I trust you, God. I trust that you are in control of this situation.
Mr Ex started sending me emails about what he called “The Practical Stuff”.
He wanted the home phone line transferred into my sole name and credit card payment details changed to mine.
“When are you going back to work?” he asked via email. “We have bills to pay and mortgage repayments to meet.”
He also wanted us both to get lawyers. Probably a wise decision on his part, but it hurt. It hurt bad.
Then he arranged an afternoon for him to come by “one final time” to collect the remainder of his stuff.
I knew I had an army of friends praying for me. My phone was flooded with texts of support and Bible verses.
“I give the gift of peace to you – my peace. Not the kind of fragile peace given by the world, but my perfect peace. Don’t yield to fear or be troubled in your hearts. Instead, be courageous!” -John 14:27.
I was sitting at the top of the stairs watching the front door, expecting his imminent arrival and unsure how to act.
Maybe I should do something while I’m waiting? But WHAT?!
Flick through a magazine? Play Tetris on my iPad?
So I sat on the top step and prayed for peace. Praying that Jesus would wrap his loving arms around me and give me perfect peace. After all, Jesus is referred to in the Bible as the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6) so if anyone knows about peace, surely it’s Jesus.
Mr Ex’s car pulled into the driveway. So normal, and yet so strange.
This was my not only my husband, but actually my best friend as well as soul mate walking in the door. But we greeted each other by cautiously saying hello. No hugs or anything like that.
How sad. How truly, truly sad. That two people who once meant the absolute world to each other could get to a stage of coldly greeting the other like a stranger at a bus stop.
We made our way into the lounge room and both sat down. He was distinctly confident this time. He was willing to sit down, for a start. And there was an air of certainty in his body language.
“Essie, sweetheart, I’m not coming back.”
My inner voice screamed a deafening, Nooooo…..!!! THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT!!!!!!
And that was the moment that the Titanic slipped completely under.
I could feel the death inside me. I could feel the screams. I could feel the agony.
But there was also a serenity. A composure. That very strange juxtaposition of utter turmoil but complete peace. I call that Perfect Peace. It’s a powerful thing. Peace with simultaneous turmoil.
“…the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” -Philippians 4:7.
I think it’s that peace which allowed Corrie Ten Boom to assist many Jews in escaping from Nazi death camps and strengthened her to withstand imprisonment, Martin Luther to stand up to the corruption of an entire church hierarchy which was influencing a nation of people, as well as what empowered my great-grandfather to continue spreading the word of Jesus in a country that was murdering Christians.
I’m certainly not saying that I have any idea what any of that would be like. I don’t. Not even close. But I can see that the Perfect Peace that Jesus promises is a powerful, powerful thing.
“The mountains may move, and the hills may shake, but my kindness will never depart from you. My promise of peace will never change,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” -Isaiah 54:10.
Believe it or not, Mr Ex still wouldn’t reveal his girlfriend’s identity to me. And he still wouldn’t say where he was living. He did say a vague area, but didn’t want to be too specific. I think he was worried that I’d go around there and cause a scene. Or, perhaps more to the point, that my uncle would go around there. Ironic, really. Because I’d known their location, as well as Cosette’s identify, for what seemed like weeks. But Mr Ex had no idea.
Mr Ex said to me, “She’s decided to leave her husband, so I guess you can figure out what that means.”
What that means, hey? Happily ever after for you and Cosette??
I didn’t even have the desire to be angry. I just felt sad.
Not a bitter kind of sad. Just the soul-breaking kind of sad.
“Do you know who I feel sorry for in this whole situation?” I asked Mr Ex. He shrugged, probably expecting me to say my grandmother or my parents, who were all wounded by current events. But that’s not who I had in mind.
“Who?” he asked.
“Andrew.” I replied.
Remember, Andrew is Cosette’s husband. And I’d found that out thanks to Facebook.
Mr Ex was staring at me, most probably thinking, “How the hell does Essie know about Andrew? Does this mean she discovered Cosette’s identity?!” I can’t be sure what was going through his mind at that point, but he had obviously never revealed to anyone the identity of his lover, so I imagine the fact that I was able to refer to his lover’s husband would’ve startled him.
I like to think he shat himself.
But in true lawyer style, he kept a lid on his emotions. Mr Ex is a mastermind at keeping a lid on his emotions at the best of times.
“Yeah, Andrew’s a great guy,” he nodded.
I asked Mr Ex, “So you’re not a Christian? You’ve been faking it all this time? You deserve a Logie!”
He chuckled. “Yeah, I’ll have to address my beliefs at some point in life. But not now.” Then he laughed, “I’ll probably be in and out of a psychologist’s office for the rest of my life.”
“And you’re OK with that?” I questioned, showing genuine care and concern. He just shrugged and laughed.
We chatted. Some kind of weird parallel universe, out of body experience. A calm, serene and sound-mind version of myself who was able to chat reasonably and peacefully with Mr Ex. This wasn’t a stereotypical scorned wife and cheating husband talking.
“What did I do wrong?” I asked. “How did this all happen?”
“Please don’t blame yourself,” he emphasised, compassionately. “This is not about you. You were the best wife. I’ve just been unhappy for a very, very long time. And it’s my fault because I didn’t tell anyone and I didn’t talk about it.”
