It’s Just a Scratch

I am a fool for having loved you and a fool for loving you still.

This would be much easier if it were going on like television divorces. There has been no throwing of dishes or plates of food or malicious attacks of character, no serving of papers, no sitting across from each other in a conference room fighting over the turkey platter which was used once in ten years.

In fact, tears blinded my sight as I signed the acknowledgement of divorce. I am the plaintiff, you are the defendant, and you will sign the paperwork tomorrow. It will then cross someone’s desk and we will be nothing but a case number …and a statistic. The lawyer spoke plainly as I sat there listening to the explanation of paperwork and trying desperately to hold it together until I got back to the car, my car.

“My” car… you signed the car title over to me. We got the car back when we were young and arrogant. I remember pulling into the dealership knowing you told them to pull one in every color to the front of the lot so that I could just pick my favorite. They did and I did and now it’s a reflection of our marriage… many, many miles, a few scratches and one big dent that can’t be denied or unseen.

I can’t un-know what you did and you can’t undo the chain of events that have since followed. Has it really just been eighteen days? It only takes twenty-one to form a habit. When I looked back over the phone text logs after D-day, your new habit formed in much less time. And now, you will start your new life with a new car and a new girl, both shiny and new, and I will be left with a ding that can’t be denied.

The more I see that ding in the car’s bumper, the less severe it becomes and I wonder the same of me. Each day that I’m further removed from D-day becomes a bit easier and I wonder if you will slowly start to fade from my memory. We talk now as if we will be in each other’s lives for years but I can’t help but wonder if that is wise. I look back to the model that your family provides… a collection of broken relationships that gather each year at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Friendly enough but the occasional dig comes out and I don’t want that to be us. I told you on D-Day that forgiveness meant I wouldn’t hold this over your head. I’m not sure I’m strong enough yet to keep that promise, as evidenced by our conversation with the lawyer last week.

Our life together ends much like it started… with me working days and you working nights. It’s funny how that seems to be the pattern that starts off your relationships. Relationship – is that what you have with her? It still makes me nauseous. I told you on D-day that if you left you would never, ever come back to me and that I would never look back. Well, we know that the second part is not true. I have told you I would look back and that I will remember, both the good and the bad. However, the first part is very true and I will hold to it tightly. You will not come back to me.

I’m only now realize that might include friendship. Your life will one day lead you to know that you did have a good thing in me and that the only reason you find it easy to say that you are now sorry is because of the certainty that this chapter of your life is over. You crave being the hero – having the final say. Even that night, you tried to minimize the situation. You were unprepared for my response because you believed that by telling me that you had an affair, it would make it easier for me to tell you that I wanted out. You told me you felt like you were holding me back and that I couldn’t tell you that I wanted out. If you felt like you were holding me back then you should have stepped up and encouraged me to be more.

Thinking back to the ding in the car, you talked about getting it fixed but never did. Again, another reminder of how it is like our marriage. You saw something that needed to be taken care but instead of fixing it, you chose to ignore it. Yes, my ding may be here for awhile, but it can be restored and the part the replaces it will be stronger and more resilient. You see that is my new life – it may not be shiny and new but it will be stronger and more resilient.


Can you Repeat the Question?

It’s hard to ask why, but even harder to ask what now? 

Seeing you at our meeting with the lawyer last week was different than I expected. I really thought that the site of you might make my heart fall or leap, I wasn’t sure which, but I certainly thought that I would feel something. But when I arrived, you barely looked up from your phone. We made small talk and chatted about your new job. You were cold… and I realize that while I am heartbroken, you may very well be the one with a broken heart.

And yes, to answer your question that day… I did feel better repeatedly saying to the lawyer that you had an affair, and by repeatedly, I mean repeatedly. I now realize that it wasn’t nice and I’m sorry. You should know that I truly don’t hate you but my heart hurts because you don’t seem to care.

I remember telling you on D-day that I wished you would just tell me you hated me because then there would at least be some emotion, not just the blank stare and clenched jaw. This is going to end; nobody wins. There is no race to the finish to get the gold medal. In about 45 days we will no longer be husband and wife. In 47 days we would have been celebrating our anniversary.

Eleven years ago, what drew me to you was the way you “played” life. You had friends with whom you had fun and you were your own person. You know that one of our biggest compliments we had of each other was that we had our own friends-we were our own person. We were not each other’s half—we were two wholes who came together. We each had our own source of fulfillment that complimented the other.

