Me, Without Him

I sat in the chair, nervously clasping my hands and staring in disbelief at the lawyer on the other side of the desk. His words were still ringing in my ears.  “You don’t have a hearing scheduled for next week”, he had just told me.  I shook  my head, “No, I have an evidentiary hearing next Wednesday”.  He gently repeated, “You don’t have a hearing next week”.  He turned and pulled some papers from the printer and slid them across the desk, “The last hearing was in November.  Your husband and his lawyer showed up.  You and your lawyer were a no show.  The judge took your case off the schedule.  You’ll basically have to start over.”  I felt sick to my stomach.  I looked down at the court printout that showed a summary of my case.  There it was, in black and white.  All the converstions I have had with my lawyer over the last few months swirled in my head.  The continuance we were granted in November, the hearing scheduled for January that was again continued for an evidentiary hearing in February.  None of it was true.  I barely heard anything else the lawyer said.  I walked out to my car, trying not to cry.  I made it into my car before I lost it.  Sobbing, I called my friend at work who has been encouraging me through my divorce.  I could barely get the words out.  My lawyer has been lying to me.  Making up elaborate stories to cover up his failures.  Ten months of my life that I will never get back.

I was devastated at this turn of events.  I’m not sure what was more upsetting, the fact that my lawyer lied to me or the fact that I didn’t have a clue.  I was healing from the abuse and gaslighting of my husband.  Getting stonger and moving forward.  Now, I had to wonder how this could happen to me, seemingly without warning.  Had there been signs that I hadn’t noticed?  Should I have questioned what my lawyer had told me?  The betrayal of my husband now seemed intertwined with the betrayal of my lawyer.  Worse yet, my faith in my own discernment seemed irrevocably shaken.  I interviewed two other lawyers after my discovery, both women.  I received even more bad news.  My lawyer had not just been lying to me since the hearing in November.  From day one, he had let almost every deadline pass without submitting proper notices.  I so badly wanted to be divorced and put my marriage behind me.  For months I have been pushing down my impatience, denying myself feelings of despair over how long it was taking to finalize my divorce.  Rather than deal with the pain of still being married to my abuser, I put it out of my mind and refused to think about it.  Everyone told me how well I was handling my situation.  My sister, my friends, my co-workers.  Even my counselor.  The truth be told, some days I feel like my sanity is hanging by a thread.  Every time I feel like I’m going to breakdown, I put it out of my mind.  Frankly, I’m afraid that if I start to allow myself to feel, I will be overwhelmed by the pain.

After discovering the truth about my lawyer, I naturally started to think about my first husband.  I got married at nineteen, defying my parents who didn’t much like my choice.  In retrospect, I can hardly blame them.  He was loud, obnoxious and would rarely look anyone in the eyes.  When we first met, I thought he was so funny.  He had a warped sense of humor and always had a crazy story to tell.  I was young and impressed by his bravado.  My own life had been very sheltered and I was painfully naive.  He told me all about his life growing up.  He was tormented all through school and accused of being gay.  Even his father ridiculed him.  He told me that in his senior year of high school, he got his girlfriend pregnant.  When the baby was a year or so old, both his girlfriend and his son died in a car accident.  I can still remember him crying on my shoulder as I comforted him.  One day, after about a year or so of marriage, he suddenly started sobbing uncontrollably.  Concerned, I begged him to tell me what was wrong.  He finally broke down and admitted that he had lied about having a girlfriend and child.  To calm him down, I told him that it was okay.  We never talked about it again.  After thirteeen years of marriage, I found out that he was gay.  I have to wonder, how does one not realize that one’s own husband is gay?  And how does one not realize that one’s own lawyer is systematically lying to them?

It’s been three weeks since I found out about my lawyer.  Somehow I have to get past this.  Intellectually I know that I just need to move forward.  But, I feel emotionally befuddled.  Perhaps I feel like somehow my husband scored a victory.  I know that he had nothing to do with it.  But, in the end I’m still married and no closer to being free.  I still have his last name.  I still pay for his health insurance every paycheck.  I still have to spend money to hire another lawyer.  I just want to be me, without him.











