It’s now been nearly nine months since I moved out of our suburban Rockville home to an apartment in Baltimore, and several times over those months, I’ve been made aware that the outside perception of the fact that it was I who left (rather than my husband, the more traditional partner to vacate the family home) has been interpreted as my abandoning my family, particularly my kids. I realize that is a logical conclusion, and, to a large extent, it makes no difference to me what people’s interpretation is, but just recently, when I was reminded that an acquaintance had made that assumption, I felt shaken by the judgement I perceived of my intentions and actions.
To be clear, the dissolution of my marriage was not my choice. However, when it was clear that I could do nothing to avoid this outcome, it only seemed reasonable that I should be the one to move out. Reasons?
- I’ve been commuting 45 minutes or more to an hour each way, every day, and sometimes seven days a week, for years, and I am tired of the commute.
- I love my job, and my colleagues and patients. I don’t want to find a new workplace.
- I don’t like living in the suburbs. I like living in a place where you can walk to stores, and work, and entertainment and restaurants.
- Perhaps because my childhood was filled with moves (I can count 27 addresses I lived in by the time I left for college), and uncertainty and a sense of rootlessness, I don’t know if I’m capable of feeling like any place is Home.
- And my former husband, former partner and friend, likes the house. It was principally he who chose that we buy it. He has more sense of home, there, than I do, I think.
So, I moved out. And that has held its own challenges. I continue to drive that commute that I hate, because I need to stay connected to the boys. My schedule has settled into:
- Monday – I drive to Rockville after work, pick up the boys from school, do homework and any after school activities, feed them dinner and put them to bed. Then I drive home to Baltimore, often arriving home at 11pm, exhausted.
- Tuesday – same as Monday, except that I bring an overnight bag and stay overnight with them, and do their morning routine Wednesday morning. Wednesday is the one morning of the week when I don’t have morning clinic, so my schedule is a little more flexible. The challenges for this day are making sure I get my trash out to the curb in Baltimore before leaving, and remembering all my stuff (I always seem to forget something, including this week).
- Wednesday – I again drive to Rockville after work, but this time for rehearsal with Zemer Chai, the choir that I’ve been singing with. The choir has been such a support to me through this time. At the beginning, through most of the summer, they were there for me, patient with my tears, and kindly understanding (maybe even when they didn’t understand). Music is therapy for me, and singing with others, making harmony in rhythm, is so reassuring and life-affirming. So, it’s worth that extra drive to Rockville. And now, there are two other Baltimore singers who I carpool with, which is another source of company and support.
- Thursday is the one night I am regularly at my own apartment in Baltimore for the evening. A chance to take a break from driving. A chance to catch up with the business of life.
- And then the weekends – either with the boys or without. With boys involves quite a few more drives to and from Rockville, depending on the boys’ activities. Without the boys can be lonely, although often I’m on my own because of my work schedule, and making rounds at the hospital. That keeps me busy.
This new life of mine has involved creating a new space for myself, which happily, the boys like. Finding a new community, which has been made so much better by the warm welcome I found at Beth Am Congregation in Baltimore. I’m still connected to the community of our synagogue, Tikvat Israel, in Rockville, but it’s strained. I love to be back there for services and will be again this shabbat because of a bat mitzvah. It’s always good to see old friends. But I also know that some of those people are the ones judging me negatively, and making assumptions that are unwarranted. It’s natural, having seen the before and the now. At least from the outside. Heck, even from the inside, I’ve been a bit baffled by what happened.
So, this post is more revealing than I generally want to put out there, and, yes, to some degree, I hope it might be read by some of those folks who may be judging me. But, maybe they’ll still see me as the one at fault. I can’t control that. (yikes, something about writing that brought a paroxysm of tears – first in months. Well, there’s clearly still pain).
I’m just trying to move forward into an unexpected future and figuring out what is best for me and for my kids. And for the former husband. Quite a balancing act. But we’re figuring it out. There’s no blame, just a new reality to work through.
And I can only hope for the support of friends and community to help me and us. Without judgement, preferably, either external or internal.
Namaste. Shalom. Peace. Love.