Closing the Door

Yesterday’s a closing door, you don’t live there anymore.  Danny Gokey, Tell Your Heart To Beat Again

This song isn’t new but it is new to me and I wonder if I heard this song two years ago if I really would have heard it. Two years ago I remember comments that M made and his confusing actions. I remember asking the questions and questioning the behavior but it’s just a recollection of a conversation that occurred.  And I realized I don’t live “there” anymore but where exactly is “here.”

I used to read blogs and hear tales of infidelity – stories of how the betrayer was always so remourseful, so sorry, so willing to do whatever it took to make it right.  I wondered what it was that made M so determined that he didn’t want to save our marriage or why he apathetic to the whole situation. I remember telling M that I wished he hated me because then there would be some sort of emotion. But as I have said before M wanted nothing to do with me or in reconciling our marriage.

As selfish as it sounds – and I know it sounds selfish – I have to admit that there is a part of me that is glad that the door is closed and locked and the key doesn’t exist. I feel as if I got out, got lucky, got real closure…and I’m thankful. Thankful enough to say that statement out loud and to even write it. What I do need to remember is that in my storage unit is a tote full of ten years worth of photos, a china cabinet which was our first joint furniture purchase and a huge wall sized world map that for some reason was one of the first things I was glad to get back into my possession after M passed. Maybe I don’t have closure as much as I am benefitting from outta sight, outta mind. My “here” (aka today) might still be “there” (aka yesterday)…. I’m not sure.

But I could get caught up in a life that was shattered (mine) and/or a life that was lost (M) or I can let every heartbreak and every scar be a picture that reminds you Who has carried you this far ’cause love sees farther than you ever could, in this moment heaven’s working everything for your good.


A Rocky, Stinky, Sweet State of Normal

My therapist told me to keep writing. I haven’t been faithful to that request. I have been doing a lot of stuff outside of the blog. I’ve been living. Living a new (another) life and finding what has proven to be a rocky state of normalcy for me. In hindsight, perhaps keeping up with the writing would make it feel less rocky.

I have started attending a divorce support group. Last year, I went to one meeting right after M left–it was the week they talked about anger.  I left that class and told the facilitator that it wasn’t the right time for me.  I didn’t “act” like what they showed angry to look like. I had anger in me and wrote about it, but I wasn’t fired-up angry, if that makes any sense. I certainly wanted with everything in me to hate M, to hate her and I didn’t, I couldn’t and I still don’t. I wondered and still do- what’s wrong with me that I don’t have any feelings of hate toward them? Wouldn’t THAT be normal? Don’t normal people lash out and break things and scream at  the top of their lungs until their face is red. Don’t they start fires and burn pictures of past memories and toss belongings onto the lawn, don’t they try to retaliate? And yet, I had none of those feelings. I would share that with folks and they told me I was numb, they told me it was because I understood the love of God for me and therefore could show compassion to those that hurt me. It didn’t make me feel normal to hear any of those things.

In one of my question and answer sessions with A, he came out and asked me one night, Do you blame God? I paused. I cried. I said yes.

I’m a “good, Christian girl” so of course I’m supposed to believe that nothing slips through the fingers of God without Him knowing or allowing. I’m to believe that God is sovereign and that nothing catches Him by surprise. And yet I couldn’t wrap my mind around how five years ago the Lord allowed me (and M) to lose our worldly belongings and have nothing but our family to cling to. Yes, my “family” was quirky but weird as it was to others, it was mine. It consisted of me, M, and our two dogs. Then in a matter of 13 months I lost one dog, then the other dog, and finally M. I lost all of “my” family. I remember saying to God, I don’t understand. What’s next? What else am I going to lose? What’s left to be taken from me?
I was scared to know the answer.

After a pause, A replied Yes, God allows everything but don’t confuse that with Him being the author of it.  And I realized that was an answer my soul could accept. I didn’t want to hear it but I needed to and I didn’t like hearing it anymore than I liked that M and her had an affair and continued to spread lies about me even after they got what they wanted.

I’ve realized I was angry but that my anger was misplaced and the reason it didn’t “look” like what anger should look like, is because how do you “show” anger at the Creator of the Universe when He is the one that I desperately needed comfort from? It’s like biting the hand that feeds you… you may not like what is being served for dinner, but if you’re hungry enough you will eat.  In all of this, I was still counting on the Lord to be my source of strength and to live up to the promises His Word says about having a hope and a plan for my future (Jer 29:11) and that I would have a table in the presence of my enemies and MY cup would overflow (Psalm 23:5).

In my support group, we are in week two of the “trifecta” (anger, depression, lonliness) and I realize that I’m never going to be able to slap or punch M, (and it’s not prudent to do that to her either) but I can be angry at M even though he isn’t here anymore. I have things I would like to say to him, things I want him to know but there are all sorts of ways to work through that. My display of anger isn’t so unusual–anger takes many different forms. Television’s depiction of anger in divorce was what was guiding me to believe I wasn’t handling this normally but I’m handling it as normally as I would handle things.

