This is part twelve of the Homey and Me Love Story. It is when marriage to Rusty was ending – long before I met Homey, but an important part of the story, nonetheless.
Rusty and I drove with our two little girls – Tiger (3) and Panda (not quite two) – to Pennyslvania after living in Utah for over 6 years together. We were starting a new phase of our lives, which was exciting to me. I had felt “stalled out” for so long. I figured this change would help me, Rusty, our children, and our marriage. It seemed to be so good.
In October, we moved into my mom’s house while Rusty started a new job and got ready for school. We would stay there a few months until we found a suitable apartment.
Things went well. Rusty worked. I was able to spend time with my mom and my younger brother. So much change had happened in my life to notice much of anything in regards to my marital relationship. By the New Year, though, things were really settling down. We were still at my mom’s house while Rusty started school. He was working then traveling about 45 minutes to go to his classes, so the days were long. Even though I was sidetracked by hanging out with my brother, I was itching to move on, get an apartment, and be our own family again. I was also itching for more attention from Rusty. I figured that because we removed ourselves from the stress of Utah, things would be better. But the habits of our relationship remained the same, and we didn’t communicate or interact with each other much.
Our relationship was a concern to me (as it had been in Utah), so I found an online course – to help strengthen our marriage. I emailed the course to Rusty (it was to be done by both of the members of the couple), and he agreed to do it. As I studied this course, I thought more of Rusty, and what worked for him, and even though I felt uncomfortable, I began to try to be his dream woman. I ached for any kind of attention or approval – no matter the cost to my own integrity.
Just when I thought we were turning a corner in our relationship something horrible happened.
I had been up early, subbing for a *seminary class. After class, I went to check my email and noticed an address in the url address line – it had a pornographic title.
Because of the way this website came up, I knew that it had been specifically visited in the past. I knew that it wasn’t any kind of accident. I looked at the website for a second. It was horrible.
I decided then to go through the history, where I found dozens of pornographic sites. Each worse than the one before. The blank stares of women exposing their most private, beautiful selves disgusted me. They were no more than objects. Things. And I thought of the men, the man, that would look at this. Did he not know that this was a woman? A daughter? A person who felt, laughed, loved? Did he not know that she was more than two legs and breasts? Did he not know that he was more than some sexual being, capable of more than simply fulfilling this rudimentary desire?
As I went through the websites, I knew that it was Rusty who had been looking at them. As each image hit my brain, I froze, and realized that this wasn’t the first time he had looked at something like this. I looked at each woman – feeling uglier, fatter, and increasingly worthless. Even though I couldn’t put my finger on it, I was beginning to understand our relationship.
I didn’t tell anyone about the p*rnography right away. Instead, I sent an email to Rusty. I told him we’d need to talk. I told him I found the pictures, and that they were repulsive.
He came home that evening, contrite. Like a dog with its tails between his legs. And I wanted to believe it.
Although I wasn’t feeling that much better about our new problem, I was willing to work through it. This problem afflicts so many. I covenanted to help my husband through it, too.
I struggled still. Seminary was awful, I’m sure. I got home and read scriptures, looking for solace and strength. I knew that I could and did forgive my husband. I knew the power of the atonement could help us overcome this problem in our marriage. Yet, I could not be comforted. I didn’t understand why.
I talked to my husband about it.
He told me about his favorite *conference talk (that he had read earlier in the day)- Peace of Conscience and Peace of Mind, Richard G. Scott. Rusty had never before initiated a spiritual conversation with me, so I stood staring as he spoke to me. I could tell he was trying to manipulate me. I wanted to rip the Ensign Magazine out of his hands. This had been my favorite talk. I knew that he didn’t mean what he said, but that he was trying to say what I wanted to hear. I also realized that all along everything he had said to me was a variation on this exact circumstance – he spoke what I wanted to hear. I pretended to listen to and accept what he was saying.
