Pen and Moon

from the writing nook of Theresa Jarosz Alberti

How to Rebuild a Life in 3 Easy Steps

Hi folks, it’s been awhile. I’ve been wanting to write but the summer somehow passed in a blur, and I’ve been unsure about what I want to say.  After this wild year, I think I’ve needed time to catch my breath and digest what I’ve been through.

 

But yes, it is a year this September since Bob told me he wanted a divorce.  It’s hard to believe that much time has passed already.  It’s been a period of chaos, commotion, heartbreak and loss, but also growth, discovery, healing and connection.  My life is so different from where it was a year ago, and I am different too.  It’s a good time to look at where I am now, and where I’m heading.

 

But first, where was I a year ago?  I can see now I was stuck in many areas of my life. I was stuck at 305 lbs and using food daily to manage my feelings.  I couldn’t handle fear and anxiety (among other things), and I wasn’t able to face things I needed to move forward on– getting a job, writing, promoting myself, dealing with my clutter issues.  After years of obesity, my body was suffering from disabling pain every day and this kept limiting me.  I was able to do less and less, and I hated that.

I was more closed with people, more guarded, as I’d learned to be growing up in my family. I hid a lot of myself from people, wanting to be more pleasing.  This always kept me at a safe distance.

 

And my marriage was obviously suffering.  Despite the fact that we loved each other, old patterns and behaviors and communication issues got in our way.  I was in denial about how bad it was, didn’t listen to Bob’s concerns, didn’t admit to myself the ways I wasn’t happy.  Until it all came to a head, with Bob saying he was unwilling to live this way anymore.

 

Sigh.  That was then.  It feels heavy for me to look back at all that honestly now.

 

When he asked for a divorce last fall, I was devastated and bereft; I thought my whole life was over.  What I didn’t know then was that yes, the life I was living then was over, but a whole new life was beginning.  It was hard, oh-God-it-was-painful and sometimes it still is, but today I am so grateful to be in this new place.

 

Now happy to be a world traveler

Now happy to be a world traveler

First of all, my body is no longer in pain.  I’ve lost almost 70 lbs and can do so much that I couldn’t before. I’m thrilled with my body, I feel attractive, I have fun with clothes now, and I’ve gotten help with my eating disorder.  I’ve been at a plateau for awhile, but I’m excited to see what more I can do.  We’ve been lucky to have some fabulous trips this year, everything from weekend B&B stays and road trips to international travel, so much more than we’ve ever done before.  I’ve been so grateful and amazed to do this comfortably and ably now, with my body feeling so much better.

 

I’m dealing with my feelings head-on now, working hard to face and process everything in a new way. I’ve felt more in this last year than I ever thought possible.  Feelings from both the present and past have poured out of me– and while there’s been so many tears, I’ve found opening my feelings means experiencing joy as well.

 

I’ve become a much more open person, learning to be vulnerable and connect with people more honestly.  This blog has been a platform for that too.  I feel like I’m able to be more “me,” out in the world.  And I’ve experienced the rewards of that through deeper relationships and social experiences.  It’s scary sometimes but worth it.

 

I’ve been really working on being brave in the face of my fears and anxiety. I’m able to do more in this arena too than I could before.  I’ve been leaping into temp jobs and pursuing a permanent position. I’ve acknowledged the burden that my clutter is on my life and want to start tackling it.  I joined a writing group and feel the urge to write something more than blogs and journal entries.

 

And Bob, dear Bob. This year has been quite the adventure for us and our relationship.  We’ve gone from a place of grief and hopelessness and tearing apart, to healing and transformation and rebuilding.  We took the love that we’d always had between us, and even in the face of divorce, we treated each other with kindness and generosity and support.  We found a new therapist to help us in uncoupling in the most healthy way, worked really hard at communicating better and breaking old patterns, and then grew in our appreciation of how honest and open and willing we both were.  Our connection and love deepened, and we happily decided to recommit to each other, stay married, and change many things about our relationship.

 

New thing: letting myself dress up!

New thing: letting myself dress up!

It isn’t easy, but it has been very meaningful and rewarding.  It seems like we are scraping off layer after layer of old paint in a home remodel.  Things are different now– for one, we don’t currently live together.  That part is hard for me, but I can see that the space is giving us a chance to work on ourselves and change the old dynamics.  

