Day 238

I think therapy is a wonderful thing. I’m so glad it exists and I believe that if we were all in therapy and able to fully talk about our feelings, fears, hurts, on a regular basis we would be a healthier and more non-violent world. So, naturally, with my marriage in the pits, I turned to therapy as a tool to help “fix us.” Within the first week I had decided this was something we needed to do and had started researching marriage counselors in the New York City area. A woman on a mission. But I wasn’t looking for just any old marriage counselor, I wanted a Christian marriage counselor. I wanted a Christian counselor for many reasons. Most importantly, I wanted someone who understood what I did, that marriage was a covenant you made with your spouse and God and it was not meant to be broken. So get on board, husband!

My husband agreed to go to therapy. I thought this was an excellent sign. Together we tried to find a counselor. I kept pushing for a Christian counselor and he kept trying to convince me that wasn’t necessary. Eventually, we settled on therapist. This man had gone to seminary, but also had all the requirements my husband felt were necessary to look at our marriage objectively. The big day came…the night of our first therapy session. And y’all, I hate to say it. I’m embarrassed to say it. But I have to say it. I DRESSED UP for therapy. I did. I chose an outfit that I thought my husband would find attractive. I wore more make-up than usual. I even wore heels. HEELS! How pathetic. How sad. My husband and I weren’t living together at the time and hadn’t seen each other in a few days and I guess some part of me was hoping he would see me, find me ridiculously beautiful, and that would be that. I know. Ridiculous. But this is where my head was at the time.

We show up at the therapist’s office and wait until it is our turn. In my head I’m thinking about the couple that is in there before us. I’m hoping he is able to help them. I’m hoping the wife and husband love each other and this man has helped save their marriage. I am hoping he is a miracle worker and that eventually, through time and hard work, he will help us save our marriage. My husband looks bored out of his mind. Uncomfortable. Irritated. Annoyed. He does not look hopeful. He has not said a thing about how clearly adorable I look. I don’t think he has even looked at me at all. Then that feeling starts again. That feeling that tells me this is not going to go how I had planned it at all in my head.

During that first session our therapist asks us a lot of questions about ourselves, our marriage, our goals for the future. We have to write down our answers on a piece of paper and then share them with each other. One of the questions was “Do you see yourself married to your spouse 10 years down the road?” Another question was “Do you see yourself married at all 10 years from now?” In my true to form, type A, people pleasing personality way, I answer that absolutely I see myself being married to my husband. I see myself being married to him 10 years from now, 20 years from now, etc. I mean, I’d vowed “til death do us part.” So that was that as far as I was concerned. My husband, and I have to commend him for his honesty, answers that he does see himself being married 10 years from now, just not to me.

And this truth he has just told me hurts. It knocked the wind out of me. All of a sudden I felt foolish. He didn’t want me. He could sit right next to me and look me in the face and say without any emotion at all that he just didn’t want ME. The rest of the session was a blur. I remember hobbling in my heels back to the subway when it was over. My feet hurt. I was a stupid moron who had worn heels to a therapy session where her husband flat-out told her he didn’t want her. And then I cried on the subway and I didn’t care who saw. I went home and changed into my pajamas and curled up in a ball on my rug beside my bed. I didn’t have the energy to actually get into the bed. And I held myself and I cried until I fell asleep on that rug, in that apartment, in what had been our happy home.

Romans 8:18 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”

Day 233

“But if not, He is still Good.” My mother and sister found these words and shared them with me about two weeks ago. They are words I seriously believe. God is good, ALL the time. But in the past couple of weeks I’ve really tried to wrap my head around their true meaning and how it applies to my life. “But if not….” you see, “not” is a possibility. I think about the “not” a lot. What is my “not?” Marriage, children, a family, a home…all things I thought I would have that are now a possible “not.” I mean, they were never really a guarantee to begin with, but after the whole marriage thing I just assumed everything else would eventually fall into place. And then I thought “So, ok, that’s your worst case scenario. You don’t get those things.” And I’ve been thinking about trying to own that truth, and it’s hard…and then I realized it wasn’t my worst case scenario anymore.

