Walk

Walk

It’s not the casserole. 

I am an audience member of my once-life. It’s that. Watching someone else play me. That. 

I don’t remember how to ride in the backseat. I know how to get out of a car at a stoplight. And I know how to walk. 

I know how to walk in painful shoes and not wince. I know how to step on a rock, twist my ankle, crumble to the ground in the middle of a busy road. I know how to get back up and keep walking. And keep walking. 

I know how to walk. And walk. And walk. And walk. 

Ask him. 

I don’t know how to hurt in socially acceptable ways. I don’t know how. 

Don’t expect me to ride along. I know how to walk.

I know how to drive myself. I know how to get away when I need to. I know how to walk away. That. 

I know how to feel invisible. I know how to feel invincible. That. 

Don’t look around, unless you can handle seeing that I’m here. And I’ll be here. And I’ll be there too. 

It’s not the casserole.

It’s the backseat. 

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hamster wheel

hamster wheel

If you see a mom…

Early on a Sunday morning…

In an empty parking lot…

Leaning on a steering wheel…

Face down on her folded arms…

Shoulders shaking…

It’s nothing important.

Just don’t…

Honestly, you wouldn’t even…

It’s the hole the squirrels chewed into the soffit,

And this isn’t her first time,

And it’s all the condensation cup circles,

And don’t text,

And it’s the sliding minivan door that’s off-kilter,

And don’t attempt to understand,

And it’s the beeping smoke alarm,

And she doesn’t want to do this,

And it’s the pile of unread books,

And don’t make that face,

And it’s that mountain of Wal-mart donation bags full of clothes.

I know I am, but if I know it,

Then I’m not.

If this is my sanctuary, 

Then let it be that, please. 

I don’t have a walled garden of flowers. 

This is what I have, where I have. 

Don’t you think I know crazy when I feel it pulsing?

If you give a mouse a cookie…

I think I might have. 

You know how it will be. 

If you don’t get it,

Do you think I care?

If you don’t…

Look away. 

Stay away. 

Grip

Grip

I hold a tight grip around what I think should happen. The kind of grip that has to be ripped off, where you have to hammer each finger repeatedly and pry and attempt to uncurl them. 

I don’t want this. 

I don’t want my oldest three daughters living their summer days a block away from my house with their stepmom while their dad works. 

Should I seat myself gingerly on a settee, spread my skirt folds around me properly and smile silently? Sit up straight with grace and poise and fan myself every so gently as I wave to my daughters  through my window?

But…I’m their mom. Should I pull out photos of myself with a weird mushroom haircut and toasted almond lipstick, pregnant at 21? A tent t-shirt, a layer of net maternity panties, a layer of cotton panel maternity jeans…with stylish boot cut openings barely skimming the top of my shoes because I never did find long length…is that what we all need to see to remember I’m the mom?

Should I highlight the “right of first refusal” clause and text it to Norman? I might have done that. And he says–that doesn’t apply anymore; they’re old enough that they don’t need a babysitter. 

Should I cry about it to my own mom? I might have. Should I create an analogy where Norman is at his house, I’m working 40 hours, and the girls are sitting at my house with their stepdad? I might have done that too. 

Should I think about our summer days of years past…dying their hair with punky colors, watching them play softball, giving each other manicures, taking them to swim, signing them up for the summer reading program, taking them to my gym where I ran the kids’ summer fitness program, teaching them how to crochet, helping them set up an eBay business to sell their outgrown clothes, tie-dying tank tops and tshirts, watching them learn to swim like champions with Tideriders, driving them to church camp…

Should I throw my phone at the bed and leave the room? Should I call my lawyer? Should I argue and debate and push my side of things down his throat? Should I say that she doesn’t have a right to play house with my daughters?

Maybe I did do all that.

Should I pray?

Should I feel my grip relax in a calm, peaceful way that no hammer could produce? Should I see his side? Should I let go?

I’m not saying I’m some shy, agreeable fairy by nature. I’m not. I’m not. I’m not full of gracious wisdom on my own. 

