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.” 

Day 703

I love New Year’s Eve. I always have. When I was a little girl there was a Rodgers and Hammerstein movie marathon on every New Year’s Eve and my parents would let me stay up and watch it until I fell asleep on the couch. One year I actually made it through every movie. My mother got up the morning of New Year’s Day and there I was, still in front of the television, mesmerized by “Flower Drum Song.” This should have been their first clue that I would pursue theatre as a profession. It is also where my obsession with the song “I Enjoy Being a Girl” began. So clearly, New Year’s Eve has been quite significant in my life. And, like I’ve said before, my memory is freakin’ amazing; so I can remember quite a lot from the past New Year’s Eve’s of my 33 years on this planet.

Last New Year’s Eve was one of the loveliest I’ve ever had. I was with my best friend. I drove to see Jake in the closing night of his production of “White Christmas”, which happened to be on New Year’s Eve. I hadn’t seen him in months and had been dealing with some personal demons that seem to creep in on me every once in awhile. Baggage from a divorce that had happened almost a year prior. Baggage that I couldn’t seem to shake. I struggled (and continue to struggle…) with major abandonment issues. I let myself fall down the rabbit hole of assuming that eventually everyone will leave me. Friends who claim to love me will run screaming for the hills. Family will come up with excuses to stay away from me. Relationships have no chance of succeeding because I assume they will fail before they begin. It’s dramatic, I know. But this is my biggest post-divorce fear and it has become my favorite piece of baggage to throw onto other people. 

I almost cancelled the trip. A dozen times I thought about cancelling. I told myself that he didn’t really want to see me. He’d rather spend time with his cast mates. It would be a burden on him to have me visit. He’d be embarrassed of me. I wasn’t fun enough to spend New Year’s Eve with. He didn’t love me as much as I loved him. He was probably dreading my visit. The list goes on. And yet, I got in my little Honda and drove to him anyway. Four hours later I arrived where he was staying. I timidly got out of the car and put on my armor of defenses. I was completely ready to see his show and turn around and drive back home the same night in order to avoid any awkwardness. But before I knew it I could see him running down the street, wearing a red puffy vest that I’d forced him to buy. He sprinted through the cold and hugged me on that snowy Kentucky road like I had just come back from war. In that moment I knew that I was completely nuts and needed some serious therapy…and that I should never doubt my best friend’s love ever again. 

My biggest struggle of 2016 has been to accept love. Love is a selfless act, and yet I always feel like I don’t have anything precious to offer in return. That my love alone isn’t good enough. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out why I have these issues, hell, even I’m aware of why I have them. But the knowledge of the problem hasn’t been enough to help me fix the problem. I’m a work in progress, and I am working on myself…constantly. The upside is that as I sit here and reflect on 2016, I am able to feel so much love. I am able to think of specific circumstances where I knew I was loved and people who have showered me with love. Love that I don’t feel like I could ever possibly repay. How do you compensate such selflessness? 

And that is the beauty of New Year’s Eve. It’s a special day to reflect on where you were and where you are going. It’s an opportunity to be honest with yourself and vow to do better. It’s an occasion to assess what you’re putting out into the world. It’s a moment to accept the blessings God has given you and pay it forward. I resolve to choose love. To always choose love. To learn to love better. To let others teach me how to love. To accept love without hesitation and to give love freely. And to always recognize, first and foremost, that all love comes from the Lord. 

1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 

Day 702

Due to the overwhelming generosity of my employer, I was going home for Christmas. For a full week. My entire family would be in Tennessee for Christmas and I couldn’t get there fast enough. I had missed the previous Christmas with my family because we had spent it with my ex-husband’s family (which I was totally cool with…marriage is all about compromises). Let’s also remember that at this point I was grasping at straws to pull this marriage back together, so I begged my ex-husband to come home with me for Christmas. After all, we were married. We should spend Christmas together. Right? Isn’t that how it works? Surprise surprise, he refused to spend Christmas in Tennessee. Was I disappointed? Yes. Did this stop me from joyfully planning my escape from the hell I was living in? Absolutely not.

