Monthly Archives: September 2011

God is in Control

When I impulsively started writing this blog on Tuesday, I shared some of my personal journal entries with a few close friends.  My dear friend Renee asked me if I had been crying as I published the beginnings of my journey.  She emphasized that it was okay.

“You’re letting it out, you’re letting it go.  You’re being healed, “ she lovingly wrote.

I was ecstatic to answer, “I’m not crying, but excited!  I had to start somewhere!”

I have cried more than I ever thought was possible over the past two years.

Fuck crying.  I’m sick of it.

And then, today, I cried.  Sobbed.  I haven’t cried in months.

I was driving back from Santa Monica, where I had just attended my “Wife’s” amazing lecture on Ornament and Crime (she is the most brilliant architect, friend and person I know).  I was overcome with amazement at the people God has placed in my life.   I marveled at the loyalty and longevity of my childhood best friend, Joy; I thought of the overwhelming love and support I daily receive from my close circle of friends and family – people who have walked my journey with me, and continue to do so.  I really have no reason to ever be lonely or sad, because I have these incredible people, and I have Jesus.

But I don’t have a man in my life.  The last relationship I experienced was my marriage.  I feel like a freak.

I am a woman in her 30’s (HELLO, SEX DRIVE!).  I want to feel butterflies.  I want to be kissed. I want romance.  I want to have sex all the time; every day.  I want to get excited about seeing someone.  I want to fall in love, get married, and have babies.  I also just threw up in my mouth a little, typing all that.  But these are desires of my heart. I have waited, ever so patiently, and nothing has happened.

It is so hard to get a date, and is so hard to keep a guy interested.  I’m not good at playing the “game”.  If I like a guy, I tell him.  I guess I’m not supposed to do that.  And, if I really like him, he usually doesn’t like me back.  It is just downright hard to be single.  It hurts.  It sucks.  It happens.

I am laughing at myself.  My lament is a typical episode of Sex and the City.  Or maybe I’m back in junior high?

Nevertheless, as I compose this impulsive free-write, I realize that I will probably never have all the answers.  I’m not perfect.  I make mistakes.  I’m single.  I’m divorced.   I’m human.  God loves me.  I’m still figuring it all out.  I’ve come a long way, but sometimes I think I must still have a long way to go.   Yet I still have human desires and needs and wishes.  I am not incapable of relationship, just because I have experienced a traumatic breakup.

For crying out loud, I’ve spent thousands of dollars for two years’ worth of weekly therapy.  I’m practically at the point where I’m shrinking my therapist.   I think she wonders what the hell I’m doing, continuing to visit her every week.  She must get a kick out of hanging out with me.  I’m fun. And I pay her. Ha!

I have so much to give.  I am willing to give my whole heart, all over again.  I’m ready.  I’m sick of waiting.  I’m impatient.  But I’ll continue to live my life.

And, as always,  someone inevitably clucks, “It’s a process,” or “It’s a long road,” or “Maybe you’re just not ready yet.”

I want to chirp right back, “What the fuck do you know?”

I hope my story has a happy ending in the relationship department, I really do.  I have actually been happy thus far being single, but there are times when I want to scream and hit things and blow up happy couples and cynically remark that I don’t believe in love or marriage anymore.  Love Stinks.  Love is a Battlefield.  You Oughta Know.

Back to the point:
I was feeling sorry for my single, unsexed self as I curved along the 110 freeway back home to my studio apartment.  I shifted gears, and my 2007 Toyota Corolla’s 6-disc standard stereo system shifted CD’s.  Steven Curtis Chapman’s familiar voice rang out.  I chuckled at how uncool I was for indulging SCC.  But the truth pierced through, in his soaring voice and lyrics:

This is not how it should be
This is not how it could be,
But this is how it is –
And our God is in control.

This is not how it will be,
When we finally will see –
We’ll see with our own eyes,
He was always in control.

This is not where we planned to be,
When we started this journey —
But this is where we are,
And our God is in control.

I have been ready in so many ways to share my journey, my pain, my healing, joy and even my struggles.  It is exciting, because it truly is my hope that it is helpful to someone – even just one person.  I am being transformed and it’s beautiful, even when I throw lame tantrums.

As my tears dry on yet another Saturday laundry night, I am comforted and blessed knowing that, indeed, God is in control.

Forgive and Forget

September 9, 2009 was the night my husband confessed to his affair.  After he announced the truth to me (sans details), he wanted to tell his parents.  I drove him to their house.  How I managed to stay sane and operate a motor vehicle is beyond me.  I was in shock; shaking.  I could only hear the sound of my own breathing as we sat in silence for the ten-minute drive.  We walked into the house and sat down on the couch. I breathed violently through my nostrils.  My father-in-law had to be roused from his sleep.  Upon hearing the news, both in-laws let out small sighs.  My husband’s mother was the first to speak up.  She asked him what he was “planning to do about it.”

