Mt. Rainier and Lenticular Clouds - Dec. 2008 copyright: JMM

April 27, 2011

Attitude: The Difference Between Ordeal and Adventure

I got the title of this post from a status that my friend Marsha posted on Facebook.  It's a great quote. I don't know if she got it somewhere or made it up, but I love it.

Attitude really is the difference between Ordeal and Adventure.  

I cannot tell you how much at peace I am, especially after doing that post about being financially ruined, and it's a little surreal and scary.  It's like, "what have you done with the real Joanne?"  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, for me to have an out and out panic attack.  A total freakout.  Even a good cry.

When I got back from the Cape, I was in full-on stress mode.  I was tearful at night when I went to bed, and not just because I missed my boyfriend.  I engaged in a lot of hand wringing about:  Where are we gonna live? How soon can we look for a place? Should I start looking and making calls now?  Should we live on or off Cape?  Will they allow dogs?  What about a job?  I will have no money, so should I start looking for a job? Now? Wait?  And OMG I have so much to do! Sell the house! Make sure the car is in good running shape! See my doctor and get a recent gyno/mammo before I lose my insurance!  Pack!  Separate two decades' worth of marital possessions with someone who isn't taking this division of property at all well!  Leave a job I like (most of the time) and a boss I love!  Leave a region I love! Divorce my husband of 22 years!  Do everything on my own for this move! Phone calls! Phone calls! Phone calls!

And yet, somehow I've managed to let go of the stress and 'what ifs'.  All of it.  It doesn't matter.  It'll work out.  It always does.  In the past, when I moved to California and then Washington, I threw myself into research.  I subscribed to the newspapers, started checking apartment rentals and job ads. I had a plan.  But for this major life change?  All I have managed to determine is when I'm leaving, approximately when I'm arriving on the Cape and when my stuff gets there.  I've also determined that all my stuff is being stored in the Coop.  Beyond that?  Not a clue.  No idea. No plan. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Squat.  And furthermore, I don't. Even. Care. Cavalier?  Denial? Call it what you want.  

I was raised to be a worrier.  Worry about money, worry about finding a job and a place to live.  Worry worry worry.  My mom's going to want to know what my plans are. She is a worrier/"what if?" person.  She drives me crazy with her 'devil's advocate' questioning too. She wants me to be stable and I appreciate that, but right now I'm flying by the seat of my pants and that's really OK with me.  

Stress has run, and ruined, my life. I've been such an angry person for sooooo many years.  I can't stand who I have become.  My own self loathing & self esteem issues have eaten me alive and robbed me of the youngest years of my life.  The chest pains, depression, excessive sleeping, nausea, panic attacks, road rage, TMJ, dermatographism/rashes, hair coming out in clumps: All stress related.  My job has become so complex over the past few years.  Right after 9/11, and for about 8-9 months, maybe about a year, divorces dropped off significantly.  Everyone was scared shitless, hunkered down and nesting.  We saw a spike in our estate planning during that time period.  Our divorces have surged as the memory of 9/11 recedes into the distance, and taken place with other stressors of life and the economic collapse.  The divorces have gotten so confrontational because people are so vindictive, moreso than normal.  Every single case goes to trial now.  No one wants to give an inch to the other person so I am battered and beaten down every day by pain in the ass clients and asshole opposing counsel.  It's taken a huge toll on my health.  I can't go back into law.  I don't care how well it pays, I have no desire to do this grind again.  I'm sick of waking up at 2:00 a.m. in a cold sweat, wondering if I've confirmed a hearing on time, or scheduled a court reporter for the 9:00 a.m. deposition. It's not worth it.  

Knowing that it's coming to an end has been a bittersweet relief.  I enjoyed a 20+ year career in law and it was very interesting and fun.  I got to meet some really cool people and experience some amazing things because of where I worked and/or who I worked for.  And knowing that I am voluntarily not going to work right away is a novelty, and very foreign to me, but on the other hand, I'm too tired to look for work either.  I need time off.  I deserve time off.  I've never taken anything extended.  I've never been off work more than 3-4 weeks tops.  I want to be off this fall and through the holidays.  I want to make a happy, stable home for my man and me, and our dogs.  I want peace and quiet. I want to be able to sleep till 8 if I want, get up leisurely, call mom see if she needs something.  Do crafts and work on my Etsy store.  Walk the dogs. Go shooting photos.  See my girlfriends.  Take care of errands & chores during the week, so that when my sweet baby comes home on the weekend, we can enjoy being together, without the distraction of the 'honey do' list. 
That is why I have adopted the "Adventure" Attitude, over "Ordeal", because for the first time in a long, long time, I am so happy.  My man makes me want to be a better person.  If I really am going to try and make a real, positive change in my life, I have to be committed to it.  When I'm in Victoria or traveling on my own, I'm a different person. I'm happy, friendly and smiling.  I'm the person I want to be every day, but can't because of the pressures that cave in on me. My crappy commute, my crappy clients, what mood is Brian gonna be in tonite, will the house be in shambles, is he at the bar, has he taken money out of the bank, how are we gonna keep the house when we're running out of money, is he ever gonna get a nauseum.  I'm so over that.  I want to be happier and more relaxed.  I can't be when I am killing myself with the 'what ifs'.  

