As I have shared with my readers before, I am divorced. Was divorced but not anymore. Wait, what?
“Well, what had happened was…” In September, 2013 I was legally still married to my ex husband and the divorce was pending. It actually had been dragging along. I was using one of those paralegal services that prepares documents for you but I still had to take them to the courthouse and have them filed myself. I initiated the divorce after a long separation and much prayer and Christian counsel from my pastors and ladies in the Women’s ministry at my church. I had filed reluctantly once before but I couldn’t pull the trigger when it came to filing the final documents. I needed to ask God more questions and seek Him again. I wasn’t sure if this was what He wanted me to do. Well, God did answer my questions in a way that I never expected.
The Turning Point
One night in July, 2012 I was at home with my kids when I saw headlights in my driveway. There were two guys on my porch saying they had my husband in their truck and he was very drunk.
“Excuse me?” is what I said. My ex hadn’t lived with me since 2010 and I had never seen these guys before. How did they know to bring him here?
“This was the address on his driver license so we brought him here”, one guy said.
I stood there at the door still baffled. I looked at the big black Chevy Suburban sitting in my driveway with the engine running. The windows were tinted black and I couldn’t see inside. I made on of the guys bring me my ex’s wallet before I would consider stepping off the porch. I didn’t know that he was really in the truck with them. And considering the fact that he cheated with a married woman whose husband and son wanted to go upside his head, I wanted to take every precaution. Somewhat satisfied by the wallet, I closed the door behind me and walked out to the truck. There he was in the back seat- lit.
This man weighed over 200 lbs and he was beyond drunk. He had never had a drinking problem at all so I was at a loss as to how and why he got that way. I knew he had been at a boxing match with some of his coworkers and new friends. He had asked me to go with but I said no. One of the reasons I said no is because I didn’t like the person he had become since meeting these people. I really didn’t like him very much at this point in my life. I started to tell them to take him to his mom’s house when I noticed my kids looking at us from the window. I started to feel guilty about them seeing me turn him away. In all my cowardice I told them to bring him inside. He threw up twice before they made it to the front door. They let him collapse on the couch. I told the kids to go to their rooms. One of them asked me what was wrong with their papa. I didn’t answer because I didn’t know what to say. After they went to bed I took my infant daughter and went to my room. I was livid.
The next morning he burst into my room saying, “How did I get here? What happened?”. He looked terrified but he woke me up from a dead sleep at 6 am so I had no sympathy for him. I told him to get out of my room and we would have that discussion when I woke up. Later he asked me for a ride downtown so he could find his truck. He was delivered to me without his phone so he couldn’t even call anybody to find out where it was. I told him to take the bus and go look for it. He did that.
While he was gone I had to tell my two oldest children the truth. They just sat there shaking their heads. My son surprised me by saying, “You should have told them to take him to Grandma’s house”. I felt relieved because that was what I really wanted to do in the first place. I’m always worried about my kids thinking I’m selfish or mean. I don’t know why. I let that man in my house because of it. I didn’t want to disappoint my kids or lose even more respect for their papa. Then God spoke to my heart and said, “You are not responsible for how they see their father. He is.”
That was my turning point. I knew that God was telling me that it was okay to end the marriage. There were so many other things that happened and my children were along for the ride. I knew I had to protect them and to let God protect us all.
I made it my mission to stop being a broken family and just be a family. I took the kids on outings and field trips. We had a weenie roast after a nice drive along the coast looking at the city lights and crossing the St. Vincent Thomas Bridge in San Pedro. We started having Taco Tuesdays and somehow they convinced me to join Instagram. I developed a new bond with each of my children. Slowly but surely the laughter and lightheartedness returned to their little faces, and to mine.
I was alone on weekends and the kids were with their papa at his mom’s house. Being the introvert that I am, I was perfectly comfortable in solitude. I would read books, catch up on sleep, and go to museums- alone. I am a HUGE boxing fan but I don’t have any girlfriends who share this trait so I started attending fight parties at sports bars- alone. Hell yes! I would put on my jeans and my leather jacket and go! Of course, a woman sitting alone in a bar attracts attention. I did enjoy the attention for the most part but I had no desire to meet a man. I was a newly single mother of five kids and I was scared to death at the thought of getting to the point on a date where I told a guy how many kids I had.