Your friends have now lost you as fast as I did, but they don’t get the courtesy of a goodbye or a why and it’s hard for me to know what to tell them. You understand that the facts remain, you had an affair, you didn’t want to reconcile and we are getting divorced. But I don’t want to be calloused in my responses, I can’t, that’s not me…anymore.

Maybe when I was still resentful towards you at the way that life was not getting any easier. You were taking trips out of state to see family and trips to chaperone youth events and fishing trips with your buddies. I would get up and go to work everyday to make sure things ran smoothly here. So it was very frustrating to hear you say that the final tipping point for not wanting to reconcile was that one of the littlest family members said they didn’t remember what I looked like. You took that as a sign of disinterest on my part. The part you easily forgot was that only one ticket was available and any extra funds were used to make sure you had travel and spending money.

Nevertheless, my heart found forgiveness for you and for that situation and I think that prepared me on some level for what was to come just a year later. I do forgive you, I forgive her, but forgiveness is for my benefit not yours. It is what is allowing me to carry on each day and go to work. It is what is allowing me to maintain a civil relationship with you and to look you in the eye and say very honestly that I do wish you well. It is only by the grace of God and the prayers of many friends and family that hold my heart right now that I can ask the question… why? And it is only that same grace and those same prayers that help me to understand that I will never get the answer that satisfies my soul but still begs the question. Now, all I can do is ask the question, “what now?” and step out in faith that I will get that answer.

What Rhymes with….

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.

I wrote your mom a letter. You said you didn’t mind if I told her goodbye. I feel badly about sending a letter but to talk to her would mean that I would have to answer questions that should be answered by you. Your sisters wanted to talk to me but I told them that couldn’t happen. If you are not completely honest with them about what happened then that’s between them and you. Your family will always be on your side and rightly so; and no matter what I would say, it would only be self-serving.

What would I say? I think it would depend on what they asked…but at the very least it would be the truth, not a half-truth. I’m not sure why you feel it is better to say that we mutually grew apart, let me be clear—there was no mutual. You made a decision for both of us. And now we have begun the divorce process. My friend, L said that it would be most intense because the date of the divorce would likely butt right up with the date of our anniversary. If I could get them to be the same date, I think it would be easier. At least then I would have a great answer to the question about the happiest and saddest days in my life.

I will be sad, I am sad. You were my love walking around outside my body, I’m just sorry that you didn’t realize that. I search my memories for times when you and I were happy and I find them. You told me that you didn’t want me to think that there were only bad times, that you had good times too. And I wonder why you didn’t draw on them to remind you of the love we shared. Was I that easy to dismiss? Was this marriage that disposable?

One day I hope (selfishly) that you will look back and realize that I was a good wife to you, that I was a good friend to you, that I was good, period. I am still not sure about keeping my name. I’ve had it for ten years. I like it, it feels familiar to me and that familiarity brings comfort. For you familiarity brought restlessness and you sought something new.

I can’t help but think of the wedding poem and realize that the something blue comes at the end for a reason. This blog title is meant to honor the last connection you had with your father but it also is the color of my broken heart. As for the rest of the poem… my old life will become new because another woman borrowed my husband.

It’s not as catchy but you get the point.

Oh, Annie!

The sun will come out tomorrow, but it can also come out today.

I can feel myself transitioning from the sadness and into something brighter. The raw emotions are finding their way back to normal, if there is such a thing in my life right now.

Tomorrow you start your job at the U… we waited years for that job to come along and looked forward to taking time off together. I realize now that perhaps you weren’t excited about taking time off together, but rather you were excited to have a job that offered you benefits and a steady paycheck. Be assured of this my husband, I do wish you the best at your new job but never again will I wish you the best at the expense of myself.

My friends have rallied around me in a way I never could have imagined and I know that I am being held. The bitter sting of hearing the retelling of conversations you had with people about us, about me, is starting to lessen and I realize that it was not a reflection of me at all. The weekend you told me you had an affair you also told me that you didn’t think you owed me an apology and you weren’t sorry about it. I told you that the worst part was that I always had your back and I always fought for you but that you didn’t want to fight for me –you didn’t argue.  I now realize that I don’t want you fighting for me. You aren’t strong enough.

The reminders of you around the home are losing their shine… the empty shower caddy that seemed to scream at me each morning after you left now has a new home… the trashcan.   The “bat light,” our once common signal for a daily reminder now stays off. My mornings aren’t measured anymore by second glances to make sure the signal is set. It’s laundry day and there is just enough for one load of whites and one load of darks. I’m amazed at my free time.

