Being back in LA was a much more difficult than I had expected. Work was crazy, I had about 100 hours worth of things to catch up on in the next two days, I was fighting jet lag, and to top it off I still the ten plus unanswered voicemails from my lawyer, every time I looked at my phone to see if Andrew had text me I was reminded of all the unanswered calls. My lawyer was old school if I didn’t answer the phone when he called he would leave a message and then instead of waiting for me to call him back he would call every hour until I picked up or my voicemail was full. I am told by my father, that this is the best and only way to reach me as well but I plead the fifth.
That day I called my lawyer back and he had news, the Los Angeles Family Court had finally assigned my case a court date, September 11, 2012. My stomach dropped, I wanted this day to come so badly yet I was complete terrified it would come. I also found the date a little troubling but just kept telling myself that this is what I had to do to get on with my life.
When I had been home for Labor Day, the week prior, my mother offered to come to LA once I got a trial date. I insisted that I didn’t need her help and though I appreciated the support I kept telling her I would be fine (she saw right through me, but was also trying to give me space). The was my favorite phase at the time “I am fine!” It is what I told everyone, including myself. I thought if I repeated it enough it would become true. I had friends in LA that would be with me in court but as the day got closer I started to grow more anxious, it dawned on me that I was going to see my husband face to face. My best friend and business partner talked to my mom almost daily to give her updates on how I was doing, I felt like a mental patient on watch, everyone was waiting to see when I would break but I know he was just trying to put her mind at ease.
As the date grew closer I was prepared, I had spent a solid 24 hours when I got back from Portugal gathering all the info that the other side had requested, in addition to what I had already sent them, and poured over the documents so I knew everything by heart.
It wasn’t the hearing that was making me nervous as much as seeing my husband. I hadn’t seen him since before that day in June when our therapist told him I wanted a divorce, actually, I didn’t even see him that day. I sat and tried to think of the last time I saw him and couldn’t remember. We had text when necessary but rarely even spoke on the phone. This would be the first time I would see him face to face in months. He was still asking me to reconsider the divorce because he still thought he had a chance to win me back. Having to deal with that fact over the phone and text was hard enough, the thought of being in the same building and coming face to face with him was unimaginable.
As the day grew closer my rock star sister called me often to check in. With each call, she could hear the escalating nerves in my voice. The trial was on a Tuesday and when she and I spoke with her on the prior Saturday I broke down, I couldn’t be strong any longer and I finally admitted I wasn’t “fine.” I really didn’t know how this was all going to happen, I was falling apart. By Monday night she was in LA and we were having a cocktail. I was beyond thrilled she came to support me, now would she be able to refrain from calling my x nasty names? Probably not, and I was okay with that.
The morning of the hearing I got up early, showered, shaved my legs, used my Joe Malone body cream (it had been a birthday gift from a girlfriend and I only used it on special occasions), took extra time blowing out my hair, even added in a few single false lashes. I decided that even though I was a messy ball of nerves on the inside I would not look like a mess on the outside.
The biggest question for me was what would I wear? I finally decided on a black dress that I had in my closet, It was conservative yet stylish and not too tight. I wasn’t sure what was appropriate for a divorce hearing when I got divorced the first time we never went to court it was all done through our lawyers. I figured that since it was the death of my marriage black was very appropriate, divorce court/ funeral… same same. I looked in the mirror, stood up tall and thought “you only have to get through today!” My sister asked me if I wanted a drink, she is good like that. I decided to pass and told myself that after today, this part will be over and everything will calm down. I kept focusing on the fact that at the end of the day I would be well on my way to getting my divorce finalized. I would be a free woman and all of this would be behind me!
As we walked into the courthouse I started to sweat. Just being in a courthouse makes me nervous but luckily I had my own cheering section! My friends and my sister were on high alert; we knew we could run into him anywhere. As we got into the elevator I began to perspire, even more, I just kept repeating to myself over and over, “you only have to get through today, you only have to get through today.”
We exited the elevator and saw him sitting on a bench outside the courtroom. My stomach dropped, my heart stopped, suddenly my legs felt like they were cast in concrete. I stopped in the hallway, the horrible beauty robbing fluorescent lights beaming down on me and suddenly I couldn’t move. My posse lined up behind me, it was very Charlie’s Angels, he turned and saw us as my lawyer called out my name. We made eye contact and then he looked at everyone behind me. Suddenly he needed to use the men’s room and quickly disappeared. For a brief moment, I felt bad for him. He didn’t have anyone at court with him, it dawned on me how alone he was or appeared to be.
When he came back we were all still sitting waiting for our case to be called and his lawyer had shown up as well. My lawyer was a friend’s father and had handled a lot of LA divorce cases- plus he was giving me the friend discount. My husbands’ lawyer was a young-ish, very seriously, not a well-kept woman. She wore a pantsuit if that tells you anything about her personal style, very Hilary. Suddenly the tension was just so awkward that without saying a word I decided to go speak to him. He saw me get up and walk in his direction so he also got up and walked toward me. I could feel everyone’s eyes on me like a laser, waiting to see what I would do. Suddenly he was coming in for a hug and before I knew it we were hugging. For that split second, I closed my eyes and breathed in deep. The deep breath was me trying to calm myself down but when I inhaled his smell a flood of memories came flooding back like a slide show playing in my head. Finally, he spoke, “how are you?” “Great, I am great!” I said back with a fake smile plastered on my face. “Oh, that is good. I am have not been doing so good, I miss you like crazy.” He said. His eyes were hollow and he looked pale. For just a split second my heart sank. After everything this man had done to me; the lies, the other women, the betrayal… for that second I felt bad for him. I knew this is not the outcome he envisioned either and for years I loved this man, deeply. Suddenly, more than ever, I just wanted this over with. We were both in so much pain, it wasn’t good for anyone.
Finally, our case was called and we all went into the courtroom. As my lawyer and I entered last I grabbed his arm and leaned in and said: “let’s just get this over with, I don’t’ want to drag this out.” The look on his face was a bit surprised but from my tone, he could tell I wasn’t kidding.
As I sat there in front of the judge we all stood and my lawyer went first asking for a speedy and fair process. My husbands’ lawyer spoke next, “We request the hearing be postponed. We only received the financial info 24 hours ago and have not had the proper time to review it.” She stated. What? What that hell was she talking about? I had prepared all the financial records a month ago, before I left for Portugal, how had she only had it 24 hours? I shot my lawyer a look that bordered between confusion and a death stare. The judge was not amused either. My lawyer started talking, mostly stuttering, about how the records were sent to the wrong address and it was a clerical error. WRONG ADDRESS? This was brand new information to me, I was boiling mad.
The judge, as irritated by my lawyer as I was and as he rambled on, cut him off. “We will reconvene December 4th at 8 am.” “WHAM” the gavel slams down and I just sank into my chair. WTF just happened?
It wasn’t over, it wasn’t even close to over.