Letting Go and Learning to Trust After Divorce, Domestic Violence, and Betrayal

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The new man is nothing short of amazing. He’s attentive, supportive, kind, gentle, thoughtful, fun, a great communicator….everything I’ve ever wanted. No, he’s more than I ever wanted. I couldn’t even dream of a man treating me so good. But, weekly, I find myself shutting down. I pull back for a day. I feel confused and angry over nothing. I don’t get it! Why am I feeling this way? Why can’t I just enjoy this incredible time?

My reality is I have come to expect pain and lies. I have stopped believing in an inherent goodness within the hearts of humans, especially the male kind. My default has become distrust of any and all. Guilty until proven innocent. Yet, that prohibits the closeness and intimacy I absolutely crave. It keeps the door to my heart locked and barred. It’s been lonely inside my self- imposed prison though. I want out!

The lessons taught by abuse, adultery, and betrayal are valuable and must be retained, yet there does come a point in time where we have to be willing to risk a little, a point in time where we must let our guard down and allow another human access to our inner selves….. even though that’s scary and hard.

I’m admittedly jumping in to the deep end head first and disregarding the wise advice to take things slow…..in spite of being scared to death. But, the new man is patient and humble and makes himself vulnerable, which makes it so easy to dive. We’re working hard to keep respectful communication at the forefront at all times, which makes it easy to want to trust him.

I’ve had to make a conscientious decision to lay aside my pain, to stop judging him by the actions of someone he’s never met. I’ve decided to choose trust and intimacy over pain and fear with the knowledge that he may let me down. I want to live and love again. At some point that requires taking a plunge. I must take a deep breath, step off the end of the board, and allow my body to fall into the unknown waters below.

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Dating Post Abuse

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Three weeks ago my teenager cajoled me into creating a dating profile on a well known dating site.  It has been interesting to say the least!  Also about three weeks ago, my sister in law met a new man while out dancing in a local bar.   

I have trepidations regarding her new guy.  I see potential red flags and feel like it’s too soon.  But, she’s eager and ready to move on and away from my brother’s adultery and constant put downs.  I, on the other hand, have needed a lot of time to recover from years of abuse and be ready to make myself vulnerable again.  

In this three weeks,  I’ve chatted on the phone with men, texted with men, and been to dinner with one.  And, the entire time I’m like a hunter, stealthily tip toeing, quietly waiting for signs.  Could he be controlling?  Is he immature?  Needy?  Is he lying about his past?  Is this image control? 

Meanwhile, my sister in law is being wined and dined and having the time of her life, feeling like someone wants her and validates her.  Whether or not he’s genuine doesn’t cross her mind. 

Being a single survivor of domestic violence has been crippling for me.  I just can’t seem to really forget.  I can’t just let go. 

I worry incessantly about my sister in law.  MY KIDS DO, TOO.  Post abuse, we’re all looking for the potential abuser behind every bush.  We’re anticipating the worst because the worst has happened, and we know it’s real.  It can always happen again.  

It’s very difficult to get to know a new person when you’re not listening to what they say as a way to get to know them, but rather as a means of deciphering the hidden meaning behind their words.  The distrust has been thick.

I can freely love new clients, homeless people, children my kids associate with,  strangers on the street.   I’m open to others.  Unless they’re single men. 

I’ve been so afraid.

The lingering question following me everywhere has been, “What if it happens again?”  As much as I haven’t trusted the men I’ve met since the divorce, I think the biggest issue is, I haven’t trusted my own ability to discern.  Nor have I trusted God to  protect me.  

I’m going to repeat that.  I haven’t trusted my own ability to discern, nor have I trusted my God to protect me. 

That’s the real issue.

I haven’t been on a New Year’s date since 1995.  I’ve LOVED our family New Year’s parties and felt no need whatsoever to kiss someone when the ball dropped.  This year was different though.  It was suddenly  critical to me that I have a date for New Year’s.  I felt a desperate need, as though I’d be setting the tone for the entire New Year based on how I spent one silly evening.

So, without really any prior conversation, I made plans via messages to meet a younger and very attractive man from the dating site.

A part of me chastised myself for feeling so desperate.  Another part was just incredibly relieved. 

He did not seem like a safe bet.  He only moved here four or five months ago from out of state.  He’s younger.  We hadn’t even talked or texted.  And, did I mention he’s incredibly good looking?  It seemed like a dangerous combination.  But, at least I wouldn’t be alone on New Year’s.  I’d take what I could get.  

As the day wore on and I didn’t hear from him, I began to assume he was standing me up.  Gah!  Not only was I going to be alone, I was being stood up!  What was I even thinking?  And, then he texted and called while I was at dinner.  I didn’t respond, so he thought he was being stood up!

But, at approximately 9:15 we both arrived at our planned destination.   He brought me chocolate and a homemade card and was a complete gentleman the entire evening.  We visited A LOT, danced very little, and he kissed me in a very platonic way at midnight.  I forgot to judge him.  I relaxed into his presence and just simply enjoyed his company and getting to know him.   

When I got home I looked up the verses he referenced in his note to me.  One was Proverbs 4:23, Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.  

In that sweet gesture, that sweet reminder, I relaxed again.  How I’ve responded to men and even feared them these past six years has been okay.  It’s helped me to guard me heart.  I won’t ever have to look back and regret a string of men or any sinful behavior post divorce.  My heart and my body have been preserved for that man God does bring me.  And, perhaps that means God has been protecting me all of this time.  Perhaps He’s used my past suffering as a gated wall to keep me in reserve for something better. 


There Are Worse Things Than Being Homeless

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We did not find a rental, nor did I qualify for a home loan.  Well, I qualified……for a loan amount of $86,000.  Not enough to actually buy anything.  One lender told me not to contact him again.  He said I’ll never qualify for enough on my own; I will always need a cosigner. 

Five days before we had to be out of our home, some friends came down and pulled a used travel trailer to the yard of a woman I barely knew.  I don’t have a truck to pull it myself.  I had no where else to put the trailer.  And, I’d run out of options.   I barely got the trailer and was relieved to have it.  I only got a loan on it because friends gave me a down payment for it.  I was hopeful God was moving us in a new direction. 

