Should’ve Known Better

My stubbornness isn’t news to me.  I’ve often joked that, “stubbornness is associated with my astrological sign, but I refuse to believe it.”  But it’s only in hindsight I can really see how strong my stubbornness is.  Sometimes stubborn is good – it can mean perseverance in difficult times which leads to triumph.  It can also mean a refusal to see what should be obvious.

None of these last few posts have been easy to write, but this one literally kept me awake at night because I knew I needed to write it, but I don’t really want to.  It’s 3 am and after being awake since midnight, I gave in and fired up the computer.

Several years ago, an old friend from high school stumbled upon my writing blog.  It was a crazy coincidence and we emailed periodically.  Things changed a couple years later when I started writing about the end of my marriage.  In particular, a poem about the drinking caught his attention.  He admitted that he, too, had been an alcoholic. He revealed more about his life that happened in the 23 years we weren’t in contact and I admired his honesty.  As I struggled with the decision of whether to end my marriage or continue the lie, he encouraged me to seek God for the answer.  This was always a struggle because God hates divorce, however, my marriage was destroying what little was left of me.

It wasn’t until after I filed for divorce that my friend revealed that “he cared for me more than the world says he should.”  I didn’t know what that meant.  He told me that in high school, he always went to the fast food place I worked at to see me.  I just thought he liked cheap food – I really had no idea.  He told me that he always liked my hair and my smile and when I laughed, it made him happy.  He graduated a year before me and went into the Army.  We wrote for a while (he still had the letters) but then drifted apart.  My senior year, I wrote a poem about him that was published in the school district literary magazine.  It was about feeling more than I should for my friend.

He lived across the country but I saw him in 2015 when he came to visit his parents.  We met for lunch,  I had hoped that seeing him would put an end to the crazy attachment I had for him.  He mentioned several times he was overweight, or his shape was round.  My ex had gained a lot of weight and I found it “gross”, so I figured when I saw my friend’s appearance, I would get past what I thought I felt.

I didn’t.  I saw him for the first time in 25 years and he hugged me.  My world was crumbling around me, but when he hugged me, I felt like I would be okay.  I felt safe.  I’d never felt like that before and I knew I loved him.  He said he’d never forgotten me all those years, and had called my parents’ house when he filed for divorce in 2000, but he thought my dad said I’d passed away several years ago.  My dad mumbles so I think he might’ve said he gave me away several years ago.  It was like my childhood fantasies were coming true – I was beautiful to him and he would rescue me.

There were several problems though.  The biggest:  he was still married.  He didn’t get divorced in 2000.  He said there was no chance for his marriage and it was “empty”.  I told him to keep praying for his marriage because God can work miracles.  I stopped contact with him several times – I really wanted him to work on his marriage because it would spare me the guilt over my feelings.  That didn’t happen.

In 2016, he applied for a job in Arizona with his company and he got it.  He would live about two hours away from me.  We went hiking a few times and met for lunch, and he helped with some things around my house that I couldn’t do myself.  I was bothered that he said his marriage was done but his wife was still moving with their high-school-age son (their daughter had already moved out).  However, I could understand he wanted to be near his son.  I couldn’t imagine living across the country from my child.

Things went too far last summer.  His wife knew and contacted me.  I avoided her.  I had no explanation and I knew I was wrong.  I thought that would finally get things out in the open, and bring about some honesty, but no.  They didn’t talk about it and are still married today.

I stopped contact with him again in February of this year.  Then I got a mother’s day card in the mail from him.  I was hurt/angry/shocked.  I ripped it to shreds.  The next day, I emailed him (I deleted his contact info but I remembered his email address.)  I told him that if it was him, I didn’t know why he would do that.  He did admit to sending the card but didn’t sign his name because he didn’t know how I would take it.  He said the more he tried to talk himself out of sending it, the more he felt he needed to, and he hoped I enjoyed the card.

Oh, he had no idea!

I told him that I knew there was no future for us and I hoped that he realized the same so he could stop being stubborn and stupid, and work on his marriage.  I told him I felt like he played me, took advantage of my vulnerability, and used me.  He had nothing to say.

This has been a painful lesson, but I’ve learned a lot from the experience.  I’m accepting that there is no one on this earth that can/will rescue me.  That was a foolish, childish dream.  As much as I wanted to share my life and grow old with someone who truly loved me in the way God intended for love to be, I am letting go of this idea so I can be focused instead on what God has planned for me.

