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First things first, I’m fine now, it was just one bad day and I got over it, yay!  All my bad days are usually exactly one day long, I just don’t get around to blogging the positive turn-around the next day, sorry… Thanks for caring…  😀

I’m not sure that I posted about what I’m actually doing for the month of June – I am back in the town I came from and working for my Vietnamese family/bosses AND living with them, which has been a riot!  Let me see if I can draw a picture for you…

The house is very nice, newer construction, four bedrooms upstairs, one full bathroom upstairs and a half bath downstairs.  The den/office downstairs is also being used as a bedroom.  There are 6 adults living here right now.  The oldest brother, his two sisters, one of them has a boyfriend, a completely unrelated Vietnamese guy and me – the only white girl\person they’ve ever adopted as far as I know.  The master bedroom has it’s own bathroom but only the sisters get to use it.  That means the other 4 adults in the house (myself included) get to share the upstairs bathroom when we need to shower.  My mornings go like this:

At 7:35 am my first alarm goes off and I swipe my phone screen to turn it off.  At 7:45 my second alarm goes off and I have to decide – am I going to turn it off or hit the snooze button for 5 more minutes?  This is largely determined by A) how tired I am and B) if I have heard anybody take a shower yet…  Did I forget to mention that my room is right next to the bathroom?  Why yes, yes it is.  I can hear EVERYTHING a person does in the bathroom, at any hour of the day, unless you turn then fan on and then I can only hear MOSTLY everything, lol.  So I wait to hear the door shut, the shower turn on, then off, then the door open again and feet pattering down the carpeted stairs.  That would be the oldest brother.  I’ve called him Hank here before so I’m going to stick with that.  I wait a few minutes just in case someone else needs to dash into the bathroom now that Hank’s out.  No?  Ok, my turn.  I am in my nightie, clutching my clothes for the day, my towel and my little makeup bag and I slip out of my room into the bathroom.

Just as an FYI, even though I’m (always) a little self-conscious I’m totally safe here.  I could probably run around naked and these sweet boys would turn around and stare at the ceiling while they try to hand me the shirt off their back to cover up with… I’m absolutely not going to do that, it’s just an example but when I am with them I know I am perfectly, completely safe, they’re wonderful people!

Anyway, back to my morning routine.  I do the whole shower, makeup, hair thing and am in and out of there in roughly 15 minutes.  I am seriously the best roommate ever, I have practically mastered the art of invisible living…  I fiddle around in my room until it’s about 8:30 am and then I wander downstairs to see if one of the sisters wants to ride with me.  A couple of times we’ve ridden together but most of the time we drive separately and I’ve found I enjoy the alone time.

That’s a snapshot of my normal morning here.  Three of us from the house work together all day with a few others at the nail shop.  After work sometimes we all go out to eat and other times I go visit my girls, sister or friends and don’t get back to the house until around midnight.  I am never the last one to bed – I don’t know how they do it!  These people work 6 – 7 days a week, 10 hour days M – Sat and 6 hour days on Sundays with very little food or sleep as far as I can tell.  They’re amazing with a little dash of crazy…

When we go out to eat, that’s always fun too.  This trip we’ve gone to two different Chinese buffets and one steak house.  I am never allowed to pay, trust me, I’ve tried.  I can’t pay for myself and I can’t pay for everyone, it is Not Allowed.  As far as I can tell their reasoning seems to be from a mixture of things – they love me, they have adopted me and therefore view me as someone to provide for AND I don’t have a man in my life to look after me and pay for things so they seem to have a double sense of urgency to make sure I’m taken care of, especially when it comes to eating out.

