The Reclamation Project

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Photo by Me. I've been getting out hiking more lately. All part of the reclamation process.
Photo by Me. I’ve been getting out hiking more lately. All part of the reclamation process.

My wife moved out six months and four days ago.

On April 1.

I felt like a fool. But it wasn’t a joke.

It seems like nothing has happened since then. But that’s not true.

A lot has.

Some of it has even been good.

A Six-Month Review 

1. I learned that my wife left me to pursue a relationship with a rich guy. 

The first thing I learned about him is that he took my son to his first baseball game. My, at the time, four-year-old son. The second thing I learned about him is that he hosted a sleepover for my wife and son. That news fundamentally changed me and everything I believed about my world, forever.

2. I created a account. 

In one of my all-time worst moves as an adult, I tried online dating less than two months after my wife left. One of my friends convinced me I needed to as part of his Three Poles in the Pond theory. My online-dating experience was mostly sad and horrible and only made me feel worse about my life. I strongly considered renewing my membership. In the end, I told Match and the scores of women who hate me there to piss off.

3. I created MBTTTR and started writing almost daily. 

This is one of the most-important things I’ve ever done for myself. I don’t suppose that makes sense to very many of you who don’t spend a lot of time writing. But, this is important to me. I don’t quite have the words. I don’t know what this is. I call it my journal. It sort of is. But it’s something else, too, thanks to all of the beautiful people reading and participating and rooting for me to succeed. This is the opposite of online dating. It’s been remarkably therapeutic. I get overwhelmingly positive feedback, which is beyond appreciated. And I’ve made some really nice human connections. It has accelerated my healing more than anything. I’m so grateful for this. And you.

4. The Pillage

My wife came and took a bunch of things out of the house—namely the living room furniture, my son’s bed and some barstools from my basement. It dramatically changed my mood. Because she was cohabitating with a man with loads of money, and still she was taking major pieces of what little I had in comparison. It was as much symbolic as it was a logistical challenge. Every day since, I’ve walked downstairs in the morning and come home in the evening to an uninviting living room. A place that echoes. A place that looks and feels empty. A place that made my home feel like a foreign place.

5. The Hearing 

My life took a turn for the better on the day of my divorce hearing. And not because I was happy to be rid of her. But that was the day that I learned that my wife’s relationship with her new boyfriend had failed. I was not celebrating her sadness. In fact, I felt something akin to sympathy for her. But her boyfriend was a bad person. It was something I knew for most of their relationship, and she did not. I lost a lot of sleep thinking about that man helping to raise my son. My divorce hearing was when I learned I no longer had to worry about that. Something that should have been horrible ended up being positive. It felt like divine intervention. Seriously.

My son's new bed makes me feel like a better father.
My son’s new bed makes me feel like a better father.

6. Every Day Since 

It’s been a slow climb.

Slow and steady.

But I continue to inch closer. Closer to reclaiming my life.

And each day I feel a little less broken.

Friends in my life—both new and old—give me confidence.

My son has a bed. He slept in it for the first time last night. And a little bit of terrible went away.

I bought a new couch and love seat today. My son was with me and I let him choose between the three sets I liked the most.

My living room will be fully furnished on Wednesday. And then even more terrible will go away.

You can’t know what that means to me.

I bought this couch and matching loveseat today. It will make my home feel complete and comfortable. I'm very happy about this.
I bought this couch and matching love seat today. It will make my home feel complete and comfortable. I’m very happy about this.

Because my five-year-old was so well behaved at the furniture store, I took him to Chuck E. Cheese for the afternoon.

Aside from the obvious problem of potentially contracting Kids AIDS, we had a great afternoon.

I bumped into a guy I know and his two daughters. He’s a new friend who is in a serious relationship with a girl I’m friends with from college. They live less than a block away from me.

In the Holy Shit, That’s Ironic Department, she’s the person who introduced me to my ex-wife in a city 230 miles away from here 16 years ago.

Her boyfriend Justin has two little girls that play well with my five-year-old son.

He had brought the girls to Chuck E. Cheese so they could attend a birthday party.

He was with a pretty blonde woman. She turned out to be his ex-wife. The mother of his children.

Justin sat across a table from me. We were handing out tokens to the kids each time they’d run out.

I asked him about being in the same place with his ex-wife. She left him four years ago after having an affair. She’s still with that other guy today.

But they’re friends now.

