It seems like such a given, right? Husbands asking wives out... except that in July I told my husband I wouldn't go on dates with him (unless he wanted to attend the Temple together). It's a boundary that helped me feel safe. I didn't want my marriage, so why invest?
As I sat in the aftermath of The Great Bucket of Water to the Face, I found myself ring shopping. I didn't understand it, but I didn't fight it either.
Was it because I finally saw reality and was okay with moving forward with it?
Was it because I work primarily with men and find myself missing the protection a ring has to offer?
Was it because I'm a girl and girls like shopping for shiny things?
I don't know. I just felt okay looking for rings, so I did.
This year -for the first time ever -I read Anne of Green Gables. As I read it, I was a little freaked out because I related SO much to Anne. Her talking, her INCESSANT talking, her imagination, the way she romanticized everything right down to her reflection. Reading her thoughts was like frolicking through my Little Girl brain. Of all the Hollywood relationships, her love and then marriage to Gilbert Blythe is one of my favorites. Their time together is fraught with misunderstanding, fights, caring, compassion, thoughtfulness, encouragement, competition, and every other REAL emotion human connection has to offer. Gilbert believes in Anne and encourages her to pursue her dreams and develop her gifts. Anne feels the same way about him. As they begin their life together, Anne sports a delicate gold ring with a pearl on top. Why? Because she had envisioned diamonds to be the most romantic gem in the world... right up until she saw one. She was so disappointed that she never got over it. It wasn't what she thought it was going to be. She insisted on a pearl ring.
As I thumbed through images of rose gold rings with champagne diamonds, I somehow stumbled into an etsy shop full of delicate rings. One stood out, fairly screaming at me... delicate, gold, single pearl on top.
And that's what I want.
My current wedding ring is still broken, and I have no plans to put it back on. ever.
I left home Saturday morning -the "morning after" -and came home Sunday noon-time. I spent my Saturday morning on a massage table and my afternoon rifling through antique shops.
My drive to the city is usually riddled with anxiety and white knuckles, but as I drove over icy roads and through holiday traffic, I was unfazed. I'm terrified of car accidents, but on Saturday I thought about what a welcome relief one would be. It would stop time. No one checked into a hospital for a car accident ever keeps track of time. Life slows down, people feed you, your children are taken care of. And you don't have to do anything but focus on letting your body heal.
As the massage therapist worked her steady hands into my flesh that morning, her soothing voice became almost bossy, "You have no choice but to take care of yourself physically. The stress... the stress has done so much damage. Can you feel me working heavy burdens out of your body?"
Answer: Yes. The most wonderful "ouch" ever.
As the sun went down behind the San Francisco Peaks in the city, I called the owners at my favorite Bed and Breakfast and asked if they might have -by some wild chance -the room under the stairs open.
The Harry Potter Room, they like to call it, though it's actually the house's old pantry room.
I could feel in my gut I needed to get stay away from home for the night, but I wanted a small room... a quiet room in an actual house where there was limitless hot water and a thick robe and complimentary chocolate milk.
Three years before when I'd hit my own rock bottom, I holed up in a tiny room at a Bed and Breakfast and wrote in a journal and cried and prayed. This trip was to be no different.
Because tender mercies are very REAL, The Harry Potter room was available. I poured myself into the red sheets and wrote.
The night after The Bucket of Water in my Face, I dreamed of a woman... she was standing on a barren street corner in a dirty wedding dress. She was a shell of a woman who once was. She was getting ready to be married again, but she had no feeling left, no love, no purpose. I tried to tell her that she was strong. In reply, she walked me down a hallway filled with memories of her first marriage. There was a table adorned with her tastes: colors, flavors, styles. There was a wedding cake. There were snap shots... each one featuring a beautiful young bride with bright gleaming eyes.
She didn't feel the same about them anymore... her memory of her own past had been altered.
As I sat in bed with my chocolate milk by my side, I felt like the girl from my dreams. She was a sort of modern Miss Havisham in her own right.
But my pen gives me power of expression, and I used that power to take my memories back. I went through each memory that had been taken from me and I took it back. I wrote myself a list of advice... a general guide for what I should have done.
Ask more question about this and that.
Insist on better medical care.
You are not a fix.
I went into detail in each paragraph of advice, telling my old self how to do, what to do.
Don't ditch class.
Buy him gifts that are not sexual.
Don't have sex on your honeymoon.
Go on organized dates with no sexual agenda.
As the words poured out of me, I was angry. It was unfiltered, righteous indignation. The guilt that normally prevents me from honest anger was not allowed in the Harry Potter room.
The next morning, I woke up on my own before 6 am. I stepped into the shower and set the water as hot as I can stand it (boil a lobster has always been my default shower setting). I sat on the shower floor and let the hot water and steam cleanse me. Water, both literal and living, has been on the forefront of my recovery journey. After I'd soaked and steamed and cleansed for long enough, I wrapped myself in a lovely thick robe and climbed back into bed.
I put the pen to paper and once again wrote my truth. My angry words from the night before were a few pages and a hot shower behind me...and I wrote an unexpected invitation.
"I finally truly see reality, and as I face it with wild desire to escape, I welcome you into it. My bare memory walls need to be filled... I am going to be hard to live with for awhile as I exert my voice and give reign to my inner core... and with that, I issue an invitation... you come too."
And so it was with nervousness in his voice that he called and asked me on a date.
Lots of couples can go for five months without a date. It seems like no big thing, just another Wednesday night, right?
But for us -tonight -we are starting over.
It's a delicate pearl ring and Robert Frost kinda thing.