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So this morning I actually put on some eye makeup and lip goo and went to work.  Todd’s first reaction was to laugh so I’m thinking that whole does-he-like-me thing is all in my head.  His brother, the man who noticed and commented about me dying my eyebrows at the same time I dyed my hair, didn’t appear to notice at all until the others pointed it out to him.  My female boss gave me lots of compliments and wanted to know if I was going on a date after work.

No, no dates for me.  But it was an excellent opportunity to make a joke using the “Honey” line and I made the most of it.  The brother boss asked (in front of a full house of customers) if I was sure I didn’t have a date and I said “No, only you… Honey.”  And we all laughed.  Todd said “So you admit it.” and I said no, that it was just such an excellent joke I couldn’t pass it up and then we all laughed some more.

It was an extremely busy day and I felt good about how I looked – and – I beat my record and made more money than I had made in a single day up until now so I was pretty happy.  My female boss said we were so busy because I wore makeup today and therefore I must wear makeup every day from now on.  They are so superstitious, it’s kind of cute.

Then I started noticing that Todd wasn’t making eye contact with my made-up eyes at all like normal and at some point he started to give off a vibe that makes me wonder if he’s upset with me about something.  Maybe because I called his brother Honey in my too-good-to-pass-up-joke?  I give up.  I’m not even sure why I want to know if he likes me or not because a positive answer would just ruin everything.  At this moment the male species is better off remaining a mystery to me.

After a long day at work we went to my female bosses apartment for some “non-spicy” soup.  Ha!  Oh, and immediately upon arriving the fiance of my female boss was informed in Vietnamese that I wore makeup to work today whereupon he turned to me and said I looked “radiant” today. Oh boy.  I’m about ready to throw all of my makeup away and go back to being plane Jane, I feel like it’s causing more problems than it’s worth.  There wasn’t much spice in the soup but it builds so by the end of my small bowl of soup my eyes were watering and somebody asked me if I was crying.

Almost.

After dinner we had watermelon, blessedly cool, sweet and take-away-the-spice-from-my-tongue watermelon.  Todd reverted a bit to his normal, joking self while cutting the watermelon but then right after stalked away in a brown study.

Yep, I’m giving up.

In the middle of my watermelon eating I received a text from my younger daughter this evening asking if I knew about Timmy.  Timmy was the orange tabby cat that we had for 13 years and he died today.  My ex-husband called my younger daughter to let her know and she texted me.

I was upset that he didn’t tell me.

I stayed a bit longer until 10 pm and then left.

An hour later my ex-husband called me and tersely informed that Timmy died and he was doing me the courtesy of calling me instead of informing me by text message.  It was our first conversation since we met at the courthouse and filed the divorce paperwork.  After performing his public service announcement he wanted to know why I hadn’t reached out to our older daughter (who doesn’t like me).  He informed me that I’ve really hurt her and I needed to be the grown up here and reach out to her.

He seems to be all about her and it’s gotten worse over the last several years.  A mutual friend has noticed that they have an unhealthy relationship.  Yes, they do.

He did ask if I was safe, I have to give him credit for that.

And I don’t think he could help himself so he closed our phone conversation with another guilt trip saying, again, that he doesn’t know why I left him or why I despise him so much that I wouldn’t even tell him the address of my new place.

Ummm… his parents told him my new address so I didn’t feel the need to tell him and besides, my telling him felt (to me) like I would be giving him permission to drive by and check it out, maybe even knock on my door and try to visit me sometime.  Maybe even give me more guilt trips in person.  No thank you!

He finally hung up and now I’m in my own brown study and I wrote my oldest daughter an email.  It will probably backfire but at least I reached out to her, eh?  Here it is:

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Dear Oldest Daughter,

Dad just called me and told me about Timmy and I wanted to say I’m so sorry.  I’m sorry that he died and I’m sorry I haven’t reached out to you sooner and I’m sorry that I’ve hurt you.
I don’t know what else to say except I’m sorry.
I was sad that you didn’t come in to get your nails done like you said you would before your Mexico trip – I hope you had a great time and touched lots of lives down there, I thought about you a lot the day you said you were leaving.
I honestly believe that you don’t really want a relationship with me and that has made it easier for me to say that I’m giving you space instead of owing up to what it really is – I’m afraid to reach out to you because I don’t think you want to be around me and I’m tired of being unwanted.  I feel like I’ve never met your expectations or been good enough for you as a mother or a human being.
Again, I’m sorry, that is a wrong attitude on my part.  I would like to get to know you for maybe the first time and I’d like you to get to know me.  Not the me you think you know but the me I really am.  Maybe we could start over?  Or maybe you could just give me a place to start a conversation from.  Write me a nasty letter and tell me what you really think of me and how much you hate me.  At least we could have some sort of meaningful conversation then.
No matter what, I do love you.
Mom.
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So I’m sad, I’m mad and I’m bewildered on today, the day the cat died.  I think it’s a good time to go to bed.
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So there’s a man in my life now that I’m not sure what to think about.  He’s actually one of my bosses, the one I call Todd here, and we work together six days a week.  Todd is lots of fun and very easy to be around and every once in a while I think he might like me in a romantic sort of way but most of the time I’m positive there is nothing there… until I start adding up all the little things I’ve noticed.  For my part I’m honestly hoping I’m wrong, I’m not anywhere near ready to be in a romantic relationship and probably won’t be for a very looooooong time.

