Sunday, September 29, 2013

Driving My Ex-Husband's Car and Dumping the Memories

If you had the option to own something that you strongly associate with your ex, would you buy it? Could you disassociate the memories of the ex from the object you want?

I did in the name of getting a car I like for a price I love.
My new ride!
Max no longer needs his car, a 2002 Honda in very good condition. I drive a 2005 Sentra with an irritatingly small trunk and no sunroof. I’ve always coveted the Honda, so we discussed having me buy his car off of him.

Max was willing to give me an excellent price under two conditions: I get a small dent repaired (mishap with a pole in Lillian’s garage two years ago that he never repaired) and buy new tires. In his words, “I know the dent isn’t a safety issue, but I just don’t want you driving around in a dented car.” I thought that was sweet -- he's always wanted me to drive a nicer car.

I was chatting with my brother about this impending deal, and he asked me a good question: “Are you sure it will be OK to have Max’s car? Like will there be any issues with memories with that car?”

Fair point.

I do in fact have many memories of Max and me in the Honda since 2005.

We took our first roadtrip together to Bangor, Maine, to spend a weekend with his college friends. It would be at least 12 hours in the Honda, just the two of us. I remember saying to Nora, “I’m either going to come home more in love with him or I will have dumped him!” Max and I returned even more smitten with each other.

Countless times, we went to visit his college friends and their two children, who live about an hour away from us. We loved playing with their kids. Max and I would drive home talking about the adorable things the kids said and how much we admired his friends as parents. “When we have kids,” I used to say, “we will do team parenting, just like them.” 

In the Honda, ae drove to his parents’ in New England house for my first visit. I was nervous but so excited to see Max’s hometown and the house where he grew up. When we would visit, he loved to take me out in the car, sunroof open, and just cruise around. He’d tell me that was where he had cross country practice and over there was his old buddy Tom’s house.

Sometimes on our drives to New England I would read to him. We laughed together as I read Me Talk Pretty One Day. I shuddered and he playfully called me a wus as I read The Hunger Games.

But then there are the sad Honda memories.

We took his car the first time we saw a urologist about his lack of libido. (I knew he’d never go straight to counseling, so I suggested getting him physically checked first.) The climate in the car was cool, to say the least.

Then there were many trips to therapists, often in the Honda. The rides there and back would just suck. I always desperately hoped that the therapy session would get Max to open up to me on the way home, but it never went that way. Any sign of progress in the session would disappear as soon as we were back in the car, back in regular life where he would hide from his demons.

I will never forget the drive Thanksgiving 2010. We were driving to Max's parents’ for the holiday and his depression was in full swing. He was cold and distant. I can’t remember what he said (or didn’t say), but I ended up crying. In fact, I cried in that front passenger seat for almost three hours straight. Not once did he reach over and touch my hand or tell me it would be OK. I said to him, “What the hell is wrong with you that you can sit next to your wife when she crying like this and you don’t say a word?” Silence. Through my tears, I gazed out the window as the bare trees on the Mass Pike flew by.

He drove us to the last therapy session that we had together, the one when I knew in my heart that there was no hope left for us. I cried so hard after that appointment that I couldn’t speak.

He drove me in that Honda to the train station when I left him for a month in hopes he’d figure himself out and come get me. I rode in that same car a month later when he came to pick me up. We were both quiet on the ride home, unsure of how to interact with each other. I tried to look busy with staring out the window.

And finally we rode in the Honda to the courthouse on the day we got divorced. We sat in the car after a judge declared our marriage was over, and we both cried. I wiped my nose on Dunkin Donuts napkins I dug out of the glove compartment. We promised to always love each other.

So, yes, Little Brother, the Honda certainly is full of memories. 

But, my divorce has made me really good at detaching emotion from things of monetary value. Our condo quickly became an asset to unload, not my married home. My beautiful engagement ring, which I took off almost a year ago now, would help pad my savings account and fund my right hand ring, not a sign of the promises and future that were not meant to be. Our king size bed is a good quality piece of furniture, not The Bed of Constant Rejection, as I once called it, and I now love sleeping in it alone. Inanimate objects have no soul, no luck, no intentions. They are just things. When I need to, I now know I can strip objects of my feelings so I can make practical financial decisions.

As of today, I officially own the Honda. With the sunroof open, I will drive and enjoy my new purchase.

Do you have things that belonged to your ex? Do those objects make you think of your ex, or are you able to detach the memories?
Super Sunday Sync

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Divorce Party That Wasn't a Divorce Party

Right around the time my divorce was going to be final, I went out for drinks with Jen and Yoshi.  It was a frigid February night. I was about to put my condo on the market, so we were talking about how cool it will be when I live in Ford again. I lived alone in Ford in 2003-2005, then again with Max in 2007-2010. You know how some places you visit or live just suit you? Like you can’t quite put your finger on it but it just feels right? That’s me with Ford. The thought of moving back to Ford – without Max – was a little depressing at the time, but mostly exhilarating.

Anyway, Jen and Yoshi both live in Downtown Ford, exactly where I planned to live.

“We’ll be neighbors!” I exclaimed. “We can hang out even during a blizzard!”

Cheers to that! *clink*

Anyway, we agreed that surely I would be in Ford by springtime [oh, if I knew then what I know now!]. We got this great idea: Jen and Yoshi would throw me a Welcome Back to Ford party. At first there was talk of it being at someone’s apartment, but I said no way. We’d gather anyone who wanted to come at my favorite bar – in fact, I told my realtor that I needed to live within a five-minute walk of this bar. Yes, I’m serious.

Then, the waiting started. The condo showings were many, but the offers were few (and usually insulting). I was living in G-town, a town I never wanted to live in to start with, and now I was being held hostage by my condo in a town I didn’t care for with a roommate (AKA ex-husband) I didn’t want. Meanwhile, my social life fully transitioned back to Ford. It made me downright sad to hang out with my friends in Ford, then have to drive home to my stupid condo where my ex-husband slept in the guest room. Yeah, I got pretty grumpy about it all sometimes.

As we waited and waited, Jen kept assuring me that this party was waiting for me on the other side. Periodically Yoshi would say helpful things like, “Yo, why hasn’t your place sold yet? We need to have your party.”

After six months, when the offer was finally real and the deal was in progress, we finally set a date for my party. I was so thrilled!

Now, to be clear, this was not exactly a "divorce party." (I didn’t know divorce parties were a thing until I joined Twitter.) This party was about celebrating the next chapter of my life; it was not about bitterness or anger towards Max. I’m not happy at all that my marriage ended, but it is definitely worth celebrating that I did the right thing for me and for Max so that each of us now might be in happier, healthier relationships. So this was truly a Welcome Back party – welcoming me back to the town I loved to live the life I was supposed to be living.

On Friday, I had over a few friends for drinks and appetizers at my apartment (yes, this was on my list of 11 Reasons Why I Can't Wait to Live Alone!). My friends (including Nora and Lillian) were so excited to see my apartment.

“Kat, this place is SO perfect you!” they said. I was all, “I know, right?!” No modesty here, people. I waited way too long to finally get into my own apartment, so I’m perfectly justified to brag about what a find it is!
Somehow we polished off three bottles of wine and four beers. I didn’t bill this little gathering as pregaming, but I guess that is what we did!

Before we headed out to the bar – yes, my favorite bar – Jason came over to join us. Big step, bringing him to this gathering. Anyway, we walked to the bar, which took six whole minutes.

The evening was perfect. It was one of those September signature nights of “not too warm but not too cool” that just draws you outdoors. I pulled out my knee-high boots for the first time this season just for the occasion. There were about 15 of us – men and women – at an Irish pub doing lots of drinking and laughing. I felt so supported. Celebrated even! To varying degrees, the people there knew what a long haul it had been to get me to that night, both emotionally and financially. In particular, I had two friends drive at least 30 minutes to come – one friend is several months pregnant and how fun is a bar after 10 p.m. when you’re sober, and the other friend is a single mom with three kids, so she paid a babysitter to come out for me. They both said the same thing: this was too important to miss. I can't tell you how touched I was.

After a round of Fireball shots (whose crappy idea was that?!), about five glasses of vino, and bartenders literally turning on the lights and telling us to go home, my Welcome Back to Ford night was over. I stumbled home, knowing I had a hangover waiting for me in just a few hours but I didn’t care. I was back in the town I was supposed to be in, back to living alone in a cool apartment, and best of all, surrounded by friends.

Watch me talk about this night on Huffington Post Live with Lois Tarter of Your Divorce Day!

Have you ever attended a divorce party of some kind? What was it like? 
I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Why Are People Calling Me Sexy?

I’m writing my first blog post from my brand new couch in my very own apartment!

I’ve been here 12 days and it’s starting to feel like home. Unpacking has been taking forever, as it always does, and I wouldn’t even consider myself a packrat. I have spent a disgusting amount of money at Target in pursuit of the perfect organization system in my new digs.

The past week has had me pondering a new word in my vocabulary: 

I started hearing this new word from men this year and it shocks me every time. I’m not saying I’m ugly; I think I’m a decent enough looking woman. I do exercise but you can tell that I’m far from a gym rat. I eat healthy but I’ve never met a Jersey bagel I didn’t like and yes, I would like more wine, thank you. I wear makeup and am girly, but I have definitely been in seen in public in sweats and my brother’s college baseball cap. Bottom line is that I do have confidence in myself as a person, which I think is at the core of being sexy. But, I’ve been all but sexually comatose since 2006 up until very recently. I really stunted my sexual growth, which has really hurt my confidence in myself as a sexual being. So hearing such a startling compliment this year has been deliciously surprising, confusing, but also flattering.

After years of being unscrewable (if you were to believe my husband), there’s a whole new vibe in the air around me. But how? and why?!

Hearing Sexy and Trying to Understand It

Back in January when I was dating Todd, he told me I was sexy several times. He did it in such a classy way, as if he were stating an obvious and undeniable fact.

My reaction: OK, he’s a 36-year-old man, he’s got the confidence to use such a bold adjective.

Then I was hooking up with the 26 Year Old off and on since February. (By the way, I hadn’t heard from him since July then he texted me last weekend to say hello! OK…) We were definitely not dating, just using each other. He told me I was sexy all the time – over text, while naked, while dressed, you name it. Or, as a 26-year-old would text it, “Sexxxaaaaaay.”

My reaction: OK, he’s younger, he is turned on by being with a slightly older woman. I’m probably more confident than say, a 24-year-old. And he’s totally a boob man and I got boobs.

Then I started playing with dating through OKCupid.

David, who I went out with a few times and smooched a little, loved to tell me what a great body I had and that I was sexy (though not with the confidence that Todd had). I was like, "yeah um OK" and proceeded to turn bright red. Once I started dating Jason, I told David thanks but no thanks to dating. Well, last Sunday afternoon, David texted me; it had been two weeks since I told him I wasn’t interested in him. He asked if I'd moved and how I was doing. Harmless, right?

Check out this convo, and yes, please laugh at how dense I am:

My reaction: OK, he must want to meet for coffee because that is a casual encounter. How brave of him to ask!

I read this to several people, including my 65-year-old mother, who all knew exactly what David meant. In fact Mom was howling with laughter at my saying I was "truly flattered" by this pathetically awkward attempt to bed me. 

David and I only kissed a few times and he didn’t know why I got divorced. Why on earth did he think I’d want a “casual encounter” with him?! Aside from showing how dumb I can be about a guy’s sexual advances, this weird convo furthers this idea of some vibe I’m putting out there, that I've got some sex appeal. Interesting.

Then there’s Jason. Ahhh, Jason. He’s so sweet, he thinks I’m wonderful, and as he puts it, “Kat, you’re so sexy I can’t stand it! Like it makes me mad!” Now, Jason saying I’m sexy does make sense because we do in fact have absolutely amazing sex. I’ve been getting truly reawakened and learning about myself as a sexual being with him. So, yes, he would, could, and SHOULD think I’m sexy.

One last example actually prompted this entry. Yesterday morning after my 10 mile run, my face was tomato red, my hair was frizzing everywhere, and my black shirt was covered in wipes of snot and salt. I was walking back to my apartment while tweeting about my hickie [WTF, thanks Jason!], some dude walking by me goes, “Sexy!” I look up all confused and say, “huh?” He says, “THAT sexy! Damn, you married?” I replied, “Thank you, and yes.”

My reaction: Wow, no one, and I mean no one, told me I was sexy the entire time I was with Max. 

Now, just in the months since I filed for divorce and then ended my marriage, I’ve gotten this compliment more times than I had in my entire life.

I'm Sexy and I'm (trying to) Know it

So why am I sharing this recent barrage of "sexy" comments with you? Because this is an important step in my post-Max dating and sex life. After overcoming terrible self-image in my late teens to mid 20s, I came to accept my appearance. For example, I will never have toned arms, but I like my small waist and strong legs. What I completely skipped over was believing that I’m sexy, which is a whole other level of self acceptance and self love.

Before Max, I had plenty of one-night stands. We all know how those go – super fun and hot in the moment followed by the day-after hangover of regret and ick. It doesn’t take a sexy girl to have a one-night stand. Judging from some of the dudes I slept with, pretty much anyone can have one if he or she wants to. I think those trysts were my misguided attempts to feel sexy.

While I was with Max, I usually felt pretty, but rarely – and eventually never – desired. The notion of being sexy completely eluded me.

Now, I’m truly, completely single. I haven’t seen or spoken to Max in 10 days. I’m back to being on my own, getting rid of bugs and putting stuff on high shelves. Yesterday I ran 10 miles, the longest I’ve ever run as I prepare for my first half marathon. I’m having honest, hot sex with Jason, and I’m loving being on top. I'm in a good, solid place in my life (especially considering the heartbroken wreck I was a year ago). 

So you know what? These random men are right. I AM SEXY. While I don’t entirely know why I am, I must be. The next step of my post-divorce healing is owning, accepting, and never questioning my sexiness again.

Did you have trouble regaining sexual confidence after your breakup?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Closing on the Condo, Opening a New Chapter

With just three weeks from receiving the verbal offer to signing the closing documents, I no longer own and share a home with my ex-husband. My marriage is really and truly over.

Homeownership wasn’t really something I was all that keen on from the beginning. I never particularly cared for the town we lived in. I pretty much only associated that condo with heartache and rejection. So why did I cry almost every day that I saw Max from offer to closing?

You often don’t know that something is occurring for the last time as the moment is happening, but I was acutely aware the last few weeks. My last time making pesto in the kitchen we remodeled. My last time having pizza with Max on the couch that he’s going to sell. My last time going for a run in this neighborhood. My last days sharing an address with Max. I tried to pause and really take it all in. This was a rare experience where I felt a chapter of my life closing.

Over just three weeks, we had to find a lawyer, juggle realtors, find new apartments, sign leases, get boxes, pack boxes, write checks, and answer about a million emails. You would think we would’ve been at each other’s throats from the stress and emotion, but no. In the first place, Max and I were never ones to fight (says something about the absence of passion in our relationship, no?). But I think these past few weeks, we both wanted to continue our peaceful cohabitation. We’d survived this long, why start screaming now?

But there were plenty of tears.

We divided up everything, many of which items were wedding and shower gifts. We spread out serving pieces on our dining room table and picked through our belongings like we were at garage sale. We raided our kitchen cabinets and divided appliances and bakeware, his on the left counter and mine on the right. We were so damn polite through it all, like somehow it might hurt less if we minded our manners. I felt like I was living the Sugarland song "Already Gone."

We divided the furniture, and the result is that each apartment would be properly furnished. And yes, I got the king bed.

I sorted through drawers and found cards and letters from Max back to 2005. I wanted to just throw out everything but I knew better. I carefully read through his promises to love me forever, his assurances that he would be the best partner to me that he could be, and observations that I make him a better person. I sobbed on the floor of the guest room as half the cards went in the trash and the other half got stuffed back in a drawer.

I took these down, one by one.
I finally took the wedding photos off the wall. We never took them down because we didn’t want buyers to know that we were divorced. For a year, those framed blissfully happy wedding day smiles have quietly tortured me as I came to terms with the end of my marriage. I asked Max if he wanted to go through any of our wedding photos. He said not yet, that he wasn’t ready, but won’t that be a good reason to get together another time to go through and divide them up? I said sure. I don’t think we’ll ever do it though. I wrapped framed photos in newspaper and sealed them in a box.

On the closing day, we scrambled to pack those final boxes (and why do those always take the longest?!) and do a final cleaning. At 1:30, it was time to lock the door and head to the lawyer. Max stopped to look around and take one last walk through. Sun was streaming in through the windows and reflecting off the hardwood floors. Nothing of ours was left in this echoing 990 square feet of space, but I felt the stinging presence of three and a half years of longing, disappointment, and acquiescence. I told Max I couldn’t be there and I had to go. In the hallway, he silently grabbed my hand and walked me to my car.

I started driving to the lawyer’s office and then the tears really came. By the time I got to the lawyer’s office, I was sobbing. Here was my moment to finally get rid of this damn condo and Max had to find me a restroom to pull myself together. I finally walked in to the lawyer’s office, my green irises creepily bright thanks to how red my eyes were from crying. I signed my married name over and over, and before we knew it, everything was done.

We went to lunch at a restaurant we used to frequent when we first started dating. We got spinach artichoke dip, just like we used to before I discovered Weight Watchers. After lunch, we took a short walk and reflected on the towns we’d lived in over our eight years together.

And then it was time to say goodbye.

The worst kind of goodbye is when you don’t know if or when you’ll see the person again. It was the kind of goodbye you never think you’d say to the person you married. We embraced in the parking lot. I told him that I loved him. He said he would always love me and would be there anytime I need him, even if it was just to get something off a high shelf. There wasn’t much else to say, so I told him to drive carefully.

And now, I’m officially in my new one bedroom apartment in the town I’ve wanted to be in for years. My apartment is a complete mess of boxes but it’s MINE. My friends have a welcome back party planned for me in two weeks. Everything is falling in to place. It hurt to have finally said goodbye to Max, but I’m so very happy to be really and truly on my own and in my own space.

The new view out my bedroom window.
(And in case you’re wondering, Jason and I are still seeing each other. He’s coming over for dinner tonight.)

What were your final days living with your ex like?

Monday, September 2, 2013

GUEST POST: Saying "I do" While My Friend is Saying "I Don’t Anymore…"

You've heard a bit about Nora, a dear friend of mine who got married in June. I was honored to be her bridesmaid. While I loved watching Nora and her now husband proceed to their wedding day, it stirred up a lot for me about the loss of my relationship with Max. Hers was the first wedding I attended since my divorce

I asked Nora to share what it was like to be preparing for her marriage while I, one of her closest friends, was in the process of dissolving mine.

Nora and I are the ones in the fuchsia shoes. 

When Kat asked me to write a guest entry on her blog, I was both extremely honored, and also very nervous.   Discussing my wedding and marriage is one thing, but discussing how I felt about another person’s divorce is entirely another.  But Kat has assured me that my honesty and perspective is welcomed and appreciated, so I will do my best to do this blog justice.

As many of you reading this know, planning a wedding is exhausting and time consuming, and by default, you become the center of attention.  Because of these things, I constantly had to remind myself to stay grounded and to keep things in perspective…my wedding was not the most important thing happening ever.  This came into play a lot with Kat.  Don’t get me wrong, Kat was incredibly happy for me and supportive throughout my entire wedding process.  But, I’m human and not an idiot, so I knew that watching one of her best friends start her life with the love of her life, while she was ending hers with the person she thought was the love her HER life was not easy, and at times, almost unbearable.  At times, it was unbearable for me to even think about it.  I admit to containing my excitement over certain things, mostly when it pertained to knowing how right my decision to marry Craig was.  But at the same time, I also knew that Kat WANTED to hear about the band, and the photographer, and the fun party van I hired to drive the bridal party and their dates.  Not just because she was happy for me, but because she is one of my best friends, a bridesmaid, and a huge part of my life.  And for that, I will always be eternally grateful.

