Day 208

A few things I know about myself…1)I like to have a plan and 2)I’m a bit naive. These two small bits of information played heavily into how I handled “the day after I found out.” My naivety can also be thought of as blind optimism. So, after a horrible night I woke up with all the determination in the world. I would fix my marriage.  This bump in the road would be my testimony. God would use this horrible situation and make something beautiful out of it. I wouldn’t let God down. I would do my part. So, in true type A fashion, I made a list. I made a list of things that my husband and I would need to talk about/work on/change in order to take the first steps to saving our marriage.

But I didn’t stop there. I called in Christian reinforcements. I spoke to a few select people who I knew could advise me spiritually on how to navigate my way through this mess. I chose not to feel, but to act. Feeling was harder. Feeling hurt too much to function. But a plan, a plan was something I could handle. Oddly enough, I didn’t really hear from my husband during this time. A smarter woman would have seen the writing on the wall, but not me. He needed his time and I needed mine. I imagined him sad and depressed at work…trying to figure out how to win me back. Planning some gesture that would assure me this was a one time thing, that it meant nothing, that he could change and things would be better than ever before. Hopeful. Optimistic. Naive.

During this time of planning I also realized I wanted to be in my own home again. After I had collected my thoughts and made my lists, I called my husband to let him know I was coming home. We needed to talk. He needed to give me some space for a few days (aka…find a couch to crash on). His voice sounded distant on the phone. He wasn’t saying the things I assumed he would say. This was not going as planned. Still, I marched on. I could ride this out. It was all going to be ok. God would save my marriage.

Then the second morning of my new life arrived and I returned home to start the “fixing” of my marriage. I had so many questions. Questions about her. How it happened. How they met. How long it had been going on. Normal questions, I suppose. But he wouldn’t answer them. He wanted to protect her. HER! Not me, not my feelings, not my heart….but her. He packed a bag and left. He walked out as I was crumpled on our living room floor. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think. This wasn’t real life. It physically hurt too much to be real. I don’t know how long I laid there. I don’t think I much cared. I wanted to lay there forever…but eventually, I got up.

In telling my story I know that not every post will be easy or fun or even have a lovely life lesson attached. A lot of my story is the journey, the darkness. Remembering those times is awful. I don’t even recognize the woman who endured that pain anymore. It almost feels like a lifetime ago. But the important thing, that first step to becoming who I am now instead of who I was then, is that I got up. Even then, I had an inner strength, because it took a strong woman to get up. Getting up was hard. It seems like such a small act, but it wasn’t. It was huge. And it took the power of a God greater than I could ever imagine to help me stand again.

Exodus 15:2 “The Lord is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.”

Day 204

Being divorced is like being in a secret club. You meet a woman, find out she is divorced, and all of a sudden you have a connection. You may not have anything else in common, but this simple fact, this life experience that you both share, unites you. There is always someone who is further along in their divorce struggle, or is just beginning their own personal downward spiral. We’re all grasping at straws trying to figure out the best way to handle this curve ball life threw us. We turn to each other with confused expressions begging for the magic answer of how to speed this whole healing process along. “Throw me a bone!”, we cry out. “Help me fix this!”

The amount of strong, divorced women who I have met over the past two years is still astonishing to me. From my experience, we are a supportive bunch. We speak the same language. We have the same wounds. God has given me and continues to give me many incredible women along the way. There’s a fearlessness in a woman who can share her horror story with you without batting an eye and tell you in the same breath that you’re going to be ok. There’s a safety in being able to be honest with another human about all the terrible, shallow, selfish things you’re thinking. The knowledge that you aren’t being judged, but rather, finally understood is liberating.

I’ve had a small group of women along my path who have been instrumental to me during these past two years. They don’t all know each other and they are all in different places in their personal timelines, but the two things that seem to join us is the fact that we are all divorced, or going through a divorce, and that we are all Christians. What a blessing it has been to have other women, who seek God’s will for their lives, help to guide me through this horribly sad time in my life. Women who remind me on a daily basis the strength God gives us all. Women who affirm God’s love for me. Women who set the beautiful example of grace and dignity in the face of life just plain sucking.

It’s not fair that we all share this unfortunate experience. It’s disgusting that our husbands treated us, goddesses that we are, with such disdain. It’s pathetic that we had to deal with such weak men. But it is beautiful that we are all able to lean on a God who sees us for the women he created us to be. Our friendship is a gift. We are warriors fighting together to win back our lives, and who are all smart enough to know we can’t do it without our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Because of that very firm truth, we’ve already won.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up.”

