I’ve been back in New York for almost two months. It’s hard not to look around at times and remember how I escaped from here three and a half years ago. I’ve thought about not telling the full account of leaving New York, because it just doesn’t matter anymore. But, it’s part of my story and I’ve been reminded recently that being honest is part of being brave. And, if nothing else, I want to be brave.
Once a human decides to “save herself/himself” in a marriage, it does not mean that the love stops or lessens. It simply means that a change must occur. This is important to know and own. The grief, and hurt, and despair do not automatically subside. In fact, maybe they get worse. I think, for me, once I decided to leave…the pain was almost unbearable. I had no idea how bad it would get. You see, once I decided to leave, my ex-husband used my departure as an excuse to truly treat me like trash. And he made it my fault. “Well, you’ve given up on me…how do you think that makes me feel?” “You’ve stopped believing in us.” Or, my personal favorite, “It’s so hard for me to watch you pack, you’re the reason I don’t want to come home at night.”
Side note: Just so we are clear, his adultery was NOT my fault. Period. End of story. No way in hell I am ever going to own that.
My decision to leave our apartment (not leave our marriage) gave my ex-husband the perfect excuse to truly let loose. This meant a lot of sleepless night for me. I’m just going to give one example because golly gee, even three and a half years later, it doesn’t feel good to remember this night. A female friend of his from college was in town on business. He was meeting her after work for drinks. I had met her before. You know that feeling you get when a girl is into your husband? Yeah, I’d had that feeling from her, so I asked to tag along. No dice. I’m home alone, waiting up. It keeps getting later and later. I call. I text. He isn’t responding. So, finally…I text her (does this sound crazy? I didn’t think so at the time). Finally, she texts me back. She explains they both had a lot to drink and so he is just going to stay over in her hotel room. You MUST be kidding me.
1)We are in New York, use the subway
2)Call a cab
3)Tell me where you are and I will come get him
I offer up solution number 3 and she avoids me. This is when I lose it and text her the following: “I know you are going to have sex with my husband. It is completely inappropriate for him to stay in your hotel room. I am begging you to please think about what you are doing. I am his wife. Please don’t sleep with my husband.” Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have to beg someone to not sleep with my husband. She never responds.
I stayed up all night. I cried. I prayed. I called my friend, Cheyenne and she stayed up and talked to me. I pleaded for God to make the pain end. Make me just not care anymore. It was a terrible night that wouldn’t end. He came waltzing home around 7:30 in the morning, looking a mess. And then he yelled at me for texting her. Said that I embarrassed him. It’s not that I am a weak woman, it’s just that I had no fight left in me. So, I just took it. I wish I could tell you that I had a speech prepared which I eloquently gave about how disrespectful he was…but that’s not how this part of the story ends. I let him yell at me and degrade me at 7:30 in the morning and then I silently took a shower and got ready for work.
I showed up to work late. Not too late. Maybe half an hour or so, but my boss knew something had happened. And y’all, when things are just plain terrible…look for the little drops of mercy. This is what will save you. My boss said “I try not to worry about you. But when you’re late I know things are bad.” And then I blubbered out everything that had happened the night before. He sat beside me and told me I had to eat and that I was dehydrated from all the crying. He sat there and watched me eat and made me drink water, then he told me to go home. I was appalled at myself and refused at first. He finally convinced me to go back to my apartment and rest.
That evening I had plans to meet up with my friends, Tiffany and Brittany. Bless their hearts. Yet again, they had to sit through a dinner with me telling them something awful that my ex-husband did. I sounded like a broken record, but they still sat and listened and supported me and loved me and believed I’d be ok again someday. They are two of the best people I know. And then we went to a movie and for a little while I felt like a normal girl who has dinner and a movie with her girlfriends. It’s those moments of mercy that will help anyone survive a loss. I am so thankful for the many moments of mercy given to me.
Looking back, the beauty of it all is that so many people who helped me didn’t even truly know how much they were helping at the time. I’ll never forget the release I felt when my boss let me cry and made me eat. I can still remember laughing outside the movie theatre with Brittany and the true look of concern on Tiffany’s face as she sat across from me and took in everything I was telling her. I don’t want my story to be a story of divorce and failure and sadness. I want my story to be about these moments of mercy. These opportunities life gives us to bring goodness to any situation. These reminders that God is still in his heaven and holding us tightly, until we are ready to be brave again.
Hebrews 4:16 “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne and grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”