Monthly Archives: October 2011

Beauty Will Rise

The day after I filed for divorce, I started moving my husband out.

The plan was to take his belongings to his parents’ house, with little to no explanation.  I did not want any of his family to know that I had filed for divorce, simply for the fact that I could not trust them.  They would surely go bat-shit crazy on me.

Joy was there to help me.  She started in the Master bedroom, taking on my husband’s side of the closet, and whatever else might be hiding under the bed, in the drawers, cabinets, etc.  I had recently discovered an overdue parking ticket and credit card bill buried deep beneath a pile of sweaters.  I didn’t want to deal with any more surprises.

I decided to tackle “The Man House” (basement), which was a slightly bigger project.  It was full to the brim of my husband’s “toys”: knick-knacks, gifts from students, surfboards, wetsuits, Samurai swords, collectible Star Wars figurines, a couple of skateboards, and the like.

This would be it: the last time I’d have to look at anything that physically reminded me of him.  Energized, I started sorting through a basket of his teaching books and papers.

Almost immediately, I found something horrible.  Two things, actually.

There, on a single sheet of crisp, white paper, was a cluster of Russian writing.  The handwriting was clearly female.  Underneath, my husband had scrawled out the English interpretations of the foreign phrases, all of which were sexual.  I read descriptions of what my husband and his 24-year old Ukrainian student/lover had done —  or wanted to do — to each other.

My mouth went dry.   It was the most explicit thing I had ever read, until I discovered the next item.

Right underneath was a thick packet of my husband’s articles he was writing for a particular magazine.  The series was entitled Leave Them Wanting Less.  My eyes scanned the first story.  Within the third paragraph, my husband detailed having raucous, drug-enhanced anal sex with a “hot” flight attendant in an airplane bathroom.

Just elements of the story.

I dry heaved.

Shaking, I exited The Man House, holding the papers between two fingers, as if they were diseased.  I breathed noisily as the groans started to well up inside of me again.  I forced them back down.  My heart felt heavy and my blood ran cold.  I stumbled into the house and searched for Joy.

I found her in the bathroom, cleaning out the medicine cabinet.

She took one look at my ghostly-white face and reached for me.

“What’s wrong?!”  Her eyes flashed with immediate concern.


I couldn’t breathe.

“What is it!!?  Are you sick? What happened?”

I collapsed into the tiny bathroom’s doorframe and tried to speak.  I raised my right arm, and gestured towards my hand, which still gripped at the writings.


She pried my fingers away from the papers and studied them, briefly.

“Get rid of them, now,” she ordered, horrified.  “Don’t go back down there. Just leave it.  You don’t need this.”

I swallowed hard.

“Okay,” I managed.  I was sweating; feverish.

I took the papers from her and dizzily made my way back to the kitchen.  I fumbled through the drawers until I found a lighter, and carried the entire operation outside.

I squatted in the dirt and lit all four corners of each individual piece of paper on fire.  I squeezed my eyes shut so I would not be able to take in any more of my husband’s sickness.  The ends of the paper curled up as the small, orange flame struggled to illuminate, then swallow, the darkness.  I stood up and watched the white turn to grey.

Then, finally: fluttery, black ashes.

I went back into the house, grabbed my phone, and started texting my close circle of friends, begging for help.  I felt bad for doing so, since Easter was the very next day.

My pastor and dear friend, Joseph, showed up almost immediately, as did my dad, and neighbor, Eli.  Together, the five of us were able to get almost everything out of the Man House, into Eli’s truck, my dad’s minivan and Joy’s car.  Only a few surfboards remained, which Joseph neatly organized, then stacked together.

Joy called my in-laws and explained that the house had been leased, and we needed a place to store “some” of my husband’s belongings.  They accepted.

So, the “bombing raid” (as my dad dubbed it) began.  I watched the caravan of three vehicles carry the physical remnants of my husband back to his parents.

I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and went back upstairs.  On my way back into the house, I passed by the pile of ashes.

Later, it would rain, and wash them away.

This rain feels like a huge cleansing, I wrote.

God, I know he is forgiven, and even though it is difficult to imagine myself ever near him again, I think I can get to a place where I can forgive him —  even for what he is doing right now…it is so sad to watch him be destroyed and enjoy it.  (He is) destroying himself…oh, God, release me.  Release me from the burden of his sin.  Release me from the burden of loving him.  I do not know Your will; I am blinded by my pain.

And so I struggle, but I do honestly want to thank You for this crisis. 

It is making me into the woman You created me to be. 

It is so difficult to not want to forge ahead and taste the future.  I am scared, God.  I don’t want to move.  I love my house and my neighbors and the comfort of being here in my home; my haven.

Yet, You are calling me elsewhere.  I am following You, Lord…and I pray that You would continue to guide me; be patient with me, dear Father.

I cannot see.

