There were a few things that became tools in fighting for our marriage. Apart from the obvious ones like: full transparency, honesty and long conversations there was fasting, prayer and communion (sharing bread and wine at home as symbols of the body and blood of Jesus and applying it over our marriage). We also used the symbolism of objects and places to help with healing, for example: praying in certain places or destroying objects that had a meaning.
We put off any physical intimacy for an indefinite period of time. Our marriage, vows and my heart were broken. We had no idea how long the healing was going to take: weeks, months, maybe longer. At some stage we wanted to renew our vows but until then all we could do was wait.
First Sunday morning was hard. The ‘waves’ were crashing against what once was a safe harbour of our home. I couldn’t believe that this man who has hurt me so badly was the same one I used to trust blindly. Was it possible that I made a mistake and married someone who existed only in my mind? That his real nature was not at all what I believed it was? Maybe it was better if we separated?
I was sitting on my bed, my eyes and face swollen from crying, considering the possibility of a split up when it came to my mind – someone in my family had already been in this situation – my grandma.
When my dad was 7 she discovered my grandfather had been having an affair. He apologised but she couldn’t forgive. He had to go and she cut off all contact between them, he wasn’t even allowed to visit my father. A few years back, my sister found a letter in which he apparently begged her to have him back but she never changed her mind. Maybe she knew better, she herself was his second wife. I do not judge her for her decision but the fact was that it had a profound impact on my dad’s emotional development. That in turn had an impact on my parent’s marriage, our family life, their divorce, my sister’s life choices and so on. Of course there are many other factors at play, life is very complex, but this one decision was life changing for many people.
Suddenly I saw myself in her situation, I was back in time about to make the same decision. Our son was almost 7 at that stage, same as my dad then. I couldn’t do it to him, he adored Charlie. Every day he was waiting for him to come home, play games or soccer or go shopping and just hang out together. What would I say if he asked me were daddy was? And our girls? They needed their dad too, just as much.
We went to church with heavy hearts. Worshipping that day was a cry for God’s presence. There was a guest speaker and when he called people out for a prayer Charlie was the first one up. He went to the front of the room to pray with the elders and I stayed back on my chair. Tears were streaming down and I couldn’t care less what people might think. I was looking at Charlie from a distance and prayed “God please change his heart. Unless you do that I can’t stay with him. I would have to let him go and I really don’t want to.” I was crying so much I could feel the tears dripping down. I opened my eyes for a moment only to see blood on my hands – my nose was bleeding. I grabbed some tissues and tried to stop it. Somewhere in the middle of that I noticed my son sitting beside me on the floor. He was looking at me visibly concerned. He said: “Mummy look what I drew for you at the Sunday school”. In his hands he was holding a drawing, which said: “God answers prayer”. I couldn’t believe it, it was the best thing he could have done for me in that moment. It made me cry even more but this time the tears were not so bitter. I had God’s promise.
Right after the meeting we went to our office. We needed to get my desk ready for the next day and pray in a few places. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to sit, the obvious place was replacing Ana at her desk but was it were I wanted to be? When I was wondering about it our daughter said: “You should sit here, you’ll be closer to daddy”. It seemed like a good reason so it was settled. I tided and cleaned it, put up a few children’s pictures and made it my own. It was also the first desk I was sitting at when I started working there years earlier – I just reclaimed it. A few weeks later I framed the “God answers prayer” picture and put it up beside it.
While there, Charlie told me an interesting story that shed some light for me on Ana’s character. A couple of weeks earlier Charlie employed a new girl. She was a nice, positive person, married with 2 small children. Somehow Ana must have seen her as a threat, a potential new lover maybe, and in a moment of unfounded jealousy she said “I feel like making a poo on her desk”. It made Charlie look at her in a different light. It made me wonder too about who she really was and how insecure she must have felt. I don’t even try to imagine what she wanted to do to me or my things.
We went home feeling positive, like we have won a few battles. Then we all walked to the local shop to get the briquettes for a fire and while in the shop I promised myself I would never again get a lottery ticket. I have been struggling with a compulsive need to buy it regularly, never spent more then a fiver on it but it was bothering me nevertheless. I would sometimes try to break it but always went back to the habit. I said to myself: if Charlie can break a few bad habits in his life so can I. It was time for changes. Time to put all my trust in God.
At home we put a fire on and sat in front of it together after the kids went to bed. I wanted to look at our wedding pictures but just before we opened the album a thought came to me. I pointed to our pictures on the mantelpiece and I asked: “How were you able to bring her here with all those pictures around?” Did you not feel like they were looking at you?” “I didn’t, I took them off and put them away”. It was one of the saddest images of him in my mind from that time – putting our pictures away, as if you could hide reality and not look in it’s face.
I lost all desire to look at the wedding album. Instead Charlie suggested that maybe we could burn something in the fire, to symbolise the end of what happened. I knew immediately what to bring. A few weeks earlier I noticed a bookmark in a book he was reading. It was a picture of “The lover’s kiss” by Gustav Klimt. I asked him at the time where he got it and he just replied he had bought it in a bookstore. It seemed odd to me but I didn’t question it further. So I brought it down and handed it to him now.
“How did you know it was from her?” he asked. I really didn’t need to answer that.
We put it in the fire and watched it burn slowly.
The wedding album had to wait another few weeks before we both had enough courage to look at it.