Truth is, I knew the Bulldogs were going to break my heart.
I knew because it was the logical end to the worst year of my life, the one where i met disappointment and fear and pain at every turn. The one where i just slogged through 365 days in a row, hoping it would soon be over and sometimes not caring how.
It’s behind me now, the hell that i went through in the last year. I did the right thing, and the hard thing, and I walked out of my house one morning and knew my life and the lives of those I loved would be changed irrevocably forever. And I knew that I had to do it to save myself physically and mentally, and to have a chance at saving us all. It didn’t work, not the way I thought it would, but i don’t regret trying. I did it and it didn’t work out and the world did not completely fall apart, even though there have been moments where it felt like it would.
I made it through the weirdness of living in a basement for 9 months, the shared silent house split right down the middle in alternating nights at home and nights making myself scarce, through the cold division of everything two people put together over 18 years, the day we told the kids, the signing of the papers, the waiting, and the terrifying unknowns of where i would be living. I lived through the constant deflection of my family’s worry, my fear for my children’s well-being.
I lived through the surreal and daunting prospect of buying a house before I was really ready, the packing, the moving, the friend who just didn’t show up for me when I needed them most, the realization that they never would, and the friends who did show up whom I can never repay and to whom I am forever indebted. I lived through the vomiting, the sleeplessness, the ulcers, the near-debilitating sadness and depression, the million ways i numbed myself with drinks or food or tv or sleep.
I lived through the mortifying shame and guilt and self-hatred, and through other people’s pity and “I’m so sorry”s, their tears and their questions. I lived through those last weeks, packing the bare minimum and dumping it into a new and empty house, all while my job went completely to shit, i worked weekends and nights, and I found out I would have to drive to my office in every day, adding ten to 15 hours to my work week, and that i had only a few months to work out my childcare arrangements.
I made it through an August that felt like one never-ending horrible nightmare, one I could not wake up from, one that to get through felt like barely keeping my head above water in an ocean of cement, my eyes constantly on the horizon. If I could just get there, I might be able to breathe again, and maybe sleep, and stop trying to not feel anything.
I dumped all the boxes in the new house, received my final divorce decree two days later, woke up the next morning and flew to NYC, where I spent the first 12 days of my divorce almost completely alone in a city where you are never alone. I came home, and I started putting things together, getting used to my new normal, our new schedules, the homework and the dawning realization that this is real and it is forever and something I loved very much is dead.
I lived through the first holidays – Thanksgiving without kids, Christmas eve playing Santa all by myself, Christmas night with no kids for the first time since my son was born, and the New Year’s Eve sadness of being alone, of going home alone.
I have never felt so relieved, for a year to be over and a new one to begin. And I have been positive and healthy, a little bit more every day. I have been getting back on my feet. In 2018, I have already achieved something i did not achieve in all of 2017 (and most of 2016, for that matter); I have had whole days where I did not break down in tears.
I woke up new, on New Year’s Day. And I know now something that I doubted for a very long time. The truth is, when it comes to pushing through the pain and the stagnation and the fear, I am strong. When it comes to realizing and seeking and speaking the truth, I am one badass motherfucker.
I knew there would be more hurdles and I knew i would clear them.
So, I watched with growing amusement that my bulldogs were gaining ground, that they might make the big game. I realized that it would be hilarious for them to make the big game. We had sent my ex to the big game in California a few years before (different team for those non-readers); we had agreed if my team ever went, we would make sure i got to go too. But that wouldn’t happen now.
So, of course, after 37 years, the Bulldogs made it to a national championship. I could see it coming from a mile away. i enjoyed it, it helped me get through the first holidays on my own, and it was one happy thing in a sea of (mostly) pain. I started laughingly telling people that I wasn’t bothering hoping they would make it to the big game, but if they did make it, it would end in heartbreak. I knew not to bother daring to believe, because I knew it would not end well. I knew that the real poetic cap to my year was one last kick in the teeth.
And that’s just exactly what happened. There was no other ending that would have fit as well. Because every time that I have been down this past year, i thought, “This must be it. Rock bottom. This must be what rock bottom feels like.” And then something else would happen and i would just laugh hysterically that I thought it could actually be over, get better, that I might, just might, catch a break.
So, people will have to cut me some slack when I say that I am not quite happy and accepting of that loss yet. It wasn’t just a football game – it was wrapped up in a whole lot more for me. It sure would have been nice to have that game go my way, to have just one goddamn thing go my way.
The truth is, though, it would have been too perfect, too pat a hand, to finish it all off with a win. And now that loss is already in the yesterdays, with all the other losses I’ve experienced. Now I’m in the present, the today. i get to leave behind hope and expectation, and just take this new life one day at a time. I can leave the mistakes behind, stop looking forward with some endgame in mind, and concentrate on making each day good and seeing what happens. I have a white, bright 2018 ahead of me, full of possibility and new adventure and challenges, and most of all of just being with myself, the me that I almost lost in the last couple of years, without all the noise of the crowd.
(But i probably could have done all that with a W, too. Just sayin,’ Universe.)