If there is a silver lining in all of this, I would say that it has broken my stubbornness.  By removing every crutch, eliminating all chances of denial and forcing me to evaluate myself honestly, I can finally stop hiding and can let go of all these things that have burdened me.

Oh, and of course my parents don’t know about any of this either. My mom likes to tell the story of how my grandpa (her dad) used to pick on me as a child and get me riled up to argue.  My mom asked why he did that, and he told her ‘because it’s a tough world out there.  If she’s too nice, she’ll never survive.”  I hear this story almost every time we talk.  I know she likes it because it helps her remember her dad fondly.  While I can appreciate the love behind his actions, I’ve grown to dislike this story because it reaffirms the deep feeling that I was never right and needed to be “fixed” or changed from the very beginning.  I love my parents and I think they did the best they could, but I think there will always be a distance because of the disconnect between the daughter they wanted and the daughter they have.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

At least I’m not alone – my kitties are the bright spot in my life, and I’m thankful for that!

05-29 Lizzy
They love me…
05-29 Skye
and make me laugh! 🙂
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Continuing the Journey

It was a huge relief to write of some of the darkest secrets I’ve stored away.  So much so, that I feel compelled to continue.

Throughout my childhood, I continued to struggle to fit in at school.  I finally started to find real friends beginning in sixth grade.  But it wasn’t easy – I didn’t trust and always kept on guard for the betrayal I knew would come.  This is when I started sharing enough of myself so people thought they knew me, but not enough that I was vulnerable.  Deep down, I suspected if they really knew me, they wouldn’t like me. The conscious effort to change myself began my Sophomore year in high school.  The move to a new city was the perfect chance to be someone other than me.

My parents separated when I was in junior high, but that was temporary.  My dad’s job took us to Phoenix my Sophomore year of high school.  My ninth grade year was spent obsessing over the best method to die, because I couldn’t take the misery anymore.  Moving at that time was a blessing.  However, my parents’ fighting didn’t cease.  This was about the time I broke and allowed some of my anger and anxiety out.  As I stood at the top of the stairs, drawn out of my room by the screaming and banging, I watched as hangers were thrown.  Between the physical fighting and the hateful words being shouted, the frustration got to me.  Normally quiet, and observing the interactions unseen, I surprised myself when I screamed at them to “Stop!  Just stop it!”  I don’t remember everything I said, but I do remember I told them to not even bother apologizing because that’s what they always did and nothing changed.  My brother came out of his room and tried to grab me to calm me down.  I shoved him and yelled at him to get away from me.  Then I locked myself in my room.

Sophomore year was the year my friend, Holly, introduced me to poetry.  I embraced that outlet for getting some of my emotions out.  I never wrote journals because I feared someone would find them and there was no way I was letting anyone inside my head.  Poetry was nice because it was like a journal but in code.  I could read the poem and know exactly what it meant, but I felt safe in knowing that others could not.

I never told my parents I wrote poetry, even when one of my poems was selected and published in the district literary magazine my Senior year.  Someone wrote about that when they signed my yearbook.  My mom always read my yearbook and she asked me about it.  I lied and told her I didn’t know what they were talking about and said they probably got my yearbook confused with someone else’s.  If I had told the truth, she would have wanted to read them and if I declined, she’d play the guilt card.

After I graduated high school, I went to college because that’s what I was supposed to do.  My mom drilled it into my head from a young age that I was going to be able to support myself; I would never be stuck in life because I had no other options.  She said she couldn’t leave my dad because she couldn’t support herself and that wasn’t going to happen to me.  Secretly, I wanted to have someone to lean on- I wanted to depend on someone but me, but that wasn’t something I could express.  When I told her I wanted to go into graphic design, her response was it was too competitive and I wouldn’t make good money.  So I didn’t pursue it.  I majored in Psychology (ironically, with a bachelors degree, it’s one of the lowest paying professions) and I think she was okay with that because there were possibilities at the masters and PhD levels.  I didn’t make it that far, though.

