Category Archives: Sad

Worth The Risk, Part Deux

For the last ten years, I have been on the road at Thanksgiving and Christmastime. It was hard, at first, because I was married. I didn’t want to be away from my husband or family. But then I found myself going through a divorce. The road was a soft place to land during a confusing, difficult and traumatizing time.

And then there were a few years where I was single. Transitioning. Moving across the country. Still, the road was good to me. Then I was pursued. Treated as I have always dreamed. I fell in love again and was finally in a good relationship. I had it all.

Two months ago, my relationship miscarried. I never saw it coming.

And what can I say? Nothing. If anything I have learned through my divorce, it is to let people go. I am done fighting for a relationship that only I want. People choose to leave, for whatever valid or huge-pile-of-horse-shit reason. It is the worst, most familiar feeling in the world. So much so you start to befriend the ache in your heart and pit in your stomach. You keep telling yourself that someday, someone will actually choose you and be all in, no matter what. You have to believe it, because otherwise, you sincerely will become jaded and succumb to anger and all of its accompanying pain and grief. You’ve been in this place before. You can certainly do it again. It is an old friend.

And the grief. Oh, the fucking grief. It is an unexpected, rude and sometimes cruel visitor. An unwelcome one, too. A memory, song or a familiar smell triggers the wave that pulsates through your entire body, sending your heart all the way to your wobbly knees. It’s like a bowling ball that’s constantly hitting the gutter, unable to knock over any pin with precision because it was tossed with the sloppiest, most unplanned aim.

“You’ll find someone better,” people say, seemingly flippantly. But it isn’t helpful.

A good male friend recently said, “Leslie, you’re a smart lady. You know pain and I’m not in any way going to talk you out of it. Welcome to disorientation and all of the accompanying shitty, self-loathing and self-questioning feelings that come with it. I don’t know the journey ahead but I know this, too, shall pass and you will come out the other side and know more about you; deepen yourself and find your true relationships and community in the midst.

It’s one of those things. When you hit rock bottom, what do you do? You kinda just sit there and play with the rocks for a bit. You know this is not about you or anything you’re lacking. It sucks and is hard that you’ve come this far to lose this much. I know you feel duped and like you shouldn’t have given so much, but you had no other choice. You had to give yourself.”

He’s right: I did have to give myself. And I was happy to. My relationship was good. The best of my life, so far. I haven’t anything terrible to say about it, except for the way it ended. Or just that it ended, at all.

I told myself I wasn’t going to write about any of this. Who wants to hear about yet another breakup? But here I am. Back in the land of writing as catharsis.

“I don’t know why you fight it,” my dear friend Meredith smiled, knowingly.

I am not looking for attention or sympathy. I am also not looking to censor myself or my feelings. This is who I am. I write to process. I’ve even begun writing songs. If my lot in life is to love and lose, then I might as well capitalize upon the real, raw and vulnerable place in which the pain repeatedly shoves me.

So as I type this from my stale hotel room in Newport News, Virginia, I am yet again thankful for the road. It does not allow me to fully get lost in an ocean of self-pity or grief. My friends out here listen and let me laugh and cry, without any judgment. They’re even helping me create music. It’s as if I have thirty overprotective big brothers. And I am very loved and cared for by them.

I long for the day when I cease crying over this loss. My heart doesn’t believe it, but my head knows it will come in time. And it is what I do with that time that will help shape my immediate future. I am already grateful for the opportunity to have succeeded in relationship where the odds were probably stacked against us, from the start. But when you choose to love; when you choose to make it work, it does. And well. It isn’t that hard.

Perhaps I’m the biggest fool on the planet, but I’ll keep getting back up, dusting myself off and jumping back in the ring. Because I was made for, and to, love. And, again, the risk of loving is always worth taking.


Thanksgiving was harder than I thought it would be.

After ten years on the road I am no stranger to lonely hotel rooms during the holidays. I’m thankful for my good friends — my family, really — out here.

We had a lovely dinner and I went to bed early but was wide awake at 3:30 am, lyrics screaming in my head. I didn’t stop writing until 6:00 am. Who knows if they’re any good? That’s not for me to judge right now. I’m not throwing anything away.

Last heartache, I wrote a book. This heartbreak, I am writing lyrics.

Maybe I’m just meant to suffer. But I will not be silenced. And I will never give up hope.

I Took a Huge Risk

I’m enduring yet another breakup.

