Day 895

It’s all fine and dandy to come to the realization that you need to separate from your adulterous husband. Truly. But, that’s only half the battle. The second part, the actual “making plans to leave”, can often be the more exhausting step of this equation. Yes, I had finally decided to vacate my situation. Congrats to me. But what was I going to do? Where was I going to go? How could I go away and still believe reconciliation was a possibility? This is the part where you may disagree with me. Or maybe you’ll just sigh at my naïveté. I wouldn’t judge you. I get it. I often look back and think “How did I ever convince myself we could still make this marriage work?” However, I swear to you that I believed in my heart of hearts, in the deepest depths of my soul, that I could leave him and somehow we would still find a way back to each other. I did. I mean, through God all things are possible, so why not this?

I knew I had to get away. I was miserable. I don’t have the words to properly describe my pain. My darkness. I felt like if I didn’t leave New York, I would throw myself in front of a subway car. It sounds dramatic, I know. But it’s the truth. If something didn’t change soon, I wouldn’t make it. The day would come when I fell down and wouldn’t be able to pull myself up again. I was losing my fight, my will. Feeling invisible in my despair. I had to go. 

Step one was to tell my boss. He had been such an angel for the past 4 months. I wanted to give my company ample notice. It felt like the least I could do after all they had done for me. NYC was hosting the Super Bowl that year, and I decided I would stay long enough to handle the events for that weekend. It wouldn’t be fair to throw a new employee into that madness. 5 weeks. 5 weeks until my departure. I felt better after setting the date. Every difficult curve ball life throws at you is easier to handle when you have a cut off time in mind. I have found that to be the case often. Once you can see the finish line, your soul will carry you the rest of the way. 

Another small blessing. I was so nervous to quit my job. This company had been so good to me. Truly, they had become a safe haven of understanding. I worried I was letting them down. Through quiet tears I explained that I had to leave. I apologized profusely. He just shook his head and said, “I know.” Maybe everyone knew it would eventually come to this. Maybe I was the only only hold out. Maybe my ex-husband even knew. But I never believed I’d have to leave, until leaving was the only option. I was relieved to have made the decision. It felt right. I felt justified. Once again, I was a woman with a plan. I like having a plan. It gives the illusion that I am somewhat in control of my life. I researched and hired a moving company from my desk at work. I was already knocking items off of my “to do” list. I was being proactive. This was happening.

I changed my mailing address, I booked a flight to Tennessee, I discontinued my gym membership. I had decided I would “move home” and figure things out from there. I was being responsible.  Everything was clipping along nicely. Except that I hadn’t exactly told my ex-husband. I mean, technically he knew I was leaving him. I was moving out. But, at this time, he wasn’t aware that I was leaving the state. I don’t know what he thought I was doing. Maybe moving in with friends? Who knows. I had been clear that January was the last month I would be paying rent. So he knew that much. He didn’t seem too torn up about the current state of affairs, and I hate confrontation, so I chose to avoid the topic for as long as possible. Please keep in mind, that during this process, I truly and utterly believed we would STILL be able to heal our marriage. I had convinced myself that we would find a way back to each other. God loves marriage. We made a covenant with God. Ergo, God would wave his magic wand and (if I was patient and good and perfect) grant us a beautiful marriage with a fantastic testimony and a deeper commitment to each other than we had ever had before. End of story.

It’s been over three years since that woman made all these life changing decisions for herself. I can still feel the pain. I understand what it’s like to feel a deep grief in your heart that you can’t escape. The agony was difficult to endure at times. It was suffocating. Exhausting. And at the end of the story I don’t have a “beautiful marriage with a fantastic testimony.” That was supposed to be the prize for my despair. My winnings. Instead I have a Honda, an amazing bow collection that any rational human would be envious of, a tender heart, a courageous spirit, and a deeper commitment to my Heavenly Father than I have ever had before. Plus the realization that my story is just beginning.

