I never imagined that I would have started the year 2017 by declaring, “I’m ready for a divorce.” The last three years have been the hardest leading up to my final decision. I was to the point of not even feeling like myself. I didn’t feel as outgoing as I used to be. I wasn’t in the best physical shape. I had cried myself to sleep more often than not. I isolated myself away from my friends and family.
New Year’s Eve, I made my decision known. The next couple of days were rough. I would take my usual commute to work but had to pull over on the side of the road to cry for at least 20 minutes. I remember chatting with my Supervisor (at the time) about what was going on. I had to let her know because crying at work while on the sale’s floor would have been a little disturbing without an explanation.
January 1st, I immediately starting looking for jobs in Minnesota. I wanted to see what was available. He and I talked and came up with a plan to stay living in Florida at least until Sarai (our soon to be 6 year old daughter) was out of school for the Summer. That seemed like a long time once my decision has been made, but I agreed that should work. I applied to retail postings knowing I could get offered a position immediately with my background. After all, I was currently working at Dillard’s and working for a Merchandising company while living in Florida.
I applied to several places, Target and JCPenney called me back right away, within days. I set up my interview date and times, and told both places that I would only be in Minnesota January 12th through the 16th. Both places accommodated my schedule.
When I arrived in Minnesota, I came with only a carry-on suitcase and the clothes on my back. I was only staying for a couple of days, so I really packed “light” for the first time ever. I was very blessed to be able to stay at my girlfriend’s house with her and her four beautiful children (which made me miss my babygirl). I was also very blessed to be able to use my other girlfriend’s car. Those two ladies were gifts of gold.
I interviewed at both Target and JCPenney on the same day with about an hour break in between. “Target’s response was we’ll let you know, thanks for coming in!” However, JCPenney’s response was, “When can you start?” Let me remind you, that the plan was to stay living in FL until May 2017, when Sarai would be our of school for the Summer. But I ended up telling JCPenney that I can start February 1st. I informed the manager that interviewed (and hired me) about my recent decision to divorce and how my schedule is going to look. She completely understood as she said she went through a divorce. She shared that it’s going to be hard, but I could do it, she did. That felt good knowing someone knew what I was about to deal with.
Because I told JCPenney that I was going to be able to start February 1st, I also needed somewhere to live. I couldn’t just stay at my friend’s house, I was sleeping in one of her kid’s bedroom which made him sleep on the couch or stay at his grandparent’s house. So I started looking for apartments.
I wasn’t sure where I wanted to live. But I found a place in Plymouth, MN. I typed in the address into my GPS to drive past it to see if it was worth setting up an appointment to see it. I couldn’t find it at all! I drove up and down the street to where the little mark on my phone says “you have arrived, destination on your left.” Nothing was on my left! I ended up seeing another set of apartments though. I looked them up on Zillow and found they had the washer and dryer in the apartment and a garage, I was basically sold. I called the leasing office and asked in they had any openings and anything to show me right now as I was literally sitting in the parking lot. To my surprise, there was one apartment available to see, and it was ready to be occupied immediately.
The apartment had just been freshly renovated about two weeks prior to my visit. Oh, and I was able to move in the next day if that were an option, but I told them February 1st. They asked me to sign the lease as they knew that I was heading back to Florida to get my things. They said they wanted all of the paperwork to be cleared so all I have to worry about was moving in. With all of that, I actually didn’t have the apartment yet, but that was getting handled.
The next couple of days when I was scheduled to go to the airport, the only person available to take me was my mother-in-law. This normally would have been fine, but I knew it was going to be an awkward ride to the departing flights. We talked about my decision. It wasn’t an easy conversation. Then I proceeded to tell her that I found an apartment and can move in immediately. My goal was to let it be known that I was serious, and this is final. The news of my apartment traveled back to her son, and my phone went crazy with calls and texts.