People don’t tell you this part of a divorce. And you don’t know it until you live it. And if you haven’t lived it, God love you, but you cannot relate. You literally cannot empathize. You can imagine as a friend or you can scoff as a non-friend, but that’s it. 

Sitting on the back deck with your two youngest daughters, close enough to hear your oldest three squealing and laughing in a yard just over the hump in the road. 

Maybe I should’ve just been a perfect person then? And not gotten two divorces…

Oh yeah, let me just get right on that. 

I wanted to be right. You know? I wanted things to go my way. I wanted to keep my grip locked tight, tight, tight. But I thought, and I prayed. And I texted back that we can do what he wants. I’m not saying I didn’t fight first, but…

It’s not always about being right. 

It’s about doing right.









Velcro, Snaps, Ash

Velcro, Snaps, Ash

We were friends.

Was that true?

I think we were friends. 

I remember.

Weren’t we friends?

I was your friend.

Weren’t you m…

I remember spotting you doing pull-ups… 

“Gross. I need gloves. Do you ever shave?” I rub the gross off my hands. 

“Stubble grips my pants in place like Velcro.” Kareequa falls off the bar, shrugs unapologetically. 

“Oh is that it? I thought you were trying to get out of doing your pull-ups by grossing me out…thinking there’s no way she can touch these legs for a full 10. Sucky for you–I can’t be grossed out!” Was there ever a time we weren’t laughing?

“I want to get down to your size.” Kareequa faces the gym mirror and pulls her shirt up, pinching and jabbing at her smooth tan stomach. 

“You look good. I like your shape. Shit, you’re smaller than me now! You don’t want all THIS.” She had probably lost 60-70lbs, lots of hard work training with me and on her own. I pull up my own shirt and start tugging on my love handles. 

“Yeah but look at you from the side. Your stomach is so flat. Mine is huge, and I got this fupa.” She sticks her gut out exaggeratedly and rubs it like a pregnant belly. 

“Fupa? What the hell’s a fupa? I had a tummy tuck after Audrey. That makes it flat in front. So then when I gain, it all goes to the love handles. Cruel.” I flop my love handles out and teeter around like a little teapot. 

“Fat Upper Pubic Area…don’t Google images.” Some guy we don’t know pokes his head in the room we are standing in at the gym; he pivots out quickly. 

And we’re standing there with our flabs hanging out like…what? Come on in. 

______________________

“Make me pretty.” I flop into Kareequa’s salon chair. Always a mess, I’ve never sat in her chair looking even halfway decent. 

“Let me guess…you didn’t wash or brush your hair.” She popped the cape and draped it over me. 

“Can you not choke the living hell out of me with this thing? I look like a Barbie with her head smashed down onto her neck. I’m going to need more breathing room and some of my neck needs to be visible!” I thrash around under my cape. 

“You smashed your Barbie heads down?” I see a look of annoyed admiration in her eyes as Kareequa readjusts the choke snaps.

“Only when that little head-knob thing had broken off. Okay…and maybe I’d smash them down if I felt like Barbie was being a bitch that day. Oh? Who’s pretty now, Ms. No-Neck?!” She laughed, and as she freed my hair from its twisted and bound bun, her smile pursed into irritated determination. Natural curl…tangled like mad. 

We traded out services–I trained her; she did my hair. Neither of us tried to be the easiest client to deal with. But we had fun. And if she ever says I wasn’t one of her favorites, she’s lying. 

“Where’d I put my thinning shears? I need to make this brush out easier…” She didn’t really mind. She is very chill. In fact, I don’t think she ever got mad at me, only ever fake mad. 

I got mad once and stomped out. It was a misunderstanding about our appointment time. And I was having a bad day. I apologized, she shrugged it off, forgave me, and I made a few awkward, apologetic jokes about my temper…then it was forgotten. 

“Ewww!! Have the decency to turn me away from the mirror until I’m pretty again! I look terrible in this lighting without makeup on, and you’re about to frizz my hair into the blond Diana Ross. I want my sunglasses.”