Here’s some of the dots I’m connecting and I’d really love some feedback on this one – am I just seeing things out of nervousness, is it just the Vietnamese culture that I’m misinterpreting or could there possibly be something trying to start here?

Talking to the customers about anything and everything is a big part of my job as a Nail Tech and Todd has a great memory, several times, to me and to others, He has referenced things I’ve told customers, often it’s a piece of information that I’ve only said once and it usually surprises me that he remembered it and/or paid close enough attention to what I say to even have heard it.

Todd, his brother and sister are three out of the four owners of the salon I work at and we go out to dinner frequently.  I feel so blessed that they include me because it stops me from being home alone and the three of them really make me feel like I’m a part of their family.  I’ve even had them over to my house for dinner a few times and while somehow I’m no longer the good cook I used to be they are gracious and eat it while telling me it’s very tasty, lol.  The first time I had them over I told Todd that I needed the BBQ put together before we could use it and he said he would do it.  (It was a $40 cheapy charoal BBQ from WalMart.) Normally his brother puts everything together but when Todd got to my house he immediately started working on the BBQ – although his brother jumped right in and took over – but it was clear that Todd intended to put the BBQ together for me and that his brother’s taking over frustrated him a bit.

Tonight at dinner Todd ordered an appetizer that is one of my favorites, something I had only mentioned once weeks ago at a different resturant.  He then asked me what I wanted to eat and then when the waiter came, placed my order for me after first making sure it wasn’t spicy.  (I am a total baby when it comes to spice…)  I’ve never had a man place my order for me before, that was very interesting.  When the appetizer came he only ate one.

My sister made a joke that Todd’s brother was going to start setting me up on dates so that he wouldn’t have to be the one to keep fixing my house (Todd is good with electronics and techology, his brother is the handyman).  I told Todd what she said and he didn’t laugh at all like I expected him to, he just looked at my face and said “Too soon, huh?”  Not only is he rarely so serious, I’ve never had anyone read me like that.  He was dead-on and I didn’t even realize it until he said it.

A customer thought I was saying “Thank you honey” to Todd’s brother and asked if he was my husband/boyfriend.  I told Todd thinking he would find that hillarious but his reaction was actually the opposite.  He looked upset and it felt like he shut down for the rest of the day.  The first thing that came to mind was that it would have been funny to anybody except the person who wished I was calling them honey… yes? His brother, by the way, is somebody I absolutely adore but have no romantic interest in whatsoever and he has no romantic interest in me either.  When I told Todd’s brother what the customer said he roared with laughter and now loves to tell people about it as if it were the best joke ever.

Todd will do and say things while we work on customers side-by-side just to get my reaction, it feels like he is always keeping an eye on me and watching for me to smile or laugh and I get the impression that he’s more interested in getting me to laugh than the customers.

Todd has asked me to go to Vietnam with him.  It was kind of a general “someday” type of request but the way he said it was very specific – did I want to go to Vietnam with him, not him and his family…  That’d be a heck of a first date!

Tonight at dinner his brother and sister kept talking to each other in Vietnamese and then looking at me while Todd very studiously stared at his phone and wouldn’t look at either me or them.  His brother would stare at me but looked away with a funny little smile when I turned to look at him, it was a little strange.

One day I brought a little baggie of Chia Seeds to the salon with me to put in my yogurt.  The next day a giant, barely used Costco bag of Chia Seeds shows up at work.  He brought them from his home for me because “nobody was using them”.  Those little suckers are expensive!

He frequently comes and sits at my nail station to just hang out when we’re not busy.  He’ll be on his phone playing a game or texting, whatever, so I pull out my phone and find ways to look busy because I don’t want to just sit and stare at him.  Eventually he gets up and goes elsewhere but he seems to like to be nearby where I am.

There’s more but these are the things I can think of right now, at 1:45 am, ha, ha.  It’s probably just me being paranoid because I’m afraid of losing the friendship with his family group for any reason but especially if he does like me and I can’t like him back.  Besides me recovering from an almost 21 year marriage, he’s about 10 years younger than I am… and a Buddist… and he talks to customers about getting married and having kids after the salon grows more successful…

Right now I’m really hoping that he’s just a fabulously nice guy who sees me as a sister and that all these little things I’m noticing are part of being Vietnamese.  On my end, a successful romantic relationship with anybody is going to take a miracle and I’d rather see him happy with a young little Vietnamese girl who can give him little Vietnamese babies than trying to struggle through my baggage.

