The next morning, I woke up numb. We both got up and followed our routine as normal. I watched him get in the car and head to work that day without a clue if he was coming back. I’m not sure how I made it through the work day. Thank God I work from home, because there was not much work getting done.
I followed routine and started cooking dinner that afternoon. It wasn’t until I was wrapping up the cooking that I stopped. I put my hands on the counter, faced my head down and realized, there’s probably no one coming through that door to eat this food I’ve prepared. How would I ever get used to preparing a meal for one (and two little ones)? No one would come through the door, relieve me of the afternoon chaos of kids, sit at our table and gratefully eat the meal I’ve prepared. I’m not the best cook in the world. I’m actually getting better at it now. But he was always so thoughtful. He would tell me all the “good” about the meal and reassure me that, I’m getting there. Not quite at his mother’s level, but I was getting there. And that alone was reassuring. But today, his chair would be empty.
I texted him and asked him if he was coming home. I told him I had prepared a meal out of second nature and that he was welcome to it if he planned to come home one more time. He said he was. He didn’t really have anywhere else to go, yet. Dinner was silent. I didn’t see it coming, but it was the beginning of very long year of silence. (To this day, we can’t look each other in the eye. I can’t look at my husband in the eye).
He stayed for the rest of the week. I had a trip planned to go see my best friend out of state so he decided to stay with the kids at home until I returned. I will never forget that rainy morning when I pulled out of our driveway. I was holding in the tears. Something in me knew this was the last time I would leave my husband with the kids – at home. Somehow, my precious daughter knew things weren’t right. She didn’t want me to leave. I didn’t’ want to leave them. She was in tears. I looked at my husband, and the look on his face told me I was not allowed to cry. I was to hold it in and avoid any emotion because we didn’t want to affect the kids, of course. For the first time, I was told to hold it in and forget that my world had just been torn apart. This was all going to play out his way and I was to follow his lead.
I drove two hours South. I survived a friend’s wedding that weekend. Perhaps it could have offered some hope that happy re-marriage exists. It didn’t feel very happy. But I held it in. After my stay with their family, I was to fly out to my friend’s house out of state. The moment I arrived, I dropped my luggage and fell into the arms of my best friend. Everything I held in that weekend came out on the curb of that airport arrivals driveway. What else do you do when your husband leaves you and you’re scheduled to attend a wedding a few days later? You hold it in. That’s what you do. And then, you lose it when you’re finally in someone’s arms.
I was gone for a week. Within that week, he managed to reconnect with the same man who pulled him away from me a year ago. The man he gave himself away to as his pregnant wife sat on the couch at 11pm, wondering why a workout at the gym could take this long. His full force dive into the world began and there was no one holding him back. I was destroyed. I was helpless.
At the end of that week, I had no idea what I was coming home to. Would his bags be packed? Would he already be settled somewhere else? Would there be divorce papers? I had no idea how fast he was going to move with this. But when I walked in, all looked the same. He hadn’t moved a thing. His clothes were still in the closet. There were no boxes. He did however share that he would move to his mother’s house five minutes away within a day or so.
The next few months, I learned the beginning ropes of single motherhood. I would prepare and drop my children off every morning to school and daycare. (Mind you, daycare was at his mom’s.) And on the way, I would see my husband’s car, driving to work from his mom’s. I looked for him every morning. In a weird way, I looked forward to seeing his car every morning. It was almost my only connection to him. That was the only time I would get to see my husband who I missed so much. I was angry at him. But I missed him. I wanted to see him. If I wasn’t allowed to hold him, I just wanted to see him.
No woman ever knows what they’ll feel and how they’ll react when their husband tells them they want to leave. We like to jokingly warn about “every horrible thing we’ll do to this man if he were to leave me,”…until he leaves. Until your world is ripped from your arms and every female fiber of your being wants to save everything you’ve ever known. No matter how much betrayal or how much rejection, you just want to save your family and save your husband. No one will ever get that until they are in these shoes. No one.
Those first few months, I pleaded with God every morning. I pleaded with Him to miraculously open my husband’s eyes and bring him home. But little did I know that I was just at the beginning of a long year of a hard lesson on “free will.” It rocked my world. It made my whole Christian faith feel like one sick joke. It forced me to understand how God really works. It forced me to question this God who’s will would never be divorce, yet He lets someone choose it freely. I questioned a God who hates divorce and quietly watches America turn it into an acceptable, every day family thing. I was walking into a year filled with questions. But, there was also a year of favor ahead of me. Yes, lots of pain and rejection. But lots of favor too. He’s just mysterious that way.