“Dork. Okay. What’re we doing today?”

Who knows what I did that day? Bangs, lowlights, shoulder length, bleached out, ombré, balayage…over the 6-7 years we were friends, she did whatever I wanted and I always loved it. 

I love my hair. I’d rather find a new surgeon than a new hairdresser. And I loved you, loved you. You know I did.


______________________

So how does that work? I come to your house crying. I ask you questions because the details look bad to me. I want to know–is it you? 

And then you fire me as a client. That didn’t make it obvious. 

Ohhhh because I’m crazy. Oh okay. That makes sense then. 

I was crazy. I’ve always been crazy fun. I got crazy sad. And then 6 weeks later when he tells me it IS you, who was crazy that night? Not me. 

I bet you wish I hated you. Sometimes I wish I could. Well, I don’t hate you. I got really hurt. That’s what happened. THAT is what happened. 

If you want to look for reasons to hate me, you can find some. It won’t be hard. I’m no angel. But I didn’t give you any reasons. I really didn’t. 

I know enough about cheating to know…it wasn’t about me at all. Not about anything I did wrong. Not about how I would feel. 

It’s a cancer that takes over, and it’s not even fun. It wasn’t special, and you didn’t win any prize. 

Pour gas over it all, flick a match over your shoulder. Don’t look back. 

It’s okay. And I’m okay. 

Turns out…ash is some of the best fertilizer.


Shakedown

Shakedown

You feel like everyone knows. You hate the bastards that knew all along. No one is my friend? No one could tell me? No one could kindly walk me to the exit door and discreetly whisper? No one? Thanks.

You are a deer crossing a road you’ve crossed many times before. And slam. A truck crashes into you. You never saw it coming.

I’m all right. I’m all right. Didn’t hurt that bad. Your back half is mangled. You try to convince everyone that you’ve always wanted to try walking with just your front two legs. Your friend abused his position in your life, betrayed your trust, didn’t even know they were bulldozing together and now there’s a shack being built from the scraps.

But he didn’t make you promises. She did. It hurts no matter which window you look in. 

I guess everyone would prefer that you run off into the woods, to heal or die out of sight. For the love of God, don’t drag your broken ass around in plain sight; people have to look away. They can’t bear it. Eye contact is a precise arrow. 

Well too damn bad. Sometimes we have nowhere to go hide, and we have to bitterly think–I’m sorry if the very sight of my existence causes awkwardness. I am alive. I’m still breathing. I don’t have the luxury of taking a month vacation. So here I am. Look away if you can’t look at me.

Ecce homo. Behold the man. Dancing the clumsy ballet of a damaged deer. And you don’t have to run into the woods. You don’t have to. 

I know how it feels to find the door locked. I know how it feels to peer into the window from the outside, fogging up the glass of a house where you used to feel safe and welcome.

I know you don’t want sympathy.

I know. 
.

.

.

So here are some songs…

“I Gave You All” Mumford & Sons

“I’ve Got Friends” Manchester Orchestra

“I taught myself how to grow old” Ryan Adams

“Crystal Ball” and “Bad Dream” Keane

“I know” Jude

“Where I stood” Missy Higgins

“So you don’t have to love me anymore” Alan Jackson
  

Black Snowflakes

Black Snowflakes

“No, I can’t go to that. My girls play soccer on Thursday nights.” Celebrate Recovery, recovery from what? Why would I go to that? I wasn’t the addict.

But I was. We both were. Cheating is an addiction. Codependency is very addicting and unhealthy.

I didn’t need a meeting or a help group. My husband left me; he needed the help.

Do I sound codependent much? I didn’t even know what that meant. I thought that was someone who turned a blind eye and let people walk all over them.

I went to my girls’ soccer game instead of Celebrate Recovery. I stood there in the parking lot, and I couldn’t even quit crying behind my sunglasses. I felt as though I couldn’t take steps toward the ticket booth. Just frozen there, crying.