2 Corinthians 3:3 “You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.”

Day 861

In many ways I calculate time in “before divorce” and “after divorce.” No, this does not mean I think about my divorce constantly, it’s just that my life changed drastically after my divorce. I changed drastically. Everything is different, and not, all at the same time. Obviously before my divorce I was younger. Definitely more naïve. But, if I’m being honest, I also fell into that HUGE category of people who tried to make everything as perfect as possible. I’m not saying I tried to make my social media life perfect (which is how 99.9% of the population handle social media), I’m saying I tried to make my WHOLE LIFE perfect. Looking back I think “how exhausting…and sad.” But that’s the pathetic truth of the matter. I tried to hide all my imperfections and fears and doubts. Honestly, maybe that’s an easy thing to do in your 20s. I forget.

Fast forward to age 34. I wish I came with a “WARNING” card that I could hand out to people. It would make life easier and I could talk less. Just a little card with all my ugly truths. I’m not ashamed of them. It would just be more productive if I could let people know ahead of time the rotten parts of me. The damaged parts. It’s a time saver really. Divorce damaged me. I’m not an idiot, I know that. But it also gave me the opportunity to assess myself and learn about myself and decide to like myself. And when you like yourself you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone else. It’s a “take me or leave me” mentality. It’s refreshing and freeing and saves money on make-up. This new super power of mine also makes me keenly aware of when others are trying desperately to disguise themselves as perfect. My friend, Amy, and I often joke about such humans. We just want to scream “YOU WIN” so they will shut up and move on. We’re having t-shirts made with that slogan. Once again, so I can talk less. Just read the shirt, kiddos, and be on your merry perfect way.

All joking aside, I want to talk about how I’m damaged because it’s OK. When I’m uncomfortable I try to be hysterical, so I often refer to these damages as Divorce PTSD…which I actually believe is a real thing. About two years ago when I started writing this blog, I wrote about scars and mentioned three major areas in my life where I feel scarred. Some of those issues have gotten better, but mostly I’ve just added to the list. I’ll give you a small example of damages incurred:

*trust issues (gee..I wonder why)

*fear of abandonment

*fear of conflict

*HUGE body issues

*trouble trusting my instincts

*fear of being wrong

*need for constant words of affirmation

*depression about possible reality of never being a mother

Sounds pitiful, huh? Stick with me. All of these fears are ok. I mean, I need to work on getting over them…but they don’t stop me from living my life and being…wait for it…HAPPY! Here is another list. A list of reasons why I am a better human:

*learned to surround myself with the best friends this planet has to offer

*grown closer in my walk with Christ

*can go 5 days without washing my hair and not freak out about it

*understands the world does not revolve around my wants and needs

*much more compassionate heart and WAY better listener

*less of a people pleaser

*more adventurous

*still ridiculously emotional, but I love that about myself and it’s not changing

*prefers gym clothes to dresses and proud of it

*Rock star aunt

*and most importantly, I’m glad I got divorced

Being able to be honest and self-aware is super empowering. Learning to love your growth and your journey is necessary. Accepting that the most important validation comes from you is life-changing. No, I am not happy every day. But if that’s what you are searching for, you will never feel fulfilled. Focusing on your damages won’t change the past, but it will affect how present you are in your life.

There are certain subjects we aren’t supposed to talk about. Divorce is one of them. And I don’t like that. You certainly aren’t supposed to say that you are a better and happier human because of divorce, but I am. God hates divorce, that fact has been drilled into every Christian I know. But God doesn’t hate me. He hasn’t forgotten about me. And I like to think in this “post-divorce” life I am living, he believes I’ve just gotten cooler…damages and all.

~special thank you to my boyfriend for never seeing my damages as damages.

Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.”

Day 802

Last night I went to a beautiful Good Friday service. I’m currently visiting my friend Cheyenne in New York and honest to goodness we found this church by googling “Astoria Good Friday Service.” Our criteria was to find a church we could walk to who also had their schedule clearly stated on their website. This proves the importance of a good website for a church. Note: Churches, if you are trying to reach visitors or new members; your service schedule should be the EASIEST thing to find. How do you think you’re going to get people in the door if they don’t know when to show up? So it was just dumb luck (or the Holy Spirit) that we ended up participating in an incredible, spirit filled, reflective time of worship.

