Monthly Archives: January 2012

Sister Wife


I was alone in Curt and Kathy’s luxurious mountain retreat-like home, while they were away in Colorado.  Jeff and Jenny invited me to spend Christmas morning with them and their adorable son.  Almost as soon as I arrived, they showered me with bountiful, thoughtful gifts.  I felt so loved.

I have amazing friends.

A couple of days later, my mother showed up at the front door, just passing through after visiting my grandmother.  I explained to her how my court hearing had gone, and vented about how frustrated I was that my husband was engaged to some random woman.

“Leslie, he’s already married,” my mother revealed.

W H A A A A A . . . ?!?!?!

I was so shocked that I couldn’t even exercise my potty mouth.

How does she know?! 

Since I had stopped researching my husband, his adventures and stories on the internet, I was blissfully unaware of the fact that his wedding picture was plastered on a website.  My husband had even twatted about his nuptials.  (Oh, pardon me: “tweeted”.)

My mother had a history of tracking my husband’s every move.  I had to firmly tell her to stop sending me information about him.  It was too painful, and detrimental to my healing process.

After my mother left, I sat alone in the kitchen, fingers poised above the keyboard.  I made a decision, and shakily typed in my husband’s — and his wife’s — name.

I took a deep breath.

There they stood, in a small Vegas chapel, holding hands and gazing into each other’s eyes. Vomit.  I was immediately shocked at how much the new wife closely resembled my mother-in-law: blonde hair, extremely frail frame, strong jaw.  My husband was clothed in same expensive-looking suit that he wore to our divorce hearing.  I felt embarrassed for him.

He married his mother. 

I read the small article and subsequent congratulations that accompanied the picture.  The headline?  MERGER.

They were married on Saturday, November 20th “in front of family, friends, and business associates.”   The article referenced both of their “tweets” about their wedding.

Life. Is. Perfect. . . Or saturday night it will be.

The first day of the rest of my life was beyond perfect. So much love and the most beautiful friends and family..thank you [husband] . . Everyone who attended thank you for making the room glow with Love. Here’s to doing next level shit.

“Next level shit”?  Uhhhh, I think bigamy takes things to a whole new level, for sure.


OH, GOD.  I HAVE A SISTER WIFE, I realized, and immediately called Andrea and Joy to tell them the news.  Andrea rushed right over.

Oddly enough, we couldn’t stop laughing.  It was just the most bizarre thing, ever.  How does one process that information?  It’s one thing to discover your spouse’s infidelity, or to hear that they are dating someone while you are separated.

My husband got married without making sure he was divorced.

WHO DOES THAT?!?!??!!!?!?!?!??!!?!?!?!!?

I tried to rationalize like a dude.  Wouldn’t he want to play the field a bit?  He was free to sleep with whomever he wanted, no strings attached.  He was finally free to discover himself.

He was free to do whatever he wanted, except ONE thing.

As the information and reality sank in even deeper, I started to experience a vast array of emotions: anger; hurt; confusion; rage; frustration; embarrassment; further betrayal; relief.  I was livid with my mother for dropping that bomb on me.  At the same time, I figured it was best that I knew.  On the other hand, what was I going to do about it?  It would have been better to know a week earlier, so that I could have tattled to the judge.

No wonder he looked so nervous in court.  He is a BIGAMIST!  HE COULD HAVE GONE TO JAIL!!! 

My mind drifted to my sister wife.  For some reason I had no immediate ill will towards her.  I actually felt sorry for her.  She was even more clueless than my husband, and she was supposed to be some hot-shot, savvy businesswoman.  It was obvious that he was marrying her for her money.  He needed someone to take care of him.  I had quit that job.

I then started to feel like my entire marriage really, truly was a lie.  The institution of holy matrimony had been bastardized and shat upon by an ordinary cheater-turned-bigamist, who sported meaningless tattoos.

It was all a show.

He doesn’t know who he is. 

But I knew who I was.  Or at least who I was supposed to be.  I had always known.  I felt like I had been rescued from the circus freak show just in time.  This discovery was a huge turning point in me finally letting go of the boy I once loved.

