When I first moved back I took a part-time job at a retail store 45minutes away from my house. I can assure you that the pay wasn’t worth my time or commute but it did provide an escape. It allowed me to escape my hometown where rumors and gossip spread like a nasty stomach bug. No more bumping into old acquaintances who wanted to know everything about my charming life abroad. Everyone would ask the same question, “Why are you home visiting for so long?”. I’d revert to my “I’m just visiting for the summer” answer and then turn on my emotionally baggaged smile. I could see they sensed something had happened but would never ask. They’d glance down at my left hand and then look back at me as if I hadn’t noticed the direction of their eyes. They had their answer. The tan line on my finger wasn’t as subtle as I had hoped. Instead it created a beaming reflector that glistened with every move I made. For my benefit, the topic would quickly change to something else other than the popular follow up question, “Is your husband visiting with you?”.
I wanted to escape.
The retail job also allowed me to escape my thoughts. I would replay scenes in my head over and over again; putting myself through agony by reliving every moment that I wanted to forget. I’d lock myself in my bedroom in the basement which seemed to cement in all my thoughts. No sunlight to remind me of a new day.
I had to escape.
So I resorted to a laid back uniform of dark jeans, a white shirt and scuffed up Sperry’s and pretended to like over-priced peacock pillows for 4hrs at a time. All I really wanted to do was cuddle with my Golden Retriever, Carlos, and watch a panel of women talk about celebrity gossip all day. But instead, I forced myself to interact with people and focus my mind on something else other than my crummy situation. Sometimes we have to be our own self-motivator. Looking back, I have no idea how I found the clarity to make such a healthy decision. Just going through the motions is not always a bad thing – sometimes it’s the only thing that reminds us that we are still alive and able to function.
My time at the retail store only lasted 3months. It was uncomplicated, mind-numbing, self-forgetting, retail therapy – and my sweet escape.
It always happens when I least expect it. I’m gaining back my inner strength, becoming independent again. Then, the simplest thing occurs that reminds me of the one thing I’m trying to forget – I’m alone.
What caused it this time? A burrito joint, of all things. What could ever cause a Spanish infused establishment to bring out the complete lonesomeness inside of me, I’ll never fully understand. The walls were an orange-y brown texture and the floor was covered in vibrant tiles which were laid out perfectly to guide customers to the counter. The invisible punch to the stomach made me regret my decision for Mexican. Maybe I should’ve settled on Panera Bread instead since I have no emotional ties to soups and sandwiches. But burritos. He loves burritos. And he’s not here to critique these burritos with me and therefore, I’m alone. And when the man standing beside me decides to approach me because I no longer have an invisible shield around me (also known as a wedding band), I’m alone. Or when I can no longer leave my wallet and phone at the table when I want to use the restroom because there’s no one there to watch my things, I’m alone.
See how it works? I’m going about my new life, accepting my circumstances and then it happens – the past sneaks up like a ninja and catches me off guard. As soon as I walked thru those Spanish doors, I was emotionally clotheslined.
I find it strange how these two worlds collide. It feels almost intrusive for old memories to come barging in anytime they choose. Shouldn’t I be the one to tell them when to show up? For just a brief moment in time I wish I could reach over and grab a remote and press pause; take a thirty minute break from my new reality. It’s scary at times. It’s so easy to want things to be the way they were because that’s all I’ve known – not because it was necessarily healthy. The future, the unknown, it’s new territory that I have yet to discover.
After shoving my face with rice, beans, and a side of tears, I headed off to class. When I walked into the room I sucked in my full stomach so that I could fit down the aisle and take my seat. After sliding myself into my elementary sized desk, I rummaged through my bag to pull out all of my books and writing utensils and like a dramatically rehearsed entrance, my divorce papers came flying out like a rude reminder. And once again, my two worlds collide.
“…alone or not, you gotta walk ahead.” – Ps I Love You
Hold your head up. LiveXL
Pale skin, soft feet, and faded freckles – a lot has changed since I moved back from the Middle East. The journey back to the United States was heart wrenching, tiring, and humbling. A failed marriage flew me back to my homeland and sent me into a world of daunting uncertainty. What was I to do? I hadn’t even had a chance to dream up new ideas and goals for myself and quite frankly, I didn’t want to. How was I supposed to pick up the pieces of my life and start afresh? Everyone said that starting over sounded liberating but did it really? To me it sounded terrifying and like a lot of work. Everything within me wanted to just hide from the obligations of life and cry – sob actually. How did this become my new reality? My chance of ever being a mom and raising a happy little family seemed to have been taken from me along with my marriage. Just an overall robbery of the heart.
And then one year passed. Here I am still alive and breathing. Time has continued on like a conveyor belt; stretching the gap between my old life and new life. The saying, ‘time heals all wounds’ – not true. Therapy, honesty, tears and a whole lot of determination to make something of yourself – that brings forth healing. Time itself does nothing. I realized that the end of my marriage wasn’t the end of my story, it was just a thickening of the plot. It created a page turner and/or a means to a sequel. “What will she do next?” or “I can’t wait for the next book!” It’s better when you think of it in that sense.
I grew up in a fairly religious and sheltered environment and my experience with pain, heartache and life in general was pretty limited. Not that pain and heartache is something to be sought after but in my opinion, it does allow you to relate to a good portion of the world. Divorce is a very messy and unfortunate occurrence to happen to anyone and not something I’d wish upon my worst enemy. But if it has to be apart of my story, then I’ll accept it.
My experiences have changed me and have opened my eyes. I’ve been all over the world and have seen great riches and devastating poverty. I’d rather have loved deeply once and have it come to an end then to have never loved at all. I appreciate traditions and embracing your own uniqueness. And I admire individuals who are figuring life out and are in no rush to know it all – it truly is a journey.
As I move forward and encounter new experiences, friendships and memories, I’m reminded that life is but a breath. Tomorrow is not guaranteed and life is too short for comfort zones. Embrace your own individual story and do something epic with it – we all have a purpose and something to share with the world. Dare to dream, explore new lands, and do something that terrifies you. LiveXL
“…cos my comfort would prefer for me to be numb. And avoid the impending birth of who I was born to become” Brooke Fraser, C.S. Lewis Song