Out of respect and love, I will not share details about the relationship, except to say it was the best one, so far. And he wasn’t even my boyfriend.

Ultimately, the timing was bad. I made the choice to not continue any further, mainly out of self-protection. Post-divorce Leslie (also known as a recovering co-dependent) made a mature, painful decision. That is to be celebrated.

BUT THE GRIEF. Fie on you, grief. FIE.

It comes in waves. One minute you’re quite all right. You can laugh and engage with your roommates while making them dinner, or coo and giggle at silly babies and tiny hamster videos on Facebook. You tell yourself you’ve been through this before and you can do it again. You don’t need sympathy.

The next minute begins with a thick and sticky heaviness in your gut. You sit, stunned, wondering when you’re going to vomit, and how many victims will suffer within its trajectory. You can’t breathe. It travels up your esophagus, causing you to heave and sputter. Out of no where, your eyes are blind with tears; your ears deaf from the sound of your own ugly crying and your mouth hangs agape as you gasp for air in between saliva, sobs, sighs, grunts, groans and the overall horribleness of loss.

And that’s just the first cry of the day.

Son of a motherfuckery fuck. Help.

I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t know how to keep doing this. At the same time, I keep doing it. I keep finding myself on the extreme roller coaster of love and loss. Am I completely insane? Why do I keep subjecting myself to dashed hopes and wretched pain?

I’m like a giddy puppy, so caught up in chasing her own tail she fails to see the ball has been thrown in a different direction. Once I tire of the game, I just stand there, panting and wagging my tail. Inevitably, I begin again. And again. And again.

Yet there’s something so freeing about dating in your late 30s. You know who you are, what you want, and haven’t much time or patience to be jerked around by a string of meaningless makeouts or half-hearted relationships. Fuck the Christianese version, you date with intention simply because you value yourself more than you might have in your early 20s. You want to make careful, informed decisions because you know marriage is not a light at end of the tunnel. You don’t apologize for wanting to be treated well. If a guy is threatened or intimidated by you in any manner, it’s simply not your problem.


This posture, when matched with another mature human being’s, can produce immediate attachment. Add chemistry and compatibility, and presto! Relationship-o.

So you breathe a huge sigh of relief, knowing deep down there are no guarantees. You’re excited to take the risk and see what happens, even just for a month or two or twelve. You embrace living open-handedly; wholeheartedly. You now have the opportunity to put into practice all those things you learned in years of therapy. You practice relationship. And it’s good.

But why does it keep coming to an end? Is it me? Am I impatient? Dramatic? Too difficult? Too insecure? Am I finally standing up for what I really want? Or does what I want not exist?

I don’t know.


Six years ago, I was in the thick of my marriage ending. My husband – husband! – said he didn’t love me anymore. Then he told me he was in love with another woman. Today’s Leslie would not stand for that shit. I would rise, turn on my heels, walk out the door and never look back.

Yet I wouldn’t be who I am today if I hadn’t hung on for a while. There would be no Christian Girl’s Guide to Divorce. Eventually, I clawed my way through – and out of – my marriage. I am proud of myself. And every relationship post-divorce has been that much better.

I’m not sure it gets much better than this most recent one, but that isn’t for me to decipher right now. I celebrate and mourn. I grieve and still hope.

I took a huge risk in loving again. And I won.

Daniel Barden, 7

Last Friday, tragedy struck a small town in Connecticut.  A troubled young man ravaged an elementary school with guns, killing 26 people. Twenty of the victims were children, all between the ages of 6 and 7 years old.

I was heading up to my hotel room in Houston, Texas, when I saw the news splayed across multiple television screens.

My initial reaction was shock.

Another one?

Yet, I carried on about my day.  The band had been invited to a private tour of NASA at the Johnson Space Center and Neutral Buoyancy Lab. I needed to geek out on spaceships for a minute, so I posted silly pictures of me posing in an astronaut’s helmet; holding hands with a diving dummy; and with Brian Setzer and (half) his Orchestra behind Apollo Mission Control desks.

After a fulfilling tour and good Tex-Mex dinner, I returned to my hotel room.  I flopped onto the hard bed and flipped on the television. Every news channel was laden with the day’s tragedy.  Still, not much information was known, but the media coverage was almost too much to bear.  I felt guilty my day had been uneventful; just fun and silly.

On a deeper level, I felt a bit selfish that my new life is going so well, and others are enduring so much pain.  I would never assume my experience with pain and loss is anywhere near the depth of losing a child, but I know well the crevasses along the journey of grief.