But it’s the little things that make me go “Hmmm…”

The last time I spoke with my soon-to-be-ex-husband we discussed dividing up the household items and what not and something he said to me caught my attention.    I had asked him if we switched lists of stuff and he was only going to get what was on my list would he feel that it was fair?  His response was “If I had done what you’ve done I would be happy just to get away with a car and a place to stay.”

Uh, excuse me, what have I done?

His clarification was “If it was really as bad as you say it was I would be happy just to run away screaming.”.

20 years of marriage and that’s his justification for leaving me homeless, no alimony, with a bare minimum of “stuff” and having to wait 3 – 5 years to see any profit from selling the house.  It feels like he’s saying I deserve to have nothing in the same way that some people say a girl who wears tight clothing deserves to get raped.  That isn’t what he actually said but it feels like that’s what he meant.  What an ass.

I’ve been counseled by friends to get an attorney and take him to the cleaners, force him to sell the house immediately and ask for alimony.  It’s tempting, it truly is because this man is really pissing me off.  But in the end, it’s not who I am –  and still I have to live with myself for (hopefully) a long, long time.  On top of that I am more and more convinced that I am doing the right thing.  I KNOW that God is my provider and He will make a new life for me, just look at my amazing new job and the housing program I qualify for!  I also know that the man I married will have to answer to God for how he treated me and in light of that I pity him.

And if you know my husband please feel free to say anything you like to him – except the fact that I have this blog.  I’m done trying to shield his feelings but I would like to preserve what still feels like my private space to vent.  🙂

So call it walking the extra mile, call it turning the other cheek, call it whatever you like – I know I’m walking the path God has set me on, He will take care of me and my life will turn out good!

No offense intended towards anyone actually named Cathy… but good grief, I’ve become a prolific blogger! 

On a more serious note though, this is how I decompress, vent, sort things out in my head, etc. so I’m sorry if it’s becoming too much for anybody – it honestly boggles my mind that I have over 100 followers of my (hopefully) super-secret and (unfortunately) often depressing journaling experiment so thank you for reading along.  I only hope that if you’re the victim of emotional abuse that you will gain strength from knowing you’re not alone and get out of that relationship!

Today was hard, nerve-wracking even.  I had written the “Dear John Letter” (see my previous post) last night but decided not to send it to my soon-to-be-ex-husband until this evening being as in the last two months since I moved out he has already tried to blame me for causing him so much stress that he made “big mistakes” at his work and feared being fired over them.  Now granted, he does work with hazardous chemicals so his “big mistake” could be significantly bigger than, say, an office worker’s but regardless, his work performance is not my fault or responsibility.  A lesson I am finally learning…  Even so, it was out of habit that I decided to try and avoid being blamed for yet another thing that I didn’t do so I emailed the letter to him when I got off work Friday night at 7 pm.  That gives him the entire weekend to be comforted by his friends so he can get his act together before going back to work on Monday.

It was very difficult to press the “send” button.  I had worked hard on the letter itself, short and to the point but firm and leaving no room to “fix” anything.  But I still re-read it about five times and then had to force myself to actually send it.  What is wrong with me?  Well, whatever it was, I conquered it and sent the dang thing off.

Instant Panic Attack.

I smothered it with some chicken strips and gravy from Dairy Queen and an animated movie with my local best friend and her family. Yes, I’m a stress eater so I’ll probably wind up at 400 pounds before this is over *sigh*.  But I sent the letter.  As of yet he has not responded, not that I expected him to, but I know we’re going to have to talk and work out a few things sooner rather than later, like getting the rest of my stuff out of the house and what we’re going to do with my car – that is only in his name.

By the way, if anyone has noticed a decline in my spelling and typing abilities I just want to say that it’s the fault of my new tablet keyboard.  I’ve had it for about a month now but I’m a very fast typist and this silly little keyboard doesn’t always keep up with me so I’m finding that I don’t catch all the mistakes.  Sorry!

…and I’m suddenly out of things to say.  I suppose that’s a good thing because I need to go to bed.  The boss has been on vacation all week so I only got one day off instead of my normal two and I’ve been super tired in the mornings.  Three more days until I get two off, then two days of work and then I’m off for five days to go see my younger daughter and her husband for Easter, yay!

Yesterday/Monday, was… was… well it was a lot of things.  It was my one and only day off this week so I:

Deposited my check, notarized a will, picked up a hot-spot to make up for my lack of internet at my sister’s apartment and went to the local glass-blowing art studio to ask about getting a couple of dishes custom made for my acrylic powder and monomer.