They appeared to get along effortlessly. Justin’s girlfriend—my old college friend—has become good friends with his ex-wife.

Just a few nights ago, Justin was using her phone for something. A text came through from his ex-wife to his current girlfriend: “I miss you and need to see you!!!”

Remarkable, I thought.

I don’t really want to be friends with my ex. But I like the idea that four years from now, so much could change for the better.

In only six months, so much has changed already.

I don’t miss her anymore. I miss companionship. But I don’t miss her.

I was rifling through my iPhoto library a short while ago to track down an image. I stumbled upon all my wedding photos.

I barely gave it a second thought.

My life got taken from me.

But now I’ve reclaimed it.

My son has a bed.

I have couches.

I have friends.

I have you.

I have peace.

Photo by Me. The Overlook at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park is a great place to take in a sunset. The sun will rise tomorrow. And it has a great chance to be even better than today.

10 thoughts on “The Reclamation Project”

  1. I’m in the early stages of divorce but it’s not like what you described. There’s no rich guy or any guy at all as far as I know. Still I know that one day soon I will be living in another place and without the kids. The thought of lack of companionship, being away from my kids and moving on is almost too hard to imagine but it will happen. I keep telling myself that one day i won’t care about her in the way I do now. I’ll move out and suddenly things will change like a cloud lifting. But for now I can’t see it.

    1. Thank you so much for reading and writing.

      I’ve only been at this–writing, I mean–for about four months. If you went back to the beginning, you’d discover much more fearful content.

      It’s been an incredibly erratic roller coaster so far. There will be more valleys to come, I’m sure.

      Believe me when I say I know what you’re talking about. And that I’m immensely sorry you’re family is going through this. In many ways divorce has defined my life (twice as the kid, and once as a spouse).

      A big part of my life moving forward will be dedicated to helping people avoid it.

      Because this doesn’t have to be inevitable. People and homes don’t have to break.

      Hope we continue to chat, sir. You have my very best wishes as you walk this difficult walk. If there’s any way a complete stranger can help you, I hope you’ll ask.

  2. You know the thing I’ve found the most help to me other than support from my close friends? It’s reading a persons blog who can relate to what I am facing and seeing the hope and good things they note. It helps me see things can get better and they likely will. I know too that I am going to face darker days ahead, especially when I move out of this house, and I will look more for the reassurance I find in blogs like yours. Thank you for sharing it. And I absolutely will be back.

  3. Just reading your post I get the sense that you had a great maybe amazing or or even one of the better days in a long time. The new bed and couches are perfect. The way I see it, it’s very symbolic replacing the things that were taken. Even that they were material possessions, they represented all of your life’s of how it was. It’s now changed and cannot be replaced or put back to way the way it was.

    My hope for you is that in the future you too can have a relationship with your ex wife. Justin story shows me tye important acne of forgiving and moving forward. As always you posts get me thinking about tye bigger picture. Ivan

    1. Thank you. Yeah, it’s so much more than just replacing “stuff.”

      It’s about, well, not putting the pieces back together, I guess, but maybe buying a new puzzle and getting that one to where I can see things taking shape.

      Far from completion. But coming together. It’s a nice thing.

  4. I wanted to like this post twice. Reading your “progress” along the past four months is inspirational. As you know, I have taken a slightly different path. And nothing specific happened today to make it one of the tough ones, but it was just that.

    Reading this made my day better, so thank you.

    I am happy for you and your boy. And your neighbor, and your friend, and yes, even a little for your ex. She is lucky to have even a piece of you still in her life.

    Drive on, brother Matt. Remarkable.

    1. I’m sorry it’s a tough one. I understand what you mean. Nothing even has to trigger it. Sometimes it just feels too big.

      I’m sure I’m not all the way done with that. In two hours, I will be dropping my son off at his other home. His mom’s new house. She moved into it this weekend. I have no idea what to expect. I just know I will see a bunch of familiar things in an unfamiliar environment. Whatever happens to my insides is what I will write about afterward.

  5. Pingback: My Son’s Other House | Must Be This Tall To Ride

  6. Congratulations on the lovely, and cozy looking, new couch! I’ve thought of taking my kids to Chuck E. Cheese just so that I could blog about it.

    1. The two pieces of furniture will be delivered Wednesday. I’m very happy about this. Thank you.

      Chuck E. Cheese.

      You’ll get Kids AIDS. But your children will have a lovely time.

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