London, 2006, the new beginning began.
Oh what a sordid story this is and could have been. My motives, my wishes, my desires... all that could have transpired. What was I thinking? All I wanted was The Great Escape... freedom from a life that was killing me.
Leave it to God and the cosmic jokesters in the world to let my first solo- trip to London become the re-birthing story.. one that placed me among strangers who wanted to send me away.
2006 I was in a miserable state. It had been over 5 years since I last had sex with a husband I couldn't stomach. I was on heavy doses of antidepressants and I was taking diet pills -- doing all the things I needed to do to feel better about myself. I was working part-time at a local store, where the other girls liked to talk about dating, drinking and sex. I was in my mid-thirties, with four small kids, looking at my life asking: WTF did I do to myself?
My therapist and friends at the time said I needed to do something for myself. I was too depressed, and I needed to make significant changes. After much discussion and reflection, I decided it was time to contact a lawyer and see where my life was going.
I told my story, and the lawyer looked at me and could not believe a woman in the 21st century was still living like it was the Victorian Ages. We talked for well over an hour. I left crying, but feeling better. I was so embarrassed... so ashamed... I felt stupid because I had to be told my marriage was NOT how a marriage should be.
Divorce scared me. I had no support; I had no family; I had no parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins to help me or my kids. I was an orphan... an orphan with no real job (I gave up my nursing career to be a SAHM)... an orphan with four kids... an orphan with a ship-full of baggage no one else wanted.
I remember needing a "spiritual sign"... a Message from God telling me it was OK to terminate the marriage that should never have been. I went to my books and dug out my bible.
I remember reading in one of books (2 Corinthians, I believe....) that marriage was approved by God, but it was not an order He expected everyone to follow, because according to God, it was best NOT to be married. Basically there was something about the many sins lust can bring, so sexual beings who wanted sex were better off married than free to roam and fornicate with others. In other words, marriage was made for those who wanted a lot of sex. [That was my interpretation.]
Marriage was approved; but it was not an order.
In my family, marriage was an order, subject to parental approval. The sick ironies were not lost on me especially since there were so many commandments written about "thou shall not covet; thou shall not steal, thou should honor"... but not one commandment said "thou must marry." I remember reading something about "What God puts together, let no man put asunder (break)"... and I know that made my whole Afamily take-on the belief that it was against God to end a marriage in divorce. But I of course always saw God's Rules and Requests differently. In my mind, the "thou shall not break" was a warning... like it was wrong to break the bond created between mother and her child... the one God chose for her to birth. The warning being: you break it, you pay.
Anyway, I saw the rule of marriage was a man-made rule, one approved (not ordained) by God, so I saw the spiritual loophole that said, "It's morally OK to divorce the asexual FDH" .
I promptly went to the bank, withdrew the $3000 lawyers retainer-fee and told FDH that night, "I'm filing for a divorce".
He was furious. Not because I wanted an end... because he very much wanted that too... he was furious because I took "his" money out of "our" joint bank account without asking permission. That money was to pay the mortgage, not my divorce lawyer.
So I caved, and returned 2/3 of the money, keeping $1000 for myself. I decided I needed a trip "away", so I could think. I decided I needed to go where FDH would never want to go. I decided I wanted to go to the land of unwanted orphans... the land of Oliver Twist... the land of Jane Eyre. England is where I wanted to be.
FDH was so relieved his money was returned, he helped pick out the hotel in which I would stay when I arrived at London.
I don't think he really expected me to go.
I had never gone anywhere or done anything alone before. I was a travel-virgin on Virgin Atlantic, and damn it, I was giddy. I was even making plans to visit a man I wanted as a lover.
My three days in London were one big fiasco.
FDH did the currency exchange for me, so he traded US dollars for euros, not pounds... not a huge problem except I was travelling on Good Friday, and coming back the Monday after Easter Sunday. Not many places I went to accepted euros, so I felt very stupid and hungry. I refused to walk the streets carying a map (God forbid I should look like an American Tourist in the UK....) so I got lost and walked around a very large London for 8 hours not knowing where the hell I was, or how to get back to the hotel. The lover I planned to meet wanted nothing to do with me, so I could not have felt any lower than I did when I was walking alone with no money, no company and no sense of home. That was just my first 12 hours of a 3 day holiday.
I had no idea what to do with myself, so I assumed a role. I pretended to be a writer, and I took scraps of paper with me to the hotel bar and buried myself behind my thoughts and pints of beer I could charge to my room. [I was so proud I came up with that brilliant plan!]
I sat and wrote and wrote and sat and drank and drank and drank. The bartenders and manager of the wait-staff liked me because I made small jokes, smiled, and told my pathetic story, hoping there was soup that could be served to me, even though it was well past 10 pm.
The next day it was more of the same. I was trying to look and feel brave, but I really felt so alone, pathetic and STUPID. I tried to will myself to eat in a pub, but I was just too self-conscious. How could I walk-in, sit, eat and remain alone? Other people can do that. Not me. I hurried back to the hotel like it was my home and I gathered more scraps of paper and a pen and took a corner seat in the elegant bar where all seemed safe and right again. The bartenders seemed happy to see me, so I told more of my stupid stories, and felt such deep affection and appreciation when they told me they could get some soup for me. My rum and cokes were no longer in a single glass--- there were being served just like I liked them -- one glass rum, one glass coke.
All was comfy and quiet in my little corner. Then an odd thing happened. The night manager came up to me. She was the walking definition of a burly handsome woman. I was worried about the soup and the rum... (was that going to get me in trouble?)... instead, she asked me what I was writing about, (I had all my papers in front of me) and I told her I was starting a book about abused adoptees. [What else was I going to write about?]
She sat down and we talked for hours. She too was an abused adoptee and could not believe someone else in this world had such similar stories to tell.
When it was time to return to the states, I tried everything in my power to miss my plane.
London had become my birthplace and the hotel had become my home. Complete strangers were kinder to me than any member of that family chosen for me. How could I leave?
I sobbed and sobbed because all my efforts to be left behind got thwarted by a hotel staff that was determined to do its job (and send me onto my next travels).
I got on the plane and drank and drank and cried. Many hours later, as I flew over Newfoundland Canada, I remember thinking: the only reason why I could not stay (and find work as a nurse and find a place to live in London) was because of my kids.
I realized, no child should have to wonder why mommy did not come back. No child should have to wonder, "what's wrong, why doesn't mommy love me?"
No child of mine was going to be just like me. I had a responsibility, and I had to honor it.
I'm still legally married (we agreed to the non-divorce divorce until I can afford to pay half the kids bills and live on my own). I'm still a retard when it comes to traveling and being alone. However, that trip gave me the turn-around I needed. I left the states a child who had children; I came back a woman... a mom... who realized she has so much work to do for herself and her kids.