I faced the copier. It was the Thursday before Labor Day. The machine was warm and humming under my hand. I heard the quiet swish of the machine in the workroom. I was numb from the painful summer that did not make me any better. I was tired from the chaos and heartache in my being. I was broken and numb but I was still there.
Sam walked in the door. His face was sunken in. His eyes appeared exhausted; they were worse than mine. His hair was long and sandy and wild and his thin frame was thinner than usual. I wondered if he had been sick all summer. My teacher coworker was thin.
“How was your summer?” I asked trying to be normal. We weren’t exactly friends but we were always polite.
Sam looked at me, hesitated, and then said, “She wants a divorce.”
“What?” My heart sank to my stomach. I couldn’t feel my face. I was horrified and sick and sorry for him all at once. The room actually started spinning.
“She told me last night,” he said. His eyes were wet. He looked so lost and dazed standing there. I pulled him out of the copy room and we wandered through the maze of school to his small office in the basement.
I sat facing him, surrounded by inspirational posters, pictures of Yoda, family portrait and papers. It smelled like pine and fresh leather basketballs. I brushed his backpack off the chair and hugged him.
We talked. He shared his story and after I listened, I talked. I shared about the affair and counseling. He was heartbroken and in denial. I was broken and weak.
We were both going through Hell and for the first time in the last six months, I felt like someone else finally got it. Someone understood the amount of pain and hurt and confusion swirling around in my head. We connected at the absolute worst and most crucial time in life and the thing is, this fucked up connection in the midst of divorce and pain and heartache made me realize that I would have other connections.
I understood that there was life after divorce and there were other connections out there for me to make with friends and family and men.
After saying out loud that we were trying counseling and that maybe we would work it out, for the first time, I realized how stupid I sounded and that I didn’t want to work it out. I recognized how low I felt and how small I was in my own mind. I knew that I deserved better and that being alone for the rest of my life was better than being with Ex-Husband for one minute more.
It was the end of my marriage and the beginning of my self-love.
Thank God I found a friend in Sam. He was kind and easy to talk to, and to be honest, I had a stronger and better conversation with him on that hot August day than I did with Ex-Husband ever. On that day, Sam earned my unwavering friendship. I vowed I would stand by him through his divorce and listen and be there. He gave me something I thought I would never have again; my life back and my dignity.
Sam probably walked out of school that day feeling more lost and confused than ever, but I walked away with my heart and a purpose for life.
I was going to take my life back. The ex-husband wasn’t going to have me anymore. I was free from his grip and I knew what I needed to do.