Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Divorce...Change...Fear

Even transitions have transitions...

This week marks a major transition point in my personal life. A year ago my divorce was final; as in the decree was signed and the ink dried. It did not mean that everything was final. In fact the decree becoming final was actually a beginning; the beginning of a year of unpacking the artifacts of a joint life.

This year has been about selling the house, dividing the property and assets, sorting and copying archival records like tax returns, dividing and closing joint accounts, and navigating the potential minefield of communicating with each other directly (which is a heck of a lot cheaper than communicating through two attorneys and the court system).

On a personal level it has been a year of letting go and embracing. I was fortunate in that I had already been working on letting go of my children’s lives as a primary source of my esteem. But the divorce and all the lifestyle changes have also meant that I had to let go of my previous notions and views of my role of middle life woman, grandmother, memory-keeper, and family history chronicler and embracing new definitions.

All of this has created chaos which tends to urge us to hurry through unpleasant situations and on to normal life so things don’t feel so out-of-control. Of course society, meaning our families and friends, employers and coworkers, and even faith communities, often subtly or not so subtly prod us to just get over it and move on. Recovery though – real and lasting recovery – takes some time, effort, and mindfulness.

My priority for this first year was to accomplish the unpacking, and also to take the time to heal and get to know myself. The unpacking is almost done. As far as healing and getting to know myself, while this has been an amazing year of discovery I don’t think it every truly ends. Instead I think it shifts to something like a routine maintenance item after the intensive acute interventions have done their work.

So now I am about to commence year two as time continues to put distance between my emerging life and the divorce event. A year ago I tried to squint and look ahead at how things might play out. In addition to the first year’s unpacking and healing, I had planned to find work. It all looked so scary and unknown; but taking it a thing at a time it is now possible to look back with satisfaction that so much was accomplished even though I didn’t know where to start.

While year one is a tribute to what can be accomplished not everything on the original list got checked off. So far the getting work part has not really worked out. A lot of unrelated issues converging have made getting work a challenging obstacle to overcome and I realize there are many people battling the same problem without my caveats.

Getting work, though, holds a complexity of meanings at this point in my life. Of course I need the income to support myself like most people. Then, there are other issues such as self-sufficiency and using my skills, knowledge and talents to do something that matters (more about What Matters Now). But the most important reason that not having already found work is a concern is that I have been seeing year two as settling into a more regular (but modest) life and financially closing the books on my life before the divorce.

While the current lack of viable work and the economic upheaval presents an obstacle in my quest to deal with this matter it also poses a challenge: If I still believe becoming debt-free is the best thing I can do for myself, how do I make it happen in spite of the current circumstances?

So I have decided to dedicate year two to working on this debt-free life and see what happens. This is scary because I am not an expert and I don’t have the answer today for how this can work out. I have also decided to risk a measure of transparency about this through an online project although it will not have unrestricted transparency for many practical reasons.

This is a scary prospect and it roosts where my fear and shame demons warn that I don’t know enough and when I fail nobody will want to be acquainted with me. Yet nevertheless I am getting ready to launch a new project that will be devoted to creating a debt-free life with special attention to the issues of middle life divorced women. It will also be about debts beyond the budgetary or financial and how those issues create mindsets that influence our choices and decisions in every area of our lives.

I hope you will consider joining me for this new adventure.

Deb

No comments: