I’m selling my family home as part of the divorce.
My rational self knows the outcome is going to be great for both the Ex and me, but getting through it this far has been exhausting. It’s been sort of like stepping into an inviting, buttercup-frosted meadow only to be blown sky high by emotional landmines.
We’ve been separated for over a year. We’re huge supporters of one another. There is no animosity, no sabotage. On the contrary, there is that particular kind of arms-length love that keeps you rooting for each other, asking each other’s advice, sharing anecdotes, and actively wishing for the other’s happiness while eagerly forging new paths with our individual lives.
I’m proud of us. Aside from a few heated exchanges, we’ve been totally amicable and on the same page about how to finalize our exit strategy.
When it came to dividing our assets we originally hoped that he could buy the house from me, but in the end we decided that carrying less debt was the better option, and the liquidity from the sale could mean investment in Baby Girl’s future and in our own businesses.
Once we made the decision to sell, things moved quickly. And I somehow shifted inward.
It’s strange to be in the house alone together again.
The Ex and I are staging and cleaning. We’re finally throwing out lidless Tupperware and ‘that flyer from that thing you went to,’ but I’m also finding old birthday cards from years ago that say how he loves me more and more each day. I involuntarily sob, and force myself to stop and breathe. The sun has started coming in through the back window, and the warm scent of the bed linens is sweetly familiar. My sadness grows and threatens to take over. Everything I see has a story about us to tell.
Why didn’t it work? Why did this happen?
I have to physically shake myself out of the headspace.
Wait a minute. This isn’t ‘right now.’ This is the echo of what we’ve already worked through. Like our break up had a half-life we inadvertently stumbled on.
Later on while we’re taking a break, the Ex sums it up like he's been reading my mind.
“I’ve come to realize that we couldn’t give each other what we needed. Our worlds came together and overlapped really nicely, but they just didn’t quite fit.”
He’s expressed it perfectly. I feel the need to giggle over this, solely because of the role reversal. For the first time in a long time I am the one who’s tongue-tied and to be honest even the sound of my own thoughts is grating on my nerves.
This part of the divorce seems to demand wordlessness.
I haven’t written in weeks, I have hardly tweeted or posted on Facebook. My soul seems to crave privacy and quiet. I haven’t been ready to externalize until now, and even now I find myself treading gingerly around my own feelings, straining to find their descriptions, unwilling to linger on events long enough to annotate them. I am eager simply to glide as gracefully and calmly as I can through this without being snagged by questions or memories, or residual emotions that suddenly burst to the surface in last ditch efforts to be acknowledged.
I won’t lie. My eyes are red and swollen from crying—from saying goodbye to an era and from battling the highs and lows of the nostalgia rollercoaster.
A few days later, the realtor is upstairs taking measurements as we sit in our beautifully renovated basement. I can hear the metallic twang of her tape measure as it snaps shut.
“I know you’re still sad about selling, but really, why?” he asks me.
Because it’s the last remaining monument to a relationship that was once ‘the rest of our lives’ and that makes my heart hurt. Because it’s what Baby Girl first called home. Because I have to finally deal with all the baby clothes I was saving for the other babies that never came. Because every time I pass by the bedroom I'm reminded that on what used to be my side of the bed there is a 2ft bloodstain from my first miscarriage that I couldn’t get out no matter how much I scrubbed. Because the living room, the kitchen…everything seems so eerily still, and perfect, and pretty now, without me in it. It makes me think that maybe I was always the one that didn’t belong.
I don’t say any of this though. I simply shrug and flash a non-committal smile. “I guess it just feels like a really big deal.”
There are some days where I wake up in my new life and feel seized by such a pronounced panic that I can’t think straight. A million questions unleash their rapid fire: How did I get here? What the hell happened? Why didn’t it work? What if it happens again? My brain splashes about looking for a floatation device while some other evolved part of me rolls its eyes. My body, caught in the crossfire, feels like lead and demands that I lie in bed staring at the ceiling, as the sickeningly fast tempo of my heart races in my chest. It takes every ounce of willpower to get out of bed but somehow I manage.
Then there are other days that I feel renewed calm and fulfillment, completely confident in my path, unable to imagine it differently, and awed and grateful for the amazing influences, support, love, and joy in my life.
“I’m done here,” the realtor calls downstairs. “You’re all signed, and we’ll do the open house on Saturday. What do you think, are you ready to get this house sold?”
She’s enthusiastic, bright, and loud. I smile in spite of myself.
The Ex and I lock eyes and nod at each other before stumbling up the stairs like two veterans.
There is some welcome levity in the air and we make jokes about flipping houses together.
And just like that it’s done.
With the front door closed behind us it feels like the spell has somehow been broken.
We’re both eager to get into our cars and get back to our new lives.
The future is waiting.