“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”

-Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

Noticing a picture of Drake’s wife, Lindsay, on his phone, I asked him how long it had been since she passed. [Insert sound of exploding bombshell here!] Unable to hide my shock, my jaw dropped and my eyes bugged out, when he said that his wife had passed away less than 2 months before! 

There was no way he was ready to be dating, in my opinion! Nope. Not going to happen. And I told him as much too. I asked why he was dating so soon. Drake assured me that he and Lindsay had talked about it for years and that he felt ready. 

 

Drake Journal Entry: “I decided to get back to life and find someone with whom I could share the rest of my earthly life.”

 

He told me about Lindsay’s battle with cancer and their struggle. Through those four years, they had talked several times about what should happen if she passed. She made it very clear that she wanted him to remarry. I could tell she loved him very much, knew him well, and wanted him to be happy. 

Drake told me about the glorious times they had together and how incredible she was. There were polar differences between my difficult, failed marriages and their amazing, eternal marriage. Listening to Drake share his experiences with Lindsay, I found myself wondering how they had done it and what had gone wrong in my marriages. I listened intently to see if I could find the answer.

Telling Drake about my life would show him that I wasn’t the kind of girl he was looking for. So, right there with the milkshake, I told him about all three of my failed marriages with the short version of why I thought they had ended in divorce and my about my three businesses that were struggling. I told him that I had decided to quit dating, after this date, and would never get married again. Also that I had started the process to change my last name back to my maiden name and would never change it again. Add to that the experiences with spirits on the other side of the veil I had already shared…. There is no way this would ever go anywhere because we wanted different things and had completely different life expectations. 

 

Journal Entry: “I have come closer to my Heavenly Father, and my testimony has grown. I believe this has been out of total desperation as I have slowly felt my life drifting away.”

 

While sharing stories of my past, he never flinched…. or took his eyes off my mouth. Couldn’t he see that I was almost exactly the opposite of what he was looking for? Quite possibly, he should have freaked out and thrown his hands in the air while running out of the restaurant screaming; leaving me with no ride home. I fully expected my past would scare him so much that he wouldn’t date again for a very long time. There was no way he could fall for me, so he might as well just know it all. Then we could go our separate ways, and neither of us would ever look back except to say, “Well, the ice cream and conversation was good anyway. It was a great first and last date!” 

Another hour or so passed, and as we wrapped up the essential overall stories of our lives, the sun started to set. It was an enjoyable, easy conversation because I knew I could just relax and totally be myself, and Drake was engaging and shared some amazing experiences. My daughter and her friend once again came back to pick me up. But, we were still deep in conversation. We could have talked all night long, and we almost did.

I jokingly mentioned that Drake could take me home and we could watch a movie. I did need to get back home anyway since my other daughter had a blind date coming over and I didn’t want her to be there alone. Maybe Drake could come, and if the kid turned out to be a loser, Drake could use his drill sergeant voice or give him “the look” to get the kid to leave. At least for once, I wouldn’t be alone to meet my daughter’s date.

To my surprise, he agreed almost before I finished what I was saying. I was totally joking and fully expected him to say there was no way he would come over. He would drop me off, and that would be that. He didn’t strike me as the kind of person to go home with a woman on the first date! But, he did.

When we arrived, my daughter was sitting on the couch. Her date hadn’t arrived yet. We picked a movie and hunkered down on the couch to watch. About half an hour into the show, her date showed up. Yep, he was pretty much a loser. But it was nice to have a man there to shake his hand firmly and let him know, non verbally of course, that if he got out of line in the slightest he would be in a world of hurt.

Pretty soon, the living room started getting cold, so I stood up and said, “I’m cold. I’m going to grab a blanket. Does anyone else want one?” We had a stack of blankets in the room because it was the lower level and was cold most of the time.

That’s when Drake says, “You should hold my hand. I’m hot!”

My daughter and I looked at each other and broke out laughing so hard we could barely breathe! He sat there with his hand still in the air, looking from me to my daughter and back with a look of confusion on his face. A few seconds later, he got it and he tried to back peddle, “No! No! No! That’s not what I mean! I mean, my body temperature is hot, not that I am hot!” It was pretty obvious that he was super embarrassed. It was hilarious!