Me: I have five kids
Guy: Um, I can’t. Please lose my number.
Ok, that never happened but that was the scenario I chose to torture myself with. Even though many guy friends had told me that that would not scare a good man away, I felt like I would have to wade through so many predatory liars who saw me as a desperate single mother who could be easily conquered. I didn’t have time for that.
Happily Single While Married
As I was saying at the start of this post, by September 2013 I was borderline single (whatever that means) and not looking to mingle. I did long for companionship at times, like when my favorite band came to town and I didn’t have anyone to go with. I joined millions of single women in hating those Robbins Brothers engagement ring commercials. I dated a couple of men but I was so uncomfortable that I couldn’t let anything get close to being serious. I felt tremendously guilty because I was still legally married. My divorce was dragging on and I didn’t have the money to hire an attorney. I felt like I was sinning by dating, even though the marriage was physically over. I decided to wait. I pouted and cursed my conscience. My ex was even in a relationship but he had also walked away from Christianity. It’s not that I wanted a lover because he had one. I was complaining to God because I was angry that I seemed to always be expected to do the right thing while everyone else was free to do as they pleased. I was stuck in limbo being single and married at the same time. At least, that is the way I saw it.
God kept showing me Proverbs 23:17, “Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always be zealous for the fear of the Lord.”
and James 3:14, “But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth.”
I was at a point where I was just starting to explore who I was as a woman and an individual. Not as a wife or a mother, but as myself. It was hard because I had lost myself in all the years of caring for other people. I forgot about all my own interests, hobbies, needs and talents. I was so surprised at the amount of things I didn’t know about myself anymore. At the same time it was interesting to introduce the old me to the new me. I was still going to counseling and to church. I wanted to be the best me I could be. Being in pain had brought out some of the ugliest parts of me and I took it all to God. We began working on me. In my heart I carried the promise I made to myself, that I would let God choose a husband for me and help me to not screw everything up. I asked Him to take my heart for safe keeping and to only give it to a man who deserved to have it. I said this prayer on what was probably the darkest day of my separation period.
Ladies, and I cannot stress this enough, ask everybody you trust for help in your divorce journey. Notice I said TRUST. At a time like this in your life everyone will have an opinion and give unsolicited advice very freely and without any kind of tact. I think most people mean well but you have to be careful because some of these people are trying to correct their own past regrets through you. One lady might tell you to stay in the marriage because she divorced years ago and secretly regrets it. Another woman will tell you to run like the wind because she stayed in a bad marriage for too long and regrets all the years she wasted. This kind of advice really has nothing to do with your situation and isn’t even given with your personal situation in mind. Keep your eyes open and pray about EVERYTHING.
A girlfriend of mine kept in touch with me on a regular basis. She always checked on me to see how I was holding up and to listen if I needed to talk. One day she told me it was time for me to ‘get back out there’. She told me she was doing online dating and told me to try a particular site that was free.
“Oh hell no! I can’t do that!”
“Why not? It’s better than meeting random guys on the street. This way you can filter and screen people and decide who you want to talk to. It’s very controlled.”
My mind was all over the place. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ever be married again. Most of the time I didn’t. But a lot of times I did. Every time I felt a longing for a mate I would punish myself with flashbacks from my first marriage. I would chastise my heart for being weak and for considering making room for love. Then the question of whether I was single or not kept popping into my brain. Being betrayed does things to you. One of the things is it makes you doubt your own judgement. I finally decided that I think too much. I asked God to forgive me if I was doing the wrong thing in my confusion.
I thought about it for a few weeks and then finally ended up downloading the app on my phone. I answered a gazillion questions about myself and filled out a profile. I hesitated to upload a selfie. I spent some time browsing through profiles and ended up having some good laughs. A lot of the guys were such predators that it was in every aspect of their profile. One man uploaded his wedding photo and blurred out the bride’s face. I guess he really liked how he looked in that picture. Other men had pictures of themselves at clubs with drinks in hand, some flanked by other girls. I remember thinking that this was a bad idea. I made a plan to stick to my requirements for a man and then uploaded a picture. I went to sleep that night feeling anxious.