The New Year dawned.  The only thing left unsettled in our divorce (besides the new, illegal marriage) was the money that my husband had agreed to split with me.  I knew he had it, and I wanted it.  

For months you have been telling me I would have the retirement funds in December 2010.  It is now January 2011, I wrote, calmly.

Please provide an accurate statement of all funds in all accounts, along with a check for my half in thirty days or I will file for contempt of court.  If you do not comply, this will result in your arraignment and additional hearing(s).  You are required by law to meet the terms of the divorce agreement or face costly sanctions.

He responded immediately, and balked at my tone of voice.  It was as if we never knew each other.

You have thirty days.  And, no, I don’t know you. At all.  Whoever you once were is a faded, distant memory.
Do not contact me for any other reason than news of our divorce settlement. I do not know you, and I certainly do not appreciate being still legally married to a bigamist.

And then, the War of the Words began.

Neck Tattoo

The day before my court hearing, I received a long-awaited package in the mail.

As soon as I saw the familiar manila envelope sitting in my post office box, my heart leapt for joy.  This was it! I was finally divorced. Christmas had come early. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect.

As I giddily tore open the package, I noticed something was wrong.

All of my divorce paperwork had been returned.

How could this happen? What kind of cruel joke was being played on me? Furthermore, what could possibly be wrong with the paperwork? It was supposed to be the “easiest” divorce in the history of the world. We had argued over nothing, the house was already sold. For crying out loud, the Respondent was already shacked up with someone else. I felt like I couldn’t move forward in my life without being legally divorced, so why couldn’t it just be done?

I figured out what was wrong: I had forgotten to write an address on one of the forms. Now it would take at least two more months for the paperwork to be routed back through the system.

Please join me in a repeated chorus of all your favorite expletives here!

I started to cry, right there in the post office. I had waited so long for that envelope to appear so I could finally mourn the end of my marriage to completion. I didn’t expect this anger and frustration to come bubbling up, yet I quickly talked myself out of my tears. Instead of cry and feel sorry for myself, I had to take action.

I quickly filled in the missing addresses on the stupid-ass form and drove downtown. I blazed through the courthouse, on a mission to re-file the documents. I had a court hearing the very next day, but I wanted to show the judge my earnest effort and honest mistake.

Surely he would grant the divorce in person, after realizing that I had just forgotten to write down a simple address.

I re-filed the paperwork and drove back to Pasadena. There was nothing else I could do but pray.

Oh, God, this has to be done. I am screaming inside. I want to throw up.
I trust You. I trust You.
There are no restraining orders, custody orders, nothing. Just an error. Name, address, date. SERIOUSLY?
Oh, the anticipation and subsequent disappointment…

The next day I awoke at 3:40 a.m. I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up, ate breakfast, dressed in my “court clothes” and prayed.

D-Day had finally come.

Andrea accompanied me to court. We arrived at 8:30 a.m. and slowly made our way up to the 5th floor, to the room where my case would be heard. My heart was pounding out of my chest. I half-hoped my husband wouldn’t show up, but as soon as I got off the escalator and rounded the corner, I saw him.

He was standing alone, wearing an expensive-looking suit. His blonde hair was slicked back tight, away from his large forehead. He had a fresh tattoo, too: some sort of inscription that seemed to crawl up his neck.

I shuddered.

He has a neck tattoo. He’s wearing a suit. He’s engaged to be married.

I started to feel nauseated, but pushed the feeling of weakness back down. I couldn’t look at him. I would deal with the emotions later. Right now, I had to get divorced.

I marched straight past my husband and headed towards the docket list that was posted next to the courtroom door. Andrea trailed behind me, in all her silent strength and support. I followed my finger down the list until I saw our names.  We were number 10. Next to my husband’s name was the acronym, OSC. It stood for “Order to Show Cause”.

Since he hadn’t shown up to court back in August, the judge wanted an explanation for why.

Good. I hope he gets in trouble.

As we entered the courtroom, Andrea and I took a seat in the very back, on the left: the Bride’s side. My husband sat down in the second to the last row on the right side of the courtroom. I glanced across at him. He looked nervous; almost sad.

