Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I Never Dreamed Home Would End Up Where I Don't Belong

Our home was in shambles. Torn apart from top to bottom. In splinters. Swirling. Inside the funnel we were. Out of control. Landing dangerously and loudly on the ground like stick characters in a bad OZ review. All three of us walked on top of the pile of life we'd made. Stumbling in silence. Surveying - and surviving - the damage.

A tornado.

This was the dream I had the night before I walked out on a life I'd lived since a young woman.
I awoke gasping for air. Shaking. Turning the lights on to get my bearings, I knew this dream - like my rose dream - was different. There was something oddly prophetic about it. It came out of the blue like watching a motion picture in slow motion reruns; to this day I still remember it.

Through the day-to-day of a lifeless and suffocating marriage, I made a promise to myself that I would reclaim the woman I knew. The person I was did not need "finding".....she needed to fly. I would put my son's needs first (and I did) but when the time came once he was grown, I'd have no regrets.
I literally prayed "God, I know what I have to do, I just don't know when or how. When the day comes, I'm asking You to show me and let there be NO doubt whatsoever."

So I placed that out before the Universe and left it there.

And then the day came.
Twenty-four hours after the tornado dream.

It was the worst possible timing and I didn't understand it but I knew that I knew that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I had to leave. Not in a week. Not in a day. But right at that moment. I was not about to argue with an answered prayer.
A small green borrowed Ford Ranger pickup truck packed with everything I owned of importance and a few hundred dollars in the bank.
I, Mimi Pencil Skirt, drove a stick shift Ford truck on the road to a new life.
I had no idea where I was going. Somehow the truck did.
It drove me to a safe hotel that didn't drain my bank funds. I dumped my belongings, including my huge clunky computer hard drive and monitor on the bed and cried for an hour without stopping. My body hurt. My mind was numb. That's what happens when you step out of a pile of rubble. Exhausted, the next morning I went to work as usual. I had to teach a class, then the green truck drove me back to Door #84B with papers and luggage all over the room and the phone off the hook.
One night down. Two nights down... By the second evening, I'd begun to realize the significance of the dream. Things, from that point on, seemed to fall into unexpected piles of grace, much like the unlikely three who stepped out of hell and walked into a hurricane. My flight was ordained. Need proof? I needed a place to live. The next day I found a Realtor with a Fall special running with no deposit required and the rent due 30 days later.
Yes. Really.

I signed a 6-month lease and found myself in a tiny two-room upstairs apartment in another town. After the dust settled and life got back to "normal" I still found it difficult to think about that time - even six years later. For some reason today I want to remember it.
Except for the endless journaling I did, I've never written about it.

My green truck year was a monumental leap of faith. It taught me the excruciating noise of isolated pain and how really alone alone can be. Many nights I cried myself to sleep and awoke the same - the kind of crying that rocks your body and doubles you over in a ball of crumpled pain; your ribs ache, your chest stings, you can't catch your breath, nausea, swollen eyes. ..... when every bitter tear erupts in a loud loud sob and you have no clue which part of you just broke - you only know it did. The loss and rearrangement of families - even dysfunctional ones - are brutal transitions.

My soul had a strange new home, my body slept in a rented bed and I couldn't see past the next day.

I told almost no one where I was.
It was a lonely time.
It was also a wonderful time.

I shopped at dollar stores, bought knick-knack furnishings and clothes at thrift stores, ate a lot of tuna, survived an ice storm without heat (how I missed my fireplace back home) educated myself about antique china, went on buying excursions and made extra money at night selling porcelain English transferware on an online auction site. It paid my divorce attorney and kept me afloat in thrifty nifty pencil skirts. So I made a teenie-weenie home out of an upstairs rented space attached to a cute little balcony with plastic chairs that looked out (thank God) over a beautiful lot of trees. It reminded me of Bloggingham - which I didn't know at the time - if I'd ever see again.

Every time it rained, I cried like a baby and missed my house. I could smell the trees but I couldn't see them. Concrete and parking stripes doth not a forest make.

I never spoke to my neighbors; I just watched them transition in and out. I hated the feeling of transitory unrest in that complex.

Sterile white walls with no life written on them and a patio of scary squirrels who laughed at the weepy woman - every time it rained.

I find it odd that there are no pictures of me at that time or that apartment.
Just words.
Oh, how I wrote. In a little brown journal with my angst and my anger and very very dark ink on the white white prissy paper.

I didn't want to forget.

I remember the smell and feel of the clean smooth countertops, the painted steps I climbed every evening and the very thin standardized door where I turned the key and wondered which former tenant still had an old key lying around somewhere. The boring beige carpet, the white white walls I couldn't hammer holes in, the small and cozy bathroom with a tub I soaked in to hide from the world in a sea of nightly jasmine candles and the stacked washer and dryer in a closet - which one day burst a pipe and leaked into the apartment below. A bar with no stools, a couch with no end tables and my grandmother's bed taken out of storage just for the occasion. It was antique, comforting and smelled of her. I bought new linens and a new bedspread with a dust ruffle.
Cheap sets, plain crisp off-white earthy colors - a palette to paint.

And then one day for no apparent reason, I wanted red.

So I tossed a few pillows on my grandmother's blanketed cocoon and began my life again. The year my divorce was final, Rascal Flatts came out with a song called "Movin' On". It became my divorce song. I swear they read my life and penned it to the paper. Every time I hear it, the rain pours from a stopped up balcony gutter and for a moment I am communing with squirrels in an upstairs sanctuary of plastic patio chairs.

But it's OK now.
Because when the wind threatens to blow a quiet tornado.....
I remember a dream, a promise, and a prayer.

Copyright © 2008 Mimi Lenox. All Rights Reserved.


Shannon H. said...

It seems as if it was one hell of a tornado Mimi. I for one am glad you pulled through.

Speedcat Hollydale said...

First off, as I listened to your song, I probably would have missed the words - but attatched to your heart felt and emotional testimony, they cried out. Intrigued, I followed the source to find others with similar feelings and thoughts to yours.

Here are some of them ....

**This song is so good, and fits me 100%

**this song helps me through moments of weakness, then i look around, and see what GOD had instored for me! What an blessing to have!

**Such a beautiful song. Brings tears to my eyes each time I hear it.

**I absolutely love this song ! this song has helped me thru some rough times i had over the past few years and made me realize some things about myself that i never realized until my separation

I guess I was not expecting much when I clicked the play button Mimi. That proved false. I could hear them singing "with you". I listened as if I was in your place. I too, could feel the reverberations, more in my soul than in my spine.
I think many people hope to find that perfect happy place in their lives. They present themselves with a goal ... to enter an imaginary circle, where things are as they pictured as children in dreams. To many times the circle is entertwined with ideals. A perfect mate, a perfect family, a pefect house. What gets lost on the journey is self. Self love and self preservation.
Inside the circle is you.
The items and people that are added are just a bonus. I am glad you have found "Mimi", and glad you have weathered the storm.
In your words, I can sense heartache, yet also joy. Pain, yet also comfort. Loneliness, yet freedom from the dark clouds that once lasted for months.
So much courage and determination it took to drive away in the green truck. I see the truck as a conduit to a new life where you are in control of your own destiny. Just as the good Lord holds your hand, and listens to a cry for help, he also watches as we become true individuals ... guided by our own actions and fate.
While this post reaches into my own mind and paints the pictures of struggle, it leaves me happy, because my friend was triumphant in her mission.

This may be the most honest, and soul searching posts I have ever read - anywhere
I hope this does not sound condescending, but "I am proud of you Mimi".
Best part is, you can be proud of yourself.

I actually stopped in to pick up a meme here tonight, but this stopped me in my tracks. I'll be back for that another time :-)

Hug Hug,

Don said...

What you did was very difficult - and extraordinarily brave. I'm so happy you've made it through the storm and to the bright skies of the new day. You're an incredibly strong woman.

Tarheel Rambler said...

Eric put all of my feelings into words for me, so I can just say "Ditto" and feel like the situation has been covered...but it really hasn't. This is one of the most powerful posts you've ever written, and that's saying a lot. Thank you for trusting enough to put all this emotion out there.

Divorce is a very personal experience, but it is also very public because our lives are not lived in total isolation. But even with friends and family there to support, the feelings and the turmoil one feels is very personal. And we have to "weather the storm" very much on our own. I am so glad you've come through, a little beat up maybe, but yet stronger from the experience.

Bud Weiser, WTIT said...

That was a very brave post. Thank you for sharing it...

kathleenmaher said...

Mimi, this really is a brave post and too good a story not to share: how you found yourself through a tornado and then truly found yourself.

Margo Moon said...

No telling why you had to put this out in the Universe right now. Maybe a woman (or a man - how narrow of me) out here who reads your blog needs to hear a survivor's tale today.

Thanks for having the wisdom to listen to your dream, Mimi. Because if you hadn't, you might still be locked away in that real live dungeon, and we wouldn't have the extreme honor of knowing you.

Crushed said...

That was actually quite an inspiring story.

Having the courage to leave is often harder than people realise. Many people really do get stuck in a rut and are frightened of taking that plunge into the unknown.

Fair play!

Starrlight said...

What a lovely post, Mimi. I related to it quite a lot. I know those tears. And frankly I'd rather have those outloud lonely tears than the silent ones that come when you feel lonely *in* a marriage. Those are the worst.

The Gal Herself said...

I love that you put your son first. I love that your story has a happy ending. There is something so universal in this tale, and yet the detail you added (red pillows) make it all uniquely yours. I think it resonated so with me because I've discovered, to echo Starrlight above, the worst kind of lonely is when you AREN'T alone. Here's hoping the heroine of this story lives happily ever after!

Akelamalu said...

I'm so glad that story has happy ending m'deario. x

Anonymous said...

I know that kind of pain. My mother was still married to #3 when I left home (now she's on #5) & I've moved over 50 times in my life. My children were taken from me & I've cried just those kinds of tears. Still do sometimes. You are so brave to have just picked up & made your life over. I think one of the reasons I'm still married is because both Poor Hubby & I are too scared to take the steps you took. What a powerful dream & post. ((hugs))

Mimi Lenox said...

Shannon- It was a longstanding tornado for sure. And one day, it just all blew away.

Bond said...

It was beautiful Ms. Mimi. I know the feeling of moving out. I moved 900 miles to a tiny apartment...without my a city in which I knew not a soul...but I had my friends in the bloggosphere who kept me afloat and cyber-dried my tears with their words (yours included).

It was beautiful Ms. Mimi

Sandee (Comedy +) said...

Beautifully done Mimi. I so relate to this post. I've done a similar exit to a new life. The going is tough, but it sounds like we both made it out just fine.

Have a terrific day. Big hug. :)

Julia Smith said...

Wow - what a fantastic post, Mimi. I'm so glad you wrote finally about that amazing though incredibly painful time in your life. Weird about the tornado dream - I don't have many recurring dreams, but I do have tornado dreams. They're powerful, alright.

So glad you reclaimed your life and I'm so glad to have met you here in the blogosphere, Mimi.

Mimi Lenox said...

Eric - "Inside the circle is you."

Perfect. For you to "listen as if you were there" is very special. The truck was a conduit, yes..... I can still see it packed to the hilt from front to back - what a sight.

The song says "Life has been patiently waiting for me." The melody, the instruments...simple. And yet a beautifully complicated version of my heart at that time.
I was at a crossroads. I've never regretted my decision for one minute.

