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Hobbies

It’s hard to develop good hobbies when you’re on this tight of a budget, but I have a few go-tos to keep me busy.

  1. I want to go to every museum in this city, and most of them have free days. I request those days off work and spend the day getting myself there, learning the public transit routes, exploring everything inside, taking myself out for lunch somewhere new, and having one extravagant cocktail to cap it off. This is about a $30 day and gives me so much pleasure.
  2. Thrift stores in different parts of the city have such different findings. I like to go to as many as possible to find suitable workwear and lifewear options as I can afford. It’s remarkable what people with money give up to just get more of the same.
  3. There are so many storytelling events in the city – people with pasts getting up on a stage and telling their past into a microphone. In a city where I can feel so happily alone so much of the time, it’s so enriching to hear my neighbors and community members share their own lives, struggles, triumphs, embarrassments. It’s impossible to be alone here.

The Apartment

I love the apartment. There is something very romantic (to me) about a small studio apartment in the city. One glowing little rectangle surrounded by glowing little rectangle. 400 square feet of a shared floor. 400 square feet of a shared ceiling. Paperthin walls, the sounds of neighbors living and sleeping and fucking and fighting.

My used furniture is worn and comfortable. I can take three steps from my bed to put the teapot on the stove. The floorboards creak in predictable patterns.

I love the sound of my buzzer. I love the spot in the kitchen where the draft from the old window meets the heat from the old furnace. I love sliding that chain into the lock on the old wooden door, locking out the world.

Loneliness feels so. goddamn. good.

Social Media

I don’t use it, besides this blog. This blog – more of a diary really – helps me keep my feelings in check, helps me reflect on my progress, reveals nothing about me and is shared with no one.

I don’t post selfies. I don’t post restaurant reviews. I don’t tweet. I revel in the anonymity of city life so why would I pollute that with self-exposure?

I spent a lot of time while married posting about how wildly happy I was – while devastatingly depressed. I posted beautiful meals that I ate while miserable. I posted pictures of my legs on vacation because I didn’t want my bruises in the shots.

Entry Level

Some of my “higher up” coworkers say entry level like it’s a dirty word, like it’s a prison from which to escape, like it’s sad or pathetic for an adult woman to make copies, schedule conference rooms, order lunch for them. They say thank you with pity, with a little bit of disaffected scorn.

I’m so proud of my work. I learned Outlook, Excel, Word, I learned how to change the ink in a copier, I learned how to take the train to work every morning and show up breezy with a cup of coffee looking like a woman of the world. I don’t check in with anybody, I am basically invisible, nobody knows what my life is like, and I feel so cozy in my anonymity.

I work for Professional Transition Services and while I understand that admin asst. isn’t a glamorous job, I see so much room to grow here. I get a paycheck made out to me and I don’t have to ask anyone how to spend it. They give me days off when I need them and I mostly use them to go to museums or to just ride the train around town.

Investing

Responsible money management and investing is often reserved for the already-wealthy. I refuse to believe that my lot in life currently has to be my forever lot in life, upward mobility is the American Dream after all and I want a piece of that. Living my life without a partner was always my greatest fear but I’m now seeing what an opportunity this is to individuate, earn some money, allow that money to earn more money, and create the kind of life I want to live.  

I always wanted exposed brick in my home – my husband said that was unrealistic and messy. 

I always wanted a dog – my husband told me it was too much work for me.  

I wanted to live in an area where I could walk to the train or bus, walk to bars or restaurants, share the sidewalk with people who look different from me – my husband wanted to stay in the suburbs.  

Our break-up has opened up an entire world to me that I can’t wait to explore. And my first order of business is earning and growing the funds I’ll need to live this way. This will also mean simplifying some of the extravagancies my husband and I used: no more home cleaners, no more landscapers, no more SoulCycle membership, no more having purified water delivered. These were never things I wanted, I was just less vocal about what I didn’t want for the duration of our marriage.  

As a woman, I learned to never say what I wanted until I got something and then convincing myself that it’s what I wanted. Fuck that. I’m gonna learn what I want and what I need to do to get it.  

Things I Want

Responsible money management and investing is often reserved for the already-wealthy. I refuse to believe that my lot in life currently has to be my forever lot in life, upward mobility is the American Dream after all and I want a piece of that. Living my life without a partner was always my greatest fear but I’m now seeing what an opportunity this is to individuate, earn some money, allow that money to earn more money, and create the kind of life I want to live.  

I always wanted exposed brick in my home – my husband said that was unrealistic and messy. 

I always wanted a dog – my husband told me it was too much work for me.  

I wanted to live in an area where I could walk to the train or bus, walk to bars or restaurants, share the sidewalk with people who look different from me – my husband wanted to stay in the suburbs.  

Our break-up has opened up an entire world to me that I can’t wait to explore. And my first order of business is earning and growing the funds I’ll need to live this way. This will also mean simplifying some of the extravagancies my husband and I used: no more home cleaners, no more landscapers, no more SoulCycle membership, no more having purified water delivered. These were never things I wanted, I was just less vocal about what I didn’t want for the duration of our marriage.  

As a woman, I learned to never say what I wanted until I got something and then convincing myself that it’s what I wanted. Fuck that. I’m gonna learn what I want and what I need to do to get it.  

Adult Learning and Self-Sufficiency

There are lots of ways to assert one’s self-sufficiency and I’m learning that as a recently-single woman, there are a ton of little things that I have to learn to do. And I have to learn to do them well enough that men aren’t going to step in and mansplain to me how/why I’m doing it incorrectly. I’m afraid if they do that, they’ll catch a head-kick, ya know?  

I’m lucky to live near a community education center that offers kids classes as well as adult classes. I signed myself up for some pretty basic classes: Financial Literacy for Single Mothers, Go-To Guide to Government Assistance, and Maintaining a Family After the Romance Dies. And on a whim, I signed myself up for a kids’ match class. I was always really poor at math in formal schooling and I’d get around it by taking the remedial, excelling in writing, and allowing people to note that “girls are just not as good with numbers” as an excuse for my apathy.   

No longer satisfied to attribute a lack of interest to a biological intellectually inferior excuse, I am now taking (surrounded by literal 8-year olds) a beginner’s math class. I’m going to start completely from scratch, find out what I’m truly capable of, and use that to enrich the rest of my life. I’m currently working on completing an equivalent fractions worksheet to better understand fractions and the variety of ways they are communicated. It’s not particularly *interesting* but it makes me feel good about myself to suddenly understand something that has always seemed complicated.  

Plus, maybe better understanding fractions will also help me feel more confident in my financial literacy as my ex-husband uses varied language to talk money when we meet in hopes of confusing me. Hopefully I’ll get 100/100 or 100% or “all” of what I want during the divorce negotiations!   

Separation

Me: I think we should separate for a while. I don’t know how to make you happy anymore. 

Him: And where the fuck will you go if we separate?  

Me: We can figure that out together. 

Him: Get out. Get the fuck out of my house.  

Image result for marriage fight 

So I went home and stayed with my parents for a week. It was actually a really nice week, I didn’t spend my time trying to make a miser happy. I prepared meals for myself and then enjoyed eating them. I slept when and for how long I wanted. I took baths without locking the bathroom door. I told my parents stories about my marriage that made them weep. I was sad to make them sad. I was happy to be believed.

My Parents

When I finally began to consider telling my own parents about my increasingly cruel and despondent partner, I worried that he had also prepped them for my meltdown. There was plenty of time and space for them to communicate without my knowing about it. My husband had proven himself adept at spinning the story before I even know one existed. And I just couldn’t handle a lecture from my own parents like the one I’d received from my mother-in-law. I considered them all I had, and I didn’t want to add any information to the situation that would counter that.  

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I told my dad first, very measured, that I was afraid I had made a mistake in getting married. We were at our favorite steakhouse, our first one-on-one meal since before the wedding, and I was getting worse at hiding my emotions. I stoically but tearfully described everything that had been bothering me since the wedding. I had spent most of the day studying the notes I’d been taking, so I was ready and armed with truth. I spoke with the cadence and measure of an attorney, backing up every claim with some vague sense of proof.  

 

My dad set down his fork, set down his knife, looked at me, and said. “Leave him.”  

And that’s when I finally realized that I was right to want to leave him, I was stupid to try to stay with him, and it may in fact be dangerous. Leaving was hard, right, and noble. And it was going to be awful.

My In-Laws

There’s a caveat for the poor treatment I was receiving from my husband. Whenever his or my parents were around, he turned into the best, most attentive, loving, supportive husband I’d ever even heard of.  

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He’d deep clean the apartment before they came over, prepare drinks and food, create a special playlist, wear his best casual attire, use pet names and inside jokes from when we were dating to keep up the happy married couple façade. And to be honest, I loved it. It felt truly like a recall to the man I loved, the man who proposed, the man I pictured a whole life loving. I began to invite our parents over more often. I asked them to stay later. My dad even started to notice and wondered why his usually-independent fiercely-private daughter was suddenly inviting them over every weekend, offering to make up the guest room, and becoming noticeably sad when they were unable to come over.  

 

My husband acted completely dumbfounded when I asked him about it. I asked, quite simply, if he enjoyed having our parents over. He responded with a quiet anger, “Of course I don’t.” But he never discouraged inviting them. I think he did enjoy having them there. He seemed to love playing the part of the husband he’d always pictured himself becoming. That’s when I began to realize that as disappointed as I was in the husband my boyfriend had become, my husband was mostly disappointed in the man he’d become.  

 

Usually not a drinker, he would indulge in cocktails when our parents were over under the guise of loosening up and playing the host. He’d become fun-tipsy while they were over, joking, suggesting we play games, grilling, talking about future plans we’d never discussed privately. And when our parents would leave, he’d transition into full-on rage drinking, screaming at me for allowing him to become this man, sad drinking crying at me that he knew he wasn’t the husband I’d wanted, and passing out on the sofa.  

 

He was usually a little better for a day or two after a parental visit, as though he’d seen the version of himself he liked and wanted to try to keep it up. But a small inconvenience would usually send him spiraling back into bad-husband territory.  

 

The first person I told about our marriage issues, besides Robin, was his mother. I didn’t mean to, she texted me one day because she was in the neighborhood and wondered if I’d like to meet her for a glass of wine. She told me that she thought I’d been withdrawn lately, I seemed sad, and she wanted to make sure things were ok. Between tears of joy for finally being asked and tears of fear for the words pouring out of me, I told her everything. I told her about my husband’s dissatisfaction with our beautiful expensive wedding, his loathsome honeymoon behavior, my dislocated shoulder, and his performative love during parental visits. She listened quietly, in deep thought, with a look of sympathy on her face.  

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“You should be grateful to have a husband who cares so much, young lady” she chastised me. “He’s told me how you’ve been behaving, making him sleep on the sofa, spending all of his money on weekend trips that you demand he plans, and inviting your parents over every time he wants some alone time with his wife.” 

She was clearly the wrong person to tell. And my husband had clearly anticipated me breaking eventually.