Months and months later, a sweet friend of mine would give me a copy of Steven Curtis Chapman’s latest album, “Beauty Will Rise”.  I will be the first to admit how uncool Christian music can be, and have tried to avoid it as much as possible.  Yet this particular album comes from a very real, deep, personal, painful yet beautiful journey through a tragic loss.

What resonates is hope and beauty.  Beauty from the ashes.

It will take our breath away to see the beauty that’s been made out of the ashes.

Out of these ashes, beauty will rise —
And we will dance among the ruins,
We will see it with our own eyes.
Out of these ashes, beauty will rise —
for we know joy is coming in the morning.

Out of this darkness, new light will shine,
And we’ll know the joy that’s coming in the morning.

Beauty will rise.


Last night I had a gig at a Halloween party.

Costumes were required, so I assembled the sluttiest outfit possible with pieces from my closet.  I affixed tarantula-like eyelashes to my lids, and slipped into a plunging, black, satin V-neck jumper that shockingly revealed more leg than chest.  I pulled on a pair of fishnet stockings, and strapped my ankles into my favorite pair of C.F.M. shoes.  (If you’re confused, look it up.  I’m not helping you on this one.)  I dubbed my costume, “The Chick Singer”.

Halloween is such a great excuse for a woman to dress like a slut.

The party was a snoozer, but the band was good (Hello!).  I made friends with two 10-year olds who were dressed up as “Before and After”.  One wore a crisp, white gown adorned with pearls and ribbons; the other wore the torn and bloody version, along with ghastly, ghostly makeup.  The girls were best friends and great dancers.  “After” even had a choreographed routine that involved astoundingly good break-dancing.

I sang my face off for three hours, danced with the ten-year olds (and other females dressed as sluts), collected my wages, and happily bid farewell to Simi Valley.

As I drove back home on the dark, empty 118 freeway, my ears were still ringing from the drummer’s last, lengthy solo.  I shut my radio off and glanced down at my phone.  The time read 1:07 a.m., on Sunday, October 30th.

I gasped.

It’s my wedding anniversary.  No, wait.  It’s my UNiversary.

I waited for a flood of emotion to hit me.  I almost felt guilty for not realizing what day it was.  Sure, I have been aware that the day was drawing near, but once it actually dawned, it didn’t make much of an impact.

I casually steered my vehicle and furrowed my brows.  I tried to force myself to tears.  Surely there’d be something in me that felt sad, or a sense of loss – or even nostalgia.


And – dare I say – it feels so good.  Because it’s so right.  I am not supposed to be married to that person.  I am healed, and I continue to heal, and it’s all an amazing testament of God’s grace.

2 Corinthians 4:7-9 …this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.  We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.

As I sit in my cozy Pasadena apartment on this gorgeous and joyful morning, I do recall a funny memory from that day, twelve years ago:

My husband and I had not registered for wedding gifts, so our guests gave us money.  As we drove away from the church, bound for our bridal suite at the Hilton, we realized we needed to deposit the cash and checks into my bank account so we’d have an extra cushion for our two-week honeymoon in Cancun and Belize.  It was early in the evening on that Saturday, and no banks were open.  We managed to find a grocery store near our hotel with an ATM that would accept deposits.

There we were: a fresh, young married couple, just an hour away from consummating our marriage. We giddily traipsed through Ralphs in our wedding attire.  It must have been quite the sight.  I took charge of depositing the checks as my husband stood in line to buy a Coke and a Butterfinger.   As I waited at the machine for the deposit envelope to be accepted, a woman stopped right next to me. Her shopping cart’s dirty wheels came dangerously close to marking over the satin trim on my bridal gown.

I felt her studying me for a moment.

“Oh, I get it!” she chirped, loudly.  “You’re a bride for Halloween!  That’s sooooo cuuuute!  And funny!”

I stared at her, and adjusted my veil.
“No, actually, I got married today.”

She laughed.

“So what kind of Halloween party are you going to?  Your costume is really sweet.”

I stared harder.
“No, I actually got married today.”

A look of realization, then confusion, spread across her face.

“Oh!?  Congratulations!!  Where…where’s your husband?”  She asked, craning her neck over the bustling crowd of shoppers.

I glanced up at the line where my other half had previously stood.  He was not there.  My eyes darted around the store, but he was nowhere to be found.

I shrugged.  “Oh, he’s around…somewhere.”

She smiled, politely.  “Well, congratulations, and…Happy Halloween!”    — and slowly pushed her cartful of groceries out the sliding door.

From now on, I think I’ll stick with the slut costume for Halloween.



April 2, 2010 ~  Good Friday

I Corinthians 4:16-18 ~ Therefore, we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.


It is a beautiful morning.  Quiet and crisp.  The birds are singing. Wimbley is with me, atop this deck.  He’s on the lookout.  This week has been the biggest of my life: leasing the house and letting go of my husband.

Lord, I do not know what you have for me, but I’m willing to go.  I am focusing on You.  May my heart be seen by You.  I love my husband, I do.  Yet I love myself and I know he is not right for me like this.  This is not the husband that loved me, or You.

