Forgiveness


Forgiveness is not pretending like it didn’t happen or like it didn’t hurt. That’s called lying. Forgiveness is a decision to release a debt regardless of how you feel.   Tony Evans

Can I forgive M for leaving me the way he did?

Can I forgive M for leaving this world the way he did?

and even moreso, will I forgive M for leaving me the way he did and will I forgive him for leaving this world the way he did?

Right now I feel a bit like Susan in Miracle on 34th Street as she repeated, I believe, I believe, it’s silly, but I believe. I just keep repeating I forgive, I forgive, it’s hard, but I forgive. I now realize that one day it won’t be hard and that’s when I will truly be able to say Yes, I can and do forgive M for everything, and it will be a miracle on my street when that happens but until then… I forgive, I forgive, it’s hard, but I forgive.

Mirror, Mirror


I have been more reflective lately. I’m not sure if its because the numbness is wearing off or if my normal routine is feeling more normal, but every now and again I’m brought back to the beginning by a question that cues up the memories.

Even harder than the question of Why? which I have no control over, I’m often asked by the professionals in my life the questions of possibility…. Do you want to harm yourself or others? Do you think about killing yourself? Do you think of hurting or harming yourself? Are you planning on doing anything reckless? 

When my therapist started asking me these questions I was just numb and answered too honestly. She made me sign a piece of paper – a commitment saying that if I found myself in a dark place that I would call a friend to take me to the hospital. I rolled my eyes, and even now if she makes reference to it I simply respond… it’s just a piece of paper. When the doctor gave me a “standard measure of depression test” and got to the question on harm, I told him I refused to answer.

In my divorce support group I expressed my frustration with the constant repetition of these types of questions. I guess what makes me so frustrated is the fact that there really is no right way to answer them. If you say No then you aren’t facing your real emotions. If you say Yes, then you’ve got to learn to control your emotions. M saw a therapist every week for the past five years and what purpose did the answer to those questions do for him. No signed piece of paper or affirmative response prevented him from picking up a gun.

When the pain hurts so much that to breathe take a constant reminder to exhale, you will think about every possible way to make it stop. That’s the answer I want to give — but finding someone who understands that level of pain to understand the intent behind that answer is harder that just dealing with the pain. What is the right way to answer those questions and is there a right way? M chose to make a decision that while to me seems negative, at that moment it was positive.. for him… at that moment it was the right thing to do… for him. But it was his choice.

Today for the 190th day in a row I made a positive choice… for me.

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.

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?

YAY! HE DID IT!


M finally lived up to my expectations.  I expected that Day 60 would come and go without a word from him or without repayment of what he owes me both in cash and property.

It has taken me some time to realize that its not my responsibility to remind him of what he owes me. It’s not my job to to make sure he is aware of the day or the details. We both received the same copy of the divorce decree. We both signed the same paperwork.

Worst part is that I’m a nice person — probably nicer than I should be where he is concerned. If he had communicated with me, I am fairly certain that while I wouldn’t have been happy about a delay in paying me back,  I would have been understanding.  But as my preacher said to me months ago… Lower your expectations. He said I hold M to a high standard and that’s why I’m so disappointed when he fails to come through. I said, I only hold him to the same standards I would hold myself to.  Preacher just gave me that knowing glance that conveyed without words that M will never live up to those standards.  And so I did lower my expectations and what do you know… M actually met them.

And honestly, it makes me sad. Sad that I still wanted to believe he had a bit of something in him that would cause him to do the right thing but at least I am not devastated by it. It sucks, don’t get me wrong. I could use that $170, after all, it is Christmas;  but in the grand scheme of it all, the fact that M can lay his head down and sleep at night says all I will ever need to know about him.

The Tide is High But I’m Going On


There’s a tide in the affairs of men…
Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, 218–224

Yes I realize I’m taking complete literary license with this quote but because everything happened so quickly I find myself caught in what can only be described as the tide…waves of people knowing or asking about what happened at different times. So every few weeks, I’m sharing bits of the story to friends, relatives, and office mates.  Sadly, in Georgia one can be divorced in 31 days, so it catches most of them by surprise that we are indeed now divorced.  Heck, it still catches me by surprise and I’m the one that just went through it.