My mother, daughter, and soon-to-be ex husband were still in Florida, we all lived under the same roof. While I was waiting for my flight to get ready for boarding and departure, my mother called me crying and distraught. She was saying she don’t know what happened, but he was acting strange. She had never seen him so upset, slamming doors, pacing the floor, yelling or whatever. While I was talking to her, his call interrupted and I answered… And yes, he was upset. I tried to explain that I didn’t have the apartment yet, but that was the goal. My plan was to go back to Florida and explain that I accepted a job and apartment, and that all of this was happening so fast, as of February 1st. I wanted to handle all of this with him in person, and in a calm matter. But that wasn’t going to be the case.
When I got off the phone, I started crying; I’m talking the ugly cry in the middle of the airport staring at my departure gate. I tried to regain composure, but I couldn’t. I then had the heaviest feeling in the pit of my stomach. Feeling of nausea; I felt that if I got on the plane, that would’ve been my last night of breath in my lungs. I started crying again! All I could see was my babygirl wondering where mommy is, and then I kept crying. I called my mother and told her I don’t know what to do, but I feel like I’m not going to make it if I get on the plane. That was the most devastating moment that I ever had to deal with! My mom told me to follow my instinct and that she and pooh (Sarai) would be alright. I knew they were going to be alright.
I kid you not, it was just like a movie scene. There I am the last person sitting at the gate with my name being called over the intercom to please come to the gate for departure. But at that moment, I was NOT ready for that to be my “final destination” as the ticket takers like to proclaim before everyone aboard the flight. Needless to say, the flight left without me, and I watched the terminal gate door close for no more entries. At that moment, I felt empty, lost, confused, heartbroken thinking about my daughter, and I had no real plans set. I didn’t know what I was going to do. But I knew it was now “go time.” I could either sit there and feel incomplete, or I could wipe my face put on my superhero cape and start putting a plan into action.
I sat there in the same airport seat for about another 15 minutes after the gate closed. My comfort came from God’s voice. Prior to making my decision New Year’s Eve. God told me a couple of months ago, “Don’t be afraid of the outcome.” I wasn’t sure what that meant at the time. But I wanted to hold onto that promise. And that night in the airport, THAT kept me from falling and feeling like I was at rock bottom.
I called my friend that let me use her car; I told her that I didn’t make in on the flight. When I tell you she was my miracle, that’s an understatement. She lives in Champlin, MN which happens to be 34 miles away from the MSP Airport, takes about 35-45 minutes to drive from one to the other on a good day. But she came to my rescue and picked me up and took me back to her car, as I drove back to my girlfriend’s house that I was staying at.
That night felt like a ton of bricks were sitting in my belly as waterfalls flowed from my eyes. Not a lot of sleep happened. I was still unsure of my next move, but had no idea the solution for my babygirl at that moment. I knew she would be OK, but also confused. That left a horrible taste in my mouth.
I didn’t have enough clothes with me. I didn’t have any money – well I had $120 until who knows when my next payday was coming. I had to tell my job at Dillard’s that I moved to Minnesota unexpectedly! A week later, I did receive a little over $90 on my pay card from my merchandising job. There was nothing to do but pray and try to strategize a plan.
It seems as if I was floating aimlessly for about 7 days, literally feeling like a walking zombie in the Twilight Zone. He would call me and ask me what have I been doing since I wasn’t there in Florida helping to pack up the house or take care of our child. I didn’t have an answer that he was OK with, but it was the truth: I had been going from coffee shop to bed WASTING multiple hours in both, trying to pull my life together. During that time, there were no visible or attainable long term goals in play. My goal was to get out of bed, shower, and leave the house at least once a day. I’m also very thankful that my girlfriend had kids around. You don’t know pure joy (well for me anyway) until you’re playing with kids and they’re genuinely happy without being bogged down with the stressors of the world.
When I say this was my most make it or break it moment, THAT my dear readers, was an understatement.
Here’s the kicker… do you remember the movie Scream? The first one? I don’t remember the actor that said this, but the line was, “but wait… there’s more!”… That’s EXACTLY the roller coaster this has been.