We’ve been here for almost four months now.  At first it was kinda fun, like camping out.  But, as the days grew shorter and colder (28 degrees at 9 this morning), and we have only a small Mr Buddy heater that we can’t run at night, any feeling of fun left.  As the water hose froze and getting water became a daily struggle, any feeling of fun left.  As I stand in the freezing air of the bathroom, turning cold water on just long enough to get my body wet, then turning it off to soap up, and turning it back on again just long enough to rinse off, any sense of fun has left.  As it takes hours to cook a meal because there isn’t enough electricity to power more than one appliance at a time, any sense of fun has left.   As all of the very few belongings we brought here have ruined from the incredible amount of condensation and its accompanying mold– clothes, pictures, appliances, books, bedding–, the fun has gotten up and run away.  As we are unable to even sit outside because this woman and her kids watch our every move,  it no longer feels fun.

I have given up so called friends who thought I  should be thrilled and thankful for my situation.  Friends who use $100 shampoo and takes trips and buy $1500 dogs and throw “puppy showers” for themselves.  Friends who tell me I should be thankful. Or, call me with leads on more houses to clean….. because certainly the reason I’m poor must be that I just don’t work enough.

They disgust me. 

The night we moved out, we were an hour late to leave.  It was nearly impossible to find a place to stay, find an available storage facility, and pack up 18 1/2 years of living in 60 days all alone while continuing to work.  So, I was an hour late getting out. 

We weren’t eating but once a day during that time.  There just weren’t enough hours in the day.  It was no different that day.  In fact, that particular day, we didn’t eat at all.  By the time we were finally out at 1 a.m. we were exhausted, dirty, and famished.  Off to an all night diner we went to at least deal with the hungry part. 

After we finished our meal I took my young daughter to the restroom where we found a young woman washing her face in the sink.  She jumped as we walked in and apologized for being in the way.  We reassured her she was fine.  When we exited the stall she’d moved on to applying make up, but she again apologized.  This time she grabbed her make up and stepped into a stall to finish up.  Within a few minutes she peaked her head around the corner nervously and confessed she was embarrassed to admit she’s living in her car and that’s why she was doing what she was doing.  I reassured her there’d be no judgment from us, as we had just moved into a camp trailer that night.  She seemed greatly relieved and began to chat.  She talked for almost an hour before thanking us for listening and asking me for a hug.  In fact, she gave me two hugs before we parted ways.  She told me she had no one to talk to, no one to tell how she feels about things.  

She broke my heart, and we connected. 

It’s the holidays now, and everyone is so happy buying presents and decorating and meal planning.  Some people are compelled to want to help those less fortunate this time of year and are publicly posting on Facebook how they want to help or, worse, when they have helped.  They commend each other for being so full of Christian love and their holidays are just that much brighter knowing they did their part. 

They disgust me. 

I had just bought hand and foot warmers to give to my new friends I might meet, like the young woman in the diner, when my son shouted at me.  Literally, we’d just left the store when he hollered, “Mom!  There’s a homeless guy, and he doesn’t look good.”  I could see the man was mouth breathing, and I made a quick U turn.  The whole world seemed to be passing him by, busy with their self importance and oblivious to his suffering.  He looked up scared.  And, then coughed copious amounts of mucus into his bare hand.  His good hand.  The fingers on his other hand were a strange blackish color (I believe from frostbite).  He wiped the mucus on the inside of his sleeping bag before taking the warmers.  As we drove off we could see him set them down and bury his face in his hands, sobbing.  

My heart broke, and I was filled with panic.   

I drove to Walgreens for gloves, Mucinex, wet wipes, and kleenex.  A pleasant manager asked to help me find anything, and I explained the situation to him.  He seemed worried.  Not that a very ill human being was on the concrete in sub freezing temps, but rather that a homeless person might be loitering in front of his store.  I loudly snapped at him, “He is going to die!  He is probably going to die!”  

He disgusted me. 

I quickly drove back to the sick man and told my son to tell him we’d be back with hot soup, not to leave.   The nearby butcher shop was out of soup.  I begged them for anything hot.   They had a small amount of chunky, spicy chili.  Not what I needed for a sick man with bad teeth.  I sped to the grocery store. Aha!  Hot chicken noodle soup from the deli! 

I rushed back to my new friend with a bottle of water, his soup, a utensil, and napkins.  I don’t have a home to take him to and I don’t have enough money to even get him a motel room for the night (which is what my kids begged me to do), but he had some things to keep him a bit warmer, some medicine to ease his suffering, and something to warm his belly from the inside.  I’d done what little I could.  This time, he shook as he took our small offering.  I cried all evening.  And, I’ve looked for that man every day since.  I’m worried about him. 

His situation broke my heart.  And, we connected.

God created us for relationship with Him and each other.  Yet, most people act like the purpose of our existence is to build status, have fun, and make ourselves feel good.  They’ll even pursue those things in His name!  Hypocrites! 

The worst part about being without housing is not that EVERYTHING is hard, which it most definitely is, but rather it’s being unseen or only seen as a problem to be solved.  I need a warm, dry place to live, but, more than that, I need to not feel so utterly alone.  My new “friends” need medicine and a place to get clean, but, more than that, they needed someone to simply care that they’re sick or just listen to them and not be afraid to hug them.  

Through this I’ve learned that there are worse things than being homeless.   Like, being so self absorbed that we’re completely disconnected from those around us.  

May your holidays be filled with lonely, broke, sick, wounded people.  And, may you have the heart to see them, so that you may be blessed with genuine human connection. 

Always Darkest Before the Dawn

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Well, the landlord finally did it.  He finally sent that pesky 60 day no cause eviction notice.  As of yesterday, I am six weeks away from being homeless.  I hate this house.  I’ve hated being stuck here with the memories of abuse, the memories of my ex, and other vile memories of hurtful words spoken and despicable deeds committed.  I hate the spirit that resides over this property.  But, it’s a place to keep my belongings.  It’s a place to come back at the end of each day.  As bad as it is, it is something.  And, soon, I’ll have nothing.

I’m scared.

I’ve tried every loan program out there.  I’ve spoken or met with three different loan brokers at two different mortgage companies.  I’ve come close to hope a couple of times but each time I’ve been dashed against the rocks like an unwanted, used up, empty glass bottle.

No portion of child support can be counted as income because it does not come on time, each month, in full.  My wealthy uncle first said he would cosign but then refused to contact the lender and has ignored me, even going as far as to not pay me for cleaning for him.

My daughter has flat-out refused to foster my animals or allow me to use my mother’s property, the property that should have been mine, for storage or to stay on temporarily.  She has made it very clear that she does not care if we end up living in my car and the kids are forced to give up their pets.

