Today, August 7, is my mom’s birthday. It’s also the one-year anniversary of my divorce. I hate that my divorce was final on my mom’s birthday, but I discovered that judges are like surgeons. They give you an appointment date and time, and you make it work.
This year has been difficult, but despite challenges, I have become a stronger and happier person (although I do swear more). Some good things have happened this year, and three defining moments helped me realize I’m “going to make it after all” (cue Mary Tyler Moore theme song).
Shortly after my ex-husband moved out last May, I needed to take my cat to the vet to get his nails trimmed. I have friends who trim their cats’ nails or put tiny coverings on each claw. I don’t do that. I gladly pay $12 every other month to avoid being maimed for life.
Until this time, I relied on Paul or our son to help me put the cat in his carrier. We would trap Charlie in the game room, Paul or John would catch him stuff him into the soft sided carrier, and I would zip it up. When I realized I was going to have to wrangle the cat by myself, my first thought was to enlist a neighbor to help me. Our son was recovering from a knee injury and couldn’t help, so I was on my own. Instead of calling my neighbor, though, I decided to try to capture the cat by myself.
My first attempt at cat wrangling was a complete failure, and I gave up. A couple weeks later, I noticed Charlie was on the screened porch, which is a much smaller area than the game room with no places to hide. I took the carrier to the porch, picked up my unsuspecting cat, and tried to stuff him through the top of the carrier. He jumped out, and instead of quitting in frustration, I tried again. The second time, I picked him up more confidently. I have heard that dogs smell fear, but I think cats smell anxiety. This time, I stuffed him in the carrier and zipped up the top with authority. He didn’t have a chance to escape. I was so proud at having persevered at capturing Charlie without help. Since then, he hasn’t given my any problems when I need to take him somewhere (usually the vet).
My next adventure occurred when I tried to make a cilantro pesto. The recipe said to use a food processor to chop the garlic and cilantro. I rarely use a food processor because I hate cleaning all the pieces, but I reluctantly pulled out the Kitchen Ninja food processor attachment. I ran the food processor a few times and noticed some garlic and cilantro chunks near the top of the container. Without thinking, I stuck my finger in the container to try to move the chunks downward. Fortunately, I had turned off the Ninja, but unfortunately, my hand slipped, and I quickly discovered how sharp the blades were when I felt a deep slice and saw blood. I was home alone, so I wrapped a wad of paper towels around my finger, grabbed my purse and drove myself to the nearest urgent care center. Four stitches and a big bandage later, I went home, threw out the pesto and was very thankful the cut wasn’t any deeper.
Another defining moment occurred when I purchased two small shelves for my closet. I knew I would have to assemble the shelves, but the picture on the box gave me the impression that the process would be simple. Two long pieces of wood and two short pieces of wood—how hard could that be? I found out when I opened one of the boxes, and a plastic bag of screws spilled out with the shelf pieces. I glanced at the instructions, got a Phillips screwdriver from the toolbox, lined up holes and got to work.
Assembling the first shelf was tricky, but I did it. Then I realized I put the shelf together backwards with the unpainted part of the wood facing the wrong way. I was so angry and recently acquired swear words flew out of my mouth. I thought about quitting and asking my son to assemble the shelves for me. Instead, I took a deep breath, took the shelf apart, and put it back together the correct way—by myself. Putting the second shelf together was much easier, and I felt a huge sense of accomplishment for keeping at it, even after my failed first attempt.
Looking at my finished shoe shelves in my closet not only gave me a sense of accomplishment but also seemed to symbolized putting my life back together after a failed marriage.
Completing these three tasks alone when my husband moved out have been key milestones during this tough year. I got married when I was 19 and went from relying on my parents to relying on my husband. When that safety net disappeared, I felt vulnerable. Catching a cat, handling my own medical emergency, and assembling small shelves by myself gave me confidence I desperately needed. Don’t even get me started on light bulbs.