Day 448

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”-Maya Angelou

I always thought this was a pretty pessimistic outlook on life. I have had so many failures that reflect poorly on my character, that if folks didn’t give me a second chance, I wouldn’t have any friends at all. What about giving someone the opportunity to learn from their mistakes? What about realizing that everyone grows at a different pace? What about recognizing that with age comes wisdom? Give a girl a chance!

It took my divorce for me to fully understand what Maya Angelou was so graciously trying to tell us. When my husband told me he didn’t want to be married to me, he wasn’t lying or confused or going through an early on-set midlife crisis. He really and truly just didn’t want to be married to me. Plain and simple. No amount of soul searching on my end was going to change that fact. Like I’ve said before, the “why” doesn’t really matter. I would have saved myself a lot of grief if I has just accepted his words as being completely honest. It would have given me a more realistic perspective of where we were and where we needed to go.

This doesn’t mean that I still wouldn’t have fought for my marriage or that God couldn’t have helped us save our relationship, but starting on a firmer foundation of honesty would have been healthier for me in the long run. This advice rings true in every partnership in our lives, not just marriage. Because of my failed marriage I tend to cling to “my people.” I find someone I can trust, put them in my tribe, and suffocate them. I do this whether they want it or like it or have asked for it or not. I’m clearly a gem that way. Taking a step back and truly listening to the words or actions a person is putting out into my world is not a concept I have fully grasped yet. Not my finest attribute…I like to consider myself a constant work in progress.

In thinking about this particular topic, I, of course, feel much gratitude to those who humor me and patiently stay corralled in my basket of loved ones…but it also made me think about what I’m saying to God on a daily basis. What am I showing him? Is what I show him a direct reflection of who I am, and if so, is that the kind of girl I truly want to be? It’s all fun and games while we sit back and judge what others are showing us, but what have I shown my Lord and Savior lately? Ugh. What a terrible thought.

I should have believed my husband when he said he didn’t love me. I should believe my friends when they show me they need space away from me and my crazy. I should believe when people reach out to show they care, that they truly are interested in my life. And I should own the fact that what I put out into the world, is who I am at my core. Aren’t we all blessed that God never accepts our first answer. He believes I am capable of more, he created me for better, and he loves me too much to let me stay unchanged by his mighty power.

*Special thanks to all those who selflessly accept their place in my tribe without complaint. I know it can get rough in there.

2 Corinthians 5:17 “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”

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Day 443

The beginning of November 2013 brought about a big occasion: The Walt Disney World Wine and Dine Half Marathon. My husband and I had signed up to run it months prior and the weekend of the run was fast approaching. The half marathon was scheduled for his birthday and we thought it would be a super fun mini-vacation, as well as an awesome accomplishment to fly down to Florida and run this race together. My parents were on board as well. They planned on flying down and spending the weekend with us and cheering us on at the finish line. Hotel rooms were booked, my parents and I had scheduled our flights, my training was spot on. I was ready. The huge hiccup in the plan was that my husband, all of a sudden, thought this was a bad idea and hadn’t booked his flight.

In reality, the reason he thought it was a bad idea was because he didn’t want to see my parents. He didn’t want to face my parents. Who would? What do you say to the mother and father of the woman whom you have cheated on? I had already purchased my plane ticket, which led to a huge fight. If he wasn’t going to go, he didn’t think I should go either. Looking back, I can’t decipher or even understand that logic. I remember feeling horrible that I had gone “behind his back” and booked my flight. I apologized and cried for hours for not discussing my plans with him beforehand. By the end of the conversation I was convinced I had created yet another huge problem in our marriage and I slunk away to try and think of a way to ease the tension and fix my mistake.

Time certainly gives a gal perspective and the truth is, booking a flight to run a race that I had trained to run and had planned on running did not make me a terrible wife. What is terrible is that he didn’t hand over his credit card and book it for me, including the up charge for priority boarding. All this being said, he hadn’t booked his flight and I had no idea whether he was coming or not. My parents offered to let me stay in their hotel room, there was no way they were cancelling…this was happening.

Long story short, after much debate, he did book a flight down to run the race. He would fly down with me, but fly back immediately after the race (I always assumed this was to avoid more time with my parents, but I guess I’ll never know for sure). I was staying the original length of the trip. I don’t think I truly believed he was actually coming until I saw him get on that plane. The optimistic child inside of me just knew this was a sign. We would all sit down as a family and talk this thing out. By the end of it, he would decide our marriage was worth saving and my parents would understand that he was only human, had made a horrible mistake, and would agree to work on mending their relationship with him. Plus, this blessed reunion was going to occur at the happiest place on earth…how could it fail?

We flew down after work on a Thursday evening. My parents had already arrived by the time we landed. We checked into our room, had dinner at the hotel, and headed to bed without seeing my parents. It was late, and I knew no one was ready for whatever confrontation awaited them. Things were strained, but they had been strained for months, I was learning how to live with “strained” and make it my new normal. I knew the next day would bring the strength of my parents. I was exhausted on so many levels and having them there to help ease my burden was such a Godsend. If I could just continue to hold on and stay positive, everything was going to be ok.

