This is part fourteen of the Homey and Me Love Story. It is when my marriage to Rusty was ending – long before I met Homey, but an important part of the story, nonetheless.
Saturday morning, 9AM finally came. It was my mom’s 10th year anniversary. My marriage was ending. I got myself ready and then went to the church. The day was cold and grey, reflecting how I felt. I was full of nervous energy, on the verge of vomiting.
When I got to the church, I saw my Bishop*. My sweet, tender Bishop. Through the service of this Bishop, I knew that not only did Heavenly Father love me, but He ached for me – and that He had been aching for me for longer than I even realized.
“…Catania.” He replied, his face full of anguish for me. As I think of my Bishop at the time, the following scripture comes into mind:
“Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life–” – Mosiah 18:9
This Bishop fulfilled these roles. He mourned with me, comforted me, and both his service and words testified of God.
It’s funny. The Bishop had just gotten a job in Washington, D.C and was considering moving down there, but had been prompted to stay in PA until the end of the school year. I honestly feel like he was saved for me. I don’t believe in any coincidences.
Anyway…I met with the Bishop, and then Rusty arrived. Visually, we were stark opposites. Although I know I didn’t look my best, I was showered and dressed in Sunday Clothes. I had (minimal) make-up on (make-up is no good when you’re busy crying your eyes out…although a little doesn’t hurt–it makes the crying even more dramatic! 😉 Rusty arrived in the same clothes he had on the night before, crumpled and wrinkled. He wore a hat, and his hair was dirty and greasy. I doubt he had brushed his teeth. There was a sense of desperation about him – not of pain, but of being discovered.
My Bishop had me stay in another room while he met with Rusty. I read scriptures and conference talks*. When the Bishop was done speaking with Rusty, he came and spoke to me, individually. He also gave me a priesthood blessing*. Finally, we met all together.
I don’t remember much of what was said that meeting, but I remember the feeling of disgust that consumed me while sharing a room with Rusty. I looked at him, embarrassed that I shared his name and that I had shared so much with him. He was like a disgusting scab that I wanted to shed myself of.
I think that what made him seem so disgusting isn’t because he was physically gross -he didn’t look that much different than he did the day we were married. The disgust I felt for him came from the knowledge of who he actually was. I saw his hands – the hands that I had loved so much – aware that only a day before those hands were treasures to me. Now, those once revered hands repulsed me. He was repulsive because of his lie.
Up to this point, Rusty had only admitted to having an affair with one woman, though I knew that there were more. While he met with the Bishop individually, he admitted to two more. Yet, I somehow knew there were more women. While I was with Rusty and the Bishop, we went through a line of questioning. The Bishop asked if there was anyone in PA that he had been with. The strangest thing happened. Rusty squirmed like a roach on his back. He couldn’t lie, yet he couldn’t tell the truth, either. He just squirmed–truly uncomfortable.
The Bishop didn’t back down.
“Is there anyone here?”
“Rusty, is there anyone here?”
[Nearly inaudible] “Yes.”
“Rusty. What happened.”
[Even more squirming with a reluctant answer]”We had sex.”
Those words rang out like a shot. Immediately, I stood up and went out the door, clutching my stomach. I ran to the water fountain. I was sure I’d vomit.
The Bishop (not Rusty) raced after me and began to apologize profusely.
“I’m so, so sorry, Catania. I shouldn’t have done that.”
“Don’t apologize, Bishop.”
“No, really, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have put you through that.”
“No. Don’t apologize. I needed to see that; God knew that I needed to see that.”
The Bishop put his arm on my shoulder, physically comforting me, and we finished our meeting.
Before I go on, I have to say that I still believe that I needed to see Rusty in that situation – nearly forced to tell the truth. While there wasn’t a gun to his head, the tone in the room as the Bishop asked him those questions was absolutely serious. Gravely serious. I know that in that specific moment, God wouldn’t let Rusty lie, and I needed to see it. I needed to see how physically difficult it was for him to tell the truth. I needed to know who Rusty actually was. Though I was emotional and having a difficult time processing all of what was happening, I needed to have these moments of pure clarity–no matter how hard they were to take.
After I arrived home from the Bishop’s meeting, I checked my email and found a note from Snoopy. It was friendly, full of generalities. He asked me how things were going. I decided to tell Snoop that there was a possibility that I’d be getting divorced. I didn’t give him any specifics, but told him that everything I thought about my marriage had been a lie, and I was trying to figure out the course of action to take.
Almost immediately, Snoop responded.
He began the email by recounting the time we first spoke on the phone: “I remember you told me about this dream where you were riding on a skateboard, and rainbows were following you. Do you still have dreams like that?”
“…and while were on old subjects, I remember being really hurt when you asked Rico Suave to the prom instead of me.”
That stupid prom! It was the worst mistake of my life!
Snoop reminded me of the healing power of the Atonement–that even though life is unfair, we can be healed. He let me know that he’d be praying for me. And he reminded me that I had a friend in him.
I was so sad, so confused, so frustrated.
A few parts of the next two weeks.
My mom told me that I should never talk to Rusty again. I told her that I wasn’t sure what I’d do. I told her that I needed to think about it. I wanted to make this decision with my eyes wide open. She got frustrated with me–my ups and downs, my indecision, and finally said to me, “You’re mad because I was right about him.”
“What do you mean?”
“I knew all along he was cheating.”
“Well, you never told me that.”
“I did, Catania, but you didn’t want to listen, and now you’re mad at me because I was right.”
Her assessment couldn’t have been more inaccurate. I felt even more alone.