I woke up in the middle of the night and picked up the phone to check the time. There was an alert from the dating app. It said I had 19 messages. As I sifted through my inbox I deleted all the messages that included comments about my body. Then I checked the profiles of the remaining men who messaged me and deleted all the ones who were not Christian. I replied to the 2 or 3 that were left after all that and had small talk. Very boring. One of the guys I had deleted was super active and liked to ski, run, etc. and said that he required a woman who was the same. I’m not that girl. I pointed that out to him after he sent me a second message. He said he was willing to overlook that for me. Gee, thanks. *Delete*
Then I got a message that someone had looked at my profile. I looked at his profile and went straight to the section where he stated his religion- Christian. I looked at his pictures and was immediately drawn to his eyes. He was a handsome man but that wasn’t it. There was a kindness in his eyes. I stared at his picture for a long time and then continued on to read his profile. He was 43 and divorced with two grown children who lived in his house in Washington state. His company had recently relocated him to California. He had not sent me a message and I thought it was because we were complete opposites in some ways. He was a country boy and I was a city girl. He was laid back and I was tightly wound. He was white, and I was black. ‘Never’, I thought. He would never date somebody like me. I would date someone like him in a heartbeat. As a matter of fact, I had written about him in my journal. Not him, but a man like him. I was writing about my ideal husband. I made a list of traits and qualities: Christian, a little older than myself, country, laid back, patient, transparent, honest, dependable, handsome. And here he was right before my eyes, or so it seemed.
He looked at my profile, again. I got another notification that he checked me out. Why wasn’t me messaging me? Was he shy? Did he just like to look at my picture? I looked over his profile one more time very carefully and then decided to send him a message. He replied! And then the hard part. It was do or die. I told him I had 5 kids and waited nervously for his reply. I wanted to put that out there right up front to test his intentions. I was proud of my beautiful babies and if he couldn’t stomach the thought, *Poof* Be gone! Yet, his reply was simple.
“Wow. Big family :)”.
That’s it? No alarm bells or anything? While I was trying to be honest I hadn’t told him the whole truth. My profile said I was divorced but I was married. I could have chosen to ‘separated’ but I didn’t want anybody think I was still undecided about my marriage. I didn’t want to choose ‘single’ either because I didn’t want to mislead them into thinking I had never been married before. I made what I thought was the best choice. I told him that my divorce wasn’t final but I assured him that I had indeed filed. He was understanding but he was firm when he said that it was important to him that my divorce be finalized.
We talked about our faith. We had many questions for each other in the messages back and forth. It wasn’t at all like an interrogation. It was pleasant, revealing, and even funny at times. I don’t know why but I felt comfortable revealing myself to him. I had no worries about him running game on me or trying to satisfy some twisted fetish involving black women. He didn’t ask me about my favorite color or what kind of music I liked. He wanted to know about my relationship with God. He wanted to know why my marriage ended At the end of our messaging dance he gave me his phone number with no pressure to call. He didn’t ask for mine and I didn’t give it to him. I needed to sleep on it.
I called him a few days later. He sounded pleasantly surprised. We talked for hours. I learned that he had two grandchildren. I thought about how I would be an instant Grandma if I married him. We talked and texted all day for a few days. I had a new friend and it felt good. Still, in the back of my vulnerable mind I had my fears and my doubts. Why would such a good man want a woman like me? A woman with 5 kids and heavy baggage. He said that he divorced his wife because she cheated on him with a man who he thought was his friend. How did I know he wasn’t lying? Of course, I prayed on it. I was not going to make the same mistake again. I had asked God to protect my heart and I did NOT want to get in His way. My new friend asked me to meet in person for a breakfast date. I agreed right away and picked the time and place. Saturday, September 7, 2013 at Jim’s Burgers, 9:00 a.m. sharp.