Day 200

What’s funny is that I remember the day I found out so very clearly, but the entire year after that is like one giant rain cloud over my head that suffocated me. I stayed with my friend, Cheyenne, for a few days to help get over the initial shock. The reality of what was truly happening to me began to sink in and infest every pore of my being. I remember sleeping on her couch and wishing that I had never found out. That this truth could reinvent itself into a different feeling. I wanted the night to never end. To never have to wake up and face a day as this new person. This new person who used to live in a world where she was loved and safe and secure. She seemed so far away now. Could I ever be her again? Dear God, please let this be a nightmare. Please let me wake up.

The first 48 hours were more of a blessing than I realized at the time. I was with a friend who loved me. Who made me eat when I didn’t want to. Who let me sleep or cry or vent or pretend things could be fixed. Who helped me make the practical arrangements that needed to be made at a time like this. I had to call my boss and take a personal day. I eventually realized I could go back to my home, that I wasn’t the one who should have to uproot her life and leave. My friends took turns “babysitting” me. When one had to work another would show up to watch over me. Looking back, it was a beautiful example of friendship and love.

And the big thing I learned about myself during this time is that I am a hopeful human. My heart has hope. I believed God could fix my marriage. I believed my husband could learn to love me again. I believed I would live through this and wake up stronger on the other side. This is the gift that God gave me. A hopeful heart. A heart that wouldn’t quit even in the worst of times. A heart that, maybe foolishly, was determined to live it’s vows.

My poor little broken unwanted heart was still working. It was in pieces, and even now is bruised and bandaged and isn’t sure from day-to-day if it will ever be wanted again, but it still works. I know this to be true because now I can feel it. And in an odd and somewhat comical way that is a gift. So many people go through life not knowing the love they are capable of giving. I know. I know that my heart will continue to love. I know I have that capability and that it is a gift and that  even if it wasn’t the love I had looked for, I received love when I needed it the most. And, for that, my heart is grateful.

Romans 15:13 “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Day 196

Pain is odd and unfair. After the initial pain and shock of the revelation that my marriage was in jeopardy, I was told that the pain would decrease little by little every day.  This is not true. Here I am, almost two years since the day that changed my life and I still feel pain, in different increments, on different days. I have attributed this to several factors, one of them being that I am an incredibly emotional person who just feels things at a more heightened state than most, and another being that it has just taken me longer to work through all the stages of loss.

Another interesting fact about pain is that it can be brought on at a moment’s notice by ANYTHING or ANYONE. A person that had absolutely nothing to do with my divorce or an experience extremely far removed from my marriage can bring me to tears. I find that there are times when I have to stop and have a mini-therapy session with myself.  “Why are you REALLY hurting?” I ask myself. “Is this emotion valid? Did this person mean to hurt you or are you still carrying some emotional baggage from the last time you were hurt?” and the ever popular “Are you going crazy?”

Now, the rational side of me knows that my loved ones would never intentionally hurt me. And let me tell you, as you will learn if you continue to read my blog, I have the BEST friends in the world.  Truly.  If there were an award for the most amazing friends, I would win that award. It’s honestly not fair how good they are to me. And yet, feelings of worthlessness, inadequacy, and self-loathing still hit me. I still find myself thinking that I will never be good enough or worthy of love or that I will never find a person who will choose ME. Time with ME. Love from ME.

These are my fears and these are the thoughts my soul screams out on a daily basis. Dramatic? Perhaps. But honest. Dealing with this pain is a process.  Healing from this pain is a process. And continuing to trust in God’s plan for my life is a process.

I don’t have the answers, and to pretend that after two years of dealing with this pain that I magically somehow knew how to pray the pain away would be a lie. I stumble, fall down, and get up again constantly. I lose sight of God’s promises for me. I let the fear overtake me. I let the hurt cloud the love of a God who is continually showering me with blessings I do not deserve. God never promised me easy, but he promised he’d be there every step of the way…even through the pain.

Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the broken hearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”

Day 191

Our first date was August 13…nine years ago today. I had been living in New York City for about 7 months. I was waiting tables, still learning my way around the city, and most days feeling scared to death. He took me to a restaurant close to my apartment and I remember being impressed because he asked me what appetizer I wanted to try. An appetizer? I was living off of bread and peanut butter, so the extravagance alone was almost too much to handle. It was a good date.  We talked and laughed. He was respectful and kind. And God was there.

The night I found out he was having an affair I called my mother, who called my sister, who called my best friend to come and get me out of my apartment. I wasn’t hysterical by any means, I was oddly calm. I remember my heart hurt and I didn’t actually know until that moment that a heart could hurt. My best friend, Cheyenne, came straight to my apartment (and if you know the NYC subway system, then you know she is a saint) and she helped me pack a bag and she took me to her apartment. And God was there.

