Day 514

I woke up early Thanksgiving morning and headed to work. I was in Catering and Events at the time, and part of my job was to hand out the Thanksgiving meals people had ordered from us. If you have to work on Thanksgiving, this is the way to do it. Getting to be the friendly face that passes over the Thanksgiving turkey, sides, and desserts that a family will gather together to eat later that day. The management team showed up early, put together the boxes of food, and by the time the parade had started we were in business. By noon we were out of turkeys and I headed home to celebrate Thanksgiving with my husband. He wanted to head to his family’s for the holiday. Since I had to work, he agreed to wait on me and we would travel the next day and spend the rest of the weekend in his hometown. 

I knew the situation wasn’t ideal. In a perfect Norman Rockwell type world, no one would ever have to work on any weekend or holiday. Families could travel easily to each other and basque in love and gratitude. But if you’re expecting that to be the reality of life, you’re even more naïve than I am. To make up for the fact that we were having a rather untraditional Thanksgiving, I had made a reservation at his favorite steakhouse (please keep in mind that I am a vegetarian). We’d still have a fun meal together and then we could decorate our little apartment for Christmas, which had become our tradition. We had spent the last couple of years gathering Christmas decorations that would fit in our tiny home. We collected ornaments for our tree everywhere we went. By this point the tree had become a lovely reminder of the past adventures of our relationship. I found so much joy in turning this space into our own winter wonderland. 

When I got back he was still in bed, which was fine. We had some time before we needed to leave for dinner. I was a bit tired myself, from getting up early, so I curled up on the couch for a quick nap. I could hear the commentary from the Westminster Dog Show in the background as I drifted in and out of sleep. Soon I was shaking my husband to wake up. It was time to head downtown. We dressed accordingly, took the subway towards Rockefeller Center, and immediately we were engulfed in New York City holiday magic. I stopped to take some photos of the oversized ornaments, lights, wreaths. It felt special. The way the beginning of the holiday season is supposed to feel…the possibility of love is around every corner. 

Dinner started well. I was so proud of myself for thinking up a special meal for us. Reservations in New York City on Thanksgiving can be hard to come by, but I’d managed to snag us a good time slot at a restaurant my husband loved. Not too shabby. To the outside world I’m sure we looked like a typical New York couple enjoying their holiday. I felt comfort in that knowledge. At least we looked normal. We ordered. Small talk. The food arrived. We started eating. Then my husband, in all his wisdom, thought this would be the most opportune moment to remind me yet again that he didn’t love me. When he looked at me he felt nothing. He wasn’t sexually attracted to me. I almost choked on my asparagus. I felt myself start to tear up. Please, not here. Not at this very lovely restaurant in front of our poor waitress who has to serve uppity New Yorkers and tourists on Thanksgiving. I asked for a lifeline. I implored him to please leave it alone. Just give me this meal. I didn’t want to get emotional. Later. Anywhere but here. Any time but now. 

As soon as I stepped foot back into our apartment I began unpacking the Christmas decorations. This is a bit of a chore. I’m sure it’s that way in everyone’s home. Climbing on step stools, crawling under the bed, rearranging boxes; but the finished product typically makes the whole thing worth the effort. My husband laid on the couch while I struggled to make space for our tree. He fell asleep while I unwrapped our ornaments. Our memories. Our life. “Come on babe, don’t you wanna help decorate?” I asked. “No.”, his voice started to rise. “I think it’s ridiculous that you insist on this every year. What’s the point? I hate it. I’ve always hated it. It’s silly and stupid and there isn’t enough space. What’s wrong with you?” 

I refused to push the matter. I let him sleep on the couch. I tried to be as quiet as possible as I hung our stockings. I didn’t make a peep as I set up the nativity scene. He couldn’t hear the tears falling down my face as I put one ornament after another on our tree. I gazed at the lights illuminating the bobbles. Over seven years of remembrances starred back at me. And then a tiny thought crept into my mind…how do you let go of seven years? I didn’t know if my heart would ever be strong enough to say goodbye. To move forward alone. To put away those ornaments knowing that I may never see them again. 

Isaiah 54:10 “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you. 