I went to a meeting at the church. The entire activity was focused on unity and gospel teaching in the home. I had a heavy horrible feeling. It wasn’t anger. It was a stupor of thought, I suppose. It was discouraging, despondent, and completely desperate.
After my meeting, I came home, still upset. He didn’t sense it, but I finally told him how horrible I was feeling. He then acted like he understood and told me that things were about to get tougher before they got better.
“You know, I was talking to a friend at school today.”
“Yeah?” I responded.
“Yeah. He just went through a divorce. He told me how many people end up getting divorced in this program.”
“Well, just because it is so time consuming. I will have a lot of projects and work to do, and will have to spend a lot of time at school.”
“Okay.” I was unsure as to why he was warning me about this now.
“Yeah. But I really think that we will be able to make it. You just need to know how time consuming it is. I will have a lot of group projects and things that I can’t do at home.”
This warning that Rusty gave me had a different effect on me that I think he attended. I felt warned, but not that class would be difficult. I felt like what he was saying was strange. Like he was trying to groom me for something bigger. Or like he was trying to reel me back into some kind of trap. In any case, I didn’t like what he said – not because of the subject matter, but because I didn’t trust his purpose or his timing.
I had three dreams. In each of these dreams Rusty was having sex with another woman. I knew each woman by name – they were acquaintances in real life. When I woke up, I asked Rusty a question,
“I feel like there is something you’re keeping from me, Rusty.”
“What do you mean?” he asked.
“I’m not sure. I just feel like there is something really wrong with us, with our marriage, and that if you don’t tell me, and I find out, then there will be no hope whatsoever.”
“Catania…I’m sure you’re still stressed about Tuesday. Don’t worry. I’ll be seeing the bishop tomorrow.”
Rusty moved to hug me, and I let him, but I didn’t reciprocate. I don’t think that he noticed. He seemed relatively aloof to all of my thoughts and feelings – only aware enough to do and say things that he hoped would keep me playing his game.
It was because of the dreams. It was because of the Spirit. It was a combination of things that caused me to wake up on Friday morning feeling worse than I had all week.
I didn’t do much as far as seminary went. I showed up, distraught, and thankful that our class was combined with another – eating breakfast and watching a movie. The other teacher attempted small talk with me, but I didn’t know what to say. I was completely distracted. I didn’t know why I was feeling so bad still.
After seminary, I went out with my mom to a craft store that was closing. The deals were amazing. My mom and I had been looking forward to going to this sale. But I walked along, oblivious. Outwardly, it may have seemed that I was moping. Inwardly, I couldn’t think or even move. I was upset and distracted. I wanted the feeling I had to disappear, but I didn’t even know what the Spirit was trying to communicate let alone how to cheer up.
I went home, and did what I always did when overwhelmed: I prayed and studied my scriptures. The prayer I uttered was pained and disjointed. I opened my scriptures to Galatians 5:1,
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.” – Galatians 5:1
And I wondered what sin I needed to give up in order to stand free in Christ’s liberty.
I couldn’t think of what I needed to do. I wondered if I need to more purely forgive of Rusty. I wondered if there was just “more” I should have done. I didn’t expect the prompting that I would receive. Check Rusty’s email.
Still the feeling remained. Check Rusty’s email.
–I shouldn’t snoop around in his private life. It shows that I don’t trust him.
You don’t and shouldn’t trust him. Check Rusty’s email.
–Is this really the right thing to do?
Check Rusty’s email.
–Okay. I will try, but I don’t even know his email address or password…
Just Check Rusty’s email.
–I will check Rusty’s email. It feels so strange to do, but if it is the right thing, then I’ll be able to remember the account and figure out the restaurant. If not, then I won’t be able to read his email, then I’ll talk about it with him tonight.
Resolved to check Rusty’s email, I closed up my scriptures, went to the computer, and turned it on.
*Seminary – a religious scripture-study class for high school students. In PA, it took place before school.
*General Conference – A meeting twice a year where the membership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints hears talks and counsel from the prophet and 12 apostles, and other leaders of our church.