I won’t go into my ex-husband’s actions and words from that night because I’m just not ready to talk/write about them. It’s still too hard. Maybe someday it won’t be, or maybe someday it won’t matter…either way, it’s not a good memory, but it’s shaped a lot of who I am…And God was there.

What I’ve realized in thinking about the last nine years of my life, is that God was always there.  The good, the bad, and the very ugly. No, he didn’t stop the affair from happening.  He didn’t make the first date go poorly so I wouldn’t go out with my ex-husband again and thus never marry him. He didn’t even save my marriage…and I thought he would. But he never left my side.

We all have the opportunity to make a thousand decisions every day.  God gave us that gift.  He isn’t a master puppeteer up in the heavens pulling our strings, He is a loving God who is rooting for us to choose goodness and mercy and kindness and joy and compassion.  And sometimes we fail. Often we fail. My ex-husband failed. And some days my heart still hurts. But some days it doesn’t.  And God is still here…he is always here.

Psalm 139: 7-10 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.”

Day 189

September 8, 2013 is the day that changed my life. I suppose, looking back, that wasn’t the exact day that my marriage fell apart, but it was the day I found out my marriage was in big trouble. In telling this story I don’t want to sound like a scorned wife or a victim.  I don’t want to make my ex-husband out to be the “bad guy” because that seems petty and I hope I’m past that…but I do have to be honest, so therefore, he isn’t going to come off looking so great. But you can’t change the past, so it is what it is.

People always ask me if there were signs leading up to this day.  The short answer is, yes, but I didn’t really see them as signs at the time. For a few months leading up to this day my ex-husband had started drinking much more than usual and way more often. He would stay out late at bars.  We weren’t spending as much quality time together and had stopped talking about our plans for the future. Yes, this concerned me, but our first year of marriage had gone so smoothly I naively thought this was just a rough patch.

I don’t know how important the details are to the telling of the story.  I remember it was a Sunday.  I remember going to church alone, which by this time was the norm.  I remember going to TJ Maxx with my friend, Cheyenne and discussing the concerns I had about my ex-husband’s current behavior. I remember calling my father. I remember it was beginning to feel like fall in New York.  Then I remember the waiting. He had gone downtown to watch Football with friends. I wasn’t invited to go, which was odd because that was something we would usually do together. He wasn’t answering the texts I sent him and I began to worry.

He came home late and drunk. Very drunk. This was also beginning to be the norm. I made him a frozen pizza and had him drink lots of water before I tried to put him to bed. He was very concerned about his phone. I plugged it in for him, and he kept getting out of bed to check on it and text someone. Odd, right? Finally I was able to get him to sleep…and then this nagging voice inside me told me to check his phone.  Let me be clear, in the 6 years we had dated and one and a half years that we had been married I had NEVER checked his phone.  NEVER. But the voice wouldn’t leave me alone, so I checked it. I saw the text messages and it hit me like a ton of bricks.  My husband was having an affair.  My world, as I knew it, ended right then and there. And this is where my story begins.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

Day 186

In thinking about writing this blog I knew that eventually I would have to tell “my story.” The story of how my marriage crumbled, how I couldn’t save it, and how it ended in divorce. Downright depressing, huh? It’s a difficult story to tell, but I think it’s about time I sat down and really processed the whole thing.  It’s not a story with an ending, because I’m still evolving and healing and learning what’s next for my life.  It’s also not a story with a clear through line, because I’m sure while I tell it I will go off in many difference directions, depending on where and how God is leading me.

Which leads me to tonight’s blog post.  Before I begin “my story”, which has many rough spots and hard edges and ugly sides, I want you to know that I am blessed…and more importantly, that I know I am blessed. In fact, I am blessed abundantly. Through this story you will read about the hardest nights of my life, but you will also read about blessings I couldn’t have imagined.  You will read about people who have shown me grace.  You will read about opportunities God has shoved in my path.  You will read about my heart, which has only grown through this experience.

Blessings are such an interesting phenomenon.  Sometimes you see them coming a mile away and other times it takes you weeks before you are able to look back and see that God blessed you more than you knew. Today I was blessed by a friend who believes in me and sent me a book to help me grow spiritually. Another friend messaged me to remind me that she is thinking about me. I work with my best friend every day, who loves me more than I deserve. I also have the best dog in the world. Multiple Blessings.

This is simply a reminder for you and for myself…as we go on this journey together, you will hear about the bad times, but you will also hear about the blessings.  And the blessings are the heart of “my story.”

John 1:16 “From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another.”

