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Finding my new footing and keeping up with the wood stove

Jan 11 2018 -
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With temperatures plummeting into the negatives I am learning how to keep up with my wood stove in my new reality after a divorce. I saw a meme on Facebook the other day, it asked: “If you could have anything in 2018 what would it be?” My immediate answer was: PEACE. A million dollars would be great too lol but my heart is still just utterly and completely exhausted. In the last month I’ve devoured over 30 books on my kindle and there is no hope of that slowing down any time soon, thank goodness my family purchased me several more books for Christmas!

Winter in Minnesota after a divorce while heating with a wood stove. Finding my new footing and my new reality with wonderful friends, loved ones and people that support and flock around me. Keeping the house warm, the horses fed and finding peace.
Winter in Minnesota after a divorce while heating with a wood stove. Finding my new footing and my new reality with wonderful friends, loved ones and people that support and flock around me. Keeping the house warm, the horses fed and finding peace.

My little farm yard has slipped into the harsh reality that is winter in Minnesota. On Christmas day we had a high temperature of eleven below zero which dipped down to twenty eight below zero that night. I was a bit worried about managing to keep the house warm (and rightfully so – that is some serious cold!) but I shouldn’t have worried, I spent a lot of money paying for spray foam insulation in this old farmhouse. As long as I get back home within nine hours of filling the stove the house stays just fine. Is it a balmy 80 degrees? Heck no! But it is just fine.

Winter in Minnesota after a divorce while heating with a wood stove. Finding my new footing and my new reality with wonderful friends, loved ones and people that support and flock around me. Keeping the house warm, the horses fed and finding peace.

I have already cut my electric bill in half compared to last December which is something I am incredibly proud of and grateful for. I still need to figure out how to better cover and insulate my horse’s water tank to help cut back on power there too. If we get some more snow I’m going to go out there with a shovel and pack it around it! Next year I have lots of plans and, fortunately, some good friends and family to help me execute them. My mind has been turning to the harsh reality that is the fact that my grandparents’ old barn is not going to last forever. I am going to need to abandon it for the sake of my horses (sooner rather then later) and, hopefully, get it done this coming spring/summer/fall.

Winter in Minnesota after a divorce while heating with a wood stove. Finding my new footing and my new reality with wonderful friends, loved ones and people that support and flock around me. Keeping the house warm, the horses fed and finding peace.

In my last post I told you guys about how my cousin mentioned something so obvious when it came to my wood storage: I have a 3 1/2 car garage right in front of my house, why not keep it there!? So next year, that’s the plan, to move my wood to the back of my garage and then move my hay storage to my old wood shed. It is plenty of room for the hay and, three sided, it will keep it both out of the weather but well aired out so it doesn’t get musty. The next step will be the water and the electric. I will have to dig up the water line that currently runs underground from the house to the barn, find it, cut into it and run it over to the old shed. Then I will need to take power down from the barn and get that run over to the old shed too. It will be a load off my mind when I get this done as then I will face no repercussions if the barn does go down besides the obvious emotional horror of losing it.

Every day I drive home and look at my grandparents’ old barn and my heart clenches with the idea of losing it. They certainly made things to last 100 years ago and there’s a part of me that believes that barn may very well still be standing decades from now. Still, it will be a relief to get what I need to take care of my horses out of it, just in case. Another good thing about it will be that I can tuck my water tank most of the way INTO the back of the old shed so I can insulate it really well then in the winter.

Winter in Minnesota after a divorce while heating with a wood stove. Finding my new footing and my new reality with wonderful friends, loved ones and people that support and flock around me. Keeping the house warm, the horses fed and finding peace.

So, I have something to look forward to next winter: Wood a whole heckuva lot closer to the house! Every weekend since we filled my wood closet up under my staircase in my kitchen I have been replacing the wood that I burned that week. Before it snowed it took me about an hour and 6-7 trips with the wheel barrow. Now that it has snowed I am using what can only be called an Awesome Gift that my cousin made for me! My very own wood sled πŸ™‚ Do I hate this chore regardless of how much I appreciate my new sled? YOU BETCHA!!!! But, as I said, next year will be a whole lot easier and I remind myself that, even in Minnesota, we only have two truly hard core winter months left and, goodness knows, 6 loads with the sled and an hour pretending that I’m a sled dog, once a week, is not that bad and it is certainly some good exercise!

I have been asked over and over again from friends, colleagues and family if I’m OK. If I’m lonely. If I’m going crazy. If I’m keeping up. And I have been faced with the real sad truth that my life has changed very little. My married reality was one of loneliness and a life spent almost totally alone. I saw that quote by Robin Williams the other day and my heart break for what felt like the millionth time. “I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel alone.”