Suddenly, I wanted to ignore it all.  It was too heavy. I changed the channel, and somewhere between the ending of The Lord of the Rings and the beginning of Die Hard, I fell asleep.

The next morning, I trudged down to breakfast.  My driver, Steve, was just finishing his meal. Steve is a good, solid man who fiercely loves God, his wife, and his children. He is also a successful tour manager, fellow musician and friend.

He sat quietly. I plopped down my grits and coffee next to a saxophone player, and invited Steve to join us.

We all began to talk about our day off, and quickly learned Steve’s best friend had lost his 7-year old son, Daniel, in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting.

Daniel Barden

Daniel Barden

Suddenly, the media-heavy tragedy really hit home. It felt as if someone had punched us all, squarely, in the gut, heart and face.

Feelings of guilt welled up inside of me once again.  I had no words of wisdom; no profundity to share.  Sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all.  At the same time, therein lay an opportunity to help: to support the support of a family who is searching for answers; who needs comfort and peace.

Tears were present in Steve’s kind, blue eyes as he talked about his best friend’s family.

“They are as precious as you will find,” he smiled, mournfully, as he stared into his coffee cup. “It’s killing me to be away from them. I can’t even imagine what they are dealing with right now.”

He continued.

“As we were crying together over the phone last night, [my friend] didn’t mention ‘stricter gun laws’ or ‘gun possession should be a felony’, but rather, ‘how could someone do this?  How do we go on?’”

All politics aside, in the wake of such senseless tragedy, how do we go on?

I don’t know. But God does.

Everyone’s journey of grief is different, but at some point in the process, we all have a choice.  We either turn to the Father, or we turn away from Him.

I, for one, cannot do life without Him. It is my fervent prayer that we all turn to Him.


Long after the saxophone player left his tip on the breakfast table, Steve and I still sat.  He described how happy and spirited Daniel was, recalled how his parents first met, and detailed how Daniel and his older siblings were — and are — the light of their parents’ lives. Steve then showed me a picture.  It was of Daniel, posing playfully with his older brother and sister on the beach.  His smile instantly indicated he was full of life, pure joy, and missing his two bottom teeth.

I pushed aside my half-eaten grits and allowed my eyes to well up with tears.

And then, Steve perked up.

“It’s so awesome to picture little Daniel’s face glowing as he sits on the Father’s lap,” his deep, blue eyes twinkled. “God is good.”

And, for an all-too brief moment, we were quiet. Comforted.  Grateful for the glimpse of joy in a sea of sorrow; grateful for hope.

There is always hope. God is always good.  May we find comfort and peace in the loving arms of our Creator.

Daniel Barden has.


Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” ~Matthew 19:14

Additional close friends of the Barden family have set up a fund to help them in their time of grief.  If you are able, financial donations are appreciated and welcomed.  Please pray often for this family — and all the families — who have lost their precious loved ones.

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Christians Aren’t Supposed to Take Each Other to Court

The second week in January, I moved into an apartment in Old Town Pasadena.  I had found a place on that advertised a “take over” of the remaining four months of a year lease.  I didn’t necessarily want to continue living in Pasadena, but I gave it a shot.  I met the girl who lived in the apartment.  She was a singer, moving to New York.  I tried to contain my jealousy. I fell in love with the wood floors, the price of the place, and view of the majestic San Gabriel Mountains from the window.

It all happened so quickly.  I knew I couldn’t live with Curt and Kathy forever, and I was antsy to have a place of my own.

The tiny studio was perfect for me.

At the same time, I felt terrible leaving Curt and Kathy.  Curt had lost both of his parents in a matter of three months, and a week after I moved out, their beloved dog, Max, died.  It was a difficult season for the Gibsons, and I felt as if I had abandoned them during their heightened time of need.

What kind of friend was I?!

I started to panic and wonder if I had made the right decision.

Jesus, I cried out, I need You.  I need You, need You, need You.  I need Your help, Your Peace.  I am so scared; scared (that) I am doing the wrong thing, or that I am out of Your plan.  But how could that possibly be?  You will take care of me. I just don’t want to be wasteful…I do not want to make mistakes.  I am…weak!  I need work.  I am settling in – I am so thankful, so grateful and blessed.  Will it go away? I’m re-building my life. Starting over.  Building again; beginning anew.

Almost immediately, I got a job.  I found work in a tax office, for the season.  I would work six days a week until April 18th.  It was daunting at first, but I knew I needed the money to pay for my newfound bills and rent.  I also needed the distraction.

