23 again…

… but now with wrinkles and bad knees.

So yeah, I now have a place to move to. The place is furnished – a lot, actually – so I could go with almost nothing and maybe I should, but today I put some ice cubes in my coffee and realized I really like my nifty silicon ice trays and I don’t want them to end up in a landfill. There will probably be a lot of things like that around the house. Which is why I signed up for six months of mini-storage today, and also why I should quit procrastinating and start packing.

Maybe this is for the best. It’s better for me not to live alone, at first – too big a change from kids and husband and cat to Nothing. I don’t know how to cook or shop for one, so roommates to share leftovers with would be a useful thing. I’ll finish my thesis there and get my degree and start applying for jobs, and when I get one I will think about getting an apartment of my own. Or, I’ll apply for teaching-abroad jobs and be itinerant. I don’t know.

Right now all I have to do is finish my thesis, and this gives me the freedom to defer other decisions until that’s done. Another advantage that I just thought of is that it defers the adult responsibilities like getting internet set up, figuring out gas and water and general bureaucratic foofaraw that Robert always handled and that I’m afraid of navigating in German. I realize that avoiding this stuff is not wise in the long run, but right now everything is Too Much and I can’t think straight, so it’s better to wait until I can to sort all that out.

This is a forward step, and if it was made from a place of despair, well. It’s not permanent. Also, and I cannot stress this enough: I have had no other offers. I imagine I’ll start getting them now, but that’s too bad. If the universe (or Robert) wanted me to have my own flat it (or he) should have stepped the hell up.

So I’m moving into a house with some students and a designer and I will have non-family roommates instead of living alone and in a lot of ways it’ll be like going back to the me I was when I met Robert – lost, aimless, and unstable. But not as cute, and with a lot less energy. With this level of starting over, it’s hard not to feel like the last 25 years were wasted. I did get two sons out of the marriage, but I could have gotten those with a lot less suffering.

Song du jour of the day: What Have I Done To Deserve This? by the Pet Shop Boys.


Still here, still sad.

It’s hard to believe it’s only been two months. I feel like I’ve been here forever. I spent three weeks in the clinic, so that means it’s been about five weeks – six? – since I started looking for a place to live. Heidelberg is a tough housing market, and I was looking at three, sometimes four flats a day and getting turned down for all of them. It was incredibly demoralizing, hard not to take it personally, and by yesterday I was well into believing that it’s not just my husband: nobody wants me around because I’m worthless. I felt a kind of combined panic and despair – what if I never find anything? So this morning I accepted a single room in a house with four other people, the only thing I’ve been offered so far, and have since been swimming in lake What Have I Done? I’ll have to rent a storage locker now. I checked out a place right after signing the contract, picked up a price list, and will probably go sign up tomorrow.

My current crew of reality checks all say this is a good step, and I’ll feel better when I’m out of this house, with memories and regrets leaping out at me at every turn. I mean yes, it’s a positive step, but also, like, a step forward in a process that I still really wish wasn’t happening.

Friends tell me I’m handling this like a rock star. I got a new job the same day I left the clinic, now I’ve found a new place to live, I got a bike, I put a rack on it by myself, I’ve figured out the mini-storage thing, and from the outside it looks pretty good. But I don’t know, it just seems like… I feel like rock stars don’t do all the work while crying, you know? I mean, maybe they do, it’s not like I would know, never having been one. Is it always going to be this hard? Why is my heart still burning?

Song du jour of the day: Landslide, by Fleetwood Mac.

Setbacks hurt

Sometimes it’s a jagged flapping thing that beats against your chest from the inside and writing is the only way to get it out. Sometimes even the writing doesn’t help. I’ve said everything I can say, and still the pain flares with the same intensity at every setback. But I have to see him tomorrow, in public, and I can’t afford to pick a fight. I still need his help, so this obsessing about my stolen future has to stop.

It wasn’t mine. I worked for it, but there was no contract and I shouldn’t have put such faith in him. I should have built my own career instead of supporting his, but I gambled and I lost and that is a thing that happens sometimes. He wasn’t mine. People don’t belong to other people. I chose him, but he didn’t owe it to me to choose me back. The love I thought I had, the future I thought I had, were built on my own delusions and I need to accept that they were never mine. They were never real.

If the universe closes a door in your face, removes a person from your life, it’s because they weren’t meant for you. The truth is, I married way up, and lived outside of my social class for a quarter-century but I never grew into my role, so the universe has put me back in my place. I didn’t belong there, I belong here. I expect I’ll adjust, eventually. I feel like it would be easier if it weren’t so abrupt, and if it hadn’t all been taken from me by someone else, but really, it would probably just take me longer to accept. It was a very persistent delusion. I was really good at maintaining it.

Yesterday was wretched. Most of today was wretched, too. But the sun came out around four, and I went for a long walk, and it seems like climbing out of this most recent slump went a little faster. That’s progress, right? Please let it be progress.

Today’s song du jour of the day is aspirational: it’s not true yet, but I hope it will be someday. Leona Lewis, Better In Time.

Better for a minute

I had a couple days of not feeling like hell. I got stuck into the search for a place to live, looked at four places on Friday and then attended an academic conference and looked at two more places on Saturday and kept myself fairly busy. Sunday was Sunday, and Monday was a holiday, so I had a couple days of rest too, watched a lot of YouTube videos about letting go, moving on, and trusting the universe, and was generally feeling like I might survive this.

But today I had to call him about an apartment and he mentioned that he’d found a place but he kept using the word “we” so I asked. I guess I shouldn’t have asked.

Yep. He’s moving into the new apartment with Her. I’d been looking for a place for us to move into for about a year – I wanted three rooms, in a particular neighborhood, for about half of what we pay here, and he found exactly what I wanted and is moving into it. With Her.