Oh, these times I have cherished in my own backyard.  Moments with You – all moments with You.  On my knees, on my face; sobbing, hurting, pleading, wondering – and now (I sit) before You and feel peace.

I lift my husband up to You.  God, he needs you desperately, as I do.  Jesus, as You said on the cross so long ago – “into Your hands I commit my spirit,” and – “It is finished”.

I am so tired.  I know more work is ahead of me.  But may I remember this Peace – Lord, I am anxious but I trust You.  I trust that this is the right thing to do.

Ten years, five months and three days.

I trust You.  Lead me!

April 3, 2010

This is the first day of my new life!

I filed for divorce yesterday.   Tried to file at the Pasadena courthouse but was told that I had to go downtown.  Shaking.  Andrea accompanied me and we passed by the Disney Concert Hall; tall, beautiful buildings downtown.  Entered the courthouse and went up the escalator.  Brief feeling of good memories with him on the escalator.  How we used to kiss and hug whilst riding on one.  Wave of sadness.  Up to the 4th floor.  Line looked long but it didn’t take but two minutes.  This is what people do, everyday.  They get divorced.  They stand in line to get divorced.

Wrote check for my court fee.

“Memo…memo…thanks for 10 years?  Thanks for cheating on me?  Abandoning me?  I still love you?”

No…memo was, “GOOD FRIDAY”.

White out, caked and crumbly.  Must fill out “Central District” instead of “Northeast”.  Shaking.  Andrea helps fill in “111 N. Hill Street”.  Court address.

Sounds that will haunt me forever: the sound of stamping.


Frantically fixing court address on all copies.


The clerk’s calm voice: “This is complete”.


Writing faster.  Head spinning.  Weak knees.


“This is complete.”

I hand him the last paper.


“You’re all done, Leslie.”  Clerk is calm, almost sympathetic.

My head hits the counter and I start to sob.  Andrea grabs my folder and helps me out the door.  We are both crying.  I can’t breathe; I can’t find the door.  I can barely walk.  I am wearing a black dress and black Stuart Weitzman heels.  (Husband would love the detail.)

I calm down as I get outside – see the Concert Hall before me.

I text all my friends as we walk to the car.  “10:32 a.m.  I filed for divorce.”

And we “celebrate”, but it is a mixture of drunkenness (sadness), excitement for the future, and exhaustion.

Went home, took a nap.  Joy came up from Orange County to stay with me…we drove to Long Beach so I could sing at church.

It is, after all, Good Friday, the day that You died for me. The day that I attribute the death of all sin, and the death of my marriage — only now it is committed into Your hands.  Only You can resurrect and redeem. Maybe not the marriage or my husband, but me.  You can redeem ME.

Good Friday service I could barely hold my head up to sing, but You gave me strength.

How high, how wide!
No matter where I am,
Healing is in Your hands.
How deep!  How strong!
Now by your grace, I stand –
Healing is in Your hands.

Oh, God, in You I am, indeed, complete.

April Fools

The next day, I was ready to file for divorce.

I woke up that morning, determined to get it done as swiftly as possible.  I made an appointment with a mediator (whom my marriage counselor had recommended), and went in for my “free consultation”.   She gently explained the process, and gave me all the information I needed to file the first document.  Of course, my husband would need to respond to my petition for divorce. Once he complied, we would go back, together, and hash out the rest of the paperwork.

Oops.  Slight problem. 

“I don’t actually know where he is,”  I explained. “He’s not even in the country, and doesn’t have any plans to return. We’re not really communicating right now.”

“Oh.”  She looked at me.  I almost heard her say what we both were thinking: One of those guys.

“Well, does he know you’re filing for divorce?”

“Um, no,” I answered, cautiously.  “I think he wants to be divorced; he just doesn’t want to take the initiative, himself.”

She then gave me some advice on how to legally protect myself.  The official date of separation should be backdated, to protect my future.  That way, I would not be responsible for whatever debt he was incurring at that very moment.  She shared a few horrific examples.

I nodded and jotted notes on the front of the angrily-labeled “DIVORCE” folder.

Date of Separation: March 1, 2009.  I had only been in New York for two weeks.

Suddenly, I felt the room grow smaller.  I could hear the blood rushing through my head, and was very aware of my own heartbeat.  The mediator kept talking, but I couldn’t really hear what she was saying.  My body felt as if it were levitating off the overly-floral, pastel couch.   I felt dizzy, and tried to focus.  There was a thin layer of dust atop the leaves of the fake plant in the corner.  The mediator’s credentials were all slightly off-center.  Her fingernails were perfectly manicured.  I marveled at how neatly organized her desk was.  It was almost too perfect.  I wondered how often she had to visit her hairstylist to get her roots done.  Bad frost job.

I blinked, and heard myself calmly answer her next few questions.  I made another appointment to see her in two weeks.  Hopefully, by that time, my derelict husband would have returned, especially since she charged by the hour.

She stood up and offered me her right hand.  “I’m sorry you have to go through this, but it sounds like you made the right decision.”

Another green light.

I fumbled with my documents, shook her warm, soft hand, and walked to the door.  I smiled, feebly.

“Thank you.”

I didn’t want to go home, so I found myself driving towards Jeff and Jenny’s house.  Almost as soon as I pulled out of the parking garage, I lost it.

Horrible, ugly groans arose and wretched from the depths of my being.  I have never heard those sounds emitted from myself, and it scared me.  I clutched the steering wheel at 10 and 2, screaming.  I sobbed and screamed; screamed and sobbed, and those groans continued to well up and fill the the tight cabin of my Toyota Corolla.  Tears and snot became one as they drained from my face, onto my lap.  I used one of the blank divorce forms to blow my nose at a stoplight.  All I could do was try to breathe in and out.  I shook, uncontrollably.

My soul hurt.  I could feel it.  I can’t explain it, other than I have never experienced anything like it.   It was beyond my heart and my stomach.  It was painful and cleansing all at once.  The deep, low sounds accompanied each inhale and exhale.

Later, I couldn’t help but think those groans of grief were, indeed, spiritual.

Romans 8:26 ~ In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

I reached Jeff and Jenny’s, and knocked on the door.  Jeff opened it, saw my face, and enveloped me in a huge hug. I really needed it.  Jenny held me, too, and then offered me a glass of water.  I sunk into their couch and thanked them for letting me come over—I didn’t know where else to go.

Of course I was welcome.  Anytime.  (I have amazing friends!)

We talked for about an hour, quietly, since their bouncy toddler was taking a nap.  Feeling encouraged, I slammed the rest of my water, stood up, and announced,  “Well, I’m going to go potty, and then get divorced.”

All three of us burst out laughing.  More hugs ensued, and I was off.

I sat in the car, across the street from the beautiful, downtown Pasadena courthouse.  I rolled down my window and frantically filled in the first document, but quickly realized I had a problem.  I didn’t have a physical address for my husband to be served the petition for divorce.  I decided to use his parents’ address, but they had just moved, and I didn’t know where they were.  They didn’t even have a cell phone.  I panicked.

I couldn’t save my marriage, and now I couldn’t even get divorced.

I ended up calling my husband’s (twice-divorced) uncle in Hawaii.  If anyone would understand, it was he. I explained what had happened, and how I had reached that point. He listened intently and expressed his sympathy.  He then offered to help me, and even prayed with me over the phone.  He would have to call his mother to get the new address, but promised he wouldn’t say anything.  I was grateful; relieved.  It might be a couple of hours before he could get back to me with the information.

It was getting late in the day, and the courthouse would soon close.  I felt discouraged, but knew that I must be patient.  As I hung up the phone with my gracious uncle-in-law, I had a major revelation. A huge grin spread across my face.

I had just tried to file for divorce on April Fools’ Day.

YOU Have My Heart

Within a few days, I had found a tenant for my house.

It was, in Christian-ese terms, what we call “a God thing”.  A kind, energetic, older woman was driving through my neighborhood to look at a short sale up the street.  She saw the “FOR LEASE” sign in my front yard, and knocked on my door.

I showed her the house, myself.  She walked through it in 15 minutes, loved it, and wanted it.  Being a Master Gardener, she was excited to take care of the massive yard, complete with overgrown, indigenous plants.  In addition, she didn’t mind that I wasn’t including the garage or basement (aka “The Man House”).  She was also interested in a six-month lease, rather than the typical year.  That would give me enough time to get on my feet financially, so that I could move back in — soon — with a fresh perspective.  I was determined to keep my house.  Furthermore, I told her that my dog and outdoor cat would stay, but the neighbors would take care of them.

(Have I mentioned how amazing my neighbors are?)

She agreed, and said she was looking to move in by April 15th.

Holy shit, God.  This is exactly for what I have prayed. You are so good.  Sorry for saying “shit”, but…HOLY SHIT!

Things were moving so fast.

I sent yet another informative and “non-reactionary” email to my husband regarding the prospective tenant, and then called upon my trusted friends – my amazing support system —  to pray that he would sign the lease agreement.  I couldn’t trust him to even respond to my email, much less be responsible about our home and finances.

March 30, 2010

Deuteronomy 33:27 ~ The eternal God is your refuge…

Lord, I trust You.  I confess my fear and anxiety – moving out in 16 days? No response from [my husband], which just isn’t surprising at all, but I need his signature to go through with the process.  God, it is too easy to worry, so I simply give it to You…

The pain of my failed marriage is still very real, but it no longer holds the power over me that it once did.  Thank You, God.  I am so sad for [my husband] and his choices.  I trust that the still, small voice that is encouraging me to move forward is YOU…I know dark days are still ahead but I TRUST YOU.  Guide me, help me.  I know nothing is beyond You.

