The first spring after my divorce, my neighbor said, “you’re growing a forest up there,” pointing to my gutters. My heart sank. I told him that I was single now and had absolutely no idea how to clean gutters, let alone use a ladder.
He and his wife took pity on me and cleaned my gutters. I was eternally grateful, and the kids and I brought them a small plant and note to thank them.
The next year, the same neighbor hinted that he was going to clean them again for me – but I knew I had to do it myself, I couldn’t lean on them forever. So I took out the ladder and figured it out. It was messy, and smelly and actually a bit dangerous. But I did it, through gritted teeth.
I’ve never liked manual labor… and doing work like this inevitably brings up feelings of resentment, self-pity and anger. But I did it and I worked through it and I survived.
This year I couldn’t get to the gutters soon enough. I knew it needed to be done and I wanted to do it before my neighbor could say anything. Of course, it’s been raining nearly every day in Minnesota… and I’ve had the kids for three weeks straight, so no chance I could get out there by myself.
This morning was my first chance to tackle the job, and after seeing it was supposed to rain as early as seven, I downed half my latte and headed outside about 6:45. It was already light out, and I figured I could stay quiet enough not to wake my neighbors.
And I did it. I knew what I was doing, I was quick and efficient. In addition to all the leaves and helicopter seeds and smelly gunk, there was about two to three inches of standing water. It was… messy.
Yet I felt a huge sense of accomplishment when I pulled the last handful of gunk out of the gutter and the water, now free to flow, started rushing through the downspout and out the end. The sound of the water was beautiful and I was thrilled to see it thrusting out the other end.
This year there was no resentment or anger. I have adapted to my new normal – being a single homeowner, taking care of my home and responsibilities, and feeling a sense of pride in a job well done.
That, friends, is what time (and a lot of therapy) can give us. Perspective, growth, and healing. And the courage to move forward.
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