There are things about divorce that nobody tells you ahead of time.
This is one of them.
Before my tsunami divorce, I felt like a capable adult.
There were moments where I felt like a complete badass.
And moments where I felt like a weak and vulnerable child.
Those feelings of vulnerability have a tendency to pop up at the most unexpected times.
When Somebody Shows You Kindness
I felt a strange mixture of relief and vulnerability when I first talked to the officer that arrested my then-husband. Relief because I had somebody who knew what they were doing to take control for a bit. And vulnerability because his kindness revealed both how in need I was and helped prevent me from an “everybody sucks and I’m going to become a hermit” mentality.
For months, every act of kindness extended my way was met with tears. Of gratitude and also from a feeling of powerlessness. Because apparently I wasn’t as good as hiding my vulnerability and pain as I liked to think I was.
During an Uncontrolled Reaction to Something Small
Every time my phone would buzz, I would jump. I feared more bad news from the attorneys or police. I dreaded yet another fruitless and scary conversation with a creditor. And I secretly hoped it was my still-husband, full of apologies and regrets.
I hated the power that damn phone had over me. I wanted to be in control of my feelings and it was such a humbling admission that this little brick of metal and plastic had more sway with my emotions than I did.
When You’re Sick or Injured
It was just a run-of-the-mill stomach bug. But on top of feeling miserable, I felt completely helpless. Not only was my body useless, my mind was as well. And this time, I didn’t have my husband to lean on and act as my protector while I healed. More than ever before, I related to animals that hide in their burrows whenever they’re sick or injured. It’s simply too scary to face the world when you’re less than a hundred percent.
When You Need Help With a Task
It’s funny in hindsight. I was shoving things in my car to take them from my marital home turned mausoleum to the friend’s house where I would be staying. At one point, I needed three hands to both carry things, open a door and shoo away a pernicious yellow jacket.
Only there were no hands nearby to help.
I set down the things I was carrying with the intention of swatting at the insect and opening the door. Instead, I ended up sitting on my driveway (only it wasn’t really mine anymore) sobbing for the next several minutes. In that moment, everything seemed impossible.
When You Realize You’re Alone
It was just a stupid form.
Yet it was so much more.
“Emergency contact” stared back at me with accusing eyes, as though taunting me that I didn’t have anyone to put in the blank.
I could put in one of my parents, yet they both lived across the country, so that seemed somewhat silly. I could pencil in the friend I lived with, but she was completely overwhelmed with being the emergency contact for her new baby. I sifted through other friends, yet I kept picturing them confused when they received a call as my emergency contact. “Why did she pick me?” they would think.
And so I left it blank.
Realizing that ultimately, I had to take care of myself.
When You Meet Someone New
I was supposed to be happy.
And I was.
But I was also scared sh*tless.
Because if I developed feelings for this guy, it meant I would have to open up.
And if I opened up, I risked being hurt all over again.
But if I stayed curled up in my protective burrow, I knew I would never live again.