I’m an actress (it feels weird to type that, but it’s how I pay my bills, so I guess it’s true). I travel from theatre to theatre doing plays or musicals or both. I work in different states, different parts of the country, and I have met some beautiful human beings. Friends. People who fill my soul with joy and push me to be a better person and validate me and, I think, love me like I am their family. They even read my blog! We don’t always get the opportunity to spend a lot of time together and often when we say goodbye we don’t know when we will be saying hello again.

I recently had to say goodbye to some very special people, and to be quite honest, it devastated me. I hate the leaving. Obviously, I have issues with leaving and abandonment and all that, but saying goodbye never gets easier for me. And you know why? Because I love them. I used to think I was broken and that the ability to love and open my heart wasn’t inside me anymore, and although this is a different kind of love, the “good” is that it’s love. The “good” is that God has sent me people to re-teach me how to love. The “good” is that I am aware of my capability to love. The “good” is that the hurting, in an odd way, makes me feel whole.

So now my new worst case scenario isn’t the loss of marriage or children or a house or being on the PTA:) My new worst case scenario would be to shut out that feeling of life that love gives me. To go back to the darkness where nothing mattered. I used to wish that I had never existed. I just didn’t want to be. The love that others have shown me has brought me back to life. To live without that would be the greatest tragedy.

So, “But if not (insert your personal “not”), He is still good (and he is, even though it may not be in the way you expected “good” to look). And yes, I am still hoping and praying for marriage and children and even the PTA, but until then I will fall to my knees and praise the God that gave me “good.”

James 1:17 ” Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Day 222

“I love you. I’m just not IN love with you.” These are words I don’t ever want to hear again. As the days slowly passed during that first week after I found out, these were the only words my husband could give me to explain his actions. “We should have never gotten married. It was a mistake. I just don’t feel anything towards you.” My brain couldn’t even compute what I was hearing. When I could finally form words I exclaimed, “But we ARE married. So the NOT being married ship has sailed. We have to fix this. We can fix this. I can fix this. Not being married is NOT an option.”

This is the part of the story where I very pathetically tried to make my husband love me again. If there was something wrong with me, then I could change. I would be less demanding. I would be a more pleasant person to be around. I would be a better cook. I would put more care into my appearance. Keep the apartment cleaner. Lose weight. Nag less. If he loved me once, he could love me again. God could open his heart to me, I just had to do my part.

I’m not sure that I even truly knew what I was striving for. I’d look at him and will there to be love in his heart, kindness in his eyes…a softening. I would have done anything for him to reach out to me. To hold me. To feel comforted by him. But instead he looked at me like I was poison. What was wrong with me? What had I lost? I didn’t understand when he’d suddenly blurt out, “I’m sorry. I’m just not IN love with you.” What the hell was that supposed to mean? What was I supposed to do with that information? Having your husband constantly tell you that he isn’t IN love with you is like having someone constantly ripping at your heart. It’s an ache that won’t stop. Because ultimately, there really wasn’t anything I could do about his feelings for me, try as I might.

My person, my teammate, my partner, my lifetime love, my everything, was rejecting me. Pushing me away. I’d like to tell you that I kept going because I realized God’s love was enough to fill the void in my heart. That my soul was satisfied with the joy of Jesus. That my strength came from the knowledge that the Holy Spirit was always with me. But that’s not how I felt. That’s not what got me out of bed in the morning. Faith kept me moving. Stupid, moronic, naive faith. Faith in the unrealistic hope that some day he would turn to me and take me in his arms and tell me in all confidence that he not only loved me, but that he was IN love with me.

We all know that never happened. I still don’t have my person. And that’s hard for me, because I did have a person for over 8 years. I’m accustomed to it. I miss it. I yearn for it…old habits die hard…and faith still keeps me moving.

