Posted in Love and Loss

Starter Marriage Advice: How To {and how not to} Move On

No matter how anxious I was to get the separation that had made itself an inevitable fact of my short-lived marriage over with, once it happened (at least the physical one in which he left me… for the final time), I was scared shitless.

When people get scared, survival and comfort sometime take the place of solid judgment and any decisions that require much thought at all. I was probably the dumbest dum-dum in the world as I faced life alone – truly alone in a city in which I barely knew a soul – for the first time.

Looking back, there are some things I did okay, and others that I’ve figured out since. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having to qualify a marriage you thought would work as your “starter marriage,” take heart. Learn from my wisdom gained best by learning it the hard way:

  • Keep working hard. You cannot let your actual life fall apart now. Work will be your sane place, even if your workplace is crazy. Having that focus and requirement for showering and showing up for yourself each day will save you. Don’t let it slip. And don’t you dare cry at work. This is your place to shine. It may be the only place to shine right now, but shine on!
  • Let yourself lose it when you’re alone. I sat on the floor in my empty living room most nights with a bottle of champagne or merlot and my wedding album while I studied the pictures of myself in my wedding dress to decipher a year too late what I must have been thinking. You may choose another route, but don’t be afraid to let it go. This shit hurts.
  • Decide who you’re going to talk to about all of the things. Make sure your people are on board too, but keep your ranting and sobbing to a close group of trusted people. Those people who already know your crazy are the best. They won’t judge, and they will be honored to be there. Just don’t start talking to anyone who will listen, including that guy on the train. Empathetic eyes do not serve as an invitation to unload your baggage on the poor guy.
  • Eat whatever you want that your starter partner hated. This is the time to enjoy the small parts of life that you can at the moment. Live them. You’re going to live the shitty parts too, so make the good ones count double.
  • Adopt a dog. I did, and it changed my life and also my perspective. Plus, she’s still here loving me like the day we met. I can’t say the same thing about anyone else.
  • Let people help you. Just let them loan you furniture, or cook you dinner, or over-serve you bottles of wine at their place while you cry. You feel alone, but the truth is: everyone feels alone. We’re all in this together. See the small kindnesses around you everyday. And it will make you feel better to show kindness in return.
  • Save your money. This legal crap could get hairy. And if it doesn’t, having some extra cash in the bank is going to feel pretty great when it’s all over. But be kind to yourself when you screw this one up on too many tequila shots, too.
  • Love yourself.
  • Let other people love you too {but not too much… see below}.
  • Don’t give your heart away too quickly after this messiness is through. You just lost a partner you probably believed would be there forever. I did, and we were only married a year. I get it. It’s a nice feeling to think that someone might be back by your side again before you even get to the really lonely part. You are going to need that really lonely part, though. It’s going to make you learn to love the darkest parts of yourself. It’s going to make you feel like your heart has been shattered in a million pieces, and it’s going to hurt so badly. But the really lonely part is where the real shit lives. And the really real shit makes us who we were meant to be. It makes us listen to God, or the universe, or whatever it is that has the courage to get real, and cruel, and all-the-while compassionate with us.
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