This was written to be delivered at a local storytelling festival. I’m not now participating in the festival, but thought it was still worthwhile sharing here. Note-this is not written in a journalistic style. It was written for a performance, so as you read it, imagine me on stage acting out some of the scenes!
‘I want a divorce.’ With those words my world crumbled. He told me – in that raspy Texas accent that I found so endearing – that he didn’t love me, made a mistake and wanted out of our marriage immediately. In fact he had already begun legal proceedings. I was gob smacked and didn’t know how to respond. How could this man, who I loved so much, tell me that he had made a mistake, that he didn’t love me after all? Why was he being so cold, mean and heartless? Was I too fat, was I not worthy, wasn’t I enough? The pain was unbearable.
He was a pretty single-minded man, washed his hands of me and left his lawyer to handle matters and that was that.
For months I would lie on my bed unable to sleep traversing all those feelings I guess one goes through in these sorts of situations. When things got too much I would try to take my mind off it by counting the flower petals on the hideous wallpaper in my room. Hideous blue and yellow flowers in the middle of candy stripes….yuk! Months passed and I had held out some faint hope that he would realise he had made a mistake. Of course this was a fantasy.
In the UK on November 5th every year we have a tradition of marking the day Guy Fawkes attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605. Communities make massive bonfires and burn an effigy of Guy on top. That year we made a guy in the image of my husband. We stuffed a pair of jeans and a sweater full of straw with a cowboy hat on top and put it on the bonfire. I have to say it was a little cathartic!
I found myself saying to myself, ‘It would be so much easier if he was gay, he’d come out and I’d be able to forgive him and move on!’ Instead, I was lashing out at him….”I’m going to sue the pants off you, you bastard!” So he lashed back at me with the threat to have me subpoenaed. I begrudgingly signed the divorce papers.
It took me time to realise that we do not have to be victims of our own stories… our stories are a way out of our suffering. We hold the power to change our story. Eventually I knew it was time to rewrite my story. I turned a corner. I stopped counting the hideous flower petals and painted the walls of my room. I began to see that I had to grow up, stand on my own two feet and gradually take back my power. I learnt to love and value myself rather than letting someone else define my worth. For the first time in a long time I enjoyed being single. Just at that point a new love walked into my life.
I didn’t hear from my ex husband….aptly named the ‘Wasbund’ for many years. Mutual friends would keep me abreast of his life from time to time. He had returned to the USA after serving in the Peace Corps and had gone into politics in Texas. Years later I get an email from him. It said ‘Dear Miranda, please know that I wish you nothing but the best.’ WHAT THE FUCK! I haven’t heard from him in 9 years and that’s all he had to say! I ignored it.
The very next day, I arrived at work and opened an email from a friend in the US with the link to a news headline – GAY TEXAN MAYOR COMES OUT AND FLEES TO MEXICO WITH HIS ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT LOVER. Could this really be the him?
I fell off my chair, ran into the bathroom, sobbed and had to be coaxed out by my bewildered colleagues.
He IS gay!
I was vindicated! It wasn’t my fault after all!
The thought crossed my mind that maybe I should sell the story to the National Enquirer, make pots of money and celebrate this news in style! Like I said…it was just a thought!
The greatest act of compassion on his part was letting me go all those years ago. Despite everything that had happened, in an INSTANT I forgave him.
Next, in what I can only describe as an out-of-body experience, I felt a mass fall through my body and I was free of the chain of events that had choked me for so many years. I found the power to let go of an abusive family relationship and a shitty boss who I had let rule my life for far too long.
Forgiveness gave me freedom and has since become a mantra for the way I now choose to live my life fearlessly. Coming out, leaving all your hopes, dreams, family and community behind takes a HUGE amount of courage. Despite everything that had happened it was easy to forgive him.
I responded to his email and over the next few years we renewed our friendship. We’ve taken vacations together. We even took him and his partner to their first Pride parade in London. I can’t deny the joy I feel whenever I seem him express his sense of freedom openly. I knew I could count on him as one of my closest friends when, several years ago, my mother was killed in an accident, he dropped everything and flew to the UK to help comfort us in the aftermath.
One of the proudest moments of my life was to be a witness as my friend married the love of his life and we became a family. If anything I love and admire my ex husband all the more for standing up for his truth. Together with our husbands, (in the words of Sister Sledge), WE ARE FAMILY. It is as it should be. My story, OUR story proves that love truly does come in all shapes and sizes!