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Jun '09

Diary of a Divorcee

Until April 2008, I had never lived alone. From family to marriage to motherhood, widowed at nineteen one month before motherhood, married again at thirty, divorced at thirty-three, married again at forty-four, and divorced (again!) at fifty-two. I have had so many last name changes it makes me dizzy.

When living arrangements with my soon to be ex-husband became unbearable last Spring, I set out to find my sanctuary–finding a clean, affordable rental, in a good neighborhood, with a landlord willing to trust me that Remy’s long taloned nails would not ruin his hardwood floors, in Corpus Christi–is a feat requiring patience, a willingness to step outside your comfort zone, interrupting neighbors during their yard work, even negotiating a rental price, is how I came about finding The Flat. It also involved several girlfriends, a bottle of gin and some fresh-off-the-tree grapefruit.

The Flat before the move. Photo by Carol Kiphart 2008

The Flat before the move. Photo by Carol Kiphart 2008

In the beginning, it was all about creating a space that was welcoming to my family and friends, but also a place where I could rediscover my self. Something that always gets lost when I am in a long term relationship. It becomes all about them and I lose my confidence swagger. My self esteem just flies right out the window.

Within a month of moving in, I found myself eating cereal for dinner or a PB&J and a piece of fruit. I could do anything I wanted, eat anything I wanted, watch any program on television, go to bed when I wanted to go to bed, shop for the type of food that I wanted to eat, lay on the bed in the middle of the afternoon and day dream. Snore, fart, and let the dishes sit overnight (gasp!), walk around naked without fear it would be taken as a bid for sex. It has all been a learning process. Getting his voice out of my head and finding my voice. Sure, I made a few early missteps, but what woman, on her own for the first time in her life, can avoid making a few mistakes?

The Flat after move.

The Flat after the move. Photo by Carol Kiphart 2009

Just as I thought I was finally settling into single life, and not feeling like I needed a man in my life, I was laid off from my job, which set off an entire new blast of anger towards my ex for moving me to Corpus Christi in the first place, thus the term “. . . from the Edge of the Universe“. I did not deal with the lay off well. Although the grapevine would have you believe I took the news very well, in truth, that night, which happened to be of all days Friday the 13th,¬†and a week after my fifty-third birthday, I contemplated suicide. I had the pills in one hand, and, thank Goddess, my cell phone in the other. I called Chana, a friend in San Antonio, and she stayed on the phone with me most of the night. The next morning I was covered in used Kleenex, my face was puffy and swollen from crying, but I was alive and the sun was shining in my bedroom window and Remy needed to be walked and fed. Life had to go on and I had a choice to get on the train or jump under it. As hard as these last four months have been, I am so glad I chose to get on the life train. One of the things I know for sure – life always seems a bit brighter come morning.

Now, I must learn to survive this challenge, which opens up an entire new can of worms, and puts my purchase of curtain rods and drapes on hold for now. I am still in the hopeful stage and have trimmed down my cost of living significantly. I am very grateful for The Flat, a place to take a shower whenever I want, to hold my few treasures and possessions, because I realize there are women just like me across America who do not have this basic desire–a sanctuary from a world in crisis.

In what should be a very exciting time in my life, an opportunity to explore all aspects of who I am and what I want my humanitarian contribution to be, I must spend each day contemplating and pursuing a job which will provide me with the financial stability I need to live a modest lifestyle. It is a scary time, financially, to live alone. There is no backup plan. Not yet, anyway. Forever an optimist, at the end of the day, I am fortunate that Remy DuBois, the debatable darling dawg daughter, is my constant companion. She reminds me of the simple turns of daily life – sleeping, dreaming, eating, walking, pooping, peeing, and when on those rare occasions off leash, running with wild abandon.

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