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Learning to Feel

Roller Coaster 01-21-2015

Learning to Feel
By Minerva Sue

My life seems so surreal right now.  I spent so many years living on edge, that I don’t quite know how to handle normalcy.  Sometimes it feels like I’m coasting downhill and reality is awaiting me around the bend.  I’ll be going about my everyday life and all of a sudden the absence of fear is overwhelming.  Growing up, I don’t think that fear was constant.   But, those moments of violence and dread are what I remember most.  The worst part of the abuse was that after it was over, my dad would make me hug him and tell him that I loved him.  Fearful of making him angry all over again, I would comply.  But, I didn’t mean it at that moment.  At that moment, I hated him.  I hated him for screaming at me, for whipping me with the belt, for making me admit to things that I hadn’t done, for robbing me of a sense of safety.  So, I learned to say one thing convincingly while my heart was screaming out something entirely different.  My outward contrition masked an inner loathing.  It was, I suppose, practice for what I would later face in my marriage. Continue reading

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New Possibilities

glinda quote

2015 is upon me.  A new year full of possibilities.  Right now I am struggling to overcome my fear of the unknown.  I’ve never been very good at dealing with the unknown.  I have a confession.  Sometimes, when it’s apparent that the book I’m reading is a cliffhanger and can go either way, I skip ahead to the end so that I can end the suspense.  Then, I can go back to my place and enjoy it without the stress of wondering about how it ends.  My first divorce court hearing was today.  I didn’t attend, but let my lawyer take care of it.  And I can’t skip to the end.  I have to wait until I hear from my lawyer to find out what happened.  Yes, I admit that I am nervous.  I’m nervous about the outcome, and nervous that there won’t be an outcome.  My life has been in limbo for nine months while my husband stalls the process.  I have tried my best not to be impatient.  But, the truth is that I’m impatient for my marriage to be over once and for all.  It seems like my pending divorce represents not only the end of my marriage, but the end of my old self.  The final chapter of the submissive, manipulated daughter, wife, friend and “Christian”.  And the birth of the strong, feisty me. Continue reading

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Discovering me

small steps

I have been struggling with a myriad of memories this past week, all of them competing for my attention.  Memories of the two previous times that I left my husband.  Me, desperately trying to make our marriage work.  Memories of feelings of despair over the way my husband treated me.  Images of my husband screaming at me, telling me that he wanted a divorce and then saying that he didn’t mean it.  Me, worrying about paying my medical bills while my husband was buying Harley’s, Corvettes, dirt bikes, trucks, and whatever else he lusted after.  My husband leering at other women every time we were out in public, the skankier the better.  And me, crying over it.  I felt so inadequate.  It makes me angry that I allowed him to treat me the way that he did.  I wish I had been stronger.  I should have told him to go to hell.  I should have walked out after the first month of marriage.  I distinctly remember thinking, “There’s no way I’m going to be divorced again!”  I felt like such a failure.  I didn’t want to tell my family or friends.  Of course, eventually they all figured out that he wasn’t the prince charming that he portrayed himself to be. Continue reading

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A Necessary Evil

I’m in that familiar phase of my separation. I have gone through this twice before. This is the point at which it really gets scary. The point where I went back twice before.  When it seems impossible to keep myself afloat financially.  When I’m not even sure how I’ve made it this far.  My husband is determined to avoid having to pay for spousal support.  This is not a surprise to me.  What is surprising is how the court system is enabling him.  Every deadline comes and goes and he doesn’t comply with the documentation he’s supposed to provide.  And nothing happens.  The court doesn’t care and there are no consequences.  Well, for him, that is.  The consequences are solely mine.  I’m stuck in limbo.  The divorce does not move forward and no decision is made regarding support.  What I want more than anything is to rid myself of his last name.  It represents everything contemptible and oppressive about my life over my long years of marriage.  I just long to be me.  Me apart from him.
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It’s a glorious life

