Life was loud, chaotic, and downright noisy at times. But it’s also fun, carefree, and full of predictability. There was always a lot of alcohol, a lot of people, a lot of talk, many nights and early mornings. Every week he went out. In some place. Anywhere. I met a lot of people and we went to a lot of places. If he wanted something, he would go out and buy it. Was young. He had a lot of money and a lot of time to lose. And even though he had it all, he still yearned for more. Honestly, all he had were things. Things. He had hardly any real memories or experiences. I was just doing what felt right. He was about 70 pounds overweight, drunk all the time, careless, and madly in love. Think of the movie National Lampoon’s Animal House mixed with Coyote Ugly. Yes, that was me. Any other day. While most people usually wait until weekends to have fun, I would light up Monday through Friday and use Saturday to sleep. On Sundays, I would take a break, but only to prepare to do it all over again the next day. My hangovers weren’t just from alcohol-filled nights. He had a hangover from an elevated lifestyle. He was always on the move and hardly ever slowed down. He was constantly looking for a good time. When I wasn’t having a good time, I went down from my ups and downs to a very exhausting slump. This is how I came to the conclusion that this persecution was not good for me. In fact, it’s safe to say that it was all an escape from a life he hated. I will never forget a day contemplating if I wanted to go home. I remember looking at my watch while still at the office, logging online to find flights to book out of town, dropping everything, and never looking back. What stopped me was our son. She loved him more than life and she absolutely had to come home to him. But he knew something had to give. I knew the only way life could get better for me was if I just started walking towards who I was supposed to be instead of continually walking away from her, losing myself.
I can’t pinpoint exactly the actual day I was fed up. I only remember that there was a fire that was lit in me one day and told me to lower the volume of my spirit because the volume was no longer working for me. The man I thought I’d die with and officially decided to split up after 19 years together. It needed to happen. Either it split or it died. We stop having anything in common. We were already on the verge of the inevitable for years, we just had to admit it out loud. We spent several years lying to our family and friends about what was really going on between us, but we knew what was coming. Spending money, buying things, drinking and partying and consuming anything we could get our hands on only kept us distracted from our dysfunction. I do not change it. It only kept us distracted long enough to avoid having to face reality. This happens a lot in marriages, whether many of us want to have it or not. Ignoring the truth does not make it go away. It just hides it. But this was only part of the problem. Things in my life were always very loud, active and noisy. I was afraid of boredom but I needed peace.
After our separation, I knew that my next steps were going to be difficult to adapt but necessary. Imagine spending 19 years with someone and then one day, no. I had to start a new journey in my life without including someone else all the time. Literally. He knew he could do it, but he needed a starting point. This is what I did to make the process easier.
- Doing things alone – I started by making sure to sleep alone. Each night. He hadn’t slept or done anything alone since 1999, so this move was very important. He needed not to be accompanied by everything he did. Everything! He went out every day alone. I made sure to go to crowded places. I would just go out or eat alone. I went to the cinema and to the screenings alone. I did not go out. I sat alone in the parks. I traveled alone. Yes, even to remote places and cities. I would like to see people. I’m scared of it. I would write.I made sure no one knew where I was going. I would go. The goal for me was to learn to enjoy my own company. I adapted pretty quickly. I don’t know why doing things is only considered an anomaly in this day and age, but I fell in love with it. I also learned that someone away from home on their own does not mean that he or she feels lonely or has no friends. It just means that they are unwilling to entertain the company or socialize at the time. This was perfectly fine for me. I felt more pushed to try new things without the added background noise. It has made me much more focused than I have ever been.
- Clutter removed – Clean my house. I stripped the walls. I bought a new bed. I gave away a lot of old furniture and threw the rest in the trash. I pulled all but one credit card out of my wallet, called businesses, paid balances, closed accounts, and shut them down! I gave most of my clothes to my mother and sister-in-law and kept about ten outfits. I have about four pairs of shoes and maybe a pair of boots. It could be less than that. I buy according to the season and it’s never really what is in season so I don’t know. I had too many things and I’m sure I had them around me because I attached my happiness to it. Most of these elements had very little meaning. It jammed my house, left very little space, and was tired of looking at it. I even sold my car. What good did it do you? I live in the city. I take the train or carpool like Uber or Lyft wherever I go, which often isn’t that many places. I have become quite minimalist. My house is large but empty now, filled with nothing but books, two capes, plants, my son’s instruments, some laptops, and food. I hate clutter and excess. Living without him has become my new normal.
