Now and then, especially given the small space of my new home, I clean and purge. This holiday, with just the dog, seemed a good time to purge.
Wednesday, I cleaned my guest room. It has become a storage space of sorts. Bike, sewing/embroidery bits, stationery, cleaning supplies, and tools. All the things I don’t use daily, but need regularly, reside there. I have a china cabinet/hutch in that room that belonged to my paternal grandmother. I sorted through it and found some items from my second marriage.
I have clung to these things, believing that I wanted the good memories with which they were imbued. I found photographs, cutesy keepsakes, jewelry, and pens. All were weighed down with emotions.
Instead of feeling the warmth of good memories, I dropped into rage, ambivalence, or indifference.
Part of the process of recovering from divorce is learning to be alone through all events, good or bad, right? Still, therein lies part of my anger. I was never meant to be alone at this stage of my life. This should not be. Yet here I am.
Thirteen months ago I was more alone than I’ve ever been in my life despite being married. Thirteen months ago I was convinced I was unneeded, unloved, and a burden. Thirteen months ago, I tried to end my life in a very feeble way—by swimming out to into the Gulf of Mexico on a red flag day. At the time, I didn’t even view it as an “active suicide attempt.” I just thought, “If I drown, I drown. No one will be the wiser.” After a treading water in crashing waves, then a quiet panic, and finally finding my feet on the third sandbar again, I made my way back to shore in tears.
Now, I’m divorced, not dating, COVID-19 forces me to avoid being too social, and my child and grandchildren are 240 miles away. Yet, I do have more friends in my life than ever and more care and concern for and from them than I am accustomed to. My siblings and I are closer than we have been in years. Life, while constrained by a virus, has opened up by working on the beach, rescuing birds, and reawakening my interest in human interaction. Some days, many days, in fact, remain difficult. Some days I just wait to get to nighttime so I can shut my eyes and shut out the world.
But I never want to swim beyond that third sandbar again or take any other drastic measures as I wanted to many times in previous years. I am grateful I failed in my attempt.
I will spend the coming holidays with Sammy making new traditions just for us. Many thousands who have lost loved ones this year will not have that luxury. I hurt for them, knowing as I do that my loss pales in comparison to theirs.
I now have new and better memories I am building in this life. I expect to spend future holidays with my daughter and grandchildren and create still more memories. I will create things for this space and those to come that I won’t need to purge.