The grief I’ve faced in the realization that I am far less lonely now then I ever was during my marriage has been something I’ve only just begun getting past. In the last six months my life had narrowed down to my day job and getting home as soon as possible. If I was ten minutes later then usual I was reprimanded and had better have had a good excuse. I could not make plans though he would throw me a bone from time to time, take me to a restaurant, do something flamboyant, take me to see my family etc. I had become a sad dog allowed out of the kennel every now and again and oh how that was such a chore for him and oh how he threw every little thing he ever did for me back in my face.

Isn’t it amazing the things we let the people we love do to us? When I was scared to go home because of his anger – that was when I knew. When I was crying quietly by the window and he screamed at me, “No one gives a f*ck that you’re crying!” That was when I knew because that little voice all of us have inside of us piped up in my heart and said, “That’s not true, there are people that care that I’m crying, there are people that love me!” And I knew then that he couldn’t love me no matter what he said. Not at all.

There should never be a moment when someone makes you scared to go home. Ask for help, go to your family. It was when I finally got past my shame and told my mom and best friend what he was saying and doing that I realized that my life was making excuses for his actions so desperately that I couldn’t see the elephant in the room. Controlling behavior and anger like that does not get better: IT GETS WORSE and there are many women that are not here anymore because it escalated into physical violence.

Since the divorce (and my final breaking point when I told him he had to go) it is as though my emotional cushion has been completely rubbed away. I described it to my mom using the metaphor of break pads: I don’t have any left. It was my loss of brake pads that made it possible for me to finally be done though, to be able to ignore him when he begged for me to reconsider. To be able to turn my back when he tried to tell me I was the most important love of his life. All those words. But the spark of fear in my chest is still there, the spark he gave me when he screamed at me because a guy I didn’t even know liked one of my Facebook pictures. When he threatened the lives of complete strangers because they dared to look at me. It happened a thousand times in a thousand different ways and my instincts wouldn’t let me pretend I wasn’t scared anymore.

I have been told that I am brave but it seems to me that letting him stay would have taken a lot more courage. Rage that is not based in reality is a truly frightening thing. I feel like I just had the closest call of my life and even thinking about it now still gives me the shakes. I am relieved that I am alone and I am so glad to go home again.

I am finding my peace now too.

Sitting by my wood stove in my Grandma’s rocking chair and feeling like the sole crew member of a little boat that just survived the perfect storm. All I want to do is stretch out on my boat’s deck and feel the peace of finally still water and just REST. I have no idea how long emotionally I will need to rest but I’m willing to let my heart lay there for as long as it takes… meanwhile I’ve been keeping my hands busy working on projects.

It is strange the things we reach for when we need healing and I’m sure it is unique to each and every one of us. It is a damned good thing I don’t have a roommate because they would have killed me by now for playing the albums American Idiot and 21st Century Breakdown by Green Day over and over and over again for the last month straight… And I’m going to go home tonight and play them on repeat again even though I have no idea why it is simply one of the things I need right now.

I have made about a million little changes in the house. I have painted furniture in my kitchen at 3am, swapped paintings around, moved chairs and tables and desks, and completely re-thought my entire house plan. It is wonderful to not have anyone telling me I’m crazy for doing not only what I want to do, but what I need to do for me right now. So, cheers to 2018 and thank the universe for Green Day. I hope you all find peace, love and happiness this year!

(Breaking my silence here was a very hard decision to make – you guys know I am a very private person and I don’t think our personal lives belong anywhere near social media… but someone very close to me said something the other night that hasn’t left me alone since, “What if there’s another girl like you out there? What if you can reach her and tell her that she’s loved and she can get out and everything is going to be OK?” My embarrassment is really nothing in the face of that statement. No one who truly loves you will ever make you afraid to go home to them. No one who actually loves you will ever make you feel all alone. No one who ever loved you would lie about you or try to hurt you.)

Winter in Minnesota after a divorce while heating with a wood stove. Finding my new footing and my new reality with wonderful friends, loved ones and people that support and flock around me. Keeping the house warm, the horses fed and finding peace.

