Something about the new year puts me (and I’m sure many others) in a reflective mood. Four years ago, I was just starting to awaken from the life-of-the-living-dead state that was my norm during the divorce. At that time, I was feeling the great losses in my life and I had not yet truly begun to build my new life. Now, I can see the bigger picture of what was lost and now has been found.
Lost – My Memory
The divorce was a blow to my synapses. I was shocked to find that my usual sharp memory was faded and fuzzy, even about recent events. I struggled to remember facts from the months before the divorce and I found that I had difficulty forming new memories. I misplaced things, couldn’t keep students straight and didn’t retain books or movies. As a corollary, I suddenly found that I stumbled my way through more difficult math problems that used to be simple.
Found – Patience and Empathy
I’ve never been one known for patience, especially when I have to repeat myself. When my memory was faulty, I gained more empathy and patience for others around me who also had trouble remembering things, regardless of the cause. Even now that my memory is pretty much back to normal (except for a few months that are still a mixture of hyper-real flashes and vague confusion), I still remember what it was like to be confused and unable to retain information.
Lost – My Sense of Security
I lost my security in a literal sense; I had less than nothing to my name once he left. But, even worse, I lost the feeling of security. I had been living with a man that I thought had my back, financially and otherwise. All of a sudden, that backup was gone and I felt very vulnerable and scared, often a paycheck away from disaster.
Found – Confidence in My Earning Potential
In my former life, I used to bring in extra money through tutoring and through selling lesson plans. I did okay, but there was a definite ceiling to those activities. After he left, I had to revise my view of myself and I learned that those limits were self-imposed. I’m still working on building my nest egg, but I am much more confident in my ability to make it happen.
Lost – My Hair
I faced the trifecta of tress troubles with the divorce. I first noticed that my hair was falling out in handfuls. For the first time, I had to buy a hair trap for the shower drain. To make matters worse, my hair pretty much stopped growing. In fact, it only started again about two years ago, which means I now have a bunch of 2″-3″ long pieces interspersed with the longer strands. And then, just to be extra cruel, my first gray hairs appeared within weeks of him leaving. Could be a coincidence, especially because supposedly stress does not cause gray hair, but I’m not so sure.
Found – Peace in Aging
I may not allow the gray to show, but having my hair defy me at 32 actually gave me some peace with the whole aging process. I developed a relaxed attitude about the whole thing. And now, when the wrinkles are showing or the gray is peeking out around the temples, I just see it as a sign of a life lived.
Lost – My Appetite
Some people overeat when they are stressed. I’ve always been the opposite; my digestive tract shuts down completely. As a result, I lost over 20 lbs in those first few weeks, which led to a cardiac arrhythmia and came close to putting me in the hospital. I lived with my friend and her sick and premature infant that year. We joked that her job was to fatten up both of us. It took a couple years, but I finally put the pounds back on.
Found – An Appreciation For Food
I used to see food only as a neccessity. Now, I see it as nourishment on many levels. I had many people help me to eat that first year and now I like to feed others. I have come to enjoy the ritual and symbolism of food as well as the preparation and nutrition.
Lost – My Sex Drive
My body felt leaden, dead and my mind was completely oblivious to members of the opposite sex. I remember being scared that it was gone for good, as though it was something I could only feel with my ex. It seemed like a cruel joke to be single and have no interest in mingling. Luckily, as I eventually learned, that was not the case.
Found – Comfort in Being
Without the distraction of men those first several months, I spent a lot of time alone. I learned to be comfortable with myself, by myself. I discovered that I didn’t always have to be doing something; I could simply be.
Lost – My Home
We had a home that we had purchased ten years prior. We had spent countless hours creating the home we wanted, from a new kitchen to a dream deck. In addition, I had a one acre garden that was my passion.
Found – Peace With Imperfection
I used to be a classic perfectionist, always wanting things to be just so. With the loss of the home and my nomadic and limited living quarters for the next few years, I learned to give up on the idea that things need to be perfect. Now, I can find perfection in a chipped plate:)
This list could continue forever. I lost so many things, from my husband, to my home and even my beloved dogs. My possessions were gone. My iTunes library was erased. I lost the family I had with my in laws and the shared history with my ex.
I lost so much, but I found even more. I credit that with two things that I refused to lose in the divorce – my sense of humor and my hope that things could get better. And with those two things, anything is possible:)