 

Now, as the dust settles and life is calming down for me, I’m looking at the near future, trying to figure out where I want to go.  I am really still at a cross-roads in my life.  I turned 50 last year.  My kids are all young adults and no longer need me to do the Mom-job in the way I did before.  Being wife and mom was a big part of my identity for a long time– I know I hid myself behind it for too long– and now I need to figure out who I am without that; what do I want to do?  How do I learn to take care of myself?

 

I jokingly titled this post “How to Rebuild a Life in 3 Easy Steps.”  Of course there’s nothing easy about it, but that’s what I feel like I’m doing.  This is a great opportunity for me to really explore this new me as I feel so much better and am interacting with the world in new ways.  For one, I know I really want to work on self-care.  I’ve prioritized taking care of everyone else for so long that I realize I really suck at taking care of myself!  Last winter I asked on Facebook for suggestions, and friends gave tons of lovely suggestions of their own self-care practices.  (<<click the link to read those suggestions)  I had the intention of adding some to my everyday life, but didn’t.  I realize my pattern is to stay busy with to-do lists and distract myself, but this doesn’t lead me to feel fulfilled and happy.

 

I don’t have a great plan for how to rebuild my life, but that is what I’m thinking about these days.  It’s an exciting and intimidating place to be, but I think all the changes and hard work I’ve done this year have landed me in a good place to start from.  

 

I’m so grateful for the flood of support and love that I’ve experienced coming my way over the last year. Not only do I have a renewed relationship with Bob, but I’ve had an abundance of deeper and more intimate connections with so many people. That has meant so much to me. I am truly a lucky and blessed woman.  Thank you all!

 

And now, who knows?  Please stay tuned.  🙂

 

*** Attention Twin Citians:  Come to the Cabaret! ***

This coming weekend (Friday, Sept 11 and Saturday, Sept 12) Bob and I will be a part of Ayanna Muata’s Harvest Cabaret at Patrick’s Cabaret in Minneapolis.  I’ll be performing a poem in a dramatic poetry-slam style, and Bob will be reading a touching and tender story about a friend of his.  My poem is based on many of the elements in this particular blog post.  There will also be other poets, as well as dance, storytelling, video and music.  Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door–  please come and join the fun.  More info can be found by clicking here.

[Photos by Bob Alberti and Genevieve Alberti]

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12 Comments

  1. It’s so great to hear about how things have been unfolding for you. I look forward to hearing about more adventures and the fun you are having with the new you.

  2. Yippee!!!!!!!!!
    Congratulations on a year well lived, and a toast to the future.

  3. Wonderful to read your update. Thank you for sharing with us. All the best as you continue on in your adventures. 🙂

  4. I am so, so thrilled and proud for you! Of you! Even if I can’t figure out the right word! You’ve done amazing, brave work and I am so glad you are reaping the rewards of that change. Yay!

  5. I just read all the Facebook suggestions for getting through the blues — some wonderful ideas there! I especially love the concept of treating sadness like the flu, being very tender with yourself and knowing that this too shall pass. But my favorite of all came from wise Wendy R: Know that you are loved, loved Theresa!!

    So here’s my suggestion to add to the list: Sit comfy, close your eyes, and visualize a circle of all of us who love you. We are holding candles, you are bathed in our light and warmth. We blow out our candles (for safety, y’know) and then surround you in a giant group hug/pig pile of love and affection! There are so many of us, we are quite squished, and yet somehow it all works. We are hugging you and loving you and celebrating the awesomeness that is Theresa J. A. !!!!

    (I love the photo of you as a lady pirate. You should wear that every day. Except on the days you dress as a mermaid or Wonder Woman or whatever, that would be cute too.)

    • Aw Jen, that is soooo beautiful. Thank you so much. I love this image and just imagining it, I feel all this love. I appreciate you so much, my friend. Maybe someday we can don some of those costumes together! Hugs…

  6. Thank you, Theresa, for sharing your journey. I am so happy it worked out for both of you for the better. Rebuilding your marriage and relationship is an awesome thing. The best part is you have come to love yourself as you deserve.

    • Here’s my belated thanks for you comment, Lin… I’ve been kind of out-of-action on my blog for a few months! But thank YOU so much for your support and kind words, here and on FB over the last year. I’ve appreciated the wisdom you’ve shared with me, and I wish you well on your own journey!

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