Day 565

When my ex-husband and I were registering for our wedding we made the conscious decision to register not for the life we had, but for the life we wanted. We lived in a typical New York City small one bedroom apartment. Absolutely no counter space in the kitchen, zero storage, and only two small closets. I knew we wouldn’t be in New York forever. We had both decided when we had children we wanted to raise them outside of the city. Buy a house. Get out of the craziness that came with city living. Therefore, when it came to registering for our wedding, we registered for the future. We registered for our dreams. We registered for the blessed day when we would have more space.

To add another layer upon my registry plan…I’m Southern. This means I had big plans for china. I had big plans for serving pieces. I had big plans for linen. My type A southern lady personality was ready to host any baby shower, engagement party, or family gathering that came my way. I fantasized about giving my future children the kind of life my mother gave me. Themed decorations for every holiday, a fancy mother-daughter afternoon tea, elaborate birthday parties, the works! I think a lot of young couples feel that way. They have high hopes for their lives together. They see themselves many years down the road hosting a family dinner, preparing for a holiday, or even decorating a new home. Why shouldn’t they think ahead and register for those moments?  

Of course, now the future is blurry. The life I registered for is boxed up along with the “Our First Married Christmas “ ornaments, the wedding video, and any other remembrance from the life I used to lead. Does that mean the dream gets boxed up to? Does it mean I should accept my fate to never serve a dinner on fine china? Is it time to change lanes in order to help my future self? Is there a point when we need to stop registering for our future? For our hopes? For the possibility of being able to obtain exactly what we’ve always wanted? 

I’m all about being realistic. And, as an actress, I feel an extreme importance in being able to find the line between reality and make believe. I try to keep my life leaning more towards reality. It’s safer. It’s smarter. It helps me distinguish the important differences between personal life and work. However,sometimes I slip, and I find myself wandering around in the home goods section of TJ Maxx carefully designing the office I would create, if I had a home. What colors would I use in my bedroom? What kind of furniture would I use in the living room? The thought of organizing my own closet sends chills up and down my spine. Would my sense of whimsy show in my style of home décor? Or would I construct a more classic look? 

Late at night the real dreaming begins. The dog search. Scouring the World Wide Web cooing at puppies I would give my right arm to own. Carefully dissecting each piece of information on every breed. I consider size. Does this particular dog shed? Will he be easy to train? I even contemplate that I am a single lady…will the dog be ok left alone while I am at work? Will he be a good companion? How does he feel about cuddling? And yes, I have a name picked out. Do I currently have a home where I can keep said dog? Nope. Do I have the means to afford a dog? Nope. Do I see my situation changing at any point in the near future? Nope. Do I still actively dream and plan for the day when a puppy will enter my life? You’re darn tootin’ I do! 

Confession time: Not only do I check out puppy possibilities and swoon over home furnishings…I also check out apartment floor plans. This is slightly more tricky, because I have no idea where I will plant roots, and therefore I don’t have a specific town in mind in which to search for apartments. But, nonetheless, one of my favorite pastimes is analyzing floor plans. My floor plan fantasies take me into a whole new level of crazy. I won’t bore you with the details, but I definitely have a list of “must haves” and a list of “I can live without this…but I’d still like it anyway.” Why I waste my time on this particular dream, I do not know…but I can’t seem to let it go. 

My guess is that I am not the only human who has these habits. I’m sure there are others who plan, research, and aspire for more. Now, certainly I could obtain all of these goals. I could pick a spot on the map. I could sit myself down. I could lease an apartment, buy a dog, decorate a bathroom, etc. But at the moment, my job is what fuels me. My job provides a passion for my life. A purpose. And during this current chapter of my beautiful life, the two parts of me don’t seem to be lining up together. So, you pick a road. You travel that road to the best of your ability. You continue to pray that the unpicked road will coincide with your chosen road. Because your chosen road isn’t so much a choice, it’s a non-negotiable. You can’t turn from the one thing that gives you fire and strength. You can’t. You won’t. 

And yet, God’s grand design hasn’t changed. He sees the desires of your heart. He knows what your soul yearns for even more than you do. He walks beside you on the road you chose because you couldn’t possibly choose a different path. He hears your prayers. He sees your inner struggle. He smiles and chuckles as you silently continue to register for the life you have always wanted because, and this is important, he is preparing a way. O good and faithful servant, our Lord is always preparing a way. 

