"I had a great time last night. Can't wait to be with you again," she had said on my husband's voice mail. "I'd love to be a fly on the wall while you're listening to this if the wife is in the room with you."
Her words, filled with amusement and pleasure, echoed repeatedly in my head. Her scornful laughter still rang in my ears, long after my anguished cries of betrayal had ceased.
Even as my heart shattered into a million tiny fragments, the events of that morning were still a blur.
There had been a heavy feeling in my gut as I awoke when I felt propelled to listen to my first husband's voice mail. Everything in my nature screamed out at me to pay attention to the signs, especially when just a few days prior, I had seen her number appear on the screen of his pager.
More disturbing was the flash of glee displayed all over his face when he received that page. He thought I hadn't noticed his reaction, but I had. The smile on his face was now forever etched into my brain while my heart pounded ferociously inside my chest...the same way it had, two years earlier, when I first laid eyes on him across a crowded dance floor.
And now here I sat, crumbled in a heap of battered nerves, on the cold floor of our kitchen with a broken heart and crushed spirit, contemplating ending my journey on this earth. Our small apartment was dark, except for the faint light down the hall, coming from the Disney-themed nightlight which we had purchased on our honeymoon.
My eyes became overwhelmed with bitter tears, yet again, thinking back to a happier time in our marriage. A marriage that was supposed to last forever. Hadn't we both promised to be faithful? Why couldn't he have upheld his end of the deal?
No enlightening answers came to mind. My head throbbed violently, as another crashing wave of misery exploded from the depths of my soul.
My emotional scars ran deep; however, he had taken me by surprise and made me feel important, needed....loved.
"I would never hurt you. I love you," he would say, when my fears would get the best of me.
And I had chosen to believe him. MY choice...one that I would come to regret.
As I dug the sharp blade of the knife deeper into my wrist, I felt very little pain. Just an immense rush of relief that soon I would no longer be ravaged by the despair and agony, which promised to defeat me.
Love seizes our innocent hearts in a choke-hold so tightly, and sometimes unknowingly, slowly suffocating us until we are dizzy and weak. To some, whom are constantly seeking to keep that intense fire burning within them, it's the exact high they crave.
But, for me, it was a price I wasn't willing to pay any longer. The suffering was much too traumatizing and my blemished heart begged for consolation.
He would be the last to make a fool out of me. Never again would I allow someone to break down these walls and violate my heart, my trust, my being.
As I drew in another mournful breath, my grip on the razor-sharp knife tightened. The malicious weapon taunted, and finally pleaded, with me to commit the final act. End this miserable, worthless life already.
I wanted nothing more than to plunge the virulent blade deep into my veins and then, in the stillness of that moment, witness the life literally pour out of me...drop by drop, little by little...until there was not one measly ounce of grief or distress coursing through my body.
Yet, I couldn't do it.
As much as I wanted to end the sadness right there and then, I was consumed with an overpowering urge to find my way through the darkness and pick up the phone. Call someone....anyone who would listen without judging.
I didn't want to be subjected to a sanctimonious lecture from a well-meaning friend or family member. Yes, I was being selfish....yes, I was taking the cowardly way out....and, yes, I should be considering how my death would affect others.
They'd always be left wondering if they could've done something differently, said something more meaningful...they would be haunted, attempting to recall the last time they had hurled an effortless "I love you" in my direction.
Clutching the phone in desperation, I found myself calling the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Never in a million years did I think I'd be one of those desperate people, looking for comfort...a friendly voice...a lifeline.
In between my sorrow-filled cries, I recounted the last 24 hours to a counselor, who listened quietly without interrupting, except to acknowledge my pain-filled words with a gentle "I understand" every few minutes.
Then, when I could finally catch my breath, she said, warmly, "You matter."
"I matter?" I asked, waiting for yet another confirmation from a total stranger that my life counted for something.
She repeated, a little louder this time, "Yes, YOU matter."
Those words, as simple as they may seem, saved my life that night.
I mattered. Maybe not to my soon-to-be ex-husband but somehow, in some way, my life mattered.
After that somber and harrowing night, I picked up the scattered pieces of my life and began to put them back together, never telling another soul, other than that complete stranger on the other end of the line, how close I came to taking my own life.
And my heart? Well, that was another story. It took quite awhile to mend the damage that had been done.
Even when I thought I could trust again, the sad realization was that my heart would always bear the irreparable scar of a love gone wrong...of many loves gone wrong.
We may move on, we may smile again...we might even be fortunate enough to find our one true love amidst the wreckage, after enduring many trial runs which undoubtedly affect us, both for the good and the bad.
But one thing is certain...after all the hardship and broken hearts....nothing is so traumatizing that we can't move past it, with the gentleness of time and patience. Even the bitterness of betrayal, as crippling as it is.
In the end, we all matter. If you believe nothing else, believe that.