When my friend, K.C., wrote me that her husband had bilked the bank account and left her and their five-month-old son...well, it was a kick to the belly. Literally, I had to close my eyes and sit back in my chair. Focus on breathing. When she asked for words of wisdom, I had to chew on that one for a bit, because I'm not sure that I have wisdom. The crows feet around my eyes speak of experience, but wisdom...the jury is out on that one. Here is all I have, for you, K.C.
Feel The Grief. Your friends and family love you and hate to see you in so much pain so they will do whatever they can to distract you, to cheer you, to make you laugh, to point you towards a brighter future, to help you "buck up." All good stuff. But stay present. Put on your rubber boots and sink into the mud of sadness, disappointment, anger, and billowing pain. Walk through it. Slog. Eventually, you'll get to the other side, solid ground, but there's no other way around. Mourn. The life you had just died.
Yes, there's reality to think about: caring for your son, paying the bills, hiring a kick-ass attorney. But take time to be completely grief stricken, to not be strong or sturdy, stoic or positive. Be pissed off and sad. And don't let anyone get in the way of that.
Care For Yourself. Whatever that means to you. For me, that meant massages, yoga and good food. Meals that I cooked myself. For one. Here's a favorite comfort food: soba noodle soup with vegetables and tofu. Topped with dried nori and sesame seeds. I ate alone often. And I still do because the Ranger works nights. But I'm never lonely, because I can taste the labor of love from hands to mouth. And I know that whatever happens...I can sustain myself.
Believe In Good Men. After The Surgeon and I split, I spit on the shoes of romantic love. What shit, I told myself. Never again will I share my secret self, or let a man crawl into the deepest recesses of my life, take his shoes off, scratch his balls and call my tender heart home. Meaningless sex...that's the ticket. A platinum card helps, too. And that certainly worked for awhile...even after The Ranger started calling me his girlfriend, and I called him, "this guy I know."
But there are good men. Who wait patiently for your bitter edges to wear away. And help that along by grilling you the most perfect piece of salmon at night and kissing your forehead every dawn before announcing, "good morning to you, sugar pie." Good men who take one look at your grumpy face and know that talking is out but foot rubbing is in. And good men who who say things like, "I will never let you down" and then don't. You'll see, K.C...he may not come in the package you dreamed of as a sanguine young girl (or in my case, he wasn't yet born) but he's there. Somewhere.
He might even show up with a very, hairy dog.
Hopefully, you'll be better prepared to meet him for the first time...not wearing pajama bottoms and bedhead in a fishermen's bar, drinking beer and blogging bitter tomes about your ex-husband in the middle of the day. Learn from my mistakes. Keep the bitter blogging to a minimum.
You are loved. And well on your way to wisdom.