Day 185

Let’s get real. Let’s get honest. The biggest tragedy I have ever gone through is my divorce, but since starting this blog I’ve heard about other tragedies that friends and loved ones have gone through and there is one thing we all seem to have in common.  Everyone tells us “It’s going to be ok.” Well, that’s a lovely thing to say…but what if it’s not ok?  What if “ok” never comes?  What if your personal version of “ok” isn’t what God has planned for you?

The truth is that I wanted to be a wife and a mother more than anything in the world.  The reality is that I may never get to be either of those things. I have been told countless times that I will find love again and that I will make a wonderful mother someday, but the kicker is that those are not roles promised to any of us.  Getting to a point in the healing process where you realize that you no longer have what you wanted and being able to grasp the fact that those things may never be yours is a horrible discovery.  Devastating, really…but this is what life has thrown me.

Being honest with myself about these realities is super hard. I get angry that I worked so hard on a marriage that someone else so easily threw away. I mourn the loss of the children I thought I would have with this person. It’s an interesting thing to mourn the loss of something you never had, but the dream was very real to me, and the loss is also just as real.

And even though it is difficult to wake up every morning knowing that I may never be a wife again, or a mother, the blessing and the TRUTH is that God does indeed have a plan for my life.  I don’t know what it is yet, but I am trying to seek his will. And because of God’s word I know that his plan for my life is better than anything I could dream up on my own. This is the truth. This is what I am holding on to. This is the beginning of a glorious unfolding.

Deuteronomy 7:9 “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments.”

Day 181

Some days are sad days. Yesterday was a sad day.  Just because the papers are signed and a judge has decreed we are no longer husband and wife doesn’t mean that the sad days end. Honestly, I don’t know when the sad days will end. Yes, there are fewer of them now then there were a year ago or even two years ago, but there are still sad days.

I am told constantly that everyone heals in different ways and that we all have different healing timelines. This is a slightly difficult concept for me to grasp because I am a very goal oriented person. I want to know the proper steps on how to heal, achieve those steps, and put the whole darn thing behind me. I’m tired of having weeks of good days and then having a bad day knock me back 100 steps. It’s frustrating, I have no control over it, and it makes me feel bad about myself. There. I said it.

But, the truth is, it’s ok to be sad. Sadness is a real emotion. It means you loved someone. Sadness is a reflection of your capability to love. And love is good. I’m not fully at a point where I can completely own that statement, but in my head I know it to be true.  And I’m not writing this blog because I’m fully healed.  I’m writing it because I’m a person who is sometimes still sad and hurt and lost. But that’s what makes me human and that’s what gives God the opportunity to restore.

I was having this very same conversation with my youngest sister, who is quite possibly the wisest person I know, and she had these words of wisdom that I feel compelled to share with the world:  “It’s not how you fall down, it’s how you get back up.” Lord, I want to be the kind of woman who gets back up with grace and dignity.  Head held high.  Heart still open.  Falling down is inevitable.  We live in a fallen world and bad things will happen to us all…but please, no matter what my personal timeline, let me remember to not only get back up; but get back up prouder, stronger, and ready to lovingly face another day…sad or not.

Isaiah 41:10 “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, I will help you, yes, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”

Day 178

One thing I have learned through my divorce is that the term “marriage” means different things to different people. The truth is, I hadn’t ever given it that much thought before.  I have been blessed to grow up around amazing examples of marriage in my life, so I think I always assumed everyone thought about marriage the same way. That the rules and expectations for marriage were the same for everyone. Not so.

Let me be perfectly clear on my personal thoughts on marriage.  First and foremost, I believe marriage is a promise.  A covenant between you and your spouse…but more importantly, a covenant between you and God.  I believe marriage is a vow you not only make before God, but WITH God. I believe God created marriage and that marriage is a beautiful gift from God to his people. That being said, not everyone should be married. It’s not for everyone.  And that’s ok.

My fundamental view on marriage was one of the big reasons I struggled and continue to struggle with my divorce. In choosing to divorce my husband (yes, it was a choice) was I breaking my vow with God?  I was going back on the biggest promise I had ever made in my life.  The biggest promise I had ever made to God.  I had failed.  I had failed myself, my marriage, and my God.  Is there anything worse?

This shame only added to my depression. Divorce: The Ultimate Failure. I felt like I had lost my husband’s love, and now the love of my Savior. And this is the moment, when we are at the end of our rope, that God calls to us, reminding us that his love is EVERLASTING. ETERNAL. UNENDING. It took me the better part of a year to come to this realization, and even though these are words I have been told my entire life, to finally grasp their truth has been the greatest gift of this personal failure.

Romans 8:39 “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”