All of this was on my way to my first counseling appointment at the women’s shelter.  The nice thing was that I’ve seen this counselor last year for about 4 months so it was a lot easier to catch her up to where I’m at currently than if we had never met before.  One of the questions she asked is why I’m still meeting with my husband, what am I trying to accomplish by continuing to meet with him like this? 

I pondered her question all the way to the new nail salon I’m trying to get a job at.  I met with the owners, two brothers and a sister. I did a pedicure on one of the brothers and I did an acrylic fill on the sister.  The other brother said they would need to talk amongst themselves because they are all partners but he thought everybody liked me and would let me know if I can work there soon.  It’s a MUCH better salon, everything is super sanitary, much more upscale and spa-like than where I’m at now but in spite of the higher quality most of the services are only about $5 more expensive than where I’m at now.  The owner stressed repeatedly how much they are a family and if I came to work there I would be joining their family.  The comission is also 10% higher…  I REALLY want to work there!  The downside is that it’s a new salon, only been open for about 2 months, so they’re not very busy yet.  I asked if they thought I would be able to take home at least $200/week to cover my bills and they said yes so I’m willing to give them a shot.  Hopefully they’ll give me a shot as well!

When that was done I texted my husband that I would be late to our scheduled 5 pm meeting because I was still trying out at the new salon.  His response?  “As you wish”.  That should be this romantic reference to the Princess Bride but from him all I sense is sarcasm every time he says it.  Ugh.  I called him when I was done at the new salon to let him know that I was enroute to our meeting and his voice was terse and I felt like he was upset with me.  I arrived at our dinner location to find him waiting, as stoic as ever and oozing negativity.  Ugh again.  I ordered my meal – I have got to stop buying lots of food when we meet like this because as usual, I had about four bites and then lost my appetite so that was $20 bucks down the drain – and then we sat down to talk because this was a “talking meeting”. 

He said I called the meeting so what did I want to talk about, I asked him to tell me his thoughts/response to my letter defining emotional abuse and explaining why our relationship qualified as abusive.  The long and short of it is that he continues to believe that he was not abusive and has never abused me.

Apparently to him abuse is defined by whether or not the intention of the abuser is to be abusive or not.

I began to realize we will never see eye to eye on this topic.  And even though we didn’t bring up this time, we will never be on the same page regarding his church either.

Once again he pushed me for a commitment to restoring our marriage.  I finally told him, flat out, that the answer is no.  I am not committed to restoring our marriage and I do not want to be married to him any more.

That Guy tried to show up again but I didn’t fall for it this time.

He didn’t laugh in my face but it certainly felt like he was amused.  He said “Why Are You Here?  Clearly, you haven’t filed any paperwork yet so you must want this to work out in a corner of your heart.”

Time stopped.  Having been asked the same question twice in the same day demands an answer.  Why WAS I there?  What on earth was it I was trying to accomplish by being there, by agreeing to meet with him weekly?

I’ve been doing lots of soul-searching in the last 24 hours, trying to come up with whatever it is that won’t let me just let it go and move on.  I think I know but I’m going to kick it around for another day or two before I write it down.

Last Tuesday evening was supposed to be a “date night” where we go see a movie and not talk about our relationship.  After our last meeting on Friday – where That Guy did not show up – things were OK but stressful and we knew we needed to continue that conversation so instead of 100% “date night” we were planning to talk about us after the movie.  He had asked me if his church was a deal-breaker – I see it as he chose that particular church over me and he sees it as he is following God over doing what I want and neither one of us is willing to compromise on our viewpoints. Ultimately I decided that yes, his chosing his church over me was a deal-breaker and I was going to tell him so after the movie during our relationship talk time.

Tuesday afternoon, however, while my husband was at work I went to the house to sort through my younger daughter’s things because I’m going to drive down and see her and her new husband for Easter and want to bring as much of her stuff to her as I can.  It only took an hour and a half, I thought it would take a lot longer, and I managed to condense her belongings into three less boxes than they had been packed in, yay!  I’m hoping I can fit everything in my car, lol, that girl has a lot of stuff!   I was feeling good and happy about what I had accomplished but that didn’t last long…

While I was working on that my older daughter came in the room and said with a snitty tone of voice “Dad wants you to go through the basement so please tell me what you want to keep and what you want to throw away before you go.”  Because I finished my initial task with time to spare I decided to start on the basement.  An hour into it I had made a lot of progress and decided to keep going, I told my older daughter that she and her dad might want to go through the boxes I had set aside to donate because they might want to keep some of the things I had put in the boxes.  With a great deal of attitude (which is fairly normal for her) she said “Oh, everything is down here because we don’t want it but we can’t throw it away because we’re afraid you’ll get mad.” 

Well then.