“Well, I am going to give Leslie the house,” my husband stated, almost too calmly.

I sprang to my feet.

“WHAT?!  YOU ARE GOING TO LEAVE ME FOR HER?” I screamed.  For some reason I thought he was just confessing everything – coming clean, and that he wanted to start anew.  He might even actually apologize.

I took the glass of water I had been attempting to sip and threw it against the fireplace.  It shattered into tiny pieces, sprinkling shards of glass all over the painted hardwood floor.   My husband’s parents remained motionless in their respective seats.

I took my fists, curled them into tight, little balls of fury and started pounding on him.  Everything I could muster up in strength I unleashed onto his head, his shoulders, and his back.  I punched the shit out of him for a few seconds and then stormed through the open screen door.  I paced the front porch, my shallow breathing even more audible.   My heart – it was there! – pumped furiously inside of my chest.  I wanted to go back in and kill the fucking bastard but I think I knew I had to calm down.

“I can’t do this, I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” I muttered to myself, as I paced the porch, grabbing my short hair at the roots.  I went back inside and announced,  “I’m leaving. I can’t do this.”

So I left.  No one stopped me.

I drove back to our house, which we had owned for seven years.  We had recently lost two of our three dogs, so the house felt even more empty than usual.  I don’t exactly know what I was thinking.  Why on earth would I go back there?  I suppose since I had been away from it for the past seven months it was all I knew to do.

I couldn’t face our bedroom, so I went into the guest room and lay down on my childhood bed.  I prayed, cried, writhed, sobbed, screamed and cussed like a sailor.

A short time later I heard a knock on the back door.  It was my mother-in-law.  She told me that she was going to stay in the house until my husband came back home.  After I had gone, she had given him an ultimatum.  If he left me, he would be dead to the family.  Disowned.  He thought about it, and then told her that he  “needed to return the hotel key”.  Apparently he had rented a room in Beverly Hills for the evening — probably all part of his escape.   Or something.

Later I realized how weird it was for my mother-in-law to want such an active part in repairing (or ending?) my marriage.

Somehow, between chokes and quiet sobs, I fell asleep.  I woke up to soft, controlled voices in the living room.  He had obeyed his mother and returned home.  I heard my mother-in-law’s tone, full of anger.  I heard my husband deliver short sentences.  I didn’t know what they were saying, only because I was shocked that I had actually fallen asleep.

I heard the back door slam, and she was gone.

The door to the guest room creaked open.  My husband’s tall frame stood in the doorway.  He did not turn on the light and I did not get out of bed.

“Who is going to love me now?” I asked him. My life was over.  I had to start all over again at 32 years old.

“Someone will,” was his response.  He stood still.

“I can’t believe you had sex with her!” I shrieked, as horrible visions of their bodies entangled in lustful passion entered my mind.  A wave of nausea pulsated through my body and the back of my mouth got watery.  Many more F bombs exploded from my lips as I tried to verbally process the reality that was only just beginning to sink in.  I marveled at how quickly a bond between two people could be obliterated, no matter how many years they had been together, or what they had shared.

“It…only happened once.” His voice stayed quiet but slightly high-pitched.

“WHEN?”  My voice was loud and cold as ice.

“In…June.”   I had actually been home twice that month: once for a gig, and another to sing at a dear friend’s wedding.

“LIAR.”  I turned and faced the wall.

But I wanted to believe it.  I wanted so very badly to believe that my husband had “accidentally” slipped his penis into his 24-year old student’s vagina just once.  What is more, I wanted to believe that it didn’t mean anything to him.

I was conveniently forgetting the fact that he had confessed he loved her; that he had thought about leaving the country to go be with her.  My god, the girl barely spoke English.  Obviously she was out for a Green Card.  This was such a joke.  Wasn’t he smarter than this?

My cries of anguish continued until my husband finally slumped down on the floor next to my twin bed.  He started sobbing.  I was relieved that he showed any emotion whatsoever. It gave me hope.  I softened.

He did speak some words of remorse.  Then he crawled into bed with me.  I held him. We cried together.

“I forgive you,” I said, stroking his face.  “I forgive you because I want to, and because that’s what I’m called to do. “

I really, truly, deeply meant it.

Forgiveness is not something that comes easily, or instantaneously.  I am not going to pretend that I conducted myself in a “godly” manner, or that I said and did all the right things.  I was a crazy, maniacal, jealous wife who still loved her husband.  I couldn’t see that he was gone.  He had left the marriage a long time ago.  I wanted to hold onto what good things we had…I wanted to hold on to the memories and the laughter and the history and the connection and the – dare I say it – holiness of our marriage.  Yet, what becomes of “holiness” when someone else has entered the marriage bed?  Worse yet, I was still blaming myself for the entire thing because I had gone off to pursue my dreams.  Repairing a marriage after an affair is no easy task, even when both partners are willing to do whatever it takes.

