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. 

Facebook Memories; We’ve Come A Lot Further Than I Realize

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I love waking up to those Your Memories on Facebook posts.   Sometimes they’re pictures of my much younger kids.  Sometimes they’re my thoughts on what was going on in my life at that time.  But, they’re always a little surprising. 

I don’t notice how much my kids have grown because I see them every day.  I also don’t notice how drastically our life has changed because I live it every day.
Most days I’m frustrated that life has not changed fast enough.  I expected to be in a much better place this far out.  I imagined a nearly instant utopia just as soon as our abuser was out of the house, but that didn’t happen.   It’s been a long, slow, arduous process.

Nonetheless, it has, in fact, changed A LOT.

We’ve been snowed in for seven days and have spent the time home schooling and hiking, skiing, and sledding the mountain we live on.  We’ve eaten very, very well.  And, we’ve stayed warm.  We all have appropriate snow clothing, and, because I now have a chainsaw, we have a woodshed stocked with hard wood.

That hasn’t always been the case.

Since I married R none of us, except R, had warm, waterproof clothes.  And, most of the time we were food insecure.  Dry wood has, with the exception of a couple of years right before R left, always been an issue.

Last winter we had very little wet wood in spite of a shirt tail relative cutting down trees and my teenager working long hours hauling wood.  The man’s son in law took the lion’s share of that wood and took the very best of it.  We were so very cold all winter long.

When we were snowed in just three years ago, we sledded in our every day clothes, thin pants and fall jackets, and then came in to huddle under blankets in front of a smoldering fire. 

We’ve just been having too much fun this year.   🙂

It’s hard to even remember what it’s like to be hungry, to not even own a purse or have beds for the children……to accept the fact that the kids didn’t have shoes, and I tied the straps together of an old, worn out bra. 

I feel a bit spoiled thinking about all of that. 

Yes, we’re still living in a horribly run down house.  The tires on my car are bald.  The ex still tries to manipulate.  There are deep problems with a couple of my adult children.  I’m still alone.  We don’t have a church family.  And, there are many in our community who are drinking R’s Kool-aid, coddling the abuser and turning on the abused.

But……but……BUT…….. our life IS improving.  I see the evidence on those Facebook memories.  And, I FEEL it when I hear the gossip or see the hot stares or have to face the ex and his lies.  Because it doesn’t wound me anymore.  My skin is thicker.  My focus lies elsewhere.  Paralyzing fear has been replaced with indifference.  Hurt feelings have been replaced with the joy found in other relationships. 

Things just aren’t that bad anymore. 

No, I’m not where I’d hoped I’d be–in a home, relationships restored, justice applied, basking in a new love–but, I’m no where near where I was five years ago, three years ago, a year ago.  So, I can only imagine how different life will be in another year, three years, five years.  It’s slow.  It’s a process.  But, it is still progress. 

Family and Choices

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Deathly ill, I sat in my grandma’s tiny white and aqua kitchen drinking coffee.   She and I had always been close but had grown even closer since Grandpa passed away in April and my husband left the state in July.  She, too, was seriously ill, but no one realized she was dying.  Except her.  Perhaps me. 

She gave me a look that let me know I was not to question her and flatly stated, “We decided on this because R is the only one of you kids who is in a position to do the assessment work.  We want the mine to stay in the family and be open to all of you.  It just needs to be in his name because he’s got to be responsible for it.” 

I was devastated, but I understood.  He lived locally, unlike my three cousins; he was the only one of us with a truck; and I was sick and pregnant and abandoned.  But, why couldn’t it go to all of us?  Why couldn’t we all contribute somehow?  Monetarily maybe?  Why was one grandchild gaining sole ownership of the mine upon her death?

Of course, upon her death R gated it and locked it.  It was his.  The papers said so. No one was allowed up there without him, without his invitation, which rarely came. 

My uncle inherited my grandparents’ house and all of its contents just six months after that day in the kitchen.  And, I recall the horror of walking in on him and my oldest cousin pulling drawers out onto the floor and rummaging through Grandma and Grandpa’s things.  A lifetime of work and collecting and organizing in heaps on the floor.

Once he’d sufficiently sorted through their belongings and stripped the house of anything of value, he rented the house to my brother R.  The piano was still there.  My aunt wanted to give it to a local church, but my mom and I begged her to let it stay.  Three years later I offered my uncle $250 for it.  He refused.

A few more years passed and my uncle sold the old home, once the stage coach stop when it was down beside the creek, and the acre it sat on to R.  For $28,000.  With the piano included for free. 

R quickly bulldozed the old historic building and burned what remained.  He tore out the trees and bushes my grandparents lovingly planted and tended.  Well, what was left that my uncle had not already uprooted.   The old home place, the only home we’d ever experienced, was gone. 

In its place he put up a small shop and an old double wide someone just gave him. 

Our safe retreat, the warmth of Grandpa and Grandma’s old and small but sweet home, was erased from existence. 

The piano had been removed before the demolition, and it now sat in the trailer where the dogs chewed one leg off. 

My mother had been given the adjacent acre as her early inheritance when she left my step dad.  And, she left it to my daughter with my son in law as next in line, acknowledging my brother and me as her children yet admitting it was her intent to leave us nothing.

R was furious.  He demanded I help him go to court to get back what was rightfully ours.  I couldn’t.  I was knee deep in a court battle with my ex, fighting for safety for my children and myself.  R saw my refusal to help him as “siding” with my daughter and just letting her steal our inheritance.  So, when dad died seven months later, R once again made sure that he took everything Dad owned, denying me any right I had to it. 

And, here we are…..4 1/2 years later.  Why do I bring this all up now?

Yesterday on vistation (after putting away the naked blow up doll hanging in the dining room–that’s a whole other story) my ex told the kids that he was “just out in” the small area where I live and decided to swing in and say hi to my brother.  However, two strange guys answered the door and said they are his renters.  R doesn’t live there anymore.

I texted my daughter.  My brother has sent his dogs after my daughter and her friends when they’ve been working on my mom’s empty, old place, and he has stolen off of that property.  My daughter wouldn’t even go to the property alone when she was pregnant.   Now, they no longer need to worry about R bothering them. 

Maybe I should have left well enough alone. 

She immediately began checking public records to see if he had sold it.   In doing so, she found that he owns a second mining claim that none of us knew about.  And, it appears he abandoned my grandparents’ claim they left him all those years ago.  The government tried to contact him multiple times, but he failed to respond. 
It’s gone now, too.

I updated my 16 year old on what his sister was finding, and he looked at me, shaking his head, and said, “Wow, EVERYone in your entire family f-ed you.”

I woke up this morning to a frigid cold house I’m just grateful my landlord doesn’t kick me out of.  I tended the animals and brought in wood.  I attempted to wash my hands, but the ice water coming from the faucet was too much for my already cold hands.  So,  I moved on to building a fire in the tiny box at one end of the house.  And, all I can think about is how my brother and daughter have stolen and then just WASTED what should have been partly mine.  My stuggles could have been greatly eased had I received my portion.  Yet, those who wanted it all placed no value on that which could have changed my life.  And, in all honestly, they only acquired it all because, not only mom, but my grandparents, my uncle, and my dad allowed it. 

Like my son said….. everyone in my entire family f-ed me.  

And, people ask how I ended up marrying an abuser.  They ask what attracted me to a man like that.

It’s really all I knew.

No Story, No Glory

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I’ve been STRONGLY feeling all of your prayers going up on my behalf!  Thank you!

There have been no major shifts in the day to day reality of my life, but my attitude about it all has completely flipped.  I’ve been able to have more of an eternal perspective.

When I was a little girl I basically wanted just four things in life:  Lots of kids, lots of animals, to live on a body of water, and to write.  I loved to write stories and poems and play with my cats, dogs, chickens, rabbits, and calves.   Those were my happy places. But, as I grew my stories and poems got buried beneath heavy mounds of pain. 

My ex would tell you he tried to encourage me to write.  What he did was demand I write a book because he’d worked on the new home of a man who hit it big by…..writing a book.  Like one of those old cartoon characters, the dollar signs spun around his eyeballs, making him resemble a slot machine.  All he could think was that he’d no longer have to work at all.  His days could be wasted away in front of the TV, drinking beer, while living off of my royalties.

Because, yeah, starving writers aren’t really a thing.  You just write a book and get rich.  That’s how it works.  (I can taste my own sarcasm!)

I didn’t know what to write about though.  I tried.  But, nothing bubbled to the top and poured out the tips of my fingers.  They were dry.  Empty.  As though I had no stories to tell. 

The massive dam of abuse held back my ability to share my story.  Giant beams of shame and hardened layers of rejection directed the flow of my life and kept my words in place. 

Until an earth shattering natural disaster caused that dam to crumble.

Like Nehemiah riding through the ruins of the temple, I’ve spent the last five years circling the ruins of my life, trying to figure out how to rebuild this mess.  Debris is EVERYWHERE!  Some stones are so heavy there’s just no way I can possibly remove them by myself.   It’s a long, arduous process to thoroughly remove the chaotic evidence of destruction.  I can’t even think of rebuilding until the site is cleared.  Oh, just lots and lots of work to do!

As I’ve heaved and struggled, I’ve recorded my story.   I’ve written snippets, chapters if you will, of devotions, ideas and scripture verses, that have helped me with my work. 

I’ve also started writing my life story as a novel.  It’s not to make me the star of my own show.  I’m not so deluded as to think I’m that interesting.  By weaving other people’s stories into the abnormality of my own life story I’m hoping to prove there is no such thing as that elusive “normal life” and “normal family” too many of us long for.
And, now, I’m starting a third project.  I don’t think they’ll ever get published.  That’s not the point.  The point is, I’m writing.  I’ve tapped into that part of me that found solace in putting words to paper.  That, in itself, is fulfilling.  Amazingly, the abuse that took that from me has become the catalyst for my fulfillment.  It is my song. It is my story.

For now, my glory is that I have survived the cataclysmic disaster.  One day, my glory will be that I rebuilt on the site of the ruins, I will have reclaimed what looked to be beyond repair. 

Our precious Savior’s story of salvation and redemption is built on the abuse and pain of the cross.  The beauty of Heaven is built on the foundation of a fallen world.  His glory is found in the story of His willingness to become a man and suffer for the sake of all men.  
We’d have no desire to seek Him and that wonderful eternal peace He offers if we didn’t feel the terrible sting of the pain of this nasty world, just as He did.  Why did I ever think that I could escape it when even the Lord of Lords did not?  Have I not been called to follow Him?  To pick up the cross and follow Him? 

There IS glory on the other side of pain.  No matter the mechanism of injury.  No matter the cause of the devastation.  If we hold tight, it’s there.  If we can muster the strength to do the hard work of clearing, cleaning, and rebuilding, we’ll find it.  Our bodies are the temple of the living God.  And, as Nehemiah found with his temple, sometimes there’s just a lot of work to be done on that temple.  But, the beauty of the finished work outshines the disaster we began with.  It’s worth it.  Christ knew the cross was worth it.  He felt WE were worth it.

The Object of His Obsession

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I often see “How To Make Any Man Obsessed With You” on my Facebook news feed and on the covers of women’s magazines as though that’s a good thing.  It’s not.  Trust me.  Obsession is NOT love. 
Obsession is sick.  It’s selfish.  It’s cruel. It’s demanding.  It has nothing to do with how irresistible a woman is but rather everything to do with how emotionally unstable the man is.

The first time I attended the group meeting at the safe house I thought I absolutely did not want to be like those women….one, two, three years out and still stuck in the mire of recovery. I wanted to be free!  I wanted a new life!  I didn’t yet understand that they don’t just allow you to walk away in freedom and begin again.

I had a really great day yesterday.  Friday night I had given myself permission to fall asleep on the couch at 4:30 in the afternoon.  Typically I fight through the fatigue.   There is dinner to fix.  Laundry to wash.  Papers to correct.  Animals to feed.  Not this time.  This time, my body needed rest.  So, I slept.  Until 9 o’clock!  I then stayed up until 1 a.m. doing those things I should have done while I was sleeping.  And, then slept another eight hours straight!  I woke up late on Saturday and enjoyed my coffee.  My body didn’t hurt.  My mind felt clear.  I felt happy.

In the early afternoon my teenager and I went out to cut and haul up a downed tree.  It was easier than most trees we deal with, and we worked quickly, visiting and laughing as we went.  Soon, it was time to get ready to take my youngest son to dance practice, and I decided I’d actually put make up on and do something with my hair.  I had the energy.  It didn’t feel like such a chore to fix up a bit.

As I sat at my make up table after my shower my teenager came running in.  Two motorcycles had come up our driveway.  One went up the hill above our house.  The one that stayed low sounded like a Harley.  I told my son to run down and see if the uninvited guests had damaged the gate or stolen anything. 

Nothing was damaged or taken.  But, they’d left behind an almost new bag of chewing tobacco, dropped right in the open for us to see.  Like a calling card.
Yes, you guessed it, the brand my ex chews.

So much for my fantastic day.  He had invaded my space.  Just because he can.  He just wanted to remind me he’s still here and, as he threatened when we were separating, he’s not going away.
On Thursday morning he’d left a masonry glove in my driveway.

