When I was married the household duties broke down into his and hers. His included car maintenance, plumbing and putting up the firewood we use to heat our house. My duties included growing our garden, taking care of our son and the work of the home. Now that I was on my own all of it was my duty. There were, at least, three things I was pretty sure I did not know how to do.
Soon enough the challenges of plumbing and car maintenance would rear their ugly heads. I knew I had a car that could not pass Maine's state inspection. It was an all wheel drive Subaru with a cracked head. In retrospect I can say with all surety that if I am going to have a string of car issues it will first start with the tires. A flat tire greeted me one morning as I was heading out the door. I changed the tire and put a donut on the tire. I take the tire to the tire repair guy who informs me that he would be negligent in trying to repair a bald tire. At this news I feel like cracking my head against a wall. Alas, kind tire guy replaces the tire with a used tire for a modest price. A few days later , on my way to couples counseling no less, I hear the familiar low hum of a deflating tire. The replaced tire is flat. Before my separation I understood the theory of changing tires. By the time I was in the throws of separation I understood the practice. While frustrating I also felt a small sense of accomplishment at taking care of it all. My self esteem was in need of a boost at this time after all. Two birds and and a stone...or in this case a tire. Other car challenges plagued this period of my life and I am now convinced that I would be better off with a horse. At least when a horse is ready to die you can put it out of its misery.
Mystery always surrounded the changing of the oil when my husband lived at home. It required long journeys to the parts supply store and a special oil changing uniform. A string on expletives were the only tool one needed to loosen a stubborn nut. It took all afternoon to do it. It necessitated the purchase of a six pack at the end of the day to quench the thirst of the tested mechanic. So it could not be as simple as driving to the oil change place, paying 25.00 dollars, and reading year old People Magazines for ten minutes. Could it?
Just around this time as I was indulging in one of the simple luxuries I depended on to get through the week, a hot bath. As the tub was filling up a loud monstrous hiss released itself from my hot water heater. Then there was no hot water. From the utility room where the water heater resides there was a HUGE puddle of water. Pipes I am pretty sure are not supposed to be disconnected. I made phone calls to the hardware store, calls o friends. The one phone call I wanted to avoid was the expensive call to a plumber. The calls finally gleaned a retired plumber who had the tools and knowledge I needed. And who would also teach me how to change the pressure valve on the water heater myself. I learned how to light a blow torch....oh the possibilities!
The skill I loved the most was chopping wood. All it requires is a simple elegant tool which I already possessed.The obligatory flannel shirt is donned for gleaning the spirit of the chore. Legs firmly planted on the ground, spread as though a I was a Charlie Angel in a dramatic pose, ax in hand, I raise the axe above my head; as it gives way to gravity I gather whatever strength I have in the cleaving of the log in front of me. Not only did I learn to provide the heat for my home but I am able to physically work out any frustrations I have that day by chopping wood. When the to-be chopped pile is gone there is no greater sense of accomplishment than to know that I had chopped it all. As for the other two skills.... I learned the simplest approach was usually a phone call away..along with simple monthly installments until they were paid off.
Separation and divorce teach many lesson. Some humbling like how our own dysfunction contributes to the dissolution of your union. Other more practical yet important to the healing of our self esteem. As I stood in my woodshed as measured the amount of wood chopped and stacked I felt pride and confidence that I had provided heat for my home that winter. Maybe I can't change the oil in my car, on the other hand . I don't have to. But the rest of this..no worries..I got this!