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26 Comments

  1. Sandra
    January 11, 2018 at 9:00 pm

    Tarah –

    If your horses are not in your grandparents barn and if the barn is now empty (or soon will be) why can’t the barn be disassembled? You could save some of the wood (walls, beams, etc.) for your own personal use (and as a keepsake of your grandparents) and then sell the rest. Based on what I have been reading on the internet, there is a big market for “old/salvaged” wood to be used in upscale (read expensive) custom homes. Just a thought. πŸ™‚

    As for your thoughts regarding how you feel now that you are divorced. It is hard to accept that the person that you married is not who you thought they were. It took me many years of trying to figure out how I could have been so wrong about marrying my now ex-husband and then eventually realizing that it wasn’t me ….. it was my ex-husband who only pretended to be a warm and caring person. Once we were married, he didn’t have to pretend anymore. I have been divorced for many years now and have never remarried. I am alone but not lonely. You are very fortunate to have family and friends nearby which makes it much easier to move on.

    Sending your warm thoughts on a cold winter’s day.

    • January 11, 2018 at 9:10 pm

      Sandra, that is something I’ve really been thinking about actually! But the barn is not all “mine” it is loved just as deeply by the two girls who grew up here (my mom and my aunt) and, at the moment, their hearts have not yet moved on to the idea of disassembly. I try to nudge them in that direction from time to time but they’re not there yet and honestly I can’t blame them. It will be a hard day to lose that wonderful old barn. Once we get my horses “moved” out of there, then it will be completely empty and I hope then I can talk them into taking the old girl down so we can recycle as much of the wood as we can. I would rather do it on purpose and be able to salvage then just coming home someday and seeing it down, it would be such a waste.
      Thank you so much for your kind words, I am still at a total loss about the whole thing… Two months later I still can’t believe that I didn’t know him at all. I guess that’s how it goes for so many of us who end up getting divorces though. As with everything: one day at a time.
      Thank you again.

      • Sandra
        January 11, 2018 at 9:34 pm

        Tarah –

        Your might suggest to your mom and your aunt that with the salvaged wood, a keepsake could be made for each of them such as a chest, or chair or table. What about a frame made from the salvaged wood with a photo of the barn inside the frame? The photo could show your mom and aunt standing in front of the barn prior to it being demolished (or before the barn falls down on its own). I like the idea of a chest. This way they could use the chest to store photos, blankets/quilts, etc. that your mom and aunt have that used to belong to your grandparents.

        Hang in there. Spring is coming, regardless of whether Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow or not on Feb 2 – Groundhog Day.

        • January 11, 2018 at 9:38 pm

          Sandra, what a lovely idea of a chest! I have made frames for them with barn wood. I want so badly to take off the top “front” of the barn that is actually a giant old door and use that wood to clad a wall in one of their homes with it. Lots of ideas, once we get the horses truly out of there this summer I am going to have to give them a nudge again. Thank you so much!

  2. January 11, 2018 at 10:13 pm

    I’m so sorry things have been so rough. Like your friend, I’m so glad you shared it in a way that will help someone else.

    Thanks for your posts! Looking forward to many more!

  3. January 12, 2018 at 2:06 am

    Oh, god bless your sweet heart! I was once where you were. I ended it and he died a year later. I was sad, but relieved. I was too ashamed to ask for help at the time, but I somehow got out. Now I’m married to an amazing, loving husband and Dad/Granddad. Hang in there and do whatever you need to take care of yourself. Good for you!!! Nancy

    • January 12, 2018 at 3:09 am

      Oh Nancy it does my heart good to hear of a happy ending! Thank you so much for your support and comment!

  4. Bruce
    January 12, 2018 at 2:51 am

    Have you thought of having an Amish crew (I know there’s some good ones in the Wadena area) come and look at restoring your barn? They work inexpensively and amazingly fast. Just a thought. Sorry for your struggles. Seems the entire country is in a shambles in one way or another these days. Take peace in your animal friends and the wild country around you. Chop wood, carry water.

    • January 12, 2018 at 3:14 am

      Bruce thank you so much for coming by. Yes we had an Amish crew come out last summer and, tragically, to save it was just not financially possible. It is a very big barn. I am hoping to dismantle it eventually so I may be able to salvage a lot of her beauty.

      I am making it day by day learning to breathe again, hauling wood and appreciating my home. The good stuff fills me πŸ™‚

  5. Lace Faerie
    January 12, 2018 at 9:41 am

    You have been in my thought of late. I was a long time before I learned my sister’s first marriage was to a selfish and controllling man and I now realize how hard it was for her to endure silently until she was ready to take a stand and remove him from her and her son’s life. She regained her footing and I am sure you will, too! I’m thankful on your behalf for your loving family and friends. I hope you can gain strength knowing how many out here in blogland are rooting for you! Blessings!

