“Court will call the case of _____ vs _____.”
I sat for almost two hours this morning before my last name filled in those blanks.
Every time I walk in the court room my heart stops. And then it beats again so loud I wonder if the people next to me can hear it.
As I sat there this morning in the stale environment of loves gone cold, I looked around. I looked at the courtroom filled with fragmented lives, and with each case called, my heart broke a little more.
Divorce is like an emotional bloodbath. The courtroom is a war zone. A tragic scene of shattered dreams, broken hearts and busted families. A complete dismemberment of our most sacred emotions. The longer I sat there, witnessing the destruction of each couple-which in itself feels like an awful jeering of the dignity and privacy of what’s happening in their lives- I quietly mourned the loss of the dream for these families.
The ripping apart. The frigid, angry space that now stands between them where there once was love. My heart ached for the children involved and the pain they would endure as a result of this emotional death. And then I realized that I’m not just a witness to such travesty. I’m a participant.
This is my life.
I’m waiting to hear my name called. To approach the bench as others silently watch the demise of my love. To place my soul in the hands of a judge. To hand over the most valuable and sacred thing I have to a “system.” A system that operates like a well oiled machine, void of all emotion and feeling, numb to the story behind the faces; the lives behind the case number; and the beating, vulnerable hearts behind the stiff bodies.
Until I’m forced to face the reality that this is my life and I’m living my worst nightmare, I tend to walk around rather stoic. People ask how things are going and I have no emotion as I respond, “We’re doing pretty good.” The truth is, things are pretty good…until I remember what lurks in the distance and the fact that this life I tried to create with a man I loved with my whole self has blown up in my face, leaving me with nothing but the aftermath.
Each morning on the day of court, I get dressed as I prepare to face all my greatest fears. I scan my clothes as I try to select the perfect balance of professional class and subtle sexy. Why? Because layered atop my stoic stance and brave shield, just two layers above my shaking and twisted insides, must be a delicately prepared image of the dream he lost. As if looking and smelling really good will cause him even a sliver of the sting his choices have caused me.
I don’t think it works. The devil isn’t swayed by beauty and delicate scents. But if nothing else, it helps in my attempt to have my trembling insides match my strong outsides. It helps prepare me for the battle and to remember who I am. That unlike my husband, what you see on the outside does match my heart, even if it’s bleeding and shaking a little more than I let on.
I often wonder if I’m surviving on strength or numbness. Court day reminds me it’s a little of both.
There’s nothing pretty about divorce.
I stood there today, my husband and I bookending our attorneys serving as the wall between our hearts, in front of a judge who knows us as a case number. A judge who, while she cares about the well-being of children, doesn’t know my children. She doesn’t know my story. She doesn’t know the truth behind each and every lie my opponent has fed his lawyer and the court.
She doesn’t know that my heart wholly belonged to this man. This man who has no relationship with the truth and no capacity for genuine love. This man who simultaneously gave me the greatest, most precious gifts of my life and broke my spirit into a million pieces. This man who prides himself on scheming his way out of responsibility and cheating the system, just as he cheated and schemed his way out of our marriage. She doesn’t know that I poured all I had into this man, and now fear him and his influence over my sons lives more than anything in this life.
It’s surreal to sit in a pew, heart pounding out of my chest like a caged prisoner, with the man I devoted my all to sitting behind me, feeling complete fear and anguish as I wait for the judge to decide one more piece of my future because he and I can’t do it on our own. To know that on the other side of the wall that’s been built between us lies nothing but deception.
But the most unbelievable part is that this bloodbath I’m in now is just a continuation of the emotional massacre that was my marriage. The same ache I felt then continues on today, only parts of it are worse because the truth of who he is has been revealed and I can no longer shield my eyes and pretend it’s not true.
Added to it now is the lack of control I have over his influence on my sons when he has them in his possession the standard “every other weekend and Wednesday.” My inability to protect them from the pain of his choices and my obligation to surrender my all to him once again.
It often appears that the devil wins. He’s always one step ahead. He knows the tricks, he invented the games, and he makes the rules. But in these times of uncertainty and fear, in a battle against the enemy, I have to remember that although evil often wins in the short term, good prevails in the end. Love may not have won in my marriage, but I know with complete assurance love wins in life.
In the interim, I will wait. I will trust. I’ll will my heart to beat again in the presence of this emotional death. I’ll place my sons and my heart in the hands of God knowing that He is the redeemer of all things and He is in control. I will stand in the face of the devil, strong and brave, confident that the ultimate warrior is on my team. And even when the sting of evil laughter pervades the walls we’ve built, I will stand knowing God’s word is true and that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Some day, it won’t be an unknown judge calling my case. It will be God. My abba father, who knows my heart and holds my story. Who will hold us all accountable to every action, both good and bad, and who has nothing but me and my son’s best interest at heart, despite the fact that my husband never has.
Maybe I’m not just numb. Maybe I’m strong after all.