I found myself praying a lot.  This time, I prayed for other people other than myself.  It felt good and necessary.  My neighbor, Boo, unexpectedly lost her beautiful, sweet two-year daughter, Emileigh.  Eme was born with a tendency towards seizures, but had been getting better.  And then, like that, she was gone.  The autopsy provided no explanation, and we were all left feeling robbed; empty.

I know how to put into words my feelings of pain and loss regarding my marriage.  It is like a death, but I cannot imagine the unspeakable pain of losing a child.  I attended the open-casket funeral and it was almost too much to bear.  I gazed upon Eme’s tiny, lifeless frame, and wondered why God allows such things to happen.  I think we all do.  I wanted to scream and shout to the entire congregation that there was, indeed, hope amidst the sorrow; the unexplained shredding of one’s soul.  Yet, I felt helpless.  All I could do was pray.

Oh, Lord, little Emileigh is with You now.  Such tragedy.  God, I lift up Deana (grandmother) and Boo, Cathy (aunt) and Barbara (neighbor) – the whole family.  Oh, that baby.  And High (father).  He loved his little girl so much.  Oh, Lord, would they cling to You; You, the EVER-PRESENT HELP in time of trouble. 

I don’t know much, but I do know this: God is good, all the time.

In the midst of everything, I started battling once again with my bigamist husband.

He wrote to me and told me that the retirement company had sent the wrong paperwork to the wrong address.  He would be out of town, and would get to it as soon as he could.  He added that I would get every penny of my share of the accounts.

I was over it.  Sick of his shit.

Wrong paper to the wrong address, I thought.  LYING PIECE OF SHIT MOTHERFUCKING LAZY ASS SON OF A SUGARMOMMA BITCH!!!!

I calmly emailed back.

I stand firm to my word.  You have had ample time to get it together.  I will file contempt of court, I typed, bitterly.

We exchanged emails back and forth, arguing about the time frame of the money that was due. Amongst my few menial requests in our do-it-yourself divorce, he had agreed to cash out his retirement funds, and send me a check by December.   I trusted that he would follow through with the agreement.

I was wrong, once again, to trust my husband.

He asked for more time, and I refused.  I wanted the money, yes, but more than that, I wanted the entire saga – ordeal – marriage – pain – everything that was associated with him – to be OVER.

I suddenly realized that I did, indeed, have a huge battle on my hands.  I also realized that I had the upper hand.  As much as I didn’t want to believe it, my husband was already married.  He was a BIGAMIST.  They make TV shows about people like him.  For crying out loud, we used to watch them together.

I didn’t want to have to go back to court, but if so, I was ready to go in, guns blazing.

I needed evidence of his stupidity.  My good college friend, Michelle, was a journalist who had worked as a reporter, anchor and professor.  She was able to easily obtain my husband and sister wife’s marriage license from the state of Nevada, and mailed it to me.

I threw it in my husband’s face.

You’ve had enough time. I’m quite sure you can figure something out.  I have in my possession a certain document from Nevada that will not help your “story” in court.

He obviously didn’t understand that I was talking about his new marriage.  He suggested that perhaps he add me to the account and I could cash out when I was of retirement age.

Unfortunately, I angrily responded, you agreed to cashing out the retirement in the divorce settlement. So, unfortunately for you, you have to follow through with your agreement, which is a legal court document. Might I also remind you that you are not yet divorced from me, which makes you a bigamist and a felon, but, then again, you probably already knew that.  I’m tired of this conversation. Send the check.

He said he would send it as soon as he had it.  He trusted that I would find it in my heart to give him time.

February 3rd. I trust that you will get it done.

He told me he wouldn’t have it by February 3rd, and was asking for a break.  He added that he wasn’t asking for any of my retirement, and then got upset that he had to beg me for understanding.  The conversation was killing him.

Not buying it.  Send the check.  If I do not receive a check in the mail by February 3, I will file contempt of court.  It is that simple.

He was tired of appealing to me, and, again, told me that I would have every bit of cash that was due me.  He then reminded me that he took all the credit card debt (a majority of which I had accused him of accumulating with his lover).  He reminded me that I had taken the car.  (Yes, I had taken the car. It was mine.  The paperwork was in my name, and mine alone.  I financed it, I was paying for it, and I drove it.)  He hadn’t asked for any of my retirement, and just wanted time to receive the checks.  He even offered to drive up and meet me to give me the cash.