So my new sense of normal has currently got me in a raw state–like an onion–all my layers are being peeled back and I’m learning a lot about myself. I just hope that it’s not so stinky that I offend anyone, but rather, maybe I will be like a Vidalia onion… sweet and bloomin’!

Roses in Winter

M’s mom, JM, came into town between the Christmas and New Years holidays. How are there even words to comfort a mother who is there to collect her child’s belongings and settle his outstanding affairs?  The night she got into town, JM went to “her” house to see what was to be collected and to make a plan on how to get the items moved out.

The day of the move came and “all” of M’s items were out in the yard. I’m not sure who helped her move stuff out of the house or the garage but it was all on tarps and no one was allowed to go inside the house. Our church had several men with trucks and trailers ready to help move items to donate, to ship back to AZ, to trash, or to return to me. They were in and out of there within a two hour time frame with everything neatly wrapped up. Notice I put the word “all” in quotes above… there are still a few things that are unaccounted for– things that anyone that knew M knew he would never have parted with, but they are gone and the only assumption is that they are with her and allegedly her new boyfriend. (shaking my head)

It’s been three weeks and I finally went into the garage to see what came back to me. Each item could tell its own story, each item had a memory of its own… each item was so definitely M and my life together that where once I was so sure it was going to be easy to part with them, now I pause to consider the act of saying goodbye.

Some items will be sold, while others donated, many of the items will go to friends of ours….things that I think they would like to have to remember M. One that brings to mind so many memories is our GPS. If you read my earlier blog post you know that I sold my ring and purchased a GPS for myself since M had taken both of ours. I got a message about a week ago that B had located our primary GPS (which we had named Conway Twitty) tucked far beneath the driver’s seat of the car.  I thought Conway Twitty was gone for good but I’m so thankful that it was found and that its coming back to me. Conway Twitty took me and M on adventures all the way up the east coast as we visited his family in VA and NY, and it provided plenty of direction in GA as we learned new destinations. Additionally, stashed in M’s large roll away toolbox was found the handheld GPS that was used for geocaching. Appropriately enough we named that one Johnny Cache. These two items bring back smiles and I’m glad that even in the midst of all the craziness of what went on, that I can still find good memories and I can smile at the good times. I will keep Conway Twitty but Johnny Cache will go to friends that used to geocache with us–hopefully it will provide them memories of good times in the past and memories that their family can enjoy for the future.

I know M doesn’t exist in his stuff, but looking at all of it, its still easy to see him. Since M was no longer a daily part of my life, it’s still hard for me to believe that he is gone. I find that I repeatedly look at the death certificate for confirmation that he really is dead — I have a hard time typing that word, let alone saying it out loud.

When I was younger, I cross-stitched a small sampler, “Memory is the power to gather roses in winter.”  I’m not naive enough to think that my roses with M didn’t have thorns, but I’m thankful for a memory that finds the moments when my thorns had roses.

Whoomp There It Is

We all have friends who see through right through us. Some friends are gentle about it while others just come right out and call Bullshit.   My friend A is one that just calls it as it’s seen.  Our conversations usually start with me throwing out some questions, mostly pondering but inevitably A will always say… there seems to be more to that question and I usually respond with “No, not really, I was just wondering. A few more questions and more pondering from me, and another question from A, “What is the basis for these questions, stop beating around the bush.” And in the midst of just chatter, it finally comes out… “I feel alone” and A says…. “there it is.”

I think I feel alone because there just don’t seem to be enough of the “right” words (whatever those might be) to soothe my soul, to soothe my mind, to soothe my heart. Friends share words that offer me great comfort but I don’t know if I need twice as many words because I’m splitting my grief between the loss of my marriage and then the loss of M. I honestly don’t know.

I have another friend MB, she is more of the gentle side of calling bullshit. MB has been in the thick of it all with me since day one — 5 months ago. A few months back, before M passed away, MB and I were getting our nails done and she was remarking on how I was doing. Based on something I said she called me out on a way that I had been acting around her. And she was right. I do act differently around different people. Some I feel safe around to just be as I need to be in that moment, while others I feel are tired of hearing me talk about it and don’t want to be in the trenches. And I’m personally torn because I still feel as if I need to be/should be “over” this by now. Anyone that knows me, knows that when a task is at hand, I like to rip it apart and work right through it, sometimes, making up the solution as I go along.  Up until these past few months, I was always the practical one, now I tend to be more emotionally driven.– be it working through a problem because I’m happy, or sad, or motivated.

There really isn’t a sense of normal anymore, but then again, I don’t know what normal would look like. I get to make up my new normal now and I’m wondering if I’m ready for it? I guess that’s the big question during all of this chatter that I’m saying now…

Am I really ready to move forward?  and there it is.

When You Don’t Know What To Say

Since the day M took his own life, my world has once again become ground zero for the stages of grief.