"While this post reaches into my own mind and paints the pictures of struggle, it leaves me happy, because my friend was triumphant in her mission."
That is one of the loveliest things anyone has ever said to me. Thank you.

What a journey it has been thus far. Life has been waiting patiently for me. I am the happiest and most content I have ever been in my life.

Mimi Lenox said...

Don - You've been through some of the same struggles. Isn't it amazing to look back now and again. I wonder, at times, how I survived. But there's something to be said for putting one foot in front of the other when you can't see ANY light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.....tunnel? There was no tunnel either!

Thank you for commenting.

Mimi Lenox said...

Lee - No, we do not live in isolation. I couldn't have made it without friends and praying people who loved me enough to trust that my reasons were valid and necessary. To stay would have been so wrong.

It took time but in the end, ALL of us are came out healthier and stronger. I have nothing but well wishes for my ex-husband.

Mimi Lenox said...

Bud - Sometimes the pen wants to spill.

Mimi Lenox said...

Kathleen - Ooohhhh.....found myself in so many ways, my friend. The dream was quite remarkable. I never dismiss those kind of premonitions. Can I explain it? No.

I think enough time and healing has taken place that I can write about it almost as an observer now.....and still remember and feel enough of the angst to allow others who are going through the same to relate. I hope so.

Mimi Lenox said...

Margo - You know me quite well. I did "have" to write this and place it here....I follow those instincts when the muse comes around. I really have no choice in the matter it seems. And it won't let go of me until the ink hits the page.

Mimi Lenox said...

Crushed - Fear does awful things to people.

Mimi Lenox said...

Starr - Those are the worst by far. Holding them in will make you physically sick. I felt I couldn't breathe - for 26 years.

Mimi Lenox said...

Gal - My son was a young man when we divorced and I've never regretted that I stayed for him. I had to be able to say I'd done everything humanly possible as his mother for him and for our family before I could let it go.
No regrets. Not a one.

And thank you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Akelamalu - Happy endings....hmmm....looking back on this now I'd say I have a lot to be thankful for.

Mimi Lenox said...

Autumn - The dream was vivid and powerful. I didn't know about your struggles. I've just known you were in a lot of emotional pain at times.....need to talk? I'm an email away.


Mimi Lenox said...

Bond - I remember some of what you went through. Seeing you so happy NOW gives me hope and I just grin from ear to ear thinking about you and the lovely Nancy getting married. You soooooo deserve this.

You've always been there for me.
Thank you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Sandee - It is so tough. And you, my dear, found the love of your life. So happy for you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Julia - I am thrilled to have met you as well. You are one of the most intuitive folks I've met in the blogosphere. You get the dream thing....oh yes, it was powerful. I DO have recurring and prophetic dreams. Not sure if it's a blessing or a curse at times!

Finding Pam said...

Thank you for sharing that with us. That took a lot of courage to bare your soul. Blessings to a wonderful Queen.

Mimi Lenox said...

Pam - I'll take blessings anyday Miss Pam....Thank you.

Mark said...

This is a shockingly powerful story, Mimi. It affected me deeply, more so I suppose because I sense a tornado coming, but I don't know which way it's going to blow.

I found it both frightening and encouraging what the inside of a major life change looks like. I feel the need to be alone and think on this for awhile.

Thanks for stopping by my blog. It led me here, and for that I'm grateful.

Mojo said...

I know that place. Well, not actually that place, but the place just like it on the basement level of a former apartment building converted to condos.

But I had Bogart, my neurotic but ever faithful dog. And that may be what saved me.

I for one am awfully glad you came out of that scary, weepy place.

meleah rebeccah said...

Oh Mimi. This was so openly honest it touched me so deeply. I have never been through a divorce or even a bad break up, so I cant even imagine how you must have felt. But, this was also a very inspiring post.

Its never too late to START OVER. And when YOU KNOW its time to move on,you have to TRUST that things will work out. Eventually.

Mimi Lenox said...