I was having none of it.

You’re in for more than contempt, remember?  Bigamy is a felony.

He pleaded with me.

It’s all about choices.  You had an opportunity to make good ones.  Oopie.  I’m not interested in excuses. See you in court.

He said he was telling the truth, had no excuses, and pleaded with me to do it right.

We have differing opinions of what is right.

The truth is that you have violated the law. Willingly, even after knowing you weren’t divorced on 12/22/10.


You can plead with the judge. I’m tired of your stories.  SEE YOU IN COURT.

And then, he tried to appeal to me as someone who “used” to love him.  He pleaded with to me as a fellow Christian.

I couldn’t BELIEVE that he was appealing to me “as a fellow Christian”.  It was abhorrent.  It made me sick.  I wanted to scream and throw things and rip his eyes out all over again.  He made me so angry.  His lame attempts at trying to appeal to my emotions didn’t work anymore.  He didn’t even respect me enough to capitalize my first name.  How dare he try to appeal to my love for him?

No, I do not love him, I wrote, later that evening.  He got that right.  It hurts too much to  love someone like that.  All the while, I feel like I’m NOT being a Christian if I deal with him.  At the same time, I AM NOT TAKING ANY MORE FROM HIM.  His abuse is over.  It’s not about the stupid money, which I know he has.  I’ve already wasted energy being upset.

I need help forgiving him.  It’s all still very real, raw and painful.  I worked so hard to try to save the marriage because I thought it was right.  He just doesn’t care.  He doesn’t do anything with integrity or concern for others. Lord, I know it is not my place to judge him.  Please help me release my anger.  I give it to You.  I pray he will come through with the funds from the retirement.

I’m still so hurt by him.  The very thought of a life with him makes me so angry, like it was all a lie.

The war continued two days later.  I shot the first cannon.

You skipped a court-ordered hearing on August 23, 2010, I wrote.

In the divorce settlement filed October 8, 2010, you agreed to cash out your retirement, and said that you’d have a check to me in December, 2010.  It is now February, 2011.

On October 28, 2010, you received a check for… half of your share in the sale of (our house).

You got re-married in November of 2010, without actually having been legally divorced, which makes you in violation of California Penal Code section 281.

I do not believe your stories about not having any money, especially considering the very recent transaction of the sale of our home, and also considering the person to whom you are, at present, illegally married.

You have been given more than ample time and grace to follow through with your divorce agreement.  Clearly, your (in)actions – as always – have spoken louder than your words.

He told me he had put his share of our house’s profit towards another.

See you in court.

He pleaded, once more.  He offered that had no right to quote the Bible at me, but I knew, in my heart, that this whole thing was wrong.  I should know that Christians aren’t supposed to take each other to court.  He promised to pay me and he would.  He needed more time.  It had shattered his heart to have to beg me for more time.  He would have extended me grace, if I were the one begging him for more time.  He offered that he was trying to do good in the sight of the Lord, and would never turn a deaf ear to someone who was asking for more time.  I should know these things.

I couldn’t take any more.  I wanted him to be locked up. I wanted him to be put away, forever.

Little did I know that I’d be the one to end up in jail.

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.

Help me, O, God. I Hurt.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It happened.  The papers were signed.  I met him in Starbucks at noon.  Walked in and bought myself coffee.  He looked as he always looks — this new person — dirty, not taking care of himself.  He asked me how I have been and I replied, “We are here to talk about the divorce.”

We agreed on everything – I am taking half his retirement and he will keep his credit cards.  He said he would pay me half of the lawyer fees.  I don’t believe him, I should have had it in writing.

I said I worried about him.  He asked why. 

After a long pause, I responded, “Because I love you.”

He never told me he loved me.

I told him I didn’t think he was in a good place or on the right path.  I also told him about my vivid dreams of him – all his drugs and women.  He didn’t say anything.

I said I was excited to meet someone who will truly love me – also someone with whom I can have a family and care for.  I need to move on.  I expressed excitement at having sex again.  He smirked.

I told him he never made himself trustworthy after the affair.  He told me I should have trusted him – that we had ten years of trust.  I explained to him that it was broken.  He defended himself and said the marriage became “irreconcilable” after I “only wanted to go to marriage counseling”, and he wanted me along for the next chapter.

He is delusional.  He wanted “me and…” ???

I said he needed to have only wanted me.  The “and” would come.

We then went to the house.