I really wanted to be married, which is odd because what I grew up with wasn’t all that great.  I think the fantasy world I lived in when I was younger made me think that I could make it different.  I went on a lot of first dates but very few third or fourth dates.  It was discouraging and the nagging feeling that there was something wrong with me persisted.  I would back away when pushed for physical things.  I couldn’t do that – and the pressure made me angry.  I was 19 when I started dating a “nice” guy.  I didn’t feel pressured for once.  We dated for seven months and he talked of marriage (he was five years older) and I felt like I finally found someone who loved me.  I slept with him.

My mom found out about the relationship and and started yelling at me.  She called me a slut and a whore.  All, while my grandmother, who was visiting from Colorado, was in the next room.  I was embarrassed, humiliated and angry.  I tried to get away from her hateful words, but she blocked the door to my room and shoved me back.  I stumbled and fell into my nightstand.  I got up and charged at her and she goaded me to hit her if it would make me feel better – this is what she did to my dad!  I stopped and laughed and told her she wasn’t worth it.  I started to pack my things, but realized I couldn’t leave just yet.  The car I drove was theirs and I didn’t have enough money saved up to pay for tuition.  For the next year, I saved as much as I could.  I bought a crappy car, but it was mine.  And on my twentieth birthday, I told her I was moving out and already had a deposit on a studio apartment.  She was angry that I was “sneaky” and kept it from her.

The guy I was dating thought it would be good to live on my own before we got married.  I was disappointed, but it made sense.  What happened was that living on my own, I started to see things about him that I wasn’t okay with.  He drank too much with his friends.  He couldn’t pay his bills (I bailed him out several times) and he had lots of dreams, but not a lot of action towards pursing them.  After two and half years, he casually told me he couldn’t see himself being married.  Ouch. What made it worse is that I found out that several months before, he had talked to my best friend to see if she would talk to me about getting help because I wasn’t good in bed.  She shared this bit of news after I broke up with him.  This hurt a lot because I already felt inferior, like I was messed up, and that made it worse.

And here’s where I met my ex-husband.

We started dating and I thought I finally found someone that could take care of me.  He managed a restaurant, after all.  Things moved pretty fast and I was determined to prove that I didn’t need help; that I wasn’t a disappointment.  Well, my parents found out about that relationship and I was still a slut and a whore.  I was equally determined to prove them wrong.  When he proposed to me a few months later, I accepted.

There were some red flags that I chose to ignore.  I felt I had to – if that relationship ended, my parents (mom) would be right and I couldn’t let that happen.  So, when he went into a jealous rage when a guy from school gave me a ride home, I told myself it was because he loved me.  When he drank too much at a food show and drove home drunk, I told myself it was a one-off thing and he wouldn’t do it again.  When my friends warned me he was bad for me, I convinced myself they were jealous and ended those friendships.  When my mom told me a week before my wedding that it wasn’t too late to back out, I considered it, but ultimately chose to move forward because marriage would make me alright.

I spent the next 18 years living a private lie.  I didn’t marry someone who would protect me and care for me, I married someone selfish with as many insecurities as I had.  He was looking for someone to care for him because he didn’t want to be alone.  My peace-keeper role in my immediate family carried over to my marriage and I lost more of myself as I tried to be the perfect wife.  But I wasn’t.  As the newness wore off, I realized I didn’t like him as a person.  I didn’t want to be intimate with him and the more he pressured me, guilted me, or became downright mean, the more I disliked his touch.  Toward the end of the marriage, he had taken to grabbing my crotch when he was in the mood and I wanted to throw up because it reminded me of things I didn’t want to remember.   I couldn’t tell anyone about the way my life really was.  In 2009, I turned to writing again as I had in high school.  This outlet allowed me some escape from my miserable life.  He didn’t like to read and didn’t get my story ideas, so I learned to keep all of it to myself.  I never told my parents about my writing blog, either.

I was cleaning out my closet last week (literally, not metaphorically) and came across cards I had saved over the years from my ex.  They were all about wanting sex, thanking me for all I do for him or looking forward to spending money, whether it be on a “thing” or travel”.  Nothing about me personally that would make me special.  Seeing him now with his girlfriend moved in because “he doesn’t want to be alone” (his words to the therapist) I see that to him, I was dispensable.  I endured for 18 years, but I see now that I was only someone to support him financially and keep him from being alone.  That hurts and makes me angry.  I’m working through these emotions so I can reach the point of forgiveness – for both my ex and for me.

There’s more to my story, but I need to rest before I tackle that.

