There’s a couple I know who are separated. I’ve seen the changes in their lives on Facebook. No one’s ever announced they are separated, and I have no idea if this is temporary or if they are moving toward divorce. It’s basically none of my business, but, whatever is happening, they are separated and in a transitional phase in their lives. It makes me think of the bittersweet times I had after both of my marriages ended. It makes me remember the places I lived at those times. They are etched in my memory in glorious detail because of the emotional impact that is tied to them.
I’ve heard that memories are more significantly remembered when there is emotion tied to them. The emotion etched every detail and feeling into my brain, and I still have the ability to go back there in a second. My first apartment after my divorce from my first husband was in an apartment complex in West Knoxville. It was nothing special to look at. I was poor, working at a call center, and it was the first time I’d ever supported myself in my life. I was terrified that I wouldn’t be able to do it. I changed jobs almost immediately because a great opportunity came up at work. Because of the distraction of a traveling job and the excitement of a large-scale project, I didn’t have the time to really feel my way through that transition. But, I do remember spending a lot of time listening to Country Music Television and crying along with the sad storytelling lyrics of the country songs popular in 1996. I remember having my first guests over and cooking in that frightful little kitchen but loving it because it was all mine. I remember being afraid but also very hopeful at the same time.
Click on the pics for captions.
I live right down the street from the apartment I lived in after my second divorce. I loved that place. It was cute. It was in Midtown Memphis which is THE coolest part of Memphis. It didn’t cool well enough in the summer and didn’t heat well enough in the winter. But, it had lots of light and lots of character, including a cute young drummer downstairs who had an enormous crush on the sexy lady upstairs. I had a great friend that lived one block north and one that lived one block south, so I could walk to their homes. This time I knew I could support myself, but I didn’t want to. I wanted to be married.
What I remember most about that time is feeling really empty. Melody Beattie calls this the “in-between place.” I was in the process of letting go of my married self and my ex-husband. I had to sort out what was “his” and what was “mine.” When I was married, we had mutual interests and interests that we grew to love together. I had to let those go or decide how I would enjoy them in the future. For most, I let them go because there was too much grief associated with them. It came in fits and starts, but I remember a long period of letting go and grieving. Then, I remember a period of sitting with nothing. I didn’t really know what I liked or didn’t liked. I had never been single in Memphis, so I wasn’t sure where I liked to hang out. And, quite frankly, I didn’t have the confidence to go try new things yet. I had to heal.
This apartment became an incubator for me and my new life. It became the place that I tried on my first fledgling dating relationships. I was too fragile, so they didn’t work, but I put my toe in the water. It was the place that I discovered Facebook and started reaching out to old friends. It was the place where I learned to cook new dishes that my ex would have never enjoyed. I learned to love running and running socially. I did yoga in my yoga space there and learned to see and love my heart as a single woman. I did the majority of my codependency work there, uncovering the baggage that I had accumulated over a lifetime of being in addictive relationships. I learned to stand on my own and let the chips fall where they may.
I still walk by that place when I walk my dog. I look up to the top floor, and I can see that broken girl that moved in there, hurting, sad and afraid. I can see the woman that I became…more hopeful with glimpses of happiness and then full-fledged serenity. I see my two cats that I had to euthanize while I was there. They had been through so much with me. Most of all, I see the walls of that midtown apartment that contained me for 2.5 years of my life, my in-between place. They were the canvas on which I created my life. They were the safety net I came home to when I couldn’t face the world anymore. They breathed with me as I moved through the waves of grief that at last I let surface. If those walls could talk, they would tell the story of my becoming who I am today. I hope my friends allow themselves to experience the in-between place. It’s that place that makes all the difference in letting go and moving forward. I actually sometimes miss that place now. I’m glad I get a chance to walk by every now and again and remember.