I was really upset from her attitude and also because I knew that he intended to throw away everything I set aside to donate, just because he believes it’s easier, and my anger grew stronger. I probably could have started my own thrift store with what was in the donate pile, there was so much! I started working harder and faster and decided that I would stay at the house, working on the basement, until he came home about 5 pm and then I would tell him no movie, it’s over and I will be filing for divorce.

He came home and was surprised that I was still there.  My older daughter followed him into the basement when he came to say hi to me.  Can this child not give us some privacy?  I’m not going to talk about our relationship in front of her and I’m especially not going to inform him I’m filing for divorce in front of her so I keep working and give him short, brusk responses to his questions.  I am livid and clearly expressing it in my body language and tone of voice.  He slips away to take a shower and when he comes back to talk to me our older daughter is still upstairs.  Finally!

He says that it looks like I’ve made a decision and am separating my stuff to leave.  I tell him I’m angry about our older daughter’s words and attitude.  I also tell him that I’ve thought about it and yes, the church issue is a deal-breaker and it’s over.  I’m still grabbing things and flinging them into totes at this point.

“Don’t give up now just because you’re angry.”  He says.

Whaaaaaaat?  The anger allowed me to say my decision with unnatural  boldness but I certinaly didn’t make this choice in anger.

That Guy shows up again.  He asks what he can do.  I tell him that I want him to load his truck up with all the things I’ve set aside to donate and actually donate them and not throw them away like he normally does.  He doesn’t know where to donate them.  I tell him I’ll show him where to go.

By the time we get everything loaded into the truck my anger has completely spent my strength.  I am physically and emotionally worn out and I can tell that my brain is starting to shut down.  That Guy is still there.  I tell him I’m done talking about our relationship for the night.  We drop the stuff off at the thrift store and he offers to buy me dinner since we never made it to the movie.  I’m exhausted and hungry so I accept.

That Guy stayed for the rest of the evening and we had a very pleasant dinner.   I caught myself reaching for his hand walking out of the resturant to the car and managed to keep my hands at my side before he noticed.  We made arrangements to meet once a week and alternate “date nights” with talking about our relationship.

I got home and realized that I went from intending to end my marriage to meeting with him, not every two weeks like we previously agreed on, but EVERY WEEK! 

Apparently he can talk me into – or out of – just about anything…  I am suddenly wary of him and want to just send him a letter and end it all right now.

But I’m also really curious – did That Guy show up again because I was super, super angry?  If so I cannot maintain that level of anger for the rest of my life just to get That Guy to hang around.

I want to find out so I’ve invited my husband to accompany me to a movie tonight.  This is the first time I’ve initiated spending time together since I moved out so he’s probably on cloud nine right now but this really is a test.  Date Night rules will apply (no talking about our relationship, just fun and light-hearted spending time together, no holding hands) and I want to see who shows up – That Guy or my husband. The fact that there is a difference is heartbreaking and pretty much tells me that I need to start the filing process but in the meantime, I’m going to a movie and we’ll see who meets me there…

We met again at the resturant last night – same chain but a different location.  That Guy who met me last week did not show up tonight. 

Of course, that could possibly be laid at my feet (mostly) this time…  I wanted to meet him face to face to explain something I had done that I knew he wouldn’t be happy about and rather than pussyfoot around it all evening I started the night off with it.  In short – I did our taxes, as I have for nearly every year of our marriage, and what we decided to do with the tax return (before I left him) was to fix the bathrooms in the house.  The showers in both bathrooms were getting moldy and needed to be torn out and replaced.  He got a quote to repair them and said he needed X amount of dollars.  I did the taxes and lo and behold, they came out to a couple of hundred more than he said he needed.  Once again, God provides, yay!

That wasn’t the part where I did something he wouldn’t like.  That part comes in as I was going over the taxes one last time trying to make sure I didn’t have any errors that would cause it to be rejected.  I found some errors, for our girls I had clicked a wrong button that caused the tax software to say that our two children did not qualify as dependents.  When I unclicked the button the software counted them as dependents and, viola, more money was added to our tax return.  I fixed one more error and the total of “extra” money was $1100.  Yippee!  I decided to not tell him about the extra money, have it deposited into my personal bank account and use it to make a payment on my beauty school bill that I still owe $2,000 on.  The reason I decided not to tell him about my keeping the money to make a school payment with it is because he has never been the least interested in paying that bill with “our” money.  I have sold my personal possessions ( against his wishes) to make payments on that bill and because it is not paid in full the owners of the school have threatened to have my license revoked, something I didn’t know they could do.  Since I became a nail tech I have not yet made enough money to survive and pay my school bill but I fully intend to do so as soon as I can.  But back to the tax money, I really didn’t think he would find out about it…  the darn government sent two letters, one for each of us saying they had deposisted the money into two different accounts.  He opened his and then called me about it, all confused.  Yes, yes, I know, be sure your sins will find you out and all that…

So maybe the reason I didn’t see That Guy from last week was because I opened our conversation by jumping right into what I had done with the taxes. 