I started spouting off court lingo with Andrea, which prompted the woman in front of us to turn around and ask a question. She, too, was battling through a divorce. That day’s particular hearing was for custody of her son. As we chatted, we quickly discovered we had gone to the same college. I gave her a high-five (“Go, Eagles!”) and we joked a bit about contributing to the sad, staggering statistic of divorce. We were all members of the same club now. She had the same, knowing look in her eyes — one of deep pain and lingering injustice. Yet, she pressed on. Andrea and I encouraged her and it seemed to help her relax. She thanked us for the glimmer of hope and cheer in that otherwise dark courtroom.

The courtroom’s participants were soon called to order.  We were instructed to check in with the bailiff.  As I made my way towards the front, my husband slipped into line, directly behind me. I sensed his familiar presence, yet, something had changed.

“Hi,” he offered, casually, as he moved up in line to stand next to me.

I didn’t look at him.

“How are you?” he asked.

I threw him a sideways glance.

“I’m just fine,” I replied, shortly.

“What’s an O.S.C?” he asked.

I sighed, loudly. I was sick of doing everything; taking care of all the details.

“What does that mean?” he prompted again, more urgently.

Part of my heart went out to him. We had shared so much. I recalled, deep down in the hidden crevices of my soul, that I had loved — still loved? –  this man standing before me. We weren’t supposed to be getting divorced! We were supposed to be strengthening our marriage and cracking jokes about the fact that we were in court in the first place! He had promised me that he would be faithful. He had promised to love me until death parted us. We had so many dreams together that we were supposed to accomplish.  He was supposed to be the father of my children.  We were going to conquer the world, together.

Our love story will go down in history: It just wasn’t meant to be.

Before me stood a broken man who broke his promises. I saw him in a fleeting light: so lost, so helpless, so very unattractive with that tattoo on his neck.

I shook off any sort of compassion I felt for him in that moment.

“Listen, you’re on your own here,” I said, then turned on my heels, and went back to my seat.

The judge entered the courtroom, shuffled his papers around, adjusted his glasses, and called our names first.

It all happened in such a flash. The judge declared that our case was “relatively easy” and wanted to get to the bottom of it. He asked my husband why he hadn’t shown up in August.

“I was disoriented,” he answered. “I had just returned from Australia.”

The judge peered down from his bench, accepted his bullshit excuse and gave him a verbal warning. He even forgave the $200.00 fine for my husband’s failure to appear.

The judge then turned to me.

“I see that your paperwork was returned because it is incomplete,” he stated, as he inspected the small collection of papers in our file.

“Yes, Your Honor, “ I answered.  I quickly added, “But-it-was-only-because-I-had-forgotten-to-put-our-address-on-form-FL-190-what-a-silly-mistake-don’t-you-agree?-All-the-paperwork-is-complete-and-we-even-sold-our-house-and-agreed-on-everything…”

I raised my eyebrows and shot a knowing glance over to my husband. He nodded in agreement, even though he had no idea what was happening. It was the last moment we would ever share in that regard. He knew how to read me. He knew me deeply; intimately. He knew to not question me. He knew I was doing what was best for both of us; he knew I had taken care of it all.

The judge inspected both of us for a moment.

“I’m continuing this case to April 14th,” he ordered, as he shuffled our documents to the bottom of his pile. “I want to look through your file and see exactly what is going on here; exactly why it is incomplete.”

Nooo! I just want this to be over! I’m going to die right here in this courtroom, in five seconds.  Five…four…three…

The judge continued.

“If you receive the paperwork in the mail with my judgment form and signature before the next hearing, you will not have to come back to court.”

I can’t hear you, Your Honor. I’m dead. I just died right here. Please send someone to collect my body.

“Thank you, Your Honor,” I managed feebly, as I fought back tears.

And, like that, we were excused. Our judge had a lot of cases to get through. After all, it was the last day of the year for the LA Superior Court system. They would go on a two-week hiatus so the court and its employees could enjoy Christmas with their families.

Christmas was just three days away. And it was now ruined. The present I so desperately wanted — a finalized divorce! — was now coal in my stocking. Instead of celebrating underneath the mistletoe, I had my dragged-out divorce hanging over my head.

