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A couple of years ago I went to a party at the home of a person whom I met through my support group for people who are separated or divorced. She announced that she was having a bonfire and she invited people to bring anything they would like to burn. A couple of years ago I brought my wedding cake topper to burn, which I wrote about in this blog and I shot this short video.

Recently the same person was having another party with a bonfire at her home and she invited people to bring something to burn. I found something that had been hanging on the wall of my home that I thought would be proper to burn. It was a wedding present from my parents and it featured this embroidery piece that was handmade by my mother the placed in this lovely frame. It had hung in the living room of my home for many years and it still remained there after my husband literally ran away from home and subsequently divorced me.

I no longer wanted the embroidery piece as is. I couldn’t sell it on eBay because it was personalized with my name and my ex-husband’s name along with the date of our wedding. I thought of ways that I could somehow alter it and maybe use it in some kind of potential future arts and crafts project only to find that it really can’t be altered without ruining or destroying the piece.

I called my mother to see if she would want it back since she worked hard on it but she said she didn’t want it either (especially since it has my ex-husband’s name on it).

So I did what I felt I had to do. I removed the piece from the frame (which I kept because it’s really too lovely to destroy and I can definitely recycle it), brought it with me to the party, and burned it. I also made a video of its destruction.

The party hostess also provided sparklers for the guests to light (especially since it was the night before the Fourth of July holiday) and here’s a photo of one of the sparklers I lit using the bonfire.

sparkler

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I’ve written about my divorce before but I’m writing about it again not because I’m a drama queen but because I’m hoping that this post would get mentioned by the Delightfully Tacky blog. Especially with that blog’s The Brave Ones section where other writers write about their own experiences with overcoming trauma.

delightfullytacky

I don’t know if anything will come of it but I want to do things in the hope that my life will be improved enough so I can move on from the drama of the last three-and-a-half years. My therapist, divorce recovery support group, and even a few books have suggested that everyday I do at least one thing that could possibly help me move on from this major trauma that I went through and I’m still struggling with.

I married my college sweetheart. Compared to other boyfriends I’ve had, this man was very mature, level-headed, and very responsible. He never developed any addictions nor was he ever violent towards me in any way. We had a lot in common. When I introduced him to my parents, he managed to charm them. When I announced our engagement, my parents were totally thrilled because they liked him. We got married 10 months after I finished college and I felt like I had died and gone to heaven because I considered him to be my best friend as well as my husband. At times he even served as a model and muse for some of my art projects.

Man Lying in Bed, Watching Television (B&W)

Man Lying in Bed, Watching Television (Color)

We had weathered a lot together, including the sudden death of his mother in 2010 and my hip surgery in 2011. I thought that we were destined to spend the rest of our lives together. This blog post, which described this baseball card collage I made as a present for my husband in early 2011 based on his own suggestion, is typical of the married life I had with him.

Baseball Cards Collage

My husband did a lot for me both before and after my hip surgery. He made all the preparations for my surgery, he took time off from his job so he could take care of me while I recuperated, and he even lined up friends to drive me to and from physical therapy sessions when he had to return to his job. On Christmas Day, 2011, we had a lovely time together, which I recounted in this post. I was happy in the marriage and my husband acted happy as well. He didn’t indicate that he felt there were problems in our marriage or anything like that.

Michael Reclining on Couch

It all came to a sudden screeching halt just three days after that lovely Christmas Day and three months after my hip surgery. He came home from work, announced “I’m moving out…I found a room,” threw some pieces of paper my way, then ran out the door before I could even respond. I looked at the papers. One was a check for $2,000 that was designated as my first alimony payment. One was a separation schedule that he drummed up that would lead to our divorce. The other was a note where he blamed the fact that the day before I had the hip surgery, I went on a little shopping trip to a mall where I purchased an American Girl doll who was supposed to represent the 1970’s. she had long blonde hair (like I did before I hit my teens), and she wore an outfit that was nearly identical to one that I wore as a child in the same era.

