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As I am sitting alone in an open front hospital gown, I bow my head for a quick prayer of courage. A simple, polite knock letting me know she is on her way in. I look up. I take a deep breath. Inhale. Exhale. 

I need a full STD testing, I blurt out. 

She gives a little sympathetic smile. OK. We can do that, she says. 

My voice never wavers as I explain that when I was here for my last exam, I didn’t know I needed one. I didn’t have full confirmation that there was infidelity. But now I do. No, I don’t think anything will come back positive. Yet, I can’t quite get this nagging feeling out of my head. I just need to know for sure. So I can move forward with a clean bill of health. 

In all her kindness, she agrees and lets me know I am making all the right decisions. 

As I lay back waiting for her to do the exam, I can feel the thickening in my throat. The tears are burning at the edge, waiting to be released. I try to swallow. But it gets stuck. 

How did I get here? Laying here being tested. The one man I was to trust with everything, my heart, my soul, my body, betrayed me the most. The humiliation of it all forces itself on me. I try to laugh it off. I try to make a joke of it. Haha. Look at me. A 30-something woman back out in the dating scene but first I need to make sure my ex-husband didn’t gift me a sexually transmitted disease. 

Humiliated. Mortified. Humbled. 

I have found myself in situations I never imagined during this separation and now divorce. Hurting when my marriage and the commitment I had for it belittled down to nothing. Cold. Formal. Black and white. A decade of love and memories whittled down to a court document, parenting plan, and child support. At times, the legal process was brutally cold, throwing me off-balance. Making me wonder how my vows ended up like this. 

I stare at the ceiling. My whole body frozen. If I just lie here motionless, I can force my mind to forget about this all. Forget the reason I am here. Forget the past months and years of hurt. Can I dream it all away? Oh I wish I could. I really wish I wasn’t lying on this exam table today getting tested. Out of all the things I have had to do in this divorce, I really wish I wasn’t doing this. 

But I am. I am very grateful that my doctor is a wonderful, kind, and understanding woman. She didn’t flinch. She only extended understanding and help. However, today the shame and humiliation are in my heart. Looming dark and cloudy over me. I swallow the greasy pit of hysteria. The scream is caught in my throat. The tears slip past and trail down my face. I want to lay this heavy load at my ex-husbands feet. I am tired of living with the consequences of his sins. His actions. His choices. 

Today, I am tired of divorce. I am weary from these burdens. I want to rage at him. I want to force him to grow up and see what he has done. Done to me. Done to his children. Done to our family and friends. I want to scream. I want something. Anything. 

I walked into my doctor’s office this afternoon and asked for an STD test. I took a huge step. I acknowledged to myself that I am pretty damn lucky. Because today, I took another step toward complete healing and freedom. Freedom from his sins and actions. I humbly voiced my concerns and fears. I took control over my body’s health. 

And I walked out with my head held high. For I know how far I have come and I have hope in where I am going. This divorce does not define me. I define myself. 

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending. -C.W. Lewis

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