I walked past the building twice. Cursing myself for trusting my memory instead of a handwritten reminder, I pulled out my phone and dialed the office number. I was lost. Damn, it’s cold, I thought. Why is it always colder downtown? Of course I didn’t have gloves. Of course. I punched each number into my beloved Blackberry and explained my plight.
“You walked past us,” she said. Yeah, twice, I said to myself.
A few minutes later, I was riding the elevator to my lawyer’s office and forgiving myself for being late.
Arriving on the eighth floor I smiled inwardly. Look at me: taking care of business. Finally, the separation agreement had been drawn up and all I had to do was give my approval before it was sent on to my former husband’s lawyer. I sat in the waiting room and texted my best friend, allowed her words of encouragement to fill me up. You feel good? she asked. Yes, absolutely, I replied.
We had never met, but as soon as he walked into the room, I instantly knew who he was: broad and tall, in his early sixties, his manner was curt, while his eyes were kind. He sensed I was intelligent, but also naive. I got that a lot. “Come on through, Danielle,” he said after shaking my hand firmly.
His office was overwhelmed by an enormous oak desk, with file folders stacked neatly and tall. I sat down across from him and immediately felt out of my element. Holding the agreement in my hands, seeing my name at the top, it gently occurred to me that a seventeen year relationship had been distilled to paper and ink. This was the business end of things- not my usual playground.
And yet, I felt OK…confident even.
Page by page, line by line we went over the agreement. At times, a whisper of emotion floated softly through me, but I let it quietly pass. Everything he read out loud had been discussed and acknowledged already between my ex and I. Hearing the names of my children made me smile nervously- a combination of love and worry that faded with the knowledge that Love would win out. Divorce sucks. But it would be alright.
And then, the sticky part: Money.
“You OK with all of this?” my lawyer asked with concern.
I laughed. “Of course not, but what choice do I have?”
My lawyer studied me for a moment.This was usually when I would begin to feel outwitted and like I must be missing something. But I wasn’t. Debts are shitty and I was responsible for half. He sat there offering each idea that came to his head to help me, and to soften the blow. I sat back and smiled. It was great to have him on my side, but it was what it was. I had been unconscious about money for a long-ass time. Caught up in my kids and the dissolution of all I thought to be true, I ignored what was happening- shut it out. It was now time to look at the mess that had been swept under the rug and address it.
I cannot and will not speak to the shit that money brings up for my ex. For my own part, it has been an incredible learning process that I continue to participate in to this day. I have learned to ask questions. I have learned to look at statements closely. I have learned to manage and maintain my own money. To budget. To pay debts on time and also to demand to be paid what I am worth.
Thirty minutes later I was riding the elevator back down, readying to face the bitter cold again. I texted my boyfriend: One step closer. An instant later: Good for you, babe! he replied.
I trembled slightly as all that had led me here settled into my cells. Sadness, relief, happiness, resolve. I would sort through it all in the next few hours and I would be just fine. Better. I was learning to trust myself. Even if I get lost, even if I don’t feel prepared, I will figure it out. I will face it all and be carried through by the force that carries us all.
Shoving my hands deep into my pockets, I bowed my head and braved the weather.
Always held in the arms of Love, all was truly well.