    • January 12, 2018 at 3:56 pm

      Thank you so much Lace honey. It is so sad and amazing to me how much shame and embarrassment comes with a subject like this. I didn’t want to write a blog post about it but I felt compelled. The idea of other girls like me out there being convinced that there is something wrong with them by a man like that, it breaks my heart. Thank you so much again, hope you have a wonderful weekend!

  6. Kathy from CT
    January 12, 2018 at 5:00 pm

    God bless you. Your strength is amazing. Thank you for sharing such an intensively private and painful situation. I am sure you have saved more than one person. Hugs & love from Kathy in CT

    • January 12, 2018 at 5:11 pm

      Thank you so much Kathy!!! <3

  7. January 13, 2018 at 1:59 pm

    I too have been thinking of you. When someone says “I had no idea!” it’s usually the truth – we hold things inside so that no-one finds out. Now that the strings are cut you are finding out how to live in a different way, and it matters not how many times you play that song, how you cry when you want, how you deal with life now because it is all part of the healing process. I have never had to go through what you are currently going through, but have had two friends who both in their own ways found out that they didn’t know the guy they were married to. They are both single and good now. You will be good too. You will wake one morning to the sun shining and your heart beginning to heal – and I hope that day comes soon. Much love from over here. xx

    • January 16, 2018 at 4:40 pm

      Susan, thank you so much for your wonderful comment. *hugs* Looking back now I wish I hadn’t hidden it for so long but I was just convinced that things would get better, that my reality wasn’t my real reality. But, after enough time, it became so obvious that things were not going to change… In fact, they were most certainly just going to get worse. It is a sad and tough thing to get through and I too have known many women who have gone through similar situations. But, on the other side, things can get better and be all good again! lol And things are getting better here, One Day At A Time πŸ™‚

  8. January 14, 2018 at 5:46 am

    Tarah, I know it must have taken a lot of courage to write this post but you are a strong person. All of us in bogland are rooting for you. Sending prayers and hugs to you!

    xo Dianne

    • January 16, 2018 at 4:26 pm

      Oh thank you so much Dianne! *hugs!!*

  9. ann daley
    January 14, 2018 at 7:45 pm

    My prayers are with you. I did not have the guts to go for divorce but after 56 years of becoming an ‘IT’ rather than a person my husband died. I have been free for almost two years now and love it. Looking back I cannot remember a single golden moment but I am busy making them now. Go for it girl. And you will
    Love from Ann (in the UK)

    • January 16, 2018 at 4:29 pm

      Oh Ann, thank you so much for sharing your story with me *hugs* Yes, golden moments are really what I’m focusing on now too!

  10. Melissa
    January 15, 2018 at 2:16 am

    Hi Tarahlyn,

    Love reading your blog- I have been following for about a year πŸ™‚ So sorry to read about your divorce and truly sorry to read about the details of your relationship with your ex husband. His loss for sure. I find comfort in hearing about your supportive family and friends.

    You said you desire peace- I have found peace in any situation in my life because of my relationship with with Christ. I know where I will spend eternity and there is no storm too big for Him to handle.

    i am confident that it took incredible courage to share the private details of this situation. i am proud of you! “Never give up” but consider “giving in” when needed to take care of you too.

    I am praying for you πŸ™‚ Melissa

    • January 16, 2018 at 4:42 pm

      Thank you so much Melissa for your kind and thoughtful comment *hugs* one day at a time is how I’m working through this. Just going home and following my heart every day. I still feel a bit numb and weird but every day gets a little better.

  11. January 17, 2018 at 3:16 pm

    You are headed in the right direction, Tarah. It takes time, but you will get there – trust me! It’s a shame the barn can’t be restored, but I just know you will find lots of projects for all that salvaged wood! Heck, you’ll probably build another barn with it!
    In the meantime, play your albums over and over again, work on projects at 3 am, and do what brings you peace…the rest will come!

    • January 17, 2018 at 4:13 pm

      Thank you so much Ann for coming by and commenting. It does feel like surviving a really bad storm, the type where somewhere in the middle of it a part of you lost hope along the way, I am so fortunate to have come out the other side and to have my home and my family. *hugs!!!*

  12. January 18, 2018 at 4:09 am

    God bless you. I have been in a similar situation. It will be small miraculous realizations here and there, the silliest things that will help you heal. You’ve been trained and now you get to retrain yourself in a much healthier way. May that process find you happier, healthier, and better than ever.

    • January 18, 2018 at 3:10 pm

      Oh thank you so much for your comment, made my heart glad! Hope you have a lovely weekend!

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Iris Nacole
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