(Note: "Signature of one" was published this week on the exceptional heart-tugging blog "Amid Life",by Jessica Gordon Ryan, where I first wrote about my divorce anonymously. Thank you Jessica for giving me the courage I needed to sign my name!)
I bought a house recently. This is not an uncommon occurrence, happens hundreds of times a day. And I’m sure that everyone feels what I felt along the way, the angst, the nervousness, the anxiety, and the full blown excitement that comes with making such an expensive investment. It is a venture that is more often than not shared by two people. And up until last October, I would have been the other half of that couple browsing through the homes of others, mentally decorating while discussing the possibilities of converting it into a home of our own. But that scenario is no longer.
Those of you who read Jessica’s wonderful “Amid Life” blog with regularity, may remember a painful post by an anonymous author early last winter titled “Falling Out of the Sky” which told of the sudden collapse of a 40 year marriage. It regaled how a lovely, romantic fall weekend, at a seaside resort in Maryland, ended with the husband putting his luggage in the guest room…and then, without warning, asked for a divorce.
I am the writer of that blog. I am the woman whose heart was broken and blindsided, shattered and shredded.
After re-reading that post recently, I almost didn’t recognize the woman who cried and vomited her way through the Christmas holidays and into the New Year. A rather pathetic mess who somehow managed to hide the implosion within from all but those closest to her…to me. I’m not that woman anymore.
And now…I bought a house. And in between the demolition and reconstruction of my life, was a turning point that sticks with me still. In early January, one of our many horrid arguments occurred that ended with him storming out and me crumbled on the floor heaving sobs. Over the course of our marriage, real arguments were rare and learning to adapt to them now was hard. Looking back on it, I wasn’t even in a comfortable position, half kneeling, half twisted with my face on the carpet. I may have been there for hours. And then…I whispered the 17 words that I believe changed my life. “Lord, if you get me off this floor and standing, I promise to stay on my feet.”
For a long time, I felt as if my wet face was stuck to the rug. The oppression and exhaustion of it all was too much. I actually started to nod off when there was a knock at the door. There was no way I was going to get up and answer it. If it was my sister or a friend checking on me, I didn’t want them to see me like this. I felt and looked like a car wreck. I was ignoring it when the knock turned into a pounding. I picked my head up and saw red flashing lights washing the walls. “Oh my God”, I thought, “Something is really wrong. Where are my sons? I can’t take this!!!”
I leaped off of the floor and ran to open the door. The flashing lights and the pounding getting stronger along the way. The police must be parked in my driveway! I took a deep breath and braced for the worst as I swung open the door and… no one was there. No flashing lights. No police with dreaded news. No one. Only the soft rain from a gray January sky was there to meet me. What the hell? What was that all about I muttered walking away. And it was then that I realized I was standing. I was on my feet. And I “promise to stay on my feet”.
And so, now seven months later…I bought a house. Not going to lie, over the last several months there were absolutely times when the soft carpet in the living room called to me. Beckoned for me to compromise my resolve and indulge in some self-pity. But no way in hell was I going to allow anyone to reduce me to a sobbing heap on the floor again. I’m keeping my promise. Feeling strong and downright excited about my new “me” life.
But I must admit something. Filling out the mortgage application for my new place was a reality slap that I hadn't anticipated. At the bottom of each page, there were four signature lines. On the right were the two names of the lovely older couple that I was buying from. On the left, were two signature lines where there only needed to be one this time. With each page, the empty line glared at me. By page three, I actually shifted the position of my hand so my palm was not resting on the line when scribbling my signature. For the first time in over 40 years, I was not depending on that empty line to make this happen. I did not need that line to consult with, to compromise with, or defer too. My sole signature alone was my personal Declaration of Independence. I asked the mortgage broker for some White-Out. That line simply wasn’t needed.
So…I bought a house. I will decorate it. I will paint it the colors of my choice. I will organize it. I will cook in it. I will prepare Thanksgiving dinner and spend a December Saturday baking Christmas cookies in it. I will thrive in it. But most importantly - for my boys and their families, for my family and friends, I will make it a home.
I can do this because a source much stronger than me steadied a soul in crises. And because more love than I realized I had, was heaped on me by family and friends. I can do it all now because I’m ready. And, because with a singular signature…I bought a house.