In the Beginning

A while back, I started to write about the disaster of my marriage.  I stopped.  I didn’t know why.  Now, I think I do:  the end didn’t start there, it was just an easier (more socially acceptable) place to start.

I don’t like to remember my childhood because there weren’t too many “good” moments, and for some reason, the truly painful ones are the memories that stick with me.  My parents divorced when I was three, after that, my mom, brother and I moved in with aunt and uncle in Colorado.  My mom met the man who became my dad and they were married after knowing each other a few months.  (He was a friend of my uncle’s).

My biological dad didn’t have much to do with my brother or me.  When I was five, he was going to have us stay with him and his new family for a weekend and I was scared (crying hysterically) because I’d never been away from my mom.  They stopped the car and let me out, and my brother went for the weekend.  As months and years went by, I regretted my “being a baby” and said I would go if he asked again, but he never did.  I made a comment to my mom once that I missed dad.  I was young, maybe 6 or 7. She snapped back, “You can’t miss him; you don’t even know him.”  The harshness of her tone caught me off-guard and I learned to keep that stuff inside.

My mom and my new dad fought a lot.  In my house “go to hell” was like a term of endearment.  I never liked loud noises.  My aunt told me that when I was little, I would cover my ears and cry every time an ambulance siren went by.  So, imagine the anxiety I felt when doors were slammed so hard, door jams came loose, heavy wooden tables were thrown, or I saw my dad pin my mom against the wall with his hand around her throat.  I was terrified.

School wasn’t any better.  I was extremely shy and an easy target for bullies.  No matter how much I tried to be invisible, they would find me.  There’s the stupid saying that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”  That is a total lie – a physical beating would’ve been a relief.  I have always liked cats, and one day, I wore a button with a lion on it and it said something about pride.  Tracy pulled at the button and said “what pride” and they started laughing.  One day, I tried to stand up for myself when they told me to move, they wanted to sit where I was sitting at the lunch table.  I said “no”.  They picked me up and moved me to the floor.  It was humiliating.  Even worse, were the times people would be nice to me and act like my friends, only to take advantage of me (get me to do homework for them, steal my necklaces during hopscotch games, etc.).

But this wasn’t the half of it.  The worst betrayal came from my own family.  I’m told that when I was little, I adored my older brother.  I would follow him everywhere and looked up to him.  When I was six my brother started touching me, and having me touch him.  I probably knew it was wrong, but I trusted him.  I don’t remember a lot of the details, I blocked all that out, but I remember it was ongoing- until my parents found out.  My mom told me she was ashamed of me and disappointed in me.  She told me my aunt and uncle were thinking of adopting a child, but after this, they didn’t know if they wanted kids. (I was horrified that she told them, and that I was so terrible they wouldn’t want kids.)

Every time my parents left the house, they told us to “behave” and that would make me feel disgusted all over again.  I spent a lot of time alone in my room.  I created imaginary worlds that were much better to live in.  A lot of scenarios that played out like a Disney movie- where someone would find me beautiful and rescue me.

When I was nine, I was befriended by a girl who was a year older.  I was happy to actually have a friend.  I’m not sure how long we spent time together, but I remember the day that stopped.  I was at her house and we were having a contest to see who could blow the biggest bubble (Hubba Bubba banana bubble gum).  I’m not sure if I won, but my bubble was so big that when it popped, it covered my face, my glasses and got stuck in my hair.  Diane took my glasses and and went to the bathroom to clean them.  Her dad picked at the gum in my hair and told me it was going to be okay.  He was overly soothing – I wasn’t that upset.  He sat me on his lap with my back to him and wrapped his arm around my waist.  I tried to get up but he held me tighter and put his hand where he shouldn’t, quite firmly.  I tried to get out of his grasp and I couldn’t.  Then Diane walked in.  She paused and didn’t say anything.  Her dad let me go and I grabbed my glasses and ran out of the house and never went back.

I told the neighborhood girls what happened and warned them not to go to Diane’s house.  They laughed at me and told me I was lying and that I only wished it had happened.  I didn’t tell my parents because they were so disgusted with me before, I knew it would be worse if they knew it happened again.  I was sure there was something wrong with me because now it happened twice, with two different people.  And no one could ever know.

