birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Phantom Limb

As I got closer to leaving my husband of 17 years, I told myself, “You’re okay. You can do this. You were single for a long time before getting married; you know how to be single.” I found comfort and strength in this fact. I did know how to be single, dammit. I would be fine.

Here is what I didn’t know. There is a big difference between being single when that is all you know, and being single after you know what it is like to have a long-term, committed partner. What it’s like to have “a person.” To know that there is someone who knows you better than anyone else and is in your corner anyway.

When I left my husband, despite having solid reasons to do so, I was unprepared for the depth of loss I felt. I was unprepared for the feeling of being unmoored, adrift. This feeling would take three years to ease, and another three to become more memory than breath. I had been prepared for the absence of my husband’s presence; but unprepared for the presence of his absence.

I still, although with less frequency, crawl into bed, lay on my right side, and feel his shadow spooning me. He has become a phantom limb. How is anyone ever prepared for losing a limb?

A Curve Ball

Doing Everything and Nothing at All