From there the conversation went to how dissapointed he was that I obviously didn’t trust him, why hadn’t just told him what I wanted to do with the extra money – he would have said yes to paying the school bill (yeah, right), how could he ever trust me when he keeps finding out things that I’ve done and hidden from him, yada yada, yada…

Yeah, it all went downhill pretty fast.

After that I decided to bite the bullet and talk about his church.  It was immediately obvious that neither of us had – or was going to – change our views on his church and then all chances of seeing That Guy again, probably for a very long time, dissapeared like mist after the sun rises.  After discussing his church for 5 – 10 minutes he decided that we would stop talking about the church because it was clear that nothing positive would come from the conversation.  Yes, you read that right, he decided to end that conversation and move on, not me.

From that point on we managed to have a fairly good conversation about other aspects of our relationship.  We even agreed to keep our “date” for this coming Tuesday.  I had previously agreed to go to a movie with him on the conditions that “dates” were to be fun, friendly hang-out times and that I would not be discussing relationship issues during those times.

Several things became very clear to me last night and I’m mulling them over and trying to decide what to do.  In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the “dates” while they last and I’ve been invited to visit my younger daughter and her new husband for Easter so my time and attention will now be directed towards preparing for that trip.

Good Golly Miss Molly! 

So I sent my husband the very Horribly Honest, “I’m Over It” letter about 24 hours ago.  I woke up to a text from the older of my brothers (whom my husband and older daughter were staying with) saying “I love you sister!  Anger gives people strength to do stuff that they normally couldn’t but anger rarely allows us to make beneficial decisions.  It is hard but allow God to soften parts of you where he would chose.  I love you.”  Yes, that would be the preachy brother who doesn’t know as much as he thinks he does about what’s going on…

At 2:40 pm I get a text from my husband saying “I am sorry for every hurt Ihave caused you.  I will be in town tonight and would like to meet with you tonight rather than next Tuesday.  I should be available after 9pm, and will meet wherever you wish, if you will permit.” 

Hmmm…

I’m still angry enough that it would probably be a good thing to meet with him tonight while I still have some backbone left in me so I tell him I will meet him at 9:30 pm at a 24 hour resturant.

I sent my best friend from high school the letter to get her feedback, as I have done often since I moved out.  She calls me and we talk – I say I am angry that I had to write the Horribly Honest Letter in the first place and she asks me “Why?”.  She does this to help me identify the source of my feelings, not because she doesn’t think I should be angry, and while I know this about her that doesn’t always mean I enjoy answering those kinds of questions – she’s very good for me, lol.  My sister asks me these sorts of questions as well so I have pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I am going to have to face my feelings one way or another…

I had to think about it for a while but finally come up with an answer, however, to properly explain I need to tell you a little bit of my history.  Until the last year or so I have lived my life as a shield for others, which is a fancy way of saying I am an enabler, except for me it’s become a compulsion, an obsession and even a desperate need.  If I can find a way to insert myself between you and the painful consequences of your actions – I will.  If for some reason I see a way to be your shield and yet can not I will literally feel physical pain and anguish.  I do this because I tell myself I am stronger than you are, I have survived more pain and suffering than anyone else should ever have to go through and therefore I can, and will, take it for you so that you won’t be hurt.  I would search for ways to be your sheild because I think this is helpful to you and in some weird, twisted way, makes me a hero – and an unsung one at that.  I’ve noticed a lot of my daydreams feature me as a hero… but I digress.  Over the years I did my best to be a shield to everyone – my mother, my brothers, my sister, my husband, my children, my in-laws, my friends…  and it wasn’t until I started working with my last counselor, about a year ago, that she pointed it out and helped me see my “shielding” for what it really was.  Enabling.  My keeping negative consequences from my children denied them the opportunity to learn from their mistakes, and thus they kept re-making them.  My refusual to tell my husband how he made me feel, how he hurt me, etc., only allowed me to continue his immature behaviors, keep wounding me and never be confronted with the fact that he needed to grow up.  A Lot.

In the last year I started to make baby steps towards laying down my shield and letting people bear the consequences of their own choices but baby steps were not enough to deal with my husband’s past behaviors.  His statement of “I never abused you” combined with my belief that he locked me out of “our” home made me angry enough to write the Horribly Honest Letter and quit trying to shield him from the knowledge of who he used to be – something I have never confronted him with because I knew it would hurt him to know those things.  I felt backed into a corner and it seemed like I was “forced” to write honestly about things I never wanted to think about again in order to get him to believe that he truly was abusive to me.  This made me angry, very, very angry and I almost expected to see that I had turned into a bulky, green Hulk-ess when I looked in the mirror. 