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Day 507

Before I knew it, the holidays were upon us. It was Thanksgiving week. Work was starting to become more and more hectic, which provided a continual sanctuary for my battered soul. As the actual holiday approached, I found myself struggling with how to celebrate. I mean, we were still married. Still husband and wife. This was a time to be thankful for any and all blessings. Surely he could handle the sight of me for a weekend. Shouldn’t we plan something? Try our best to go about life as usual? Or, at the very least, go through the motions of pretending to be a family?

The previous Thanksgiving, our first married Thanksgiving, was wonderful. New York City is a magical place to spend Thanksgiving. I’ve always thought so. We lived on the Upper West Side, near where they blow up the balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. On Thanksgiving Eve you can actually walk around near the Museum of Natural History and watch as all the balloons come to life and get ready for their early morning flight the next day. It had been uncommonly warm for that time of the year. We held hands, drank fancy over-priced coffees, took pictures, and frolicked between all of the balloons; remarking how different they looked up close and in person. It seemed so long ago, like a scene out of a children’s fairytale book. After experiencing the grandeur of the balloons, we had met up with friends for wine and cheese. It was a perfect evening, spent with my new husband. I had so much to be thankful for.

What a difference a year makes. Ever the optimist, I was sitting at my desk thinking about what a special evening that had been and I thought to myself, “We live in the greatest city in the world. Let’s do it again. A tradition. A tradition for my little family.” I felt like it showed good faith to make this plan. I was declaring to the world that my marriage would not fail. I was creating traditions. Traditions we would be thankful for in the years to come. I called my husband. I needed this. Please. It would be fun. A great way to kick off the weekend…we had had such a blast the year before. It took some convincing, pleading, begging, but he finally agreed. Baby steps, I thought. Baby steps.

This year the weather was not in our favor. It was cold and damp. As soon as we met up, I could tell he was miserable. In his defense, it was chilly…and we were fighting against a multitude of tourists who had no idea which direction to go or how to walk single file (side note: if you ever travel to New York City, please learn to walk with a purpose and don’t take up the entire sidewalk. We hate that). “Katherine, it’s cold. Let’s get this over with and go home.” His voice was bitter. Curt. It was my mistake. Trying to recreate a feeling. A memory. In my foolishness, I hadn’t bothered to truly listen to him. He didn’t want to do this. He had been clear about that fact, but I pushed. I was always pushing…pushing him further away.

We made it halfway through the maze of balloons before I relented and let us leave. We took a few pictures, where I smiled, pretending this was clearly the best idea in the world. We walked home in silence. Shivering. There would be no wine and cheese. No holding hands. Only silence. I fought to keep pace with him. The tears stung my eyes as the wind whipped me in the face. I had done it again. Why did I insist on being so difficult? So demanding? Maybe if I hadn’t forced this trip down memory lane, we might have actually had a nice evening. I was constantly over-reaching. My heart was in the right place, but that wasn’t enough. It never is, really. That’s just something people say to make themselves feel better, when they haven’t truly assessed a situation from all angles. I hadn’t bothered to look at the evening from his point of view. It was time to start being honest with myself.

This weekend is when the wheels in my head finally started turning. When I looked around and admitted to myself that I was drowning and no one was going to save me. I needed a more concrete plan, but I wasn’t sure what that plan looked like. Hating myself constantly wasn’t working for me anymore. I was tired of feeling like a victim. I’m not a victim. I’m a girl who got dealt a rough hand. I wasn’t the first gal to get sucker punched by life. It was time to find the strength I knew I had inside me. The strength that would help me learn to love again. Not love him. Not love marriage. Not love our life. But the strength to love me.

Ephesians 5:29 “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church.”

Day 503

My father has always loved being a father. I know this to be true. I’m the oldest and when I was born, he thought having a daughter was the coolest thing ever. My father is the daddy to three daughters. If he ever wanted a son, he’s never let us know. We have never felt ashamed that he ended up with three girls. On the contrary, he seems to be ridiculously happy and proud of his girls. And, for all intents and purposes, his feelings are valid. He has raised (along with A LOT of help from my amazing mama) three strong, independent, smart, and kind daughters. Three daughters who are trying to put good into the world. Three daughters who love the Lord and have a personal relationship with their Heavenly Father. We are all different. We have different strengths and different dreams and certainly different temperaments, but we are the same in having a father who understands his calling as a father.