We heard an amazing string quartet play Joseph Haydn’s “The Seven Last Words of Our Saviour On the Cross.” It was first performed in 1783 in Spain. The worship leader would read a passage pertaining to one of the last utterances of Jesus and then we would listen to a sonata as we meditated on the reality of the actions that took place oh so many years ago. The music was indescribable. Art is meant to illicit emotion. So, for me, when you put art and Jesus together…I am a complete mess. I mean, we’re already dealing with the day that Jesus Christ was crucified for all mankind. Letting that fact alone sink in causes me to shudder with shame and humility.

I could go on and on with my thoughts on each of the seven words, but I want to focus on the first. The one that still haunts me this morning. The one I thought I had a better handle on. “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Forgiveness. Forgiveness is tricky. There is a constant push and pull between forgiving and being smart enough to not forget. There is the focusing on those you must forgive and being honest about what you must confess and ask for forgiveness for. There is the never ending searching of your heart to make sure your forgiveness was pure. And there is the relief of being able to truly let go.

Since my divorce I think I’ve gotten better at letting things roll off my back. There’s a moment when you take a good hard look at a situation and think “That’s not a real problem” and go on with your day. It’s freeing. It’s growth. It’s grace. The flip side of that is when I deem a situation an “actual problem,” then I suddenly start a crusade to right a disastrous wrong. And who would know better about wrong-doing than me? I mean, I’ve dealt with DIVORCE…I clearly know a thing or two about sin. So you better step up to my personal moral code, please and thank you. Good grief. Who do I think I am? I’ll tell you what I am. A sinner saved by God’s love. Saved by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Saved by the nails.

Yes, I am killing it at the forgiveness of the “big things.” I have forgiven my ex-husband. And when I say “I forgave him” what I mean is that through the help of Jesus I was able to get to a place where I knew in my heart that I couldn’t heal until I could forgive. But who am I to decide what constitutes a big thing to forgive and a small thing to forgive? I fall short of the glory of God constantly. Every day. And you know what? Jesus died for all of that. The big things, the small things, the scary things, the hard things, the annoying things. My brain has problems even fully understanding everything he took on that day on the cross. But, being a child of faith, even when my brain fails me…the Holy Spirit fills me. And that is when I can feel his love and his understanding and his grace. That is when I grasp my purpose and his presence. That is when forgiveness doesn’t feel like a chore, but a gift.

“Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” The “them” in this exclamation is me. The “they” in this cry to the heavens is me. My sin. All my sins.

Father, forgive me. Father, lead me. Father, purify me. Father, teach me. Father, humble me.

Romans 4:25 “He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.”

Day 790

In exactly four weeks my little sister is having a baby. Her second. A little girl…to add to the two year old boy (who is absolutely perfect and I shall tell him so every day until I am too old and senile to form a complete sentence). In six months my baby sister is getting married. In a family of three girls, this means that I am finally the daughter that is flying under the radar. We have bigger fish to fry in the Hill House! Important things are happening! We are welcoming a freakin life into the world and we have found a young, brave man willing to join in on our craziness. Let the heavens rejoice!! I am thrilled that my amazing parents, at long last, have more important events to worry about than the downward or upward spiral of my life. My mother would tell you that she never worries about me. She knows I’m going to be just fine…she is lying.

My mother does her best to stay involved in our lives without overstepping. We’re all big on trying to respect each other’s boundaries. We fail often. At times my mother will text one of us, “I need your schedule.” Today I was the daughter who got that text. Before this weekend we hadn’t had a good long talk in weeks, because as I said earlier, it’s my turn to fly under the radar. And to be fair, it’s hard to keep up with where I am. I drove to New Jersey last week and forgot to tell her. Right now I’m in North Carolina. In two weeks I will go from Tennessee to New York to New Jersey to Washington D.C. To Pennsylvania to Tennessee to Florida. You can see where she’d get confused. I enjoy the fact that when we catch up, we don’t have to talk about me. It’s freeing. It’s a nice reprieve from dealing with the unpleasant realities that come with being a gypsy actress.  

I’m also sick to death of myself. Sick of analyzing each decision I make. Sick of worrying about every aspect of my life. Sick of the pitiful glances thrown my way when folks hear that my childless self is welcoming a niece or that my divorced self will be sharing a hotel room with her parents for her baby sister’s wedding. Assumptions are funny that way. Little do they know the pride I take in being a kick ass Aunt or the sympathy I feel as I watch my baby sister plan a wedding. It’s hard. I know. I’ve been there. You can’t make everyone happy. When people ask me about my wedding I always say, “Everything was perfect…except the groom.” I avoid confrontation by using humor. I think I’m hilarious. 