After work I hopped a cab to the airport, checked my bag, went through security, had an adult beverage, and watched in horror as my flight kept getting delayed again and again until finally it was cancelled. My heart sank. Hell, no…I would not accept defeat. I was flying home to the safety of my family and that was that. I rebooked (along with the rest of New York City) my flight for the next morning. I had two options: spend the night at the airport, or go home and come back in the morning. Oddly enough, I chose to go home. I don’t remember why. When I walked in the door, exhausted and disheveled, my ex-husband didn’t seem at all pleased to see me. I’m sure I had disrupted whatever plans he had for himself that evening, but alas, he was stuck with me. I remember saying to him, “The bright side is we get one more night together before we are apart for Christmas!” My poor little naïve self just couldn’t give up the hope that a Christmas miracle would occur. The man did not want me there. He’d made it perfectly clear. I just didn’t want to see it. 

The next morning, I headed back to the airport. I prayed God would have mercy on me and give me uneventful flights. I think God had bigger fish to fry that day. I couldn’t get a direct flight to Tennessee, so I was headed to Dallas for a layover and then on to Nashville. I’ll never understand flight plans. Why must one travel so far west to eventually head back east? But I digress. The upside to this ordeal is that I got bumped up to first class. So, here I was, sitting in first class with the knowledge that home was in my future. And then, when all seemed to be going well, we had to suddenly make an emergency landing in Kansas City. I honestly can’t remember what was wrong with the plane. I just know that this was terrible news for making my connecting flight. Tears started to form in my eyes. The precious woman sitting next to me asked if I was ok…and then I blurted out everything. I kept saying, “I have to get home. I HAVE to get home.” I don’t think this woman knew exactly what to do with me, so she called over the airline stewardess. Through tears I explained to her exactly why it was so important that I make this connecting flight. I swear, by the end everyone in first class hated my ex-husband and had begun praying that divine intervention would occur and I would miraculously make it home. 

The stewardess (attendant? I don’t know what the politically correct term is…) kept making me one Bloody Mary after another. She didn’t know what else to do. She made sure I knew exactly how to get to the gate I needed to be at in Dallas. We all knew the odds of me making it were slim. Everyone was gracious enough to let me be the first person off the plane…and then, honey, I ran like hell. In retrospect it reminds me of that scene in HOME ALONE when everyone is trying to make their flight. Well, that was me. Running like a mad woman through the Dallas airport. I should have missed my flight. The monitors told me I would miss my flight. But I kept running. I made it to the gate and wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles…they were still boarding. I plopped my sweaty, tear stained self in my seat and prayed prayers of gratitude the entire flight to Tennessee. 

And then, when I got off the plane, there he was. My father. Waiting for me. Knowing that somehow I’d make it back to them. Never giving up hope that his daughter would figure out a way to come home. A way to feel safe. A way to find solace in the souls that loved her. Because he’s known all along that she was a fighter. Even when she forgot.

Genesis 28:15 “Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” 

Day 643

This blog is really two blogs in one. I write about the timeline of a certain event in my past. I also write about how I’m healing and coping with that event in my present. The common thread, I hope, is God’s amazing grace. So, what happens when the two parts of this blog meet up? I write about it…that’s what happens. I’ve struggled with how to tell the story of the past few days. I’ve struggled with whether I should write about it at all. I’ve struggled with what “angle” to take if I did, in fact, choose to write about it. I’ve prayed about it, talked about it, lost sleep over it, and here is what jumped out at me: I must be honest. I pride myself in the honesty of my story. In being able to say “out loud” that I am unashamed of my story. In being unafraid to tell the whole truth of my story. Because if not, what’s the point of it all?

I’ve written about scars. I’ve written about wounds. But I haven’t written about what happens when those parts of you that you are trying to heal get re-opened. When life unexpectedly throws you a sucker punch. When you have to make the decision, once again, to move forward. I think we can all agree that there are upsides and downsides to Facebook. When I scroll through and see pictures of my friend’s kids dressed up for Halloween I think it is the best invention in the world. But, there are those moments (and we’ve all had them), when I think Facebook is the devil. Two days ago, I received a message from a woman outlining her sexual relationship with my ex-husband. Yes, this took place while we were still married. No, I didn’t know who she was. Sucker punch received. 