- Got rid of distractions – I stopped following each and every celebrity on social media (with the exception of the small handful I actually know) and other people with whom I don’t share a close personal connection. Then I removed all the social media apps. I don’t mind keeping up with trends or people I don’t know. Many of the people in my life were some of my biggest distractions. There is such a thing as meeting too many people. It is not because they are bad people, but because the friendships were based on superficial ideals and were getting me nowhere. Unless there was something to go out and gossip about and take some selfies with drinks, we barely had two words to say to each other. These relationships became stocks that had to be sold quickly because the value had fallen dramatically from the initial purchase price. They knew it. I knew it. The distance became greater and when things started to change for me, in a few months we stopped talking. It is beautiful to have friends. They can be fruitful but also exhausting. Nobody likes a loss. It is admitting that something went wrong or that you made a mistake. But cutting your losses can prevent you from taking a devastating drop that is too steep to recover later. Most of us get something wrong 3 out of 5 times a day. We still live to see another day. I still know a lot of people, but I only have a handful of real friends. Believe me, there is a difference. Alcohol was the biggest distraction for me, so I stopped drinking. I stopped suddenly. Not only did alcohol keep me drunk all the time, it also kept me fat and sick. Eat out too. I changed my relationship with food because I was consuming too much for no reason. Since then, I have lost the 70 pounds I gained plus 20 more and I have never felt better.
Simply put, getting things done just helped me better control my thoughts so I could tidy up and get rid of all distractions. The reward is having been able to reap the benefits of simplifying my lifestyle. I have gained a lot by getting rid of almost everything. It has taught me a lot about myself in recent years, like how much I loathe hoarding things and molding my happiness around objects and people. I hate doing things in excess. I came to the idea that I don’t need to be around people all the time to be happy and excited. I learned to set limits. I have learned to stop spreading myself so much and to take better care of myself. My relationship with money has even changed. Drastically. I have learned that the value is in the respect one should have for the dollar. I’ve never had respect for money before. All he knew how to do was spend it. I realized everything that I had ever wanted and needed that I had had all along and everything else was a matter of social currency rather than a happy life.
We live in an age where social status is the new currency. This is why we take pictures of everything we do and cheat our lifestyle on social media in a “get like me” way. Social media and today’s culture have where our pedigree and class are now strictly based on social engagement and how much we receive rather than how much we give of ourselves. To some extent, it has always been this way, but never of this magnitude. Now an environment has been created in which we feel the perceived need to realize our ambitions in a publicly documented format to keep pace with our peers and it has become a trap to suck souls. Many of us have a mortal fear of living unfiltered lifestyles because it goes against social norms and is seen as a risk.
But, it is not who we really are nor is it what we really want. Believe me, if everyone was as good and happy as they photograph themselves, the world would not be in such chaos. We go out of our way to hurt each other often and are seemingly always stuck in a perpetual cycle of constant confusion. That is why depression is increasing and more people are dying younger. You don’t realize these things as they happen because we are socially conditioned to keep up appearances. We have come to staple our personalities around the idea that nothing we have or do is worth anything unless others approve of it. It’s a shame that every decision we make has to do with making sure someone knows or sees it, in some way. From sunrise to sunset. Every day. All the time.
I’m the happiest I’ve been since I stopped bothering with all that shit. Anyway, it didn’t do anything for me. It added nothing to my life. Literally nothing. I once avoided boredom and quiet rooms as if they were infectious diseases. Now, I can’t get enough of either one. I divorced the return in exchange for staying home, eating sour kids snacks, playing interactive games, cooking, and reading with my son. Turns out I have a lot more fun! My sleeping habits are better. My attitude improved a lot. I am much more focused. My hair started to grow back, my skin is radiant, my house is quiet, and my heart is full.