The thing about flying under the radar in my family is that once my parents realize not everyone is on equal footing, they immediately spring into action to even us all out. Which might be why my father asked to take me out to dinner next week before I fly to New York. Or maybe he just misses our witty rapport. He thinks he’s hilarious too. It’s something we have in common. I adore my father. I truly do. He was meant to be a father. He killed it at raising us, if I do say so myself. If I ever have a child, I pray to God my kid’s dad is on the same “father scale” as mine. My father is a great adventurer. He taught us to never wait for life to happen to you. Go out there and make it happen for yourself. He is a prime example of a man who finds joy in the journey. I should have been more aware of that when picking a life mate. I won’t make that mistake again. 

The weekend after I got engaged, my ex-husband and I were walking to brunch on the Upper West Side (like the yuppies we were), and he turned to me and said “I’m so glad that our lives can finally begin.” And I remember thinking “I’m 27 years old…I’ve been living…where were you?” And that’s kinda the beautiful thing that we all forget to remember. There isn’t really a “Starting Line” for your life. There aren’t boxes you have to check. You aren’t racing anyone to the finish. In fact, no one’s keeping score. And if you find someone that is keeping score, defriend them or unfollow them or block them. They are gross and sad and you don’t need that negativity in your life. You get to write your own story. Life is just one big “choose your own adventure” book. And sometimes it sucks and you scrutinize all your terrible life choices and you sit in your Honda, yet again, praying it will eventually drive you to your home; where you have nice bedding and a food processor and you are suddenly a domestic goddess adored by all. But then you realize you have a seriously amazing bow collection and you make art for a living and you’re actually dating (gasp)…and it’s going well (bigger gasp) and you’re completely hilarious. And that’s good enough for now. Cause if nothing else, you totally showed up for your life…and in our family that means no flying under the radar allowed. 

2 Peter 3:8-9 “But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 

Day 763 New Year’s 2013 Part 2

Advances in technology have changed the many ways we, as a society, perform a number of activities. Our lives are significantly different than they were ten years ago. One of the major advances in technology is communication. We are able to communicate in so many different ways. Through social media apps, instant messenger, text, e-mail, FaceTime, and (God forbid) even calling someone. This also means we have various new tools to help people cheat. Hell, all these new forms of communication have made it easy. Everything is password protected, so unless you’re a moron (or your partner is stealthy) I’d say it’s pretty easy to get away with contacting “the one that you want” without anyone else knowing. This leads to a moral question…what justifies cheating? In this new world where you can cheat on your partner without physically doing anything immoral, where do you draw the line? 

Maybe this is a question each couple has to answer for themselves, but for the purposes of this blog I’ll let you know where I stand. If you don’t want your partner to know about it, you shouldn’t be doing it. If you feel like you need to hide it, odds are it’s wrong. If you would be ashamed if your family knew, then you better rethink your life choices. I’m all for having friends. Even having friends of the opposite sex. But those friendships don’t need to be hidden in private conversations, confidential messages, or secretive texts. Come on now, we’re all smart enough to know that, right? Perhaps I’m more sensitive than most regarding other women contacting the object of my affection…fair enough, but I’ll just chalk that up to more divorce PTSD. 

My musings on cheating actually have a point, believe it or not. I woke up the morning of January 1, 2014 with a sinking feeling in my stomach. He was still passed out. I decided to check his phone. Listen, I am NOT that girl. Until the day I found out my ex-husband was cheating on me I had never checked his phone, or anyone else’s phone for that matter. It makes me feel icky that I felt the need to do it and I pray to God I never have to even think about checking someone’s phone again. That’s not the kind of relationship I ever want to be in. So, here I am, on our couch early in the morning and I am scrolling through inappropriate text after inappropriate text. I can’t stop myself. I keep reading and reading and reading. I am oddly calm. I don’t know how much time I have until he wakes up. I want to know everything. There’s no going back now. So I keep reading. Then, in a move of clear headed brilliance, I forward all the texts to my phone. Just in case.  