Unfortunately, the reminder that is with me constantly is the impression on my ring finger where once my wedding band was worn. I used to spin it when I was in meetings … now, I twirl a pencil and it’s not the same. My fingers reach automatically for my ring each morning from the jewelry box and I have to conscientiously focus on just getting earrings. The house is still incredibly deafeningly quiet and I feel like this roller coaster ride of emotions right now is just at the top and I wonder if I’m going to come screaming down fast.

Sleep is still sweet when I can get it and I still hope that you are the tiniest bit uncomfortable on your “couch.” I shake my head writing that. When you came back to the rental and told me that she offered you her couch, I thought to myself…surely you think me a fool—she offered you her bed just two weeks ago, you think I believe you’re on the couch? I’ve questioned so much over the past fifteen days and rightly so. Even now I find that while what you tell me is not always a lie, but it is also not fully the truth and it’s hard to accept at face value what you tell me.

There is however much that I do accept. I accept that while you can’t/won’t love me like I need to be loved, that doesn’t mean that I am unlovable. I accept that I looked to you to be the things to me that that I should have looked to the Lord to be for me. I accept that my life will forever be different but that different can be good. I accept that you may never offer me an apology and I can’t put my life on hold waiting for one. I accept that today may be a good day, but tomorrow may not. I accept that choices have consequences and both of us are living with the consequences of choices we made, but only we can allow them to define us. I give myself permission to mourn the loss of a life that taught me so much and I give myself permission to move on.

As I look back over my journal entries, it is amazing how the first few days were filled with aches of reconciliation and revival and now they are filled with acceptance and forgiveness…of myself. Today is the day that the Lord has made, I will choose to rejoice and be glad in it.

Goodnight? No, Just Night

There is only peace in the quiet when we believe that the sound will return.

Once a week we used to carpool. Today was that day. Today was the first time in four years that you didn’t drop me off at work, tell you me you loved me and that you’d see me at 4pm. I miss our routine… but the truth is that’s what got us to where we are now. After having lost everything and then having the chance to get into a rental home of our own, I think we just worked fast and hard to get back to what we used to have.

I was proud of myself for making the most of our budget and learning how to use coupons to get a box of name-brand cereal for $1.50. I was proud that thanks to coupons, we had not paid for toothpaste in over a year. I felt proudest when I could take four random ingredients from the cabinet and make something delicious & satisfying for my husband. I thought that I was making you happy and proud of me too. But really, I was just making an existence.

Everyone on the outside saw me as strong as I persevered through each day to keep a life for us. What people saw was the constant force in me that shouted S U R V I V E and I did. But in that, someone and something else didn’t—my husband and my marriage. I am by no means making excuses for you or even excusing the decision you made. Truth is, you made a choice and now there are consequences. You claimed there was no spark with us anymore. Well, your spark created a fire with someone else that you have to deal with now… and all you had to do was fan the flame at home. I recognize that we did probably sometimes function like roommates and fall into a routine. I accept that, but make no bones about it, I do not by any means think that gave you an excuse to go out and have an affair.

It’s late now and I purposely put off going to bed, our bed. Rest does not come easy nor does it last long. Remember how you used to read to me? I loved the sound of your voice as I fell asleep. Last night, I put on the audio read of Psalm 119 just to have the sense that someone was there with me reading me to sleep. Max McLean and I may develop a relationship through Psalm 119. I’d rather it be you. For three thousand nights, you wished me good night and now nothing. Oh how I wish I had not taken them for granted.

All Aboard

What if we both agreed to stop playing the what-if game and now got on board the what-now train?

I’m embarrassed that I had to text you today to ask you about the trash. I didn’t know when it was to be taken to the curb. I also don’t know how to back up my computer to the external hard drive or how to connect the DVD player to the TV. I feel foolish for not knowing these things but you were my constant and now you’re gone.

You were my constant in the midst of a whole heck of a lot of craziness. I thought I was yours. And maybe I was too constant. Thinking back, what if I wasn’t always worried if you were Ok, that you remembered your appointments, had your favorite cereal for breakfast, made it to work on time and reminded you to call so and so? You wonder what if I had stopped to consider you more, to be more affectionate. What if I had just come out and asked you if something was going on because surely you would have told me (so you said). What if we both agreed to stop playing the what-if game and now got on board the what-now train?

What-now is that we were on the verge of our first “second-guess” of the other.  A week ago, you did not want the china cabinet so I said I would take it because I didn’t really want to sell it… it is a great piece. Now you say you want the china and the cabinet and I don’t know why. You didn’t seem to want these things when we were together…could they possibly mean something to you now? You should know that my gut wonders if you are giving them to her and I get nauseous. 