I bit my lip as hard as I could to keep from crying, and made my way back to Andrea and my purse. My husband was busy on his phone. As I waited for Andrea to gather her belongings, my husband tapped me on the shoulder.

“What was our court date again?” he asked, distracted by an incoming text message.

I glared at him. It was all I could do to not scratch his eyes out, kick him in the balls, or scream at the top of my lungs in that cold courtroom. Why couldn’t someone just arrest him? Why did he deserve such grace, time and time again?!

He sensed my anger.

“Come on, Les. What was the date? Just tell me!”

I looked at him briefly, then at his neck. I shook my head, placed my hand against the door and pushed it open. I left, without a word.

I had gotten a closer look at the tattoo.

It was his fiancée’s signature. And he was her problem now.


I learned of my husband’s engagement one late November day.  I had driven to San Clemente to visit a favorite, wonderful college friend, whom I actually hadn’t seen in a couple of years.  We met for lunch in a little burger shack by the coast.  As we sipped our frosty beers, I assured my dear friend that I was doing well, and I was happy to be moving forward.

She was proud of me.

She then told me that my husband had recently breezed through her office.  She works for a magazine that pays him to write stories.  She explained that it was really difficult to see him.  All she could do was flip him off.

I laughed.  It made me feel good to know that I had such loyal friends.  After all, we had all gone to college together.  Even though she was my good friend first, she had been a part of both of our lives.  She was a bridesmaid in our wedding.  She knew of all the intricacies of our relationship from day one.

And she knew something more.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, Leslie,” she hesitated, after we had enjoyed an evening of dominating karaoke at the local sushi bar. (She is amazing, and is reigning karaoke champion!)

“But I really feel like I should…”

My heart sank.  I did not want to learn that my husband had actually been cheating on me for years, or that he was dying of an incurable STD he had contracted from one of his lovers.  I really just didn’t want to feel like more of a fool than I already was. Nevertheless, I braced myself for impact.

“What is it?!  Tell me!  JUST TELL ME,” I implored her.  I wanted to hear it and just get it over with.

My friend took a deep breath, grabbed my hand and held it tightly.

“He’s engaged.  He has been since May.”



I swirled the small bit of wine in my glass, and furrowed my brow as I allowed the information to wash over me.

“Well, that makes sense,” I said, as I looked up with a smile.  (I had gotten good at smiling through the pain.)

And it did.  Strangely enough, it made total sense – why he kept running off, why he was so eager to get rid of our house; why he didn’t put any effort into repairing or ending our marriage; why he couldn’t look me in the eye.

Then I started to do the math.

“Wait a minute.  I filed for divorce on April 2nd, without him even knowing.  He was served divorce papers on April 30th.  He was engaged in MAY?”


And then, to my (even further) surprise, I learned that his fiancée wasn’t the Ukrainian.  She wasn’t even the Investment Banker.

She was an older woman in “the business” that had a lot of money.  It was no secret, either.  My husband had come into the magazine’s office, bragging about his engagement, the trips he was taking, the cars he was driving and how much money she had.

He was set for life.

I felt the vomit rise to the back of my throat, but swallowed it.  I then washed it down with the remainder of my glass of white wine.

“Well, they deserve each other,” was all I could manage to say.

I didn’t want him back under any circumstances.  At the same time, I was hurt, and shocked at how quickly my husband was able to move on.  Was I missing something here?

My longtime friend apologized over and over for being the one to tell me, but I profusely thanked her for being the one – and, also, for telling me in the first place.  Sure, I felt like a total idiot, and as a wave of embarrassment set in, so did the pain.  Only, this time, the pain was totally unfamiliar.  Uncharted territory.

I had spent so much time healing.  I was done being wounded.  Now it felt like someone had just shot me, point-blank in the chest, with a hollow point bullet.  I felt every ounce of agonizing pain as the bullet entered my flesh, tearing through and maximizing the damage to my already-fragmented heart.

On the drive back to Pasadena, the reality started to sink in: I had been played.  The uncontrollable sobs began again.  I hated being back in this place.  I hated crying over him.  I hated the injustice of the situation. I hated being miserable, and I really hated the thought of him being happy and in love.  How dare he?!