Almost every day, I’d go to the hotel, asking Rusty question after question after question. He never squirmed again. He just recounted experience after experience with complete nonchalance–matter-of-factly. Like a sociopath.
Right away, I went to the bank, opened a new account (in my name only) and then withdrew the money from my joint account, depositing it into my own. I knew that if I chose to get divorced, I’d need money to support the kids.
I found some of the letters Rusty had written to me over the years. I wrote, “Lies, lies, lies.” On each of them. I found his journal (he’d write in it every so often when we, as a family, wrote in our journals). There were entries about family and kids. I crossed each entry out, writing, “Lies, lies, lies.” I brought them all with me to the hotel, and gave them to Rusty.
Every evening, the Bishop would call me, checking in. He had urged me to make my decisions carefully.
“You have been married in the temple*, Catania. The decision you make isn’t one to be made lightly. Either way – if you stay with Rusty or if you leave him – the decision will impact the eternities. Make this decision carefully. If you rush into any decision, I’m afraid you’ll close off an opportunity.”
The was wise advice from my Bishop, but it was also hard. I wanted for someone just to tell me what to do. Thankfully, I followed His advice, and have been very greatly blessed.
When the count of Rusty’s “women” neared a dozen, I told him I didn’t want to know anything more. I realized not only was this destroying my spirit, but I was in physical danger. I asked my mom and Gigi to take me to the county clinic where I could get tested for an STD.
When I walked into the office, I was utterly humiliated. I didn’t belong here! I wanted to say it to every person in the office, “I don’t belong here!!!”
The receptionist handed me a stack of papers–medical releases and questionnaires. One of them had the question: How can you practice safe sex in the future?
It was my golden opportunity. I answered, Don’t have sex with lying, cheating husband.
My mom said, “Catania…don’t write that!”
Gigi, who had accompanied me to the clinic countered, “Why not?…It’s the truth.”
When it was my turn to be tested, a nurse went through the questionnaire with me. When she got to this question, and she let out a howl, “Oooooh! Girl!” and laughed.
“It’s the only way I can think to be safer.”
Though she was jovial for a second, she became serious. “What you’re doing is brave. It’s the right thing to do. I hope that you’re okay.”
Her words of support brought tears to my eyes. “Me, too.” I said.
One day, when I went to the hotel, I brought my scrapbook(s) with me. I had several. I had spent hundreds of dollars and even more hours creating those scrapbooks. In an act of rage, I told Rusty it was all a lie. Then I proceeded to rip every single page into shreds. (It was pretty dramatic and quite cathartic!)
There were many things that happened during those two weeks that influenced my decision, but two things, in particular sealed the deal.
I received Snoop’s email (the one that made me cry) in the afternoon. Later on that evening, I went to Rusty’s hotel to talk things through. My mind was swirling.
“Rusty. What is it? Why do you love me? Why do we stay together?”
“You know I love you, Catania.”
“No. I don’t know that. In fact, it seems like you hate me.”
“Don’t say that.”
“Rusty. What is it? What do we have? Why would we fight for this marriage?”
Rusty thought a minute…finally, he answered. “We both really like hockey.”
My eyes widened.
“Yeah. We both like hockey.”
I laughed out loud. “Hockey season’s cancelled, buddy.”
I didn’t tell Rusty this, but as he said those words, Snoop’s email flashed through my mind. I began to cry as I realized that the man I was married to couldn’t come up with anything to fight for, anything to love, anything about me or our marriage. Yet, the man to whom I didn’t speak for 7 years could still remember my essence.
Rusty and me: We didn’t have anything. It was a sham. A lie. Less than nothing.
The day before I made my final decision to get divorced, I was at church. Life was a roller-coaster that week. Up and down and up and down. One minute I thought I would try to work things out with Rusty–for the kid’s sake–for our marriage’s sake. The next minute I thought it was impossible. I didn’t know what to do.
As I was leaning more and more toward divorce, Rusty was trying to fight it. He promised to get professional help. He promised to stop. He promised that he loved me. But I still wasn’t sure. I prayed that I would have guidance on this decision.
One day, at church, I was walking in the hall. Rusty passed me, and I looked at him, saying hi. When I did, he didn’t return my salutation. He didn’t smile. Instead, he just looked through me. I felt like a high school girl who has a crush on a popular guy. He doesn’t even know I exist, I thought. At first, I was (mentally) making excuses for him. But then I realized, If there is anyone here he should recognize, then it should be me! Every emotion, every thought, every prayer, every blessing culminated in that single moment when Rusty looked through me.
I made the decision to file for divorce.
*The Bishop is a priest or leader of a local congregation. In the Mormon church, we have a lay leadership, so Bishops and others serve without pay. They have families, jobs, lives, on top of being the leader of congregations that usually number between 200-300 people.
*Conference Talks – Twice a year, the leadership of the Mormon church speaks to the general population in a meeting called General Conference. These talks are then printed and distributed in an LDS magazine – The Ensign.
*Priesthood Blessing – a special blessing given by a Priesthood holder. In this kind of blessing, the man acts as a sort of mouthpiece, expressing a blessing from the Lord. These blessings are given by request, and can be a source of increased strength, clarity, help from the Lord. They are often given during times of illness or great distress. Priesthood blessings are very sacred. Having been a recipient of many Priesthood Blessings, I can bear witness that these blessings are truly from God, and that He has endowed us with His power.
*Temple Marriage – some people in the Mormon church choose to be married in the temple. These marriages are considered eternal. In fact, the verbage for such an ordinance is for time and all eternity rather than ’til death do you part.