We meet with a lawyer in a couple of days. What I once thought was going to be amicable may now have some meat to it and that also makes me nauseous. You betrayed me and yet I still love you. I offered you forgiveness you didn’t ask for and you don’t think you need. Your heart has no emotional attachment to me, but it does to our stuff. I don’t understand. 

Will I find the peace to trust again? Not just you but anyone? I know in my mind that I will, but my heart wants to stop and stay on the side of Distrust Trail. I have to purposely slow down and let it come back on board. The what-now train may only have two passengers, but I wonder if the conductor knows that we’re on board.  

Tears like Rain

Who is this girl that weeps endlessly? Certainly not anyone that I know–certainly not– because she would never let anyone see her cry.

I have no idea where they come from but they don’t stop. Tears like rain, I never understood that expression before. This morning, I woke up crying and not just sniff -sniff crying but full out sobbing. I had cried in quiet for so many years that the explosion of sobs that came from within me sounded like thunder in my ears. The sound of my sobbing was foreign to me. I didn’t understand where they kept coming from.

Cousin T. called to check on me. Mostly in response to my text “when does the crying stop?” She told me it was good and that I should cry, cry, cry. I told her that it wasn’t a choice, it was just happening. She reminded me that I was mourning the loss of my marriage. She said no matter, whether good or bad, no one knows the love I had for you and therefore they cannot be expected to understand the sadness that I feel.

I got out of bed today at noon. Might I add, a completely inappropriate time to go out and about in this small town on a Sunday when all the church traffic was descending on the businesses and I wanted to stay anonymous. But I had to get out, mostly because I felt it was the right thing to do. I will admit that staying in bed seemed like a good option at 11:59 am, but at noon, the reality struck me that I needed to move. So I headed into town and successfully avoided the masses by driving to an obscure store to get a phone charger that plugs into the wall. I “will” my phone to ring and hear your voice or see your name come up on the text message log, but it doesn’t.

I was looking back at a journal entry I wrote five days after D-day (Disclosure day). As often happens in my journal, I start out writing and it turns into a prayer. I do pray for her,  and I can’t say why, just that she come to my heart when I start to pray. I also pray for you, my husband. I pray that you and I will come to a place of reconciliation however, as I prayed on this one particular day… I accepted that there was no obligation that you must repent or apologize in order for me to heal. That’s what I’m realizing…. that I have to heal on my own. And I do hope that you will seek help as well. Your choice brought about a consequence that only you have to bear, but the burden of that choice is felt by all of us. Part of my healing will involve leaving our rental. The memories are too much for me and I can’t stay. It’s so quiet that I hear echoes of our relationship when my mind stops its restless rambling. And the echoes coupled with the emptiness are just mirrors of how I feel.

I’m working on a plan to get moved the best I can. I know that several weeks will pass before you can get your stuff out of here. I need to go, I want to stay but I can’t. I also can’t believe that in our almost 11 years together, I never packed or unpacked for us…either from your apartment to mine, our apartment to the house, our house to the basement, or the basement to the rental. And now, it’s overwhelming to me that I need to consider what is “yours” and what is “mine.” I’m trying to be very grown up about it but I feel like a child. It also occurred to me that no one is around to get things off the top shelf for me. When you met me I had rabbit ears on my TV, and my toolbox consisted of a butter knife, which served as a screwdriver and a hammer, which served as everything else. I’m going to have to learn how to really vacuum and to use a plunger (although if I recall correctly, that wasn’t a problem for me as much as for you). <smile>

As I was out and before I left my parents this afternoon, there was a moment of recognition of a life that might exist in the future. And I got what you said on our way to Atlanta that day you left for a week. You saw a future for you and for me but not for us together. I got it…and maybe one day when the pain subsides, I really will be able to pass you on the street and smile and maybe we’d get coffee or in my case hot chocolate. Only this time, I promise I won’t spill it on my sweater or your chair. Could we actually be friends and good ones? I’d like to think so. I’ve always been on your side, your greatest advocate and I will always wish you could have my eyes to see how much you have accomplished over the years. In all sincerity, I do believe your dad would be proud of you.

The phone accounts still haven’t split and you should know that I still check the chat log. The entries look so “normal.” Now that you are with her, there isn’t the steady stream of texts with her name like visual diarrhea to my eyes. What was once a reminder of how far from me you were now seems to be the very thing that still makes me feel connected to you.