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Making room in my closet

February 25, 2010

What I remember most about the day my boyfriend and I called our families to tell them we were engaged – about a million years ago – was an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach.  Not joyful, not triumphant, but a swirling pool of doubt.    

Years later, with a lot more wisdom about myself and about life, I came to cite that uneasiness as a sure sign that I was not ready to get married.  Moreover, somewhere deep inside I knew that the person to whom I had just gotten engaged was not at all, in fact, the Right One.  But as I write in my book Happily Ever After Divorce: Notes of a Joyful Journey, since we were grad students already living together, marriage just seemed the next logical step.    

Sure, we had  a few “issues.”  I didn’t yet know that these would only grow and multiply, eventually resulting in the messy dissolution of our marriage.   

What lesson did I later derive from looking back on that day? Just this: “Trust your gut.”  If some course of action was not going to be right for me, now all I had to do was listen to that inner wisdom that said “no.”   

Would that it were so.   

Here is the problem.  I can also look back on a great many wonderful decisions that I made while that same uneasy doubt swirled inside.  Backing out of law school three weeks before classes were to begin.   Handing over a huge check with all my savings to buy a house in a strange, new town in a new state where my children and I would begin our new life after the divorce.   Inside, I was a mess.  But these were decisions that turned out to be among the best of my life.   

What I have come to understand about myself is that I’m a pathetic second-guesser.  Rarely have I ever taken a plunge without one last rueful glance back to shore.  So with a gut in a state of inevitable queasiness in the face of any change or big decision, I’ve come to accept that “Trust your gut” doesn’t work for me.   

Fortunately, I have figured out what does work.  It’s this:  

“Watch what I do, not what I say.”  

 Bob and I have been talking about marriage and having him move in  for some time now.  I feel good about that, I really do.  But many of my close friends have heard me express one tiny misgiving.    

It’s about my closet.  

My closet, ready for Bob to move in.

When I renovated my house a few years ago, I built a fabulous walk-in closet.   Ever since, I have rejoiced that the closet is mine alone.  Every square inch is taken up with not just my dresses and suits on hangers, but also sweaters, handbags, and myriad other important items tucked away on shelves, cubbies, shoe racks.   

At  the prospect of Bob’s moving in, I worried.  Yes, I love him.  But could I really share a closet with a man again?   

Well, guess what I did the weekend before Bob moved in?

I made room in my closet.  Cheerfully.  Gladly. Without the slightest resentment that my own jackets would now reside in a closet in another room.   

Now I know it’s the Real Thing.   

It occurs to me that “Watch what he does, not what he says” is a pretty good principle upon which to judge anyone.  Don’t you think?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. February 25, 2010 9:39 pm

    Wow I had that same little voice talking to me also. I also wish that I had listened to my little voice in the back of my mind. All those years when it made you stop and think should I or shouldn’t I. But for some reason we did not listen to it. Now we do.

    And the closet problem is also very familiar, except my worry this time was my closet was already so much smaller and crowded as it was, but the weekend before my fiance moved in I also cleaned out a space in my closet for all of his things. And as I was doing it, I also realized that this time I did not have any voices telling me to stop or asking me are you sure. It was actually very refreshing. So thank you for sharing your thoughts and memories with us. Your book was awesome. Read it in two days, could not put it down.

  2. February 25, 2010 11:59 pm

    Hi Jessica,

    I hear what you are saying about watch what I do, not what I say. The doing is telling. Yet, I am still a firm believer in intuition being the wisest part of us. You may be tuning into the wrong frequency! I have been fine tuning and turning up the volume on my wise inner voice, and it has helped me make all of the most important decisions I have made. I, too, didn’t choose to listen to that strong inner voice telling me not to marry my husband. My intuition was right. And when I bought my house, I, too, was freaking out. But that was fear talking louder that my intuition, which rightly advised me to buy the house that would make my children and me a very happy family.


  3. March 23, 2010 11:47 pm

    Unfortunately in my case which I know is rare. I had the opposite experience. I had a husband who did the right thing and treated me very well. Was thoughtful to the point of running out to get me a log for the fire when my toes were cold while I was in the bath and had it burning with a glass of wine before I got dried off. ALL the while, telling me that he did not want to be married anymore and did not love me. In the end, what he said meant more than what he did. I got mixed signals from a very passive man who prides himself on being a good guy. It was difficult. Excruciating. But I agree with your principal in general. Congrats on the book.

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