He was bitten by a Blue Heeler a few years ago and hated them.  That was part of my attraction to getting one!  Later, it became obvious he was breaking into my house and giving my new Heeler puppy treats, perhaps trying to make friends with the dog who was supposed to protect me from him.  And, guess who just got a new Blue Heeler puppy himself?  Because he’s “always wanted one.”  He seemed a little deflated when the kids told him we’d rehomed ours and asked multiple times why I’d done that.

I also noticed on the last vistation that he now has an older green Craftsman riding lawnmower.  Just like mine.  The one that mysteriously had bad gas put in it and no longer runs.  

He also bought my favorite truck, though he’s been a lifelong Ford man. 

Someone, on Sundays, like clock work, messes with my gate, even taking it off its hinges, and throws garbage in my driveway.  Recently, he grinned and told the kids he goes for motorcycle rides on Sundays by our house and up the road that parallels our property. 

Am I honored he’s buying things I like?  Honored he wants to have the same things I do?   Honored that he “appears” to want that connection still?  Flattered that he’s still thinking of me and tries to find out what I’m doing?  NO!  Obsession is not love.  It is a means of CONTROL.

He’s even enlisted his girlfriend’s help.  I know the drill.  He did it to me.  His obsessive talking about me has stirred up extreme insecurities in her so that she harasses my daughter’s mother in law at work and has approached a friend of mine at a restaurant while she was out to dinner with friends.  What can they tell her about me?   What am I like?  What was our marriage like?
Some of my friends have dismissed this as just her possibly beginning to see through him.  I know that’s not the case.  He and his family have done this to EVERY woman he’s ever been involved with.  They obsess about the ex to make the current one feel insignificant.  That drives her to try harder to please him and be as important as the last one apparently was and still is.  In her frantic desire to please him and earn her place in his life, the stage is set for him to use and abuse her.  And, I’m left feeling like I’m living in a fishbowl, always being watched and talked about behind my back.

It seems blatantly obvious to me now, but at one point in my life it was all so confusing.  I believed the hype.  A man’s excessive attention, his obsession with me, must indicate his love for me and my worthiness as a woman. But, true love respects boundaries, privacy, and individualism.  It encourages hobbies, interests, and friendships outside the relationship.  It enjoys seeing the love between its child and their other parent flourish.  It sends the message that it loves you because of the value you already possess as a unique individual. 

Love heals.  Obsession suffocates.  Love seeks to know.  Obsession will tell you who it thinks you are.  Love desires what is best for you.  Obsession desires to control you.  Love can walk away and respect your goodbye.  Obsession won’t allow that.  Love gives life.  Obsession kills.

I’m Sorry I’m Quiet; I’m Depressed

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I don’t like those memes on Facebook that state you make time for those you really care about and if you don’t make time that’s proof you don’t care. 

I genuinely don’t have time. Even when I might, I’m too exhausted to clean up and socialize.  On those rare occasions I do I’m usually even more drained from trying to pretend that I have compassion for what I consider the non problems others drone on about. 

I’m just depressed. 

And, overwhelmed.

But, really depressed.

On Tuesday as I was leaving work my client pulled up.  I smiled and waved, and she turned away.  She then drove right on past and parked at the end of her road, waiting for me to leave.  She’s not the first to ignore me. 

I clean their toilets and scrub their floors and showers.  I wear out my vacuums and have to replace them every six months.  I have holes in the knees of all of my pants and chronic calluses on my hands and knees.  My back always burns.   And, I’m unseen.

It reminds me of growing up.  Of my marriage.  Do the work.  Absorb the costs.  Suffer silently.  We don’t acknowledge you.  We don’t see you.

I should be glad to head home at the end of the day, but I’m not.  The tarped roof, the bitter cold, the filth, the dark…. they fight against the idea of rest and peace.  Of home.

We bathed in a stock tank outside for a month this summer because of plumbing problems.  You haven’t lived until you’ve hauled buckets of water in 100+ degrees at the end of a long work day.  Or, until you’ve stripped naked outside in the chill of the morning and lowered yourself into yesterday’s now cold water. 

A large tree fell across the driveway this week and I’m beyond grateful two of my wonderful, precious adult sons came to my rescue, but I missed work because of it.  I needed the money.  Instead, it cost money.  And, “friends” responded, “Yay!  Free firewood!”  There was nothing free about it.

