Day 730

We are now reaching the point in my story where it’s difficult to write. Difficult to go back in my mind and recall the memories that hurt my heart so deeply. Difficult to believe that I actually lived those moments. They happened. They are a part of who I am now. They affect my life choices. Hell, they affect my heart choices. They affect that small voice inside me that judges the person I am becoming. I sat down to write today, and immediately became exhausted with the thought of recording the story I’m about to compose. I’ve racked my brain to come up with any other possible message or anecdote to put into this blog, but today I have to continue the story. My story. Because I said I would. I said I would be honest, and it isn’t fair to leave out the hurtful parts. It isn’t fair to any other woman or person who has been hurt due to infidelity. Minimizing the problem doesn’t make it go away. Minimizing the problem doesn’t heal the scars. And most importantly, minimizing the problem doesn’t help to properly convey how big my God is.

As I said earlier, my husband and I did not spend Christmas together. However, in true Kat fashion, I decided we would have our own Christmas as soon as we got back from visiting our families. I would re-create Christmas. We would have a lovely day together, just the two of us. Even as I type the words, I realize what a moron I was to force this upon him. I had everything planned out. We would get up and make breakfast and have coffee together, just like we used to. Then, we would open gifts and watch Christmas movies and enjoy each other’s company. I had carefully purchased gifts for him that I felt screamed how much I loved him and knew him and somehow sent the message “Stay married to me, please.” Our own little day of joy on the Upper West Side. 

Ok, so it wasn’t perfect, but the truth is the morning wasn’t horrible either. He complied for a little while. We managed breakfast and coffee together. We were quite civil. We opened the gifts we had gotten one another. I could tell he was embarrassed because he obviously hadn’t put any thought into his gifts for me, and my heart went out to him. Maybe this would be a tiny turning point. Maybe he was recognizing that our partnership was worth saving. Then, in an instant, my hopes were dashed. He’d made plans to watch football with some of his friends for the rest of the day. I didn’t understand. I thought we would have the whole day together. I was confused. Had I not made myself clear? I desperately wanted to avoid a fight, but I couldn’t help questioning his decision. Did I not deserve ONE day? Just ONE! 

He said it wasn’t me, we just hadn’t communicated properly. He assumed I would only need the morning with him, not the whole day. Plus, it was the week before the playoffs and apparently playoff season trumps celebrating Christmas with your wife. This very conversation may be the reason why I despise the NFL. What could I do? I offered to watch football with him at our place. I offered to go with him…so we could at least be together. No dice. Fine. I told him I would take myself to the movies (this new Disney movie called “Frozen” was currently out in theatres…I wanted to see what all the fuss was about). He left to spend time with men I don’t like while watching a sport that truly doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of life. I showered, cleaned up our little holiday extravaganza, and headed uptown to the AMC on 84th Street. 

I was on the corner of 84th and Broadway when I got the text. The text from my husband. The text that was meant for someone else. The text that his wife was never supposed to see. The text that was intended for her. That woman. That woman who helped steal the innocence of my marriage. That woman who allowed herself to be a part of the breakdown of my life. That woman who had so little respect for her vows and for my own. That woman was still texting my husband. How did I know? Because my husband included her name in the text. Looking back, it’s almost comical. What was he thinking? So now I’m crying on this cold, dark December night on the corner of 84th and Broadway and I just don’t know what to do. I cried and I didn’t much care who saw me. I think this happens a lot in New York…random girls crying on the street. It didn’t feel like that big of a deal to me at the time. So I continued crying. 

Eventually I text my husband back. I let him know that he accidentally text his wife, instead of one of this girlfriends. He immediately called me and let me know he was coming home so he could properly explain himself. Boy, did he have guts. He didn’t believe he was in the wrong. The whole thing was a misunderstanding. I walked 11 blocked and one avenue back to our apartment. Crying. Hurting. Heartbroken. I walked up 4 flights of stairs to our doorway. I readied myself, once again, to hear the lies that would pacify me. So much for football. 

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.” 

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Day 726

Here are some truths: I’m not always a “good” person. I have made plenty of mistakes. I continue to make mistakes. I fail in my relationships, friendships, job, faith, etc. There are many decisions I have made that cause me to feel ashamed. Words have come out of my mouth that were hurtful and untrue. I have had unkind thoughts and feelings more often that I can even count. I am not writing this blog to make myself feel superior in any way. I write, hopefully, so others will see how God took an imperfect and flawed woman; and loved her and helped her learn to stand again. But more importantly, how he continues to love her as she constantly stumbles along the way while drastically trying to find her footing in this life’s journey.

Another truth is that I am desperately afraid of failure. I will hang onto a person or an experience or an idea or a choice much longer than I should because I do not want to admit defeat. I will allow myself to stay in a situation where I am made to feel small, just so I can say I didn’t retreat or give up. I will permit someone to belittle the person I am to avoid confrontation. And then, there I am, looking at myself in the mirror and thinking “You’ve come so far. You’ve gotten so strong. You got your groove back…why are you giving it away?” 

Third truth: I’m a huge people pleaser. I like to be liked. I don’t necessarily need you to think that I’m smart or pretty or talented, but I need you to like me as a human being. I would also like you to think that I have excellent manners (but to be quite fair, that’s my mother’s doing). Now, to be perfectly clear, if I don’t respect you then I truly don’t care how you feel about me. Respect is huge to me. I mean, it’s not like I care what my ex-husband thinks of me…which shows HUGE amounts of progress on my part; however, if I respect you, then I am desperately seeking your approval. Constantly. Yes, even at 33. 