I feel alone, abandoned.

I’ve looked for rentals, at rentals…..but they are overpriced and/or under maintained.  One didn’t even have a doorknob on the back door.  It simply had two old scraps of plywood on nails that turned vertical to open the door or horizontal to “lock” it.  There are very few rentals available here, as the Californians continue to flock to the my state in droves and others, from other states, come here seeking the wealth and high of marijuana grows.

And, I’ve fielded more messages than I can count.  A couple of messages have been from extremely helpful friends offering Plan B, Plan C, and, in one case, even their own home.  But, some have been from people I barely know, claiming to just want to help me, asking me prying questions and offering their wisest suggestions that actually imply stupidity on my part.  Rather than seeking to know me and understand my problems, they have presumed to know more than I about my life and imagine that the reason I’m here is because I haven’t thought of whatever it is they think is the grand solution.  Some have assumed I’m being kicked out because I didn’t pay my rent.  A couple have offered grocery money.  One suggested I apply for emergency money from the state to pay my rent.

I’ve felt insulted and just want to throw my phone at the wall.

I ask for prayer.  A LOT.  God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.  He owns the house I currently live in.  And, He owns whatever I end up in.  It’s all His.  I ask that others petition on my behalf, asking Him to allow me temporary claim to a home.  Some place a landlord can’t raise the rent or fail to do repairs or kick me out.  A place where the children and I can rest.  And, heal.

One woman messaged me that she prayed for me and felt strongly that the Lord is moving behind the scenes on my behalf.  I later found out that a government loan agency employee was, at about that time, asking the state director to consider my case a priority due to the condition of this house.  He agreed.  We are now at the top of the list for a subsidized loan.  There is no guarantee I’ll be approved.  It certainly would not happen before I’m evicted, if it happens at all.  But, it’s hope.  Yet, I’m afraid to hope.  I’ve cycled through hope and utter despair countless times over the last few months.

But, hope is all I have.  I don’t sleep well and have lost quite a bit of weight.  My chest aches.  But, I MUST force myself to believe there is hope for me here in the land of the living.  God did not bring me this far to leave me now.  I have to remember that it is always darkest before the dawwn….certainly my dawn must be just below the horizon.  I can’t see it yet, but the sun must rise eventually.

Strengths and Weaknesses

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My family of origin described to me as weak and incapable of standing up for myself.  That is supposedly the reason I was denied any inheritance.  I could not be trusted to hold on to and manage family property because I’d let people talk me into anything.  And, take things from me (like they did?).

I still often hear that I should take my ex back to court for a myriad of reasons.  It’s ridiculous how much he’s gotten away with, and I need to protect my kids.  They shouldn’t be forced to go on visitation with their abuser.  I need to report the continued break ins and vandalism.  He should be paying more child support.  I can’t just sit here and “let” him get away with everything.

The thing is, for me, I am weary of fighting.  I’ve been fighting my entire life.  I’ve been fighting for my right to sleep, to eat, to have friends, to get to keep my panties on, to keep the money I earn.  You name it.  I’ve fought for my basic human rights my entire life.  And, I’m just plain tired.  I don’t want to fight anymore.

And, yet, daily I do still fight.

Every morning I wake up exhausted to fight the good fight of keeping my kids on track emotionally, mentally, spiritually.  Every morning I head off to work to fight the fight of earning another dollar when I need to earn ten.  Most days, all day long, I fight to maintain my dignity while being treated like a character from “The Help.”  Every afternoon I arrive home to fight to get bills paid, meals cooked, laundry done, children educated, animals tended and protected, wood brought in, and clients scheduled–a full days’ work–in the matter of a few hours.

I fight those battles because those are the battles I choose because, for some reason, I, perhaps falsely, believe those are battles I can eventually win.

I just loathe interpersonal battles.  I’d rather walk away and deal with things on my own than fight some stubborn, narcissistic, pretentious aggressor.  They can think they’re right.  They’re going to anyway!  Going toe to toe with them only weakens me for the real battles that I must fight.  I’ve been chastised for not correcting them as is my Christian duty.  We aren’t to shrink back I’m told.  We have to cast light on sin.

These people who love to argue and fight and cause drama and strife disregard scripture that says it’s okay for me to just let it go and shake the proverbial dust off of my feet.

http://lavistachurchofchrist.org/LVanswers/2006/07-11.htm

I was discussing all of this with someone I went to high school with.  Though I haven’t shared a lot with him of what I’ve been through since high school, he seems aware of it.  I’m sure there is talk in this small town and our mutual friends “catch” people up on others’ lives.  I want to share with you what he said to me.  We all need to hear this.  We need someone to encourage us and remind us that most would have broken if they’d had to endure what we’ve endured.  I received his words, and I’m speaking them to you today.  This morning, take these words into your heart.  Say them out loud to yourself, inserting your own name in the blank.

“Seeking peace and avoiding confrontation is certainly NOT a weakness, ____________! 🙂 Losing control is easy, while maintaining one’s control demonstrates an inner strength that too many people just don’t seem to have, as the adversarial Facebook experts on “everything” continue to show us!! 😠 Too many people ENJOY the thrill of conflict, but I’m with you….I prefer the peace and tranquility when I can find it…(and some cheeseburgers)….ANYDAY!! 😀 You are a smart and beautiful woman, ____________….but you are most certainly NOT weak!! 💪😉

May you have a peaceful and restful Sunday, my sweet, strong Survivor Sisters!  ❤

 

Churchianity and Scripturese: Why I Refuse Invitations to Church

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The perky voice on the other end of the line responded to my decline to her invitation to church, “Well, it just really hit my heart when someone told me once that if I wasn’t going to church because of other people, then my faith was in other people, not God.”

All I’d said was that church doesn’t feel like a safe place for us right now.

I really feel that if you have to be showing up to church every Sunday, which isn’t God’s Sabbath anyway, to PROVE your faith, then your faith isn’t in God but is, rather, in an institution and isn’t based on obedience to Him but, rather, other people’s perception of your activities.

I don’t want to practice Churchianity.  I want to walk with my God every hour of every day.  I want to do scary things with Him, like create a life post abuse, unfortunately, without loving support from those who claim to be His hands and feet.

I’ve received comments on this blog, which I’ve chosen not to allow, stating that I’m not a Christian.  I can’t be, not with my position and the things that I write.