Mark - Then be aware and trust. Six years ago, I couldn't have imagined my life as it is beginning to take shape now. I've experienced lots of ups and downs, dating disasters, a few mini-romances and one special relationship that also ended in April of 2008. Life did go on and I am finding it challenging to move along with it. Most of all, I know there really is strength to be found during the low points and so many lessons to learn. Cliche, yes. That is not to say that I wish it on anybody for the "lessons." Oh please. But they do seem to come along for the ride.

I'm touched that my story spoke to you. I'm sorry that you, however, for the reason and that you are sensing a tornado.
Take care.

Mimi Lenox said...

Mojo - So it was YOU below me getting the water from the washer? I knew it!

Mimi Lenox said...

Seriously, Mojo..... - It is a rough place, isn't it? I find it particularly striking how this post resonated with men so much. Perhaps because they are the ones who usually end up leaving the family home if children are involved.
It's a lonely, lonely place but the freedom and happiness that comes with self-discovery. AMAZING.

Your wonderful photography is just one example.

Mimi Lenox said...

Meleah - I've been through both. Emotionally, for different reasons, there really is no difference in the feeling of loss whether it's a husband or a significant other. Practically, however, the dissolution of a marriage - even with grown children - is life altering and takes a good while to "get over" if one ever does. In my case, the divorce was long overdue and such a relief. Even then, as you read, it rocked me to the core.

How are things with the guy??!! Tell me good things.....I want the details.

Dawn (Twisted Sister) said...

"My soul had a strange new home..."

"I never spoke to my neighbors; I just watched them transition in and out."

What would I do without your wisdom?
Thank you.

Julie said...

Interesting that you choose to take off your hat Mimi. My hat also goes off---to you! For your prowess..the way you became brave enough to write about this. Brave enough to share with everybody in the blogosphere. Brave enough to choose words that stab away at the very core of your being. You are amazing.

I sit here clicking replay over and over again remembering when my world echoed these words. Am I strong enough to share? No.

This sentence...."my grandmother's bed taken out of storage just for the occasion. It was antique, comforting and smelled of her. I bought new linens and a new bedspread with a dust ruffle.
Cheap sets, plain crisp off-white earthy colors - a palette to paint." Oh Mimi....and what an artist you have become! The imagery of thriftiness made beautiful...with love.

I would have expected nothing less-from you.


meleah rebeccah said...

" How are things with the guy??!! Tell me good things.....I want the details."

Well, There is a poem about HIM onmy blog RIGHT now!

Thanks for asking!!

Patti said...

This must must have taken so much courage to post. Thanks for sharing your story.
I envy your ability to get that out there in such an eloquent way.
It's a gift.

I can't say I can relate to what happened and what you went through it as many of the others have, but I felt your pain as I read.

You are such a wonderful writer.

Travis said...

We either find our strengths in this adversity, or we perish. I'm glad you found your strength.

Deana said...

Wow. That was just so...well you know.

Michelle said...

My husband calls that "leaping" - those moments in life when you just know you have to leap... and you do.

I'm sorry you faced the tornado, but I'm glad you leapt and landed in blogland. We are all richer for having you as our Queen. *bows low* (I never curstey - that's just lame and girly)

Hope the road ahead in 2009 brings you more temperate dreams-come-true.

onangelwings said...

Mimi, now I see why you are the recipient of so many blog awards. You are brilliant.

Congratulations on having the courage to move forward. It takes guts and that is something you undoubtedly have.

Mimi Lenox said...

Dawn - That's exactly how it felt. Transition is tough. You'll make it dear. You are strong.

My money's on you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Julie - You know how I feel about you.

Mimi Lenox said...

Meleah - I read. You've got it bad, girlfriend.

Mimi Lenox said...

Patti - Your encouragement as fellow writer means the world to me. Thank you.

jennifer said...

You have my utmost respect. I was already in awe of you as a writer and person. This post adds to that awe. What an amzing woman you are Queen Mimi.

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