1 Corinthians 2:9 “But, as it is written, What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him.” 

~For G

Day 556

The more I write this blog, the more I learn about myself. Writing about the past has made me aware of certain attributes I possess. I have more than my share of personality traits that continue to pop up and show their ugly selves to the world. For example, I’m pushy. Oh so very pushy. I’m sure there’s a better word out there in the English Dictionary to describe this part of myself, but for now, let’s just call it pushy. I know I’m pushy because as I travel down memory lane I am reminded of how many times I let my “pushiness” take over, when rational thinking would have sufficed. I’m still pushy. I guess I’ll never learn. Some of my friends may use prettier words to make me feel better. They might say I’m passionate, or dramatic, or bold…but the truth is, I’m just plain pushy.

When I get an idea fixed into my head, there isn’t much anyone can do to change my course of action. Whether it’s a great idea or not isn’t the point, the point is that I have decided how something must be done, and I’m going to do it. The upside is that my word definitely means something. If I make a declaration to the world, I’ll follow through. The downside is once my head and heart are set on a goal, I have tunnel vision. I can’t see the forest through the trees. I could be falling down a rabbit hole and I wouldn’t even know it until I hit the bottom. There is also a strong possibility that if you happen to be in my vicinity, I’ll end up dragging you down that rabbit hole with me. If I had truly known these traits about myself two and a half years ago, then maybe I wouldn’t have demanded a trip to the Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show. But I was slightly more naïve then, and not so self aware…so demand I did. Which means, perhaps, I deserved the disaster that followed. 

Instead of truly dealing with the fact that my marriage was becoming more unsalvageable every day, I chose to throw myself into anything “holiday themed” I could find. I couldn’t fully handle reality. Maybe that was a good thing. Maybe if I was completely aware of the situation it would have swallowed me whole. Maybe I wouldn’t have recovered. Who’s to say? So, to help avoid the situation, I became a little holiday elf. If I had any free time at all, I wanted to fill it with Christmas cheer. And then I heard about the Botanical Gardens Holiday Train Show. And for some odd reason I thought to myself, “This sounds like the perfect outing for my husband and me.” Now, if you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, then you know that this was not at all a good outing for us. This was a terrible idea. This would not end well. And you would be right. 

The Botanical Gardens had a special event on certain evenings where adults got dressed up, frolicked through the gardens at night, drank champagne, and perused the holiday décor. This was what I wanted. This is the experience I wanted us to have. After begging, pleading, and just plan nagging; my husband agreed to buy the tickets and go with me. This momentous occasion was to occur on a Friday. We would leave work, meet at our apartment, and head to the Botanical Gardens from there. Now, this is where the story becomes hilarious. And truly, living through it was awful, but I can finally see the humor…so cheers to growth! Neither one of us had done proper research on where we should be going on this oh so special outing (which isn’t like me at all). I am expecting him to pull it together and do all the planning. He is expecting me to have everything laid out, because in reality, I am the only one of us who actually wants to have this adventure. All we know is a start time and that we are going to the Botanical Gardens…so we get on the subway bound for Brooklyn. 

Only, we shouldn’t be going to Brooklyn. We should be going to the Bronx. For you non-New Yorkers, this is a very costly mistake. We lived on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. Going to Brooklyn would take an hour. Going to the Bronx would take an hour. By the time we realize our mistake, we are already in Brooklyn. It would take another two hours to turn around and head to the Bronx. No way in hell we will ever make it on time. We both know this. And yet, for some odd reason…we try to make it. We don’t speak. We simply change trains. We ride in silence. Time passes. We get off the train in the Bronx. It’s sleeting and dark and cold. We aren’t going to make it. I call it. In the late night, pitch-black streets of the Bronx; soaked and sad, I call it. Let’s go home.

We don’t fight. It is what it is. There isn’t anyone to blame. Riding back into Manhattan, I turn to him and say, “We aren’t going to make it, are we? We’re going to get a divorce.” And this is the moment where the power shifts. He gets a panicked expression on his face. “I don’t know,” he answers. And now we both know it is a possibility. It has been said out loud. Put out into the universe. In the coming weeks I will have wished I hadn’t said it. I will want to take it back. I will want to erase that moment of realization. But, in the words of Lynn Ahrens…”We can never go back to before.” 

