There was no longer a way to divide the household duties. All of a sudden I had to take out the garbage, mow the lawn, and pick up laundry at the dry cleaners, as well as purchase groceries, cook the meals, and clean the house.
I worked three part-time jobs all in different parts of the city; oversaw the maintenance of my 2-story house; went to therapy twice a week; and tried to keep up a social schedule of sorts. One thing I could say for certain - I had very little time to relax and feel sorry for myself.
The changes in my daily routine came as little shocks. I recall that the week after Bob left I had made arrangements to have my car serviced. I asked Bob if he would take me, for ostensibly we were "working at saving our marriage," but he coldly said no. I felt too injured to ask someone to pick me up and take me back to the mechanic's, so I spent that morning in the waiting room at the shop.
One month later we were hit with the worst snow storm in a decade. It was Bob with his strong wrestler's shoulders who would clear the sidewalk and parking area in previous storms; it was Bob's 4-wheel drive vehicle that would get us to the grocery store. I did the best I could, going out every hour to clear my front walk and driveway. That night the snow plows came through and trapped my car behind a wall of ice. My reliable, dependable husband was gone, and I did not have the physical strength to tackle that huge pile of compacted snow. I was trapped in my house, alone, with no one to comfort me. During those moments I despaired and cried the hardest.
But life goes on. My routine changed. I found people who could help me in a pinch. I moved furniture around, changed the side of the bed I slept on, placed a t.v. in my bedroom (a big taboo as far as Bob was concerned), got a dog (another taboo), and generally started to live my life not as a couple but as a single person who no longer needed to accommodate someone else. The small changes felt like self-nurture. I felt emboldened to try new things. And after a while, I recaptured the sense of adventure I felt when I had first moved out of my parents' house.
Oh, I did not take all these steps at once. They were slow and deliberate. I savored each change and felt stronger as I made decisions that used to require compromise. In fact, I am so happy with my new home routine, which suits my personality and bio-rhythm, that I started to wonder if I could ever share my house with someone again.
The answer is yes. Last winter a young female colleague moved temporarily into my house. It was so nice to come home and shout out, "Kate, where are you?" and to cook dinner for two, and to hang around in my jammies on Saturday morning discussing plans for the weekend. When Kate moved out, I felt that familiar sense of loss. But then my new routine, the one that is reserved just for me, kicked in again. That is when I discovered that, no matter what the circumstances, I am fine - with someone or by myself.