You'll be a bit lost if you don't start with Part 1 & Part 2The great debate during toasts at our Rehearsal Dinner was over the infamous break-up. Who broke up with whom? The truth is that I broke up with him—but only because I knew it was inevitable, I wanted to get it over with and I didn't want to get dumped. Basically, it was mutual. However, it was incredibly confusing because both of us shed tears and neither of us really understood why we were breaking up. There was no big fight or glaring mismatch issue. Ultimately, the timing was just wrong.
A couple of weeks ago I was cleaning out a closet and found the letter I wrote him. I have always been a writer, I suppose. He only lived a mile away from me, but it was just so much cleaner to organize my thoughts on paper and leave them at his house for him to read and respond to at his own pace. In this same shoebox, I also found the letter he wrote me in response.
I cried as I reread our raw emotion through the words of those letters. We were both broken-hearted. There was no doubt we cared for one another deeply and held each other in the highest regard. We were best friends.
The hole left in each other’s lives from the loss of friendship alone was very painful. We still enjoyed one another’s company. Residency was just taking its toll and my man felt like he couldn’t give his best to anything or anyone else. He cared about me too much to give less than his best.
Frankly, this made the healing process much more difficult. I used to think: If he were just a jerk, I could move on…but he’s unswervingly a man of great character. I was hurt and confused, but I felt God was still in control, so I ambled through the confusion of it all.
During our 22 month sabbatical we stayed “friends.” I stayed in Atlanta. There were blessings from this time. I wound up rekindling incredible old female friendships and establishing some new ones. I was maturing emotionally and spiritually. He & I would talk every few weeks by phone, but never about if or who we were dating or our feelings for each other. Every few months we’d bump into each other around town--including once when he was on a date with some else. (I felt the searing pain again even as I recounted it. Ugh.)
Those periodic encounters were torturous to my “moving on” because I would hear his voice over the phone or see his face and remember how much I loved him. No matter how great the date was with anyone else, they didn’t stand a chance with my dream guy even remotely in the picture.
When I was in elementary school, my maternal grandfather left my grandmother after 39 years of marriage (and 6 children and 12 grandchildren) for another woman, his “first love.” I had been profoundly impacted by witnessing the havoc this wreaked in the lives of so many people I care about. The thought of winding up in that same position one day terrified me. What if I could never move on? Would I be single forever or marry someone who would not be able to take that #1 spot in my heart?
Ultimately, I sought counseling and started really praying earnestly that God would reveal His Will profoundly and quickly. A wise friend encouraged me to “put out my fleece” like Gideon. So, I prayed that if he was really the one, God would move mightily in HIS life to reveal that to be His Will. My sign would be that his heart would be ready and he would make a grand gesture to prove it. Likewise, if we were not meant to be together, I begged God to heal my heart completely and remove my deep feelings for this man.
Christmas Day 2000 was a watershed event. I was in my hometown, celebrating Christmas with my extended family, a sarcastic bunch. As a professional 26 year old woman, my relatives were starting to wonder if there would ever be wedding bells in my future. I had 12 bridesmaid dresses hanging in my closet, for crying out loud. The jokes lobbed in my direction were not even remotely funny. I felt lonely and sad.
My cell phone rang as I was leaving the family celebration. There was a wave of emotion as I answered to find that it was my future husband on the other end calling to wish me a Merry Christmas. There is no delicate way to put this...I lost it. I informed him that this friendship was too painful. It had to stop.
Poor guy. He was so confused. I remember him saying, "I thought we were going to still be friends. I just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas." I told him in no uncertain terms to never call me again, unless he was calling to ask me out on a date.
To this day, I am really not sure I have ever cried as hard as I did that night. My heart was truly broken. It was horrible but cathartic. I was sitting in my car, in the parking lot of a place I was meeting some friends for coffee. We had talked on the phone so long that my car battery died. I had cried so much that I was too embarassed to even walk in this restaurant to find my friends to help me.
Six weeks went by and I did not hear a peep. Even as I was moving on and starting to think maybe I had my answer, my prayer partners and I continued to pray for my definite sign. February 4th (his 30th birthday) my phone rang. I answered without looking at caller ID. You can imagine my surprise when I heard his voice.
The best is yet to come. Hang in there...