And just like that all my progress is gone. I held it together for the rest of the phone call, though there may have been a few longer-than-usual pauses, but once we hung up I just lay on the floor and cried until I couldn’t breathe. Then I had to get up and go meet a friend for lunch and pick up some moving boxes.

I guess I wasn’t really feeling better about all of this, I was just not thinking about it. How he wasn’t happy but instead of telling me and trying to work things out he just waited until he found a replacement. How easy it was for him to throw me away and just slot her into the space I had occupied for 25 years. How I worked toward a future together for half of my life and he just took it away from me to give to another woman. But there it is staring me in the face and I can’t ignore it any more.

I wish my damn therapist wasn’t on vacation.

Song du jour of the day: k.d. lang’s cover of Crying, by Roy Orbison.

Anger, trust, and math

Quite a few of my friends are righteously angry on my behalf. It’s gratifying, makes me feel loved and all that, but it seems to give them a lot of energy, which they think I should spend getting things notarized and seeing a lawyer and hunting down all our financial information and getting a bunch of cash out NOW and buying myself a lot of expensive toys before he can stop me and setting up a new bank account and reading reams of German to figure out exactly what my rights are and moving heaven and earth to make damn sure I secure every single one of those rights. What they seem to forget is that their anger gives them energy: I am still a damp rag.

Meanwhile, Mr Husband is offering me quite a lot more than is legally required (I read the reams of German, so I’m now fairly informed on this): three years of spousal support instead of the one year I’m entitled to, and the whole house, paid off, instead of half the house and half the debt. We have to trust each other, but if we do, then I will be in a much safer position financially. If either of us breaks that trust, I end up with what I’m legally entitled to and no more. So what my angry friends are effectively advising me to do (though I’m sure they wouldn’t put it that way) is to prevent him from screwing me over by screwing myself over first.

Last Sunday we met and talked about this, and on Friday he came over with a document he’d drawn up, spelling out his commitment to the above and containing no obligations on my part: there are no hidden traps. I will take it to this pro-bono International Family Center place where I made an appointment for June 16th under pressure from my vengeful friends and have someone there look it over, and maybe there will be some sneaky legal factoid that I don’t know about. But I doubt it (or if there is, I doubt that he knows about it). I choose to believe that he’s trying to minimize the damage of all this. He can’t unbreak my heart, but he can at least make sure I’m not homeless, and I think he still cares about me enough to genuinely want that, even if he doesn’t love me anymore.

I’m having to rebuild my identity at age almost-50, and I’m going to have to change a lot of things about myself: stop caring so much what strangers think of me, stop basing my identity on other people, stop ignoring my own needs to accommodate others’ (which will first require figuring out what I need, which itself is no small task). It’s going to be a lot of work. I can’t name many positive traits in myself, but I do know that my core values are kindness, loyalty, and honesty, and I’m not letting go of those.

Song du jour of the day: I’ll Never Love This Way Again, by Dionne Warwick. Oh my god, y’all, that DRESS!

FAQ: How are the boys handling it?

Thing One, off in college in another city, is staying carefully neutral. He says if Mr. Husband was unhappy in the marriage he had a right to leave it. I feel that this assessment is ignoring some of the salient details (the cheating, the lying, the giving up on us without even trying to talk through our problems or seek help), but I don’t want to make the kid take sides.

Thing Two has always had a difficult relationship with his father, and this has not improved things between them. He’s being very helpful with hugs and reassuring words, but then also shirking chores and doing badly at school, but that’s not a reaction to this mess; he’s been doing that for years.

Truth is, I have told them that they can talk to me any time, but they won’t. They’re both so worried about me that they won’t do anything to make me worry about them. I kinda wish they would; I could use the distraction.

Song du jour of the day: Robert Cray, Sadder Days.

Chutes & ladders

The descents are dizzyingly fast, swoopy and sick-making; the climbs are slow and agonizing, my progress barely perceptible until I notice I can see a little further. Then I take a couple tentative steps, and. Here follows a description of my most recent WHOOSH.

This past weekend I took the train up to Utrecht to watch Eurovision with friends (pricey ticket, bought at the last minute because I decided that driving might provide too many opportunities for unfortunate impulses (too many = one, if it arrives at the right moment). Saturday was fine, there were friends and distractions, and the Netherlands won the contest so that’s a fun thing to experience while actually in the Netherlands.

Sunday was… not fine. I decided that I had to at least try to save my marriage. I would probably fail, I reasoned, but, at least I would know that I’d tried. So I sent him a WhatsApp saying that since finding an apartment was proving to be harder than I’d thought (true) could we find a place together and go see a couples therapist to try to iron out our communication problems. There were train delays, very stressful, so when he hadn’t answered by 7.30pm the tears started, and they didn’t really stop until I got home around 10.30. Yes, I was walking through downtown Heidelberg, openly sobbing. Classy.

Monday was even less fine. That’s when he decided to answer me, and the answer was no, which I had started out expecting but I’d allowed myself to hope. The force of Delusion is very strong in me. It was a long, drawn-out no, in a WhatsApp chat that went on intermittently over about five hours, so that was a lot more crying. [Side-note: I have been using a Cefaly to fix my migraines, and it has worked, but it turns out you can still trigger a migraine if you cry enough. Still have the migraine, yay.]

So yeah. One step forward, twenty kajillion steps back, I guess. I saw my new therapist two days in a row, because I was such a watery mess yesterday she said “I have a cancellation, you should come back tomorrow”, and I went out to dinner with my feminist moms group and received much sympathy and support, and had coffee with a friend this morning and taught/tutored for six hours, and at some point the sun came out so right now at this very second I am feeling slightly better. It would be nice if I could find a way to make this slight betterness last.

Song du jour of the day: Nothing Compares 2 U.