I could go into more detail about what the message said, but then I’d have to re-read it and that might make me throw up. Gross. But I think you get the jest. What was interesting about reading this new piece of information was that, in many ways, it wasn’t new information. Let’s be clear, I’ve been divorced for almost two years. I’ve known for over three years that my ex-husband was unfaithful. This woman isn’t telling me anything I don’t already know. But, because we’re keeping it honest, you wouldn’t have known that by my reaction. The tears started streaming down my face immediately. I felt suffocated, like I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t move or speak or think. My insides started to hurt, just like that day over three years ago when I found out for the first time. I could feel my heart aching. The wind had been knocked out of me. I couldn’t stop staring at her face. Her name. Now I know her name. Another name. 

I was at work, doing what I love. The rest of the show was a blur. I was embarrassed. Who wants to cry at work? How unprofessional! At the end of the night I walked to my car and had to pause in the grass, because I felt like I was going to throw up. I wanted to throw up. I wanted to get it all out of me. Then I got in my car and I sobbed. I didn’t just sob, I ugly cried. I cried out hurt and pain and loss. I cried for the erosion of what I held sacred. I cried because once again, I was reminded how completely unwanted I was in my marriage. I cried because I knew I’d never be able to un-see her face. To un-know her name. Just add one more to the pile. 

Now it’s two days later and the big question on my mind is: Why does this still affect me so much? Why couldn’t I just roll with it? Why couldn’t I make a hilarious joke and keep my cool? What’s wrong with me? My friend Jake says it’s because I wear my heart on my sleeve. And he’s right (don’t tell him I said that). I’m a ridiculously emotional gal. I wish to the heavens I didn’t live my life that way, because I know it would save me so much heartache. But it’s just a part of who I am. I feel things super deeply. It’s annoying. Here we are, two days later, and I still can’t shake the whole feeling of being abandoned. Abandoned all over again. Make it stop! 

So, a wound got reopened. I fell down again. It wasn’t pretty. But I got back up. I’m able to see the silver linings. In reality, this is just one more affirmation that I made the right decision in getting divorced. An affirmation that God wants more for me than to be constantly disrespected. An affirmation that when I get knocked down in the future (because it may happen) it will be easier to get back up. Most importantly, it’s a reminder that God is in control. God. Is. In. Control. He’s got this. He held me three years ago and he is still holding me. He knows the path he has planned for me isn’t always going to be easy, but he will be in control every step of the way. And no matter how many times the devil tries to throw a sucker punch at my faith; I want to be able to get up, shake off the dust, and say “Here I am, Lord.” 

1 Chronicles 29:11 “Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours. Yours, Lord, is the kingdom; you are exalted as head over all.” 

Day 632

I’m no therapist, but I’d have to say one of the ways you know you’re healing after a major pitfall in your life is when you are finally able to laugh at yourself. It’s probably good, in general, to be able to have a big ole laugh at your own expense every once in awhile. Humans are pretty hilarious and the things we do and say are down right ridiculous. Most days, I’m a complete mess, which I find hysterical (and sometimes sad). But looking back on some of the decisions I made during “that rotten time when my ex-husband was cheating on me” truly give me pause. Being Southern, I feel it only fair to be completely honest about the crazy things I’ve done. I wear my crazy like a badge of honor. I like to parade it around, dress it up, and show it off. I go big or go home. It’s a miracle I still have friends.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you know my obsession with trying to make the holiday season perfect. The December of “the year of the affair” was no different. This was our second Christmas as a married couple. Yes, you read that correctly. We had only ONE happily married Christmas. Pitiful. Note to self: It’s time to get rid of the Mr. And Mrs. Christmas ornaments. I refused to truly acknowledge the severity of my situation. So y’all, in true “let’s pretend that everything will eventually be fine and perfect and wonderful” fashion…I sent out Christmas cards.  

Not just Christmas cards that you buy at the store. Oh no. I sent out the Christmas cards that you design online with pictures on the front AND back. Christmas cards that have that very general personalized message on them. You know exactly what I’m talking about. Odds are you send them out and get about 50 in return. It’s the cool thing to do these days. Use a picture of something super amazing that you’ve done the past year or use a professional shot of you and your family all dressed up, but posing casually like “oh, we just hang out like this all the time.” They are printed on heavy card stock with a fantastical holiday themed layout. You write something clever about your year and mail them out to friends and family who get said Christmas card picture, but aren’t surprised by anything, because they’ve been following your life on Facebook, so these perfectly thought out cards aren’t actually news to them or anyone else. Don’t get offended. You know it’s true. 

