It is Finished.

6 pregnancies

4 children

6 states

12 moves

23 years of parenting

26 years of marriage

26 years of abuse

26 years of infidelity

1 married couple

4 lawyers

1 judge

1 divorce

In September 2018, I stood before the judge for the first time.

At the time, I was struggling to figure out how to support my youngest son, my college age son and daughter, and myself.

I was working part-time making $15/hour, while also taking classes to become a certified teacher. This was logical and practical to me.

My husband, although officially “unemployed,” was consulting at $30,000/month.

The majority of our assets had been blown on a lawsuit my husband was (and still is) pursuing.

My future was in the hands of a white male judge.

A judge’s job is to provide an objective perspective on each case.

As I sat in the witness box, I was fighting for sole custody of our youngest child and for freedom from the man I had married.

I testified about the things my husband had done:

-sex with teenage boys

-the friends of our own kids

-the children of my friends

-the coercion and bribery with money, cigarettes, and marijuana.  

Yet, when it was my husband’s turn on the stand, he could not recall any of those things.

And because he was temporarily in therapy for sex addiction, his therapist had shredded the paperwork proving it. **I should add that sex addiction therapists would report clients they believe have broken the law. My husband didn’t know the actual ages of some of his sexual partners; I did because I knew who they were.**

He knew that I was trapped.

He knew that I was more afraid of him than any judge. He knew that I would eventually comply.

As he created stories of me being suicidal, I watched as he lied time and time again to protect himself.

I watched as his lawyer attempted to discredit the testimony of our son’s therapist.

As the judge began to announce his ruling, I realized that I had never truly believed in the social construct of white male privilege and the subjective nature of a judge’s ruling.

I was harshly reprimanded because our children knew about my husband’s indiscretions, even though, it was they who told me.

My husband kept the majority of his money. My husband received graduated visitation rights with our son.

I want to believe that the judge felt he did the right thing.

But I don’t.

I believe that wealthy white me can be excused of almost every behavior.

This was the speech I gave for a final in one of my classes. I was nervous about giving it, although most of my classmates had already heard portions of my story. It consolidated and summarized my life, preparing for it was both awkward and beneficial.

As I walked to the front of the class, I asked that they not record it. If it were recorded and somehow got out, I could be sued. I am supposed to prevent my youngest son from hearing anything negative about his dad. (I find that a bit difficult since his dad’s actions are a regular topic of conversation in our home.) But I do agree. I shouldn’t speak negatively about his dad; however, I will not lie to him, and I will not allow him to be unprepared when visiting with him. Does that make the truth negative? (That’s a question for another day…it’s not what I want to write about today!)

The minute I finished this speech, I felt the strangest sense of relief. It felt almost as if it the words of Jesus, “It is finished.” were speaking to me. Before you get carried away, do NOT consider for a minute that I am comparing my life to Jesus’s! I’m just borrowing His words. Honestly, I finally have peace regarding my story. It doesn’t occupy my mind 90% of a day. I am free from the mental chaos of searching for understanding.

I cannot understand what Code Red did. And I do not think that I ever will be able to. I cannot understand why he isn’t afraid that one of these boys might come forward. I cannot appreciate his boldness in his quest for promoting how much he cares for mankind. I cannot understand why he developed a “Poor me. I was gay and trapped in marriage and family” life.

But I don’t have to understand. I don’t have to spend hours wondering why.

I am free. I am free, and I can move on.

It took 22 months of overwhelming emotions to get here, but I am finally free.

Disclaimer: I do not know what will happen in the future, and if Code Red will begin to harass me again, especially since we still have a minor son to somewhat parent together. So, if I forget this feeling of freedom, bear with me and know that there isn’t one of us that knows which direction our paths will take at any given moment in time.

Forgiveness…Sweet Relief

And just like that, the sweet relief of forgiveness has come.

Despite my movement forward, my grief and anger has rolled in and out like the waves of an ocean…actually, probably more like a tsunami. I have prayed for the ability to forgive and then I have turned around and told God never mind. I want to hate Code Red forever. He is a horrible, horrible human and doesn’t deserve my forgiveness.

But then. I know better. I know that forgiveness doesn’t do anything for Code Red, it is all about what is best for me. No, he doesn’t deserve my forgiveness, but I do deserve to be free of my pain tethering myself to him.