Regardless, I knew in all my Christian upbringing, theology classes in college and years of church attendance and Bible study that we are to forgive as the Lord forgave us (Colossians 3:13). Somehow, God gave me the strength to express my desire to forgive my adulterous husband that evening.  I truly believe we could have had a shot at making it through the storm had he wanted the marriage.  What I didn’t know is that my husband had not hit rock bottom.  Furthermore, he was incapable of accepting my forgiveness because he had not forgiven himself.

In his book, Forgive and Forget, Lewis Smedes says, “If you forget, you will not forgive at all…you need to forgive precisely because you have not forgotten what someone did; your memory keeps the pain alive long after the actual hurt has stopped.  Remembering is your storage of pain. It is why you need to be healed in the first place.”

All I wanted that night, in that tiny bedroom in that tiny bed, was to start over.  I wanted to forgive my husband and start the path towards healing; towards forgetting any of it ever happened.  I wanted to forget it all, through blind, yet genuine and earnest forgiveness.  I wanted to skip over the pain. I wanted my husband to hold me, to repent of his dirty deeds, to love me.  I wanted him to want to run away with me.

I desperately clung to my husband and prayed for him to love me again. He did not leave me that night.  I started to hope.  After all, I had done the right thing.

Hadn’t I?

The Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce

Two years ago, almost to the day, I discovered my husband of almost ten years was having an affair.

I will never forget that feeling. How do I describe it?  Vomit. Blackness. Horror. Shock. Loss of appetite. Murderous rage. Immobility. Violence. Death.

I knew something was terribly wrong months earlier; he had become extremely withdrawn and essentially blamed me for the slow, stinking death of our marriage. I was living in New York at the time, working off-Broadway, and had left him in Los Angeles, thinking our marriage was solid. Thinking our enduring marriage would last because we had been faithful thus far; we loved each other; we had prayed together about the decision for me to go to New York – to pursue my dreams – for at least the length of my six-month contract.

I remember getting off the subway one evening about two months after I had gone, and suspiciously yet playfully texted my husband.

“What’s her name?”

His response, of which I later became far too familiar: “What are you talking about?”

What is so weird is that I knew. Even then. But I didn’t want to believe it. My whole body — my entire soul — did not want to accept the fact that a person I loved so much was so capable of such selfishness and careless cruelty.

All this is beside the point.

A few days after returning back home to a (literally) burning Los Angeles, I found enough evidence (flirty Skype conversations with a girl from Australia, and one specific dialogue between my husband and his best friend regarding his love for “UKR”) to confront him.

He confessed that he loved her, but he had not slept with her. Then he had to go figure out what he wanted to do. He disappeared for days.

I waited. I prayed. I called upon all of my Christian friends – the ones that I trusted most.  My small group – a circle of all pastors, who, to this day, have remained close to me.  I cried out in anguish to my friend Jenny, also part of that close-knit group, immediately after discovering the evidence.

“I THINK HE’S HAVING AN AFFAIR!” I sobbed, in utter disbelief.

I clutched my heart but it was nowhere to be found. The emptiness ached inside of my body. I writhed on the white shag rug in our living room, screaming at the single wedding picture displayed almost mockingly on the bookshelf. That lovely wedding picture, which depicted two young lovers in their early twenties, hopelessly in love and devoted to one another.

A few days later, he returned and confessed he had, indeed, engaged in a full-fledged affair.
He blamed me, and said he wasn’t sorry. He wanted to leave me for her. I wanted to fight to save our marriage.

How did this HAPPEN? How could it happen? We had done everything right. We were Christians. We loved Jesus. We went to church. We had church friends. We had saved ourselves for each other.  We even were virgins when we got married. We always had a lot of sex throughout our marriage.  We were a month away from celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary.  We had been an example of marriage to other friends and family. People looked up to us. We were the attractive “power” couple, pursuing our dreams and able to maintain a strong marriage.

Yeah, right. Just because you’re a Christian doesn’t mean you’re actually a Christian.

I have wanted to write about my journey for quite some time. I have written many things down, mostly in my personal journal. I have talked, prayed and sobbed with my close friends, I have gone to marriage counseling and personal therapy. All the while, I have hoped that my story can help others — that my personal hell could serve as a portal to someone else’s freedom. Because, all in all, I have experienced full freedom.  Besides the obvious freedom from the marriage that my husband willfully and proudly chose to desecrate, the new freedom I have found is my identity.  I have found my identity apart from the once-happy marriage; who I am apart from the deceit and shackles of ugly sin, of terrible choices. I have found my identity apart from grief, shame and sorrow.  I have found who I am apart from my old ideas of what a Christian, and a Christian marriage, should be.

Best of all, I’m continuing to find my true identity in Christ.

My journey is one full of searing pain, unbelievable grief and sorrow. Yet that is not all. It is mostly filled with amazing grace, love, tenderness, kindness, laughter and tears of joy. It is full of God’s goodness.

This is the Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce.