I wrote this post the day before my divorce, March 13, 2008. I don’t want it to get buried in the archives, so I’ve given it its own page. It’s my way to honor my past and honor those who have helped arrive where I am today.
I have the best relationship with my brother but it hasn’t always been this way. My brother is so cool. He’s very laid back, a great musician. He’s a guy with great taste and tremendous class. As I’ve said before, he’s the standard any man has to meet for me to even consider a future with him. Well, I didn’t really know how great my brother was for many, many years. We started out fighting like cats and dogs as most siblings do. Before I knew it he was dating then gone and married. His first marriage was miserable as was mine, and I was so busy being holy that I never took time to hang out with him while he did the cool stuff he did. Apparently my brother has played lots of the jazz clubs in DC and I’ve never been to hear him once! I was clinging so dearly to a life of rigidity that I missed out on the wonderful guy he is. I am so glad I have a chance to be friends with him now, because he’s an amazing guy. I’m so thankful that his new wonderful amazing wife shares him with me. I love you, Rick and I’m so sorry for all the time we’ve missed.
I had a tiny group of friends I was close to in elementary school and throughout middle school. By the time I was beginning high school, I was a full blown Jesus-freak and instantly above my girls. Now, even they would have to admit that it was probably best for me to have skipped out on some of their antics, I still isolated myself from them for years. We have reconnected since my separation and what is true about the best of friends is true about these ladies — it seems like we haven’t missed a beat. I love you girls and I’m so glad we’re in each other’s lives again.
Now it would seem, I suppose, that I blame my sabotage of my relationships on my Christianity. I do not. But I am certain that my marriage to my husband kept me tethered to a belief system and a way of life much longer than I would have stayed in it on my own. The truth is that I fantasized about being out of the ministry, about being out of my marriage and the judgmental family I’d married into. I loathed the thought of bearing children with that last name who would be tainted with a world view that was so far from anything I’d ever read in the Bible. I longed to redeem the day I chose to give my life away for his.
I was in my junior year of college when I started dating Ex. I distinctly remember walking past McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland College Park. I was standing directly in front of the bronze statue of Testudo, our mascot, when I said to myself, “If I’m going to be a pastor’s wife, there is no place in my future for law school. If I’m not going to law school, there’s no point in taking this constitutional law class.” I then made a sharp left, went down to the Mitchell Building and dropped Con Law. I will forever remember this day as the day I lost me.
I did go on to marry Ex and to be a pastor’s wife. I eventually became his assistant pastor. I loathed our lives most days. I felt like I had very little choice about my life’s direction. I felt geographically tethered because of the church. I felt professionally tethered because of our church. I felt relationally tethered because of our church. I felt like I had no privacy. That my life was not my own. That I was living a lie and preaching something I half believed. Needless to say, I quickly began to resent the church and my husband. I asked for us to give it up. I begged to give it up. In fact, I was so caught up in the insanity that even when he wanted to give up, I talked him out of it and continued to resent both the church and him. My church was a very toxic church. I would venture to say that most churches are in one way or another. Ours was in a hundred ways.
I learned within the first 6 months of my marriage that my husband was a chronic liar. That rattled my wheels because, even if I didn’t buy Christianity as much as I pretended to, I really believed in his faith. Day by day I saw more and more of what anyone sees when they are with a liar–more deception, manipulation and the accompanying efforts to cover it up and keep the whole farce afloat. I lost respect for him by the end of the first year, for sure.
That was always his accusation against me–that I didn’t respect him. He was right. I did not, but not for the reasons he would say. I can only assume that he felt insecure because I have more formal education than he has. That never bothered me or cost him my respect. I love hard-working blue collar men, my degrees be damned. I didn’t respect him because he wasn’t respectable. If you will lie to your mother in the face of your wife, holy shit. What else are you lying about, Mister? Well, it took me many years to get to the bottom of it all — well to get close enough to the bottom that I decided I didn’t want to know anymore. Suffice it to say that he had a whole lot of shit going on. I decided to leave with my dignity and my health. I have never, ever regretted that decision and I don’t look back, not for one second.
Once I left I began to remember day by day that I had worth, that I mattered and that I was responsible to become my best self. I couldn’t do that in my marriage. It was toxic and we became toxic to one another. In the last 3 years I have enjoyed the thrill of discovering me, in some ways for the first time. I’ve found my voice. I am secure in my skin. I am living life on my terms and am so full of love and joy and peace. I used to be so pessimistic and, if you remember my early posts, cynical. Sometimes I fall back upon my cynicism because it amuses me, but I don’t depend on it anymore for protection. I have no question in my mind that I have become my own person and I own my destiny. I’m a rock star if only in my own mind. I love me and I love to call out the worth in other people. As I shine I long to see others let their light shine as well.
So, I’m at a turning point. I about to be single again. I am about to begin to entertain the idea of a lasting romantic relationship. I’ll marry the man I can’t imagine life without, should I find him. But I don’t feel like I need to marry ever again if I choose not to. My life is simple and peaceful without having to synchronize schedules, tastes or what have you. Sometimes I do want a simple good morning kiss. The kiss goodbye on my forehead while I was still half-asleep is one of my fondest memories from my marriage. But I will never marry again for the sake of being married. It’s not fair to either party.
If the judge were to ask me if I had anything I’d like to say before he pronounced his judgment it would be this:
Ex, I am really sorry that we could not agree on the truth about our reality. If there were a perfect way to end this marriage, for me it would be for us to both admit all we’ve done to ruin it, forgive one another and continue to be friends who just aren’t good as husband and wife. You know as well as I do that we are oil and water. We tried to force it way longer than we should have. You are who you are and I am who I am. Expressing those realities in a chaotic context, which actually hindered both us from being free to be ourselves, resulted in us both hurting each other deeply. I am sorry for the pain I caused you over the years. I forgive you for the pain you’ve caused me. I wish you well.
I sincerely hope that you find peace within yourself and that you find peaceful and loving relationships in which you can express the genuine love that I know is in your heart. In many ways I always found you to be a really good guy. I still remember those things about you, although it may seem I have forgotten.
I am happy today. I bet that looks like I’m happy to be rid of you but, honestly, my happiness isn’t about you at all. It’s about me. I’ve found me and I’m learning to live the life I was created for. I wish you the same, sincerely. Be well. Be blessed.
So, as much as I was bouncing off of the walls today with excitement, tears roll down my face as I write this. They are cleansing tears. I am so close to closure I can taste it. The time I lost is gone forever but the here and now is mine for the taking. I will approach my new life with passion and zeal always remember the lessons these 15 years have taught me. I am thankful to God for the opportunity to have experienced everyday of the last 15 years. Even my worst days have helped me to cherish the peace and joy I know is mine for the taking.
I am so blessed. I am so blessed. I am so blessed.
Namaste, My Friend. I bid you peace.
P.S. – How could I forget this?
A million-bazillion thanks to all of you who have loved me, supported me, encouraged me, fed me, counseled me, hugged be, housed me, laughed with me, at me, fussed at me, walked with me, cried with me, prayed with me, for me through all of this. Thank you and I can never express how much I love you for it. I would never, ever have gotten to this place of freedom without my absolutely, fabulously amazing friends and family.
To my family, I love the HELL out of each and every one of you. I love you so hard I can’t stand it. You have put up with me in ways no one else will ever know. Thank you for loving me when I was an ass and you couldn’t understand why. Thank you for hearing the whole story, all of the gory details and still loving me. Thank you for rolling up your sleeves with me and getting dirty as we started to deal with a bunch of family stuff I know I stirred up. Thank you for not holding all of my holier-than -thou~ness against me.
A special thank you to Ericka, Greg, Tania, Kwesi, Johnetta and Donnie. You guys gave me a place to lay my head while I figured it all out. I would not have made it without peaceful places to breathe. Thank you so much for everything. I love you all very much.
Thank you to all of you who’ve read my blog since 2005 and encouraged me through all of this. I have gained such strength from so many of you. If I begin to name you all I’ll forget someone, but at that risk–thank you Susan, Chani, Jali, Debbie, HDW, Elle, Tanique, Tanilan, India, Crankster, Macarena, Eslocura, RG, Island Spice, Gela, Andy (my next husband) and CP. You have all touched my life through your writing and sharing. I share this victory with you.
And finally, to the Academy…
…well, my time is up. Thank you.