It’s been called the post-divorce rut, the single parent the rut, and a few other choice things…whatever you call it, one thing is for certain: it’s no fun being there.
I had been waiting and waiting and waiting for sixteen long months for my divorce to end. Every single day felt endless, like I was the smallest hamster on the hamster wheel. Motions, court dates, piles of attorney bills.
And then POOF!! SPUTTER!! SPUTTER!! It was done.
A simple stamp on my divorce decree that said “FINAL” branded me as a single mother, branded my daughter as the child of a divorced household, and branded her father as a single dad. It was surreal.
My first emotion? Being utterly, down to the bone, down to the marrow in my bones, tired. Not too tired to smile, mind you.
Friends took me out to celebrate. I had dinners, I had drinks, and, I had desserts. Lots of people called, visited, and emailed. It was a whirlwind. Then, a few weeks later, “regular life” started. And I had no idea what to do with it. Before, I would go home and there was so much stuff that had to get done. Now, on the two nights a week when I didn’t have my daughter, it occurred to me that not much really had to get done. I worked out. I walked to the bank. I went to the grocery store to get string cheese and apple juice. There was no hustle and no bustle unless I created it. I had waited so long for the divorce; and now that it was done, I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.
It was peculiar to me that marriage had somehow provided me with security and a sense of purpose. In actuality, my marriage did nothing to foster any of these attributes. In fact, the personality of my marriage had swallowed me whole with its negativity, its meanness, and its lack of loving. So I couldn’t figure out why it ever made me feel safe and settled. I guess matters of the heart often don’t make sense.
Somewhere in that twelve years with my ex-husband, I had lost myself. Granted, daily life as a single parent didn’t leave me with too much time for introspection. But I had a hollow feeling inside. A kind of emptiness. I was in a rut. Some days, I would drift off from whatever was happening around me; yet, I wasn’t thinking about anything either. On other days, I couldn’t feel anything; my emotions were a foggy gray mess, like over-cooked oatmeal. Then, I would do a complete 180 and I would be dying to be social, to meet new people (see previous post, ”My First Night Out as a Single Mom”).
But the empty feeling about not knowing who I really was still followed me. I buried myself in single motherhood and work for a few years before I got out of that rut.
In my next post, I’ll share how I did it.