Do you seek the feeling of pure, unadulterated accomplishment? I discovered the secret a weekend or so ago and here is the step-by-step guide: 1. Have a broken toilet that will not flush. 2. Google and watch approximately five videos of guys in garages telling you how you can fix anything (you can do it!). 3. Take a trip to Home Depot to acquire $4 parts. 4. Put hand in disgusting back end of toilet for the first time in your life and remove and reinstall brand new shiny red flapper thing. 5. Flush toilet. 6. Start fist pumping and crying. Tip – wash your hands before wiping away tears.
I have experienced this feeling of intense and singular joy a handful of times in the five years since my divorce. As a single person, I no longer have a partner to fulfill stereotypical and societal roles that direct certain tasks be completed by someone that is not me. For example, getting a spider off the bathroom shower wall, taking the trash to the curb every Thursday, or playing soccer with my girls in the backyard.
As a divorced person, I have had to learn how to do several chores on my own. I had to retrain my structure of knowing about what I could and could not do. I will never forget the first time I used the snow blower to remove several inches of new fallen snow off of my ridiculously long driveway. My pride-filled tears froze to my face with every new pass down the drive. I remember taking my lawn mower into the small engine service center and feeling like I was a real adult complete with maintenance managed. And of course, there is my annual climb into my attic to bring down 8 heavy, fully packed and loaded, Christmas gallon totes down a rickety attic ladder with no one to assist but me, myself, and I.
I imagine it akin to the feeling a dad may experience when he successfully French braids his daughter’s hair after watching a thirteen-year-old You-Tuber show him how. Or when a spouse takes control of their budget and money management for the first time in their adult life. And nothing brings more delight when you purchase that first piece of furniture, wall art, or bedding post-divorce that is just for you – just your taste with no compromise required.
Many people post-divorce take a class to learn something new, try a food they have always wanted to taste, or go on a vacation they have long dreamed about. There is something about being forced to hit the refresh button on your life that unleashes an inner fearlessness – albeit in varying degrees. With all the scary, new, and volatile feelings these new tasks and skills provoke, you are learning and growing anew.
Having to restructure tasks and redefine duties post-divorce is inevitable. It is a necessary part of the divorce journey. It can be met with fierce frustration, tinges of a tense temperament, and undeniable sadness. No doubt at some point you will rue what you took for granted in your dual adult household. But the problems I have learned to trouble shoot on my own, the support I have learned to let in, and the sheer joy I have experienced in taking care of myself – by myself – has found me now, more fully flushed.