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Basically that doll was the reason why he said he had to leave home.

I was totally shocked by all this. At the time I thought he had simply snapped due to all the stress over my health problems and some stresses at his job and this volunteer job he took on as treasurer for our church. The night he left I wrote a short entry hoping that he would soon return home and the separation would be a short-lived one.

Michael in Red and Green

A couple of days later my husband was still missing so I did a few Google searches under “My husband ran away from home” and I was led to this book by Vikki Stark called Runaway Husbands where she went through a similar situation as I did. I ordered it through Amazon.com and for the next several months I read and re-read that book over and over again.

Despite Vikki Stark’s contention that, based on her own experiences and her research of other women who went through the same thing, my marriage was destined for divorce, I still held out hope that my husband would reconsider. I had even contemplated selling that doll that he blamed for the walkout on eBay in the hopes that he would realize that I was serious about saving our marriage and return to me.

When I read Stark’s book, especially the section about how there’s usually another woman involved, I initially thought that there was either no one else or, if there was another woman, she would’ve been a co-worker at my husband’s job at NASA. My assumptions were totally shattered a month later when a few of my friends finally came forward with the truth. They had seen him in the company of a friend of ours whom we both met through this cafe that we frequented. (She worked as a barmaid two nights a week while being open about struggling with severe depression that has impacted much of her adult life. She even mentioned that she had an experimental pacemaker implanted into her brain because her depression had grown that bad. About 10 months before my husband ran away from home she had to check into a hospital for a few days in order to adjust her meds because her body had adjusted to her current course of treatment.) He took her on dates to the same cafe where she worked as a barmaid (and the same one where my husband and I were regulars) within a week after he left me so my friends figured it out before I did.

I thought that the barmaid was my friend and I even felt sorry for her because of her struggles with mental illness. She was among my friends whom I approached when I was trying to look for my husband and she denied knowing where he was. When I told her how he ran away from home, she seemed shocked at the time. But now I realize that she was just a fake friend who had no qualms about stabbing me in the back while I was still recovering from hip surgery and was still willing to stay with him even after I told her he ran away from home.

For the next year I didn’t hear from my husband other than receiving e-mails and texts demanding that we separate our finances and we sign this separation agreement as soon as possible. In his messages he basically barked orders at me like I was his employee instead of his wife. Whenever I protested he would threaten to sue me in court. Basically my husband went from being my best friend to my own worst enemy.

Michael in Dots

To make manners worse, on Christmas Eve, 2012, he sent a divorce petition in a .pdf format that was attached to an e-mail. Then he demanded that I sign it and mail it to his lawyer as soon as possible. I consulted a lawyer who told me that it wasn’t real because there was no case number assigned to it. My husband had his lawyer file for divorce for real and I ended up in divorce court in April, 2013.  Our divorce was declared final by June. In August, just two months after the divorce being final, I got word via Facebook that my ex-husband and my ex-friend suddenly got married.

In the aftermath of my husband’s dramatic about face, I began to see a therapist and I also started attending weekly meetings of a divorce recovery support group. Through them I began to gain a new perspective on my marriage. I realize now that there were some issues in the marriage that I had swept under the carpet and was willing to overlook because I thought my husband was such a swell guy. For example, my husband grew up in a family that was basically dysfunctional and full of drama and it had an effect on him that I should not have ignored. These days I tell people that before they get married, see how that person interacts with his/her own family. If there’s something troubling about your fiancee’s family dynamic, get out now. Ditto for any other red flag that your fiancee may display. It’s easier and cheaper to break an engagement than it is to get a divorce.

I kept on reading other books after I went through Vikki Stark’s book several times and they were all a tremendous help to me. I also have to credit my family and friends for sticking by me and helping me through this sudden out-of-the-blue divorce. If it weren’t for them, I would be in a worse place now both mentally and financially.

