One year ago today I moved out of my marital house.
For most of our year-long legal separation, my ex and I
lived in different parts of the same house. It was partly to save money, partly
because he was traveling for work and would be gone anyway, and partly because
neither of us seemed willing to move out.
It wasn’t until we got in a fight one day last May that I
realized I needed to move forward. An hour after the argument, I was touring an
apartment complex. The next day I put down a security deposit. My move-in date
was July 29.
I hired a moving company, and after a friend gave me the
boxes from her recent move, I started packing. This time the military wasn’t
helping with the move. I was on my own.
My ex and I had already walked through the house and split our
possessions with little conflict. I spent the next 2 months packing on the weekends,
a task that was both physically and emotionally exhausting.
Somehow I thought the process of placing items in boxes
would be as easy as it sounds — and some days it was. But there were other
days when each item placed in a box flooded my brain with memories, both joyful
and painful. The teacups we bought in Japan. The photo albums that spanned
almost 15 years. The jewelry he’d given me, including the engagement ring that
I had taken off so long ago that the once prominent indentation on my ring
finger was now gone.
Some days I blasted music to drown out the memories. Some
days I gave in and cried on the floor.

I finally finished packing a few days before the big day. I
called to confirm my move-in date with the the moving company, finding it
strange that they didn’t pick up the phone. 
I figured they were busy. After all, I live in a military town, and it
was prime PCS season.
Then July 29 arrived. My brother flew halfway across the
country to help, the kids were in camp and I was able to make a couple of trips
to the apartment to start moving items before the movers were supposed to show
But the movers didn’t show up. I called repeatedly. No answer.
 At one point, I had to go back to the
apartment for my Internet and cable hookup. By mid-afternoon, I had to face the
fact that the movers weren’t coming.
While my brother somehow found a moving company that was
available the next day, I drove to the address of my no-show guy to see if I
could find this jerk in his office. I pulled into the parking lot to find a
police car.

Turns out, the moving company I hired wasn’t really a moving
company, but a thief the police were actively looking for. The policewoman said
I was lucky he didn’t show because the chances were good he would have loaded
my belongings onto his truck and disappeared with them in addition to my
deposit he had already pocketed.
So instead of getting settled in my new apartment, I was
filing a police report that led to a warrant for a man’s arrest.
I was devastated. July 29 was supposed to be my new
beginning. Because of this crook, I had to bring all the bedding back from the
apartment, remake all the beds, and spend another night in the house I had
already said my goodbyes to. My new beginning was ruined, and I had to mentally
prepare myself to spend my second last night in this house.
Fortunately, the next day the move actually happened. It took
way longer than it should have, and my brother had to get on a plane halfway
through, but by the end of the day, I was officially moved out of the old and
into the new.
Shortly after the truck arrived at the house, a neighbor
came over, another mil spouse asking if we were PCS’ing. (I hadn’t told her
about the divorce. In fact, only one neighbor knew I was moving out. I still
didn’t know how to tell people, and I just wanted to slip away quietly.)
“You’re getting divorced?” she asked, clearly shocked. “How
long have you been married?”
“13 years.”
“That’s a long time. You guys can work things out.”
“No,” I said, trying not to cry. “We can’t.”
She meant well, but it was statements like that I was hoping
to avoid. The marriage was unfixable. It was time to move on.
When the last item was loaded onto the truck and my kids and
the dog were loaded into my car, I did one last walk-through of the house. The
items I left behind were just as telling as those I chose to take. The painting
from Thailand. The obnoxious desk I once worked at. The dresser that was so
oversized and heavy that it left gouges in the hardwood floor as the movers
pushed it into position when we first moved in.
One last look. I said goodbye. And I closed the door for the
last time.
People often ask me why I was the one who moved out. “You’ll
have the kids more. Why don’t you get to keep the house?”
I’m sure life would have been easier if I had been the one
to stay, especially now that my ex has moved to Hawaii and the house has new
owners. Knowing how transient his life is with the military, it probably would
have been more logical for me to stay.
But I didn’t want the house.
We lived in that house together for 5 years, a lifetime by
military standards. But for many reasons, it never felt like home to me. That
house saw too much. The walls held too many bad memories and too few good ones.
I needed a fresh start. I needed to make my own home in my own way.
Moving out of that house was one of the hardest things I’ve
ever done. But moving-out day was also moving-in day. So I can look back on
that day with sadness as the day I moved out of the last house I lived in with
my husband. Or I can see it as the exciting day that I moved into my new home,
the home where so far good memories outnumber the bad.
As I re-signed my lease a few days ago, I realized that this
is where my new life started. One year ago today was a day of new beginnings. I
may not live here forever, but for now, I can’t imagine living anywhere else.

9 Comments on An Anniversary of a New Beginning

  1. i just wrote you this big long comment and it disappeared. I'll sum it up. You're amazing and strong. It's been great to see your smile.
    (my original comment was probably too mushy anyway)

    • Thank you so much, Laura. Thanks for all your encouragement and kind words along the way. And there's no such thing as too mushy!

    • Thank you so much for the encouraging words and hugs. I was extremely fortunate that the apartment complex had the perfect unit available when I needed it. And now I'm in walking distance to the beach! Definitely can't complain. 🙂

  2. Tears and fears. We have all been at that point at some time in our lives. You will never see your glass as half empty dear friend, it will always be half full and continuing to rise. Enjoy the ride and the wine. Cheers to you.


    • Thanks, BP. I try not to see that glass as half empty. Not always easy, but I'm definitely learning that there's a positive side to every situation.

  3. *hugs*

    You are a wonderful person. I'm sorry the move went a little awry at first but look at you now! You're strong and getting stronger each day… it's awesome to see.

  4. Heather – your strength is inspiring. So kind of you to share your personal story! It would be great if you could help others by participating in forums (when we launch on 8/3). Please feel free to tell your story and promote your blog there. All the best from your friend at DivorceForce!

  5. After talking with you on the beach at T&C I could tell you were a strong woman… The resilience you showed in a hectic moving experience, the strength not to "just settle" but to move forward to a place you could call your home, without remorse is a positive indicator of literally moving on. I love your writing and am eager to hear the continuing saga of the journey.

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