I’m writing this from my phone because, ten months later, I still haven’t been able to replace my old dead computer.

I rehomed my young male dog after he broke his expensive cable and ate a hole in the bathroom wall.  He’s happy in his new home, but I felt awful.  And, again, Facebook memes reminded me that you don’t “give up on family.”  Three days later my old dog started bleeding profusely from two systems, and I had to make the decision to put her down.   I’ve never done that before.  It was HORRIBLE!

My ex husband’s girlfriend Facestalked me until I blocked her and has harassed my friends in public places, asking questions about me.  And, she argued with my adult daughter on Facebook as to how I took my ex for everything.  I just want to be left alone!  Yet, the lies and creepy behavior continue…..5 1/2 years later.

It just feels like nothing much has changed with the passing of time.  Any hope I had for a brighter future post abuse has died.  I remember sitting in the DV support group way back in the beginning and thinking I did NOT want to be like those women–a year or two out and still stuck.

It’s depressing.

And, people wonder why we don’t just leave abusive situations.  I’m beginning to wonder if there is ever really a way out once it happens.  Or, if the pit is just too deep to ever climb out. 

So, I’m sorry I’m quiet.  I’m sorry I can’t meet for dinner or drinks or a Bible study.  I’m sorry I don’t blog anymore.  I’m just depressed. 

My Brothers’ Friends

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I was raised with my youngest brother and only found out about my other brother around seven years ago.   But, today, I only have a relationship with my newly found brother.

Thirty years ago I met my youngest brother’s best friend.  I’d just given birth and was in the middle of a divorce I did not want.  I’d left a note on my brother’s truck saying I’d had the baby and was heading home.  His best friend wanted to come see the new baby, too, and tagged along.  I was in a bathrobe, looking like a total mess.  But, he seemed to fall head over heels in love with my newborn and me.  I could not have asked for a better friend over the next four years.  He and his family were wonderful to us.

However, my own family, my mother and my brother, did everything to discourage that relationship.  They claimed I’d never ever be happy with him.  They claimed he was beneath me.  And, my brother tried to convince him I was an awful person.

Eventually he grew tired of waiting and got involved with someone else.  He married her and lived happily ever after.
Five years later I met another friend of my brother.  This time I married the guy.  My brother claimed no one would take better care of my kids and me than this friend would.  He said the friend’s questionable past was only due to the horrible women he’d been involved with.  I drank the Kool aid hard and fast.  But, after sixteen years of abuse that rivaled that of my childhood, the marriage unraveled.

The first Thanksgiving after my second husband left I couldn’t bear to cook.  I couldn’t bear to entertain and wait on my brother who had betrayed me to my abuser.  Thankfully, my other brother, the new found one, invited me to his house to be with his family. 

And, there I met his best friend.

He had a girlfriend, and I was reeling from court, my mother’s death, the loss of everything, and was still trying to recover from the sudden onset of health problems ten months earlier. 

I really didn’t remember him.

This Independence Day my brother once again invited us both to his house.  And, the timing is right now. 

We’ve spent up to five hours at a time on the phone in the evenings this past week.  Yesterday my brother, his wife, the friend, and my kids and I went to a local lake for the afternoon.  When it got crowded late in the day, my brother and his wife headed home.  His friend, my kids, and I moved to a private side of the lake where he continued to teach my children to fish while I napped on the beach.

I don’t know where this is going.  But, I like him.  My kids like him.  I feel relaxed and calm when he talks or when he’s near.  He’s not perfect.  Far from it.  He’s just a nice guy who likes to fish and cook, who loves his kids and his dog, and who looks at me like he thinks I’m funny and pretty. 

I’m scared.  I regret not “going for” my youngest brother’s one friend 30 years ago.  He looked at me like I was funny and pretty.  He was thoughtful and easy going.  He’d have been a good life partner.  I regret marrying my youngest brother’s other friend.  He hurt my children and me.  He not only looked at me like I was stupid and ugly, but he strangled, beat, stole from, lied about, and much, much worse, not only me, but my children also. 

Funny how life repeats itself.  I haven’t really dated at all since the divorce and here I am hanging out with a brother’s friend.  Once again.  What will it be this time?  Will I regret this some day?  If so, will I regret not allowing him into our lives?  Or, will I regret trusting him?

Only time will tell.  Right now only one thing is certain.  I’m looking forward to fishing and napping again next weekend where the wind blows through the trees and the sun bounces off the water, where children laugh, and a quiet, brown eyed man smiles at me.