The Door Mat

I’ve been thinking about divorce for the last few days.  Settle down, settle down–I’ve been thinking about the one I ALREADY had 10+ years ago.  (Not the one I’m gonna have if someone doesn’t get to the bottom of that sink full of dirty dishes, but that’s a different story for another day.)  

If March is the month that holds a lot of memories of my time with Richard, April is the month that reeks of Fartbuster.    We had an April wedding.  Five years after that, he moved out on April Fools Day.  We signed the divorce papers on the day after what would have been our sixth wedding anniversary.  Oh, and I found out all about his pregnant girlfriend in April, too.  Another story for another day.

eliot meme

This is not Fartbuster. This is T.S. Eliot.

Isn’t it odd that one of my earliest fond memories of him, when we had only been dating a few months, was from a long drive–he read “The Wasteland” to me?  For those of you who went to college in profitable fields, that’s the T.S. Eliot poem with the famous opening lines: “April is the cruelest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/Dull roots with spring rain.”  After that trip, he gave me his collection of Eliot poems, even crossed through his name on the inside of the front cover and wrote mine below it.

I’ve got a lot of stories about that marriage (The Engagement Fart), some of which I’ve never written down before.  Like the time I found myself living out the biggest cliche in the book–the night he came home from “working late” with actual lipstick on his collar.  I went to give him a hug and couldn’t NOT see it right there in front of my face.  My whole body went cold and tingly.  I hesitated for a few seconds–TRYING to summon up the strength to explain it away for him before he had to–when my sane brain took over and blurted out, “Is that LIPSTICK?”  He hemmed and hawed then said it must have happened when he gave  a secretary who was quitting a goodbye hug.  I could have accepted that; I could have swallowed the lie.  Instead I said, “That’s hard to believe.”  He froze for a good 20 seconds then admitted that “it was just dinner.”  OH, OK!!!  Psshew!  I thought it was something objectionable!  It’s funny now to recall that my first thought on registering that it was lipstick was that it was a frosty pink color and I couldn’t get past the TACKY.  Jesus, if you’re going to cheat at least pick someone who doesn’t wear Bonnie Belle Lipsmackers.

That was a long night.  We fought it out and hugged it out, I swore a lot and he swore he would change….blah, my hands are tired from just the typing of it.  The next day, I called in sick to work so I could spend a few hours staring out the window and trying to remember how to breathe.  I got it together.  I did the laundry.  I even washed his shirt for him.  The whole time I had that Cowboy Junkies song, “Southern Rain,” going through my mind because there’s a line in it that goes, “Every night there’s lipstick on his collar and every morning I wash it away.”

When Fartbuster came home that evening, he came bearing gifts.  As one does, naturally.  Try to guess what he got me!  A nice pair of “sorry I dated someone other than my wife” diamond earrings?  Nope.  Two tickets to a romantic second honeymoon?  Nuh-uh.  A bouquet of flowers from Kroger at the very least?  Not so much.

eclectic-doormatsA doormat.  The man bought me a DOORMAT.  We had two dachshunds so he bought me a novelty doormat that said “A spoiled rotten dachshund lives here!”  Because if you’ve cheated on your wife, you need to high-tail it to Spencer’s Gifts in the mall to make it up to her.

Here’s my point in telling all this–people will show you who they are.  They will show you what they think of you.  When they do, BELIEVE THEM.  Don’t give any credit to what they SAY, only to what they DO.  I spent a year after this betrayal trying to swallow his bullshit about how much he loved me.  There were many tearful scenes on his part, many professions of fidelity and adoration.  He said, “I want to move back home because I’ve learned that home is wherever you are.”  That was all in the SAY column.  In the DO column?  A doormat.  An apartment in town.  A girlfriend.  Then another one.

If I had wadded up that doormat and shoved it down his throat, then punched him in the gut until he spit it back out, THEN stuck it in his zipper and lit it on fire, I think a jury of other women would have found me not guilty AND given me the Miss Congeniality prize.  

