This morning as I was snuggling with my youngest child, who is 9 years-old but still manages to find her way into my bed most nights, I had a realization. I am happy. It’s been a long time coming. My divorce has been final now for just over two years. It’s been a rocky road and it seems so long since I recognized happiness. Yet somehow, happiness snuck up on me.
There is still plenty to worry about. I worry about money constantly. I worry about things that might happen to the house that I can’t afford to fix. I worry that the kids might do drugs, or get sick, or flunk out of school. But, really, I worried that those things might happen when I was married. Worrying about things that might happen is one of the things I do best.
Lying there this morning, surrounded by the smell of strawberry shampoo on my sleeping daughter’s head, I thought back to where I was at this time in years past. For instance, four years ago I was miserably married. I felt anxious in my home and pure dread at the thought of him coming home from work every day. There were strained silences and awkward attempts to make it better without actually talking about ‘it’.
Three years ago, we were mentally separated but still living together. Sleeping in separate rooms, stilted conversation when the kids were present and none at all when they were not. It was gut wrenching. Yes, three years ago, the first items on my grocery list every week: Tums and Prilosec.
Two years ago, it was over, but barely. I had replaced gut wrenching stomach spasms with alternating feelings of relief and panic. Could I pay the bills? Were the kids coping okay? This time last year, I don’t really remember. I think that I was just making it and adjusting to my new reality. Looking back, there were good days mixed with bad days.
This morning I felt nothing but happy thoughts. I see that I have found myself again. I’ve found the things that I enjoyed before my marriage that I lost with him. For example, he couldn’t sleep with the light on, so after reading before bed for as far back as I can remember, I quit. Over time, that part of me fell away. I’ve rediscovered music, hobbies, and old and new friends. I’ve found love again and it is a healthier love that doesn’t require me to lose myself.
As odd as it sounds, I have rediscovered my children. In a marriage, you and your spouse become a ‘Parental Unit’. That isn’t a bad thing, it is something that must happen. However, it seems that now they get the best of both of us and not a marginally engaged Parental Unit. When I am with them, I’m myself. Not miserable, not anxious, not worried about upsetting the other half of the Unit. When I’m with them we are all engaged. Because I’m not part of a Unit anymore, the kids do things with me. When I drive, they listen to music with me and participate in conversation. In the old days, the Parental Unit would sit in the front while the kids slumped in the back with head phones. Unit free, I know my children better.
After years spent apart, I’m starting to recognize my soul. Sometimes, I shake my head in disbelief at how I could have ever lost myself to that extent. Today, I feel myself opening up like a flower. I want to celebrate the return of Me.