Grabbing a blanket I sat down and held Drake’s hand. It was hot! His body temperature was probably 20 degrees above mine. I warmed up very quickly and noticed that he was shaking like a teenage boy on his first date. It cracked me up! 

 

Journal Entry: “I don’t know my own heart. I’ve been in love so many times that I feel numb to it.”

 

I was totally myself with Drake. I didn’t care because I figured it was our only date anyway. Drake was happy and laid back. I was sure he couldn’t really always be “that” happy, but it turned out to be a fantastic evening, and a lot of it had to do with the light I saw in his eyes. 

Holding Drake’s hand felt so right. Our hands fit perfectly together, and it felt so good having someone like him sitting next to me. He was so respectful, more respectful than most of the other men I had dated. He was fun to talk to, and he had a lot of his own captivating experiences. We seemed to have the same sense of humor, and it had been a wonderful evening.

With every minute that went by, I began to feel a little sad that I wouldn’t see him again. I wished someone like that could have loved someone like me a long time ago! Then I wouldn’t have been where I was that day, alone with three divorces behind me.

When the movie was over and the kid was gone, I walked Drake outside. We both had our hands in our pockets as we stood looking at each other on the porch. After the failed hug at the beginning of the date I wasn’t about to try to hug him again and he was definitely not the kind of guy who would kiss a girl goodnight on a first date. That was okay with me. There was no way I wanted to be the first woman he kissed after his wife’s passing. Plus, I thought he wasn’t into me anyway. He could get his first kiss with another woman, making him one step closer to being ready to date again. Someday…. but I knew it wouldn’t be me.

It was interesting that I didn’t feel his wife with us on our date. In the past, whenever I dated a man who had a wife on the other side, I could feel her spirit there, and it was very awkward. I had been feeling so many spirits around every person I met recently that I fully expected to feel Lindsay. But she was very clearly not around.

Watching him walk away, I thought, “Sweet guy! I’ll never hear from him again.” He had a great body and I did like to watch him walk. At least my last date was a good one with a great guy! A guy who was almost everything I had ever wanted in a man. Too bad I was done dating.

 

Journal Entry: “I need someone I can rely on and lift me for a change. Someone who is willing to take care of me!”

 

That night as I went over the date in my mind, I considered what Drake had had with Lindsay for the last 30 years. Our lives had been so different. Drake had a good love story to tell. A love story that I had never experienced myself. A fairytale love story that you only hear about in books or movies. I had always dreamt of living a love story but had failed at it three times. I wasn’t about to make a fourth!

I missed him already. Holding his “hot” hand that night was still on my mind as I fell asleep…. Curled up in my red chair.

 

* * * * * * * * * *

 

A short six hours earlier, I had leaned on that same chair, crying as I screamed at God, “Are you done with me yet!” Oh, how different things were now. My spirit had been lifted! I felt peace in my decisions for my new future.

My red chair had been a comfort to me for several years. A few months before I had left for North Carolina, I had purchased it at a discount store. I didn’t really like the color when I first saw it, but my daughters talked me into sitting in it. It was a $900 chair on sale for $200, and money was tight. After sitting in the chair, I felt compelled to go back and get it for a few days. Finally, I did, and it barely fit in the back of my CRV. 

Once I got it back to the house, I realized it fit perfectly in the corner of my room. I set up a small table and lamp next to it and sat in it every morning to study my scriptures. Whenever things got hard, I found that I could sit in the chair and feel some kind of peace there that I couldn’t explain. I read in a book once that furniture can feel, and it certainly felt like that was true when I was sitting in my chair. 

It was tough to leave it in Utah when we left for the summer. We had left it at my daughter’s house, and she said she even felt sad when she had to give it back. The first thing I wanted to move into our townhome was my red chair.

When I think of all I had been through in the past, I would often wish I had it earlier. I wonder how it could have helped when I went through some of my other difficult times. If it was helping this much during my darkest time, my breaking day, could it have helped before? 

On my breaking day, I felt like there was no hope at all. I had felt the unlockable prison doors many times long before, but I had survived those days, even without it. Sitting in my red chair felt like a warm hug to my soul.

