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.

Advertisements

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?

Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This


Three years ago I was driving an hour outside of town to bring you clothes. You were in an inpatient rehab center after an overdose. Two days later I was driving into Atlanta to meet your mom and Mr. B as they had an extended layover on their way back to Arizona. And I recall that the only thing I wanted for our anniversary two weeks later was to go see Boyce Avenue but realizing that wasn’t going to happen.

My i-calendar is full of birthdays and anniversaries and I wonder if I’m ready to start removing all the dates on my calendar that apply to you and your family. I know that eventually the calendar entries will become less of a reminder of what we shared and more of just a memory of a time that once was. I have to accept that the person I loved doesn’t exist anymore and therefore neither should these reminders.

I remember how I would replay the events of that week and try to piece it all together. My calendar is full of notes as I tried to sort it out. Fifty days ago I was coming home from Wednesday night service and stopped to bring you home one of your favorite hamburgers from a local restaurant. I was blissfully unaware that your friend B  just had a meltdown in the office of our pastor.

I was unaware that he was telling Pastor the events that had been going on between you and her. The way you asked him to lie for you, or as you told him, “be vague about the details.” You would send him graphic texts about what you and she had done and expect that he had your back, that he was your ‘boy’, that he would cover for you.

Personally, looking back at how you operated and orchestrated everything, I think you knew exactly what you were doing when you included B in your secret life. You knew that he would not keep this to himself. That he would break down and tell someone. You might have even expected that he would tell me, thus setting into motion what you imagined would be me screaming and yelling and asking for a divorce. But it didn’t play out that way. B told the Pastor, Pastor called you out on it, you told me and I offered you forgiveness.

I know you didn’t expect my response because before you told me the dirty details, you got some tissue and said, “you’re going to need this.” But unlike the story you played out in your head, I didn’t cry.  I told you that night not to mistake my lack of tears as a sign that I didn’t care but that you didn’t deserve my tears. Yup, you didn’t deserve my tears then and I’ve given you way too many in the 48 days that have followed. I can get through most days now with nary a sniffle and I’m thankful for that.

The lawyer just texted. He said that he will be meeting with you in two days to get the final payment from you. Today is not like most days.

I See Your True Colors


I haven’t heard this many uses for the F-word in over a month. Sadly some of them are mine.

Looking back to even just 8 days after D-Day. Your voicemail message went something like this, “yeah, I need you to text me Ms. X’s phone number.” She called about the job at the U and I need to call her back.” I remember thinking to myself… well, I needed you to not have an affair, I needed you to be a man and keep your pants zipped.

This time the conversation started with a text from you. “Do you know where my GPS is?” I responded that I believed it to be in the rental, that’s where I last saw it. You simply replied Ok. I thought you were at the rental and couldn’t locate it, but you weren’t even there. You had not even made an effort to look for it, you were just asking me to do your work. I texted you about the cancellation of the cable that I wanted done by a certain date and you didn’t respond. I also asked you for the cancellation number that you said you had when you called to cancel our remote email accounts from Arizona. This was my third request for that number since the accounts are still active.

I called you after you didn’t respond.  Well, my goodness, the heavens opened and the F-word started flying when I asked where you were with canceling the cable. There were so many excuses in just one sentence about why you had not taken the modem to the cable company yet. And when you stopped with your excuses you started with the blame. When I said that you were fully aware that I didn’t want to start the new month with the bill, you said that it was my fault that I gave the modem to you two days before the end of the month. You were reminded that at the very first meeting with the lawyer, I had stated that I did not want the cable to continue after the first of the month. I reminded you that YOU had chosen that day to pick it up even though it was two days before the end of the month. That still did not stop you from trying to deflect and I could write a 1500 word essay on this two-minute conversation and only get through your excuses.

You started moving stuff out of the rental. I had a voicemail telling me that you were missing your HDMI cable and that if I gave it to Mr. A when returning the roku that someone owes you an $80 cable. And then an hour later a text that said you were still waiting to hear about your cable. Really? Really!? You couldn’t simply call and say, hey, I think you might have given my HDMI cable to Mr. A. and could you see if he has it.

Over the past 41 days there has been a lot of excuses and a lot of blame and no responsibility. In fact, on D-day, that is how you opened the conversation. The first words out of your mouth were “because you... and it went from there to your story of how you “stepped out” on me. And when you were done talking and it was my turn, I told you that you didn’t get to just tell me you “stepped out.” You needed to explain exactly what that meant and with whom. After you told me, I said to you specifically, “I will forgive you and I will forgive her and I will not be mean to her or speak ill of her and that you needed to decide if this was over or if you wanted out.” I’m not sure why you asked me to wait for an answer until you got back from your visit to see your family.  It’s not like we were purchasing a car, this was our marriage and you needed time to think about whether you wanted in or out?!?