I just learned that X is engaged to be married.  He lives with her, was all I managed to write the next day.
It hurts, God.  I feel like a fool but I also know I am free.  Definitely free but also beat down.  I need You.  I need strength.

Ten days later, true to (laughable, insane and unpredictable) fashion, I received an email from my husband.
(My “husband”. Yes, he was still legally my husband, even though he was engaged to someone else!)  He wrote to let me know that he was still working on extracting the retirement money that he owed me.  He assured me that he would write me a check.

I was angry. I wrote back immediately, careful to not acknowledge his new relationship status.  A flurry of quick email exchanges followed, a la text messaging.

Great, you can tell the judge on December 22nd, I responded.

He replied and told me that we didn’t need to go to court.  His understanding was that our judgment would be ruled, and we didn’t need to be present in court.

Pardon me?
just don’t even know how to respond to that.  Good luck.

I was shocked.  What was happening?  Was he really this checked out?  Drugged out?  Or just plain stupid?  He couldn’t even communicate in proper English. I started to panic.  I knew we had a court date in a few weeks, and I wanted our divorce to be final more than anything.  I reasoned that if he didn’t show up – AGAIN – our case would be extended, AGAIN, and I’d continue to live in limbo.

I am convinced that limbo is much worse than actual hell.

I wrote once more, and tried to be as clear, rational and business-like as possible.  I even provided him with a link to our personal case via the Superior Court’s website.  I had been checking it religiously to see if the paperwork had been approved.  There was no reason for the divorce to not go through, but I couldn’t risk missing the December court date.  Surely the judge would grant our divorce in person, if nothing else.

We have a court hearing on December 22, 2010 at 8:30 a.m., I wrote, as calmly as I could.

The reason why we have another court date is because you failed to appear at the first hearing on August 23, 2010. 

Our divorce is not final.  If it were, we would have already received something official in the mail.  You can check the status of the divorce here.  Type in the case number.  Else, be looking for an official notice in the mail to notify you if the hearing has been canceled.  

Yes, the paperwork has been completed and submitted, but it is up to the judge to make the official ruling.

I am sure we both do not want it to drag on any longer.  

I am keeping a copy of this email to submit to the court if necessary.

He never wrote back.  I would quickly learn why.

He was in deep, dark trouble.

Holy Matrimony

As soon as I hiked down from the mountain, I received a text from Kathy.


My house was sold.  I was even able to pick up a check that reflected my half of the profit.  It felt surreal.  I deposited “the blood money” into my savings account that day.  It was done.

Two days later was my “Universary” .  I just so happened to be house/dog sitting for my neighbors. Oddly enough, it was good to be back in the neighborhood.  It was good to hug my dog, Wimbley (whom my amazing neighbors adopted).  It was hard to see my house, sitting next door,  but I knew it was for the best.

I sat atop my neighbors’ deck and wrote.

October 30, 2010

Here I am, at Lisa and Laura’s.  It is a beautiful day; calm and peaceful.  I treated myself to a facial this morning at Burke Williams and am now enjoying the beautiful, late afternoon.  Clean.  Free.  I don’t own [my house] anymore, and it feels REALLY good.

NO looking back.  I have my chair turned away from the property.  Oh, how far You have brought me, Lord!  Thank You!  Today is not sad.  It is a celebration of You and me, and our journey.  You are with me…You are here now, causing the breeze to gently caress the trees; shining the light; loving me.  Oh, how much You love and care for me!  I am so blessed!

After I finished writing, I flipped open my 14-year old Bible.

I rifled through the front pages: a certificate of “Holy Matrimony”, a list of births and deaths; a family tree. I have always wondered why it was necessary to list these things in a Bible, and laughed to myself.  Of the four marriages that I had written down, only two of them remained.

50%.  50% of marriages end in divorce.  What a shitty, shitty statistic.  My Bible even told me so.

I flipped back to the front page, where I had lovingly filled in the details of my wedding day.


