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Where do I even start?

My boss and owner of the salon I work at is a lovely Asian lady who is extremely fair and trustworthy in regards to making sure each of the three nail techs she employs gets an equal turn for work, she puts herself last in the rotation and often even skips herself to give us more work and I have no qualms whatsoever that she gives us our tips and earnings correctly – but honestly, she has terrible, horrible customer service skills.  I mean, she has absolutely no grasp of the polite niceities that are so important in our Western culture and while I know she means well she appears rude to many customers and several have turned around and left the shop because of it.  Add to that the fact that with the colder weather less and less people are coming in for pedicures and manicures and then top it off with knowing that the owner does not trust me to apply acrylic nails yet and I am making less and less money every day.  Equals stress for me.

The beauty school I attended is threatening to suspend my nail tech license if I can’t pay the remainder of the tuition I owe them soon so I’m going to vocational rehabilitation to see if they can help me either with my tuition or send me back to school for an esthetics license and/or to teach nail tech students at a beauty school.  It can take up to 60 days for voc rehab to decide if they can help you or not so more stress for me.

My marriage is tense, strained.  I have realized I don’t want to make it work.  My  husband may have worked very  hard to kick his pornography habit but he is clearly  still addicted to sex because it’s always on his mind as evidenced by the majority of his jokes an comments.  I’m so tired of hearing about sex in any media, it just makes me nauseous now.  My  husband is trying very hard to be a great husband, a nice guy and a good father and to a large extent he is succeeding but it’s a day late and a dollar short.  I realized that I avoid going to bed at the same time my husband does because I’m tired of the snuggling and the sex so I stay up late and am exhausted all of the time.  More stress for me.

My oldest daughter finally has a full time job at a call center, different from the one I worked at before I became a nail tech, and while she doesn’t enjoy having to work so late into the evening she is enjoying very much the paycheck that comes with it.  However, with her newly discovered grown-up-ness she is becoming increasingly intolerant of me and her younger sister – and of my sister who lives with us temporarily.  It is an chilling thing to know your child despises you.  Yet more stress.

But the most stressful thing is that my youngest daughter met a 20 year old guy in the Navy over Labor Day when she went to visit her best friend, our neighbor girl who joined the Navy right out of high school last year, and even though my daughter and this guy only spent two days together they have spent nearly every waking moment since talking, texting or Skyping.

For the first two weeks it was amusing and we thought it was just a phase that would pass.  After a month it became annoying.  At six weeks it was concerning, the two month mark came and went with a marked increase in the time they spent together despite our discouragement and now at about 10 weeks we’re terrified.

The things she has told me about him go from bad to worse – early on in this relationship he “ripped her a new one” for not telling him she was going to a color guard event and wouldn’t be available to talk to him on the phone that day.  Later, he found out that she fell asleep on the shoulder of a boy on the bus and completely blew up at her in a jealous rage.  She started cutting herself again sometime during the next week and she found a way go quit being in the color guard a few weeks later.

This 17 year old child of mine has completely changed from a happy, outgoing, friendly person who loved being in the color guard, going to school and working at her job to a withdrawn, introverted, sullen teenager who stopped being involved in everything she used to love and hates coming out of her room.  She’s asked to be home-schooled for the remainder of her senior year so that she will have more time “to work” but really it’s to spend on the phone with him.  She’s missed so many days of school that we’re getting letters saying just a couple more days of being absent and she won’t be able to graduate.  She doesn’t have any friends anymore except for him.  She gets angry with us for calling her out to the living room to spend time with us because it is taking her away from her boyfriend.  She’s lost about 15 pound since she met him.

We have talked and talked to her, telling her this is an unhealthy relationship, that his fits of rage are unacceptable and immature and that his behavior is controlling.  I tell her (privately) that he is just like her father was when I married him.  She looks us in the eye, smiles, says she understands and will break it off with him without any intention of doing so and spends a little bit of time with us before saying she’s tired and then she goes back t0 her room and stays up until 2 in the morning Skyping this guy.

My husband gave her a phone curfew of 11 pm because she doesn’t get enough sleep, doesn’t eat enough and forgot to take her medicine for several days so her migraine got out of control and we had to take her to the ER last week.  She agreed to the curfew while speaking to her father and then promptly ignored it that same night.  My husband then told her that she would bring her phone out to the living room to charge overnight at 11 pm for a week and she became so furious that she started talking about moving out of our home to her best friend’s mom’s house two doors down.  Less rules there…

When I went to talk to her alone after my husband said we were taking her phone away at 11 pm she gave me even more disturbing news that I can’t bring myself to share with my husband because he will absolutely lose it.  This guy is schizophrenic and has a second personality who calls itself “Nightmare”.  She has talked to Nightmare on Skype and calmed it down until the guy himself came back.  She said that Nightmare made fun of her and laughed at her, saying the guy was never coming back.  She doesn’t see the danger in this situation.  I was stunned and in so much shock I could hardly say anything and I had to find my few remaining sleeping pills to get to sleep that night.