I’m avoided by Christian home schooling moms and people we used to attend church alongside.  They either look away and pretend they don’t see me or they introduce themselves and make a point of telling me they don’t know who I am, though we’ve run in the same circle for decades and have shared intimate conversations.  I’m one of those who has “fallen away.”

I just don’t toe the line.  I’m “out of fellowship.”  I “need to have those kids in church.”  I “should not speak evil against other people.  We ALL sin and have fallen short.”  I am accused of being “full of bitterness.”

Last week I shared a link on Facebook to a wonderful blog post about how everything doesn’t have a good purpose.  I shared it with several people in mind whom I knew would find comfort in the writer’s words.  The premise was that sometimes people die and babies are raped, and it just hurts.  And, it’s okay to hurt.  It’s cruel to tell a grieving mother that God has a plan for all of this and she’ll see someday how good this will all work out.

One very religious woman didn’t like that post and commented that she chooses to believe the word of God is true and that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  Romans 8:28.   I deleted her comment and unfriended her.  This has happened just one too many times with her, and I’ve tried and tried through private messages to tell her how she comes off to others.

She didn’t hear the smugness in her comment.  She didn’t even comprehend how that could be taken by someone deeply wounded and suffering in that moment.  She was using scripture as a weapon, not a comfort.  She wielded the Word as a double-edged sword with power to divide joints and marrow instead of using it as a soothing balm, reminding the weak of God’s great love for them and that He came to bind up the broken-hearted.

These types of people seem to always be prepared to spout off a suitable scripture to put people in their place, but they’ve conveniently forgotten those scriptural references that would stop them from such behavior.  They are fluent in Scripturese and use it regularly to prove their spiritual superiority to those of us who experience any human emotions.

When Jesus arrived at the home of his friend Lazarus after Lazarus had died, Jesus wept along with everyone else.  He was God manifested in flesh and knew His intention was to perform a miracle that day, to raise Lazarus from the dead.  But, He wept.  He stood there with all of those broken-hearted friends and family members and cried over the loss of a friend and brother.  He didn’t stand and condemn them for failing to rejoice in Lazarus entering into eternal rest and peace or the temporal condition of all of this anyway.  He stood with them and wept also.

Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.  Romans 12:15

By saying that she “chooses to believe God’s word is true,” she seems to be inferring that those who feel, say, or think that sometimes bad things just happen are choosing to believe God’s word is not true.  Or, perhaps she just thinks we don’t love God?  Or, aren’t even counted among the called???   Of course, that leads us to even darker places of doubt where we all too often go in our darkest moments anyway….Why is God doing this to me?  Does He love me?  He loves everyone but maybe I’m so awful, so sinful, so unforgivable, He doesn’t love me.  Maybe I’m not even really saved?  I’ve accepted Him into my heart and been baptised.  I believe.  But, maybe I’m not saveable?  Maybe the abuse made me too dirty for His kingdom.

In the process of preparing for our eventual move, I’m fixing what needs or can be fixed and getting rid of what can’t be.  It’s been an emotional three months of downsizing and saying goodbye to things I’ve held onto for far too long.  So, I took the guitars in to the music store to see if they could be fixed.  We attended church with the owner; my boys took lessons there; and he’s done repairs for us in the past.  He has often prayed for us and with us.

The guitars were to be ready in a few days but weeks went by.  One excuse after another.  They even left town for a week and failed to let us know he hadn’t even started the repairs yet.  We just kept waiting and waiting without notification of the constantly pushed out time frame.  He finally called my son and told him his younger brother’s guitar was ready.  However, my vintage classical guitar could not be repaired.  It was too badly damaged by the abuse my oldest daughter inflicted upon it when she borrowed it.  He wanted to know what we planned to do with it.  If I was just going to throw it away he would keep it and just use it at his house as wall decor.  At first I agreed to that, but I couldn’t sleep that night.  Something about it didn’t set right with me, so I had my son call him the next day and tell him I had changed my mind.  I would like the guitar back to hang on my own wall.  Truth was, I didn’t believe him.  I feared if I walked in that shop a month from now I’d see my guitar repaired and for sale with nothing but pure profit for him.  I’m going to take it somewhere else to get a “second opinion.”

The day I stopped in after work to pay him for what he’d done and pick up both guitars, he, of course, wanted to pray with me and asked where we’re fellowshipping now.  I told him we’ve been out of church for a year and a half.  He was clearly disturbed by that.  I shared with him that it’s difficult being divorced in church.   The children and I are viewed as second class citizens in the kingdom.  I shared with him some of the harsh and condemning ways the church has dealt with our emotional, physical, and sexual abuse and how it has extended grace to our abuser and how the church has compounded our pain.  He acknowledged it’s hard to “come from a broken family” in church.

He updated my contact information in the computer system and wanted to know the story behind by fantastic email address.  I shared with him that when God took my health and my marriage and my parents and my brother and my adult children, I thought it was death and hell on earth.  But, God was emptying me of the toxic people and things in my life and bringing me to a place of TOTAL emptiness, so He could fill me with Him and Him alone.  (And, I honestly believe that.)

He smiled that schmarmy smile the practitioners of Churchianity so often smile and began to speak fluently in Scripturese, chastising me for denying the body of the gifts that my children and I have been given.  Because, he reminded me, God has bestowed gifts upon each one of us, even me and my children.   He finished with, “I don’t know what your role was in the demise of your marriage.  You know, it’s usually our own toxicity God is trying to reveal to us.  We’re the toxic ones He has to deal with.”

I actually wanted to laugh out loud, roll on the sidewalk in front of his shop, holding my stomach, and feeling as though I might burst from the belly laughs that welled up within me.  He accused me of denying the body of Christ of my gifts by not going to church and sharing what God’s doing in my life, yet when I shared my testimony with him he turned it on me and corrected me on what God has been teaching me through all of this!  He completely discounted my “gift!”  He presumed to know the mind of God and what it is that God has really been trying to reveal to me! He didn’t want me to share anything!  He just wanted me to open up enough so he could accuse and correct appropriately!   He wanted me to get back in line and accept the “fact” that I’m to blame for my ex-husband’s perversion and violence and that I’m the toxic one.  This so-called freedom I think I’m walking in–now that I’ve finally realized abuse is a tool the devil has used on me from birth, that my mom, dad, grandpa, ex, and everyone else were prisoner warriors in satan’s war on innocence–is false.  I’m in bondage because I’m just not groveling on the ground in a continual state of contrition as I should be!

What hypocrisy!