Anywho, I love those cards and I wanted to be the kind of wife that designed a beautiful Christmas card for her little family. I had big plans to keep a scrapbook of every Christmas card we sent out in our lives together. I just knew it would be so precious to watch how we evolved over the years. Maybe one year we’d have a pet in the picture, then a baby, then another baby. I’d pose our future family in coordinated outfits with strategically placed monograms on their clothing. Facebook wouldn’t be able to do it justice. There was no way in the world I was going to let there be a lapse of a holiday card in our family timeline, so even though our marriage was going to hell in a hand basket, I made Christmas cards. They were actually super cute. I used pictures of us from the half marathon we had run the month before. On the front of the card we were standing with our race bibs and on the back we were posing with Dopey and our race medals. I even used the bible verse Psalm 119:32, “I run in the path…” Personally, I only like Christmas cards that have to do with Jesus, because obviously there would be no Christmas without Jesus. Non- Jesus Christmas cards drive me nuts. I don’t get it…so I made sure to add lots of “Jesus” to our card. I was ridiculously proud of my work. One might have thought we were actually happily married. 

I wish I could show you these absurd cards that I sent out. But, for legal reasons, I can’t say my ex-husband’s name or show his likeness. I suppose that’s fair. But, if you could see these cards, then you would see a perfect example of my crazy. I was off my rocker. I actually sent out these cards. Hell, I was PROUD of them. Friends and family received these cards from me. I hadn’t told a lot of people about the trials and tribulations of our current situation, so most people probably thought is was a perfectly executed and insanely clever Christmas card (if I do say so myself), and those that knew what was going on probably thought I was a nut bag. And they would be correct. 

Here’s the kicker: People stuck with me through my crazy. This particular instance is certainly not the only crazy thing I did during this time of my life. I had friends and family who had to watch me do one crazy thing after another…and they still stood next to me. Crazy and all. They opened a Christmas card from me, where I designed the life I wanted instead of the life I had… they saw it for what it was, and they didn’t run. They also didn’t make fun of me, which they certainly had every right to do. God bless each and every one of them. 

More often than not we are “sending out” the life we want instead of the life we have. More often than not we show the world how we wish to be known, instead of who we truly are. More often than not we are hiding our ugly parts and filtering our circumstances so we can be seen from our best angle. It’s exhausting. It’s sad. And it’s basically living a lie. Gross. I don’t send out Christmas cards anymore. What am I supposed to say that hasn’t been said? What is there to see that you can’t see on social media? What do you want to know that you can’t find out from picking up the phone and asking me? Maybe someday I’ll get back into the Christmas card game. But the only real message I want to send out is this: If your Christmas isn’t about Jesus, then you don’t understand Christmas. 

*Special shout out to Laura Cady Guzewicz, who sends out the best and most honest Christmas cards. I treasure them. 

Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” 

Day 624

If you have a bowl and you drop it and it breaks, you may have the ability to put it back together. The fixed bowl will still be able to function as a bowl, but it will look slightly different. It’s still a bowl, it still has the ability to do all the tasks required of a bowl, but it is altered. The change may be difficult to see. You may be a brilliant bowl fixer, therefore all who see the bowl are unaware of how badly it was broken, but the truth remains. The bowl broke. It is not the same bowl it was. It has cracks, it might be chipped in a couple places, the paint might be peeling. It has changed.

I have always hated change. Just ask my parents or anyone who helped raise me. As a kid, I got upset when my parents bought a new telephone for our house. We had a perfectly good yellow phone and they changed it to white. I was livid. Obviously, over the years I’ve had to learn to accept change as inevitable. Life changes. Seasons change. People change. Gone are the days when the most upsetting change was the color of a telephone. Ironically, for a girl who hates change, change itself has become the only true constant in my new world. 

