I started this blog in the winter of 2014 in preparation for moving across country from TN to OR with my husband and our dog. Though our close friends and family knew of our intentions, I had to keep things under wraps and private for a few months until giving notice with my employer, so the blog sat mostly untouched in the early months.
Though in the depths of winter’s darkness, I was filled with so much hope at the new beginning coming to our lives. We became minimalists and started departing with most of our belongings via donations, community sales, and craigslist. We chose to not renew our lease at an apartment we loved. We were filled with the moving buzz spending countless hours looking at apartments online, and I even had packing boxes and supplies waiting in an online shopping cart at the ready.
I was weeks away from turning in my notice at work when, as it so often does, life happened. My husband lost his job that was supposed to relocate us to OR. This was the second heavy hit his professional career had taken in just a few months’ time, and that season of disappointment is where and when the seeds of resentment started to grow.
We recovered, but I was not as hopeful. He got a new job, and I kept my head down at work. We signed a short term lease a few miles away, and I made the ultimatum that I was intending to move to Portland or Seattle in six months, with or without him.
The countdown had begun. I saved enough so that we’d be able to move and not have to work right away, and two months prior, I started sending my resume out to professional recruiters for Technical Writing and Data Analyst positions. I ordered the packing boxes and supplies, and I started planning our road trip. Two weeks later, my husband’s mom died. As the move was so close and as she was only three hours from where we were intended to move, it devastated us both. It was a cosmic sucker punch that laid us both out in a state of shock. We used some of the savings to send him across the country to take care of things with his family while I parted with the rest of our belongings and packed up our apartment.
When he returned, everything was tinged with his despair, including our move. A month prior to leaving, we both gave our notice at work. We had a wonderful send off with friends and family at our church, and I started feeling hopeful that maybe it was safe to be happy. My husband would smile and laugh, but grief had its grip on him.
I knew I was headed for a significant change, and as we spent three weeks crossing the country, I let go of the roots that held me so firmly to the mountains of my home and welcomed the flux with a warm embrace. For once, we had no plans. Of course we had a general itinerary, but I wasn’t hard pressed to keep it. We took our time as well as a few detours. We visited with family and friends along the way and we felt their blessings on this new start of our life together.
We arrived in WA late on Halloween night in 2014. Our situation was perfect for us to launch ourselves well, and I had already hit the ground running with several phone screen interviews lined up for my first full day in WA. I started working almost immediately and have thrived professionally without skipping a beat ever since.
I told myself it was okay that my husband had a delayed start. We were in a good position. We both told ourselves that he needed the time to grieve anyway. Almost six months passed by before I finally told him I felt like he was taking advantage of our situation. He started applying for work, and again, he got a job quickly. I continued to embrace the flux and agreed to be supportive of his 100% commission position because for the first time in our lives, I could easily support us both.
The WA sunshine came early to us our first year here. I remember standing outside and feeling the sun blessing me while I was on the phone with my dad telling me the spots on his lungs turned out to be some random infection he picked up from his service in the army and not cancer as we had all thought initially. I also shared the good news of my recent promotion and my husband’s new job with him, and he told me he knew we were going to be just fine out here. March and April were such happy months. We celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary that June, and it was by far our best.
Two days after our anniversary, my mom passed away from complications of cirrhosis. Six short weeks later, dad died. No, it wasn’t some freakish, romantic thing. They had been divorced for at least a decade. Apparently the VA had gotten it wrong, and it was indeed lung cancer. I took a day for my mom and returned to work; we all knew what she wanted, and we were going to plan a memorial service for her later. But when my dad passed, he had made me the Executrix of his estate, so I had to go home for my family and handle his affairs.
Because the grief just wasn’t enough, a horrific trauma occurred while on my trip home. The lady who had moved in to take care of him in his last few months had stolen all of his property and signed it over to herself. Now, on top of all the grief, I had a legal battle over stuff on my hands. I didn’t care about any of the stuff; but I knew my dad, and I knew he hated a thief more than anything. I knew that my brothers and sister could have really benefited from the value of it, too. I came back home with rage and grief as my only source of fuel, and I returned to work promptly.
I threw myself into work, and spent what little spare time I had trying to maintain things in TN. I slowly started letting go of TN and the problems there. There really was nothing I could do; she stole the legal documents that gave her legal ground. My only other course of action is to prove my dad was incompetent when he changed his will; and I’m still waiting on medical records from the VA that I have requested numerous times over the last two years. I’m at a standstill without those records, and I know from experience that probate goes on for years. That will be a situation of strategy and endurance. I’m a lot younger and smarter than she is, and I know eventually, I will get it worked out. At the very least, there will be justice for my brothers and sister.