“Are you living together?” I asked Mr Ex, about his relationship with Cosette. Remember, I knew the answer. I had seen the answer.
“No,” he replied. “But we do spend a lot of time together.”
LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE!!!!
Lying to my face is obviously the new norm.
I had seen first-hand that they were indeed living together AND they had rented a flat together because she was transferring monetary payments, entitled ‘rent’, into his bank account. So, I think a blind mouse with his head in a tea pot could confirm that, yes, Mr Ex and Cosette are living together.
But I didn’t feel a need to challenge him.
And I didn’t feel any desire to shove the DVD-footage in his face or spitefully reveal the extent of my knowledge.
Granted, I could have. It was a golden opportunity. And it really does genuinely surprise me – even writing this now – that I didn’t feel the need to sting Mr Ex.
My natural vengeance-seeking heart would normally jump at the chance to burn the people who hurt me. But, this time, I just didn’t feel that.
“Do you love her?” I asked him, calmly. He looked back at me, tilting his head in an ‘I can’t bare to answer that question honestly so I’m just going to look pitifully at you’ kind of way.
“Right.” I whispered, realising the answer to my question.
So, that seemed rather final: My husband has fallen in love with Cosette. Not exactly sure why. No real reasons or definitely explanations given. He wants to be with her, not me. He doesn’t want a life with me. He wants a different life. Simple as that.
“Why don’t you hate me?” Mr Ex asked. “Why don’t you throw my stuff on the street or scream in my face?”
“Because I love you,” I replied, almost puzzled that he would think screaming would be my style. He was uncomfortable with my reply. He moved his gaze and looked out the window, avoiding eye contact with me.
“You’re not making this easy on me, are you.” He added, quietly.
Then we started walking around the house as he picked a few items that he wanted to keep. Just some things from his study, his clothes, a kitchen knife, and a Superman mug.
He also wanted the tent. So they could go on a holiday together.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME??????
OK, that stirred up some pretty massive emotions in me. There’s no way on earth that he’s taking our tent for them to go holidaying in. Just the thought of them getting down and dirty in our tent made me feel physically ill.
But, again, I managed to approach it peacefully.
“I can’t stand the thought of you and Cosette in that tent together,” I told him, calmly.
And he actually seemed surprised that I’d feel that way.
“Don’t dwell on it,” he replied with a rather large grin. Even a bit of a chuckle.
My natural response…
WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?
DON’T DWELL ON IT?!
WAS HE SERIOUS?!?!
DON’T DWELL ON MY HUSBAND HAVING SEX IN OUR TENT WITH HIS LOVER?!
OH, I’M SORRY – MY BAD! YOU’RE RIGHT, IT IS RIDICULOUS TO DWELL ON SUCH A THING.
AFTER ALL, IT IS TOTALLY ACCEPTABLE TO HAVE SEX WITH A MARRIED COLLEAGUE, SO SILLY ME FOR DWELLING ON SUCH AN INSIGNIFICANT MINOR DETAIL.
Yes, that’s the real me. And I’d be lying if I said that I ALWAYS go about showing grace to people who hurt me. Because, I don’t. The real Essie shows her face and I get shitted off, especially when I feel hurt or mistreated. The whole peace thing is a journey, not a destination. And some days, I’m better at it. Other days, I fail spectacularly. But, every time I relinquish that natural instinct to irk up, Jesus resurrects me to a new lease of life and peace.
And amazingly, in the moment, dealing with Mr Ex walking around the house selecting objects to keep, I had peace. Perfect peace.
He didn’t take the tent. I appreciated that.
After about 45 minutes, he had what he wanted and was ready to go.
He asked if he could give me a goodbye kiss me on the cheek. I agreed. He put his hands tightly on my shoulders. A quasi hug.
And then I hugged him. A proper, heartfelt hug.
And that was it.
Plot spoiler: I haven’t seen him since.
I spent the next couple of hours just sitting on the sofa contemplating the Titanic’s sinking and I listened to Laura Story’s Perfect Peace on repeat.
Tom and Samara came over that evening to pick me up. Mr Ex and I used to frequent Tom’s family’s monthly dinners. Tom and Samara were happy for me to still go.
Tom was/is Mr Ex’s best friend. When Tom started going out with Samara, Mr Ex and Tom were very keen for Samara and I to get along. And we did! Probably a bit too much! Because we actually became best friends.
Tom owed me no loyalty. After all, Mr Ex and Tom are long-time best mates. So really, Tom would’ve been completely and justifiably warranted in sticking by Mr Ex’s side and giving me sympathy from afar.
But, showing true humanity and unconditional love, Tom and Samara picked me up and took me for dinner with Tom’s family.
As I grabbed my handbag to go with them, I glanced at my rings.
A custom-designed trilogy engagement ring with three diamonds representing past, present and future. And a diamond-studded wedding band designed to fit perfectly around the trilogy ring.
The rings went on in true ceremonial style complete with wedding vows, 150 guests watching on, an elaborate custom silk gown with light pink bow, long pieces of tulle wrapped around chairs, and a veil embellished with Swarovski crystals.
The rings came off with no ceremony. No on-lookers. No amazing dress. And definitely no tulle-covered chairs. Just that juxtaposition of utter turmoil and perfect peace.
An indentation on the skin of my ring finger showed where the rings once majestically sat.
I put them on the kitchen bench and followed Tom and Samara out the front door.