Sometimes my life seems surreal.  Six months ago, I traded my five bedroom, three bathroom, 3000 square foot house for a 900 square foot two bedroom apartment I share with my twins.  The neighbors smoke skunk weed, the stench sometimes so strong I can taste it.  The woman upstairs laughs maniacally when they’re having sex on their creaky bed.   The creaking is slow, and then builds up to a crescendo.  I’m loathe to imagine exactly what’s so amusing.  The kitchen sink is leaking.  Again.  And, it’s glorious.  I wake up without that familiar feeling of dread.  When I’m at work I don’t have an escalating sense of dread as the clock ticks closer to time to go home.  I don’t have to hold my breath when I walk in the door after work, waiting to see what kind of mood my husband is in.  I don’t have to ask permission before settling on what I’m going to make for dinner.  I can hang out with my kids without my husband demanding that I spend time with him.  I can stay up late without being told how selfish and ungrateful I am. Continue reading

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Unexpected kindness

I received an unexpected phone call last week.  It was from one of the ladies that I sit next to at church.  Bev called to find out if everything was okay because she hadn’t seen me in a couple of weeks.  I was so shocked that I didn’t know how to reply.  Before I knew it, I blurted out that I was low on money and didn’t want to use the gas.   I’ve never been good at coming up with excuses on the fly.  Instead, I’m usually embarrassingly honest.  Not exactly casual conversation with someone you barely know.  To her benefit, she recovered quickly and told me that if I ever needed a ride, to call her and she’d pick me up. This was very generous give the fact that she lives in the opposite direction from me in relation to the church. She then invited me to a get together at one of the ladies’ home in a couple of weeks. And, of course, she offered to pick me up for that, too.  I was flabbergasted.   Of course, there’s no way I’d make her drive in the opposite direction just to pick me up.  It’s ironic that a stranger is so willing to reach out to me while the women I went to church with for over a year remain silent. Continue reading

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Breaking Ties

I sat in my apartment on Sunday rather than going to church. On one hand, I long for fellowship with other Christians. On the other hand, I can’t bear to hear the same trite sermons. Feel the disapproval for leaving my abusive husband. After all, he never left a mark. I should have just prayed for him and been an example of Christ, right? Even those who feel I was justified in leaving still believe that if I remarry I will be an adulteress. Not that I have any desire to remarry. The thought of being in an intimate relationship with a man is terrifying.

The “marks” my husband left are more indelible than any bruise. The judgement from the pastors that counseled me like a slap across the face. Somehow, I was responsible for my husband’s anger. Pray more, be more submissive, don’t respond in anger, model love in the face of contempt. I was even responsible for his salvation. I needed to stay so that through me he would be saved. Who was going to save me and my kids? Continue reading

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The Strange Bedfellows of Fear and Hope

This past weekend my husband texted me, asking me if I wanted to take one of the dogs. He doesn’t contact me often. In fact, by and large he leaves me alone. He said he was getting rid of the dog if I didn’t take it. I only took one of the three dogs when I left, and can ill afford another one. But, I couldn’t bear the thought my little dog sitting in the pound, so I agreed. When my husband texts me I, it always seems like I should feel something. Loathing, fear, nauseated, disgust, something. I mostly just feel strangely disassociated. Like I’m looking down on my life, watching myself interact with my husband. While we were negotiating how to hand off the dog, he stated that he would leave the dog on the porch and wrote, “I’m not comfortable having you come in and not ready to see you. I hope you understand”. It struck me as ironic. He was not comfortable letting me in the house? He was not ready to see me? Continue reading

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Slowly stepping forward

“In any given moment we have two options.  To step forward into growth or to step back into safety” – Abraham Maslow

Sunday is usually a busy morning of getting ready, dropping my son off at work and then going to church.  But, this Sunday I just didn’t feel like going to church.  I felt a twinge of guilt, but thankfully it didn’t last long.  Instead, I went to one of my bookmarked blogs here on WordPress, Spiritual Sounding Board.  Julie Anne has a weekly virtual gathering on Sundays where she invites readers to share church struggles and concerns.  I “attended” the gathering, shared my feelings and, amazingly, people reached out to me.  I haven’t had that experience in a long time.  I know virtual fellowship is nothing compared to real fellowship.  But, if only for a little while on a Sunday morning, it felt good to be comforted.  I just sat on my bed, reading, typing and being encouraged. Continue reading

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