I’m still in the angry stage–angry mostly that I’m asked to speak on behalf of M, or to know what exactly is going on. Truth is, I actually know a bit about what is going on because I still care. I care about M, I care about his family, I care about his friends. I care about my family, I care about my friends. I have some answers but like everyone else, I have a lot of questions that will never be answered. When I was with M, I knew his routine backwards and forwards. When he left, I lost all sense of that balance. So I do ask a lot of questions, some out loud, and most of them rhetorical — often just the impulse of a mind that is searching to put together pieces of a puzzle.

All I know (at this moment) is that 190 days ago M started making choices. Choices and decisions that would affect so many people in this small community that I’ve lost count. Choices and decisions that led to consequences for not only M but also her. I understand that her choices and decisions are solely hers, but the outcome affects me directly and has forever changed my life.  When it was just the infidelity and consequential divorce, there were no shortage of stories shared with me of common experiences, no shortage of people that were angry at M and angry at her, no shortage of people that would give me advice on how I needed to proceed during the divorce. However, add in suicide and the fact that all of this has happened in just 150 days, all of a sudden there aren’t so many shared stories, and not so much in the way of advice.

And this is why I say that when you don’t know what to say, it’s perfectly okay to say that. Please don’t try to find words to fill the silence. You should know that my mind takes care of that on its own. Squeeze my hand, hug me round the neck, tell me “yeah, this sucks,” or simply “I’m sorry, I don’t have any words.” Even a sad smiley emoticon can convey your heart.

But you should know that I like when you can relate. Your stories give me strength to move forward and follow your example.  When you can share a story that shows how you handled a hard time, that gives me hope. However, while not impossible, it’s highly probable that you don’t know how I feel, know what I’m going through, have been where I’m at, know just what I need to do, or can imagine what I’m experiencing. Most of the time, I’m not entirely sure myself.

My self talk is filled with doubts and shoulda/woulda/couldas. And yet, I know that there wasn’t anything I could do to change the course of events once M started down that path. I know that I’m not responsible for his actions. I know its not my fault. Remind me of these things–I need you to be positive and encouraging. I feel as if I am on the brink of my own sanity holding tightly to the edge as I watch my faith being challenged.

Yup, this does suck, no other way to say it… and I’m okay if you say it too.

Legally Divorced, Emotionally Widowed

Legally divorced and emotionally widowed….there is no other way to say it.  It’s the only way to describe this chaotic, conflicting, non-sensical way I’m feeling.  I was barely getting used to not referring to M as my husband and now he’s gone.

Eight days ago, I was mentally & emotionally stable.  I was in a good place; happy with where I was at, the progress I was making, the fact that for once in a very long while, I was happy–maybe not all day every day, but every day, I was truly happy.

Because the divorce happened so quickly, its natural for people to think of M and then think of me. Now that he’s gone, I feel that people are looking to me to be the representation of him. I wonder if they think of me as shallow and hateful because I’m not visibly a puddle of tears wondering how I’m going to move forward.  What they don’t see is that behind closed doors or in the comfort of my closest friends, I am a mess–confused by the emotions that are within me.

I had been telling M goodbye for 4 months. I had been mourning the loss of my marriage for 4 months. I had realized that the person I loved stopped existing 5 1/2 months ago and I didn’t know this new person claiming to be M. I don’t know why he chose the path he did, why he started making the choices he did, I just know that four months ago, he told me about his affair and 9 days later he moved out.

And yet, here I am, once again, telling him goodbye. Here I am walking through the stages of grief once more. Here I am, replaying different scenarios over and over again in my mind. And mostly, here I am again … angry.

This time my anger is much different. I know that this time it’s a defensive anger – an anger that exists because even in death, I have heard more lies that M told. Really M?! Really?!  You had the nerve to tell co-workers that I wanted the divorce, that you still loved me and that I was the heartless one?! Again, I say Really?! I want to just plaster billboards all over town with the link to this blog. I’ve spent the past four months working out some hard emotions because you scoffed at the idea of reconciling or rebuilding our marriage.  I’m angry because it doesn’t matter now – I have no one with which to be angry, I have only the memory of you getting the last word.

As for “her”… I am conflicted because I want to say to her that she flatters herself if she thinks that what she did or said caused M to make the choice he did 7 days ago, but that’s not fair — I don’t know what she is feeling and its not my place to tell her how she should or shouldn’t feel.

Mostly I don’t want her to feel the pain or confusion as to why he did what he did. Three years ago when we lost a friend to suicide, M and I talked about his depression and the struggle he fights each day to stay this side of life. He talked about his past suicide attempt many, many years ago and how it had nothing to do with anyone else. It truly is that the person experiencing the anguish is at a point of seeing no other options.   I don’t know why, but I find that having that conversation in my heart brings me peace.

90 days ago, we were separating our stuff, making new lives for ourselves – now in a few days, his stuff will be distributed and donated and deemed worthy or unworthy of being retained by family members. Legally I have no say to anything regarding M or his property and yet I am probably the one that knew him best. Emotionally, I am having a hard time pulling my heart back into sync with my head and returning to my state of mind just eight days ago.

I feel like I’m more of a widow than a divorcee… 60 days to divorce and 62 days to a “forever-goodbye.”  Who the heck can even make sense of that?