No one ever tells you that one of the hardest things to deal with after a divorce is loneliness. At least, no one ever told me. Although, I guess I never asked. March 20th will be my one year anniversary of living alone. I still have two months to go before I reach that one year mark and every day feels like five years. I live in the same house that I lived in with my ex-husband for two-and-a-half years. There are still photos hanging on the walls of the two of us together. I don't know what to do with them. He didn't take much when he moved out, so I still have all his movies, books, and furniture from when he was a kid. His desk, his night stands, his childhood shelves, all still in my house holding "our" things. This house full of stuff and none of it belongs solely to me.
I arrive home from work and walk into an empty house expecting someone to greet me at the door with a beer and a hug. Someone to listen to the stories of my day. Someone who can walk the dog with me and clean the cat litter while I make dinner. Someone to ask me, "how was your day?" These expectations go unmet. I walk into a house void of humans. My cats are there to welcome me and my dog is waiting for his evening walk through the neighborhood. But I can't talk to them. I don't want to share the pain of my day. I don't want them to feel what I feel.
I make dinner for a family of six - throwbacks to when I was a kid making dinner for my family. Tearing the lettuce apart and cutting the tomatoes for the salad. Making rice and cooking the chicken (although now it's tofu). I don't know how to cook for one. So my freezer fills up with leftovers that I don't want to eat. I open a beer and start drinking.
Luckily, I started school a month-and-a-half after we divorced and he moved out. I have enough to keep me busy most of the time. But sometimes there's not enough homework to keep me busy and so my brain gets lonely and I have no one to talk to. I've stopped writing, because it's difficult to put all these thoughts into coherent sentences. And to be honest, I've become so addicted to reading about other people's lives on facebook that I don't have time to write. I don't know what it is, but the lives of my friends keep me company. I at least get to read about someone's day.
After the homework is done, the dishes are put away, the cat litter is scooped, and the dog has been walked, I crawl into the bed that he and I shared for ten years. I know that's a long time for anyone to keep a bed, I just haven't had the opportunity to replace it yet. At least the sheets are new. And the pillows. The pillows are new. I bought two - one for my head and the other for cuddling. He and I never cuddled when we slept together. We were that couple who slept on the farthest sides of the bed from each other with at least one cat always between us. So I'm not sure why I've taken to holding this second pillow tight to my chest. I hold it like I would a person - the pseudo comfort that my body weeps for after a long day. I hold it and I fall asleep. Waking up the next morning to realize that this is still my life and I'm in charge now.
I make myself coffee and breakfast and pack my lunch. I feed the animals and take the dog for a walk. I make sure the appliances are turned off and I lock all the doors. I leave my babies for the day while I make money to pay for our house and our food. And I come home again to feel the emptiness that I felt the night before. But every day gets a little easier. Every day I know that I'm crawling further out of the hole that I feel I've been buried in for almost a year. Every day I find more comfort in my own mind and heart. Every day I become my new best friend. Every day I'm a little bit stronger.