At the end of 2015, I was promoted again. At least there was progress somewhere in my life. I spent the winter in development learning how I would execute in my new role and planning out the extensive travel between both Portland and Seattle that came with it. I had to change the way I worked as I shifted from my role in operations management to one as a supporter in training. I have both education and experience with teaching, but having been initiated into my new industry via operations management, there was a bit of an awkward transition. As a writer it’s fairly easy for me to cater my communication style to my audience. Thank goodness for the editing process! But in personal, verbal interactions, that’s not as natural for me.
It took me a few months to hit my stride, and by the spring of 2016, I felt like I was finally seeing things without the fog and exhaustion of grief. I woke up and started taking inventory of my life without hesitation. Things hadn’t really improved at all for my husband, and our situation had finally imploded. He was feeling insecure about his professional performance, and I was feeling tinges of restlessness and stifling.
For a couple who never argued much, all it took was one particularly emotional interaction for me to feel like I needed to escape. He physically cornered me and pushed his question, “Do you still want to be married to me?” over and over again as I cried and begged him to stop and walk away. I ended that argument by taking off my rings and telling him I wanted to separate. He left the next day; he quit the job that wasn’t doing anything at all for him, and he drove to CA to be with family.
I spent last Fourth of July making lists of projects that I would take on and trying to consider what I wanted out of a partnership with another human being. I finished furnishing the apartment and started working on making some friends. I had been here almost two years and knew practically no one. I dated, briefly before retreating back into the safety of solitude.
When Moose, our dog of 8 years, had to have some benign tumors removed, my husband came to the vet clinic with me. The surgery was more complicated than they thought, and none of the tumors were actually benign. Moose required 24-hour care; I worked days, and he worked nights now, so that worked out pretty well. He came back to the apartment, and we were intentionally kind to each other to get through the next two to three weeks until Moose had recovered. The day he was going to go back to his family’s place, I asked him to stay and to see if we could make it work.
The holidays came quickly. His family was happy to see us back together, though it was also awkward being around them while during our separation just a few weeks earlier, I could have been dead to them all for all the care and concern they showed me. I stayed on the margins with the one kid and the pack of dogs present for family gatherings because that is where I actually felt the greatest acceptance.
This winter was the longest, bleakest, coldest, wettest, winter in over 30 years in the Pacific Northwest. He changed jobs again, and we buckled down to work on our marriage. We started therapy. We had intentional acts of kindness and love. We changed the way we communicated. We improved. We started falling in love again.
Inspired by the connection that we had started fostering, I wanted to find a way to reduce my travel to be home more with him and focus on starting a family. Life seemed to be gravitating toward Portland as a home base as opposed to Seattle, and we made the decision to move when our lease is up this November.
We recently had a check in with each other as our move is only four months away, and we checked in with our progress toward some of the goals we had together. We weren’t where we wanted to be at all. Instantly, and with sudden, sinking pain in the depth of me, I knew I couldn’t do this anymore. I’m almost 34 years old, and I don’t actually have the time to wait anymore. We put our lives on hold for 8 of our 11 years together to help support and care for several of our family members; and regardless of how virtuous you may or may not view that, we did it foolishly and to our own detriment. Our move out here was supposed to be the clean break from that pattern, and unfortunately we just continued it between the two of us. There is no lack of love between us. He is my best friend, and the most steadfast family member in my entire life. But our desire to support and love and care for each other is outweighed by the actions we have taken and not taken to have a life together.
He has accepted that we are getting divorced. We aren’t nearly as heated or angry with each other as we were last summer. We will continue to live together until our lease is up. So far, we are mostly kind and gentle with each other. We still hug and kiss and tell each other, “I love you,” though we’re saying it less frequently and with more strain. We hold each other at night and give each other turns crying. He gives me a different version of the “You’re Making the Biggest Mistake of Your Life” speech almost every day, and I build up my walls so it hurts less each time.
He told his family this week. I told a handful of friends, and I’m writing this post. Writing is how I process the hard stuff. I am going to a support group for separated and divorcing people next weekend. We’re both still going to therapy together to help guide us through doing this as best as we can. This is the death of our marriage. I am committed to the concept that it can be sad without being traumatic. I am committed to failing upwards. I am committed to resilience and learning from this. I still embrace the flux.