I made him take boxes of photos, our dishes and china, and my wedding dress.  He said the dress wouldn’t fit in his car (some Jeep, I don’t know where he got it). 

“Throw it in the trash, then.”

He carried it to the Jeep.

Going through boxes – I broke down in the middle of the garage.  Lisa (neighbor) came outside and comforted me.  Then, after a while, [husband] said, “ I have to go.”


He just stood there.

And then he spoke.
“This isn’t what was supposed to have happened,” he said, softly.  “Why couldn’t we fix it?”

I fell to my knees in the street, sobbing.  Snot and tears bubbled together into a pool of grass and dirt on the hard, grainy asphalt.  Tiny pebbles dug into my kneecaps, causing them to bleed and bruise.  I couldn’t bear to look up at the street or behind me at the house, which was now no longer a part of my — our —  life.

Dramatic?  Yes.  But I couldn’t help it.

He just touched my back.

And sneezed.

He said his heart was broken just as much as mine.  He wished I would forgive him for the Ukrainian girl, but that he wasn’t what I wanted.

I agreed. “Not after her.”

He never followed through with ACTIONS.  I expressed that to him.  As I pulled myself together and got up to leave, he tried to hug me.  I stopped him.

“No, do not touch me.  It is too painful.”

I told him I hoped that he’d be happy and find what he is searching for.  But he lost the one person who really, truly knew him – the one person who would really love him the best.  I also told him I was really great.

He said he knew.

He openly admitted that, yes, he would always continue to leave me.

My heart breaks into a thousand fragments again.

Lisa later told me that one of our neighbors saw him parked outside of our house, long after I had driven away.  His head was slumped over the steering wheel and he was sobbing, loudly.

I must move forward.

Help, God.  I feel like I can barely move.  I still love him and that’s not going to go away easily.

Oh, God, it’s so painful.  SO, so painful.

I can’t even begin to digest the pain.  Grief.  Shock, Horror.  All over again.

I feel totally dead – like my body sustained one too many blows and I succumbed to my injuries.  I want so badly to press forward, yet my heart still clings to my husband.  Even after all he has put me through, I still love him and I wish he would choose me.

He can’t.  He won’t.  And all that is left of us is in boxes.

I can’t see, God.  I can’t see anything.  My heart is broken. Smashed into a billion pieces and then set on fire, pointed and laughed at.  It is then dragged through sewage and hung up on display for all the women and druggies in my husband’s life to see.  His “friends” – those three cast of characters.  They laugh at me and mock my pain and blame me for not letting my husband do whatever he wants/wanted– drugs, women, scandal, surf, party.  

I know, eventually, that life will get tiring, but the question is, when?  I feel rejected all over again.  A million times over.

The life we had was a mere joke; a laughingstock for all the mistresses and “investment bankers” in the world.  Such pain.

I still love my husband and want a life with him. But he is too lost.  You have made it clear that he is not for me anymore…yet my heart aches and aches for the husband I once knew; the love we had.  I know I am forgiven, as is he, and I have to let go.  Help me to let go of him.  It is so difficult.

Lord, end my pain.  Take my life.  I want no more.  I refuse to buy the lies that have convinced and corrupted my husband and his family.  I reject those lies.  

I trust that You are leading me out of this marriage because it is best for me.

I cling to You.  You who promised are faithful.  You have a plan for my life.  You are moving in my life.

I cannot see, but I trust with whatever human ability is left.

Help me, O, God.  I hurt.



Maybe We’ll Work it Out Someday

Wednesday came.

I was wisely dubious of my husband’s intentions to actually show up at either the Mediation or marriage counseling appointment.  Sure enough, he had an excuse, and wanted to re-schedule the appointment with the Mediator.  I was beyond frustrated, but not surprised.  The Mediator had a stick-it-to-you 48-hour cancelation policy, and charged $350.00 an hour.   I didn’t have the money to shell out for my husband’s no-show.  I panicked, called and pleaded for grace in canceling the appointment only 24 hours prior.  The Mediator extended it to me.   I’m sure she has to deal with flaky people all the time.

Furthermore, my husband refused to attend the final meeting I had set up with our marriage counselor.  I was firm with him – I did not want to see or talk to him without a third party present.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to withhold my emotions, and I didn’t feel like being manipulated any further.  We exchanged emails regarding the matter, but he patently refused to attend.

He didn’t want to meet with anyone but me, and also didn’t want to be flogged with failure.  He accepted responsibility for contributing to the demise of our marriage, but also felt that he had tried.

