I’m sitting here with an itchy nose from extra dust flying through the house as loud sawing, drilling, and other power-tool vibrations rattle through the house (really unsettling for Loki-the-cat who hovers around me needing more reassurances and soothing). The construction workers for this current project– a major remodel of the main floor bathroom– started two weeks ago. We are in the Messy Middle: a few months of living with one upstairs bathroom, workers in and out of the house every weekday, noise, dust, and random inconveniences (like the water being turned off for most of a day). It’s a hassle, exciting to see dramatic changes, frustrating, hopeful, all of the above. On the other end will be something a lot better than what was there, so it’s worth it.
This bathroom has needed to be gutted and remade for at least 15 years, but it was daunting and expensive so it didn’t get done. Now it is actually one in a series of remodeling projects that are happening as part of agreements in the divorce. These are mostly upkeep and maintenance projects that are long overdue. So far it’s been replacing all the concrete walks and stairs outside, a new garage roof, electrical repairs that were safety hazards, and having central a/c installed. It’s so good to finally get these taken care of, since I’m going to keep the house.
It’s been occurring to me lately that these remodeling projects are really a metaphor for my life lately. The last several years have been pretty turbulent for me– almost divorcing in 2014 after being surprised by my then-husband’s desire to leave, deciding to stay married in a polyamorous arrangement (I do not recommend), getting jobs after not being in the work-world for a long time, losing a lot of weight, regaining a lot of weight, having severe knee pain, not being able to get surgery, finally having two knee replacements, and having my marriage of 30+ years painfully blow up and end at the start of the pandemic. There was huge grief, living alone in isolation with a broken heart. During that period in the summer of 2020, my neighborhood became the central zone after George Floyd was murdered, a time of chaos and destruction.
Last year brought the daunting task of arranging the divorce– I had no clue how to do this, so I researched and talked to people and interviewed lawyers. After we settled on a collaborative divorce process, we had all the hassles that most divorced people can tell you about– so much paperwork, many meetings, stress, frustration, sadness, uncertainty about the future, and big bills to pay.
Hi Ho, Hi Ho
For me, there was also the necessity of finding full-time work. Our agreements couldn’t move forward until we knew how much I could make to support myself with a supplement of marital support. I was anxious and didn’t have much confidence about my ability to get a good job since I’d been out of work and had such a spotty resume. My lawyer suggested a career coach, and that was a godsend. I worked with my coach for a few months and she helped me organize my knowledge and experience, see that I could present my abilities to show I have a lot to offer, and helped me navigate resumes, job searching, LinkedIn, and interviews.
I landed a job much quicker than I thought, and I worked for the last year as a marketing and communications writer for a small PR firm. I learned a lot, gained more experience, met some good people, but for several reasons, I no longer work there. I am back to looking for work, and I’m hoping to find a better place to use my writing, marketing, and social media skills.
And now the divorce is final… we had finished our agreements last summer but were advised to wait until January to have the papers sent to court for a big tax savings. After being in a state of limbo for quite awhile, I got the email from my lawyer 2 weeks ago that I’m divorced. It is rather strange– I’d done so much work to get here, but having it be real is sobering and another emotional hump to get over.
I’ve yacked on far too long about all the changes I’ve been through. It’s been a lot! And now, with this remodel, I’m experiencing big structural changes in the place I live. It’s really matching up with the big structural changes in my life. For years now, I’ve been sawing and banging and moving walls and replacing floors and figuring out what paint colors and furnishings I want for the future. At first, when everything was deconstructing, it was too overwhelming to even think about what I wanted my new life to be. Now, with a few years of healing and growth under my belt, it’s getting clearer.
I’ve been really quiet for the last year, not blogging, not much on social media, not writing much. It’s been a strange time; being quiet seemed necessary for me. I want to get back to using my voice and sharing my experiences and lessons learned, connecting again. I have ideas about things I want to do, and I’ve been afraid to explore them and take the risks.
I sit here in my house as the tile guy buzzes power tools in my new bathroom and the heating crew run up and down the stairs to re-route a vent. I know that to get to the changes and improvements I have to go through the discomfort of the work being done, the Messy Middle. I don’t want to let the fear stop me. I’ve navigated many changes and learned new ways of living. I can do this too. Thanks for reading!
Photos by me. Remodeling performed by WonderWoman Construction. To be continued…
Theresa, so good to see your writing again. Keep us posted. I’m pulling for ya!
Oh, thank you, Andrea! Good to see you pop up here!
You CAN do this! Here’s to many good things in the year and years ahead.
Thanks, Liz… I know you’re a little ahead of me on this journey. Good things for you too this year!
Soup time and batch of cookies, soon. ?
I would love that! I’ll get in touch…
Excellent post, Theresa. Cheering you on from Kansas!
Thanks, old friend! Good to hear from you!
YOU are a wonder woman! So good to read your excellent writing again and learn more about the life experiences you’ve gone through. Thinking of you with much love and support! ?
Awwww, Sherri! Thanks, my dear. We *need* to get together soon!