I tell you what–I kept that doormat.  I moved it from our house to my house, to another my house, to another our house, which became another my house then turned back into an our house.  The dachshunds died years ago but that doormat is still in the garage.  Every time I look at it, I remember “When people show you who they are, believe them.”  Then I usually mumble, “Dumbass.”  For the first few years after I figured it all out, I was thinking of myself when I added, “Dumbass,”  Like it was my fault for not seeing through him sooner.  “When people show you who they are, believe them, Dumbass.”  But now that I’ve done the work to get more whole, I can see that his shortcomings were all about him and not anything I was supposed to fix.  I was thinking about the woman who stayed silent while a cheating man gave her a doormat.  Now I say it when I’m thinking about the man who thought that was good enough for me.  Dumbass.  

be nice doormat

The doormat I bought for MY house.


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39 thoughts on “The Door Mat

  1. Jennifer (Word Witch) Johnson

    Very nice. You know time really can give you good and useful perspective on what are very painful moments when you’re presently living through them. The ability to reflect and the choice TO reflect on the difficult moments gives us the gift of wisdom.

    Great job, Sister.

  2. Leigh Tillman Partington

    I found your blog through a Facebook friend and I absolutely love it. Had to comment on this rainy, cold April morning – seeing a T.S. Eliot “Hey Girl,” made my day. Thanks for sharing your stories. I love your writing style and sense of humor – always look forward to that link in my email box.

  3. rachelhmarsh

    BEST blog yet. I never realized so many years ago when we worked together that our marriages were following such a similar path. My “lipstick stain” was a random necklace in our bedroom that didn’t belong to me. My “doormat” was a Dustbuster. 🙂 And, I still think back to how poorly I handled it and think “dumbass”. Then, I look at my life today, and I say, “You Go Girl”. Love you, Baddest Mother Ever!

    1. Baddest Mother Ever

      Oh, Rachel, you deserved better than that weasel….and you GOT IT. I hope you and your super hot husband have bumped into your ex! The worst fight Fartbuster and I ever had before the cheating started was over where to hang the Dustbuster. Seriously.

    2. Baddest Mother Ever

      Oh, and try not to judge how “poorly” you handled it. You were doing your best with the skills you had back then. Give that young woman credit for doing her best. Be gentle with her!

  4. Marge Massey

    Love it………we must be identical twins from another life! My ex- gave me a mop bucket for our first anniversary! It got better eventually – one year, this non-yard person received a gas-powered hedge trimmer. And I stayed with him for 28 years???? Guess who used to be a dumbass until I finally realized who the dumbass really was!

  5. Leigh

    Just wanted to say thanks Ashely…I really needed this today. It’s been a rough week concerning ASSHAT. I appreciate the reminder that came through your post for me; I’m doing the right thing right now. It’s truly amazing how they SHOW you who they are over and over again! Love ya chick, <3

    P. S. I'm walking right out of those panites!

  6. Terri

    Oh, this spoke to me this morning. Not about anyone in my family, thankfully, but about one of my GS moms. Funny how it echoes exactly the realization I had a few months back.

  7. debrahelwig

    I LOVE THIS. Totally by accident (or should I say by the Grace of God), I got a great man the first time on the marriage train….but I have sadly had too many friendships (and family relationships) where I *WAS* the doormat. Actions do speak louder than words, if you just pay attention. Thanks for the slap up’side the head to keep my eyes and heart open and not settle for being walked on.

  8. Darcy Perdu

    wow — great post. and so true — people like that usually send us many signals — and sometimes it takes us awhile to realize that are telling us exactly who they are!

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  11. Heart To Harp

    I’ve been thinking about this post all day. “…people will show you who they are. They will show you what they think of you. When they do, BELIEVE THEM.” WOW! I’ve got it in a shorter chant in my head, working it to a bossa nova rhythm – “when they show you, believe them…when they show you, believe them.”

    I have a steamer trunk full of persistence, which is great for learning to play a musical instrument, but not particularly helpful for letting go of a relationship when someone SHOWS me who they are and what they think of me, and I’m not likin’ what they’re showin’.

    Your wonderful bit of wisdom is going on my “Top Five Things You Need To Know About Living On This Planet” list. Right under “It is what it is.”

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  23. Fran Tunno

    Oh My God, I am not sure how I came upon this column,but it sure did bring back memories of an ex of mine who always showed me who he was while he was saying something different. It took me years and years to finally get up the guts to leave. But I did. So glad we both know we deserve to be valued now. You rock. Thanks for having the guts to write a wonderful and honest column.


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