For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  Matthew 23:4

The Savior is not like these people, and they are nothing like Him.  They do not represent Him.  For decades I thought they did.  I thought they were right.  If I was hurting, especially if THEY were the ones hurting me, I MUST be wrong because THEY are His people and they KNOW things I don’t.  They have a mainline to God that I obviously don’t.  My life has been hard, and His ways are easy.  He makes our paths straight and leads us beside still waters.  The children of the righteous don’t go hungry.  And, these beautiful people’s paths were straight and easy.  Their children lived like little princes and princesses.  My children and I just suffered.  We were poor, hurting, hungry, and alone.  OBVIOUSLY, God was with them and not with us!!!  Just ask them, they’d tell me so!  In fluent Scripturese they would explain to me why they were perfect and their lives were perfect and why I just couldn’t experience the perfection they enjoyed.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.  James 3:17

I now reject their teachings as false.  I would love to fellowship one day, find a body of believers to study with, pray with, celebrate with, and mourn with.  But, I will not participate in Churchianity.  For now, for a time, I choose to sit “outside the camp” alone with the one true God.  I trust Him to gently and tenderly lead me where He wants me.  And, for now, it seems He wants to hang out just the two of us.  And, that’s okay.   It’s beautiful actually.  But, I know that this season will pass and eventually He’ll put me with a group of others.  Just not now.  And, when He does, I trust that the people will be genuine and honest and not bowing at the false altar of Churchianity, smiling while hurting others, and speaking Scripturese.

Why I Can’t Just Move On Post-Abuse

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Things have been beyond rough the last three months.  It was all kick started by a surprise visit by the landlord and two of his sons and then the news that he’d conveyed this property to his oldest son who intended to raise my rent without fixing the major issues.  That was promptly followed up by my first husband’s death, which set in motion my daughter’s desire to reverse her step-father adoption.  This, of course, would require “poking the bear” by taking my second husband back to court and telling the world that the only reason I agreed to him adopting her was because I was afraid he’d kill me.  (That’s not true, by the way.)  She claims she’s been suicidal over what she witnessed growing up and needs his name off of her birth certificate that she has to present to the DMV every few years for renewal. It’s too upsetting to her.  She isn’t concerned at all about him being angered and taking it out on my youngest children who still are forced on visitation alone with the man.  She insists CPS will do the right thing, once the kids have been traumatized and wounded, and force him into parenting classes and return the children to me after a brief investigation.

The tub backed up full of sewer again, as it did last summer.  It’s too cold to bathe in a stock tank outside (thought we’ve been without heat for a month now, so inside isn’t any better) while I wait for a plumber to finally get around to coming out, so I spent $300 on a water ram and fixed it myself.

In between all of this I’ve received multiple calls requesting my cleaning services, which is great, but I’m exhausted and there aren’t enough hours in the day.  I don’t know how to accommodate everyone, but I’m trying my hardest to make it all work somehow.  And, I feel like my work isn’t up to par.  I’m too tired.  My eyes burn, and my vision is blurry.  I need rest.

Without functioning, safe electrical to the dryer, I’m driving the 10 miles in to the laundromat several evenings a week where we witness drug deals and hide in the car from the gang members and other ruffians patrolling the joint.

Without heat but with plenty of stress, we’ve all been sick all winter long.

And, I’ve spent the last three months sorting through and boxing up every single belonging of mine, my children, my parents, and my ex……EVERYTHING left in this house has been sorted through and either disposed of, prepared for a yard sale, given away, or boxed for an eventual move to God only knows where.  I contacted a lender last week, but he basically laughed at me.  At my income level I only qualify for $70 to 80,000.  Rents here have been driven up by the influx of Californians and the pot growers.  A client told me I’m going to have to bite the bullet and pay the $1600 a month.  I don’t make $1600 a month!  I have no idea where we’ll go, but I’m preparing my stuff to go and waiting on the Lord to open up an all out miracle.

Yet, still, I pick up my sword and shield and battle my way through every day.  There is no time for self-care, working out, or rest.  I war on valiantly.

But, days like yesterday drop me.  Like a fierce blow to the gut that knocks the wind out of me, days like yesterday leave me on the ground gasping for air.

I screamed at the kids for nearly an hour.  I shouldn’t have, but I did.  “Come on!  We have to go!  NOW!!!”  The teenager disappeared into a black hole in his room.  The youngest couldn’t come out of the bathroom.  The youngest boy got ready but wandered around as though he didn’t understand what was going on.  They had visitation, and they always get like this.  As though if they drag their feet long enough, they won’t have to go.

Everything was frenetic.  Nothing got done.  We just ran to the car and flew down the driveway.  My throat has been sore all week, fighting the last thing the kids had, and that screaming only worsened it.  The guilt over yelling at kids who just didn’t want to go on a forced visitation with their abuser hurt even worse than my throat.

We pulled into his driveway at 9:15.  That gave me 15 minutes to get to work.  I could do this.  I prayed silently that the kids would be okay.

No truck!  I texted their father.  No response.  I called.  No answer.  I texted our son who lives with him.  He was sitting in a Humvee 500 miles away at drill, but he took a minute to call his dad.  No answer.

I called my client.

At nearly 10 o’clock I left his driveway, with my children, and stepped on it.  A quick stop at the store for snacks and activities and $30 later I was on my way to work.  Almost an hour late.  With three kids sitting in my car.  Very professional.

Then, the incessant calls and texts began.  He wanted me to call him.  Could I bring the kids now; he was home.  He’d come get the kids from my client’s house.  Call, text, call, call, call.  I ignored them and took out my anger on her floors.

My youngest daughter-in-law also began texting and calling one right after the other.  When I didn’t answer my ringing phone she would hang up and call right back.  After three or four rapid fire calls, I picked up.  I needed to finish the kitchen, and my client was home.  I’d been an hour late.  This was NOT looking good for me.

She was crying.  My grandson had a high fever and appeared to be having a seizure.  She didn’t know what to do.  I told her to take him to urgent care!

I finally finished, and my client was cool.  Though she did mention that she fired her last lawn guy for chronic lateness due to family issues.  I got the point.  I assured her that my new policy for the ex was to leave by 9:15 if he had not shown up by that point.  I wouldn’t wait again.

Pulling off alongside the road a short distance from her house, I began returning calls.