 

Journal Entry: “I know Cooper is going through something, and I realize that part of that is probably my fault. He should be able to come to me so we can work things out. Help each other. We should be best friends, but we aren’t. He won’t talk to me or even look at me. I can tell he is annoyed with me and disappointed in all I am and do or not do. I feel lost. I am confused, sad, angry, worried, disappointed, tired, humble, weak, low, broken… I feel like I am the only one in this relationship most of the time. I am very selfish, I guess, because I want to talk and spend time together. I just don’t know how to deal with everything…. I will keep doing all I can and pray for help.”

 

Imagine two people walking hand in hand across a vast field through mud that comes up over their knees. If they hold hands, lift each other and help each other, they will make it across the field. It won’t be easy, but they can do it. However, if one of them sits down in the mud and won’t help, they will never get anywhere. The one person still pulling cannot lift the other and carry them through. If both people are pulling, pushing, lifting, communicating, supporting, working, and trying hard together, they will make it across the field. That is what marriage should be like. Somehow, I believed Drake and Lindsay had accomplished crossing that wide field together and were more in love than before they started. It seemed like a miracle to me!

That’s not what my marriages had been like. Sometimes I wondered which one of us was the one in the mud or if, at times, we were both in the mud. There is no question I wasn’t perfect in my marriages. However, I can say that I desperately wanted all of my marriages to work, and I worked hard at it. 

The lessons I learned through the years changed me over and over. During and after every marriage, I took a good long look at myself to see where I had gone wrong. It has always been my intention to have a solid marriage, no matter how imperfect, that would last for eternity.

Just because we were sealed in the temple didn’t mean that it would all be rainbows and unicorns. I knew that. I also knew if we had both been willing to work, have patience, love, communicate, forgive, and have a common goal, none of my marriages would have ended in divorce. I wasn’t the best version of myself, I admit. Maybe I expected too much and wanted something different from life than Cooper did. In the end, we did not have the same goals for our future. We were very much unevenly yoked and struggled with communication regularly. I tried everything I could think of. In the end, however, there was no way to save any of the marriages.

There are definitely things that I could and should have done differently throughout my entire life. First off, I know that yelling at my first husband was a colossal mistake. I beg his forgiveness and pray he can forgive me for the pain this may have caused him. There was no excuse, and I never yelled at my other husbands. Outside of an emergency, there is never a good reason to yell at or disrespect a spouse in any way. I learned that lesson the hard way. 

Cooper could be very intimidating both mentally and physically. As the years went on, I learned a healthy respect for Cooper. Most call it fear. I have often wondered if I deserved this treatment and what I could have done differently to have changed it. I would have given anything to bring back the fun we had before getting married. He had been so very different when we were dating. Intimidation or manipulation should not be a part of any healthy relationship. Still, it happens more than a lot of people realize.

 

Journal Entry: “Life is a roller coaster! Just when you think it will slow down or even stop, the floor is pulled out from under you. I am so confused each day. One minute I think everything will work out, and the next minute, I don’t feel that I will ever stop falling.”

 

One night my eyes flew open as I woke from a deep sleep. I was suddenly afraid for my life, my heart pounding. The first thing I saw was the clenched fists of a big man, and I could hear his quick, anxious breathing shaking uncontrollably. I looked up and leaned back to get away. That’s when I saw it was Cooper. His dark eyes stared down at me, and his jaw was clenched tightly. Everything about him exuded complete anger, and it was terrifying! At that moment, I was afraid that this was it; he would hurt me physically this time. Before I could tell if he was asleep or awake, I gasped. He suddenly took a deep breath, his eyes softened, his hands unclenched and hung limply by his side. “I’m sorry,” he said sadly and walked into the bathroom with his head hanging down.

Sleeping never came easily to me and continued to get harder as the years passed. The ability to fall and stay asleep became even more elusive when Cooper started texting or calling me 200+ times all night long and sometimes during the day. He would ask me where I was, what I was doing, accuse me of being with another man, tell me I was a horrible person, and threaten me in many ways. After a few weeks, I stopped answering his texts and phone calls. All he wanted from me was to tell him everything was okay and that he was loved. He was acting very paranoid. Trying to keep him calm and help him feel safe in our relationship had become all-consuming and depressing. I couldn’t do it anymore. 

It wasn’t my job to make him happy. Everyone is responsible for their own happiness! I decided that I needed to focus on keeping my own head above water.

