I’m moving to New York in less than two weeks.
It’s surreal. It’s terrifying. It’s beyond exciting, it’s crazy, and it’s about time. I’m packing up my beloved, cozy Pasadena apartment – the place I have healed from my divorce for the past two years – and cramming it all into a 5×10 storage unit. A week from Monday I will board a plane with a suitcase, my book of audition songs, a pair of really good heels, my computer and a huge-ass smile.
I am going back.
Since I made the firm decision to go just four days ago, I have little time to pack and move out. Last night, my friend Lisa came over to help me sort and toss things I don’t – and didn’t ever – need. For example, I have a plethora of Post-It notes and an abundance of Scotch tape. I have rusted tools I don’t even know how to use, and I’ve kept a box full of tax returns dating all the way back to 1999.
Lisa opened up a bottle of ironic red wine and we got to work. Her task was to organize the Scotch tape. Mine was to sort and toss documents.
When I moved out of my house in April 2010, I made a point to keep only important or necessary things regarding my marriage (original marriage license; tax returns and receipts; mortgage and divorce papers). Still blinded by hurt, betrayal and raw emotion, I threw away almost anything else that reminded me of X and our marriage. I couldn’t bear even his handwriting in my new apartment.
I wanted all evidence of him in my life, gone.
I opened the box containing the ancient tax returns and found a mid-sized, bright, red notebook. I almost tossed it, sight unseen, but was more curious as to why my 2010 self had saved it.
I flipped it open, and took a sip of my wine. The first several pages contained audition information dating back to 2002. I wrote down every audition I had – including the Brian Setzer Orchestra (which had “BOOKED!!!” and a huge smiley face written all over it). Each successful page contained evidence of my marriage: scribblings on paint colors for each room in our house, a home repair “To-Do” list, plans for a happy dive vacation X and I took to Panama in 2005, and then, suddenly, notes from my first, desperate phone call to our marriage counselor, concerns about leasing our home, and a preliminary division of debt and assets.
For having covered so many years of our 10-year marriage, the notebook was only half full. The last writing contained a journal entry I don’t even remember penning.
I gasped as I scanned the pages.
“Lisa! Listen to this,” I exclaimed, as I set my wine glass down on the coffee table.
I leaned forward and began to read, aloud, the carefully printed lost entry.
October 4, 2009
I feel like having sex with X displays total weakness. I need it, and he gets it, but he doesn’t have to work very hard at — or for — it. There’s still no sign of emotional consequences for his actions. I don’t doubt at all he thinks of her while he is having sex with me. He doesn’t even really kiss me – and this new way he kisses is extremely different, which means he kissed her A LOT and apparently was taught not to slobber anymore. It makes me beyond angry to think that my husband’s lover taught him anything. She was 14 years old when X and I got married. I wish he would have done her then and gone to jail.
But I am weak. I am getting what I want, too, and if I can pretend he’s actually really into me, it’s a good day. I don’t feel so rotten and ugly and rejected.
X leaves for Spain tomorrow. I don’t even know when he will be back. No doubt he’ll pine after his lover – with all those romantic places and it being Europe and all. I don’t doubt there will be many a Spanish, Portuguese or Brazilian girl to catch his eye, and with his [male] companion there will be late nights and lots of parties.
Perhaps X won’t be tempted, but he certainly won’t be thinking about me. Me, the last person on his mind for the past six months. Yeah, it’s going to take time. What a rotten predicament. He’s the first person on my mind and I’m the absolute last on his. I feel like the nerdy, zitty, overweight teenager who is desperately in love with the popular, attractive and charming athlete – who doesn’t even know she exists.
X is barely aware of my existence. My own husband doesn’t notice me.
So I have given in and given him his needs and he gives back nothing but a hug or an arm touch here and there. What a stupid fool I am. Stupid, stupid fool. Thinking I can desperately try to get him to notice me, love me, need me, miss me – those days are over and another person has taken that place. I am cast aside like yesterday’s garbage. Maybe there’s something worth salvaging in the stinking, rotting trash can but there’s always something new or better where that came from.
I have no pride. I am totally broken. God, my only hope is in You. I still believe You can/will redeem my relationship with X, and I confess my total impatience. I also can’t force anything to happen. People don’t change, which absolutely includes me. He got tired of me and my “deal” and found, quickly, someone to take my place. And that connection is still stronger to him than anything he or I ever had because I am too familiar, too predictable, too blasé. Too “moral”. Too Christian.
All X can see is his career. Now I know what it felt like for him when I was in New York. It’s like some sort of cruel payback.
“Oh, God, you are my God. Earnestly I seek You. My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You. In a dry and weary land, where there is no water…” (Psalm 63:1)
“People,” says God’s wisdom, “do not expect either truth or consolation from other people. It is I who made you and I alone can teach you what you are.” ~Blaise Pascal
God, I feel like I am a walking contradiction. I am totally impatient for X – I so desperately want him to fall in love with me again and love me more fiercely and passionately than ever, yet I neglect my relationship with You in the process. No matter how much X rejects or hurts me I keep coming back for more. I concentrate on his unfaithfulness yet I am doing the exact same thing to You. I have been unfaithful all the while, to You.
God, I still pray for wisdom and strength; hope and trust. Just because X utters the words, “I love you,” and has sex with me does not mean he is faithful or true.
I want so much to believe him.
God, I pray for this trip he is taking to Spain. It could be the culmination of everything good and healing; of redemption, else it will just be a continuation of the same old story; of limbo.
But that is for him. Not me.
God, I seek You and trust that X will return to You (and me); I fervently pray for him; that You would protect him from the predictable, yet devastating wiles of the devil.
It does seem as if X has taken some steps forward – third time’s a charm! – but I am still hesitant to believe or trust him fully. I want to. I want our marriage to survive. And so I will commit to it and trust that You, Lord – You alone will move mountains and redeem us. I want my marriage to be beautiful and holy. But I might be the only one at this point.
Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of the heavenly realms.”
God, have mercy.
* * * * *
God did have mercy. Additionally, He showered me with His love, kindness, goodness and grace. Because of Him, it has been revealed how strong, worthy and beautiful I truly am.
I am never cast aside. I will always be noticed. I will always be loved.
I want so much to travel back in time and tell my hurt, betrayed, dejected self everything will eventually be more than all right. That is not to say times will have been easy. Even as the pain and memories have faded, my divorce will always be a small part of who I am.
I surprised myself last night when, in addition to the lost entry, I found one of the very first (and only remaining) pictures I have of X and I together. We were standing on a beach in Santa Barbara, holding one another and grinning from ear to ear. It was obvious we were happy in love. Both my arms were wrapped around him, tightly.
I stared at his face, then mine, and his again. And I remembered, even last night, how I loved that boy. My first love.
I felt a strange sensation in my chest, and my throat tightened.
“Oh, my goodness, I’m going to cry,” I admitted, slightly embarrassed. I passed the picture to Lisa.
“It’s OK to cry,” she soothed, as the water welled up in my eyes. “You knew, even then, who he truly was.”
I nodded my head and allowed the tears to wet my cheeks.
“I did. That – I pointed to his fresh, smooth, familiar and happy face – “is the X I knew and loved, and want to remember.”
I dried my brief tears, and carefully returned the picture to its original envelope. I then placed it into the deep recesses of the accordion file, along with the single person tax returns I do need to save, for a few more years. It will all go into storage, until it’s time to move again.
And so, my life continues to catapult forward. This new adventure upon which I am about to embark is a huge leap of faith; a swan dive into the unknown.
One thing is for certain, however: God is with me. He was with me then, He is with me now, and He will be with me in the days, weeks, months, years and eternity to come.