When I think about who I am today versus who I was three years ago, the reality of my “change” seriously starts to set in. People always say, “When you’re at your worst, you have nowhere to go but up.” But that’s not true. The truth is that when you’re at your worst, you have two options: to change or not to change. To rebuild or to stay broken. To move or to stand still. You always have a choice. But here is the thing no one tells you… (aren’t you lucky that you’re reading my blog…cause I am about to drop some knowledge!) if you choose option A, if you choose to move to rebuild to “go up”, you will change. You. Will. Change. 

You can’t not change. You will grow. You will start from the depths of your own personal hell and you will look around and see pieces of yourself scattered in all directions. Once you have the energy, you will search until you have found all the pieces that you love best and you will start to put them back together. Over time, and perhaps unbeknownst to yourself, you will discover that you are a whole person again. You are still you, but you are transformed. Yes, you have cracks and chips and scars, those are inevitable changes. But, if you’ve let God guide your life, if you’ve been leaning on him, if you allowed his grace to carry you, then you’re change is beautiful. You aren’t just a broken person who is functioning again, you are a child of God who is flourishing. 

The downside to the new you is that a lot of people won’t understand. Some of your dearest friends won’t appreciate your wholeness. They won’t recognize what your cracks symbolize. They won’t be able to see that each crack has become a wound from your battle, and that you are no longer ashamed. You take pride in the crack that is crooked, but shows your strength. You have learned to love the crack that is messy, but shows your tender heart. You have learned to be grateful for the biggest crack of them all, that tells the world you are a lover AND a fighter. These imperfections are what you have grown to appreciate most about yourself, and so many will be blind. They will still see them as imperfections. They won’t realize these golden cracks are what make you beautiful. 

Personally, my change has definitely come with growing pains. I am not the me I was at the beginning of this saga, but how could I be? The old me was a great girl, a peach, a jewel. But so is the new me…she’s just a different girl, a different peach, a different jewel. How can anyone come out of the fire unchanged? My hope is that through this change I’ve grown. I hope I can say I’m closer in my walk with Jesus Christ. I hope when people meet me they see the love of God shine through me. I hope I’ve gained integrity and knowledge and grace. I hope that eventually my cracks will start sprouting a garden of all the beautiful characteristics that make up who I am. 

I am not a bowl. Fixing a bowl would be easier. I am not a telephone. Dealing with the adjustment of a new phone would be less dramatic. I am just a girl who likes tacos and who is finally learning to be thankful for her change. 

Romans 12:2 “And be not conformed to this world: but be he transformed by the renewing of your mind, that he may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” 

Day 608

My family stayed in New York for several days. They never came back up to my apartment or spent any more time with my ex-husband during that trip (or ever, for that matter). Instead, we did every possible activity available to do in New York City during the holidays. It would take several blog posts to fully describe all of our activities during those few days, but family vacation planning isn’t really what this blog is about, so I’ll spare you the play by play. I’d rather focus on certain moments. I’ve started to refer to memories like these as my moments of mercy. Mercy can be defined many different ways. When most people think of “mercy” they think of God showing forgiveness to some one who should be treated harshly. But there is another definition. Mercy can also be thought of as a kindness to someone who is in a bad or desperate situation. That’s the kind of mercy God showered down upon me.

I don’t think I’m a talented enough writer to properly describe the amount of pain I was in during this time in my life. And the reality is that I would have to endure even more pain in the months to come. If I’m being 100% honest, I spent about a year of my life in constant pain. When I didn’t think it could get any worse, it did. When I didn’t think it was possible to hurt any more, the suffering increased. When I had begun to try to handle one disaster, another would arise. It was a living hell. A constant hell. In many ways, my agony was all consuming.

Now here’s where the “but” comes in. BUT, even in this ceaseless hell God showed me moments of mercy. When I think back to the time I spent with my family in New York I certainly remember the agony I was going through. Of course I do. BUT I also remember drinking hot apple cider at The Boathouse in Central Park. I remember walking with my sister in the snow. I remember seeing the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center. I remember taking my father to my favorite pub. I remember watching my mother’s face as she watched the dancers in a Broadway show. I remember Cheyenne meeting us for my dad’s birthday dinner. I remember those moments of mercy clearly. Those moments of reprieve. Those gifts.