Call it luck or just being extremely blessed, but I also have a “present” father. He supports and learns about everything I love. He has always been there to guide me, teach me, and discipline me when needed. He has expectations. He holds me accountable. Even at 33 I know that he is the parent, I am the child. He also makes sure I vote in every election, God love him. Obviously, having a father who finds joy in my happiness and feels pain when I hurt has helped me pick myself up, brush myself off, and move forward after my divorce. I feel love because he has made sure I feel love. He has guaranteed that I know, not only does he love me, but God loves me.

But what about those precious humans who don’t have a “present” father? What about the children who grow up without a father who not only gives his love freely, but also demands respect, who teaches them how to be a responsible member of society? What do you do if you don’t have a man who leads you from being a baby Christian to becoming an adult who stands strong in their faith? Sadly, I feel that my father is in the minority. Too many young souls are stumbling, lost on this planet, because they lack an earthly father.

My small voice, on my little blog, may not reach the masses. I may never be heard on a grand scale. My thoughts may not mean much to this world, but that doesn’t mean that I stop thinking. Or speaking. Or writing. God calls every father to rise up. Yes, that means you! If you are blessed enough to be a father, then God is calling you. He is calling you to light the way for your child. He is calling you to own your role in your child’s life. He is calling you to be the spiritual head of your household. You better be honoring your child’s mother. You better be guiding your family in the word of God. You better be leading by example. You better be on your knees, seeking God’s guidance in every aspect of your life. Is it hard? I can’t even imagine, but these are not options. These are requirements. Demands. Commandments.

I stand because my father taught me to walk. I keep moving because my father won’t let me fall. I survive because my father gave me strength. I am bound for Heaven because my father showed me to whom I truly belong…I am, ultimately, a child of God.

Calling all fathers: Rise up! Be Present! Stand for your child and your God.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframe of your houses and your gates.”

Day 500

I was able to give my husband forgiveness freely. This gave me a small sense of pride. First and foremost, he was my husband and I knew intellectually that we would never be able to move forward unless I was able to forgive the past. By the grace of God, this sense of release was easy for my heart. My ability to forgive wasn’t because I was an incredibly selfless person with a pure and giving nature, the forgiveness came from Christ alone. He was able to soften my vanity so I could do what was required to try to save my marriage. I had been warned that forgiveness would be difficult, but was necessary. However, for me, forgiveness became as natural and as needed as breathing.

We are called to forgive others. We are called to forgive everyone. Everyone. It hurts and it’s hard and the act of forgiveness may not lead you to personal happiness. You may still end up alone and afraid and sad at the end of the day. We aren’t promised a winning lottery ticket once we achieve forgiveness, but we’re still called to humble ourselves, open ourselves, and let the forgiveness flow.

When my marriage ended, I knew the only way I would heal completely was to once again, forgive. So I did. I made it my mini mission to win at forgiveness, but I still felt terrible every day. I could barely get myself out of bed. All I wanted to do was sleep until the deep pit of hurt inside me scabbed over. I would stare at myself in the mirror and all I felt was a crisp form of hate. I hated everything about myself. I was useless. A complete failure. The wife who was easy to leave. Easy to leave. This has become the truth I keep telling myself. “Don’t get too close, Kat. You’re easy to leave.”

I have begun to re-create my new reality where the truths I tell myself on a daily basis are fact. God must be so ashamed of me. Marriage is a gift from God and I gave up. I couldn’t see it through. I was weak. My husband would do anything in the world to get away from me. I had fallen short on my wifely callings. I had not lived up to his expectations. Now, here I am, throwing kindness at others, while trying to keep myself as shielded as possible. If I am kind, that is good. Maybe I will be harder to leave.