Two days later, we decide to try again. I have no idea why. I think he is trying to prove that he is not a failure. I am trying to prove that with enough hard work, we can save this marriage.Why we put so much stock into this experience is beyond me. We get up early on a Sunday morning and travel to look at the holiday trains. This also just so happens to be the day where every family in every borough has decided to take all their children to look at the trains as well. He is miserable. I am pretending not to be miserable. On our way home I look at him and say, “If we actually make it…if we stay together and live to see another Christmas, I promise I will never make you do this again.” He laughs. And for one brief moment, I see the man I love. 

Psalms 66:17-20 “I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!’ 

Day 546

I love an inspirational quote just as much as the next girl. I love a bible verse set in front of a majestic setting, or an Instagram post telling me how strong I am because I am a woman who has seen tough times, or a Facebook reminder that the sun will come out tomorrow. I even love a quirky saying on a t-shirt. Seriously. I love it all. I read it all. I judge it and contemplate how it pertains to my life. Sometimes I even screenshot it and save it for future use in the divorcedyetdevoted Instagram account (which, by the way, you should be following). I know you know what I’m talking about. They are unavoidable. Little pockets of wisdom to guide you through life, whether you want them or not. 

I try to stay away from any quote that tends toward the negative. Basically, the ones that bash men. The ones that tell me that because I am a woman I don’t need a man, or that any man who doesn’t find me devastatingly attractive is a moron, or that men are only good for one thing and one thing only. Look, I’m all about women empowerment…but not at the cost of negating an entire half of the human population. And you wanna know my deep, dark secret? I like men. Not all men, obviously, but the truth is I have some wonderful men in my life and I am a better woman for their respect, love, and support. 

As a divorced woman, I don’t want my divorce to define all of who I am. I have seen many women grow bitter from their divorce. Their hearts seem to freeze over. They become man-haters. The possibility of finding a “good man” seems utterly ridiculous. Y’all, this has to stop. It must. One man’s terrible mistakes cannot define us, as women, for the rest of our lives. Why would we ever want to give our ex-husband’s that much power? Yes, we are scarred and a bit broken because of their actions, but we ain’t down yet! 

Call me lucky, but as soon as my life started to tumble out of control, God sent an army of strong men to yank me out of my downward spiral. Wonderful examples of how a man should treat a woman. It seems that whenever one man had to exit my life, God sent another one to pick up from where he left off. My father is the most supportive man I know. My brother-in-law is an excellent father, husband, and defender of my sisters and me. My best friend is a man whose heart speaks the same language as my own. I have the most confident and protective big-brother figure in all the land…if you mess with me, he will find you. My friend, Danny, believes I can literally do anything in the world. He has more confidence in my abilities than anyone I know. And today I get to spend the day working with a wonderful friend, a man whose generous spirit knows no bounds. God put Timothe back into my life at the perfect moment. As I continue to mend, he is a fierce example of a gentleman who shows me respect on a daily basis and challenges me to grow in the knowledge of my personal strength. He constantly lifts me up, while pushing me forward. He is a true dreamboat. These are just a few examples of the male blessings in my life. I could honestly write an entire book entitled “The Men Who Stepped In When My Ex-Husband Stepped Out.”  

Yes, I am a strong woman. Yes, I don’t need a man to get through this life. Yes, I pay my own bills and take care of myself and travel around from job to job just fine and dandy by myself, thank you very much. I am woman…hear me roar! I will roar about all the new things I am learning to do. I will roar about other fabulous women who are killing it at life. I will roar about my fierce female friendships til the cows come home! But I won’t roar hate. I won’t let one man ruin the reputation of all men. I won’t let hate be my battle cry. 

Any kind of hate is dangerous. Allowing our hearts to accept the feeling of hate will only take us further away from God and his perfect plan for our lives. The answer, is to learn how to love again. The men in my life have taught me more about true love than my ex-husband ever did. Embracing their love will help me learn to love others better. Choosing to give love will heal my heart. Acknowledging the love around me allows me to love myself. And loving myself means being devoted to my life. Be devoted. Now that’s something I’d like to read on a t-shirt. 

1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”