I have made my peace with the loss of some possessions that I really liked.  Brian's taken the lion's share of the DVDs, including ones I really wanted.  I'm sure I'm gonna lose a bunch of CDs that I really like too.  And posters.  He doesn't like having to split this stuff up, and I can see a bit of a vindictive streak coming out in him when it comes to movies we both wanted.  I know his position is, "I'm not the one that wanted this divorce, so you will take what I let you have." That's fine.  I don't need confrontation over who gets the Harry Potter books or the "Clerks" DVD.  It's a small price to pay to quietly and quickly exit this marriage, close the door on this chapter in my life and start a new life with the man I love.  I don't care how broke we are.  I don't care if we end up in a one bed/one bath rental, I don't care if I get a part time job or not.  Making a ton of money isn't important to me anymore.  As long as we have enough to pay the rent and the bills, that's all I care about.

I've let it go.  I have to let the anger go.  It's toxic and it's killing me and I need to make the torture stop.  


  1. Anonymous2:06 PM

    Sometimes, letting go of the 'baggage' is more important than where the road's going. I wish you all the very best for the future, whatever it may hold. You're a survivor!

  2. Fantastic attitude, you are such a winner!

  3. I know it feels good to think "I will never work in law again," but keep in mind that there are SO many branches of law, and many of them are not confrontational--at least, not in the way that family law can be. Have you explored other areas? Intellectual property? Bankruptcy? Corporate? Your twenty-year history could at least get your foot in the door at such a practice. Maybe your perfect job is out there just waiting...

  4. I love your attitude but forgodsake, don't let him soak you! He will take advantage if he thinks you don't care that much.

    But I have to admit...right now, you sound like a far better Buddhist than I am! I wish I could let go of worrying, and I usually can, but not where my man is concerned.

    Love ya. :)

  5. You know,I paid for the ex's half of our Depeche Mode singles---seriously. Now with the advent of iTunes and Amazon,everything is cheap to say the least. So if you need help getting the things you aren't taking with you...well we can send you some hookups.

  6. I'll take adventure over ordeal any day! I think this outlook and commitment to your new found happiness is a big stem in maintaining your health and sanity and keeping balanced in general.

    Good for you! Do you have a date for departure yet?

  7. Anonymous2:30 AM

    I think letting go will make you into a more productive person. When you are feeling more comfortable after some time off, it'll all come to you. Everything will fall into place because you will have a clearer head and vision of what possibilities are out there for you. If the mental anguish is manifesting itself physically, it's time to "opt-out" just like you are doing. You will be surprised at what will come once you have left all the worries behind. I have faith in you!

  8. my ex actually took nothing from the marital home, but i couldn't afford to stay there and had to downsize - i discarded almost 30 years of 'stuff' and missed none of it - i couldn't even tell you what i parted with -

    it's far better to live without stuff than without love

  9. Wow. Someone (a man) told me that if you really want out of a marriage, be prepared to lose everything. Do you know what Jo Jo? I think you are going to be just fine.

  10. You are going to feel soooo much better when you get back here. I'm older than you, poor as a church mouse, and happy as a clam. Sure life would be easier if I had money but I wouldn't trade my life now for all the money in the world if I had to be trapped with my ex-husband with no hope for a life. I'll show you all my favorite thrift stores! :)

    Here's a mantra...."Who needs money when I've got my honey?" :)

  11. Anonymous12:14 AM

    I bet Mario would part with his Harry Potter books. I'll ask him. And ditto that on Amazon. I always find good deals.
    Just keep taking deep breaths. It will all fall into place.

  12. Just LOVE that "ordeal v adventure" designation; sounds like endurance riding!
    But "chest pains, depression, excessive sleeping, nausea, panic attacks, road rage, TMJ, dermatographism/rashes, hair coming out in clumps" - I think you're mimicking MY symptoms ;-) !