What They Don’t Tell You When You’re Getting Divorced

They don’t tell you that you’ll buy crumpets at the grocery store because they were one of your husband’s favorite.
They don’t tell you it’s suddenly strange to have double sinks in your en suite when you’re single. 
(You know that you’ll find a way to make use of the space with all your toiletries … but it’s weird.)
They don’t tell you that sometimes you’ll sleep better alone.
But sometimes you won’t sleep at all.
They don’t tell you that slicing pain will beat through your chest and you’ll doubt everything you are and everything you’ve ever done.
When you place your duvet in its new cover, you’ll think of the day he taught you how to do that. 
They don’t tell you that suddenly he is there – arm deep in cotton – shaking his head at you.
They don’t tell you he becomes part of your new duvet, so hasn’t really left your bed.
You lose all your bearings. You feel floaty, ungrounded, spinny.
They don’t tell you you’ll misplace your mojo … that you will think you’re unattractive, untalented, and not good enough.
They don’t tell you that he is no longer your home. The thought of that will choke you.
You’ll have to bite the inside of you cheek to stop tears when a medical receptionist asks what your marital status is and if your former spouse is still your emergency contact.
Your spine must turn to steel when you answer “no.”  
They don’t tell you there are days you already feel OK and happy.
Your friends will gather around you and hold up your heart so you can see it.
Your family who will remind you of who you are and that you’re loved.
They don’t tell you that your kid will try to be strong but make forts to cry in, alone, because she misses her dad who is on another continent.
They don’t tell you that your daughter will act out, be angry, lash her tongue at you and you’ll feel like you’re the worst mother. Ever.
But your brothers will help your daughter and give her examples of strong men who will be part of her daily life, keeping an eye on her.
Your daughter will later crawl in your lap, cuddle on the cuddle couch, and tell you – when you’re practicing daily gratitude – that you are the thing, the person, she is most grateful for, and that she loves you “beyond one quadzillion” and that she’d have to keep counting until she’s dead, even when she’s dead, to find a number of how much she loves you.
In those moments, you’ll feel like a hero, like superhuman, like you can do it all.
They don’t tell you that you will be OK.
And your daughter will be OK, too … because you’ll make damn sure of it (and so will many others, including her dad).
You will see love and find it in places, with people, with family, with friends who do love you exactly the way you are.
They tell you you’re OK. Not a failure. Not a nothing.
Yet, you’re scared to write, to create, because you’re afraid of what will come out of you and you’re just doing the very best you can right now to keep your head above the water with a smile on your face.
You don’t know if you’re ready for what will come out of you. Yet. 
They don’t tell you a renewed love for your community will emerge.
You notice things you didn’t before – like how the wind comes into the valley and cools off the dry, hot summer nights.
The cul-de-sac will host iconic summer nights: While the full moon rises against the pale blue sky, you watch children – including your beautiful daughter – lay on the cement and get sprayed with water by a neighbor’s father.
They don’t tell you that you can be broken, or feel broken, and feel completely whole and at home. Simultaneously.
They don’t tell you that you are a package of contradictions.
There will be moments of great strength, then moments of great sorrow.
But you get to rediscover parts of yourself.
Your own style can splash all over the house in beautiful throws, pillows, colors of your choice – and 
that can feel liberating. Empowering.
In fact, alone can be empowering, too … like when you put together the TV stand without help.
It will take you awhile to notice when another man flirts with you – you haven’t been flirted with in years.
They don’t tell you that you’ll feel weird – and like there’s something deficient in you – for liking the sniff of your new freedom. Even those flirts … sometimes.
The beautiful people who love you will give you guidance and help you find your own spirit while deep in hurt.
They’ll gently push you back to art, to beauty, to connect with your creative self: to be who you are.
Friends and your family will bring you full circle.
You’ll bring yourself full circle … or at least to a different circle (you don’t want to repeat it all, after all).
You’re not a failure or loser.
Also: there’s nothing wrong with you.
While you pick yourself up off the floor, you’ll see fragments of happiness blowing towards you, around you, below you.
You slowly see that joy swirls around you always. Even when you’re sad. Even when you buy crumpets.
The home in your heart will be rebuilt.
Eventually you’ll be stronger, wiser, better.
You’ll learn you’re never alone. Ever.
And you’ll be sure to tell others they’re also never alone – because they don’t tell you that when you’re getting a divorce.
This is an exercise based on a prompt from Laurie Wagner’s writing course, Telling True Stories

P.S. This is a double post – you can also read it over on Becky in Burma

What Playing Dolls Can Teach You

What Playing Dolls Can Teach You



On the drive home from school today in the hot, rusty, multicolored car, my daughter and I played with two of her dolls: a mother and a child. I was the mom. She was the little girl. Play like this often includes processing real-life situations. Today wasn’t different.

Her doll told the mom doll they could walk or ride their bikes to school in the morning instead of driving: School wasn’t too far away. (Her school in Yangon is too far to walk to, but her new school in the USA won’t be.) The mom and child dolls rode their bikes to school.

After the mommy doll picked up the little girl doll from school, they rode their bikes to the park. Later, they planted potted flowers in the backyard. Afterwards, the child doll stored gardening gloves in the garage, placed dirty clothes in the laundry basket, put on a bathrobe and slippers, took a bath, and then watched a bit Netflix.

Sound like a normal afternoon?

We don’t have a garage in Myanmar. Or a bathtub. Or Netflix. In the United States, we had a backyard. A garage. A laundry room. A bathtub. And Netflix. My daughter was role playing what a typical day might look like for us when we move home. It was just like days we often shared before we moved to Yangon.

After we finished playing with dolls, my daughter asked with a wide smile on her face, “Mom,when we move home, can we have parties at our house just like we used to? Remember when K, N, E, K, L, P, and R would come over? We’d dance in the kitchen, play in my bedroom, watch movies, and make cookies. Can we do that again, please?”

A party at our house with some of my besties – their children were there, too. 2011.

Returning her wide smile, my heart filled with beautiful, warm memories, I answered, “Of course. Yes. We will have parties with our friends again.”

The dolls reminded us both today: There are good things about going home.