Truth No 4: I love bows.

The funny thing about people is that many would look at these truths of mine and see them as failures. Many would see “fear of failure” as failure itself. I prefer to think of it as “constantly seeking to be better.” The real truth is: Personal truths are not universal truths. In life, many times, you are going to meet fellow humans who don’t share your personal truths. Who don’t even understand your personal truths. Who can’t comprehend where your personal truths come from. I don’t really know why I am the way I am. My sisters aren’t like me. My parents aren’t like me. My mother will stand on the front lines of confrontation and take you down in a single sentence. My father will graciously shake the hand of a man who has said terrible things about him, without giving it a second thought. I can’t do that. That’s not in my make up. I would run from the confrontation and spend the rest of the evening trying to convince the man that he should totally like me while giving him a bullet pointed list of reasons why.  

Lately, when I’ve stumbled and failed and disappointed, I’ve felt so ashamed. I hate to feel like I’m moving backwards. I hate to feel like I’ve been given a chance to succeed and I’ve blown it. I hate to feel a depression start to creep back in when I’ve worked so hard to suppress those feelings. In these not so wonderful moments, when my personal truths have me doubting myself, I’ve realized the answer is to turn to the only universal truth. Friends, sometimes you just gotta get back to the word of God. Yes, his word reminds me that I am loved and worthy and that my life has a purpose. But his word also keeps me in check. His word is a reminder of when I fail in my spiritual life and when I fail in becoming the person I was created to be. His word keeps me accountable. His word keeps me honest. His word keeps me humble. His word emphasizes the way I am called to live my life. His word is what I must stand by and own and project. His word, and his word alone, must become my personal truth. 

Isaiah 40:8 “The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” 

Day 716

In my home church, during advent, a different family is chosen every Sunday to read the scriptures and light the advent candles. As a little girl, I had no idea how these families got chosen, but I dreamed of the Sunday when the Hill Family would have the honor of standing before the congregation and taking on the responsibility of “official candle lighters.” I was fascinated by the way those candle lighting instruments worked. I had so many questions. I needed to know how the wick got higher. Where exactly did the fire come from? And most importantly, what did a girl have to do in order to be a part of the advent candle lighting ceremony? Was there an audition? Where did I sign up? Why weren’t my parents more on top of this? I knew our little family could hack it. I even had it choreographed in my head. Who would say what, where each person would stand, and who would get the awesome job of keeping those suckers lit. Yet, year after year, my family would sit in the balcony of our church, in our row…and watch others light the candles.

Fast forward MANY years later, and here I am home for Christmas. Married, but without my husband. Alive, but dying inside. Faithful, but lost. And guess what? My family had been chosen to light the advent candles…at the Christmas Eve service. The little girl in me would have been thrilled. Finally getting to light the candles AND at the most important service of the year. Little girl Katherine would have been beside herself. Adult Kat was mortified. Embarrassed. Ashamed. So, to paint you a picture, this is how it would work: We would sit as a family in the front of the church, and then haul ourselves up there at the appointed time and do our thing. No possible way to hide. Completely exposed. Truthfully, I didn’t even want to go to church on Christmas Eve. How was I ever going to explain the absence of my husband? What possible explanation could there be for a husband and wife to spend Christmas apart? Marital issues. Everyone would know. They would take one look at me and know I was failing at marriage. That I couldn’t handle it. That I had somehow screwed up being a wife. The thought paralyzed me. 

My precious family offered to bow out. They gave me options. I didn’t have to go. They could obviously do it without me. Or another family could take over the privilege. They knew me. They knew it would be difficult for me. They knew I was still struggling to get out of bed in the morning, that I had to be forced to eat, that my anxiety level was through the roof, that I lived most of my life in constant fear, and that I hated myself for my wifely shortcomings. I realize, looking back, that it truly wasn’t that big of a deal. At Christmas, especially in your church, no one is focused on the misfortune of others, instead they are focused on the joy of the season. But, to me, standing up there in front of my church family was just about the same as admitting all of my weaknesses in a public forum and I just didn’t think I had the strength to do it. To pretend that I was ok. Or happy. Or stable. 

I wish everyone who read this blog knew my baby sister, because to know her is to understand better how this whole event went down. She is gracious and she is selfless and she is full of all things good and her spirit belongs to the Lord and she is the most beautiful creature in this world. I looked at her and I knew we were going to do this. All of us. As a family. Her heart wanted us to come together as our little tribe and tell the story of Jesus’ birth. How could anyone say no to that? 

And so we did. All six of us got gussied up and sat in the front pew. I sat in the middle of everyone. They formed a protective wall around me so they could deflect any unwanted conversation (and maybe also to make sure I didn’t run away). I remember feeling like a zombie. Just one more day I lived in a haze. I remember following my family up to the advent wreath, and when it was my turn to speak, I read about the coming of our Lord and Savior. A baby that was sent to show us how to love one another. A baby that would sacrifice for us. That would teach us. And that would die for us. And for a brief moment, Christmas was simply about the Prince of Peace. The magnitude of his love swelled inside of me and my soul was overwhelmed. 

As soon as the service was over, my brother-in-law ran with me out to my car and drove me home. No small talk for me. I retreated back to the safety of my home. Still mortified. Still embarrassed. Still ashamed. But with the reminder of whom I belonged. The understanding that the King of Kings did not consider me a failure. The knowledge that God sent a baby to save the world. Even me. 

John 12:46 “I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”