Thursday, May 21, 2015

To Adventure!

It dawned on me that this blog was meant to chronicle my life as a single woman after ten years in a relationship. I should probably add some adventure so it doesn't seem like I've spent my time drinking beer in the shower and crying.

Just kidding, that only happened once.

A couple months ago I took a vacation to Germany to see my brother, as mentioned in the post about being in O'Hare airport. I'd like to add that I did give into their olfactory-based marketing plan and had a pizza. It was airport pizza, but it was still delicious. I have no regrets considering the quality of the food on Schmunited.

I landed on a Friday morning in Amsterdam at roughly 10:00am. I've gotten pretty good at navigating the trains, and had found the route to the Hauptbanhof (that means main station) before I lost wifi signal- and therefore use of my phone. Thanks to that, and a kind older gentleman originally from Columbia, I was able to make my way to the city. Now from there, it was an absolute clusterfuck as I tried to find my hotel. The ticket kiosks made no sense, the attendant wasn't around, and I spent at least 45 minutes wandering around like a lost puppy with all of my bags in tow. When I finally made it to my hotel it was near 2:00pm. Happily, that meant by brother's train would be in soon! It only took me 20 minutes to walk back to the station.

Amsterdam was lovely. No, we didn't do any drugs.

I stayed at my brother's flat in Hanover during the trip, which saved not a small amount money. Plus Hanover is a lovely city and fun to wander around. Thanks to Germany's amazing rail system, traveling to any other city for a day trip was simple and stress-free. The trains are incredibly reliable, except for that day a man in his underwear climbed onto one of the stations and stopped everything around him. That was exciting.

Since my brother works for a living, most of my daytime adventures were solo. The thought of doing this was initially daunting. I hear a lot of "I could never travel by myself" from other people. Still, I had come this far. I could either get out and see these cities and have this experience or sit around in an apartment in Germany watching Netflix all day. I learned Orphan Black is a great binge watch.

So, I got out. I walked around Hanover and followed their Red Thread tour, and had day trips into Berlin and Hamburg. I expected to feel alone, and I did.  I felt it in the mornings, when I was walking about before anyone else back home had woken up. I felt it as I was staring at Brandenburger Tor and had no one to share that with.

I set goals for myself. Sometimes the goals are to get out of bed and put real pants on. The pants one is a big step; they're awful and uncomfortable and if I'm being honest, oppressive. Still, as time goes on the goals get bigger. I want to understand that I'm not alone. I have friends that I can harass with early morning text messages. Most importantly, I have me. I'll always have me, whether I want to or not, so I might as well learn what that means. I want to be happy with myself, and reflect on who I am and who I want to be. I don't know where I fit into this world without my soon to be ex. I don't know who Layla is outside of Charlie and Layla.

But I'm learning. I've learned Layla loves things like flying across an ocean and wandering new cities to see history she's only read about.

I've said this isn't easy, but even during my worst moments I will struggle to remind myself that I cannot stop. I cannot let this knock me down and beat me because I have too much life in front of me to live. I will not be defeated and left to wallow in heartbreak. Millions before me have done this and billions after me will, too. People will say there's no way of knowing what lies ahead of us, and to an extent that's true. But we shape our own future. The decisions we make and paths we choose to walk determine who we will become. I may not know who I am, but I know who I am not and I am not someone that will lay down and die.

I want to be that person that isn't afraid of what lies ahead and walks fearlessly down that wooded path until she finds her way out. I'm not there yet, but at least I'm heading in that direction.

Anyway, here's other awesome things I saw, did, or ate. And ate. I ate everything. All of the things. I framed a picture of pastries in my home because it was that important to me. I also had a beer at the Hofbrauhaus and spent my birthday weekend with my brother and his girlfriend at Neuschwanstein Castle.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Paragraph IV(a)(3)

There are a few things, in a divorce, that each party “claims” that don’t appear in the settlement papers. Of all of these, the friends are probably the ones you’ll notice most. Maybe it’ll happen gradually, with their texts and invitations slowly dwindling. Or it’ll be like my experience, and everyone will immediately pretend like they never knew you. I think I once witnessed someone hiding from me in public.  

Sure, I’m that person now. My choices are what led to this situation and I accept that. I certainly don’t blame any of these people at all. They were his friends first, or dating his friends, and that’s how it happens. Still, it doesn’t feel any better knowing there’s a totally rational reason for it. I may understand why, but then the self-doubt kicks in and I wonder if any of them even liked me to begin with. I had a lot of fun with this group; they’re all hilarious and so great to talk to. Yet once he made the announcement (….really?) that was it. No more. Some were probably even grateful I wouldn’t be around.

Now here’s where it gets awkward. I still follow a lot of these people on social media. I just never had a reason to unfollow or unfriend anyone. Until recently, that is. There was a beautiful wedding, with beautiful pictures. And in the background of some of these beautiful pictures, I saw my soon to be ex-husband and… someone.

I can give you a long list of reasons why I shouldn’t care. It’s not like I didn’t expect this to happen. It’s not like I thought I would live out the rest of my days blissfully unaware. The logical part of me knows this was inevitable, and that I really have no right to be upset. But that doesn’t mean I’m not going to react or be hurt. One of the things I’ve learned is that just because we shouldn’t be hurt doesn’t mean we won’t be. You might be fully aware of how it’ll feel if you get punched in the gut, but it’ll still knock the wind out of you.

That was a fun moment. It does me no good to leave that avenue open. And it’s not like I’m losing anything if we’re being honest. Since being on my own, I’ve had the chance to make such great new friends and reconnect with people I had neglected. I’m moving on in many ways, myself.

So maybe that’s this week’s lesson. You move on and move forward. Like I said last week, it’s never easy but you don’t really have a choice. And it’s okay to feel hurt, because no matter how well prepared you think you are, shit happens. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some cleaning to do.