Sidebar: I have gone back and forth on how much information to share in this blog. The whole truth would disgust you, and perhaps isn’t necessary. I never want this blog to be about ganging up on my ex-husband. I’d prefer to focus on the reality of my depression and the overwhelming amount of God’s grace that pulled me onward and upward. If that is truly my intention, then I must do my best to write “just the facts” and not wallow around in the details of my ex-husband’s adultery. I’ll try, anyway. 

After reading all the text messages I sat still for a long time. What is a wife supposed to do at a time like this? Seriously, I’d like a real answer. Nothing had worked. Therapy was a disaster. Crying, begging, pleading all fell on deaf ears. Even trying to turn myself into the perfect wife was pointless. I’m not perfect. I can’t cook. I’m always carrying extra weight. I don’t know a lot about sports. Good God, I had been trying for four months to be everything I thought he wanted. I had prayed in every corner of our tiny apartment. I had read every book on how to be a Godly wife. It. Wasn’t. Working. The drinking, the anger, the cheating…it was still going on. And by staying I was enabling him. I was saying “Yes, treat me like a dog…I’ll still be here when you’re ready to love me again. And P.S., I’ll also make sure your laundry is done, your dinner is ready on time, and your home is clean.” So, I’ll ask again, what is a wife supposed to do at a time like this? I didn’t know anymore. But I knew I was tired. I knew I was slowly dying. I knew I hated the person I had become. And I knew I was leaving his sorry ass. 

My father, who always knew I would come to this conclusion, had found an attorney who he knew would take care of me. A friend. A man who loved our family so much, he would fight for me like he would fight for his own children. He would let me speak to him in confidence. He would be strong when I didn’t have strength. He would wait until I was ready. So on this cold New Year’s Day morning I called him, with my pathetic ex-husband still passed out in bed, and I told him I had to leave. And we formed a game plan. And just like that I took the first steps, the scariest steps, in leaving my life. 

2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness?” 


Day 760: New Year’s 2013 Part 1

New Year’s Eve 2013 marked a huge turning point in my journey to divorce. I didn’t know then how significant that evening or the morning after would be for my marriage. I didn’t even fully understand it’s significance as the events were occurring. But, looking back, maybe those 24 hours were truly the beginning of the end. Most people would say “the beginning of the end” was when they found out their husband was cheating on them. Not me. I waited four extra months to come to that conclusion. I Pollyanna’d my way through as long as I could. 

I was working the day of New Year’s Eve. As was my ex-husband. That evening he was invited (due to his work) to be in Time Square with special seating to watch the ball drop. He did not invite me to go with him. I don’t even remember his reasoning. Maybe he didn’t have one. He just didn’t want me there…which sounds about right. Of course, I would have LOVED to have seen the ball drop. Who wouldn’t? I’m sure it’s one of those dream experiences that most people have on their bucket list. And to be able to see it without waiting all day long in the frigid New York City winter cold would have been the cherry on top. But I digress, he was going to a fancy shin dig in Time Square. I was not. Even more disheartening than the fact that he didn’t want me with him was the realization that we wouldn’t be ringing in the New Year together. 2014 was supposed to be the year we healed our marriage. We should be together. Didn’t he know that? To appease me he said he would leave his party as soon as the ball dropped. We would meet up at our apartment at 1:00am and have champagne and celebrate the New Year for the central time zone. Oddly enough, that logic satisfied me. At this point I was taking any bone he would throw my way. 

Upon hearing my New Year’s predicament; my unbelievably gracious friends, Tiffany and Brittany, came up with a plan. The three of us would have dinner together and then go to a party being thrown by another friend of our’s. We would be each other’s dates and have a grand time. God love them. Sometimes I look back and wonder what my friends were thinking. They must have thought I was insane for holding on as long as I did, yet they were always there. Supporting my decision to fight for a marriage that wasn’t worth saving. Going out of their way to plan an evening so I wouldn’t be alone. Listening to another terrible excuse of why it was ok that my ex-husband didn’t want me around. They are true gems. There isn’t a gift basket out there large enough to properly thank them. So, here we are. Three gals all dolled up, eating an enormous amount of Chinese food, ready to take on the New Year. 