I told him I was still going, regardless.  He asked me to meet him afterward.  After much deliberation (and encouragement from my marriage counselor), I agreed.  Perhaps this meeting would bring the closure I had been looking for, all along.

I left my appointment and trudged across the street to Conrads.  Ironically, the restaurant was situated directly across the street from my counselor’s office — at the church where we had been married ten years earlier.

My husband was waiting for me in a sunken booth by the window.  My heart sank when I saw him.  Yet, as I scooted into the vinyl seating across from him, it all felt so familiar; comfortable.  I half expected him to crack some inside, lighthearted joke about the whole ordeal, and then we’d forget about the whole thing and just go home, take Wimbley on a walk and watch TV, as if nothing had ever happened.

Other couples struggled and got divorced.  That was never us.  It wasn’t ever supposed to be us.

For a fleeting moment, I forgot that I didn’t know him anymore.

People change.

I ordered a cheap glass of red wine and an expensive, low-quality chicken salad.  We attempted conversation, but it kept going back to the old, familiar arguments.  I hadn’t supported him when he “needed me most”.  He hadn’t communicated with me when I needed the security of our relationship – especially after the trust was betrayed, and then further broken. 

At some point during the conversation, I encouraged my husband to immediately file a response to my petition for divorce, and then asked him to relinquish the house over to me via a Quitclaim Deed that I had already prepared.  His job was to get it signed, notarized and delivered to me.  The house would be mine.  He agreed.

And then, he cried.

I sat there and watched him, and felt like a cold-hearted bitch.  I was still angry with him.  Perhaps I was even more frustrated than angry.  Deep down, I wanted to believe that he hadn’t become this new person that I genuinely didn’t like.  Yet, his actions spoke louder than any of his words, or tears.  In 24 hours, he’d be back on a plane to Australia.  Same, familiar story.  Always about the story.

We finished our meal, not really having resolved anything.  We walked to our separate vehicles.  I noticed he was driving his parents’ car.

He asked me if he could hug me.  I bristled, but finally allowed it.

As his arms enveloped me, his familiar scent wafted into my nose.  I relaxed, and wrapped my arms around him.  Tighter.  We held each other.  A tidal wave of emotion washed over me and released itself in the form of a single tear.  My body sighed.

I didn’t need to look up at him to know that he was crying, as well.

After what felt like an eternity, we let go of each other.

Our marriage just ended across the street from where it began, I thought to myself.  I took a sharp breath in through my nostrils.

I started to open my car door, but turned back for a moment.
“Hey,” I offered, hesitantly – “Do you want to hear a song I sang recently?”

“Sure,” he said.  He always liked hearing me sing.

He walked around to the passenger side of my car and slid into the seat.

I pushed play, and we sat and listened to an extremely rough recording of me singing a very beautiful, poignant and moving song.

How high, how wide –
no matter where I am, healing is in Your hands.

After the song finished, we sat in utter, complete silence.  I stared out the windshield at the sun setting behind the scattered clouds.  The flourescent parking light buzzed, then flickered on and off, on and off.  I could feel the heat of my husband’s body next to me.  He breathed, slowly: in through his nose, then out.   An elderly couple exited the restaurant and grabbed hands as they walked to their car.  Somewhere, in the distance, I heard a crow caw.

I finally broke the silence with a random thought.

“Do I need to get tested again?”

He spoke softly.  “No.”

He fumbled for the door handle, then looked at me.  “Maybe we’ll work it out someday.”

I shrugged.  “Who knows?”

“I love you, Leslie,” he said, as he got out of the car. “I have never shut the door on you; on us.  I don’t think I ever will.”

“And I love you,”  I answered, truthfully.

He then shut the door and walked away.

You Didn’t Ever Fight For Me

Very shortly thereafter, I got drunk.

That weekend, I was scheduled to housesit for Jeff and Jenny, and take care of their sweet dog, Mia.  I was exhausted from the day’s events, and asked Andrea to come over and stay with me.

I didn’t want to be alone.

She brought flowers, two bottles of champagne, and beer, just in case.  We drank the champagne pretty quickly and ended up outside, running around, giggling and playing tag within the confines of the white picket fence.  I did handstands and cartwheels.  Eventually we collapsed into a heap of laughter on the front lawn, laid on our backs and watched shooting stars fall from the sky.  We dubbed ourselves, “The Harmless Housesitters”.   It felt good to “play” and temporarily escape the surge of pain that was sure to hit after I emotionally processed what had just happened.

