I’m putting off the next and hopefully final installment in the wearingly long story of “how I left Mr. X.”  (Of course not.  Who would do such a thing?)

1) Are you living in the house you grew up in? If so, is it your old room? If so, did your parents change the room or is it the same when you lived there? (I think I am fascinated by this because I never had a “childhood home” due to frequent moves, etc.)

So right now I am living in the house I grew up in.  I am not currently staying in my old room but I soon will be.  I am helping my mom “fix up” the house, and my old bedroom is mostly being used for storage right now (though it is technically the “nicer” guest room).  In the next couple of weeks I believe Miss Famous and I will move into my childhood bedroom, but it is not anything like when I was younger (different furniture, paint, curtains, soon to be different floor, etc.).  There is just a feeling in general, though, just about being in this house–not a bad feeling at all.  It is very comforting, though at other times in my life it would have felt very much like a failure to “come home to Mom and Dad’s.”  Right now, I can’t really imagine where else I would be.  I figure that it will be a good sign (of my recovery) when I no longer want to live here.  For now, I’m good.  Things aren’t perfect, but they’re really good.

2) What are your work plans? I am not rushing you, just curious about your plans. I remember from your old blog that your job required you to visit pregnant and postpartum women to provide education / nutrition info and you said that you didn’t exactly enjoy it. I am wondering if you are going to take this as an opportunity to try something else and if so, what are you thinking? I am sure I have more but I’ll start with those.

Yeah.  Work plans.  Yeah.  So I haven’t really got any plans, so to speak, at the moment.  I have my master’s in social work and I speak Spanish, so there should be plenty of opportunity in either social work and/or Spanish-speaking jobs.  In the state I’m in, I have to pass a licensure exam before I can work as a social worker.  I never took the test here before, because I moved right after graduating to another state.  My first step would be to look into taking the licensure exam.  The truth is, I’m not sure that I can do social work for a while, or if I do social work, it probably needs to be something very different than the kind of things that I’ve done before.  I have found myself to be a bit, um, fragile, lately when it comes to hearing about others’ pain…

Right now I am not working.  I have money in the bank from what I was able to salvage from the joint checking account (i.e. not much) and from my last two paychecks at work (a bit more).  Thankfully, I am not having to touch that money right now, as my parents are paying my way.  It is a strange feeling, and I am fully aware of how lucky/priviledged/blessed I am to be in my situation.  They don’t want me to have to use my money until I have some more coming in.  So they are paying whatever expenses I have until that time (like health insurance).  And I am so incredibly grateful, because, I guess I probably could do it on my own (maybe?), but it’s just so much better that I don’t have to.

My eleven-year-old niece also lives with my parents (they have custody of her–long story), so I guess you could say that they take in strays.  The niece is kind of like a whirlwind of activity, as ADHD kids tend to be.  She sure loves her aunt, and I’m really glad she’s around a lot, but I’m also glad when she goes to stay with my sister for a day or two.  🙂

As I said above, I have been helping my mom “fix up” her house.  Up until now, that has mostly consisted of decluttering, which is no small task as she lives with a champion packrat–my dad, and she and my dad act like children of the depression, so they tend to save everything, anyway.  This week we’ll paint her bedroom, after that, I think we’re moving on to the garage (a.k.a. the place where we put the things we don’t know what do with), which is kind of a nightmare, but that’s a story for another day.  So my mom says that this is my job right now.  I have finally started having a few thoughts about maybe looking into starting to study for my licensure test, which is not exactly a firm committment, I know, but it’s progress.  So, I’m not going into the office every day, but I’m not lying in bed all day, brooding, either.  And, if I need some time off, that’s not really a problem, my boss is pretty cool about it.  🙂