After my October 8th burning ceremony, I felt a bit better. It is amazing what a little pyro- therapy can do for the soul. I decided to take that “better” feeling, slow down and reflect on what had happened the last nine months. I first turned to Gina and Lisa for a girl’s sushi night. This had become our tradition, and it was our favorite form of group therapy- with sake! I then turned to Sabrina, my therapist. She was proud of me for burning my wedding photos and also felt it was good therapy. She was also proud of me sending an email to my husband’s family. Though it had been a few days I had not heard back anything from any of them, funny thing was, I didn’t care. I didn’t write the email for a response, I wrote the email for me. I hadn’t spewed anger at them; though I had plenty of it, it wasn’t my goal. I basically said that I would spare them the ugly details, I wished things had turned out different, and I wished them all well. The End.
Though my life was fun and seemed exciting from the outside, and much of it was, I was lonely. Intensely lonely. I had become an expert at avoiding my feelings, pretending everything was ok and getting on with my life – but if I was honest, that feeling had not gotten me very far. The reality of my situation started to settle in, like really settle in this time. Ever since the one-year anniversary all I could think about it is, “it was one- year since…” this or that.
At work, we were all preparing to head to the east coast for the New Hampshire pageant orientation. One-year prior I had gone to the New Hampshire pageant orientation the weekend after my wedding. This event was already on the calendar when we sat our October 8, 2011, wedding date. We both agreed it was best to put off our honeymoon due to our work schedules. In fact, the day after our wedding we flew to Las Vegas for a work conference that my husband needed to attend. Literally, twenty-four hours after my wedding I was at a cocktail party on my new husbands arm schmoozing and playing the supportive Mrs. Married Woman. Two days after we returned home, I barely had time to unpack and head to the airport before I was off to New Hampshire. This was a normal life for us; we both often traveled and had adapted to our mutual hectic schedules over the past several years. It hadn’t always been easy, but we found our groove. At the time we were more focused on getting married, not a fancy trip.
So it was settled the weekend after the wedding I was heading east, and my husband was speaking at a work conference in Napa. He was a bit nervous for his speech, but he was so charismatic I knew he would do great and charm the room in an instant. I kissed my new husband curbside at the airport and was off. We kept in touch throughout the weekend via text and brief phone calls. The three-hour time difference made it difficult but we made it work, we were newlyweds after all.
We spoke right after his speech and he told me how well it went, he even sent me a photo of a wine label from the bottle he was celebrating with at the dinner. Since moving to San Francisco, we had started to enjoy wine much more often so whenever either of us had a special bottle we would send the other a photo of the label. It was our way of saying, “wish you were here.”
He spent the weekend, what should have been our honeymoon, networking and entertaining. I spent the weekend working with pageant girls and parents, proudly showing off my new wedding ring. Though the trip was going well, I had so much guilt for having to go to New Hampshire. I had walked down the aisle less than a week ago and here I had flown off, leaving my poor husband to be on his own. I felt like a terrible wife. He reassured me that it was fine, it was going to be mostly men at the conference anyway he said. I felt slightly better but still would have much rather been by his side.
What I would later learn is that my husband spent the weekend in Napa at the conference but not alone, with Katy. When I discovered his other life through her Facebook page that day in January I found that she had posted the same photo of the wine bottle he had sent me on her page with a comment about how delicious it was and how much fun she was having in Napa. That stung.
From then on when people would ask me about our honeymoon my canned smart ass response became, “no we didn’t take one, well my husband did, he just didn’t invite me.” Needless to say, we never took a honeymoon.
During my next session with Sabrina, I told her I wanted to step up the work I was doing. I, of course, thought that if I could speed through the“therapy” steps and really dive in, I would be back to my old self that much quicker. I now realize how crazy that sounds, but it made sense at the time- speed therapy.
After we talked it through I started dating less, and though I was still in my bad habit of recycling, I decided only to spend time with those that made me feel good about myself. In LA that not always easy, but I was lucky to have supportive friends.
The one person, man, I knew I could still rely on was Rick. Rick and I had stayed close and I felt close enough to him to tell him everything. All the dates, the drama, and my feelings… which I shared with almost no one but Sabrina. I kept thinking that if I pretended I was ok, I would eventually actually be ok. Fake it till you make it…right? This act might have eventually worked in the long run, but it wasn’t working in the current. Rick could see the semi- self-destructive path I was on, and I think he stayed close and put up with my over-sharing to make sure I didn’t spiral out of control. He was always honest with me and is still an amazing friend to this day.
Finally, decided to take a full break from men, which, let’s be honest, lasted all of about 15 minutes, but I was busy at work which kept me focused. We were only a few weeks away from our first pageant of the season, and things were starting to get hectic. I began staying later and later at the office. I no longer liked being alone in my apartment, so I was going home late and left early each morning. I went back to the gym and decided to do whatever I could to get myself into a better place. Sabrina told me to be a bit selfish; that is what I planned to do. I realized how much I was doing to make everyone else feel better about my situation or at least to reassure them that I was doing okay. I had to stop, I pretending had become to exhausting and though other might not be as comfortable with this new side of me I really didn’t give a shit. I had to start taking care of me again.
Sabrina thought it was important that we discuss the five stages of grief and loss, that after all is what I was dealing with when you broke it down to the basics: 1. Denial and Isolation 2. Anger 3. Bargaining 4. Depression 5. Acceptance
At this point, I was in stage 3. Bargaining. When you feel helplessness and vulnerability, you have a need to regain control. I needed to regain control of something in my life- anything. The hardest part was I didn’t even know what I was trying to regain control of. During this stage many people try to give the marriage one last-ditch effort, this was not going to happen in my case. I defiantly had zero desire to give my marriage another try; I just wanted to give my life another try. The life I had before I ever met my husband. A life I recognized as my own not one I was watching from the outside. A life that I wanted to move forward in and stop hiding under the covers and behind my sadness.
I did eventually get a response to the email I sent on October 8th, to my family in-law, eight days later. The response was exactly what I expected; brief, empathetic, and final.
We never spoke again.