My brother didn’t touch me for six years, that I know of.  (Years earlier, I started wearing 2-piece pajamas instead of nightshirts because sometimes I would wake up uncovered with my nightshirt up and I didn’t want to be exposed.  I still wear 2-piece pajamas to this day!)  That lasted until I was 12.  My uncle was in town and invited us to swim at his hotel.  My parents and uncle were in the hot tub and my brother and I were in the pool.  I don’t remember what led up to it, but he said, “what would you do if I did this” and he grabbed my crotch.  I screamed “no!” and backed away.  The adults all looked over and my mom asked what was going on.  I panicked and said “don’t dunk me!”  I didn’t want to disappoint them again.  At that point, I wondered if maybe I wasn’t a restless sleeper, but maybe he was looking at me.  That thought unnerved me, and I told myself I was being paranoid.

Needless to say, my brother and I aren’t close.  Sometimes my mom will try to guilt me by saying things like, “I wish you guys were close and we were a real family,” or “I don’t think I’ll do holiday gatherings anymore since no one talks to each other.”

Seriously?  It’s like no one remembers what happened.  Sometimes it makes me feel crazy like I imagined it all.  When he had his first daughter, my parents were all excited to have a grand-daughter among all the grandsons.  I was freaking out.  Was I the only one that thought having a young girl in his house was a bad idea?  Every Thanksgiving and Christmas, I have forced myself to make small talk and pretend like life is just great.  I have tried to give her that.  In reading the book the therapist gave me, I see my family role as “peace-maker”.  But this was at a cost to me.  This role led to more misplaced trust and bad choices, which I will write about later.

Jesus said to him, no one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God –Luke 9:62

I’m A Christian…Does That Mean I Have To Be A Doormat?

03-11 Lizzy
To be walked on, or stepped over… that is the question…

In the month since my last post, life has continued to keep me busy.  My younger son ended up getting steroid shots in his TMJ (jaw) joints last week after his MRI showed active inflammation.  He’s still on a soft diet, and I’m still experimenting (sometimes successfully) with new meals that are easy to eat.  Funny thing is, he doesn’t complain about all the doctor’s appointments, he just accepts it as “what is.”

I could learn a lot from him.

This last month, I became a member of the church I’ve been going to for the last 3 and 1/2 years.  This was big for me, because I’ve never taken that step.  I’ve always stayed on the fringes, so I could come or go unnoticed.  I still don’t feel like I belong anywhere and keep to myself, but I’m praying that God will encourage me to be more outgoing.  I’ve sang with the church band on two Sundays and it was amazing.  I don’t feel self-conscious when I’m singing because it’s all about praise.  Now, standing there during the announcements, that’s a different story.  Awkward!

This last month has also been about me trying to show love as Jesus would, but I have to admit, I’ve fallen short.  If this were a marathon, I’d say I ran backwards!  I’m struggling with setting aside resentment and anger, and getting past the stubbornness that is surfacing because I’m tired of being a “doormat.”

Event 1:  My ex asked if my dad could get him discount tickets for a theme park in case he wanted to take the kids (this was after I got tickets so I could take them over spring break).  I was annoyed, but decided I would ask anyway.  My dad (reluctantly) agreed and I was encouraged that I did the “right” thing.  That feel-good moment was short-lived, and keeled over the instant the kids told me what happened last weekend: their dad’s girlfriend said (in front of them) that it was kind of weird he was inviting them (my kids) because the trip was supposed to be for them (and her 5-year-old son.)  I’m livid that 1) he didn’t say anything to reject that idea so now my kids feel a distant second, and 2) he apparently tricked  me into getting discount tickets when they weren’t intended for the kids.

Event 2: I have this friend who talks to me only when it is convenient.  If there are other things going on, or other stuff to to be done, I don’t hear anything.  I’ve always lent an ear, but resentment is creeping in, so I may not be listening much longer.

Event 3: My ex shifted schedules at the last minute on several occasions (most recently, backing out of taking my older son to the dentist and picking him up from school when I was in Phoenix for my younger son’s TMJ injections.)  He skipped out on the dentist appointment because he was too busy at work (I’m busy too!) and I was baffled by the picking him up at school because he said he would get him at my house – 5 minutes after school was out (so I’m not sure why I had to go pick him up after driving 170 miles that day). It almost seems like a control thing or a power play, but it irks me that he feels I’m at his beckon call.