What a good friend I have to make me figure all of that out!

So I arrive at the resturant a bit early, he arrived shortly after and we sat down to talk.  Much to my astonishment he was calm, pleasant, sincerely apologetic and very easy to talk to.  We talked for 2 1/2 hours, which went by quickly, and only a couple of moments teetered on the edge of being awkward but each one tilted back to the “normal, adult conversation” side and stayed there.  We talked about a lot of different things, ranging from the Horribly Honest Letter to the kids, to bills, to the key situation, to my “shielding” instinct and more.  I was shocked and surprised to realized that I was actually enjoying our discussion.  Who was this man and what had he done with my husband?  (And could he keep my  husband indefinitely wherever it was that he had locked him away?)

I went there expecting to stand firm and insist on filing for divorce.  I walked away thinking I really liked the guy I had just talked to and wishing he would be that guy all the time.  The negative side of me whispered “We’ll see how long it lasts” and there is a large part of me that is waiting for the other shoe to drop…  But for now, I’m willing to wait and see what happens.

Dear Husband,

The day I was at the house helping our older daughter with her taxes I noticed that you changed the locks on the house.  I didn’t say anything because I was curious to see if you would offer me a key when we were at dinner before the show.  However, instead of offering me a house key you gave me a lame excuse for getting for my copy of the truck keys and I noticed while you were taking the truck keys off my key ring you also took a third key which I believe to be my key to the safe.  As I have no plans or desires to take anything from the house that does not belong to me I found this curious and wondered what your motivation was for removing my access to your stuff – but now I know.

Sunday evening I get a call from my best friend from high school saying you and our older daughter had dropped off her books and stayed for a little visit and she also said that she enjoyed seeing the two of you.  I had known that you were planning a trip to see your parents and my brothers but you clearly don’t find me trustworthy enough to be in town alone for a whole week with access to all the things you have repeatedly told me you still consider “ours”.

Your actions are speaking far, far louder than your words.  You.  Don’t.  Trust.  Me.  Not even a little bit anymore.  And I don’t trust you as much as I did before you left either.

Add to that the fact that you said you have never abused me.  If your thinking abuse is limited to hitting then you’re absolutely right, you have never hit me.  But abuse is so much more than hitting. I feel like I’ve said this before but for the record, I honestly don’t like hurting your feelings and so here’s my proof – below are some things that you need to know about yourself and the monster that you were for about the first 17 – 18 years of our marriage, in random order, that I never told you about once you started to become nicer IN ORDER TO SPARE YOUR FEELINGS.  But you keep saying that you want the whole truth and you don’t seem to believe me when try to be nice about the truth so here you are:

You would ask me where I wanted to eat or what I wanted to do – and then we would do whatever it was that you wanted to do.  I stopped having a preference and then you were upset with me for never making a choice.  In most areas of our life I felt like I could never do anything right, like no matter what I chose I could never please you.  Causing someone else to constantly feel inferior by denying them your approval is abuse.

I had to tell you where I was going and when I would be home.  If I was late you laid the guilt on nice and thick – and for at least the first 5 years of our marriage the guilt trip included “How do I know you’re not going to run away?” in reference to the ONE time I considered running away – but didn’t – and foolishly told you about it.  Even now I feel like you try to guilt me into taking responsibility for your behavior when you say things like “I don’t have a partner” and “Half my team quit”.  Controlling someone else’s behavior through guilt is abuse.

A “normal” outing for me with my girlfriends usually included being called by you multiple times and frequently I was told to come home before my scheduled deadline – almost always to have sex with you so that you could go to bed early.  You even made me come home early from a worship/healing conference that I went to specifically wanting to go up front after the service and get prayed for healing for my joints – you denied me the opportunity to get prayed for just so that you would get sex before you went to bed.  I always obeyed you, both in coming home whever you wanted me to and in having sex with you whenever you asked for it, which was once, sometimes twice a day for most of our marriage.  I didn’t know I was allowed to say no.  Requiring sex when the other person doesn’t want to or doesn’t know or doesn’t feel like they can refuse is sexual abuse. 

During the first 10 years I would, occasionally, try to bring up an issue in our marriage to discuss and hopefully work through.  With great consistency I felt like those issues were turned against me and it was my fault there was an issue and that just by bringing issues up at all I was somehow betraying you and stabbing you in the back.  Frequently you would stop talking to me unless absolutely necessary, usually for a day or two but sometimes for up to a week.  So I stopped bringing up issues.  Controlling someone’s behavior through emotional outbursts or by withholding any and all communication is abuse.

