Goodbye, House

I had two weeks to move out.

Within ten days, I sold the majority of our belongings, and stored only those items I figured I would need for my future: the digital upright piano, music, kitchen items, a table, and a couch. My plan was to live with Curt and Kathy for at least six months, and then move back into my house once my tenant’s lease was up.

I was beyond determined to keep my house, but for the time being, I had to let it go.

So many people helped me.  My college (now close) friend Jessica, came over on Easter Sunday and helped me sort through and throw away a bunch of clothes. My sisters came over frequently and let me put them to work scrubbing floors, cleaning out the hot tub and sorting through more clothes and jewelry.

Andrea helped me exorcise The Man House.  In a ridiculous ceremony filled mostly with laughter, a couple of beers and — shall I say —  “unladylike” gestures, we re-named the space “The Vagina Mansion”.

My dad called and/or came over every day to help with whatever I needed.  He is such a good man.

Church and theatre friends responded to my pleas for help by buying, transporting or storing furniture.

My neighbor, Lisa, spent hours helping me pack and organize the garage.

My college roommate left her husband and three children 200 miles north to spend the last weekend in my house with me.  We cleaned, scrubbed, organized and giggled, just like old times.

One of the sisters of my husband’s “cast of characters” came that weekend, as well, and cleaned out my refrigerator, amongst many other daunting tasks.  We worked alongside one another and marveled at the strength of women.

The house was filled with love and support, even though it was being emptied of the remnants of my ten-year marriage.

During the days, I felt beyond blessed.  Nights were harder.

God, I need to be honest: I am so sad.  I am sad that my husband left me.  He won’t even communicate with me.  I know that his problems run deep and that his absence really doesn’t have anything to do with me. It’s all HIM.  But it is still very hurtful; painful to have been abandoned.  Cast aside.  Rejected. Strangely, I don’t have ill will toward him. I wish I meant enough to him for him to turn his life around.  But, again, I can’t turn this on myself.  I guess not having ANY answers is what is so frustrating.

LORD GOD, I wanted to be married.  I wanted a husband and a home and a family.  And now I am single, homeless and unemployed.

God, I don’t understand.  Fill me. Fill my emptiness.  YOU are here.  You.

In the midst the moving frenzy, I was trying to figure out a way to get my husband served.  I had started the process of divorce by filing, but he needed to legally “receive the message” and then file a response, in order for the divorce to move forward.

The problem was that I had no idea where he could possibly be, or if I’d ever see him again.

I became increasingly anxious.  I just wanted him out of my life, but had to do it properly.

Since I had decided to forgo using a lawyer, I researched the serving process as best I could.  I narrowed it down to two options: (a) hire a process server in Australia to hunt him down, or (b) serve via publication in an Australian newspaper.  Neither seemed very promising until Option A fell into my lap.

My dear college friend, Melissa, had a one-legged ex-boyfriend (yes, true) who was now married and living in Australia.  He just so happened to have worked as a process server at one point in his life (pre or post-motorcycle accident, I am not sure).  Melissa got in touch with him.  After hearing my story, he offered to take a day off work to drive to Sydney to track down and serve my husband the divorce papers, free of charge.

It seemed like an amazing plan, so I immediately him sent the papers via FedEx.  It would take a little while, but my anxiety was relieved.  Thank God for one-legged ex-boyfriends/international process servers who are skilled in covertly hunting down douchebags.

Then, unexpectedly, I received an email from my husband.  He didn’t know where I was, what I was up to, how I was feeling or what my plans were.  He also wanted to know if his check had arrived.

My heart was filled with anxiety once again.  I was no longer committed to picking up the pieces of our obliterated marriage, yet I was hurt and infuriated by my husband’s continued selfishness.

I carefully worded my response.

It’s been a long time since we have communicated.  I honestly would prefer to talk to you in person, not over email anymore.

The last check that came through was at the end of February.  Nothing since.

Do you have a mailing address in Australia?

He didn’t really have an address down under, but said I could send emergency mail to the magazine’s office.  He then told me of his plan: he would be returning to Los Angeles in a few weeks, and then return to Sydney.  Of course, we didn’t have to decide anything over email, but he was not happy with the way we ended, at all.  He went back and read through our emails from the start of his trip and was disappointed.  He explained that he was excited at the possibility of what we could have created, but that it had been shattered into a million pieces.

I shook and sobbed as I read the last part of the email.  I did not understand how he could still continue to freely blame me for the ending of our marriage, especially from thousands of miles away.  He never once lifted a moving box or wept over a picture in a frame. He didn’t even know I had filed for divorce, and he certainly didn’t seem to care.  Furthermore, I had just sent the papers to Australia; would he be home before he had a chance to get served?   I became angry at myself for not having filed for divorce the very second I had learned of his affair.

The very thought of his laziness and cowardice sent pulsating waves of rage, hate and malice through my blood.

But I did not have time to mourn or be angry.  I had to keep going.  I had to move out.

April 17, 2010

Everything is clean, done.  I am moved out.  I am sitting here on my deck for the last time in this chapter of my life. 

Amy drove with me over to Curt and Kathy’s before heading back home.  I have all my stuff there.  It’s hard.  God, I am sad and my heart is heavy.  The life I built here is gone.  And still my home remains, but nothing inside.  Oh, Lord, it breaks my heart.  So much work and time and I know You have a plan for me but I am still holding on.  God, I need your help in letting go.

Isaiah 41:10 ~ So do not fear, for I am with you: do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

I went back inside after penning my prayer, and headed through the open hallway towards the back bedroom. There was a heaviness about the room as I entered.  Oh, that room where so much love and pain had been shared.  I took a picture of the sunlight as it struggled to stream in through the window and warm the freshly painted wall.

I wandered down the short hallway and snapped a picture of the bathroom, then the guest bedroom.  Then, I headed out to the main part of the 900 sq. foot house.

I sat down in the middle of my living room.  The original hardwood floors were still shiny and wet from having just been mopped.  I listened to the birds as they joyfully sang outside.  A gentle breeze floated through the open bay window. The sunlight poured in with ease and illuminated the deep, warm color of the floor. The house seemed so small in its emptiness, yet it seemed to creak, groan and yearn for newness and hope.

I sat, silent, only for a little while.  Goodbyes are never easy, but I would be back.  I took a deep breath, smiled, and patted the floor.

“Goodbye, House,” I whispered.

Little did I know that day, I would never set foot in my house again.

5 thoughts on “Goodbye, House

  1. Cazzamatazza says:

    Oh Leslie thank you so much for your blog. I feel as though I’m reading my own journal here. My husband had an affair after 3 years of marriage and we’re now going through a divorce. The week after he left and I managed to pick myself off the couch my mum helped me transform my house, scrubbing it clean from top to bottom. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do, but, as you, just relying fully on God to make me whole again. Your writing has been such a blessing to me so thank you from the bottom of my heart! Much love from London xx

  2. kingdombelle says:

    “I wish I meant enough to him for him to turn his life around” I said this to myself many many times…what a freeing feeling when we realized we had NOTHING to do with it…my ex husband too waited for me to file….so much to be said for a woman’s strength…God you are mighty

  3. Sophi Gilliland says:

    there’s something a little sad about that last line………

  4. JR says:

    Is it a little bit funny that I get mad when you don’t write for 5 days? Like you are being a total jerk or something?

  5. “Thank God for one-legged ex-boyfriends/international process servers who are skilled in covertly hunting down douchebags.”

    !!!

    Everything about this one, too, is beautiful.

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