We truly did have a wonderful evening. Our friend, Lisa, throws a great party. Great food. Great humans. Great conversation. Even great party games. We played a game where you wrote down what you loved, liked, and hated about 2013 on post it notes and stuck then on the wall. By the end there were post it notes all over her apartment. For me, it was a wonderful reminder of my blessings and a huge wake up call to not take what I hated about 2013 into 2014 with me. This madness had to end. This was no way to live. I vowed to start getting serious about saving my marriage. 

I was excited to get home. To start the New Year off right. I left the party with Brittany and Tiffany shortly after midnight. They walked me home. They took a cab back to Queens. They are literally some of the best humans I know. I went upstairs to my apartment and waited. And waited. I remember “the waiting” being agonizing. I waited a lot in those days. Waiting could mean a plethora of different events were occurring. None of them good. The longer I waited, the worse the offense. Even now, “waiting” is a huge part of my divorce PTSD. When I have to wait to hear from someone I always imagine something terrible has happened. Sometimes I’ll even become physically sick while waiting. My mind immediately jumps to the absolute worst case scenario…because I know the possibilities of what could be happening while I’m waiting. My waiting anxiety is a flaw that I try to keep hidden, but somehow runs my life. I hope that goes away someday. 

He did come home. Much later than he promised. Much drunker than he promised. And in the morning that followed I realized my goal of 2014 wasn’t to save my marriage, it was to save myself. 

John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” 

Day 752

I never really knew my grandmother. My mother’s mother. She died when I was a baby. Cancer. My father’s father passed away when I was a senior in high school. Complications due to cancer. Cancer’s an asshole. My mother’s father left us when I was 27. He had a stroke. He held on longer than expected. He was stubborn that way. My father’s mother is 90 (don’t anyone dare tell her I put that information out into internet land…she will kill me). She doesn’t look a day over 60. I have good genes. All four of my grandparents lived through the Great Depression. Both of my grandfathers fought in World War Two. They raised children in the 50s and 60s. They lost parents, children, and each other. They struggled financially. They sacrificed for their family. They loved each other. These four people came together and made my mother and my father, who somehow found each other in this crazy world, and then they made me. I am a part of their legacy.  

I am often asked why I got divorced. Small talk, really. I encounter a number of new people in my career and inevitably the topic comes up. I don’t know how to gracefully reply. The fact is, there isn’t just one reason…there are a thousand reasons. Maybe more. You can’t boil down divorce to one act. One problem. One unfixable dilemma. The answer “adultery” seems to satisfy most people, which means I can quickly and safely change the subject. No one is gonna question adultery. No one wants to get lost down that awkward rabbit hole. But the honest to goodness truth is that I didn’t choose to divorce my husband merely because he cheated on me. In fact, I’m just as stubborn as my grandfather. I would have stayed forever just to make a point. To prove to the world that I could make my sad, pathetic little marriage work. To avoid failure. I’m not a moron. I realize he would have continued cheating. Nothing would have changed. I would have had to become one of those women who pretend not to notice. I would have had to find other reasons to feel joy in my life. I think I could have done that. Well, I think the old me could have done that. 

I know I’m skipping ahead in the story, but I think this is important. It’s important because my family is growing. My sister is about to have a daughter. She already has a son and I swear to God, he is the absolute best human that has ever been created. The continuation of my grandparent’s legacy and my parent’s legacy weighs heavy on my heart. The fact is, the main reason I got divorced was because too many people have worked too hard for me ever lay down and allow myself to be treated like someone’s trash. George Walker didn’t raise four daughters to have one of his granddaughters ignore her worth. Noda Mason Walker didn’t wait tables and scrimp and save so I would forget that I didn’t need a man’s money to survive. Martha Brock Hill didn’t help grow a theatre so that two generations later I would neglect my passion. Les Hill didn’t voice every opinion he had (like it or not) so that I would lose my voice. And most importantly, my parents didn’t raise a weak woman. They didn’t raise any weak women.  

