Tonight, I opened a new door. I stepped through the threshold and forward into my new life as a single mom. I signed some papers, received the keys, and unlocked the door to our future, literally and figuratively.
When I heard that door click, a tidal wave of emotions overcame me. Up until this moment, I was filled mostly with excitement. Signing that lease and acquiring the keys was a huge step in the right direction, and I know that. But that click struck me so hard I thought I might be sick.
I have spent most of the last 5 days or so sorting through our belongings, packing, purging, and loading up the van to move. Today, I brought the first boxes and bags into our new home. Somehow, through the last weeks leading up to these days, I had thought I would remain fairly emotionless, because I knew it was a great step, and I knew it was a necessary step in moving forward with mine and my children's lives as they now are. I was wrong. What I thought was going to hold up a cold and calloused heart, in fact, was the opposite.
I've been having flashbacks to last fall when my husband left us and his responsibility to his family, and we lost our home and were sent on this stressful spiraling journey. Last fall, I had the help of a few close friends and a family member or two to help pack up an entire house, sort through and separate our belongings, and move us into a temporary space until I could find a job and get us on track to be self-sufficient. It was a dreadful, heart-shattering feeling to walk through, not knowing what the future held for my marriage- a sliver of hope that it could be reconciled and mended and my family would be whole again someday was present at the time. I was kind of an emotional trainwreck at the time.
This time it's different. I've been basically the only person in the apartment able to do any of the packing activities, loading up the van and such, so it's been a lonely few days, and therefore I've been isolated with my emotions. I have found a few things of his or ours that somehow ended up here, and I thought I would just want to throw them out, but discovering them was paralytic initially and I couldn't even touch the boxes. The box of photographs from our years together was especially difficult to pick up and move. But, for now, until I'm ready to share them with our children, when I am better able to explain to them what has happened to our family, I will bury them in a closet somewhere. At least I will be better equipped to find them again.
I am excited about this new home, a real home, not a transitional one with tons of rules and the isolation that comes with their visitor policy. I'm excited to be able to open my blinds and let some sunlight in, or open the windows and breathe the fresh air.
But, this move is different. It is the first move that the children and I are making where I know that the hope of our reunited family has been tossed to the wind. I know that our family portrait we will eventually have on our wall will just be the four of us and never include their father. I know that he has made his choices that have left my children basically abandoned by the man who wanted them so badly, and that is just how it is now. It is brandished in my face with every box I move and every step I take. My heart is very raw.
This move is different also, in that the children and I are surrounded with the hope of a brighter future. We have all the love we need amongst the four of us, and we are enveloped in the love of so many others who have been supporting us along the way and making this entire move possible. People we hardly know or do not know at all have been blessing us with love and prayers in ways I find hard to describe. It's surreal that at the same time we can feel so discarded and worthless by one individual that we can feel overwhelmed with love by others. It truly carries us through these transitions. We were surrounded before by the love of close and trusted family and friends, but it was a much more private move. This time, I broke down my own walls, and in response, have seen God here on earth in more ways that I dared to imagine.
So, today was a big day. I've laughed and cried. I've been terrified and excited. I've been morose and joyful. I've been defeated and overcome. I'm sure the waves will continue for quite some time. At least now I realize that my heart is as it always has been, not one of stone, and I'm better prepared to deal with the tides of emotions as they come.
In this current juncture, I have been quite humbled by the different forms generosity afforded to me and my children, in large ways and small, from the gift of a table to those who have spent time with my children. Those who have known me well for years know that I am not one who enjoys receiving in this way, when it's always been on my heart to give and to help those I care about. I've gone back and forth feeling ashamed and unworthy, to realizing that the tables are just turned for now and some day I'll be back on the other side of things, doing what I love to do by being that person for others. I've still been there for others through it all, of course, but I feel like I haven't been as much as I would like to. And having others there for me instead isn't an easy thing to embrace. But, to all of those out there who have been there for us, thank you, eternally.