It was not easy to read her blog and find out that she had a meltdown at my bridal shower.  I felt sad and like a self-absorbed idiot who was fawning over the 6th of the same place setting while her friend was crying her eyes out in the bathroom.  This sentiment was echoed when I read about her meltdown at my wedding as well.  It got to the point where she would ask me “have you read my blog entry this week, I promise it won’t make you cry.”  But she always assured me that her intention was that I did not know she was crying while I was in my own little utopia and that I was not a self-absorbed idiot.

But the height of my realization of what a good friend Kat was to me and just exactly how difficult watching me plan my wedding while she was planning her divorce was happened when I asked her to come to my final dress fitting.  I know that this sounds like a stupid thing for me to ask her, but she was doing great, had just told me how much happier she was and that she knew her decision to divorce Max was the right one.  My mother and sisters could not come and she had not been to one yet, so I thought it would be fun.  She told me that seeing me in a wedding dress was going to be very difficult and asked me if she could think about it.  I said to her “Kat, you are going to have to see me in a wedding dress on my wedding day, don’t you think that is going to be difficult.” But of course, I let her think about it.  I was hoping she would decide to come with me, not for my benefit, but for hers.  She thought about it and in the end, she came with me, and told me that she was totally fine with it and was glad she came.  And so was I.

I am told that blog readers like lists, so I will leave you with one.  My sister finalized her divorce not too long before Kat filed for hers, so I’ve learned from both of these marriages/divorces.

Here are my top 5 lessons that I will remember in my marriage:

  1. Sometimes you just can’t fix what’s broken.  Both Kat and my sister knew before getting married that they had at least one huge obstacle to overcome in their relationship.  I’m not saying that the marriages should not have happened, but it is important to know that some things cannot be fixed and it is up to us to determine the deal breakers from the not deal breakers.  Or what to fight over and what not to fight over.  I will learn to pick my battles.
  2. Don’t sacrifice who you are, even just a little.  Both my sister and Kat, to a certain extent, sacrificed a little of themselves.  Both of their husbands were not very social (although for largely different reasons) and as a result it forced them to sacrifice nights out to stay at home with their husbands.  In Kat’s case, I found that she did things or did not do things because of him that did not reflect who she was, what she believed in, or what she wanted.  I know she ended up resenting this, and even if she didn’t, I did.  Compromise is one thing, but when you are the one that is always doing the compromising, that’s a problem.
  3. Don’t give up too easily.  The thing I admire about both my sister and Kat is their attempt to honor their commitment to their marriages.  My sister held on because of the two children she shares with her ex-husband, and Kat because she truly loved Max and didn’t want to give up without giving her marriage the shot it deserved.  I know there will be rough times in my marriage, but staying committed and keeping the lines of open and honest communication can be the difference between working it out and losing out.
  4. Sex is important.  Both my sister and Kat were basically in sexless marriages.  In Kat’s case, this ultimately led to the demise of her marriage.  While I know that Max’s lack of sex drive had little to do with his well, lack of sex drive, and more to do with personal demons that he has still yet to face, it made me realize that it is important.  It’s important to feel sexy and wanted, to make your partner feel sexy and wanted, and to be intimate in a way that only you and him can be intimate.  It also makes me feel extremely grateful instead of annoyed when my husband wants to rip my clothes off after I’ve had a long and tiring day.  At least he wants to, and I’m fairly certain always will.
  5. Don’t ever forget your family and friends.  In the aftermath of my sister’s divorce, she has had to rely heavily on her family and, at times friends, for childcare.  Kat and Max never had children, but she has expressed over and over how lucky she feels to have such supportive family and friends.  As one of her supporting cast, I can attest.  She has surrounded herself with a fantastic group of individuals.  And this is largely because she is such a loyal, reliable, and wonderful friend.  And most importantly, a fun ass person to be with.  I know it is easy to get wrapped up in loving my husband and the life I am carving out with him, so I am making a solemn vow to make sure I stop to hang with and appreciate my wonderful family and friends who have been there for me through the good and the bad….even before I knew Craig.
Peacoats & PlaidNow, back to finishing up packing! My movers come tomorrow! I'll catch you up next week on my NEW apartment.