This guy is actually worse than my husband was when I married him.  If I had divorced him when the girls were little would this have even been an issue now?  Is this my fault?  Or is this my reward for doing the “right” thing and staying married, to watch my little girl make a worse choice than I did?  She’s on a train, hurtling forward at breakneck speed and the bridge is out but she won’t listen to me, won’t hear me.

I don’t know what to do.  We don’t know what to do.  She is convinced she loves him and that he loves her and that everything will work out because they love each other.  He makes her feel needed because she is “one of two people on earth who can calm him down”.  But this isn’t Romeo and Juliet, this is serial killer and victim.

So I’m on the Titanic, knowing that this family is going to sink.  I’ve had to accept the fact that if I do divorce my husband it will be seen by all our family and most of our friends as my fault and I will be the horrible wife who just up and left a 20 year marriage.  I’ve come to grips with the fact that I will lose the house and possibly my car and I may wind up in a women’s shelter for a short period of time.  But to see my youngest throw her life away like this, to know this guy has the potential to kill her or worse, to make the remainder of her life a living hell, has really destroyed my heart.  I can’t just abandon her to her own choices like she wants but neither has anything I’ve said or done come even close to stopping her.  To try and corral her with rules she will just break will only push her towards moving out sooner and breaking all contact with us, possibly even dropping out of high school and moving several states away to be with him.

My depression is back, full force and I can feel that I’m heading down a very dark path.  I’ve started taking my pills again but what am I going to do when they run out?  Being a nail tech doesn’t come with insurance and Obamacare isn’t worth a hill of beans.  I feel powerless to help my daughter and I lack the desire to do my part to save my marriage but at least this much is different from when I was depressed before – I want to live.  I’m not exactly sure why, I seem to have a horrible future looming ahead of me, lots of pain and tears coming my way, but I want to live.

The last time I went to my Women’s Small Group at church somebody noticed I could sing.  I was immediately asked if I would lead the worship time in a future group and if I had considered joining the worship team.

It was so hard not to look behind me to try and see who they were really talking to!  You want me to lead a small group in worship?  Lil ‘ole invisible me?

I was flattering to say the least but a very large part of me wondered if they really meant it, if the leaders would actually follow through and arrange a specific date for me to lead the worship or if it was just one of those vague, polite niceties I’ve heard all my life that frequently equated to nothing more than a carrot on a stick.

Besides, they don’t really even know me, I’ve only been attending this church for about six to eight weeks and this small group only started last month so they don’t know me from Adam – there’s no way they could be serious… right?

That was the second time this small group had met.  The first time I had a last minute nail client and wound up being a half hour late to small group so I snuck in while everyone was worshiping (this small group is focused on prayer and worship).  Afterwards we prayed for each other and I saw a little snapshot of something relevant and felt I needed to share that with the gal we were praying for.  Feeling very brave and wondering if they would even allow me to speak since I was so new I stood up from my chair and moved a few feet closer to where the gal was sitting in the middle and I waited for the person who was speaking with her to finish.  It took a little while and my courage began to lag, I wondered if maybe I didn’t need to share after all but one of the leaders had seen me and knew I had something to say so she motioned me forward.  Nobody there even know my name.  I shared the details of the picture I had seen while we were praying for her and went back to my seat.  Afterwards the gal said it was very helpful and encouraging to her and I wound up having some light conversation with the leaders.  In our next small group meeting that same leader, having only met me at the previous small group the one time before, asked me by name if I had anything to share with the gal we were currently praying with.  I did not and said so and the leader was content with my response.  Later that night I was asked to lead a future small group in worship.

I walked out of there on Cloud Nine.  I had value to these people!  I wasn’t invisible!  None of these people knew who I was or my background or what’s going on in my marriage or job or anything about me but they looked at me and saw what God sees when He looks at me!  I knew then that God really had heard my cry to serve Him with the gifts He’s given me.

But still, was it really going to happen or turn into just another one of those “someday” things?  Proverbs says “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” and I think that’s where I’ve been for a long time now, heart-sick, and it’s made me untrusting of others, especially spiritual leaders.

This church has really been challenging me in several areas – Do I really accept what the Bible says as truth?  Do I honestly believe that God talks to me at every moment of the day and not just in the sanctuary on Sundays?  Do I trust God and take Him at His Word?  The Sunday sermons have been solid, Biblical teaching backed up with lots of verses and scriptural examples.  Most weeks I walk away somewhat shell-shocked from acknowledging that I’ve allowed myself to live out a different truth than what I’ve always said I believe.  My head will go “Oh yeah, that’s what I believe” but my heart does this funny, cartoon-like explosion thing when I realize “That’s not what I’ve been taught my whole life and that’s not what I live”.

My small group only meets twice a month (I really wish it was once a week, the worship is amazing!) and our next meeting is tomorrow.  Yesterday I received an email asking if I was still up for leading worship this week and besides a keyboard what else did I need?

Wow.  Talk about God coming down and meeting me where I am at.  This is real!  This is what the Bible talks about when it says God’s mercies are new every morning.  I feel like He is healing the wounds caused by other churches – and my own lack of faith – and I’m receiving a fresh start to learn and believe the truth along with my heart’s desire, an opportunity to serve Him with the gifts He’s given me.  I am so excited!