This is probably already the title of a post somewhere in the past 9 1/2 years of this journal, but I'm not going to bother qualifying with "again" because I'm aiming for every post from now on to be titled "begin." At least in my head.
We made it through our first round of holidays without anyone losing an eye. All my fellow Left Women* have told me that the first holiday season is the worst. Thanksgiving was torturous, but Christmas eased into melancholy, and by New Year's I didn't even need to lay flat on the bed to zip up my Big Girl Pants. Of course this is probably because the magical Divorce Diet has helped me lose 15 pounds.** I've thought about writing that diet book to solve all my financial issues, but realized that Step 1: Lose your Husband to the Love of a Younger and/or Prettier and/or More Successful Woman, might be a bridge too far for many dieters out there. Also, step 1 is also pretty much the only step, so it would be an extremely short book.
I ended the year trying my best to pull together all the documents and numbers I need for the financial affidavit portion of the Divorce Fun Times. Since the financial stuff was never my marital territory, I did not exactly have a leg up here. My lawyer seemed a tad appalled that I couldn't even give an accurate reckoning of how much money I had been making per year, but that's the way I rolled.
I finally realized, though, that my best strategy for the financial affidavit was to slow down a bit, because it turns out that a lot of the numbers I need actually get mailed right to me! Yes! In the form of handy monthly statements! Right there in my mailbox! A-mazing.
And it also turns out that the best way to get an idea of monthly expenses for the 3 of us is simply to keep track of them for a couple of months. Going back through 12 months of bills and trying to extract our expenses from his (or reduce them down by a fair percentage) was giving me a ginormous headache.
So it's not done, but it's 3/4 of the way done, and that's enough for now.
Every day now I wake up and try to get one major task accomplished. There are some things around the house that are falling apart in the most hilarious way possible. The bi-fold door to the linen closet, the one that always came off its track and that Jörg alone could fix, now leans permanently in the hallway, leaving the shelves of the closet completely exposed. This would not be so funny were it not for the fact that, in addition to not folding underwear, I also do not believe it's worth my time to learn how to fold fitted sheets. Also I've been asking the girls to help me put away laundry (previously they only had to fold and put away their own), so everything has been sort of stuffed and poked into the closet in the most haphazard way possible, so, even if that pink towel was once neatly folded, it's a scrunched-up ball by the time they're done with it. But, hey, it's put away enough for me. Thanks, kids! Good job!
In the grand scheme of things, we are doing OK on our own. The girls now tell me about things that make them miss having their dad around, and I can nod and say, "Yes, that is sad. Do you want to call him?" And when I say this I no longer feel like I'm being stabbed in the chest, or the eye, or any other body part. Which is certainly progress on my part, and theirs.
I've been slowly preparing the girls for the possibility that we will have to move. I went to see a financial planner at my bank, taking Jörg's offer of support and my current income and our current debt, and he told me that staying in our house with those numbers would be a huge mistake. This, of course, is another thing that makes me angry, as I wanted us to move to a smaller house with a smaller yard ages ago, back when the girls were too little to have really gotten attached the place. Instead, Jörg chose a bigger, more expensive place (albeit with less yardwork, and it's true that I liked the place, too), which meant that we had to price our place high enough that it didn't immediately sell. And so we stayed here.
Now the girls have friends in the neighborhood. We know and like most of our neighbors. We like the schools. Annika spent most of last summer working on decorating her room to her exact specifications. The girls have helped choose the plants that we've put in around the yard, Annika's beloved swingset is here, our Hannah Memorial tree is here, and this is where they've had parties and sleepovers and every thought of home means this house. This is the place they feel safest and best. Just bringing up the topic of moving from this house makes Annika fall apart. Frankie, on the other hand, is all for moving to a completely different town, which is actually a more worrying reaction to me.
But I found a house in one place we might move to (closer to my mom and sister) that has a heated workshop, which Annika instantly envisioned as her craft and sewing studio. And, just like that, she was willing to consider the idea.
So now we start to figure out how to begin again. It still hurts. I still cannot look him in the eye when he comes to pick the girls up for a visit. But life moves on, and every day begins a new start. Just get one thing done, and make sure your kids know they are loved (by both parents). It's not a bad plan, I guess.
* As opposed to Right Women? This phrase doesn't really work, but Abandoned Women sounds too melodramatic. Feel free to offer suggestions.
** Now 20, since it seems to take me 2 weeks to finish these posts now that I'm not leaking sadness and rage all over the place.