Join Club Momme for exclusive access to giveaways, discounts and more!

Sign up

To Avoid a Broken Heart, Do Not Love

My divorce will be final any day now. Assets have been divided, custody sorted, signatures scrawled, papers filed and mandatory classes completed. Now we wait for the final papers on which we scratch our terminal signatures and it's done. I'm dreading it. Wanted to leave all the divorce business behind in 2014 but I guess getting it all over with in January is good too. It will be a rough day. For ten years, my life has been linked to his. And now? Bizarrely, or maybe appropriately, the words free agent keep coming to mind. I experience fear in connection with that notion more than anything. Alone. On my own. It's scary and liberating and I feel each of those emotions separately and together depending on the minute of the day. I'm a mess, basically. Empowered to the point I feel high and alternately scared out of my mind: A strange state of being.

Sometimes, when the pain gets to feeling like it's more than I can bear, I envision myself six months from now: June, maybe July. It's hot. I'm laying somewhere, maybe a beach, maybe on the grass in my backyard. The divorce is six months old. A mental fast-forward through all the overwhelming emotions it's going to take to get from here to there, even though I know it's important to walk through the pain, not fly over it. I've been slogging through it for more than a year now. It was this time last year he moved in with his mom before finding his own place. Fast-forwarding would be nice, at this point. But, just as I'm dealing with the wicked cold that’s overtaken my neck of the Pennsylvania woods this frigid January, I’ll buckle down, grin and bear it. It’s the only way forward.

RELATED: I Folded First

One time my therapist told me to close my eyes and imagine myself at my happiest. I complied and she instructed me to describe what I was thinking. How old was I in my imagination? Where was I? I am me now, I told her. Except maybe a little bit in the future because Charlie is sitting up all on his own. I'm on the beach, the sun radiating warmth on my body, toes in the sand and I'm watching my kids play at the water's edge. I'm happy. They're happy. That's all.

That's very good, she told me. That you're picturing yourself as you are now. A lot of people return to their younger years, which they view with nostalgia. They tell me they are carefree children or they describe their wedding day. They return to the past, somehow. But you're imagining yourself now. That's a good sign, I think.

Sometimes, when I'm at work, I experience a kind of mini panic attack. It feels as if someone walks up and socks me in the gut or like I hit my head really hard on something. I feel dazed, can't catch my breath, tears form and I head to a restroom stall for a minute and stare at the sign on the back of each door that says TO AVOID A TOILET OVERFLOW, PLEASE DO NOT OVER FILL TOILET. Inevitably, the stupid sign cracks me up and I think, No shit (literally!) to myself for the millionth time. More often than not, it's that damn sign that grabs me by the sense of humor and drags me back to reality. And then I start thinking of similar "no shit" sentences:

TO AVOID GETTING DRUNK, PLEASE DO NOT DRINK ALCOHOL.

TO AVOID SUNBURN, PLEASE DO NOT GO IN THE SUN.

TO AVOID DROWNING, PLEASE DO NOT GO IN THE WATER.

TO AVOID A BROKEN HEART, PLEASE DO NOT LOVE.

That last one. It's different than the rest, isn't it? It makes no sense but it makes perfect sense.

RELATED: If You Love Someone, Set Them Free (And Other Lies)

Explore More: Separating, Together
More from toddler