Today I was Enough
My husband moved out exactly 2 years ago, and the ice maker in our fridge broke the same day. The refrigerator made a loud grinding sound when I tried to get ice from the door, and nothing came out. I opened the freezer and reached my hand into the cold, white compartment that makes ice. I felt a large frozen block, and no cubes to grab and deposit into my glass.
That was the last time I tried to get ice from the fridge. For two years my boys and I have lived in this house without ice. I drink tap water and am very used to the luke warm temperature. I keep bottled water cold in the fridge in case someone comes over and prefers it that way. Granted, I’ve had plenty of things to do - get divorced, clean house, find a new job, raise the boys, pick myself up from heart break and put myself back together. Oh, and date - people asked when I would date. With everything to do and all the changes, the ice maker in the fridge seemed like a non priority.
On the other hand, changing filters and light bulbs and completing minor home repairs were always my husband’s jobs. And when he no longer lived here, I resisted taking them over. Something as simple as switching out the air filter in the heater felt unfair and caused a tightness in my throat.
My parents always wanted me to find a man to marry who would take care of me. Whether they meant to or not, I was raised to believe that getting married was the goal. Being taken care of was a safe and acceptable life. Security led to peace of mind and happiness. We all want a partner to share our life with. Of course, my parents also encouraged me to pursue an education and a worthy career. But then babies came, and the conversation changed to, you have the luxury of staying home, so why don’t you? My partner can go to work while I raise the children, and being a wife and mother is a very fulfilling path. As a compromise I tried to do it all - I worked full time and also raised babies. My college teaching schedule allowed me flexibility so I felt like a stay at home mom and a career woman. Then I started my own business (because, why not?). I didn’t want to choose between motherhood and my profession. I wanted to be everything.
I think many women today feel pulled to be and do everything. To be the perfect mother while also earning a paycheck. To prove themselves through bedtime stories and birthday parties as well as professional achievements. But what’s enough? When do we feel enough?
I can’t really discern if my life decisions were my parents wishes or mine. Or society’s? When we live in a culture so dictated by patriarchy, even with much progress and women’s rights movements, it’s hard to determine if any of our choices are really ours, or if we just go along with what society expects of us and assume culture knows best. If I get married, I will be happy and safe. If I have children, I will feel fulfilled as a woman. If I pursue a worthy career, I will be accepted in a man’s world.
But no matter how successful I became, or how fulfilled I was as a mother, teacher, or entrepreneur, I still clung to the belief that I needed a man to rescue me. I believed being married was a safety net from from struggle or heartache. I believed I would always have someone to listen to me, to care for me, and to change the air filters on the heater.
Sometimes we falsely believe being a victim will validate our pain, or get back at the person who caused it.
Not fixing the ice maker was my way of staying inside my story of not being capable without a man. When I was little, I relied on my dad to make everything ok. I am still a daddy’s girl. If my dad can swoop in and fix everything, I let him. I understand logically that I am an adult woman with my own children now, but that sense of childhood safety with my dad will never leave me. I feels safe, protected, and unbreakable.
Part of moving on from my marriage has been learning to be independent - financially, emotionally, as a parent, and as a home owner. I have learned that I am my own rescuer, not someone else. Relying on people is good, but not at the expense of disregarding our own capabilities and worth. I am no different on my own than I was when I was married - I only believed the illusion that life was easier and safer with a partner.
Yesterday I blindly pressed my glass to the ice dispenser in the fridge door. I turned and looked when the loud grinding sound started up. I opened the freezer door and pulled out the white basin that held the large, solid block of ice which prevented any cubes from passing through. I dumped everything into the kitchen sink and watched the massive chunk crash out and break into several frigid pieces. I looked inside and the ice chute was clear. An hour later, I had perfectly cubed ice in my glass.
TWO YEARS. I waited two years and a chore I feared and resisted took 5 minutes to fix. Was it defiance? Victimhood? Self-wallowing? Sometimes we falsely believe being a victim will validate our pain, or get back at the person who caused it. My husband is a jerk and a cheat and now we don’t even have ice - ha! That’ll show him!
But facing the pain is what brings us out. I’ve never been through anything painful that hasn’t made me a better, more open person than before. Through my divorce, I’ve learned I can fix the ice maker, but the task means so much more. Fixing the ice maker makes me feel like I don’t have to accomplish anything ever again - this is enough; this is everything.