1 Corinthians 16:13 “Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”

Day 219

I only took one day off of work after I found out about the affair. At this time I was working as the Catering and Events Coordinator for a Hospitality Group in New York City. A little back story on my employment situation at the time: About 8 months earlier I had some bad health issues pop up. It was scary and painful and fixing it was going to cause some major medical attention and time. At this point I was out on an acting contract. When I wasn’t acting I was a cocktail waitress in New York City. During the initial weeks of my health issues I got a call from my boss in New York. A new position had opened up and he wanted to know if I wanted to apply. He felt like I would be a great fit. He understood I was focusing on my acting career, but he still felt compelled to tell me about the job and ask if I would apply. I talked with my husband about it and given my current health situation we felt it would be best if I stayed closer to home, closer to good doctors,  and had a job with benefits. So I applied, went through the interview process, and got the job. Little did I know then that God was just planting the seed of a blessing that would come to fruition much later.

I started my new “career” in March. So, I had only been there for about 6 months before things went south and I felt the need to take a personal day. It killed my soul to have to admit that I couldn’t make it into work, but I honestly could not make it happen. The thought of taking a shower seemed overwhelming. Eating was a chore. All I wanted to do was sleep, so functioning at my job was completely out of the question. I remember telling my boss I was dealing with a family emergency and I needed to take a day, but I would definitely be in the day after that. He didn’t press me for details. I don’t even know what I would have said to him if he had.

The next day, as promised, I showed up to work. This was harder than you’d think. Sleeping was my only form of relief. When I was asleep I didn’t feel. When I slept there was no pain. All I wanted to do was sleep. But I got up, showered, put on make up, and took the subway downtown. I don’t remember what I looked like. I hope I wasn’t a complete wreck, but it truly didn’t seem important at the time. I hadn’t planned on telling my boss the truth about my “family emergency.” I had told myself that I would tell as few people as possible. Why? Well, because I was embarrassed and ashamed and sad and hurt. I didn’t want people to hate my husband because I believed God would save our marriage and things would go back to normal. I didn’t have the energy to have the difficult conversation with people, and I didn’t want to seem weak…so I stayed silent. However, as soon as I walked in I knew I had to tell him. I had a sense that he needed to know. God was pushing me and I obeyed.

And this is where the true blessing of this job came to fruition. This job that I had been offered 6 months ago. This job that had nothing to do with what I really wanted to pursue in my life. When I talked to my boss, he was comforting. He let me cry when I needed to. He listened as I word vomited everything that had happened in the past two days. He didn’t have any answers for me or any words of wisdom, but he gave me permission to be human. He said he would keep my personal business to himself and he would help me in any way he could. In the months to come, these work colleagues that God had provided 6 months prior would be more of a blessing to me than I could have ever imagined.

Yes, these were some of the worst months of my life. Yes, God knew it would happen. And what did he do? He began providing for me 6 months BEFORE my life fell apart. He put me in a position to be comforted and understood. He also put me in the position to make money that I would later need, to have benefits that would help me to be independent when the time came, and to have a safe place to go where people genuinely cared about my well-being. The Bible tells us that God will go before us and make a way. How glorious for me to see, even in my darkest hours, God’s promises fulfilled to me…even in the most unlikely of places.

Isaiah 45:2 “I will go before you and make the rough places smooth.”

Day 216

Dates have always been something I’m really good about remembering. Birthdays, anniversaries, opening nights, even just random days where something kinda cool happened. I’m also pretty good at celebrating all these dates that I remember. The upside: You will always get a card from me on your birthday, I can tell you what date we met and probably what we had to eat, I can easily remember the opening date of any movie premiere, and I am NEVER late to a pre-organized brunch. The downside: Tomorrow is the two-year anniversary of the day I found out my husband cheated on me and it sucks.

Last year on this date I wasn’t divorced yet. I was separated and still holding out hope that God would wave a magic wand and make my husband wake up and love me again. I’d met with an attorney, I’d had papers drawn up, things were oh so bad, and I still thought “Well, the ink isn’t dry…this horrible, sad, pathetic marriage can still be saved!” I’m a glutton for emotional punishment that way.