They are gifts in more than one way. Yes, the time I spent with my family was a gift during a terrible period in my life. Being able to feel loved and enjoy my life for a few days was certainly a gift. But those precious moments of mercy are also a gift today, because now when I look back to that year. That miserable year. The year before the healing could even begin, I have happy pockets of time that I can recall. I can say with confidence that I did not let the actions of this man take away an entire year of my ability to feel anything but pain. My ability to feel loved. My ability to give love.

Kiddos, that’s mercy. Mercy that only our Heavenly Father can give. God has given us all free will. Sometimes people use that free will to make poor choices that hurt others. My ex-husband was one of those people. Then God, in his infinite wisdom, sprinkled moments of mercy throughout my life. Not just so that I could make it through a rough patch, but so when I looked back I would be reminded of God’s provision in my life. Reminded that I am always being held by God. Reminded that HE is the author of my story. HE is the great architect of my life. HE is the artist who will mold me, with his merciful hands, into the woman HE created me to be.

Psalms 145:9 “The Lord is good to all; and his tender mercies are over all his works.”

Day 590

I’ve said before that I’m good with dates. I am. Incredibly good with dates. Timehop has nothing on me as far as remembering specific occasions that occurred on “such and such date” in my past. I also have a killer memory. In the back of my mind I can recall small details, scents, even what was going through my mind during a certain day and time. I can almost relive particular experiences through my memory. I think, as an actress, this is helpful to my profession. However, as a woman trying to move forward in her life, it can be somewhat destructive. Some memories cause me to backslide. Some feelings cause unwarranted tears. Some dates cause a haunting feeling that I fear I will never shake.

September 8 is one of those dates in my life. I know I’ve written about it before and I won’t go back into detail about the day, but it is the date, in 2013, that I found out my ex-husband was having an affair. Not only do I remember that day, but I remember every September 8 since then. I don’t sulk. I’m not depressed all day. I don’t eat an entire pizza by myself (although I could do that on any given day…I’m a beast). I just go through every September 8 with the realization of how much one day can truly change your life. I had since branded that ominous fall day “The day I found out” or “The day my world got turned upside down” or “The day I wish I could forget.”

But you know what? This year, three years later…that’s not the first thought that came to my mind on September 8. the first thought that came to my mind was my friend, Cheyenne. She was a big part of that day. She has been a big part of my healing since that day. Without any sort of hesitation, late into that terrible Sunday night, she traveled to my apartment. She helped me pack a bag. She was rational. I remember not knowing what to take with me. When would I be back? Was this really happening? I was scared and tired and devastated. She got my ex-husband out of hate apartment. She talked to my mother. She assured me I could come back whenever I wanted, but we needed to leave. She was logical. I was in my pajamas. She made me put on a bra. Good thinking, sister. And then, on the way out; she carried my suitcase, let me lean on her, and flipped off my ex-husband all at the same time. She is super talented. She got me to her apartment and somehow put me to bed. In the weeks to come she would make sure I ate, she would watch TV with me, she would keep my family updated on my state of mind. 

A year later, after I finally filed for divorce, she stood with me in a grocery store in Macon, Missouri and forced me to pick foods that she would cook for me so I would eat. The next year, she opened her apartment to me in New York so I could come back and properly say goodbye to the city that had been my home for 9 years. And now, another year later, I finally realize that September 8 isn’t the day that I found out about my ex-husband’s affair. It’s the day I discovered my beautiful friend Cheyenne is a superhero. It’s the day she rescued me. It’s the day God called her to take care of me. To own that responsibility. It’s the day when my ex-husband showed his lack of love and respect…but also the day when I learned what it means to truly and selflessly display God’s love through your own actions.

The gift is that I’ll never have to know what would have happened if she hadn’t been there. There is a relief in the realization that time truly is healing this wound that I have been living with for the past three years. My soul feels calm…reassured, as I watch part of God’s design play out before me. Just one more testimony that God has given me. One more way he has proven his love for me. One more example of what he can do when we follow his calling. I am blessed Cheyenne said yes to God. And then look what he did! He turned her into a superhero.