Heard enough?  Those are the main issues I struggled with for the majority of our marriage.  Yes, you were a monster and that person that you aren’t so much anymore created the person that is me today because for at least 18 years I centered my entire life around trying not to set you off while never knowing quite what I should be avoiding.  Why didn’t I leave you earlier?  I didn’t know I could.  Yes, you’ve changed quite a bit from what I’ve just described but not enough.  I still feel like you have to know everything, have to control everything and have to keep me guilt-ridden to feel good about yourself.  This is why I left you and why I need professional help from people who work with women who have left abusive situations in order to get healthy.

When I say that I don’t hate you, I’m not mad at you and I’m not trying to make anyone think badly of you I mean it.  You interpreted that as me INFORMING people that you are mean and abusive – but that you don’t intend to be and it’s never on purpose.  What it actually means is that other people, mostly my women friends but even a few guys, have already seen that you are controlling, hard to live with and emotionally abusive and when I tell them I’ve left you they are not surprised.  When I say that you aren’t intentionally mean I’m sticking up for you.  When I say you aren’t abusive on purpose I’M DEFENDING YOU to other people.

We obviously have some serious talking to do but you wanted to know when I’ve decided I’m done so here it is, I don’t want to live with you anymore and I’m ready to be done with marriage. 

If Tuesday the 10th doesn’t work for you to get together and discuss this please let me know when a good time will be for you.

Sincerely,
Me

So there was absolutely no response from my husband regarding my email about abusive relationships, which I thought was weird.  Actually there was no response from him whatsoever for about a week – and that I expected – but when he did talk to me again his tone of voice was formal and icy.  He didn’t say word one about the email, which was good because I had asked him to respond in writing, but our conversation was stilted and very awkward.

What we talked about my Christmas present, which was tickets to a live show two days away.  Shortly after I moved out of the house he had asked if he could still go with me to the event because, at the time, he wanted to spend as much time with me as possible.  After my email on emotional abuse I thought he might refuse to go but he said he still wanted to so we confirmed our previous arrangement to have dinner first and then go to the event after.

To say dinner was stressful might be the understatement of the year.  My original terms to agreeing to go to dinner with him before the show and for going to the show itself with him were:
1.  No talking personal relationship stuff. 
2.  No holding hands. 
3.  No hugging. 

I just wanted a nice, friendly outing so as not to ruin my Christmas gift.  He made it clear that he considered it a “date” and I figured as long as he adhered to my three rules for the event I didn’t care what he called it.

Those conditions were on top of my very first condition after I moved out that I didn’t want to talk personal relationship stuff for the entire month of February because I needed some time and space to work through things in my own head without having to try and verbalize them to him.  (Which didn’t really happen.) 

He had agreed to my three terms for dinner and the show at the time, (nearly a month ago,) but it was obviously killing him at the resturant.  I arrived first with nervous knots in my stomach and unsure if I would be able to eat anything.  I dressed casual but nice.  He arrived in business casual attire, as stiff and straight as if he had a poker iron for a spine and his face as solomn as though his parents has just died. 

This is not promising to be a happy evening.

We get seated, I order a bacon cheeseburger, he orders shrimp and we start talking.  He obviously wants to talk about “us” but just as obviously knows he promised not to.  He is frustrated and angry… and trying not to be but failing.

My anxiety level is rising and I am picking at my food.

He did something strange – he asked for my set of keys to his truck back saying “it’s locked and I need them”.  Seemed like a pretty lame excuse to me but I have no plans to borrow, steal or sell his truck so I gave him my keyring and let him take the keys off, not knowing exactly which ones were for the truck.  I noticed, however, that he removed three keys (it’s an old truck and has one for the door and one for the ignition) and that the third key looked like it went to the safe.  Hmmm…

I suggest we set a date to talk about “us” and our relationship issues to help the evening go smoother.  He is strangely unavailable for the entire next week so we pick a date in two weeks.  It helped but we still wound up talking about our relationship some… the two parts I remember are when he said “You abandoned your family” and “I did not abuse you”. 

At some point after those statements I felt like a switch inside me flipped.  I became calm and rational and suddenly able to start eating my food.  I went along with whatever remaining conversation we had and prayed the night would end quickly.

We arrived at the show early, I was determined to enjoy myself and he seemed just as determined to not like it.  It was a sold-out show and we sat next to each other, without touching, for two hours.  I laughed and giggled and had a great time.  I glanced at him a few times but he was sitting there like a stone head from Easter Island so after that I decided to ignore him.  On our way out I told him several times that I had a good time and asked him if he enjoyed the show.  His response each time?  A horribly monotone “It was fine”.  He then asked if I would be open to more dates – but made sure to point out that he was not actually asking me on another date.  I was a little confused about how I should be feeling about this…

Overall, I had a good time at the show itself.  Before and after, not as much.  My thoughts about his two statements that I abandoned my family and that he did not abuse me I am saving for another post – but there is a post I need to write between this one and that one because I found out why he took my keys and was not available to meet with me for two weeks…