I’ve always considered myself to be an artist but I’m having a hard time trying to make ends meet with only selling through art shows and craft fairs. I’m currently looking into temping and freelance work so I can support myself once my husband’s court-mandated five-year alimony runs out. I’m trying to move on. My therapist tells me that I’m making great progress but there are times when I doubt it myself.

I’ve also tried finding creative ways of dealing with what happened. When a member of my divorce recovery group threw a party at her home, she invited people to bring things in order to thrown into a bonfire that she was having in her backyard. I donated my old wedding cake topper for the occasion.

And then there is the time on Halloween when I did this wiccan/pagan ritual where I burned a lock of my ex-husband’s baby hair (which was saved by his late mother when he was nearly a year old and it came with a bunch of items from his mother’s estate—ultimately he left it behind with me).

I have no other choice but to keep on trying new avenues and make major life decisions by myself and hope everything works out for me because right now I’m currently in limbo. I don’t know where I’ll end up. I’m hoping for the best while trying everything possible to avoid the worst.

http://www.nablopomo.com

Since yesterday was the one-year anniversary of the day that my lawyer gave me a document indicating that my divorce was final, I’d thought I’d dedicate this week’s Throwback Thursday to my original wedding cake topper.

While I was making wedding plans with my future ex-husband and my parents (who stuck with tradition by agreeing to foot the wedding bill), my mother had the idea of going to Berger’s Cookies in Lexington Market (located in Baltimore) and order one of their scrumptious cakes for the occasion. But as the wedding date grew closer, my parents started to get cold feet at the idea of driving the car into Baltimore, carrying a wedding cake through the rest of Lexington Market in order to get to the parking garage, then drive it back to my hometown of Glen Burnie, where the wedding took place. (Yes, my fiancee and I stuck with the tradition of having the wedding in the bride’s hometown.) So my mother ordered the wedding cake from the nearby Giant Supermarket instead and it turned out pretty nice. The photo below is of the whole wedding cake on that special day. It looks washed out because I took a closeup of the original photo with my smartphone because I felt too lazy to haul the huge wedding album to the scanner. (The wedding album was professionally done by the photographer at our event and the photos can’t be easily removed for scanning.)

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So my husband and I kept the wedding cake topper as a memento of our special day. When my husband abruptly walked out on me on December 28 2011 (three months after I underwent hip surgery and three days after we celebrated a lovely Christmas together), the wedding cake topper was among the numerous items he left behind.

As the separation turned into a divorce, the wedding cake topper became more and more like a useless piece of clutter to me. I thought about making an art project out of it where I would somehow convert it to a divorce cake topper (like painting the entire thing black) but I discarded it because I really couldn’t think of a way of doing it without making the whole thing seem tacky and ugly. I couldn’t sell it because the thing was mostly made from cheap plastic and most professional bakeries prefer to use their own cake toppers that they make themselves or purchase new.

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Even selling it to an amateur baker attempting a wedding cake was out of the question because parts of the wedding cake topper had turned yellow with age. This is most apparent on the bride. If you look at the close-up photo below, you’d notice that the bride’s skirt and veil are still white yet the dress bodice has faded to a yucky yellow color.

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It looks worse when viewing the cake topper from the back. The bride’s gown had completely turned yellow

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During my attendance at the weekly meetings of my support group for people who are separated or divorced, one member announced a party at her home where she was going to have a bonfire. She encouraged people to bring something to burn. So I had a solution for getting rid of that wedding cake topper once and for all.

So I arrived at the party last Friday (June 6) with my wedding cake topper where I saw this bonfire.

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I shot a short video of what happened next and I’ve just uploaded it on YouTube.

It’s been nearly a week since the wedding cake topper literally went up in smoke and I don’t miss it at all. I know that some of my environmentalist friends will be horrified at burning plastic instead of just putting it in the recycling bin but there are times when just throwing it in the recycling bin isn’t enough. Fire purifies and cleanses and fire can heal. It just felt great to see that wedding cake topper go up in flames and I would do it all over again if I had the chance.

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