1 Timothy 6:12 “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Day 580

My dad and I have a 30 year age difference, which is kinda cool. During this particular year of my life I turned 30 and he turned 60. His birthday is in December and he had planned (along with my mother and baby sister) to come to New York for his 60th birthday. We had already discussed and thought out all the cool, classic New York holiday adventures we were going to have as a family. One of the attributes I got from my father is his ability to truly live life to the fullest. We are both expert planners of any kind of vacation, outting, or day off. We can pack 48 hours into a 24 hour day. Some might say we overdo it, but I think it’s a gift. That being said, the fact that my marriage was falling apart at the seams wasn’t going to deter the Hill Family from taking New York by storm. Knowing my father, he probably hoped his presence alone would make my ex-husband so uncomfortable that he’d flee the country. Unfortunately, this did not happen.

Obviously my family didn’t stay with us in our tiny apartment. They wouldn’t have fit, but I also fear that it would have given my father the perfect opportunity to fling my ex-husband out of our five story walk up. Nobody needs that kind of added drama during the holiday season. They flew in during the day when I was at work. Once they got settled in their hotel room, they walked over to visit me and see my office. Looking back, I think we all knew I was leaving soon. I thought that eventually I would come back…they knew I wouldn’t. So they took this time as a chance to see and better understand my New York lifestyle. They knew this unique chapter of my life would soon be coming to a close, and they wanted to experience as much as they could with me. When you are doggie paddling through life and doing your best just to stay above water and suddenly your family arrives…let me tell you, it’s like someone has just thrown you a tank of oxygen. They walked in and I could breathe again. I could smile again. I could laugh and joke and skip and sing and most importantly, I could feel a tiny bit of joy and start to dance through life again.

That evening we went to one of my favorite restaurants near Lincoln Center. I love Lincoln Center. It epitomizes the essence of what I always dreamed New York would be like. I loved living near Lincoln Center. Some days I would get off the subway a stop early just to walk by it. Just to gaze at the fountain, to stand amoung the tourists, to feel the art happening all around me. The energy fueled my soul. Gave me strength. It’s funny how a place can do that for you. How standing still can give you life. After dinner we took pictures by Lincoln Center. We marveled at the glamorous decorations already set out for Christmas. And then we started walking uptown. We were walking uptown towards my apartment, because once again, in my naïveté I had planned (forced) a gathering. In all honesty, I wanted my family to see my little apartment all decorated for Christmas. I took great pride in how I had expertly managed to throw cheer into such a small space. Maybe I knew deep down this would be my last holiday in my home. Maybe I knew this would be their last chance to see this piece of me. Maybe they knew it too.

I had bought a cake and ice cream. My plan was that we would all have dessert together to celebrate my father’s birthday, they would see the apartment, we’d have a couple of laughs, and years from now when this whole messy ordeal was behind us everyone would be thankful that I was able to make family memories during such a sad occasion in our lives. Yes, my ex-husband was there. This might be the moment in the story when you stop and ask yourselves, “Why in the hell did my ex-husband stick around to hang out with my family?” I don’t have an answer for you. But I will tell you this, the man felt no shame. None. He sat there and ate cake and acted as if nothing was wrong. If you hadn’t known we was an adulterer who didn’t love or respect his wife, then you would have thought we were the most normal married couple in all of Manhattan. God bless my family. They oooed and aaahed over my tree, my nativity scene, the stockings, etc. They were polite. They made conversation. They were respectful. And then they left. I walked them down to the subway to make sure they were headed in the right direction. We made plans for the next day. We hugged. And that was the last time they saw my ex-husband.

I’ve had many conversations with my father since that day…and he knew. I didn’t know. I didn’t know it would be my last Christmas in my tiny home. I didn’t know I was going to leave this city I had grown to love. I didn’t know that there would never truly be a proper goodbye. I didn’t know that I would have to re-create a life for myself because the original life I had chosen was stolen from me. But maybe it’s a good thing that I didn’t know. Maybe it would have been harder. Maybe I would have resisted. Maybe I would have given into fear. And then I’d never have gotten to meet the new me. The real me. The strong me.  The me who still plans every occasion to the fullest, the me who still constantly likes to be prepared, the me who is still always at the ready with a birthday cake if needed, but also the me who has the knowledge that no storm can knock her down. The me who fully understands what it means to rely on God in all situations. The me that will always grasp the importance of being able to brush off the dust and dance on. 

Psalm 30:11 “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness.”

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