That’s the real reason I got divorced. My life is built on the backs of all the sacrifices others have made before me. So that I could have this blessed life. So that I could grow up secure in my faith. So that I could grow up feeling loved. My divorce didn’t dishonor my family, but living a life where I would have been made to feel less than…that would have been the worst disgrace I could imagine. My legacy may not be like my sister’s. I may not have the opportunity to have children. That may not be God’s plan for me. When I think about my niece, who hasn’t even graced us with her presence yet, I worry about the road blocks she’ll encounter though life. I already pray for her safety and her happiness. My prayer is that every time she experiences hardships, she will be able to call upon the strength of those who came before her. That in some way she can learn from my mistakes. That she stands firm in her faith. My prayer is that when she gets dragged down; she is able to pull herself up, look around and exclaim “Hell no. I was made for more than this.” And maybe that can be my legacy. 

3 John 1:4 “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 

My Second Divorceiversary

I hate the word “divorce.” As a divorced woman, I shy away from using it as much as possible. When I first became divorced, it was ridiculously difficult to even utter the word. I didn’t want that label attached to me. I didn’t want that term to help define who I was as a human, as a woman. It felt like a terrible secret, a scarlet “A”, the mark of Cain. Dirt that I couldn’t wash away. Just stick a sign on me that says “bad at marriage” and shove me out into the world. To me, that was the basic gist of what being divorced meant. Two years ago today, I joined the huge club belonging to divorced people. A club where I never wanted a membership. Who does? The upside of my two year long enrollment is that I have a little perspective and a whole lot of thoughts on the subject. And let’s be honest, we all know by now that I treat my opinions as facts. You’re welcome, cyber space.

Divorce isn’t funny. Society would tell us differently, but there is absolutely nothing funny about divorce. Yet, you can buy all sorts of t-shirts and mugs and novelty items that claim the contrary. There are an uncanny number of memes and hashtags and quotes trying to sell us on the fact that divorce is freakin’ hilarious and putting down your ex-husband or ex-wife is a perfectly natural response to your current situation. Y’all, can we please rise above that? Sure, there are times when I’ve had a glass of wine with Cheyenne and thanked God that my children will never have his nose, but that is a private conversation with the woman who watched me go through hell and crawl my way back. The truth is, divorce is pain. Divorce is tragic. Divorce is uncomfortable…and maybe that’s why we make jokes. Making light of a situation where two people are breaking a covenant they made between themselves and God isn’t appropriate. It isn’t comical. It isn’t meant to be used as entertainment. It’s sad. 

Being divorced means I’ve been married. It means I had the courage to devote myself to another human. All of myself. It means I’m capable of a love that is only meant for your spouse. And if I’ve done it once, then I can do it again. Getting married, taking on a lifelong teammate, choosing to put another’s needs above your own…that’s brave. That’s beautiful. That is an act that every divorced person has owned. I know plenty of wonderful people who wouldn’t even have the guts to try. We tried. It didn’t work out, but we tried. For all of you who tried, who were able to stick to your vows, who loved when it was hard to love…pat yourself on the back. You’re bold. You’re daring. You’re strong. 

The biggest fact I’ve learned in the past two years, and stay with me here because this is important: Nobody cares. You feel humiliated. You feel failure. You feel guilt. These are feelings you have put upon yourself. And yes, these are feelings that I put on myself. But, in reality, nobody else shamed me. My family stood by me every step of the way. My friends are the most supportive humans on the planet. It’s been a nonissue in my career. My church family prayed for me. Honestly, once it was all said and done, everyone was glad to see him gone. I realize not everyone has had the “easy road” that I had (although I’ve certainly had some shade thrown my way), but it’s important to take stock and own your feelings. Who is making you feel this way? Most likely, it’s you. And that’s fair. But if you’re the one hating on yourself, it’s gonna be a helluva lot harder to heal. 

I let myself believe for a long time that I had failed God. I’d made a covenant with him and I’d broken it. I couldn’t save the marriage. I gave up. The important thing to remember is that it was a covenant between three, not two. Him, me, and God. Two of us stood. Two of us tried. Two of us put in the work. And when the moment came, God released me from my marriage. And I’m a better person for it. I still hate the word “divorce”, and I can’t laugh during a stupid sitcom when they make “divorce jokes”..but every day the feeling of shame lessens. Every day I am reminded that even though someone left my life, God has allowed so much pure and selfless love to enter my life. And, because of my divorce, I have the ability to love them back. 

Deuteronomy 1: 11 “May the Lord, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised.” 

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.” 

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.”