The ex had calmed and apologized.  He forgot.  He thought it was the next weekend.  He wasn’t gone long; he just ran to a plumbing store, no, a farm store, for a few minutes.  The lies and excuses were varied.  All I could say was, “It doesn’t matter now.  It’s okay.  Would you like me to bring them over now that I’m off work?  At least you could spend a few hours with them and have dinner together.”

No.

He was an hour away.  Now, he was at work.  On Saturday.  For a company he doesn’t work for.  When I hadn’t returned his calls promptly (because I was at work) he went ahead and took the work at noon.   He asked for the kids on a different weekend.  I hesitated, and he said, “I know I’m asking that right now when you feel the way you do about me.”  I hesitated because we have plans for the next few weekends.  I can’t just rearrange my life on a dime because he chose to not be home on the one day of the month he has visitation.  I told him I’d try to figure something out but I should probably let him get back to work.  I suggested he call me when he got off work, playing along as though I believed that particular version.  He said he’d get off work in an hour and a half and call me then.

Four hours later and still no return call to reschedule.  And, as we sat in the drive up of a coffee stand, we saw him ride his motorcycle past, coming from the direction of where his mother and brothers all live.  The complete opposite direction from where he was supposedly working.

We rented Hidden Figures, and I made a salad for dinner.  We sat down to cuddle and relax when my daughter-in-law began texting again.  She and my son were fighting.   The texts were more like short chapters from a novel.  But, she’s estranged from her own mother, and I’ve tried very hard to fill that void.  I really love that young girl.  I love her like she’s my own.  All throughout the movie, all evening long, the texts kept coming.  I tried to be supportive and loving without getting in the middle.  I repeated that I love them both and pray for their marriage.

Then, a text came from my son asking me why I’d told his wife that she could just come stay with me.  His texts were lucid and respectful, nothing like someone who was staggering drunk as she’d claimed he was.   I told him I never said, and he said that he figured I hadn’t.  He just needed to confirm she was lying.

At midnight, as I was locking up and finally crawling my aching body off to bed, she sent me a rage filled, accusatory text, telling me off in no uncertain terms for calling her names, tearing down my character and putting her own up.

I texted her that I had not ever said any of that stuff, but I did not try to communicate further with her.  Instead, I texted my son and told him that I did not want to be in the middle of their fighting.  I want to support both of them; I love both of them; but after all of the time, money, and energy I’ve invested in her I didn’t deserve the way she “talked” to me.   And, then, my daughter messaged me that they were home from their trip to take her dad’s ashes to his mother and that they’d see me later today.   It was 1 in the morning.  I didn’t realize we had plans to see each other today.  It’s my only day off, and I was hoping to catch up on laundry and………rest?

I tossed and turned until 2 a.m. and awoke at 6.   I want to run away.  Actually, I want to be left alone to rest for a while.  I want to be free to build a new future.  I want to be treated with the love and respect I offer others.  I want my young children still at home to be safe and just enjoy their activities, like normal kids.  I want others to be responsible for themselves and take responsibility for their own actions.   But, that seems like a lot to ask for.

I have lost more than a few friends post divorce.  I’ve received some cruel admonitions.  I’ve heard the talk behind my back.  I know that some people think I’m just bitter, unforgiving, lazy, or not getting over this and moving on.  I’m trying.  I’m really trying.  You just don’t see all that I’m battling against.

Becoming Fearless

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The sunny afternoon had turned into a mildly breezy evening, and my three children and I sat in the car outside the laundromat.  The youngest, being sick, slept off and on.  My youngest son played in the backseat while my teenager and I visited in between reading snippets here and there on our phones.  Of course, we did our usual silly goofing off and laughing at each other’s antics.

By the time I transferred the clothes from the washers to the dryers the clientele began to change.  The tired looking moms and dirty working men began heading home for dinner, and the drug addicts began showing up.  En masse.  Without laundry.

Two women appeared suddenly at the passenger side of my car, one on a boys’ BMX style bike.  Their entire conversation seemed to be a loop of, “Weirdo!”  “No fucking way!”  “Yeah, that guy!  Remember him?!  Where is he?”  Insert incessant strange laughter.  Begin again…….”Weirdo!”  “No fucking way!”  “Yeah, that guy!  Remember him?!  Where is he?”  It was as though they were communicating in a different language.  They seemed to understand each other and find each other hilarious.  But, it was nonsensical.

After the fifth or sixth F bomb my 10-year-old quietly commented, “Nice way to talk in front of kids.”  The women were so close to my car that I was afraid the one was going to drop the bicycle onto the side of my car.

A man appeared from a building across the street, stepping outside in his uniform to take a smoke break.  The woman on the bike yelled at him, then told her friend she was going to go get him, and rode off.  The woman left behind was wild-eyed.  She twitched as she looked every direction.  It made her look frantic.

My teenager and I continued to read and visit while occasionally casting a casual glance toward the activity occurring six inches in front of our car and between us and our clothing.  A young man appeared from around the side of the building, wearing a long trench coat with the hood pulled up over his head in spite of the spring like weather.  He seemed depressed.  He mumbled inaudibly to the wild-eyed woman.  She held up two cigarettes, both had been lit and then obviously immediately extinguished.  He shook his head no and groggily mumbled again as he handed her a cigarette.  She exclaimed, “Oh, I thought you asked for a cigarette!  You said I look like I need one?”  He shook his head affirmatively.  It seemed to take great effort for him to do that.

My 10-year-old proudly showed me something he’d made during this time.  It was red, and I had no clue what the material was, where it came from, and I questioned him, “What in the world is that made of?”  “The cover from my baby cheese!”  We all burst into laughter.  Creative.  At least he hadn’t thrown the wax covering on the floorboard when he had finished eating.

The woman immediately began yelling at the young man, “What is she laughing at?  Why is she laughing?  What is SHE laughing at?”

She was staring at me!

I probably should have been afraid, surrounded by druggies and homeless people with my three children in my car.  I’ve watched drug deals happen at the laundromat, exchanges between armed gang members.  I’ve seen gang members chase another guy down.  I’ve watched a woman take two heavily tattooed men around the corner and come back fixing her clothing and unable to stand still for a second and eventually walk circles around the building while talking to herself.

These are unsavory characters, scary folks with nothing to lose.

And, she was agitated by my laughter.

She thought I was laughing at her.  And, I was quite certain Mr. Trenchcoat likely had at least one weapon under that tent he was wearing.

But, I snapped.

In an instant my mind flashed to all of those times R falsely, and strangely, accused us of laughing at him.  In vivid detail, I remembered the Saturday my oldest two children were doing dishes together and laughing, being silly as kids will be, when he bent my son over the counter backwards and screamed, spitting even, in his face, demanding to know why they were laughing at him.  I will never forget that look of fear in my son’s eyes or the pleading tone to the kids’ voices as they tried to assure him they weren’t laughing at him.  It was all to no avail.  He was convinced they were mocking him, and he’d caught them.

So, as Wild Eyed Woman looked at me and then back at Mr. Trenchcoat and one more time asked him what I was laughing at, I rolled down my window and yelled, “Pardon me?!”  She looked at him incredulously, as if to ask, “What is her problem?”  She responded, “Nothing.”  I yelled again, “No!  What did you say?!”  The young man nudged her and shook his head no.  I hollered once more, “Pardon meeeeee?!”  She said, “Nothing.  Never mind.”  I continued to stare at her.  Well, perhaps, glare.  The guy in the trench coat leaned in and said something to her, and she ran away into the laundromat.  He sat down and began tripping on the asphalt.

My children stared at me in disbelief.

No one is going to falsely accuse me or my kids.  No one is going to threaten or intimidate me.  Not anymore.

 

 

 

When Your ExHusband Dies; Rethinking the Past

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1996:  My then 9-year-old daughter walked confidently into the living room and matter of factly told my abuser, “My daddy was the love of my mommy’s life!”  I don’t even remember how anyone responded or what she did after that.  But, it was a bit of a running joke for years after.  And, it was true.

1985:  I sat waiting to give my friend a ride to her waitressing job when one of her roommates arrived home from a ski trip.  He was the epitome of tall, dark, and handsome.  I was instantly in love and, from that moment on, felt as though I couldn’t breathe when I wasn’t with him.

2017:  My youngest two children played in the next room while I scrubbed my client’s sink.  Typically I don’t answer the phone when I’m at work, but it was my oldest daughter and it was her birthday….so, I made an exception.  She told me that she’d just received a call from her biological uncle.  Her dad had dropped dead at the gym that morning.  Her dad died on her birthday.  Immediately, my face burned, and I could feel cold sores welling up under my entire bottom lip.  The only other time that happened was when I received the call that my own dad had died.

I’ve spent the last 31 years longing for my first husband.  I’ve idealized him.  I often fantasized that he’d return and whisk us all to safety.  Even lately, I’ve allowed my mind to think about us hooking back up as we watched our grandchildren play.  What if we realized, as we watched those babies that share a bit of both of us, we have always belonged together.  Three decades of wasted time living separate lives.

And, now he’s dead.

The first week I privately mourned.  I couldn’t express myself.  I had to be there for my poor daughter.  I had to pray for and message my grieving ex mother-in-law.  It would be inappropriate to dwell on myself and my undying decades old love for a man I will never reconnect with now.

By the second week I began to remember things long forgotten.  Like, how he made me sit in a hot car and wait for him while he visited some old family friends.  Or, how he told me he checked the oil in my car but had lied.  I only found out after my engine began knocking and overheating.  Or, how he’d shoved me to the ground and spewed his seed all over me the last time we were intimate.  And, then, without a word, he got in his car and drove away.  There was that time he tickled me so hard I cried.  It was at the city park, I was pregnant, and a couple stopped and asked if I needed help.  And, the time his 12-year-old brother blocked the front door after dinner at his mom’s house.  His brother demanded that I stay there, saying, “No one should go home with a husband who treats them like that!”  He’d seen the bruises on my legs from where I’d been pinched any time I began to speak “out of turn.”

Anger began to replace grief as more and more memories flooded back.

My daughter’s glowing reports of how successful he was or how many hundreds of friends he has or how much he truly loved her pricked my heart.  His family and girlfriend tell her how much she really meant to him.  He had her name tattooed on his body.  They had even discussed having her step-father adoption reversed.  A year and a half ago….the last time they spoke.  She needs to believe her father loved her and wanted her, and I won’t remind her.  Instead, I sit silently and absorb it all as though it’s the truth.

Naturally he was successful and has accumulated more in his lifetime than I have in mine.  When the doctor told us that I needed an abortion and a hysterectomy to save my own life, he left me to wrestle with fear and face my own mortality alone while he ran off to Hawaii and chased other girls.   While I struggled with caring for her, he was living with his grandparents, being cared for by them.  Every decision I made was with consideration of how it would affect her, and I did so without a healthy support system or any idea what that even looked like.  He joined the Navy, got kicked out, went to training and school, and enjoyed the help of his doting grandparents.  While he was paying for martial arts lessons and buying guitars and motorcycles and lavishing a lifestyle on his girlfriends, I was trying to clothe and educate and feed our child.

My life has been spent divided between work and home, trying, and failing, to be the best mother I could be.  His life was one self-indulgent romp after another.

I’d asked him to please not divorce me.  Please remain in the same house with me so we could raise her together.  He flatly responded, “I don’t want to be a husband or a father.”

When she was 18 months old he came for his second visit.  I begged him to visit more often, to be involved in her life.  He said, “It’s like I’m a father, but I’m not a dad.  I look at her and feel nothing.”  I thought the lump in my throat would choke me.  How could anyone look at that adorable face and those bouncing tight curls and not love her madly???

This past week my daughter shared with me how angry he had been when she shared with him how my abuser had forced us to live.  He told her that he should have come and taken her away from me and out of this mess, but she told him she wouldn’t have gone with him.  He asked her why not, and she told him that she would not have left her siblings because she needed to protect them.  Though she felt she’d done a poor job of it, she still felt responsible for them.  She continued to explain to me that her dad had wished he’d come for her.

Now, wait a minute!  Okay, I kept my mouth shut again.  But, but, there is so much wrong with that entire conversation!  She tried to protect them???  She spent a majority of  her time in her room, listening to music, or at youth group, or with friends.  He needed to come take her away from me???  Um, no, he needed to have not abandoned her as a newborn.  He needed to have been involved in  her childhood.  He needed to pay child support and help provide for her.  He was too busy living for himself, not caring for her, but had the audacity to try to come off like the loving father full of regret for not removing his daughter, once she was an adult, from her unfit mother???   What the hell?  Whoa, whoa, whoa!

Oooohhhhhh…….in walks the third wife.  The mother of his other two children, both quite young still.   She wants his estate to provide for the children.  His family is claiming it all.  And, they’re all gearing up for a legal battle.  The family thinks she has no right to anything.  If they can reverse my daughter’s adoption post-mortem, they think she can control the entire estate on their behalf.

Suddenly, I could see more clearly.  They pushed out the third wife, too, just like they had pushed me out.  He had wanted to stop fighting for custody of those kids, but my daughter convinced him to continue.  Once he had them, he complained about it.  He didn’t want them any more than he’d wanted our daughter.  He’d just been guilted and forced this time (by my own daughter) instead of being excused and coddled (by his family) like last time.

This Hawaiian god for whom I would have drunk the Kool-Aid at any given point over the course of the last 32 years was also an abuser.  His family was/is controlling and manipulative.  There is little difference between him and my second husband.  LITTLE DIFFERENCE.  Other than looks.  Why did I hold him up so in my heart and mind?

I’m shocked to realize how much alike they were.  Even in little things.  They both had union jobs and were pro union.  In fact, my 1st husband, in the end, worked for the union.  They both HATED country music; they were metal heads.  They both lifted weights and practiced martial arts religiously.  They both preferred to eat fast food over home cooked meals. They both dabbled in satanism.  They both rode motorcycles.  On and on I could go!

And, yet, I’m staunchly anti-labor unions. I’m extremely entrepreneurial minded.  I HATE rock.  I rather enjoy country music.  I love to cook and won’t allow my kids to eat that poison that is sold as food at all of those drive ups.  I’ve lifted weights some in the past, but I have zero interest in martial arts.  I prefer to get my exercise from hiking or dancing. I’m a devout Christian. And, I can’t stand motorcycles.  I’d rather ride a bicycle if I want to feel the wind in my hair.

What attracted me to two similar men who are so incredibly different from me?  I went to counseling at a large church in town once.  My second husband was supposed to come with me but didn’t show up.  The counselor did some family mapping with me and then tapped the paper and excitedly said, “You don’t hate your mother nearly as much as you think you do!  You married her twice!”

I didn’t see it then.  But, this week my eyes have been opened.  Another chink in the chain that has bound me broke and fell to the ground.  I’m sorry for his family’s loss.  I’m sorry my daughter lost her dad on her birthday.  I’m sorry her birthday will never be the same again.  I’m sorry that they never made peace with their past outside of that once expressed regret for leaving her with me.  I’m sorry she’ll never have that closure.  But, I’m free from loving the memory of someone he never was.

Arguments, Debates, and Respect

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Someone in a medical freedom group I belong to asked, “Who here likes to debate?”  Certainly not me!

I’ve spent five decades fighting for my right to an emotion, an opinion, and at least a say in my own life.  At one time I did enjoy a good debate, when that was the only arena where I stood a chance to be heard.  But, now, I’m just battle weary and truly hate debate and disagreement.  

That doesn’t mean, however, that I silence my own voice.  I just don’t want to debate my opinion. 

It also isn’t that I’m so stubborn I don’t want to hear dissenting opinions.  It’s just that I don’t want to argue.  I want to be able to share an interesting article or express myself without having to defend myself constantly. 

Sometimes that means walking away from a conversation.  Sometimes that means walking away from relationships. 

Shortly after the divorce I connected with a young survivor, and we became close.  I cherished her.  Yet, when we met in person my older son and I both felt walked on.  We felt a little bullied.   I tried to explain it away that she desperately needed to express herself because she hadn’t been allowed to.  But, neither had we.   And, it seemed to set a precedent in the relationship.   Time passed, and it seemed that more often than not she argued or negatively commented on much of what I had to say.  When I finally told her that I didn’t like it, she responded that she thought my space was a place for open discussion. 

I went no contact.  I think of her so often.  I hear she’s happy and doing well.  And, that makes me happy.  But, I couldn’t continue in a friendship where I had to constantly defend my opinion or feelings for the sake of her desire for open discussion.

Sometimes I just want to be heard, too.  Sometimes I’m speaking to someone else, and it is interference to butt in. 

What’s wrong nowadays with just listening to someone else?  Just listening.  Respecting where they are in that moment.  Caring enough about other human beings that we don’t always need to make their conversation about us.

This week I posted an excellent article that discussed something many of us have experienced. http://southlakecounseling.org/why-the-church-wont-recognize-abuse/  I shared it with a couple of specific individuals in mind, and I hoped they’d see it.  I knew it would be helpful to them where they’re at right now. 

A woman I’ve never met and who obviously did not even read the article began arguing with it.  Her style of argumentation was familiar.  She mentioned ISIS and an abusive man in Dubai.  She flatly stated a falsehood about our local area as fact.  She told me to call the churches and ask questions, as though I’m just ignorant of what’s really going on.  She talked about her job.  She brought up other entities.  She victim blamed.  She said things like that “burn her buns,” in other words, she let me know it had angered her. 

I was triggered, and I responded, as did a few other people.  The woman continued.  She didn’t let up.  Neither did I, finally telling her this isn’t about her and to just stop.  A friend gently recommended she go back and read the original post.  She never addressed whether or not she had, in fact, read it. 

I posted something to help victims, and she high jacked it and made herself the focus. 

I deleted her comments and unfriended her.

My adult daughter, who does personally know the woman, jumped in to “defend” the woman and let my friends know “before anyone jumps me” that she’s my daughter.  No one had jumped the woman!

I deleted my daughter’s comment.  Enough was enough.  The focus should have been on victims knowing there is help and that they don’t need to remain a victim just because their church tells them they do! 

My daughter responded, “LMAO… my comments were deleted.” 

I deleted that.  The purpose of that statement was……???

Twenty four hours later, I woke up to yet another antagonistic comment from my daughter that stated she was sure her comment would be deleted because it seemed the only comments allowed were those that agreed with the article.  She was right.  I deleted it. 

Like a dog with a bone, some people get a hold of an argument they’ve created and they won’t let it go. 

That is characteristic of my daughter’s personality and how she lives her entire life.  And, I’m on the verge of going no contact with my own first born child. 

It isn’t that I don’t love her.  I long for a relationship with her.  Just like I still love that survivor friend I walked away from.  But, I choose now to surround myself with those who also care enough about me and the things I value to respect my feelings, thoughts, opinions, and words.  Yes!  Theirs count!  But, so do mine. 

I don’t condone everything my loved ones say and do.  I don’t agree with their lifestyle choices.  But, I hold my tongue and love them anyway, connecting with them where we do share commonalities.   I expect the same now.