I decided to call JCPenney to see if I could start working before February 1st. This job was a Godsend because what other employer would have understood my situation, and oblige me? They were basically asking WHEN can you be here. I went with ASAP, I’ll start in two days. I then called my apartment to see if I could move in earlier than February 1st. Now I had some issues with my landlord in Florida, and we had to wait for her response so I could move in. God did that, because the situation got long, tiring, and there wasn’t anything else that I could physically do. Nevertheless, I was able to move in January 30th – DEAL I’ll take it!
Prior to my move in date, I was doing ok, I had started working at JCPenny. And I was also able to shop at a thrift store for a couple more pieces of clothing. Thank God I owned a consignment shop, and my family was not a stranger to thrift stores growing up, I highly recommend it! I started my job, I’m still at my friend’s house, things are going OK… Until I got word that my babygirl was going to be my responsibility now. That was both a blessing and a curse because I had missed her SO MUCH! Words could not express what I was feeling being away from her, and it was only about a little over two weeks.
I didn’t have my apartment yet, so babygirl had to come and stay with me at my friend’s house. Can you imagine what a house sounds like with five children under age 11? It’s loud, all the time lol. Somehow it worked, however, I had a problem. I needed a babysitter because Sarai was still enrolled in school in Florida, and NOT in Minnesota! I don’t have many people that I would let watch my baby. But I started to reach out to family like HELLLLP! I was able to find a cousin that was a perfect fit for the moment because she already have watched Sarai before, and Sarai remembered her. That was important.
For the next three or four days, I had to wake up an extra hour early to get my baby from Plymouth to Minneapolis, and then for me to go back towards Plymouth (to Minnetonka) for work. Not ideal, but you’d be surprised at the sacrifices you’d make to stay on a path and hope it’s the right one. I realized that wasn’t the goal, just to have a sitter for Sarai. She needed to be in school. I searched Minneapolis schools, hoped for something that would be centralized for myself and her dad (when he would move back to Minnesota). But those options didn’t work; there were zero openings in the Minneapolis Public School district for a centralized location. Then I searched near me. Thank you Jesus, there was an Elementary school literally 3 minutes away from my apartment, and they were always accepting students that lived in the neighborhood. Perfect! Sarai was able to start school within two days of me enrolling her… and she is doing EXCELLENT at this school.
As a parent, or concerned adult for that matter, I was worried for Sarai’s progress as she has been to four schools in the last two years. Two of those schools were preschool, but she immediately attached and adapted. It pained me to have her transfer into another school, when stability is the best option for her right now. But it had to be done, she couldn’t just skip Kindergarten in Minnesota lol.
School commenced, and I was able to get her on a bus route which was her first time riding a bus to school. And another shout out to God because her bus stop is literally about 9 feet from the front door of my apartment, I couldn’t have asked for a better arrangement.
Fast forward a bit to the last week in February 2017. That was when I had to fly back to Florida, pack up the house and drive my mother, daughter, and anything that could fit in my CAR back to Minnesota. Not the easiest task, I definitely dreaded the thought of it, but it had to be done. No one wants to willingly drive for 22 hours in one direction. There wasn’t a whole lot that could fit in my car. I managed to get babygirl’s clothes, shoes, important stuffed animals, and the rest of my clothes, shoes, and small kitchen utensils. But my mother wasn’t able to bring back anything except some bibles, her guitar, and her TV. It was not easy. And you realize how much we as humans are really attached to things.
We managed the drive back to Minnesota, and it was (at the time) the first week in March 2017. My mom was now staying with me to help with pooh. Her dad had been consistently taking her on the weekends (as he moved back to MN as well, across town). I was/am still working my Merchandising position at JCPenney.
Thank God for the seven people that played a leading role in my sanity during this time, and have helped out in someway, shape and form: BH, GR, CC, TR, AJS, MS, SC (that one is pooh! lol she keeps me grounded and in the present).
I wanted to share just a snippet of what I’m GROWING through. You never know your strength until you have to face your decisions head on. I have only shared this information with a few select people (until now). With that, I started to chat a little more with people. I have found out that on average, 1 out of 6 people that I have been chatting with are either GOING THROUGH A DIVORCE RIGHT NOW, or leading up to that point, and/or have already had a divorce.