Event 4: My son asked me to make 3 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for a Boy Scout hike on Saturday.  I asked him if he was really hungry and he told me it was one sandwich for him, one for his brother and one for his dad.

Um, no.

I told him I wasn’t making a sandwich for his dad, he could make his own.  Then he said his dad told him to have a lunch for him (figures.)  Then my older son said I could just make 2 sandwiches and he’d give dad his sandwich.

No, again.

I made my younger son a lunch with roast beef (because it has additives that give his dad headaches so I knew it was safe.) My older son made a sorry-looking pb&j for his dad and packed different snack-type items for himself.

Event 5: On Friday, my ex lied to me (twice) in an attempt to manipulate a situation involving my older son.  I called him out on both lies, which he refused to acknowledge as lies and continued to be obstinate (nothing short of his way would be acceptable).  Of course, things weren’t resolved and I was left angry and frustrated- and disappointed that I ignored my therapist’s advice to not engage in his “baits” because “you can’t change stupid.”

These (and many more encounters) have left me wondering if being a Christian means I have to be a doormat.  Because honestly, I feel like I’m often taken advantage of, and I get resentful.

So I turned to scriptures.

Matthew 5:38-42- You have heard that it was aid, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person.  If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.  And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.  If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Give to the one who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

Luke 6:27-29– But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.

Proverbs 25:21-22– If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

I think the fact I smiled at the “heap burning coals on his head” and imagined literally doing just that is a sign I have a loooong way to go 🙂

So, it seems the simple answer to my question posed in the title of this post is “yes” – unless I can change my perspective.

Some time ago, my younger son complained that life wasn’t fair.  I agreed and told him it wasn’t… when we look at it from an earthly point of view.  I added that I thought God sees things differently; that we are given certain struggles, afflictions and experiences so we can be greater testimonies for God’s grace and goodness.

My resentment and anger won’t change the “takers” in my life one bit.  My prayer today is that God will continue working in me so I can overcome my tendency to weigh the “fairness” of interactions.  I pray that He will soften my heart so I can not only accept these circumstances, but continue to show love as Jesus did, unrestrained and undeterred by perceived unfairness.

03-11 Roxy
May God give me the strength to love even if it means I could get stepped on

Have a beautiful Sunday!

 

Silence Isn’t Golden; It’s Yellow

2016-01-16-frozen-water6
Partially frozen rainwater… looks almost like a frosty mug of beer, haha

This post title is borrowed, but as soon as I heard the words, I embraced them as my own.  They are appropriate here because I see my last post was January 4 (good thing I don’t make New Years resolutions, because if writing were one of them I’d be a failure at this point!)

It’s not that I haven’t thought of writing- I have.  I may actually get around to doing some of those posts, if they feel right.  The point of this blog was for me to put conscious effort into finding “me.”  In a vacuum, that might be easy, but let’s face it, life isn’t easy.  Even though some days have been a blur, I am lucky to have a quiet evening to reflect on the last few weeks and that does tell me a little about who I am.

A couple weeks ago, my younger son turned 11.  I had taken him to dinner before then because his actual birthday fell during his time with his dad.  I was okay, I thought, until my ex’s girlfriend texted me pictures of her youngest son and my kids on the outing.  I didn’t realize his girlfriend and her son were going so it caught me off-guard.  The pictures kept coming – 23 in all and I ended up pausing my run to sit down on a curb and cry.

It wasn’t a delicate cry.  It was the ugly I-wish-I-had-a-tissue-but-I-don’t-so-my-shirt-sleeve-will-have-to-do kind of cry.  When I got home, I called my best friend (who doesn’t have children) but she put words to my pain.  It wasn’t that I was upset my ex is with someone else, it’s that she gets to experience memories of a milestone that I won’t have. So I was going to write a post about it titled “Learning to be okay with not being okay” but obviously, that didn’t happen.

Instead of writing a blog post, other words flowed in melodic form.  As I jotted them down and recorded them on my phone so I wouldn’t forget, a song emerged.  Over the next few days, the words kept coming and not only spoke to my deepest pain, but also offered hope, as it became a prayer to God, straight from my heart.  (I do have to also give credit to the pastor at the church I go to – a message in December about how we are prone to think we would be better if our situations were different stayed with me and I remember it when I’m discouraged by my circumstances.)

God.

