The paper floated innocently to the ground. I stopped to pick it up. It was a receipt.
The story it told was of a romantic dinner for two. They had both ordered Prime Rib. He had several rum drinks and she had a few glasses of Pinot Noir. For dessert, they shared a single Chocolate Cake. I pictured the two people laughing at their inside jokes and smiling warmly at each other across the table.
As the story of the receipt unfolded, my entire soul cringed.
My face felt hot. For a moment, I stopped breathing, thinking or even being alive.
You see, this was not just any receipt and the people were not strangers. The story it told was of my husband and some other woman having that romantic dinner.
Here was undeniable proof, in hard copy, of what my husband had been doing earlier that evening. While I was at home, eating hot dogs and mac and cheese with my 3 girls, washing dishes and orchestrating bedtime – he was having a leisurely lovely dinner with some other woman. He had replaced me with another version of myself.
My mind played out the scene in the restaurant like a movie that couldn’t stop.
I envisioned the two of them sitting at a table, smiling at each other. He decides to treat himself to Prime Rib, she orders the same. The waitress asks if they would like another drink while they wait. “Sure, why not?” they laughingly say. They have all night. The dinners are brought to the table and they order a couple more drinks. Dinner is yummy and they fill the evening with conversation – getting to know each other. The meal is over and they decide to prolong their nice evening by sharing a dessert. How romantic!
That is the part that hurt the most. They shared a dessert! One dessert – two forks. I had been with this man for 15 years and we NEVER shared a dessert.
My brain had a hard time with the thought of my husband cheating on me.
I told myself , maybe it wasn’t what it appeared to be. Did you get a good laugh at that one? Can you believe it? I actually tried to convince myself it wasn’t a date with another woman. Wow. I am still embarrassed about that admission.
I knew in the deepest part of my soul – the part only me and God can see – that my marriage and plans for the future – were over. I knew he didn’t love me anymore. He wanted a different life than the one we had created – together. He had changed his mind in the middle of everything.
My 3 grand daughters had come to live with us a few years earlier. He was totally on board with our new additions. He had never had children of his own and I thought he would embrace the chance to experience the joy of having children around. I think that he thought he would love it too. But he didn’t. He did not embrace the happiness, joy, confusion, frustration and noise that come with having a house full of kids. A life so full that it feels like it will burst at the seams some days. And I love it.
You know what he told me when I confronted him about his extracurricular activities? If he would have known what it was like to have kids he never would have agreed to having them live with us. He just wanted to cancel the contract – like it was a business deal gone bad.
The day I found the receipt was a pivotal moment in my life.
My life was heading towards the East and there was a roadblock. I had to stop, turn around, and start heading West. I didn’t want to, at first. I was so angry that I was being forced to change my plans. And, it wasn’t just my plans, my 3 girls loved that man. He had always been in their lives. Now, they had another big change in their young lives.
I was angry and sad.
I prayed a lot. I cried. I planned revenge. I considered begging him to love me again. I was so angry. I didn’t know what to think. Did ,I cause this? Was I at fault?
In the end, after I had spent many conversations with God, I knew what needed to be done.
I knew my girls came first. They were little kids that already had dealt with big changes in their lives. I was determined to show them how to be resilient. I was determined to show them, as women, you can make it.
Next, my life was important too. Not just as a caregiver, parent, daughter or wife. But, my intrinsic essence was created by God. My contribution to the world is just as important and necessary as anyone else.
The conclusion became clear. The life I had pictured with this particular man – was not going to be my reality. But, I would have a big, beautiful, happy life with my 3 girls.
It was a reminder that I needed to take care of my dreams.
It was a wake-up call to my heart. Sometimes, we lose ourselves amidst our efforts to care for other people. That’s what I did. I lost sight of my dreams and goals.
It has been a year since I found the receipt. I am happier and hopeful. I turned my car around and found a better road to travel. And guess what? It turns out, this road is the one I should have been on.
I realize now that I had been a distracted driver on my life road. I was thinking about what my family wanted for me and what I thought society expected of me rather than keeping my eyes on my road.
Looking back, I can clearly see how I let events re-route my personal goals. We can not stop unexpected events from affecting our lives. Sickness, divorce, natural disasters, addictions – all of these occur. You can’t stop it. But, you can start dealing with these events in the most positive light, as possible.
I had to proactively train my thoughts to view my life events as an opportunity to get back on track.
Every time, I start to feel sorry for myself, I stop and ask God to help me to be open to new experiences. I remind myself to open my eyes and look for all of the possibilities in life and not focus on the doors that have closed.
I am looking forward. I am reminding myself to focus on my road.
This is how you do it.
I would love to hear about your pivotal moments. How did you cope?