When I was married I would fantasize about a day where I could sit alone in my house with no interruptions, drinking a big glass of red Zin, some chocolates and whatever Netflix has to offer. It would be magical. No waking children needing a glass of water or another bedtime story. No husband there wanting to watch something completely unappealing to me. Just me, in a quiet room. Maybe I could catch up on my scrap-booking – which took a major halt once I found I was pregnant with #2. Maybe I could paint my nails and do that mask that has been sitting in a drawer in the bathroom for months. The pleasant ideas were endless.
Post marriage – the thought of sitting alone in a room in silence terrifies me. I cannot do it. There is something different about being alone when you’re married and when you’re divorced. The silence is louder. The panic sets in. Before long I am texting a friend, inviting someone over, or finally responding to that “just okay” guy who keeps reaching out to me on one of many dating sites.
Even when I am in the company of friends I feel a difference. I had a birthday party to attend shortly after we separated where I naturally went by myself. The dinner table was all couples. This wasn’t the first time I attended a couples gathering by myself. The X and I often split up to do our own thing (red flag #146) plus it was sometimes easier than finding a babysitter. But this time it felt much different. I never feel like a third wheel in these situations but there is something different about going solo when you have someone at home and going solo because you don’t. These are people I hang out with all the time. If the X were there we probably wouldn’t even be talking to each other (red flag #147). Still I was so much more aware that I am now single and that is reason the seat next to me is empty. I felt like everyone in the restaurant was staring at me. Like they were pointing at me saying “there’s the damaged, broken one who doesn’t have a husband” and I was forced to perk up with a smile on my face as if it didn’t even phase me.
Grocery shopping alone even feels different now. The weekends where we didn’t have a million things going on were spent going to Costco and the local grocery store. We would plan a bunch of meals for the week and set out as a family of four. The girls would snack on as many samples they could get their hands on. We would make it into a fun afternoon. Now going grocery shopping with two children feels like an obstacle course. The goal is to get the groceries in the cart before the meltdown phase begins. Snacks and iPhone time are used as bribery to keep them sitting down in the cart. By the time I get the groceries, the kids, and myself in the car I’m exhausted and out of breath. When I was married I would get annoyed sometimes that I had to wait for Saturday afternoon to grocery shop as a family. Why can’t I just go on my own time?? Now, I miss those days of having an extra set of hands to control the chaos or entertain the girls while I hunt down that special spice for dinner that night.
But nothing made me feel more alone than the day I found out the X was dating someone. Not just someone, yes you guessed it, the same girl I suspected he was having a relationship with. She was now his GIRLFRIEND as they loved to admit all over social media. And even worse – he introduced her to my children. We had been divorced all of 5 minutes and I got nothing more than a text as an FYI that the girls were meeting her. Now I wasn’t even going through a divorce knowing that it might be just as hard for him. He had moved on immediately (maybe even before it ended but I will never know the truth) and I was the only one processing what had just happened. I was the only one hurting. That was the loneliest feeling yet.
It’s amazing how someone who is surrounded by people constantly could feel so alone. I live in a house with two children and my parents. There is always someone to talk to at home. When I have my kids we are meeting up with other friends having play dates and fun activities. When they are with the X I have back to back plans with so many awesome friends that I am blessed to have. I even somehow make time for the occasional date that I will soon regret when it’s over. I am always on the go and that is the way I like to be. I am rarely ever physically alone, yet I feel more alone than ever.
So why the overwhelming awareness that I am no longer part of a couple? Why do I allow that to define me and my happiness? I wasn’t happy when I was part of a couple, so shouldn’t I be happier now? Is it just that I have been someone’s ‘other half’ for so long that I don’t know how to be a whole person anymore? Is it because the X is with her? I don’t know the real reason for this strange foreign feeling that I have but I am going to challenge it and face it. The X is taking the girls to Florida for a week to celebrate a wedding I am happy not to have to attend anymore. During this week I will stay home. I am going to have that wine and Netflix night and try that mask – by myself. I won’t be texting with anyone I met online. I won’t bail on myself and go out with friends at the last minute. I will take that first step to learn to enjoy my own company and face the silence.
Wish me luck…