Leslie Leigh Spencer and [my husband’s full name]

were united in HOLY MATRIMONY (Wow, they really wrote that word out, big and fancy.  HOLY MATRIMONY!!)
on October 30, 1999…

I studied the print for a moment.  Everything about that day was just a faint memory.  It had no place in my life anymore, nor did it hold a place in my Bible. I took the page and calmly ripped it out.  I then tore out the rest of the pages of “memories”.

I wanted my Bible to just be a Bible.

I placed the pages atop a pile of ashes in Lisa and Laura’s chiminea, grabbed a lighter, and lit each corner on fire.  I watched in peace as the pages burned.  I returned to the blue leather to find an appropriate verse to accompany the “ceremony”:

“…a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”  ~Isaiah 61:3

A few weeks passed.  My show closed after a 10-week run, and Joy and I took a trip to Sonoma.  I really needed to get away, and it felt good to get out of Los Angeles and enjoy my best friend and good wine.

One night we decided that I should join an online dating service.

“It’s time, Leslie,” Joy encouraged.  “You need to get yourself out there.  You need some dating experience!”

It was true.  I just didn’t really know how to go about it.  I had gotten married before online dating really existed, so it was all strange, new territory.  Furthermore, I hated having to advertise myself as if I were some sort of show horse.

Joy sat with me and helped me fill out the seemingly never-ending questionnaire.  I wanted to represent myself well, and it was good to have the person who knew me best at my side.  She didn’t let me off the hook, not once.  We laughed, drank wine and marveled at the experience.  As much as I would later dread online dating in general, I was excited to be moving forward with grace and such loving support.

It felt right.  I wasn’t exactly divorced yet, but it was just a matter of time.  All the paperwork had been turned in, and we had a court date in a month.  Surely the divorce would be final then.

And then, a week later, I discovered that my husband was engaged to be married.

New Life

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails the fields produce no food,
Though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Sovereign LORD is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to go on the heights.”

~Habakkuk 3:17-19

Monday, October 11, 2010

God, these past few days have been so hard.  From finishing divorce paperwork to dealing with the house issues – the easement, moving, termites, etc. — oh, Father, I simply can’t do any of this.  I can’t do it alone.  I am spent.  Exhausted.  I don’t know how to anymore. 


I feel so beaten down.  Oh, God, I know You love me.  You love me.  You love me.  You love me. 

Help, help, help. help, help.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Oh, Lord, I have been praying for justice, and what to do about house stuff and when… You continue to orchestrate perfectly…all that’s left is the couch and some belongings.  I hope tomorrow it is all done; gone.  


Oh, Father, I pray that You would illuminate the way.  You are continuing to lead me out of this marriage, this house, maybe even out of Los Angeles?  I do not know.  I am afraid.  I feel displaced.  Uncertain.

Oh, Lord, You are so good.  You are too good.  I don’t understand, but You bring beauty from all my pain. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

My 11th wedding anniversary would have been in one week.  It makes me sad.  If all goes “well” – YOUR plan, Lord – then escrow will close next week; next Friday?  And then Saturday will come.  I think it’s hitting me now.  I wanted so much to celebrate year 11, year 12, 15, 20, 40…but I never will.  Ever.  Not with him.  Ever.

It’s so sad, Lord.  My heart hurts.  I still mourn the loss of my marriage.

I hope this all will end soon, and that the pain and hurt will look less like scars and more like character.

Oh, Lord, the pain is so present.  I try to cover it up but it doesn’t go away.  You are the only true comfort.  I cannot depend upon anyone but You.

This has all been so traumatic.  I continue to love and trust You and put my HOPE in YOU.  Hope for my future that You have already so lovingly planned for me! 

Oh, Lord, I ask for favor and blessing.  Do You want me to stay in LA?  NYC?  I ask for financial blessing.   I ask that you would bless me with a faithful, godly, HUNKY, ATTRACTIVE, amazing, talented, confident, big-penised husband!!!  (ha ha!) And babies!

Wednesday, October 27. 2010

Father, I had hoped that escrow would close today.  It did not, and now it may take even LONGER.  LORD, I need help.  I am a disaster.  Satan is doing everything he can —  flailing around like a fool, trying to throw a wrench in Your plan.  God, I TRUST YOU.  You have carried me through ALL of this.  And I trust You to carry me through, to the end.