The message the pastor delivered today included the words I used for this blog post title.  He said when it comes to the Good News, silence isn’t golden; it’s yellow.  That made me think of old westerns where cowards were ‘yellow bellied’.  I’ve been different shades of yellow my entire life.  Fear has had more power than faith.

That needs to change.  Fear isn’t a good reason for silence.  So, I’m taking the ultimate stand against silence by providing a link to listen to the “song” I wrote (and I’m going to publish this post immediately and sign off before I change my mind!)

I’ll end this post with the words to the chorus and look forward to writing again real soon!

Lord, help me remember your blessings;

not distracted and longing for things I do not need.

Lord, ease my fear and help me let go;

to be satisfied now, and trust the future you know.

Separation Anxiety

Last week, I wrote about the beginning of my relationship with my ex and how in hindsight, there were red flags and warnings all over the place.   Like last time, I’m not sure where this post will go.

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While we were dating, I remember one particular fight where he had gotten upset (I mean, really mad) that I had gotten a ride home from the university with a friend of mine.  Enzo was quite nice to look at and we became friends after I sat by him during research study meetings.  However, the more I had talked to Enzo, the more I knew I could never date him (he once asked me what to do after he scheduled three dates  in one night… definitely not my type!)  None of this mattered to my ex though, so I turned down future offers for a ride home and took the shuttle bus instead.

For the first few years of our marriage, I thought he was a calm person.  I learned, though, that his temper could flare and it wasn’t predictable, and it didn’t matter who was around.  We had a party for my dad’s 50th birthday at our house.  Things were going pretty well until one of my brother’s kids hung on the side of a drop-leaf table and flipped it over, sending several 2-liter soda bottles tumbling to the floor.  My ex shouted and cursed at the kid and everyone stood there awkwardly for several moments before my sister-in-law announced they were leaving.  Everyone else followed.  I never had another family gathering at my house.

We had our first son five years after we were married.  This brought an increase in short temper.  For a long time, he worked an overnight shift so he would sleep during the day- ever try keeping a toddler quiet all day?  As time went on, I noted that his temper became worse if he was tired, didn’t feel good or he was stressed about anything.  I still have a note my ex wrote me when our first son was six weeks old.  He was hurt that I didn’t trust him to be left alone with our son during the day while I was at work.

I managed to not recollect many instances of cursing or unreasonable physical punishment, probably because if I did, it would be hard to justify why I stayed.  I do remember many times stealing sideways glances at my parents after my ex would hurt, curse, or yell at the kids.  I could tell by clenched jaws and closed eyes that they saw/heard.  So, I tried to limit the amount of time we spent with them.

When our first son was three, there was an incident in public and I panicked when I saw a lady nearby stopped walking to her car and stared.  Our son had pulled my ex’s work jacket off the hanger while getting in the truck’s back seat.  My ex yelled/cursed at him and hit him with the hanger.  I told him to stop because a lady was staring and, thankfully, he did.

Why didn’t I leave?

I believe that marriage is (or should be) forever- for better or for worse, and he wasn’t a monster all of the time.  I rationalized that a son needs his father.

When I was pregnant with our second son, there were many times that I cried and apologized to my unborn baby and God because I felt I’d married the devil.  My ex’s anger and negativity had become almost constant and difficult to bear.  He never laid a hand on me, but I was always on edge- watching closely so I could step in if he got too rough with our kids. I grew frustrated with constantly asking him to not curse.  His response was that was how a childhood therapist instructed him to vent his anger.  So, basically, it wasn’t going to change.

Then there was the time when a friend from junior high was in town and I met up with her to visit.  I wanted her to meet my kids because it had been many years since I’d seen her.  My younger son was a little fussy, so my ex took the kids for a walk.  Kristy and I visited for another fifteen minutes or so before he came back and asked if we were almost done because it was “f-ing hot”. I was embarrassed by him (again) and with that, the visit with my friend was over.

In 2009, twelve years after we married, and when our second son was three, my ex had a major temper fit.  He ended up breaking a drawer of his nightstand and terrified our younger son with his yelling.  I stayed in the other room and cried, leaving his mother to deal with it.  (She was visiting because he just had thyroid surgery.)