Had M not left for a scheduled vacation that first week and had he paid the lawyer in a timely manner we probably would have been divorced in 32 days but as it was, from “start” to “finish” it was 60 days. I wasn’t quite sure how I would be on day 61 or even any day after that but surprisingly (yes, surprising to me), I’m doing Ok. I am working with some really great folks who are holding me accountable to meeting personal goals that I’ve set for myself. Sometimes my goal is just to not dwell on the what-ifs and I’ve got a bevy of friends who randomly send me texts just to keep me focused. I’ve also been “privy” to way too many similar stories and it makes me absolutely sick to my stomach that infidelity is such a common thread woven across so many people, regardless of their economic, spiritual, or social backgrounds.

As for the tides, most of the time, the church wave comes in with an innocent question… “where is that man of yours? or where is M, is he sick?” and I pause for a moment so that I don’t blurt out “probably with his girlfriend and yes he is sick … in the head … and I hope he catches some incurable venereal disease” to say, “he made a choice to go outside of our marriage and wanted nothing to do with reconciling so you probably won’t see him here again.

The work wave comes in asking about whether I will have a booth at the upcoming local fall craft festival or if we will be attending a specific event or sometimes it’s just a question based on comment overheard in the hallway.  For the most part, with each response, I’m able to just state the facts… sometimes they come out like verbal diarrhea (Sorry P!) and I have to apologize for just regurgitating 60 days in 60 seconds. And sometimes, people listen with a look of sorrow, feeling for me because I’m “such a nice person and how could he have done that?”

But then just as quickly as the tide comes in, it goes out – and there are moments where no one is asking about M or about “us”… and even those that have known for awhile stop asking me how I’m doing because they know I’m doing fine. No matter when you that are reading this found out, just know that I will forever cherish your prayers and your love and your support.

Yes, there will still be some days that will be better than others but while I may not be able to stop the waves, I can, at the very least, learn to surf.

Everything Old is New Again


Never look back. If Cinderella went back to pick up her shoe, she never would have become a princess.

With all due respect to Cinderella, I’m looking back, not forever, just for awhile. Just to find where I left myself.

I used to bowl. Truth be told there are a lot of things I used to do and its been fun thinking about them again. But yup, bowling was definitely one of them. I spent some time on a co-ed league, had my own ball with my name engraved on it and was a sucker for those clown shoes.

So when the urge to go bowling hit, I called my friend C just out of the blue and told her my plan. She wasted no time telling me that she was going to go look for her bowling shoes in storage and I knew I had asked the right person to come with me. I just cant believe that I got rid of my own bowling ball 3 weeks prior to D-Day. Hind sight is 20/20 and breaking in a new bowling ball is agony! Now, was it smart given that I just had knee surgery 3 weeks ago… probably not, but did I do it anyway… heck yeah!

I really did forget how much I missed it. I had not bowled the whole eleven years I was married. So the plan for the day was one game to honor my past life and one game to honor my new one. In the end, my fingers were sore, my knee was raging but my spirit was happy.

For the record…. game to honor the old: 92 pts, game to honor the new: 134. YAY new life wins!!

Once Upon a Time…. nah~


Alot of people don’t know (and now they will) how much I love the story of Cinderella.  Always have, always will. We never see her grumbling about her lot in life, she did what needed to be done and in the end no matter how badly her stepmom and stepsisters tried to ruin her chance at that glass slipper, they couldn’t change her destiny. She was meant to marry her prince.

I went to Target last week after signing the papers and found a new journal with Cinderella’s profile on it. It’s been waiting on my dresser patiently…. just waiting for the day I’d hear from the lawyer that the paperwork was final. That text came this morning. In just 67 days my life has been completely turned upside down and no matter how badly M tried to hurt me, he can’t control or change my destiny. I’m meant for better things.

And so, today is the start of a new story— no, not one that starts with Once Upon a Time… heck, even I’m not that sentimental. My story starts with “A funny thing happened to me on my way to living.”  And sure, I’ll have my fair share of ogres & dragons, and invites to parties, and struggles to find the perfect dress and then of course the shoes. And while there may or may not be a prince, there will most certainly be a happily ever after…. because after all, this is MY story and his story is exactly that — HISTORY!