Reorganizing your dreams through a divorce
I've been quiet here, because for the past six months I've been in the throes of divorce. I think I knew even in the months leading up to the decision what I would eventually do, so for a long time beforehand I was afraid to say anything because everyone who knows me knows I wear my heart on my sleeve and everything I write.
There has been a lot of hard in this process, and it's far from done. But I think one of the worst parts has been to reorganize my dreams; for myself, for my family unit, for my boys. I've done such expansive and heedless things as write a piece on how I don't plan for divorce with my finances (I still stand behind that post); I've written extensively about what some people call "radical domesticity" and been one of the subjects of a book about it. I know I've said a dozen or a thousand times that I've chosen in the past several years to let my husband take the primary breadwinner role -- his work was intense, too, serving in the Army in Kuwait for three years -- and lead a life that's low on luxuries so I could spend time with the kids, at home, with my writing. (Really, the ultimate luxury.) I've loved how much I could shape the environment for my kids, especially my oldest, who I've unschooled for much of the past three years to help find him a place he can truly belong.
Now I have to find a way to navigate the life I want with a distinctly different set of resources.
I'm getting a panic attack just writing this. (I've started having panic attacks. That's another thing that's been keeping me quiet.) There is also the financial part; having to figure out how to be a radical homemaker without that guaranteed social construct/financial support I'd come to rely on over our 10 years of marriage plus more of committed partnership. I'd spent the first 20 years of my adult life (eight years with a partner-like boyfriend) never without that automatic structure.
I'm figuring it out, with a lot of help from the people I love. That's another story. But I think what took me the longest was the letting go of my picture of what a perfect family life was. My sense of construing the borders around a "good" family life. My fidelity to a social institution.
It turns out that I wasn't achieving any of my true deep-down goals in my marriage. I am into creating community and spending all my time building and as little time as possible critiquing. I am into putting art before housework. Putting connection before appearances. Putting the needs and even just desires of the children above what-I-think-society-need. I'm not into homework; I am into digging in the dirt.
So when I reorganize all my dreams I am really just reorganizing the space in which I pursue them, the titles of people I pursue them with. In fact I'm closer than ever. I'm happy. I'm anxious as all hell and I keep looking for new ways to write about how my heart feels when the panic comes but ye gods am I happy.
I'll be writing more here now, trying to forge spaces for community-building and connecting and sharing stories and experiences of the real gorgeous life of families, messy and tortuous and full of shame pitfalls and really all we're here for.