What a hypocrite. Pretending to be a believer who follows all the rules, but not following them all the way through. Sometimes forgiveness isn’t about forgiving those who have wronged you, it’s about learning how to forgive yourself. Letting go of your shortcomings and accepting that God loves you. I think perfecting your own forgiveness is harder than you’d think, because the reality is that you have to live with yourself every day. You can’t get away from you. Learning to look at yourself in the mirror and actually like what you see is a momentous achievement. Being able to stop kicking yourself over your previous missteps takes courage. Owning what you put out into the world on a daily basis as beautiful is just plain difficult.

We make is so much more complicated than necessary. The Bible tells us that once we go to God and ask for his forgiveness, then it is done. All is forgiven. We are clean. Time to move forward. God doesn’t hang onto the attributes that weigh us down. As Christians, the big thing we are all into is that Christ died for our sins. If we truly own the scripture, then we have to believe that once we ask for that forgiveness, it is given. It has been given. It will always be given.

To deny this universal truth, is to deny God’s greatest gift to us. So give it up to God. He doesn’t think you are easy to leave. He has never left. Welcome the new day. Keep moving forward. Start to heal. Learn to own the all-embracing fact: You’re forgiven and it’s over.

Ephesians 1:7 “In him we have redemtion through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.”

Day 497

I wish I could tell you that I handled every moment from the time I found out about the first affair to the moment our divorce was finalized like an absolute lady. I wish I could say that no ugly words came out of my mouth and that all my thoughts were completely pure and well intentioned. I wish I could swear that I kept my head on my shoulders constantly and never faultered in my actions. But that would be a lie. And I’ve already come this far, no point in lying now.

I’m certainly not trying to air my dirty laundry, and this story is gross, so if you have a queasy  stomach I apologize in advance. I just feel that it’s equally as important to tell the story of my weaknesses as it is to tell the story of my triumphs. And, honestly, no one gets out of a situation like this without some emotional bumps and bruises, as well as some poor choices they can’t take back. If I’m choosing to tell this story, it’s not fair to not tell the WHOLE story…so here we go.

As previously mentioned, I have some of the best girlfriends in the entire world, who basically stopped their lives to get me through my year from hell.  The weekend after our adventure with the Rockettes, I was feeling particularly defiant. My friends had invited me to come out to Queens for a day of shopping and manicures, then food, drink, and Christmas movies! That afternoon I told my husband what I was doing and trotted out of the apartment. I didn’t ask permission, I just went. I told him I would be home that evening, but I wasn’t sure what time. Look at me behaving all high and mighty, instead of humbling myself before my husband (my first mistake of the evening).

I had a great day. Manicures, followed by shopping at little boutiques around Queens…and then it started snowing. Not the gross and dirty city-type snowing, but the magical and sparkling first snow of the season snowfall. We got caught up in the excitement of it all and turned giddy taking pictures of each other while the snow fell around us. Those were the beautiful moments, when God gave me pockets of peace. His little reminders to just keep going, he was still with me.

This is when we got the bright idea to make peppermint martinis. Which actually was a great idea in theory. We frolicked back to their apartment where Tiff bartended and Brittany cooked dinner and I marveled at their selflessness. This is where I can fastforward a little and just let you know that I plain and simple drank too much. Call it drinking to forget or numb the pain or just wanting to stay in the happy moment, the end result is that I was drunk (my second mistake). And, in being drunk, time got away from me. Uh Oh…here comes that anxiety ridden, crazy feeling again. I had to get home. He was going to be furious. The panic was setting in.

Somehow I gather my belongings and shopping bag (I can remember to this day what I bought on this joyride of mine) and I get into a cab. Don’t ask me how I got the cab, I don’t remember…maybe Tiffany or Brittany can recall the details better than I.  For awhile, I’m doing ok. I’m sitting in the back of this cab, drunk as a skunk, a 30 year old woman, who’s husband has gone insane…and I’m trying desperately to keep it together. And y’all, I almost made it. But I didn’t. And now I am a 30 year old woman vomiting peppermint martinis all over the back of this cab (my third mistake). But, and here’s the hilarious part, I’m trying to hide the fact that I’m throwing up all over this guy’s backseat because, even in my drunken state, I know he can throw me out of his car for this. Mercifully, we make it back to my street. He’s pissed, and he should be. He throws me a roll of paper towels and we both start cleaning out the back seat of his taxi. He’s muttering at me, but I don’t understand what he’s saying. I tip him an ungodly amount, because that’s all I can think of to do, and I head up the five flights of steps to my apartment.