Later that day, I paid a visit to my marriage counselor.   He was aware of our situation, and actually encouraged me to file for divorce.  He said that it looked like I had “the green light” from all sides. My friends, family and neighbors were 100% supportive of me divorcing my absent husband.

Before I left, my counselor told me that he wished my husband and I could have had one final meeting, so that we could end our marriage face-to-face.  I wished that, too, but, deep down, I knew it would never happen.  My husband had left me.  It was over.  I had to move on.

March 31, 2010


I crave Your Presence and Peace.  I confess my anxious thoughts, my feelings of being overwhelmed.  The fear of the unknown; the fear creeps back in: losing the house and having to take on my husband’s debt.  But Father, I know You care for me, You have been taking care of me and guiding me this whole time.  I pray for this next big step – moving.  It is overwhelming and happening so fast.  And then, the “BIG D”.  I have NO reason or desire to stay married to him…God, SPARE me the repercussions of his actions.  I know there is no fear in You.  Yet the overwhelming sense of self-protection is there.

GUIDE me, God.  Each minute, each hour, each day is crucial.

I want to be beautiful and whole again; I want to be loved and honored, not discarded and abandoned.  Oh, Lord, You have taken me thus far; I trust You even though I cannot see.  Give me courage and strength.


The house is leased.  He signed.  Said he knows I’m right about the house (even though he wants me to sell), but trusts what I think/say about it.  He then asked me where I will move.  It hurts.  And now I must pack and move.  He doesn’t even care.

God, You have my heart.  YOU.


Hot French Waiter

Another week passed.  My husband and I continued to exchange emails, although they were not as frequent. I asked him to come home, and he kept telling me that he was “done”.

It didn’t hurt as much anymore.

The house was on the market for lease, and I started fervently praying for a good tenant.  I specifically prayed that I could find one by April 15th.  I listed most of our furniture on Craigslist, even my husband’s beat-up old pick-up truck.  Ever since discovering the condom in the glove box, I couldn’t bear to look at the vehicle. The truck was registered in my name, but, as a courtesy, I asked him if I could sell it.

He gave me permission to sell it.  Money — right then — was more important than the truck.

So I did.  Everything else started going like hotcakes.  Within a week, I had sold our custom-made couch, an armoire, a dresser, my marriage bed, a vanity table and random bookshelves.  The piano movers also came to finally pick up my piano and deliver it to its new owner.  As I watched the men carry it down the stairs, I wept, bitterly.

My husband had taken everything from me, even my music.

Yet, God is good.  I had sold the piano to a student of mine.  In addition to purchasing the instrument from me, her kind father sent over his daughter’s digital, upright piano for me to keep.  I thanked him profusely.  To this day, I still play my piano. 

My dear friend, Christina, flew in from North Carolina and spent the week with me.  It was so good to have the distraction, and a friendly face in that cold, lonely house.  We drove to Malibu, lunched at Duke’s, shopped at the Grove, hiked to the Hollywood sign, hung out in WeHo at a gay bar, and ate dinner on the Sunset Strip.  On her last night in town, we dressed up and patronized my favorite local French restaurant.

I had been a regular customer for a few years, and always admired the attractive men that ran the place.  When I walked in, my favorite “hot, French waiter” — also an owner — immediately recognized me.

“Lessslieeeee!  Where have you been?!”  He hugged me, hard.

“New York!”  I laughed, as I caught my breath and tossed my hair.  “But I am back now.”

“Back for good?”  His French accent was delicious.

“Yes,” I smiled.

He led us to our table, pulled out my chair and offered me a seat.  Then he leaned into me, and said, matter-of-factly, “Good”.

Christina and I squealed at his swagger, his “Frenchness” and dapper demeanor.

Free bellinis ensued, as did flirty conversation.  Hot French Waiter continued to swoop past our table.  I continued to swoon. Finally, he made it known that he had split with “his lady”.

“Oh, you’re single?” I asked, casually, as I sipped my bellini.

“Yes.”  His voice was low, and he looked straight into my eyes.

“Me, too.”  I stared right back.

“Really?  What happened?”
Hot French Waiter had seen me several times over the years at his restaurant with my husband.  In fact, the two of them had even made plans to go surfing together, yet my husband never followed through.

“He…just decided he wanted to be with someone else, and then wanted to be somewhere else,” I offered, honestly.

A wide grin spread across Hot French Waiter’s face.  He shrugged.
“Zat eees life!”

And he was off, to bark orders at the kitchen staff and pour some more wine for a young couple, sitting nervously in the corner.

Christina watched him bustle about the room, her mouth agape.  Her eyes shot back to me.

“Oh, my LORN, he likes you,” she said, excitedly, in her adorable Southern accent.  She decided to plan a trip to the bathroom, and predicted that, while she was absent from the table, Hot French Waiter would come back and talk to me.  I laughed it off.  I was no where near his league, although, I had to admit that I had fantasized about him for years – ever since I first set eyes on him.

Christina re-folded her napkin and got up from the table.

“Be right back!”  She winked at me, and bounced off to find the Ladies’ Room.

