I closed on a 2-bedroom condo purchase just as my state's covid lockdown started. Since New Year's, I've been staying in an airbnb-ish fully furnished studio apartment a few miles from the house. I've seen the kids almost daily, except for racquetball nights and my off-weekends. On my on-weekends, we've been going snowboarding, which was planned long before the separation blew everything apart. The new condo is a 7 minute walk from the house, meaning it's been easy for the kids and me to walk back and forth. So far, the ex and I are working pretty well together and our interactions are perfectly civil so long as we don't talk about "us", at which point one or the other of us starts to make assumptions or misunderstand or bristle. Such is life. From the time I left the house to the time I closed on my condo was 5 months, during which time I hoped every. single. day. for us to reconcile. The "big picture" of "we'll never do [a trip or something] again" has been really sad, but every daily interaction has been exactly what I wanted it to be - I like not being tangled with my ex in every aspect of our lives. In other words, I was only sad about the whole thing when I stepped back to look at the whole thing, but not when the day-to-day took up the whole of my vision. I have enjoyed my space and I think it has been good for me. and for her. as individuals. As a couple...well, here's a text I recently sent some friends:
I cried a few times that day, grieving the loss of what will never be, and I felt more at peace.I'm closing on my condo on Monday. Setting up a wire for [a large amount of money] really focuses the mind. I'm faced with the daunting reality that I have to let go of [ex] - of the hope that things could change, that we could somehow make it work. I've been holding on to that hope for the last five months (and for years before that), but I just don't know how it could happen if I also 'hold on to myself' (phrase from a book called Passionate Marriage). But letting go, fully and finally, is so sad.
Just before I moved into the new condo (during an off-weekend), the ex invited me to hike with her and the kids (she probably felt sorry for me since I've been working from home due to covid-19 and haven't seen any human faces other than hers, the kids and a couple of folks at Target at 7am one day). The trail was packed and at one point she and the kids broke off on a shorter loop since the kids were bitching and wanted to cut it short, and I continued on a longer loop alone. I sat by a river alone for a good long while and listened to the river. I was reminded of the ferryman in Siddhartha that spoke about the river speaking to him and of learning from the river. Watching, and listening, I understood that the river takes the path of least resistance, flowing around obstacles instead of insisting on pushing them out of the way, but once the path is chosen, the river cuts deep. This is how I want to be. I want to flow and be flexible, gently pushing on people and situations to try to improve them, but then yielding to any resistance and just going on my way, unconcerned. But where a person or situation yields to me, I want to cut deep.
As an example and one that's been continuous in my life for a few years now, I'm working hard on deepening friendships and connections with those who are receptive to me and to whom I am receptive. A more recent example is my somewhat forced asceticism arising from the separation/living out of a suitcase. This situation has only been exacerbated by the forced work-from-home directive from my company for the last few weeks and the state stay-at-home order layered on top of that. I found myself wanting a supply of food to last me a good long while should the supply chain become brutally disrupted, so I opted for simple, bland, long shelf-life foods - i.e., rice and beans (I also bought a bunch of frozen stuff so I can have bland one meal a day and like a hotpocket for another meal). So, every day now, I've been cooking, eating less, and eating more blandly than I have in a very, very long time, and hand-washing and drying and putting away my dishes. And I feel a certain sense of...not pride really, but of...life. Like I'm really living - pruning back my marital relationship, my work relationships, my food relationships... has left me feeling... natural, like a river. I can adjust to anything that life throws at me because I have no need to maintain these fixed relationships. As a last example, the store closures and germophobia whenever I leave the house have left my new condo in decidedly spare conditions. Although it has been a little challenging to find comfort in an echo-y apartment, it has grown on me. I do still want a few more things to make working from home and hosting my three kids a little more workable and comfortable, but many of these things are pieces that I'm taking from my sister's surplus of furniture, so my start-up costs have so far consisted of some basic kitchen and office supplies. I bought 2 queen beds, bedding, a kitchen table and 4 chairs from the prior owner, all for $300! which has made a world of difference, along with some bean bags, an air mattress, a tv and the old video game consoles from the house.
Put it all together, and what do you have? Separation, moving, my cat died, forced work from home, forced social isolation, new relationships with my kids coming to my new condo (they never came to my rented studio) has meant a lot of change for me. Like a river, constantly moving, constantly changing. Embracing this change, going with the flow, not resisting, allowing things to slowly develop has brought me a sense of purpose and peace such that I have not shrunk from these most recent challenges. Nor have I fully "taken them head on" to try to "solve them". I'm just existing day by day, allowing things to be. Like a river, constantly moving, constantly evolving.
May everyone stay safe in these truly extraordinary times.