Last week I had a dream. I won’t describe the dream, but it was filled with an odd, sad kindness as it ended. As the morning progressed, my thoughts kept swirling as I wondered what it meant. It continued to disturb me and I couldn’t seem to figure it out.

As I do with most everything, I decided to journal about it. I began to allow all of the feelings pour out onto the page and I realized that the dream represented closure. I felt free. And then (because I am me and don’t trust my initial thoughts) I decided to try and remember every single bad thing that Code Red had ever done to see how I felt. And I did feel disgust and anger about his actions and that this was my story. BUT. It was a different kind of anger. It wasn’t directed at the person. This was anger without any “oomph.”

I had peace. FINALLY!!!

Since that day, there has been a significant release of my need to justify my divorce.

Everyone tells you that you don’t need to justify yourself if you’ve done nothing wrong. It’s better to stay strong and not say anything. For me, I had done something wrong. I filed for divorce, and I had to keep telling my story, justifying my decision because of my shame. I now have no need to continue doing that. (And it doesn’t matter what anyone said, I had to come to peace with this on my own…all the advice in the world could not have made me change the flow of this process.)

I divorced my husband. I had good reason. I did nothing wrong. I am not ashamed.

After settling into acceptance, I realized how easy it was to recognize forgiveness and let the “mess” inside of me go. It wasn’t easy before now. I could not have done it any earlier than I did. Let me repeat: I could not have done it any earlier than I did. No amount of prayer, no amount of guiding wisdom, no amount of just doing it made it possible.

Time. The only thing that helped me was time. MY TIME. Not your time. Not my friend’s time. Not the lady down the street’s time. MY TIME. You can’t force something as significant as this. You have to allow it to bounce around in your heart and mind until it’s all played out. And nothing and no one can play it out any faster than it needs.

I have learned a lot during this season of healing. The number one thing is that you cannot tell someone how and when to heal. They have to come through that process on their own and hopefully, with the assistance of a few friends and a precious counselor (or 2).

Forgiveness. Blessed relief. Grateful for the journey.

It’s My Birthday!

Today is my 47th birthday. It is my first birthday since age 20 that my name is back to the one I was born with. Truthfully, it feels awkward having a different name after so many years…I can’t quite get it right. I keep writing and saying the wrong name!

How should I celebrate? With cookies? With cake? With a simple, quiet day?

The decision has just been made for me. It is storming here and there is a possibility of flooding. I hope not, but it is there.

That makes for a quiet day at home. No makeup. No contact lenses. Glasses…both regular and reading. T-shirt and jeans. Hot tea. Homework. Maybe a non-textbook book or magazine. Cooking my favorite meal. Making fresh bread. Time with 2 of my children.

I do believe this is a day I didn’t know that I had been waiting for.

Pure joy. Pure peace. Rest for my soul. The best birthday a girl could wish for!

Just Thinking…

Now that my summer break is here, I find myself thinking about some of the strange things that were a part of my divorce process.

The 1st thing was the result of pulling back, WAY BACK, in order to survive. I knew that people were concerned for me and wanted to care for me, but I was so overwhelmed. There was no possible way I could communicate with that many people during that season. As I’m coming into my new life, I realize by withdrawing, many of those people have moved on. Not because of anger or disagreement…it was simply the result of no communication. Some of them continue to be there on the sidelines and I know without a doubt that a phone call would immediately restore the distance between us. Some of them have disappeared from my life altogether. Although that hurts a bit, without a doubt I know that I could not have given more of myself to maintain those friendships (I was barely capable of caring for myself and my own children). I have to give myself grace about that season.

The 2nd thing that occurred was the decision to leave my church. This was extremely difficult to walk out. To give a bit of back story, 3 years ago, Code Red decided that he no longer wanted to attend our church. After listening to his frustrations with our church for years, I finally cut the tension and stopped going on Sunday mornings. However, I did remain involved in Bible studies and extra activities that kept me in contact with my friends and other believers…I just didn’t go on Sundays anymore. Months later, after finding out about Code Red’s behaviors, my desire to go back to church was deep, but it was going to take a lot of courage. Code Red’s actions would make running into certain people seriously awkward. But just as I was about to take the step and go, (before I say this, I want you to know that I TOTALLY understand this) the church leadership asked that my kids and I minimize our story so that it would not cause issues with others in the church. And while I understood/understand their request, I determined that under no circumstance would I ask my children to do that. Me, yes. My children, no. It felt as if they were asking us to carry guilt and shame for what Code Red did. And there is not one person in this family that is responsible for his actions. Period.