When you’re with someone for that length of time, and you’re as type A as I am, you remember all the dates. And these dates come back to haunt you. Obviously our wedding anniversary, our dating anniversary, the day he proposed, the day I found out about the first affair, and of course, the day the divorce was finalized. That last one hasn’t come up yet, but I’m sure I’ll agonize over it when it does come round.

Remembering dates can be a good thing for me because in some odd way it reminds me of where I’ve been, what’s changed, and gives me a chance to look at where I’m going…or even IF I’m moving forward at all (and sometimes I’m not). I’ve started considering it a success as long as I keep moving in some way…the kicker these days is that wherever I’m headed, I’m headed there alone. The dates are also a reminder of my aloneness. The dates hit me like a ton of bricks, me alone, and alone I move on to the next section of my life.

What I’m waiting for is the date when all these dates don’t matter to me as much. When a holiday season comes and goes and I don’t remember every little tradition we had. When I don’t wonder how his birthday is going without me. When I wake up and the first thing I think isn’t “Who’s going to make the coffee since he isn’t here?” But most importantly I’m waiting for the date where the aloneness seems normal, where I feel comfortable in my own skin, when I can 100% be proud of me again.

I know God is working on me in the waiting. Even when I can’t feel it, I believe he is working on me. But the waiting still sucks, and the dates suck, and the aloneness sucks. And saying that these things suck is ok. God knows. He gets it. And for some reason that I don’t understand, he wants me in this holding pattern. So all I can really do is obey and continue to praise the God who holds me through the waiting.

Psalm 27:14 “Wait on the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Day 210

I think it might be time to talk about scars. I know I keep deviating from the actual story, but I warned you ahead of time that this would happen, so there. We all have scars. No one goes through this life without a loss or pain or hurt. When we get up and keep moving and take those next steps our emotional wounds begin to heal, but we are still left scarred. The bruises will eventually fade, the initial ache will subside, but you will always be left with those scars. They are now a part of you. They will be a part of the way you experience your future. The decisions you will make. The thinks you will think.

I think it’s ok to own those scars. You earned them. But we have to change the way we look at them. I used to be so ashamed… if I’m being honest, I’m still ashamed about some of them. I thought about how broken I was. How fearful I’d become. I gave into my scars. I became the poster child for Abandonment “Issues” and Trust “Issues” and Sex “Issues.” I’d lick my wounds and let the darkness seep over me as I once again agonized over all the things that were wrong with me.

But here’s the deal, my scars are beautiful. They are still there and they may always be, but I’ve identified them. Yes, they affect me when they shouldn’t. Yes, I often think twice before making certain life decisions. And Yes, I am still single and haven’t dated since my divorce. Scarred? Yes. Broken? No.

I’ve spoken to so many women who talk about how scarred they have become from divorce. We meekly share our stories trying to hurry over the part where we explain that we were HURT. Yes, it’s ok, you were affected by this! That does not make you weak. It makes you human. But you are still here, scars and all, making it happen..and I think that’s beautiful and perfect and amazing and inspiring.

I’ve had a lot of people I love who have been on the rough side of how my scars have affected me, and you know what? They still love me. Never once has someone who matters run away from me screaming because of my fear of abandonment. That’s the big one for me. Full disclosure. That every person I love will eventually find someone better or more talented or prettier or easier to love. So I try, exhaustively, to be perfect so that my friends and family will continue to love me. Ridiculous, right? The big question is, “How can I expect someone to deal with my insecurities until I learn to love myself.” And I think the answer always comes back to God’s love for us.

Lord knows I’m not deserving of God’s eternal love, but it’s still there. And the reality is that God doesn’t want me to feel this way or live a fearful life. He wants me to wear my scars with pride. War wounds that have made me stronger, that prove I am a survivor. Only God can take the negative and ugly in my life and turn it into beauty…I just have to let him.

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”