Long-term manipulation by making someone afraid, putting them down, threatening them, or making them feel guilty, is emotional and mental abuse. Again, it’s about having power and control over another person. It is sometimes more challenging to deal with than physical abuse. Marriage is a partnership.

When there was manipulation, I would find myself changing my actions accordingly. Once while Cooper was out of town, I missed him, so I put on one of his t-shirts. When he got home, he asked, “Why are you wearing my t-shirt?” With a smile and walking toward him in hopes of a hug, since I hadn’t seen him in a few days, I told him it was because I missed him and it smelled like him. His reply as he stepped back and turned to walk away from me was, “Well, that’s my t-shirt.” Shocked, I promised myself that I would never wear one of his t-shirts again. He never again wore that t-shirt, probably to make a point. Little things like that stuck in my head and changed how I acted and who I was inside.

Another time I told Cooper about some exciting news about a friend we both knew who had found out she was expecting a baby. Seeming upset with me, he complained, “Why would you tell me something like that?” So, I made a note in my mind that he didn’t want to hear about friends expecting babies. The next time we had a friend who was expecting, I didn’t say anything to Cooper about it. A few days later, he complained and asked me why I hadn’t told him the news. It was confusing.

 

Journal Entry: “I don’t know how to explain it. Cooper makes me feel inadequate and dumb. He makes little condescending remarks here and there and talks to me like I’m a child. He just came in and turned off the light, shaking the bed excessively all while huffing and puffing to get me to go to bed because he thinks it’s my bedtime too. I’ve moved to the bathroom to finish writing.

He frustrates me and hurts me. I probably do the same. I will work on my anger and humility and try to live up to his expectations.”

 

I never knew how to act around Cooper the entire time we were married. I wanted to just be myself, but who I was seemed to annoy him more and more every day. We would go out with friends or to an event, and he would look at me after I spoke with a look of, “Would you just shut up! Why are you even talking?” He would also ignore me and blatantly flirt with other women in the room. He would then criticize me for things that I had said or done on the way home. More times than not, he would censure me right in front of everyone instead of waiting until we left. It got to the point where I would speak very little and only when spoken to, but that drew his criticism as well. I was always wrong no matter what I did. 

Humiliating me in front of people seemed like a fun project for Cooper. One Sunday, during a time change, before all we had was digital clocks, I woke up and went around the house changing all of the clocks as Cooper quietly watched me. Then I got the kids up and started getting them ready for church. About an hour before church started, Cooper walked out the door without saying a word. I figured he just had a meeting or something. I finished getting the kids ready, and we headed out. When we walked into the church, there were quite a few people in the foyer. Cooper was there too so I started walking toward him. He pointed at me and laughed loudly as he said, “She changed all of the clocks after I had already done it! She can’t even get the time right.” He laughed as others laughed while looking at me with pity and embarrassment, unsure how to react. I could see on their faces that they were humiliated for me. I would have turned around and walked out, but I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction. I humored him and laughed to cover my embarrassment while walking past him. 

 

Journal Entry: “I woke up at 4:45 this morning and couldn’t go back to sleep. The feelings in my heart were so painful I thought I would explode. Like so many nights, I felt that screaming might be the only thing that would take away the pain. I’m not sure anything can.”

 

While these situations may seem minor issues on their own, they happened regularly, adding up to me becoming a totally different person. Making decisions based on how I thought Cooper would react and worried that I was always doing something wrong. 

Unsure if I should keep trying to be what he expected of me, which seemed impossible, or just letting it go and being myself was a constant internal battle. I was willing to do whatever it took to save my marriage. I became self-conscious everywhere I went and in every situation, whether Cooper was there or not. I’m sure that I seemed like a mental case to some people as I tried to be what everyone wanted me to be all the time. Of course, that’s not the way anyone should ever be. Acting is only for a stage and the movies. Always trying to please others, especially Cooper, made my depression deeper and darker. Still, I kept shoving it down so I could keep going. 

My experience with men, including while dating, proved to me that men, and I’m sure women as well, often put up a front at first. This may be a natural thing for all people, but after years of being what other people wanted me to be, I was over it!

 

Continue Reading…

Start at the beginning of the story

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