The 3rd thing on my mind today is the loneliness that goes along with divorce. For 26 years, I had a “person.” Even if I didn’t like him and he made me feel bad about myself, I still had someone. I knew that even though he would make me feel as if I was the most demanding person on earth, I could call him. Side Note: it’s strange to think that back then I thought it was better to have someone that wasn’t supportive than to be alone, right? How messed up is that? At this point, I am working on becoming at ease with myself. I figure that if I am healthy and happy, then I don’t need anyone to be my “person;” I can simply enjoy the people that are in my life for this moment. I don’t want to make the mistake of compromising myself to prevent being alone.

The 4th thing is the sense of freedom that I now feel. It feels like a contradiction to miss having a person and to also feel free. Now that Code Red has moved away, each week, maybe even each day, I feel a little bit more of “me” come back alive. I am embarking on an entirely new path that is completely and totally me…it has nothing to do with what someone else wants me to be or what is “best” for my family…it is strictly me following my instincts and natural abilities. Not being concerned about someone else’s approval is an amazing feeling. For the first time in my life (literally the first time), I am looking forward instead of to everyone else. I am not worried if everyone else is happy with my decisions. I.Am.Free. to decide what I want to do for the next 25 years of my life. I am happy about my decisions and I am proud that I am stepping out in faith and taking a chance for something new in my life. I am praying that my children see me step out of the shadows and into the light of what I have been designed for. I pray that I am modeling for them what it is like to walk away from something horrible and toward something wonderful. I pray they see that they, too, can do what they desire without the worry of disapproval.

Quite honestly, being divorced is the absolute best thing that I have experienced…with the exception of the births of my children. In the beginning, I was ashamed of being divorced; however, I now feel grateful for the second chance of life that I am getting. I still have a long way to go but I am steadily moving forward!

Forward Living is ultimately my goal.

The past is part of me, but I no longer live there. Why would I trap myself and stop learning and growing?

Psalm 30:11-12

Before I begin my real post, I want to acknowledge Mother’s Day and say that I am the daughter of a woman whose love runs so deep that I honestly think that it sometimes hurts her. Her love for the Lord and her love for others fuel her to give beyond my comprehension…I truly don’t know how she does what she does. Happy Mother’s Day, Mama. I love you.

And now. Y’all. The weirdest thing has happened.

While talking to my dad the other day, he asked, “How are you, girl?” After stammering with the typical, “I’m fine” for a minute, I realized that I am happy. Really happy…who knew?! It is such a strange feeling. As an adult, I honestly cannot remember ever experiencing this much peace.

Oh, I have emotional issues that crop up off and on. A kid annoys me and I lose my mind. My memories go crazy and I can’t figure out the grief. I don’t trust people so I’m skeptical…but I am happy. Deep, deep in my soul, I am filled to the edge of overflowing.

It is the most incredible thing that I have ever felt. And yes, it is a feeling, but it is also what I would call a settling within my soul. It doesn’t feel as if I have a weight pulling me down or backwards. I am not afraid of what might come next…I honestly cannot imagine what could be worse than what I have already experienced. (Before you think anything snarky, remember, most of you do not know the whole story. It’s was baaaaaad.) Anyway, you know in movies when the girl is twirling around and around on a beach with her hair flowing and a smile on her face? That is me right now…corny as hell.

Psalm 30:11-12 says, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory might sing praise and not be silent. Oh Lord, my God, I will give thanks to you forever!”

I didn’t know if it would be possible to recover from the barrage of disgraceful actions that have surrounded my marriage. But recovery is is possible and continues to occur. I never thought that I could be free.

I honestly believe that I have weathered the worst of the storm. And I pray that this next season will be a time filled with simple joys. That I will be able to be fully present for whatever life brings my way. That my kids will continue to heal and find their path into independent adulthood. That they will see their mama lean on God, acknowledge the bad situation, and allow it to catapult her into something new and beautiful.

I have wrestled. I have fallen. I have gotten up. And now, I am moving forward.

My 26 year marriage will always be my story and I hope to be able to share it with others who need to hear it, but that marriage and the actions surrounding that marriage do not define me.

With God’s leading, I get to step out into something new and something beautiful…even if I have no earthly idea what that is yet!