It’s not over. Oh no. I make it to my apartment, where my husband is asleep and I’m trying to clean myself off…and then I feel it coming again. I make it to the bathroom, and I truly think I’m being careful and clean…this was not the case. But all of a sudden, I don’t really much care. I get ready for bed, lay down next to my husband and say “You’re going to need to clean the bathroom tomorrow” before I finally pass out.

Micah 7:8 “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.”

Day 492

Fours years ago, at about this time, I was in hair and make-up. I was surrounded by my sisters, some of my wonderful friends, my mother; and I was trying to keep calm. In five hours I was getting married. Guests had arrived from all over the country, the rain was going to hold out, my heart was the fullest it had ever been. All of a sudden the months of preparation seemed to float away. The details didn’t seem to matter. I was going to marry the love of my life. The memories haven’t faded away. I was advised to take a breath and enjoy every second of the day. And I did. And it was wonderful. And I was happy. So happy. Til death do us part…well, that didn’t exactly go as planned.

So, what do you do on this day? This day that has become your non-anniversary. I’m past the point of crying or trying to sleep or drink the day away (thank you, Jesus). But it’s still a memorable day for me. I can look at the clock and tell you what I was doing at each moment throughout this day four years ago. I can tell you how this date has affected me every year since. My memory is awesome and I’m great with dates. It’s a blessing and a curse. What rocks about my life, is that I have these beautiful friends who understand me and know me inside and out. They tend to know what I need before I know myself. I’ve already gotten loving and encouraging texts from friends who had an inkling today would be slightly difficult for me. Plus, my friend Lindsay has already planned my evening, so I won’t sit around eating pizza and watching reruns of “Murder She Wrote” (don’t knock it, I love Angela Lansbury).

The bigger questions, that I avoid thinking about at all costs, tumble around inside my brain…What should I do with the wedding pictures? Is it appropriate to wear my wedding jewelry again? Or the big one, do I need to apologize to all my guests? The people who stood for us, prayed for us, traveled for us. How do I possibly convey my gratitude for their love and shame for my failure? As far as I know, Emily Post hasn’t fully covered the appropriate guidelines for this subject matter. It’s not like there is a greeting card out there that says, “I failed at marriage. I’m sorry you invested in us.”

As I was fielding these thoughts this morning, I started looking at my wedding pictures. I can’t tell you the last time I looked at them. Generally, it’s not a good idea and doesn’t produce positive emotions. The first thought that ran through my head was, “I will never be that thin ever again in my entire life.” But the second emotion that overwhelmed my soul was the joy in the faces of the people. I scrolled through the pictures of my loved ones and realized that these humans who supported me then, support me now. They lived through my happiest day, my saddest day, and the day I decided to take my broken pieces and try to mold them into something I could be proud of.

Even though it didn’t work out, I don’t think I’m supposed to forget this day. Why would I want to lose the memory of my mother helping me into my wedding dress or dancing with my father? The speech my sister gave. Galloway interviewing guests for my wedding video. Listening to Tiffany read a poem during our ceremony. The look Zach gave me as he passed me the wedding ring to give to my husband. The overwhelming feeling of the Holy Spirit as the notes of “How Great Thou Art” wafted from the strings. The tears that filled my eyes as I turned and watched my guests stand and make a commitment to pray for our marriage.

My marriage was and is a part of me. To deny that would be to deny a piece of myself. Yes, my wedding day was a super expensive day that didn’t reap the future I had hoped, but it is also a day where a whole lot of people got to together and simply loved me. And I have the pictures to prove it.

Job 17:9 “The righteous keep moving forward, and those with clean hands become stronger and stronger.”

