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Endings and Beginnings
by Melissa Martin
10/28/2011 / Short Stories
Plop! The gold wedding band disappeared into the murky lake. Kate's blenderized emotions overflowed. Relief. An endinga beginning. She slowly walked back to her car. The final divorce papers were signed that morning in the judge's chambers. "Just call when you want to pick up the rest of your stuff," Ken politely commented. "Thanks," Kate stiffly replied. As usual, Ken hid his feelings behind a counterfeit smile.
Kate drove to her new apartment. 'Hi, Twinkle" she crooned as her cat meowed through the door. Kate got the cat and Ken got the auto-mechanic shop. All items purchased before the marriage belonged to each owner.
Kate felt like a giant failure. Two failed marriages and two divorces. How could she make the same mistake twice? Kate reread the book, Codependent No More. The author called it a codependent relapse. Kate attended counseling and support groups for 2 years after her first disastrous marriage before she felt whole and healed. She raised her three children, went back to college, and found a job she liked.
When her youngest daughter went off to college, Kate began to date again. She met Ken on a blind date. Some friends at church fixed her up. Ken, handsome and charming, knew how to play the game. He promised to give up smoking and drinking. He sent a bouquet of roses every week. He acted attentive and romantic. Their kisses were passionate and exciting. Family and friends told them both to slow down but the warnings were ignored. She emptied her savings into his new auto-mechanic business.
A dating whirlwind of 6 monthsa quick weddingthen reality. She found out Ken was an alcoholic. Kate slipped back into codependency and tried to fix Ken and the marriage. She attended appointments with the marriage counselor. At her urging, Ken checked into an alcohol rehab center so she tried to be understanding and patient. Elaborate dinners were cooked and she kept the house spotless. She remained silent when three months later, Ken returned to his addictions: smoking cigarettes, drinking beer, gambling, and flirting with other women. The rumors about Ken's affairs with other women made it to Kate's ears, but he denied it.
Kate struggled with the decision to file for a divorce. Guilt visited her daily. Ken was ambivalent. Thinking about a second divorce was agonizing. Kate sought advice from her pastor and was advised to stay in the marriage and make it work. After two years of being ignored and neglected, Kate stopped her efforts. She allowed herself to become irritable and numb to emotions. Joy seeped out of her soul. She slept in a separate bedroom. Pretending became too exhausting. Ken did not like conflict so they stopped talking about their problems.
She stopped going to church and stopped praying. Her bible was put into a drawer. Feeling guilty, sinful, and ashamed, Kate stopped taking phone calls from friends. How could she make the same mistake again! She felt embarrassed, humiliated, and foolish. She worried about her adult children. What would they think of two divorces? After all, she was a Christian and Christians are not supposed to get divorced!
Growing tired of self-pity and playing the victim, Kate filed for a divorce. An endless tunnel of guilt and sadness ensued. Depression and anxiety visited. Was God mad at her?
She went back into therapy and found God's forgiveness for the second divorce, but how could she forgive herself? Kate revisited God's grace and mercy. The bible was taken out of the drawer. She cried out to God for wisdom.
In due time, another chapter in her life opened. An endinga beginning.
Melissa writes about the God and human connection and condition.
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