My ex-husband and I started dating when I was 23 years old. Therefore, my entire adult life, up until recently, was spent with him. When we got married I thought about how beautiful it was that we had “grown up together” as adults. We had watched each other grow as people. We had grown in our careers. Grown in our dreams. Grown in our lifestyle. We moved ourselves to a lovely little apartment on the Upper West Side in New York City. He had become incredibly successful in his chosen profession and I had gone from a girl with no clue to a young woman who was starting to find her voice in this crazy city.
We also, very naturally, fell into our relationship roles. I knew he was smarter than I was. He was great at math, and he took on the financial responsibilities in our little household. He made our budget and I trusted him completely with our expenses. Driving has always stressed me out, so when we went out of town he was the chauffeur. I am technically inept, so anything to do with technology was completely his territory. He even took care of my least favorite chore: taking out the trash.
I made use of my gifts by decorating our tiny space. I utilized every square inch and successfully turned our apartment into a home we could be proud of. I did the grocery shopping, I kept things tidy, dropped off the dry cleaning, and made sure each family member received a card on their birthday. I always felt that my gifts weren’t as important as his. I mean, you can survive without a cute apartment…but understanding how to back up your hard drive is vital. Still, I knew my gifts came from God and I was called to use them to the best of my ability, no matter what my personal views were of my skill set.
It honestly never bothered me that I leaned on him so much. That’s part of what defines a relationship. It’s give and take. Learning when to lead and when to follow. Being proud of your partner’s accomplishments, being proud of what you each bring to the “team”, being proud of yourself for being a positive support system. I felt that this was just one more reason that we were meant to be husband and wife. In our living situation, we complimented each other well. But folks, that didn’t mean we were going to be the perfect married couple, it just meant we worked well as roommates. But “Hurray” for me for being so positive.
Fast forward to my current living situation. All those things I was banking on having a partner take care of for me in my life, have become my problems and mine alone. Every day I realize more and more what I can’t do. At times it has become overwhelming. During my divorce, when the time came for me to leave my husband’s cell phone plan, I had a mini breakdown. I didn’t know how to save all of my photos and videos and apps. The thought of embarrassing myself in front of the poor Verizon worker gave me a panic attack. Should I upgrade? Keep my iPad on my data plan? Was there a way to save voicemails? My time frame for completing this task was growing short and I found tears welling up in my eyes as I prepared to leave the cast house and journey to the mall. This was just the beginning of many realizations I would have about what I couldn’t do or didn’t know. I’ve spent a lot of the last two years terrified.
Through these experiences I have learned three important things. The first is that I haven’t lost the ability to learn, and I am a smart woman. If I come to a challenge I haven’t faced before, I figure it out. Driving still makes me nervous, but I do it. I drive constantly. In two days I will drive 10 hours from DC to Tennessee and a week after that I will drive from Tennessee to Florida. My tires seemed low, and I didn’t know how to check tire pressure…so I googled how to do it, drove myself to a gas station, and put more air in my tires. I looked like a fool, but I did it. I’ve driven in snow, rain, and hail. Every day I face my driving fear and slowly but surely I am getting better with my road skills.
The second thing I have learned is that it is perfectly fine to rely on other people. Doesn’t make me weak or stupid or a failure. And what’s really lovely is that God gives me the people I need with the skills I need at the perfect time when I need them. Remember my terrible cell phone experience? As I was starting to panic and drive my crying self to the Verizon store at the mall, who should appear but Jake. He helped me back up my iPhoto, iTunes, contacts, etc. He helped me research which phone I should buy, how much data I would need, and which case would best protect my phone. He also helped me buy an external hard drive, so I can back up everything I own and he is beyond patient with me when I call way too early in the morning with a computer related question. He even chose the typewriter I am using to write this blog post. Not every human is going to know everything about this ever changing world, it’s truly beautiful when we are able to help each other out. Vulnerability and humility never equal weakness.
The last and most important thing I have learned is that my gifts aren’t less than or greater than anyone else’s gifts. My gifts may not be as practical as others, but they matter in different ways. My attention to detail is appreciated, when friends and family get a card from me it makes them feel special, my positivity has served me well and is even inspiring. I thought for years that my life was like a puzzle, and my ex-husband was the missing piece. The important piece that helped everything make sense. The piece that completed my life. The piece that held the whole puzzle together. Now it’s just me…and I am enough. I’m not missing a piece or a specific quality or set of skills.
I recently heard, “Faith makes everything possible…not easy.” Nothing about this life changing process has been easy. Re-learning how to live my life has been just plan hard. But I got this. And as my faith continues to grow, along with God’s guidance, I am going to be just fine…but I still really appreciate it when someone else takes out the trash.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 “Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”