Sure enough, Hot French Waiter swooped back in.  This time, he sat down, right across from me.  He wanted to know if my husband and I were still talking.

“Yes…well, no, not really…”

He touched my naked, left hand.  “How long has it been?”

I took a deep breath, basking in his fragrance.  Oh, my god, he smells so good.

“Six months, seven…”

He grinned again.  “So you’re good.”

“Yes.”  I crossed my legs and my short skirt revealed a little more thigh.

“I’m ready.”

I didn’t actually know what I meant, but it felt good to say it.  It also felt amazing to have an incredibly attractive man pay attention to me.  Touch me.

Hot French Waiter barked more orders  — in French — from his seat.  The other attractive waiter was to bring a specific bottle of wine to our table.  Before whisking himself away again, he leaned in, as close to me as possible, and whispered, “You smell good.”

I tried not to pee my pants.  OH.  MY.

Christina found her way back to the table, where I sat, starry-eyed and drunk, but not from the two sips of bellini that I had previously ingested.  She raised her eyebrows at me, knowingly.

“See?”  She smiled, and sat back down.  The candlelight flickered at our table.  We erupted into laughter.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal, drank the bottle of wine that was offered us, and reveled in the joy of the evening, not to mention the past week.  I was so grateful for the company and support of my good friends, to keep me grounded and help me through the loss of my marriage, as well as my home.

Before we knew it, it was midnight.  The nervous couple in the corner had relaxed, and were finishing their bottle of wine.  I scraped the last of our shared creme brulee dessert onto my spoon. Christina sighed.  She didn’t want to leave Los Angeles the next day.

Hot French Waiter approached our table one last time and delivered the bill.  It did not reflect the bellinis or fancy wine.

Then, suddenly, he asked for my phone number.  He wanted to know if I wanted to “get together sometime”.


I eagerly wrote down my phone number on the back of the bill.  Ten minutes later, he sent me a text.

Nice to see u, here is my number.

I wrote back.  “Good to see you, too!  Looking forward to getting together.”

Me too let’s talk soon.

That night, I lay in bed and basked in the glow of the evening.  Deep down, I knew I probably wouldn’t get together with Hot French Waiter.  After all, I was still married.  Yet, for the first time, I tasted the thrill – and freedom – of singlehood.

It might not be so bad, after all.

He Said, She Said

This post is being edited.

Actually —

You might just have to buy the book to read this chapter.

…But My Heart…

We fought extensively over email.

I read an article that my husband had written, covering an after-party of an industry event in Australia.  The pictures posted on the website that accompanied his story were of people partying, naked women, women kissing one another, and general debauchery, drugs (one can only assume) and mayhem.  He talked freely about all the women.  He described their clothing, their beauty, their eyes, their lack of clothing…

I hopped right back on the train to Crazytown.

I told him he made me sick, that he had manipulated me, and that I was done.  He defended himself and said he had done nothing wrong. He had written the article with me in mind.

THAT is how you build trust.  But what do I know?  I’m just petty and small.

I was irate.  I was also referring to a previous email where my husband had explained to me that he needed the “literary storyline”, and wouldn’t apologize for living life at the “small and petty” level.

We yelled and screamed at each other – as much as you possibly can — over email.  I tried to Skype with him, but he would not answer.  I called him a coward, and told him I was filing for divorce.

In essence, he said that he was done, too, that I could do whatever I wanted, and, “goodbye goodbye goodbye.”

I challenged him to come home and do it himself.  But I knew he wouldn’t.  He had left, on a one-way ticket to a foreign country.

The next day, I sent him an emotionless email entitled “Business”, wherein I laid out my desire, and plan, for a divorce.  I told him I was willing to hold off on filing until March 16th, which was the date we had agreed upon in counseling.  I asked for his input about our official date of separation, what to do with the house, and offered that I was willing to negotiate some credit card debt (however, I would NOT be paying for his hotel rooms, flowers, gifts and whatever other shenanigans he had been up to over the past year and a half).  I also asked him if he wanted to save money and not hire a lawyer.  We didn’t really have anything to fight over.  The only thing I had cared about was my beloved piano, and I had to sell it — months prior — to pay the mortgage.

I wanted our divorce to be clean, simple and amicable.

Note: Divorce is never “clean, simple or amicable.”

He told me he didn’t want to talk about responsibility in divorce.  He simply didn’t want to talk, at all.  He suggested we take a week off from each other and reconvene later, to “see how we feel”.

And, like that – poof! – he was gone.

I was left with unpaid bills, our impending mortgage payment and property taxes, and no money in the bank.  In fact, my husband would not contribute financially to our household ever again.

I pulled myself together and figured out how to prepare our taxes on my own.  Thankfully, I got it done quickly and received a large enough refund to be able to pay the mortgage.  I also met with Kathy, my good friend and realtor, and started the process to put our home on the market for lease.  There was no way I would be able to pay another month’s mortgage on my own.