She relayed to me that he told her his outburst was my fault because I was too “f-ing busy” (to do what he wanted me to do right then) and he was upset because I made more money than him, and he didn’t feel like he “ruled the roost.”  Oh, and the pain medication was the reason for his outburst, so he was going to quit taking it.  I was frustrated because the temper and anger was there before the medication.  He went to a few sessions of counseling, but that was it.  This was the first time I started checking into what our house might be worth and what my half of the sale might be.

But I didn’t act. I wasn’t ready to accept that I failed at marriage.  I wasn’t ready to let my parents know they were right.  I didn’t talk to anyone about what was going on because I didn’t want their judgment if I didn’t leave.  I felt helpless, confused and alone.

This was about the time I threw myself into writing fiction.

In The Beginning…

Last week I wrote about prayers and blessings.  Now I want to go back and fill in some of the history because the past is so important to understanding the significance of today.  I’m sure it will take several posts for me to write through this journey, but it’s something I think I need to do in order to get to a point where I can forgive myself.

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I met my ex in 1995.  I had my sights on earning my bachelors degree the next year and waiting tables on the days I wasn’t at the university paid the bills.  My ex was five years older than me and the manager of the restaurant.  I think I found that most attractive about him- he had his life together (I thought.)  See, I had a boyfriend at the time and his life consisted of a lot of dreaming, but not much doing.  He had many ideas of what he wanted to do when he grew up.  Instead, he drank too much (like his father) and struggled to manage his finances.  I tried to help him, even helping him pay rent on several occasions.  At this point in 1995, I was simply waiting for him to break up with me.  Early in our relationship, he mentioned that every girl he dated broke up with him so I decided to give him the opportunity to do the leaving- but he wouldn’t do it, so I finally did.  (Things were so bad that when I invited him over the night I ended the relationship, he brought a book to read!)

Newly single, I began dating my ex-husband.  I was certain I found “the one” and nothing (or no one) could have convinced me otherwise.  I should have taken a step back and asked questions when the assistant manager asked me if I’d met his mother and when I said no, she laughed as she walked away.  I should have been skeptical when I started to see that reality didn’t track with the illusion (he owned a boat, leased a brand new truck, but still owed several thousand dollars on a credit card, including repairs on a vehicle he didn’t have anymore, and he lived with his mother.  Although, in my defense, he told me that he had just moved in with her to help her after surgery.  I thought that was sweet). I should have ran and not looked back when after a couple months together, he fought with my parents and called my mom a b**ch.  I should have thanked my best friend when she held me against my will before my wedding and tried to convince me I was making a huge mistake.  Instead, I ended the friendship.  I should have seen that the night he drank too much and didn’t remember driving home or leaving the unintelligible message on my answering machine wasn’t a one-off thing. I shouldn’t have written off a co-worker, Bonnie, when she asked if my fiance was a Christian. I said I didn’t know and she told me it should be the first thing I ask.

That conversation still haunts me.  Now, some people might think I’m crazy (maybe I am) but I believe Bonnie’s question was a warning from God; a final opportunity for me to wake up and see that it was all wrong.  I had grown up going to church with my grandparents, and on my last blog, I wrote about another instance where I believe God used a person to intervene in my life.  It was when my grandma talked about suicide and that it was God’s choice when we left this earth and not ours.  I was 15 and had been contemplating suicide for months.

During high school and college, I didn’t go to church and I honestly didn’t think much about God.  I mean, I always believed in the existence of God, but didn’t seek Him in my daily life (only when things were so messed up I didn’t know what else to do.)  I worked on Sundays because they were always busy with people going out to eat after church.  I distanced myself even more from religion and God as I saw the hypocrites  dressed in their fancy church clothes come into the restaurant and act like complete jerks.  Apparently kindness and showing love toward others got lost somewhere between the church sanctuary and rest of the world.  I still remember this man who was very rude and demeaning to me.  His wife tried to tell him he was being mean and his response was “she’s just a waitress.”  I wanted nothing to do with that.

Years later, I began to change.  I felt a vague sense of longing for something and decided to go to church again.

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I’ll stop here for now.  I have no idea what I will write next or how these posts will go, but will do one a week, probably on Sunday (I have a lot of buried stuff and digging is painful… I cried while writing this… but I think I have to unpack it all to truly let go.)  When I sat down to write this one, I planned start at the beginning of the divorce- nearly 2 years ago. I know one person was interested in learning more about my ex-mother-in-law… I will get there!  Just know, you’ve been in my thoughts and prayers.