Category Archives: New beginnings

UPS Man, Investment Banker and a Condom

With my husband in Spain, I immediately felt more productive.

I met my friend, Curt, for lunch one afternoon at Spitz in Eagle Rock.  He and his beautiful wife, Kathy, were one of five couples in our Bible study group.  We all had formed the group in 2004 and dubbed it “Jequila”.  Jesus and Tequila.  Yes, please.

Curt sat and listened to me recount highlights of the past month’s struggles and asked why I wasn’t taking the time to heal, myself.

“I believe God wants to redeem my marriage,” I explained.

“Leslie, God wants to redeem YOU,” Curt offered, matter-of-factly.

Oh.  I actually hadn’t really thought of that.

He suggested allowing Kathy to list the house for lease (conveniently, she is a realtor). He then offered me a room in their gorgeous home in Pasadena.  I left lunch that day, inspired.  I could rent out our home for six months and not have to worry about a mortgage payment.  Maybe even separating from my husband for a while would be the best idea.  Anything was better than the situation that I was in at the moment.

Trouble was, even after all we had been through, I still loved my husband and wanted our marriage to work.

Yet the thought of starting over was exciting.  I was at least doing something, moving forward.  I was so tired of waiting around for something to happen.   Kathy came over, breezed through the house and gave me suggestions on how to prepare it for a tenant.  Repairs were badly needed.  I hired her handyman to do the work. I blindly started packing, and prayed for a good tenant.

I also continued to attend marriage counseling, until my counselor suggested a different therapist.  Not much you can do in marital therapy when your spouse is out of the country, I suppose.  I started seeing my current therapist, who initially encouraged me to write down my negative thoughts.  (I think I’m still writing them down, just in a different, more public fashion).

In the midst of my focused frenzy, my friend Andrea was moving into a new loft downtown.  I was helping her unpack one afternoon, when there was a loud knock at the door.  I answered it.  It was the UPS man, delivering a package for the neighbor.  He needed someone – anyone – to sign for it.

I stood there, in old jeans and a bulky T-shirt, messy hair and no makeup.  As I signed my name on the chunky electronic device, he suddenly said, “You’re really cute.  Are you married?”

I looked up at him. “I don’t know, “ I blurted.  Honest answer.

He grinned.  “Can I give you my phone number?”

I hesitated, but then offered,  “Sure.”

I took it.  As he backed down the hallway, the UPS man told me he’d take me to lunch, or to the movies, or on a hike or a bike ride or even a motorcycle ride – whatever I wanted.  I was flattered, and immediately wished that my husband could be that enthusiastic about me.

I never called the UPS man, but it felt really good to be noticed.  Especially when I wasn’t trying.  Hmmm.

I continued to do hard work around the house, preparing it for potential lease.  One of the harder things I had to do was to find a new home for our 14-year old cat.  We had rescued her from an organization five years earlier.  I never really wanted an indoor cat, but my husband liked her because she “looked like a pirate”.  She was a sweet animal, and I felt terrible that I was tossing her aside.  I drove her back to the organization from where she came and sobbed like a mother who had just lost her child.  The cat people tried to calm me down but I was inconsolable. It felt horrible to leave her there, in a cage.  She was terrified, and I abandoned her.  She didn’t do anything wrong; she didn’t do anything to deserve that kind of treatment.

I prayed for my cat.
Oh, Lord, I hope she will be OK.  I know she’s just a cat but she was part of our family, and now our family is so broken.

What was left of our family was me, a part-time dog, an outdoor cat, and two chickens.

And so, the days passed.  I hadn’t heard from my husband at all, until I received a text one evening.

Zzz.

Seriously?  That was the best he could do?

The next morning I received an email from him, saying that his phone had been stolen.   He asked me if I would call AT&T and sort it out.   I complied.  Sure enough, hundreds of dollars in international phone calls had been charged to the account in a matter of a few hours.  I suspended his phone line.  Problem solved, except that I now had no way of getting in touch with him.

So I emailed.

So odd that your phone got stolen.What are your days like? Ahhh, beautiful Spain — wish I could go.
I read your story… It was really good.
I will admit your use of the present tense in the sentence “my own cheating heart” made me sad.
I love you.  I would say I hope you are having a good time but I am sure you are.

He replied, almost instantly.  He told me he loved me, and that the line I worried about was just a song lyric.  And then he told me to not worry about the investment banker.

My heart almost stopped.  I immediately scoured the internet for his latest writing.  Sure enough, my husband detailed this “investment banker” as his travel companion.  She was a lovely, young woman who drove a BMW.

FUUUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKKIINNNNNNNGGGGG SHITASS MOTHERFUCKING LIAR SONOFABITCH CHEATING ASSFACE DOUCHEBAG !!!!!

And then, the phone rang.  It was a guy in his 20s trying to purchase one of the items that I had listed on Craigslist: my husband’s 1968 Honda Café Racer.  The motorcycle was cool, but it didn’t run.  It just sat in the garage and took up space.  We were desperate for money (still), and this kid wanted to buy it.  He was coming by to look at it in a few minutes.  The only problem was that I couldn’t find the key to the dang thing.  I swallowed the immediate pain of the investment banker and emailed my husband back, asking him where the keys to the motorcycle were.  He said to check the glove box in his truck.

I scurried down the cement stairs to the 1997 Nissan pickup truck that was parked on the street.  I dumped the entire contents of the glove box onto the bench seat, and started sorting.

There, I saw it:  a single, neatly packaged condom.  It was at the very bottom of the sandy glove box.  I jumped back in horror, and squeezed my eyes shut.  When I pried one of them back open, that cheap condom still lay there.  I could almost hear it laughing at me.

My husband’s voice echoed in my head:  “It happened just ONCE.”

All of those horrible feelings of betrayal, on top of the new information about this “investment banker” that was “part of the story” flooded back.  I felt incapacitated, discovering more lies, deceit, and actual evidence of it all.

I ran back upstairs, fingers flying on the keyboard:

Where are the keys to the motorcycle?  All I found was your condom stash in the glove box of your truck.

He denied it and stopped emailing for the rest of the day.

I had to keep it together.  I had to keep packing.  I had to get out.

The Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce

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

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

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

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

“What’s her name?”

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

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

All this is beside the point.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce.