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Live, Laugh, Love Again
By Michelle Borquez Connie Wetzell Rosalind Spinks-Seay Carla Sue Nelson
Warner FaithCopyright © 2006 Michelle Borquez, Connie Wetzell, Carla Sue Nelson, and Rosalind Spinks-Seay
All right reserved.
Chapter OneFacing the Unthinkable-Shock "For with God nothing will be impossible." -Luke 1:37 NKJV
Feel like you just got run over by that train? That chug-achug- a-choo-choo steam engine of D-I-V-O-R-C-E that hits you hard right in the chest, then finishes the job by nailing your caboose? We-Michelle, Rosalind, Connie, and Carla-have all been stranded on those tracks, and we want to start by sharing our stories with you. Through our stories, we learn from each other-to live, laugh, and love again!
Women, by nature, are the story tellers, the collectors and keepers of memories (good and bad!) and traditions. We women are the ones who scrapbook (or at least collect the supplies to do it someday). We are the ones who write the Christmas newsletters every year. And we are the ones who hang little Olivia's latest artistic rendering on the fridge. We want to show the world our story (and it doesn't hurt that Olivia's stick-figure rendering of Mommy is oh-so-flattering: always skinny and with hair that's truly blonde).
What we're saying is that women live and breathe the details of life. Think about the difference in the way men and women give directions. Men tell youabout north and south and rattle off street names and mileage estimations. The only landmark they might note is a speed trap anywhere along the way.
For example, a man would say: Take I-65 North, exit Veteran's Parkway to Centerpoint. Go left for approximately 8.6 miles. Be sure to really stop before turning; there's a motorcycle cop hiding out. Turn southeast onto Bonita Parkway, and you're there.
We women tell the story: Okay, you know the road that Sam's Club and Target are on, right? Take that and go through lots of red lights toward Gallatin. Pass McDonald's on your right, and keep going past the park where the boys play ball. After you pass Wal-Mart, turn right, and you're there. If you go past the cute little consignment store with the really good stuff (which has an extra 25 percent-off sale going on right now) and the YMCA, then you've gone too far. Oh, and speaking of discounts, did I tell you Jackie can get you an extra 15 percent off at Ann Taylor? Yes, an extra discount on top of the clearance price, yada, yada, yada ...
You get the point.
Our stories are like landmarks that highlight our journey through life. When you hit a rough crossing, it's nice to look up and see signs that remind you you're not the only one to have come this way. It is comforting to know others have traveled across these same hills and valleys and have returned to tell about them.
The freight train of divorce may have already hit you full force, and you're busy pulling the pieces of your life up off the tracks. Perhaps you have already made progress on this journey, coming to the realization that divorce sucks (You go, girl-acceptance is good!) but that it's survivable. Or perhaps you are caught under the weight of the train this very moment, or feel it barreling down upon you, and you know there is nothing you can do to stop it. You are crying from the pit of your stomach and don't even recognize the sounds coming from your throat. You are empty inside ... utterly hollow. You feel terminally ill, as if you are dying.
You will get through it. The feelings are sheer agony, but you will crawl out from under that train. You might feel as though you're in pieces, because half of you has been ripped away. That's okay. Even if you are the one driving the Divorce Train, the actual process at some point will feel a little like open-heart surgery without anesthesia. For when marriage occurs, the Bible says that the two people become "one." And you can't split "one" without spilling blood on the tracks. But you can and will keep moving forward. At some point you will face the shock that life as you knew it is over and begin to realize that now you must find a way to regroup and move on. Here's how it began for us:
Carla "Happy Mother's Day!"
That's right, for me it was Mother's Day, two weeks before our ninth wedding anniversary, when I first heard the words, "It's over." I had packed my best nightie and flown up to where my pilot husband was to "surprise" him. (Guess who got the surprise?) I knew my marriage was on rocky ground, and I wasn't really happy after being together for fifteen years. (We dated for six years before our marriage.) But I had no idea how unhappy he was.
I had come from Nashville to Chicago just to spend the night with him during his layover between flights. The airport was nearly empty, and it was very late. I had been waiting for hours, but it didn't matter because I was really thrilled about surprising him. As he walked up the Jetway and I saw him standing there in his flight uniform, it took my breath away. It was the same feeling I'd had the first time I caught sight of him when he was sixteen years old and stood at attention in his Air Force uniform at a Civil Air Patrol meeting. My mind whirred as I acknowledged this weekend was exactly what we needed to rekindle those feelings we'd first had for each other so long ago.
My sappy dream state quickly snapped back to reality as I realized my hubby was not exactly thrilled to see me. How did I know this? Well, the reception was not exactly warm. He hesitantly walked over to me and, in an annoyed tone, asked why I was there as he quickly ushered me down the terminal and away from his coworkers. Then he abruptly said he'd left his cell phone on the plane. I stood there giddy and smiling like a complete idiot while he went back, supposedly to retrieve it. I just didn't get it. I had a romantic evening on my mind. He definitely did not.
We walked from the airport to his crash pad. A crash pad, for those of you not familiar with airline pilot lingo, is a house or apartment pilots share in the city they are based in so they have a "home away from home," a place to "crash" after a tough day of flying. It was not humorous at the time, but now I can laugh as I think of how ironic it was that the "crash pad" would be exactly the place where our marriage "crashed." (Hint: You can laugh at this, too, and at anything else you can. It will help balance all the tears.) I couldn't put my finger on it, but he was definitely acting very strangely. He had been this way for months, but I just thought it was the pressure of training and starting his big new job with the airlines.
You could cut the tension with a knife as we sat down in the living room of the thankfully empty house. He picked a single chair, and I lounged on the sofa, wondering all the while why he was not joining me. I knew I looked okay. I had recently lost nearly fifty pounds (pounds I had put on in the process of having our daughter and son) by working out at the gym, push-mowing part of our five-acre farm, and barely eating. I knew we'd had a tough couple of years with new babies, building a house, and job changes. So I was now very anxious to start our evening of romance in my new skin. The thought never entered my mind that I was going to hear the words "It's over" come out of his mouth.
But that's what he said. He was not a "talker," and that night was no exception. He just sat there and said, "It's over." For a moment I didn't even understand. Then it hit me that he meant our marriage. With those two little words, I felt like my heart had been carved out of my chest. I couldn't breathe; I felt sucker-punched.
At a moment like that, a thousand things go through your mind: Is he gay? Cheating? What is wrong with me? Surely, we can find a way to work it out? When I asked him why, his answer was simply that he didn't love me anymore and that he wasn't sure if he had ever loved me. Wham! Another one to the gut.
I didn't think I could hurt any worse. I was obviously mistaken! A blurry memory of a white dress and glowing candles in a little church flashed into my mind. Then the tears started as I thought about our history and all that we had built together-a home, children, dreams, sacrifices I'd made for him. Now he was calmly saying it was all for naught? I sat horrified at the thought that my babies were not conceived in love.
Despite our rocky times, I had never doubted I loved him. And I'd never thought I would be hearing otherwise from the man I had built my life around. Everything I was, my very identity, was wrapped up in him and his flying. Our wedding cake had said "Copilots for life" on it, for heaven's sake! One of our baby announcements claimed that our "aircraft company" had released a "new model with a wingspan of 191/2 inches and a gross landing weight of 8 pounds, 3 ounces, with full-screaming throttle." Now all of that was suddenly gone.
No matter how long you have been married, divorce is the death of a covenant, a dream, your family. It is the end of a season of your life. It can feel like the end of your whole life. I begged and pleaded and asked my husband why. He said the news shouldn't come as a shock since he knew I was unhappy, too. I thought about that. About how frustrating it had been to see that even when he was home from trips, he didn't seem thrilled to be there and was often on the computer or talking on his cell phone in the backyard. I remembered all of the fights over the previous year and the horrid things I had said trying to "shock" him into wanting to be with me and the children instead of taking on extra flights. I had even used the "D" word (Divorce) myself in describing how miserable I was and how lonely I felt.
I guess he couldn't take the hysterics and begging, because he retreated to one of the bedrooms. Frantically I tried to get a grip. I slipped into my nightie and did the best I could-with puffy eyes and post-nasal drip from uncontrollable crying-to seduce him, thinking that would make everything all right. He turned away from me as he had in the past, especially in the last few months. I sat there in the dark, alone, crying myself to sleep, and thinking of my shattered marriage and my precious babies at home. They were just two and four, and I knew this "crash" would affect them for the rest of their lives. Happy Mother's Day to me!
As I boarded the earliest flight out of Midway Airport the next morning, I absolutely could not stop crying. I was completely numb, and the tears just kept falling. I barely recall my husband making a halfhearted attempt to board the plane. The flight attendant must have felt sorry for me when she saw that I wasn't even paying attention to my running nose, because she provided some tissues.
CARLA'S LIFE LESSONS The Shock Stage
When you are delivered a wounding blow like the words, "I want a divorce," your first reaction may be to curl up and die, to wander around in a daze, or to just sit and wallow. It's okay to do any or all of those things-in fact, it's normal during the shock stage. The trick is to get up and go on. Work on turning your focus outward. Keep a schedule and routine so that your shock and grief don't become isolating and overwhelming. Consciously make that effort, as impossible as it may seem, so that you can eventually concentrate on the important things you'll need to do.
I was lost in my memories. I remembered the vacation we had taken with my husband's parents a few months earlier. I had felt like I was in Las Vegas with a stranger; it was obvious he was uncomfortable even then. While his mom and dad were out grooving to Wayne Newton, I had thought we might stay in and do some "grooving" of our own in the privacy of our own room. Let's just say that didn't happen. He left the hotel room to get ice so many times I though he might be trying to build an igloo in the desert.
You would think this would have been a red flag to me, but it wasn't. And it was pretty much the same at home. Now it was clear to me my luck would not change, even in Vegas. I thought of how he didn't even want his picture taken with me at Hoover Dam when his parents offered. Sitting there on the plane, crying my eyes out and thinking of all this, I started to wonder how long he had been planning to tell me. Then my thoughts turned again to our sweet babies at home: How on earth could he do this to them? Their innocence would be lost forever.
I had a car at the Nashville Airport but could barely walk, much less drive. Thank the Lord for my sweet angel friend Melissa. She left work and picked me up as I tried to figure out how I would ever be able to pick up the pieces of my life.
Connie "Fred Finds Wilma"
For me, it was Father's Day (What is it with holidays?), a day that started out beautifully and ended up as the worst day of my life to this point. I was left with a bullet that landed in my heart and created a hole that can never be filled again. The bleeding has finally stopped, but the hole is still there. (At this point you may be thinking, This chick watches way too many "Mafia" flicks, but this is the truth as I remember it.)
I was driving home after spending a week away, taking our older daughter to do her internship. The drive home was lovely. The sun was shining brightly, and I was eagerly looking forward to seeing my husband. He had called me several times during that week, and we'd had good conversations, all ending with "I love you." When I got home, as I was putting things away and going through the mail, I noticed that he seemed particularly quiet and deep in thought. He was watching some sporting event on TV but didn't seem very interested in what was going on. He was distracted.
I felt bad because it was Father's Day and I had wanted to cook him a special meal, but I arrived home late in the afternoon. So I told him I'd take him to dinner at the restaurant of his choice. After dinner, I suggested we go have coffee. He said he didn't feel like it. I immediately knew something was really wrong because he always wants coffee. I asked him what was going on, and he said we needed to talk. (Hint: This was a red flag! Most men do not enjoy talking!)
My heart sank. He'd had a physical three days earlier. I thought he was going to tell me he was sick with some terminal disease. No, I'm not just being a dramatic Italian. What he told me was actually worse. I never could have conjured this one up, even in my over-imaginative mind.
What he said still seems so surreal. We sat in the car, and he proceeded to tell me of an old high-school sweetheart he'd been e-mailing for the past three months. While I was away, he went to see her. During the one week that I was gone, he decided that he no longer loved me but instead was in love with her. He also told me that he had been unhappy with me for the last ten years or so, that he was planning on leaving me anyway, and that now was a good time because our kids were grown up and we wouldn't have to deal with custody issues.
I was shocked at this admission because I'd never known he was unhappy and literally had not seen any signs to prove it. I was also confused, because just three short weeks before, he had taken me on a romantic weekend getaway to a bed and breakfast where we discussed our five-year plans and dreams. In short, until that moment, if I'd had one million dollars, I would have bet every last dime of it on the security of my marriage. I say that just to give you an idea of how shocked I was when he laid this on me. I totally did not see it coming!
Now I heard the scream of the whistle as the high-speed train hit me. Then my mind tried to reason it away: This won't last. This is just a phase-a midlife crisis. We can fix this. He's just gone temporarily insane. After all, we have been married for twenty-six years. We can't just throw that away.
It was so not fair! Our two girls were grown, and the younger one was just getting ready to move out. It was finally going to be our time to be alone and rekindle our flame. Well, he was rekindling, just not with me!
He said it was only our musical backgrounds that brought us together. That we were too young when we married. That we got married for the wrong reasons. And that after all these years, we'd grown apart. (Sometimes, I think there's a book out there called How to Dump Your Spouse because it seems as though the lines are always the same, doesn't it?)
He told me about conversations we'd had in the past that I did not remember the way he did.
Excerpted from Live, Laugh, Love Again by Michelle Borquez Connie Wetzell Rosalind Spinks-Seay Carla Sue Nelson Copyright © 2006 by Michelle Borquez, Connie Wetzell, Carla Sue Nelson, and Rosalind Spinks-Seay. Excerpted by permission.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
this is a must have if you are going through a divorce. I was helped so much by the authors of this book. I realized I wasn't alone in my feelings. The authors sympathized with me but also didn't let me stay down. They gave me some practical steps to begin my new life. I am so thankful to these women! They showed me that life will go on!
I am currently going through a divorce. The authors relate to your feelings, expressing you are not alone, getting through day to day emotions, and get living again in a new way. Life goes on differently but you will survive! Great book!!
This is an excellent book for newly divorced women. Loved the stories from 4 different perspectives, the encouragement was uplifting. It is a gentle reminder that you are not alone in this heartbreaking situation - God is right there with you, lot of others have been where you are now. But the book help one see that after a divorce you will "live, laugh and even maybe love again.
Reading this book is like having a shoulder to lean on. You name it in divorce, and these ladies have been through it already - and are surviving. Even though this is a christian book, they are not "preachy" and they don't sugar-coat divorce. This is the perfect combination of telling the dirty mess of divorce, but keeping you uplifted so you can get through it. Most divorce books are of the legal mess, laywers and how to get your affairs in order. This is nothing like that. THis is pure emotions, real stories, and how you can survive.