Some Reassembly Required
I just got back from a mid-week trip to Detroit for the opening Tigers vs. Royals game. The trip was a birthday adventure for one of my closest friends. When she was a kid, her family always went to the Royals' first game as a celebration. We did the same. The Tigers won and we made friends in the surrounding seats even though my bestie was rooting for the "wrong" team.
This was our second adventure as divorcees. Bestie's divorce was processed two weeks before mine. We became friends when we thought our marriages would work. We stayed friends as we realized they couldn't. Unlike me, she's not a lesbian. Her relationship ended for other reasons. Like me she is no longer the primary caregiver to her children, is now living on her own, and is greatly enjoying freedom from the burden of patriarchal expectation.
She is at peace with her shift in life. It was straightforward and quick once she made her decision. She isn't feeling grief or guilt. Those emotions were processed within her marriage as it died. The transition has been more difficult for me. Coming out as gay is still complicated by my family's insistence this is a phase and a choice. I don't have much contact with anyone in my family. My younger sister is the only person who reaches out regularly and with respect for who I am. My in-laws still love me but also harbor hope/anger that I've made a mistake--that I'm not actually gay or maybe that it's an excuse. While my ex-husband and I are on good terms, they perceive him as being hurt and me as the aggressor. They imagine me to be abandoning my children. Since they are the parents who raised me from 17, this means I've lost more family than most people around me realize.
That gives me grief. That bubbles up as fury. I have a partner I love, but she can't be everything to me. It isn't healthy. Neither of us is interested in being codependent. But it often feels like she is all I have.
I spend a lot of time thinking about hurting myself. I don't want to die, but I imagine it frequently enough. I'd love to disappear. Run away. Move to another country. Live on the water. I'd love to shrug off the fear of disappointing my children as I try to get myself to a good mental space so that I can be the parent they need.
I'm going slow. I have a job. I'm researching positions which will offer me a better income and greater stability. I have an apartment. I have a partner. I have access to food and health insurance. I have far less anxiety than ever before (mostly because I'm not trying to force unnatural intimacy anymore). It doesn't look like I'm doing as well as I have before, but I'm doing exceptionally well considering how big this shift turned out to be.
I'm putting myself together in a way that fits. It feels great to have this freedom even though it hurts to feel so alone. There is a great community here that has taken me in. I have love. I am loved. And I am loving the way I was born to. There is much work to do yet, but I know this is the right work.