I see that now, but not that night as I was numb with the news so I said yes to your request of time and I left the rental—again, why I was the one to leave I have no idea. I texted you late that night to say that I forgot a house key and to find out when a good time would be to come back and get one you didn’t respond. I used the spare key that my parents had to get back into the rental, you weren’t there. It was 6:30 am, the car was there, the scooter was there but you were not. I returned to the rental at 10 am and asked you where you were knowing full well that you were with her. You offered me another excuse saying that her daughter had called you, upset because her mom was such a wreck and that you needed to come over, so you did. YOUR WIFE WAS A WRECK but you didn’t feel you needed to see how I was doing, instead you went to see how your girlfriend was coping with the news that you told me about the affair. You are an asshole.

You owe me too… you owe me a new heart. You owe me a refund on the time that you stole from me, both past and future. If you want to make it about money and possessions, you owe me seven years of supporting us and working three jobs to try to keep what we had in Arizona, you have to get a 10×10 storage unit to store all the stuff that you are keeping from this marriage. But then again, your girlfriends house, pardon me, your new place, is already furnished. You are fortunate that I am not asking for spousal support. Let’s not start playing the You Owe Me game because I assure you, that one, I will win.

You need to know that I’m not yours to bully anymore. You can’t control me with your anger any longer. You cannot cut me down with your words or your attitude. I don’t plan my day around whether or not we might encounter an unfamiliar situation that might cause you to panic or where you might be out of your element. I look back and realize that I ran a lot of interference not only with strangers, but also your friends and our families.

Again, I ask myself… Am I angry with you or am I angry at the time I feel I was cheated out of?  The answer is F-yeah.

Angry is the New Black


If angry is the new black, then today I am in style!

I went grocery shopping today for the first time since D-Day. It’s the first time I’ve felt like planning ahead. Each day until now, I’ve just gotten up and started my day hoping that it would be easier than the one before. Eating consisted of whatever I could stomach which wasn’t much.

I felt like I had a sign on my head that said “Broken-hearted person shopping” … I got three $1.99 frozen meals, one of those being a two pack of breakfast burritos and three bananas, three. I always tried to have bananas in the house, not only did I know you liked them but I knew they would be good for you and be a quick snack you could just grab and go.

Breakfast was always something I tried to make sure that you had. I was thankful when you said that you picked up a nighttime part-time job to help with our budget needs. On those nights when you had to work from midnight to 7 am; I got up early enough to make sure you had a breakfast sandwich or breakfast burrito waiting for you when you got home. I have to laugh at myself now, how many of those nights that you said you were working did you really work? I already know for sure about one shift that you had covered so that you could be with her. How many mornings did you let me look the fool having breakfast ready for you while you had been fooling around with her at night.

I remember watching you on Saturday, just 12 hours after you told me about the affair, watching you scarf down food from a fast food joint. It was the most aggressively I had seen you eat in awhile. I remember wondering how it was that you could eat. By this time, I had not eaten in 24 hours and just the thought of food was enough to make me sick to my stomach. I was still trying to wrap my mind around the events of the night before and you were already moving forward.

I wanted her to apologize. I wanted you to apologize. But neither of you did and neither of you have so far. Sure, you have told me that you are sorry that you couldn’t share your feelings in a way that I understood and that you are sorry that you let it get this far. But you should be sorry because what you did was WRONG! Not only WAS it wrong – it’s STILL wrong. You are living with her and have been living with her since the day you left the rental. Your new bank account has her address on file and her address is on your checks. Perhaps I should stop considering it just her address…since now, it’s clearly both of you.

At first, you used to tell me that you went from one friend’s home to another. You should know that I believed that about as much as I believed you were (and still are) sleeping on her couch. If you were really sorry for what happened, you would not have anything to do with her. Your stomach would be in knots, your conscience on overdrive because you would know that what you are doing is wrong. Your words to me are just chatter. They don’t align with your actions. And until the day that they ever do, I will over-analyze, I will over-think and I will question everything you tell me.

Yesterday, I saw you briefly to give you the keys to the rental so that you could start moving your stuff out. It was the second time I had seen you since you started your new job. It was also the second time I saw that you had a lovely sandwich made for you and when I asked you “oh, who made your lunch?” your response was delayed as you knew that I knew the answer. When you did reply, instead of being honest, you said that she gets these fancy rolls that were delicious and YOU made up some sandwiches for yourself. I don’t believe you.

It’s been 28 days since D-day and you seem to be moving on. You have a daily routine that includes her and her daily routine is now incorporated into yours. You say to me that you didn’t move on with your life and that you aren’t acting as if life was normal for you but you are wrong. Here is how I know…. you are living in the very neighborhood that you looked at buying a house with me, you are dating a girl that is also a brunette, wears glasses, was born in August, is going to college and you have the job that we prayed you would get. I almost feel badly that she is living my recycled life … almost.

Yes, I’m angry today. I’m angry that you don’t see just how wrong your actions were and are. I’m angry that you can’t even wait 45 days for our divorce to be final before moving in and on with her. I’m angry that you say things to me thinking that I want to hear them, I’m angry that I listen to what you have to say, I’m angry that I respond to your texts, I’m angry that I care so much about a marriage and a life that you so carelessly, casually, and thoughtfully threw away.

Yup, today I’m dressed to the nines.