you run into your ex-husband at the grocery store as he shops for Thanksgiving, as you shop for Thanksgiving, and it hits you, the full emotional wall that this is the first ‘post-divorce’ family holiday, his cart full of what he will cook in your absence, your cart full of what you will cook in his. it is not that you miss him, rather the void of the collective unit, knowing you will spend it without your youngest children, that this fracture will be felt to the marrow of your bones. you check out in separate aisles, ignoring that you ever loved each other, and as you walk to the car with your ten year old son, you briefly feel water attempt to collect in your eyes, but you refuse to cry in front of him and have him bear that burden, so you blink the back the woe. you arrive home, put away the groceries, feed the kids, change into exercise gear, pop in headphones, and lay out a mat. your body begins to warm as you move, as you roll every joint, head to toe, preparing for the workout ahead. then the real challenge begins, and you are deadlifting steel, lunge, squat, press, plank, scissors…repeat. repeat. repeat. until sweat rolls over inch of your body, collecting in dips and valleys, your cheeks flush and rosy. you feel your muscles pull and shove, stretched and taut, squeezing out all the sorrow, liquefying your grief, leaking it out of every pore so you can wipe it away.
you begin to feel lighter, stronger, powerful. your mind collects a list of all the things you are grateful for in this moment: losing fifty pounds of gathered gloom that you used as physical protection from the emotionally stifling marriage of the past ten years, the muscle you have built in its disappearance, how beautiful you feel in your own skin for the first time in...?
the workout is over, and you are breathing deeply, inhaling rapidly, feeling your lungs expand, the pang of your well worked tissue emanating in waves, the reward for your endurance, the payoff for moving forward. you take a bandana and swipe at your forehead, swabbing the watery heartache that you have expelled, proud he no longer induces your tears, instead becoming the origin of your sweat, the source of the grit you never knew you had until he was gone.
Reflections of a woman spawned in a cement cocoon...