Last weekend I pulled 4 boxes into the living room. They were marked "kitchen", "Lori's old school stuff" (2 boxes) and "reminiscence stuff".
The kitchen box was easy enough. I pulled out the apron that was packed among an empty recipe box, some candle holders and a hanging basket for fruit. Hey - I've been looking for that!
The school stuff box was fun. Too bad I didn't have these school pics and awards when I was scrapbooking a few months back. Hmm... maybe I can add a few pages to that edition of my history?
And then I opened the reminiscence box. It was full of smaller shoe boxes and stationary boxes full of cards and letters. But this next box was unmarked.
This is when I was blind-sided, bushwhacked, caught unaware, hit unexpectedly... (yes, I hit up the thesaurus this morning).
It contained what I had considered "the junk" from my marriage and subsequent divorce in 1996. First I went through a large pile of engagement, bridal shower and wedding cards. But when I opened the box of pictures I got sick to my stomach. There was a picture of me standing in my miniature living room. Our apartment was built over my brother-in-law's garage. I was surrounded by our hand-me-down furniture and the men of the family who had just moved us in. I could see the anxiety on my face and in every muscle of my body...
Why do the faces of these men still turn my stomach?! But the bigger question is, why do I feel a sting hitting the back of my eyes ever these people?!
Today... looking over these pictures, numb, crying on the living room floor.... and shocked by the sadness I am experiencing for the first time in 14 years. Am I really feeling SAD over the loss of myself and this marriage?
That's a new one... I haven't felt sad over this before.
But back to moving day...
Prior to the divorce, at the time of moving into the apartment over the garage, I was experiencing regular anxiety attacks. I was experiencing 3 or 4 attacks a day. Looking at the picture in my hand, I had been married for about 8 months... and our marriage would last another 6 months or so.
I didn't trust these men standing in my living room. I didn't trust my own response to them. I couldn't sleep through the night. I couldn't keep up with their expectations on my life. And I had felt forced to take on a full time job (and drop all my college classes) so that my husband could take an unpaid sabbatical because he was stressed. Why was he stressed? Maybe because of his family's expectations on his life?
All the while I was torn. My faith told me I had to do my best to be a woman of integrity, faith, honesty. And if I lived up to their expectations on my life I couldn't be those things also.
Fast forward to the Fall of 1996...
Immediately following the divorce I felt FREE. I had worked so hard to keep those people happy all the while trying to keep to my morals. I don't know when it happened, but at some point I became sarcastic and jilted about that period of my life. I had a popular saying: "It sucked to be a Hoover!" Yes, my married name had been Hoover and I loved playing up the whole "suck" factor in light of the popular vaccuum company. I even took on a theme song "I Haven't Got Time For The Pain". Thank you Carly Simon! You were a big part of my life for a long time.
Being honest about it now... I knew our marriage was over before it ever began. Literally, I almost called it all off 6 weeks before the wedding. It's a bittersweet thing to say... but I'm glad I didn't. Through this time of my life I was blessed with a "sister" and niece who I still consider family. Many friendships were strengthened through this period of my life... and God gave me a ministry in talking with other women about the devastation of divorce and healing from such a tragedy.
Still I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I gave it all I had to give. I did my best to make our marriage work. I did my best to honor my husband. In fact, I gave more than I had to give. And in the end their expectations are what caused the marriage to crumble. Their expectations on how my husband should control what his wife says, how she acts and why she does what she does caused him to leave me one day while I was at work. They talked him into deception. And deceive me he did.
And I'm here to report that I sat on the living room floor last week for nearly 30 minutes... the tears kept coming. I cried more tears than I thought were still there. My heart broke... and healed in those same minutes. I am ready to say a final goodbye.
Fast forward to healing...
I rose from the ashes of that marriage/divorce with a stronger integrity, a stronger faith... a renewed sense of speaking up for those who can't speak for themselves.
To this day I celebrate my own personal FREEDOM DAY... every October 20th. I take some time away to think about the lessons learned, the bittersweet times with that family, the renewal that God brought about in my life. And the woman He's created me to be.
And I think this year I will have another bonfire to "rid up" the rest of this junk.
Anyone have a fire pit I can use?
Edited note from author:
To the credit of my ex-husband... several years after our divorce he called me to apologize. Whether or not he truly meant it, or if it was a ploy prior to asking me to consider giving him another chance, I truly believe he recognized how horrible he allowed our life to become. Don't get me wrong, neither of us were perfect in this marriage. But we did have the opportunity to clear the air.
Fast forward to today. This month I celebrate a 7th anniversary with my wonderful husband, Lee. I am blessed beyond BLESSED to have found a man who loves me, encourages me, supports me and wants the best for me. We have weathered some pretty tumultuous storms and come through them even stronger and more in love. I love my husband!