I am exhausted.  My eyes are still swollen from sobbing last night.  Sobbing and sobbing…my body and spirit are so weak.

As hard as it is, God, I pray for my husband, and his friends.  They know You and they have hurt so many people.  I do not know what happened to them or what will happen to them.  It is difficult for me to pray for any of them.  But I do.  I don’t even know what to pray.

I am drowning.  I want to hide.  Please, no more hurt.  Please help me, Jesus.  I need You.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Good morning, Lord!

I had a wonderful night’s rest.  Had a good conversation with Curt last night…went to bed early…

Escrow closes today.  T O D A Y.  The funding went through yesterday – Kathy worked so hard!  I may even have the money today.  Not that I care about the money; it is the price I receive for my marriage.

I still struggle with the pain of the betrayal.  I know healing will take a long time, but I feel that I can finally start to heal, and will be able to get on my feet and do something for myself.  Now I get to focus on what YOU and I are doing – not that I wasn’t before? I don’t know.

And, of course, the pain of October 30th – my wedding anniversary – will be there.   Is there.

“And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  ~Romans 5:5

I do not understand why all of this happened.  I held on as long as I could to everything — my husband, especially.  God, I see how beautifully and perfectly You orchestrated the gentle shift in ownership of my home, in exactly six months.  Amazing.

I believe that the divorce will be final in Your perfect timing, as well.  I pray that the paperwork will be complete; that nothing will have to be returned.  I don’t want to have to see my husband for a LONG, LONG time.  Too painful.  TOO painful.

He was my husband and I loved him so much…dreams slipped away like sand through my fist.  Life as I knew it is OVER.  Let this new life begin. 

I’m atop the mountain right now.  I hiked up here, all by myself.  I’m above the Hollywood sign, and it is so beautiful. I can see oil rigs in the ocean.  I can see for miles.  It is so very quiet.

Just You and me, God.

I don’t have to know anything now.  Today is huge.  Today is the biggest in letting go.  You carried me through it all. 

Oh, LORD!  The relief and freedom I feel!  I can go anywhere; do anything.  My life then is but a memory.  I will not linger in the past.  I will try hard not to blame my husband for such pain and hardship.  The work is done. 

New life.  New life.   NEW LIFE!!

Ending As We Had Begun

The next few weeks were crucial, grueling and exhausting, in regards to paperwork.

I had an unruly and greedy neighbor who lived atop my hill, just behind the sprawling mass of untamed, indigenous land that we owned.  Once he found out we were selling our home, he tried to exercise his rights to a portion of the land that we had given him permission to use.  It became a frustrating nightmare, not to mention a scramble against the clock to get Escrow closed before he could file a lawsuit against us and adversely possess our land.

Sometimes I just don’t understand people.

I had to meet again with my husband, this time to sign Escrow papers.  I was on a roll.  The end was in sight, yet the pain was still real and raw.  I swallowed it and prayed for mercy.

We met with Maggie, our Escrow officer, at 1:00 p.m on a Monday.  She was a lovely, kind, older woman who obviously knew that our decision to sell had arisen from divorce.  She gently explained the process and what we were signing away.  If all went well, we’d close in thirty days.  My husband quickly scrawled his one-lettered signature on every single piece of paper as fast as he could.  I sat on the chair to his right and carefully read the documents before signing my full name.  It felt surreal.  I had flashes of old memories when we were signing the Escrow papers to buy the house.  Those were happier times, indeed, yet somehow (strangely) no less hopeful than the present.

Still, I was signing my house over to someone else.  It felt so unfair.

I unwillingly started to cry.  Maggie immediately offered me some tissue, but kept pointing to places where I needed to sign.  I sensed strength in her sympathy.  Nevertheless, my tears dripped onto the pages.  It made me feel embarrassed, but I kept my head down and continued to sign my name.

Leslie Spencer.  Goodbye, house.
Leslie Spencer.  Goodbye, marriage.
Leslie Spencer.  Hello, unknown future.

My husband seemed to squirm in his seat as he waited for me to finish.

When the final document had been signed, he got up and announced that he had to leave.  He fled, as fast as he could.

Maggie watched him leave and then sighed.

She got up from her chair, came over to me and gave me a big hug.  She held me as I wept.

“Oh, honey.  Cry.  Let yourself cry.  It’s OK.  Let it out.”  She was so gentle.

Then, to my surprise, she started to cry with me, as she briefly shared her story. She, too, had been through a divorce at my age.  My husband’s behavior reminded her of her ex.  I guess the pain of divorce never really goes away, although she is happily remarried to a remarkable man.

I finished crying, blew my nose, and thanked Maggie profusely.  I was touched by her sympathy.  She wished me the best and said she’d take care of my escrow for me.  I felt better; cared for.

As I slowly made my way to the parking lot, I checked my messages on my phone.  I had received an email from my husband, just minutes after he had fled the Escrow office.  He apologized, saying he had to go.  He then said he’d be sorry forever.

A couple of weeks passed, and I had to meet with my husband again.  He needed to read, agree to and sign the Marital Settlement Agreement that I had re-drafted.  It was a frustrating and detailed document to write, but I had gotten help from my lawyer.  Everything was so grossly fair.  50/50. His and Hers.

Anxious, I emailed him.

We are going to have to meet again. I need you to sign the amended Marital Settlement Agreement. Please make yourself available, this needs to get filed NOW.  I am available Friday.  Thank you.

He replied, saying that he’d be available Saturday morning.

It will only take two minutes. I can meet you anywhere. Thank you for cooperating.

He had a film premiere, and decided Friday morning at 11:00 a.m. — downtown — would be better.

And then, I got an idea.

Yes, Friday morning is better. That way I can file it immediately…let’s meet at the courthouse.  I’ll meet you outside. Across from Disney Opera House and Dorothy Chandler Pavillion. Ok?

He was forty-five minutes late, but he showed up.  He didn’t read a single word of the Settlement Agreement.  He just signed it all.  I gave him copies.  He told me he liked my shoes.

I then asked my husband to accompany me inside to file the final documents.  He obliged.

We stood in line – that horrible, awful line where people go to end their marriages – together.  We said nothing.  It was so strange, standing there.  I didn’t have anything to say.  I couldn’t find anything to say to him.  We were so distant; so different.  I marveled at how I used to love him – and how I still loved him, somehow.  I marveled at how I didn’t know him, yet I was the only one who really, truly knew him, deep down.  I felt compassion for him, anger, hurt, frustration and injustice.

Perhaps I mostly felt injustice, in that building where justice was supposed to be served.

We made our way through the line and towards the clerk. As I stepped up and handed her the documents, I had another memory flash.  It was the only other courthouse experience we had together  — years ago —  as we excitedly applied for our marriage license.  We were 22 and 23 years old, respectively.

I had signed my name then, too: Leslie Spencer.

I let the memory fade.

The clerk rifled through our documents as she chomped on her gum.  She checked our signatures and stamped each paper.  This time, the sound of the stamping was less deafening.  In fact, it sounded more and more like freedom.

“It will take about two months for this to be final,” she flatly offered, as she inked the last document.

“Thank you so much,” I almost squealed.

My husband said nothing.  He stood there with his hands shoved into his pockets.  Occasionally he checked his Blackberry.

We walked down the reflective corridor in silence, out the security doors and into the afternoon sunlight of a warm, October day.  Since we had parked in the same general direction, we walked together to the corner of 1st and Grand.  We waited for the WALK sign to give us the signal to move forward.

My husband turned towards me.  “So, that’s it?!”  He asked.

I grinned.

“That’s it,” I said, and extended my hand.

Years ago, after our very fun and sweet first date, I had thanked him at the end of the night by shaking his hand.

My husband looked at me, knowingly, and half-laughed.  It was a tender moment.  He took my hand and shook it, slowly.  In that moment, we both realized that we had ended just as we had begun.

I smiled, looked up at him and searched his empty, blue eyes.

“Goodbye,” I said, sincerely.  I turned and walked away, as a wider smile spread across my face.

I was free.

Well, almost.