Day 486

One cold evening, I got off the subway and had a message from my friend, Zach. We have been friends since he was born. I say this, because he is 5 weeks younger than I. So, I had to wait on him to show up before our friendship could begin. We grew up together. It was like having a brother my same age. We went to daycare, elementary school, junior high, and high school together. We camped out in his back yard, rode bikes through his neighborhood, built forts, and bossed around our little sisters. In kindergarten our mats for nap time were beside each other, in junior high he typed my research paper, and in high school he was the first person I called when my boyfriend and I broke up. I was in his wedding, he was in my wedding, I even make his kids call me Aunt Kat…we had remained friends through each twist and turn life had thrown at us, but I hadn’t told him about my marriage falling apart. In fairness, I hadn’t told a lot of people. This information was on a need to know basis, as far as I was concerned.

Zach was in town for work, was headed to see his little sister who was in the city for med school, and wanted to know if I had time for a visit that evening. Questions began to cloud my head. Would my husband let me go? Should I continue to keep this major life event from my friend? Should I pretend to be busy so I didn’t rock the boat at home? But how many times does your childhood friend make it to your own backyard? I cautiously entered my apartment and went about the business of making dinner. My husband was home this particular evening and as we ate, I brought up the idea of me heading over to the east side for a mini-reunion. To my delight, he complied. I text Zach back, and was out the door in no time flat.

Full disclosure: I don’t truly remember when this evening occurred. It’s a little blurry in my New York timeline, which is a good thing. It means I’m healing. It means I’m not focusing on the bad times as much. It means I’m living more and more in the present. It also doesn’t really matter. The “when” doesn’t matter, what matters is that it happened and it was important to me and taught me something.

Life in New York is funny. Zach’s sister and I lived in the same city and never saw each other. Between her classes and studying and my job and life crisis, there wasn’t much time to travel across the park for a low key catch up session. I was excited to see them both. I couldn’t wait to ask about Zach’s kids. I hadn’t even met his daughter yet, and his son was a delight to me. His wife is my idea of Wonder Woman. I love them all and couldn’t wait to hear about the adventures that come with life as a family of four.

For me, it was a lovely evening. It’s a special thing, to sit as adults, with someone you have known your entire life, and hear about their life. I have many wonderful friends, but only one who has known me from the very beginning. Only one whose mother helped raise me from the time I was in diapers. Only one who knew where I came from and where I wanted to go. The evening went by too quickly. I side-stepped any questions involving my husband, his absence, and any future plans we were or were not making. I was surprised how easy it was for me at this point, the pretending. It wasn’t lying, but it was. It was lying by omission.

I started to get a panicky feeling that had become normal for me. It meant I was staying too long. I needed to go home. My husband would be upset. I didn’t want to walk into a fight. Tearing myself away was agony. This felt safe. These people knew me. These were MY people. But I left anyway. I left without saying what I should have said. I left without being completely honest. I left without asking for a lifeline. I politely said my goodbyes, hugging everyone extra hard, walked out into the New York winter, got on the subway, and went back to my home.

There was a feeling of relief that would wash over me when I realized my husband was home and not angry with me. On this particular evening, I had the pleasure of feeling this relief. He seemed genuinely happy that I had enjoyed myself. I’d done ok. These were the good nights. The rare gifts. We could watch TV and get ready for bed in silence and I had done well. Tonight, that would be enough. And then I got the text. The text that only Zach could send. I don’t remember the exact wording, but he was concerned. He said he felt like something was wrong. Something I hadn’t talked about. He was checking to make sure I was ok.

You can lie to yourself. You can make yourself believe the lies. You can lie to your co-workers, your acquaintances, everyone who follows you on Facebook…but your poker face is no good with the person who got potty trained next to you.

And, as time goes on, the blessing is that the person who stood for you when you got in trouble in math class in the 7th grade, will also be the person who stands for you as an adult. The little boy who convinced you as a child that you could fly, will help build your grown up wings. The child who held your hand through the death of your cat, will hold your hand through the loss of a marriage. He will share his children with you. He will marry a woman who you wish was your sister. She will graciously allow you into their family. He will let his people be your people, because, from the beginning, they always were. These are God’s forever gifts. This is the best part of the divine plan. This is one of the many reasons why I am still grateful. This is why I go on.

Philippians 1:3-4 “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy.”