“Cold is not so cold, if you are not afraid of it.” – Laura Ingalls Wilder
It’s the frenzy before the storm. The first blizzard of the year, and everyone’s behaving as though the apocalypse is coming. Who knows? It very well may be. In fact, a little over three years ago I believed it had when we suffered an unseasonably early ice storm during October 2011 that paralyzed much of the Tri-State area, causing widespread and long-lasting power outages.
That storm marked the tail end of my marriage, and all that was wrong with it. My husband had been working almost exclusively overseas by then, commuting back and forth each month. Home for one of those visits, he scheduled himself to leave right before the impending storm was about to hit.
His flight never made it off the ground, though, and after getting the call, I waited for him to return home. By the time he arrived we had lost power, and finding a hotel room was already proving difficult, if not impossible.
Within a matter of hours, our picturesque tree-lined community suddenly resembled a war-torn village in mid 20th century Europe, marred by downed live wires that hung menacingly from trees and blocked winding streets at every turn. With our 11, 10 and six year-old children in tow, my husband drove us to safety, finding what must’ve been the last available room anywhere in a budget motel not of my choosing. It was nothing short of serendipitous, and I was grateful for the warm bed, as well as for my husband’s assistance, though I suspect now I could’ve managed without him.
Apparently, so did he because a few days later when the power still hadn’t been restored, my husband headed to Asia. Though I pleaded with him to stay, he contended work demanded he be there. We’d be fine, he reassured me with a figurative pat on the back and left.
Over the next week, I struggled to maintain normalcy for our children, filling our days as best I could. Because I couldn’t leave our beloved family cat (no one I knew with power would accept us as houseguests with him), I was forced to stay local, spending nights in our little motel room and our days either on the move or in our cold house, attempting to maintain some semblance of order.
I felt like a modern day, albeit princess-like, version of Caroline Ingalls, protecting my family and my not so “little house” on the suburban street from the elements until Pa came home. Unbeknownst to me at the time, only a few short months later Pa would tell me he’d never be coming home again.
My husband’s parting gift to me was a full-house generator, which I’ve already had occasion to use. And though it’s not my husband or any husband for that matter, it has kept me warm at night when I needed it most.
I don’t deny that during times of stress I’d welcome emotional support from another. But I’m accustomed to not having it, in retrospect not even during my marriage. Today, finding a healthy partnership is a matter of want, not need.
Three years have passed since I first weathered that storm alone. I’ve gone on to weather many others, most notably the storm of my divorce. And I’m still standing strong. As I brace for the next one, I say, “Mother Nature, bring it on.” This suburban girl is no longer afraid of the cold.
How have you found strength and independence after divorce?