Just with my experience alone and sharing parts of my story, I have found out that some family members are heading down this path. It’s shocking and makes my heartache. It makes me want to reach out more because apparently so many couples, are living as individuals, where one person is hurting and at their wits end… but no one knows.
Check this out… At JCPenney, I met a co-worker my very first night on the floor. She stood out just because she was the first person that I met, and she talked the most – this was in January. A couple of weeks ago, I noticed she has been coming to work looking… different, just not her best, and her attitude is different.
Just this past Monday, I was at work and had to cover an area for a break. I didn’t want to. I was ready to pass out and go to sleep and it was time for my break! So I covered the moment in the other department, I’m a team player, even though I’m sleep deprived. I had no idea when I was going to get the opportunity to take my break, until this co-worker showed up. She also was not scheduled in the area, but was asked to help out. In the most polite way, she looked like she had just rolled out of bed.
She approached me saying she didn’t feel well and she’s about ready to go home. I asked her what was going on, she said she just feels sick. I told her my allergies were the worst and I going to sleep for my break. That’s when she said, “I wish it was just allergies for me… I’m going through a divorce, and it’s killing me.” My response, all bright eyed and gasping like I’m about to share a million dollars with her, “ME TOO!! What stage are you at? How’s it going? What’s up?” She opened up like a book and I could feel her pain. So I did what I do best, listen, and provide positivity to shine light on her situation. Her’s is more recent that mine, she has been dealing with this decision for only a month.
She started to share the medication she’s on to get out of bed and to go to sleep, the meds to help with anxiety (I was diagnosed with anxiety years ago, but I took myself off the pills and decided positive quotes and Jesus was going to work wonders for me). All of that to say, I could relate to her in more ways than not. The interesting part in watching her actions like a case study, she is able to switch on her charm with a customer. Knowing her, it wasn’t her 100%, but it’s all she has at the moment.
As for me, I notice that I’ve been the same way, able to switch on the customer service to help others. More often than not, I would feel better after helping someone else. The sad part is that no one knows how physically and emotionally exhausted I am. No one knows that I hope to get a good four hours of sleep at night. No one knows my anger or even how I have to remind myself to eat healthy and drink water more than wine and juice. No one sees my struggle to get up from my alarm, snooze that annoying object until I have literally 30 minutes to get up, shower, get dressed, make my daughter’s lunch, and make it out of the door only to arrive at work about 3 minutes late, every. single. day. No one knows the part about how my body physically aches from stress and lack of sleep. Some days I can’t get out of bed.
What’s keeping ME going? That promise that I heard from God about eight months ago stating, “DON’T BE AFRAID OF THE OUTCOME.” I’m willing to be that what I’m dealing with, someone less than ten miles away from me is going through this too, but keeping it all balled up internally. And that is a recipe for disaster.
Let’s recap, what people usually plan for, I have done the following in as little as four months, on top of other stressful moments:
- I made my decision known
- Applied for and got offered a job
- Applied for and got offered an apartment
- Flew back across the country to drive my items, mother and daughter back to MN
- Enrolled my daughter into school
- Found furniture either for FREE (on the garage sale sites) or under $50 to furnish my apartment
- Back to my daughter’s school: I’ve been at the parent/teacher conferences, helped her with her homework (you know, all of the single mom stuff) and she’s doing a fantastic job!
- My stepmother passed away, along with a couple other family members
- I’ve rekindled relationships with family and friends
Oh, well no wonder I’m physically exhausted! But it’s a blessing to even feel these emotions and pain. Why? That reminds us that we are still alive, we are still on this earth for a purpose. We are still learning and growing into who we are supposed to be, we still have a significant job to do.
If you are going through this or something similar, let’s connect! Share your ups and downs. It shouldn’t be a secret, and you don’t have to walk this alone. I volunteer for the job! Despite my challenges that I’m facing, I promise I won’t let you fall into a state of depression. YOU CAN OVERCOME THIS and then help others in their situation. Let’s do it together!
Comment on this post if this is you, or email me your story: firstname.lastname@example.org. I WILL respond and reach out to you. WE GOT THIS!