I went back to my van, texted the necessary people to handle the details of my girls’ rides. I drove myself to Celebrate Recovery, and I never missed a Thursday for 6 months straight.

I took an honest look at myself and my behaviors…in both of my first two marriages.

I started going to a CR study group on Sunday mornings too.

Sometimes you miss soccer games.

______________________________

I had turned into someone I didn’t want to be. I sat there with a highlighter and a phone bill. Whose number is this? I made notes. I called numbers. I compared the notes to my mental calendar. I intercepted an email of a hotel reservation. I called hotels and had them fax me receipts.

Everything was painfully out of my control. Wet sheetrock crumbling. 

I even drove straight to Kareequa’s house when my heart told me it was her.

It was her. But God must’ve thrown a cloak of invisibility on her that day because I stood there and believed her lies, left feeling even crazier. Demetrius and Kareequa would both admit the infidelity to me and to her husband in two months. I’ll get to that night eventually.

But the day I drove there, I ended up just feeling like a pathetic lunatic, standing there with Clara on my hip, in my sweatpants, crying.

Kareequa behaved kindly. She was wide-eyed. She offered me a bottle of water. She hoped I didn’t think it was her. She was very sorry I was going through this. She even gave me some friendly marital help–maybe we should…watch some porn together??

No. No. I shook my head. Lowering my standards of acceptable behavior wasn’t something I wanted to do. That is not the solution for me. Thank you for your suggestion, but acting like a lunatic is the route I’ve chosen here. It wasn’t a great solution either, I don’t recommend it.

Kareequa’s friend/costylist Brokeesha called me and scolded me for showing up at Kareequa’s house to confront her and to ask her–woman to woman…is it you?

Brokeesha explained–listen, we are YOUR friends; it doesn’t matter that you see late night texts and photos sent and calls from us on Demetrius’ phone bill; stop being crazy.

Was Brokeesha in on it? Who knows? But she was right about one thing–I did need to stop trying to figure it out. It would all fall in my lap soon.

Maybe I had it all wrong anyway. Maybe it was just as innocent as Demetrius said–the reservation was just a guys’ night out…to see a Bret Michaels concert…and they got a hotel room…with a one-King suite…for a slumber party, I guess…

I tried so hard to believe that.


_________________________________

My words are some of the facts. You don’t have to like them. You don’t have to read them. Some of these facts are just so ridiculous that I accidentally drop my guard and laugh.

I called people from the phone bill to find out who they are; I’m sure some of them had to know it was me calling. Heh. Shrug. 

And…a slumber party? Seriously? You have to find moments to laugh. 

But facts are not the truth. The fact is–we are all hopeless sinners without Christ; the truth is–we can all claim forgiveness.

Forgiveness for adultery. Forgiveness for lying. Forgiveness for being a fearful lunatic wife. Forgiveness for masks. Forgiveness for being demanding and controlling. 

Sometimes wives scramble around trying to protect their family. I get that. I’ve done that. I’ve seen that.

I know some of my blogs might be painful and embarrassing to read. It was painful and embarrassing to live these facts too.

But there it is. 

Demetrius became someone I didn’t know, didn’t want to know. And I, in turn, had become a fearful private investigator. Not a version of myself that I ever, ever want to be again.

I got too obsessed with trying to “save” both of us. I can admit that.

You can only control you. And no matter how hard you try to hold on and keep the crumbling walls held together with glue and tape, if one spouse wants it to be over…he will be able to tear it all down with his own hands no matter how hard you resist.
_________________________________

It was a chilly morning, I started a small fire in my fire pit on the back deck. I held onto my big stack of papers–the phone bill details, my notes, my highlighted crazy, hotel receipts.

That fear and craziness had a grip on my heart. Why didn’t I want to burn this crap that was causing me so much anxiety? I knew I needed to do it.

Finally, I put the papers into the fire. They curled and blackened and flaked off in charred bits, fluttered away like black snowflakes.

So much work. So much crazy. And not a bit of it changed the outcome.

I felt peace wash over me.