We all spend a lot of time working to make everything ok. Refusing to give into failure. Accepting our circumstances. Choosing to bloom where we are planted. These are all lovely attributes. But, what I forgot for awhile, was that I was still a person. Still a child of God. Still worthy of respect and love. My blessing is that even when the one who promised to love me unconditionally for the rest of my life forgot that, God gave me parents with the strength to hold strong for the woman God created me to be. They never faltered, which is why I am still standing.

Isaiah 33:2 “Lord, be gracious to us; we long for you. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.”

Day 423

I’ll be honest, we didn’t last long in therapy. I could blame the expense or the time commitment, but the truth is he just didn’t want to go and I didn’t want to push him. By this point I was making myself sick doing everything possible to make him happy in our home so he wouldn’t up and leave me.  I could tell every time we went to therapy his sole purpose was to prove that we shouldn’t be married, and more importantly that we never should have gotten married in the first place. It’s not even that we gave up on therapy. He stopped making the appointments and I acted like I didn’t notice or care that this weekly ritual had ended. He stopped pretending to fight and I began pretending it didn’t make a difference.

Before our journey into therapy ended, we did complete a big assignment. Our therapist suggested that we go out on a “first date.” My husband was to call me, invite me out on a planned date, and on the date we would re-meet each other. We were supposed to go into this pretending we didn’t know anything about the other person. A true first date. To me, this basically meant that he actually had to spend a whole evening with me. I was beyond excited.  I mean, we had killed it at dating back in the day…maybe we just needed to remember what had initially attracted us to each other.

Problem #1 occurred in trying to find an evening for a date. Since I was trying desperately to be a non-nagging wife, I decided not to mention the fact that we hadn’t completed our assignment and the deadline was fast approaching. I didn’t exactly know what the hold up was, but finally I felt the need to confront my husband on this situation. My arguement was this, if we were going to pay for therapy, then we needed to take it seriously and do what the man asked of us. This was a MARRIAGE we were trying to save. Please try. We had to at least try. I needed him to try.

He called me while I was at work to ask me out. I remember thinking it was hilarious and being excited all at the same time. He played his part well, acting like he didn’t really know me, which tickled me, and we decided on a time and place for our date. I found the idea of going on a date with my husband thrilling. I don’t really know why. Maybe it was because we had spent so little time together lately. Maybe it was because this was going to force him to actually look me in the eye and speak to me. Maybe it was just because I loved him and wanted to be with him.

The second problem of date night was the World Series. His team was playing and this meant a lot to him. At this point, we had been together over 7 years. His teams had become my teams. I had been forced to watch countless hours of baseball, football, and hockey. I had the gear. I owned jerseys, hats, t-shirts. I even knew the rules! We watched Sport Center every night. I wasn’t a moron. I knew this was a big deal, but so was our marriage. And sometimes you have to make sacrifices in life. He was going to have to miss a game (a very important game) to take his wife on a date. I could sense his urgency to end the date early, so he could get to the TV, from the moment the evening started. I took a deep breath, gritted my teeth, and tried not to think about baseball. And off we went.

He had the advantage of already knowing what restaurants I liked, which was great. He had thought ahead. He took me to my favorite wine bar for a glass of wine before dinner. We started with small talk. We talked about our family, what colleges we had attended, what we did for a living. I wanted to keep it light and fun. I had spent way more time than usual picking out the perfect outfit, doing my hair, actually putting on make up. I was trying my best to buy into the whole “first date” idea. If things kept going like this, then it was actually going to be a fun evening. It was interesting for me to listen to him talk about his life from a different perspective than what he had 7 years prior. We had grown and we had changed, but we had done it together. For the past 7 years, his experiences had been my experiences. In my mind, I loved the idea that we had become who we were by living this life side by side.

And then, things started to go south.  Here’s the thing about sharing your feelings in couples therapy: If you’re honest, then the other part of your couple knows your hot button issues. I had been honest. We went from the wine bar to one of our best-loved restaurants in my favorite area of the city. We had reservations (always a plus). We ordered, and then the conversation turned. He began trying to discuss subjects he knew I was uncomfortable with. He made statements he knew I would disagree with. It was almost as if he was looking for a fight. And then it hit me. This was just a show. He had put together the seemingly perfect date, just to prove that we weren’t compatible. He wanted to go back into therapy exclaiming with pride how much effort he’d put into our evening, with the discovery that we just weren’t suitable for each other.

I felt my heart sink. Yet again, the realization that this man sitting across the table just didn’t want me. I looked into my husband’s eyes. I knew this man, and he was a stranger all at the same time. I refused to fight with him. Refused to play along with his little game. If he wanted to prove how wrong I was for him, he was going to have to do better than this. We finished our meal, and he asked if I’d like frozen yogurt for the walk home. And, as so often happens in New York, when we got to our frozen yogurt place we found that it was out of business. I’m sure in his mind this was some sort of sign about the future of our relationship…but here’s the thing about New York, there’s always another frozen yogurt place up a block or two. I cheerily suggested we try the next place. We were ending this thing on a high note, so help me God!

He walked me back to our apartment. We ended the assignment at our door. Then, we went inside and he finished watching the game that meant more than marriage and I went to bed still pretending this has been a successful evening while trying to convince myself that I was worth more than baseball.

This was the end of our adventure into therapy.

James 1: 2-3 “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.”