I realized how God was taking care of me.  Even though my husband had abandoned me, I knew God would never abandon me.  I clung to Him. He never let me go.  (He still hasn’t let me go!)

Zephaniah 3:17 ~ “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”

I was seeing evidence of God’s faithfulness, yet still in the thick of the new storm.

Nights are so hard, I wrote. It is when I am most alone.  The fear of the unknown; the fear of losing everything.  The rejection.  The fact that, as each day passes, my husband continues to choose everything contrary to our marriage.  His cowardice is maddening.  He sticks me with all responsibility.

God, I cried, I want to look at life from a different perspective.  To trust that moving forward with divorce is Your best for me; that You will make it clear…whether I should file…not out of anger or malice…I continue to pray for my husband, that You would wrestle with him.  Of course I do not trust him at all, and his absence and silence only confirm what is inevitably true: he is untrustworthy.  Running.  Running from responsibility because he wants to be “great”.

 I don’t know if I could stand seeing him in the future; in another relationship.  That would be most painful.  I guess I have already experienced it, so…

I am starting to wonder if my entire marriage was a lie.  I was just a pawn in the game.  I simply do not believe him, nor do I believe in him anymore.  Maybe I failed the patience test, God? 

Life still goes on…but my heart, Lord.  My heart is his.  My heart belongs to him and he tramples on it, turns his back on me and laughs.  He walks away with it, crushing it between his palms as he interlaces the fingers of his left hand between another woman’s.

Foreshadowing is an amazing, literary gift.


Almost immediately after my husband’s departure, I became disillusioned with our marriage.

I wanted him to “check in” with me, whatever chance he got.  I asked him who he was with; where he was staying; what he was doing.  I asked him if we could set up a time to Skype, daily.  He never gave me a straight answer.  He told me he would “write more later”.  Furthermore, we were totally broke.  I couldn’t keep up with the bills on my own, even with all the odd jobs I was working.  My husband kept promising that a check for $4,000.00 was coming in the mail.

It never did.

I started to panic.  I called my marriage counselor and asked him what to do.  He reminded me of my end of the “bargain”.  March 16th.  March 16th.

It was barely the first week of March.

I didn’t want to fail.  I wanted to be a good, supportive wife.  I wanted God to bless my marriage, and my attempts at saving it.  I wanted to give it my all, or die trying.

So, I went back to the drawing board.  I emailed my husband.

I want to support you in every way you need me to.  I am sorry if I have been demanding of your time.  I am here for you – there is no pressure to Skype or have a quota of email to fulfill.  I want you to do the best job you can and you shouldn’t have the extra pressure of trying to succumb to my demands.  I’m sorry. Email me when you can; I really will do my very best to give you space and the freedom to do your job.

I’m sorry, I really am.

I love you,


My email had meant the world to him.  He said he loved me so much, and wanted to be there for me, but thanked me for understanding. It brought tears to his eyes.

And then, the long-awaited check arrived. It wasn’t anywhere near $4,000.00, but it was enough for the time being.  I thanked my husband for helping contribute.  He was relieved, and stayed very busy.  Oftentimes days would pass before I would hear from him.  We had a couple of Skype conversations, but he was too distracted.  Our communication started to wane, as I backed off my pursuit of him.  I continued to type and send the daily devotionals, but I did not offer, nor press him for further information.

He wanted to know what was going on.

I know that you are really busy and I am just trying to give you the space you need to do your job, without the pressure of a relationship on top of it, I wrote.

I realized that there truly was nothing that we could do for our marriage while he was away.  I also realized that my end of the bargain was a real shitty one, but felt guilty for not wanting to follow through with it.

I wrote in my fresh, thick, black journal.

I am doing all the hard work, I am in therapy and marriage counseling.  He shows up but is JUST GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS.  He knows exactly what to say  — gives me just enough to hang on, but I am starting to crack and crumble.  If you don’t water a plant it will die.  “Thank you for your support” basically means “thanks for getting off my back and not pressuring me to be in a relationship with you.”  I KNOW this guy.

I feel like I’m sticking with it to please my marriage counselor and my therapist.  I am so tired.

I don’t want to be tied down to him anymore. 

This guy has a LOT to do.  It may be years before he fully matures.  I am not that patient.

I don’t even know if I love him anymore.

I went to therapy twice that week.  I walked in, sat down, and told my therapist I’d had enough. I wanted my life back.

Without missing a beat, she said, “All right!  We need to change our goals, then.”

I was shocked.  I was sure that she wanted me to stay in my marriage.  Wasn’t that the right thing to do?  The Christian thing to do?  Yet, at the same time, it felt so freeing. She told me I needed to figure out what I wanted.  Make a list, write it down, do some soul-searching.

Who is Leslie without her husband?

I would eventually figure out the answer to that question, but to get there, I had to write.

I feel like the winds of change are upon me…instead of doing whatever it takes or being desperate for the marriage, I’m willing, ready and wanting to do what is best overall.  This is my life, and I don’t want my entire life to be like the past six months.