We woke up the next morning and giggled our way to Roscoe’s House of Chicken ‘n Waffles for breakfast.   I publicly announced my drunkenness and lack of a bra on Facebook and, frankly, didn’t give a shit.  I had been hiding for a long time.  It felt good to finally look — and be — imperfect.

I spent the rest of the day on Jeff and Jenny’s sunny porch, writing.

I am not strong.  I am weak and needy. Sad, lonely, hurt.  Incredibly hurt that my husband made the choices he did.  We were happy, I thought.  I was happy with him.  I didn’t want to be divorced.  And even though it’s a nice fantasy to think that there is someone out there who will love me and be affectionate; warm and caring – do I really believe it?  Will the love go away?  Who really will love me?

God, I am having a hard time now – the effects of the nervousness have worn off, as has the beer.  And at the end of the day I am alone.  My husband will leave for Australia in one week and I probably will never see him again.

God, I know You are sovereign over all creation and situations.  You have my life in Your grip. You have his.  And You have our marriage.

I genuinely do not want to be married to him anymore.  His journey is far too long and vast – I believe You can perform miracles but I don’t know what Your plan is.

And still – he was the one.  My husband.  My favorite person in the world.  Who betrayed himself, first.  And hurt me deeper than I have ever thought imaginable.  My husband, so plagued by his sin, could no longer truly love me.  And it hurt so badly and it still hurts so much…there really wasn’t closure but how CAN there be?  He’s tragically incapable of doing anything, taking any responsibility.

Yet he will forever remain a part of my soul.  My husband, whom I loved so much.  And still love.  And lost. 

I am scarred, broken.  But I know I am healing.

A couple of days later I had dinner with Tim, Joseph, Katie, Curt and Kathy.  Tim and my husband had met for coffee earlier in the day.  Tim sensed my husband was experiencing a major internal struggle.  He expressed his concern and wonderment at the whole thing  — and told me he was continuing to pray for our reconciliation.

I was confused.  I had the support of all of our friends, but I didn’t want any of them to pray for the reconciliation of my marriage.  I was done.  I had already experienced the final death of the relationship and done all of the work to end it, “amicably”.  My husband did nothing, showed up and told me he was done, and got to walk away, scott-free.

I had lost – and was continuing to lose – everything.  I just wanted to focus on getting the divorce done.  I had just a few days left while my husband was in town, so I had to take advantage of it.  I made an appointment with both the Mediator and our marriage counselor.

I emailed my husband:
If you have any time I think it would be good to talk through the mediation paperwork so we can save some money (time) on Thursday.



He offered to meet up with me that night, and somewhere in Pasadena around 8:00 would work.

I mostly need to get information from you.  I can just photocopy the forms that she gave me and you can fill them out.  Any way we can calmly fill out info and allow the mediator to teach us the process will be good. Could we could make it 7:00?  You name the place, I can’t think of one.

He suggested the Yard House.  It immediately stung my heart.

I’d kind of prefer not to go there, since we were there for our wedding anniversary.
I need you to bring all of your bank info (even Australia bank), Sallie Mae, credit cards, etc.  Don’t worry, it’s just information.

He then suggested Lucky Baldwin’s, because he wanted a beer.

I made an appointment with (our marriage counselor) at 5:00 for Wednesday, Maybe we should just meet then?  Unless you want to meet tonight, too.

He didn’t feel like talking about anything, but if I wanted to meet up with him for any other reason, then he was up for it.

I don’t know what else there is to talk about, I guess. Both people are done with a relationship.  I just want it to end well.

He disagreed with such a thing as “ending it well”.  He was tired of fighting, arguing, feeling like he was hurting, and being hurt.

Me too.
I guess if you could hug me one more time I’d really like that, but I don’t trust you at all and I don’t think you really, truly care.
I’m tired of fighting with you.  We are both losing.  Nobody wins.  I never wanted this.
You didn’t ever fight for me.

He didn’t feel like getting into it, and said that he was going for a walk.

Ahh, yes, the walk.  I remember that well. OK.
See you Wednesday.

He balked at my response.

I’m sorry.  I just have sad memories of the last walk you took.
No more digs.
We can end this well.  I want to, because I love you.  And you are free.  I am setting you free.

He never wanted to be free, and said that he never would be.  He just wanted understanding.

I know.  I hear you.
And I just wanted to be loved and not left.


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.