I want OUT of my marriage.  I want MY life.  I want to find someone who will love me for who I am, not what I do, or how I do it.  I want someone who won’t keep leaving me.

I do feel like there has been a death.  I am becoming unattached to him, and my therapist thinks so, too.  I’m just so tired of this.  It’s been six months of hanging on, hoping, praying, wishing, crying, screaming, panicking, fighting, sobbing, drinking, throwing things, reading self-help books, packing, unpacking, long phone calls to friends, crying, crying, pounding tables with fists, searching, asking WHY, trying.

Life goes on.  I don’t want to fix it anymore; I have no interest.  This guy I married ten years ago is non-existent.  He is caught up in his career – great, that’s wonderful.  Am I being unfair?  Maybe, sure.  I am tired of playing fair and being patient.  Being faithful to him got me NO WHERE in the first place.  No promises.  He makes no effort to be in the relationship, even when not pressured.  Patience doesn’t work; NOTHING works.  I gave it all I had and I want it to be over NOW.

God, he’s yours.  Not mine anymore.


Soon after I finished penning my thoughts, I received an email from my husband. He was staying in Australia, and didn’t know when he would return.

A Brand New Storm

We immediately headed back into counseling.  It would be our last session together.


We made yet another deal.  The time frame was actually my husband’s idea.  He would give himself one month — not nine! — to “make it or break it”.  My end of the bargain was to give him as much support as he needed, without putting pressure on him.  We all shook hands and marked our calendars.  March 16th was the “deadline”.

One month was better than nine.  I felt a huge sense of relief, yet still frustrated.  It didn’t seem fair. My marriage counselor pulled me aside.

“Leslie, I know this is SACRIFICIAL, but I do believe it will be like that paradox of the Prodigal Son/ Waiting Father parable.  If you love him, set him free.  Then he will have the freedom to really return to you out of love, not law!”

More than anything, I wanted my husband to return to me out of love, so I agreed.   We also agreed to pray for and encourage one another.  In addition, we would utilize the daily devotional book that our counselor had recommended.

To this day, I read it, even though the title makes me giggle.  “Jesus Calling!  Hello?!”

Andrea and I were committed to a bachelorette party that weekend in Palm Springs.  It was a much-needed getaway.  We would be staying in a lovely home with a sparkling pool, drinking champagne cocktails, watching girly movies, painting our nails and celebrating the end of our dear friend’s singlehood.  Furthermore, I couldn’t wait to drive the golf cart.

Andrea picked me up Friday afternoon in “The Potato”.  My husband helped me carry my luggage to the car.

“Hey, will you email me ‘Jesus Calling’ while I’m away?” I asked him, as he loaded my tiny suitcase onto the smooth, leather seat in the back. I fumbled in my purse for my sunglasses.

“I will,” he said.  He shut the door.  I found my glasses, but held them in my hand.  We stood, awkwardly, for a moment.

“Have a safe trip to Australia,” I offered. His flight was leaving that Sunday — just a few hours before Andrea, the Potato and I would return to Los Angeles.

“I love you, Leslie.”

I searched his face.  Perhaps I was searching his soul.
“I love you, too.”

He gave me a hug.  I got in the car, and we drove away.

As I was relaxing on day two of the bachelorette weekend with my girlfriends, my husband wrote me.  He had typed out the “Jesus Calling” devotional.  In addition, he said that he missed me, and wanted a new start.  He thought we could be better than we ever were.

I want to believe you, I responded.  Just please keep in touch.

He said he would keep in touch, and this time would be different.  He was praying for God’s will, and also praying that he would do a good job.  He hoped that his career would excite me again.  He wanted big things for both of us.  He imagined flying from Australia to New York, catching a cab and meeting me in my dressing room just before I took the Broadway stage.

I just want to start with being loved and trusting you, was my response.

I understand your personality.  I also think reality needs to be dealt with gracefully.  Our dreams won’t be accomplished if we cannot handle the small, daily things in our lives.  My dreams have never changed.  My reality has.

Some of my dreams include being with you, traveling together, taking even just a weekend – no phones or computers – to remember who we are together. Get to know each other again. We are still living such separate lives and it makes me sad. 

My husband left the country on February 21, 2010.  He called me on his way to the airport to say goodbye.  We told each other — again – that we loved each other.  March 16th was just around the corner, and I was grateful to have an end in sight.

I’ll never forget the way the sky looked that day, as Andrea drove us back from Palm Springs.  It was astounding.  The clouds were thick and billowy, yet the sun’s brilliant light had no trouble shining through the darkness.  The mountains were still lightly dusted with snow; the air was clean, balmy and fragrant.   I was filled with an overwhelming sense of peace.
It was the calm before the storm, but this was a brand new storm: one that would fuel me with strength and clarity.
Little did I know, as I captured random photos of the picturesque horizon, it would take my husband nine weeks and five days to return.  And, in that time, both of our lives would be forever changed.