But they do more for me too, before I moved to Montana this family bought me a MK purse with matching wallet, 2 Pandora bracelets with a bunch of charms, a watch, rings, necklaces, earrings, business supplies, clothing, more lunches while working than I can count, a microwave, an all-expense paid trip to Las Vegas… they are such givers!   I estimate that in the two years that I have known them and worked for them the dollar amount of the gifts they have given and money they have spent on me exceeds the amount my ex-husband spent on me in the almost 21 years we were married.  Huh.  And I’m not sleeping with a single one of them.  I’m not even having to fight them off or tell them no, it’s never even been a question.  They have simply adopted me without any strings attached.  The four siblings (the youngest brother lives elsewhere) call me their sister, love me like their sister, take care of me like their sister and tease me like their sister.  We are truly family and they have brought so much healing to my life since I became single, I am very grateful for them!  (And just so you know, I don’t only take and take, I help them as much as I can with everything under the sun.  English, Dr appointments, phone calls, computer work, shopping, communicating with customers and business people/vendors… I do everything I can to make their business and personal lives successful and show them I love them too.)

I am extremely blessed to have so many people who love me, especially this family group.  Honestly, I should never have a single sad, lonely day, I really shouldn’t.  After they’re over I feel bad that I do because I truly have a multitude of people who love me, provide for me and take very good care of me.  I don’t deserve any of them (but I’m not going to send any of them away either…) and will remain forever grateful for each and every one of them.

Now it’s your turn.  Go adopt somebody.  Make a difference in some pale and pasty white girl’s life – the one who has blue and purple hair because she’s going to beauty school… oh wait, that’s me… just go make a difference in somebody – anybody’s – life.  Go do it!  Do it now.  Are you feeling purposeless?  Unloved yourself?  Get your butt off the couch and go care about someone else.  You’ll find love and a purpose all wrapped up together.  Maybe you just need to start small?  So go start complementing people.  Say “You look nice today.”  It’s quick, it’s easy and you’ll be shocked at the smiles you get in return.  It will be like the sun broke through the clouds into your gloomy little heart.  Oh wait, me again… Seriously though, go be nice to other people.  Just do it.  Do it now.

The End.

Well then, I have been in beauty school for three months now and will have accumulated 500 hours in about 2 weeks, yay!  I was able to start working on real people (instead of just mannequin heads) at 300 hours, which was the beginning of April, and so far have done 2 perms and about 4 haircuts.  It’s been fun and a little overwhelming at the same time, mostly because they don’t really teach the way I learn, so I’m trying to figure out a lot of things on my own that they may or may not have told me already, lol.  But the customers have been nice and so far they’ve all been happy with the way they look when I leave so that’s a big plus.

I’ve made new friends!  Well, I’m friendly with everyone, that’s just who I am, but some people you connect with easier than others and I’ve found someone I’ve “clicked” with.  Kyle is one of the two guys at school, about 10 years younger than me, tall, good looking and while you wouldn’t know by just looking at him he is happily engaged to his boyfriend and they are getting married in July. I would have never expected that out of everyone at school he would be my closest friend at school and yet he is!

Kyle was the one to put the first “fun” color in my hair back in February – magenta pink with black tips which I absolutely loved – and he accidentally got a lot of the pink dye on my forehead and it wouldn’t come off.  He felt really bad and kept apologizing until I finally just grabbed him and gave him a quick hug and told him not to worry about it and that I loved my hair.

I was a little nervous about hugging him but in the last couple of years since I became single I realized that if I’m going to experience any kind of human touch at all I will have to have to initiate most of it so I became a hugger.  I hugged my Asian family and my friends back in the town I came from as much as I could but I don’t have anybody to hug here in Montana – except my folks and for some reason family doesn’t really count for things like this.  So I made a quick decision to give him a hug and was really relieved that he didn’t look upset afterwards.

Fast forward a few weeks to a Really Bad Day.  I was super stressed out, Beauty School, having mostly late teen and early twenty-something girls is FULL of drama, people talking loudly and lots of high emotions flying around all over the place.  Add to that the fact that I’ve been couch-surfing since October and was struggling with a bit of depression again along with trying to adjust to my new life here in Montana and it was just a really bad day.  I made it through school feeling fragile and ready to cry at the drop of a hat.  After school I posted something on Facebook to my friends about please hug everyone you know, often and randomly because you don’t know when someone is having a hard day and most people really don’t get enough physical affection.

The next morning I walked in the back door to school, which opens into the break room.  Everyone goes there first thing in the morning to put their things in their locker, their lunch in the fridge and hang their coats on the hooks so it was full of girls.  Kyle sees me and in front of  God and everybody he wraps me in a giant bear hug.  He held me for much longer than an “normal” hug, let me go and we separated enough for him to see that I was trying not to cry so he pulled me close and hugged me again, long but not quite as long as the first one.

All of the girls at school were staring at us, apparently this is not how he hugs everyone else and he does a fair amount of hugging because he’s a very friendly guy and just about everybody loves him – or is in love with him, ha, ha.  He is also quite handsome, most of the girls would like to sleep with him and tell him so to his face regularly – but besides not being interested in girls he is committed to his partner of 6 years and just laughs.

I wrote him a little note telling him how much I appreciated – and needed – the hug and that I noticed how he helps other students and the teachers, just a little encouraging note that said I was proud of him for being such a nice guy.  I’ve done similar things before and the recipients usually (not always) say thank you and it’s never mentioned again.  Kyle seemed to go around and show just about everyone important to him.  I know for sure that he showed the owner of the school – who told me later what a nice thing I did in writing the note –  and then Kyle told me that he showed it to his boyfriend and it made him cry.

I’ve never had anyone share my notes with other people before, that was pretty cool.  Because of his reaction to my note I’ve written three more to other students and while they each said thank you and really appreciated the notes it didn’t enable a connection between me and that student like it did with me and Kyle.  I don’t know if it was because they were girls or because Kyle and I have just clicked and I don’t connect as well with them… regardless I’m going to keep writing those encouraging notes and try to write one for everyone by the time I’m done with school

Ever since then he hugs me regularly, pretty much daily and sometimes often more than once a day.  I have become the envy of all the girls who swoon over him, which is entirely a new feeling for me that I’m torn between enjoying and feeling bad about, I’ve never been the girl that other girls are jealous of because of a boy!  And Kyle gives the best hugs, ever.  Even when I was married I never got a hug like Kyle’s from my husband.  Kyle hugs me long and tight, he holds on until I start to pull away.  There is absolutely nothing sexual about his hugs and I feel completely safe in his arms.  He talks to me sometimes and shares stories about his past, his childhood, what was going on in his life when he became homosexual, how some of his family reacted and a few other things that I doubt he tells very many other people.  Sometimes when we hug he tells me he loves me and I say I love him back but again, it’s not at all romantic.

I think that maybe he has never had anyone offer him friendship and affection without strings or sexual joking attached so he probably needs the hugs as much as I do.

We’ve even started messaging each other outside of school occasionally and Kyle said he would go to a movie with me.  I asked if his boyfriend would be okay with that and he laughed and said it was cute that I asked.  He says he’s looking for a boyfriend for me but that it will have to be someone super-special.  The feelings I have for Kyle are pretty much the same kind of love that I have for my best friend from high school.  Deeper than family or marital love; a total, unconditional love between friends.  Kyle’s hugs and friendship have changed my life and made every day at school a little brighter and the hard days easier and I hope that I make his hard days easier too.

I found a word, Cwtch.  It’s Welsh and it means:  A hug that feels like a safe haven.  It’s pronounced like “crutch” except without the “r” so say “cutch”.  Kyle is my Cwtch.  I wish everybody had one and he has inspired me to hug even more people because I know I’m not the only one suffering from lack of physical affection, even in my small sphere of influence.

So I’m going to encourage you too – Go Hug People!  Go be somebody’s Cwtch.  You may never know the difference your hug can make, the life you may actually save by reaching out and touching someone, by hugging them with affection regardless of how “good” of friends you are.  People need to be touched so become a hugger!  Hug hello and hug goodbye.  Tell people you love them, it means you care about them and it doesn’t have to mean anything else.  Be a safe haven for people.  The world needs more Cwtch’s.

A whole month has flown by since my last post and I feel like I’ve been living an entirely different life now that my daughter’s home.  A really good life but completely different than the six months before that had been.

My younger daughter, whom I’m going to start calling Tina here, has decided to stay living with me and not go back to her abusive husband.  She is keeping her married last name and starting to go by her middle name instead of her first name in effort to have a fresh start.  She is applying to enroll in a different school district than she went to before she dropped out and she was hired last week at a local restaurant.  Tina has started to reconnect with some of her old friends and seems to be much healthier emotionally than when I first picked her up.  She really enjoyed working at the nail salon with me and is considering becoming a nail tech after she graduates from high school.  The only friction we’ve had is over her puppy, who needs obedience classes almost as much as she needs to know how to train him.  She is also doing a terrible job of cleaning up after him and if she can’t get on top of it I told her we aren’t going to be able to keep him so we’ll see how that turns out.

Something that started out fun and then went sad – I had a son for most of a month. A sweet 18 year old young man moved in with his aunt and uncle next door to me and I’m not sure I’ve ever met a teenage boy that was so helpful, so well mannered and kind.  He was also one of the most wounded, damaged souls I’ve met in a long time too.  Sent here by his family in California to get away from gang members that wanted to hurt him and drug use he had no sense of self worth whatsoever and didn’t feel like anyone loved him or believed in him.  He cried almost every time he told me more of his background.  I took him to church with us and he sang, he raised his hands and he gave me a hug and then just clung to me, sobbing.  My heart went out to this boy and I wanted to help him, to make a difference in his life so I started including him in meals and activities with Tina and me and I told him I was adopting him.  I thought things were improving for him and then one day he was gone.  He went back to California and didn’t even say goodbye, I hope he stays safe and doesn’t go back to his old life.

Work has been busy and my work relationships have been going just fine, yay!  Because of several little things he’s said and done I’m pretty sure that my boss, Todd, does like me more than “just friends” but I’ve decided that I only like him as a good friend or a brother and could never be comfortable dating him, which has made my life a lot easier.  On the other hand I absolutely adore his brother, Hank, and while I don’t see me ever dating him or liking him romantically I definitely love him a lot.  And yes, it feels really weird to love a guy so much but neither of us be at all interested in kissing, holding hands or anything intimate that I’ve always associated with boy-girl love.   Hank makes me smile and just being around him brings me so much joy, it’s like he’s a little radiator but instead of heat I receive joy and happiness when I’m around him.  He makes me want to be that kind of person for everyone around me.

My ex contacted me a week or so ago and wanted me to pay something that had gone to collections.  And then he wanted to know why Tina hadn’t returned any of his text messages and where was she on getting her divorce and what was going on in her life and why wasn’t I telling him anything about her.  Then he asked, again, why I left and divorced him… and if there was any chance for us to get back together.  Good grief that man is dense!  I paid the bill and then wrote him a letter and told him that I would keep him in the loop if Tina went to the ER or anything urgent like that but from now on he needed to build a relationship with her and get her to trust him enough to tell him about her life herself.  I gave him three reasons why I left and divorced him, the main one being that he is still emotionally abusive, and I told him that no, there is no chance of us getting back together again so he should feel free to move on with his life and find himself a nice little wife to share it with.

Health-wise I’ve been having some minor issues so I had some labs done and an ultrasound of my gall bladder.  Turns out the gall bladder is fine but I have a mild fatty liver and an under active thyroid… and I’m anemic.  I have an appointment next month to talk to the doctor about it but in the meantime I’m on a synthetic thyroid medicine and iron pills along with my anti depressant and sleep medicine.  I feel like I’m taking a lot of pills now, ugh!

I get one day off a week and it’s not quite enough to be fully rested but until winter comes that’s how it is, lol.  I try to visit with one friend each week and get all my bills and errands taken care of on my day off.  Today I met with two friends for a late lunch and then we wandered around an outdoor mall and did some shopping, It was fun!

And that has been my life for the last month.  I’ve gone from being a single woman living alone to being a busy single mom and I feel like God brought everything together perfectly – my bosses have a lot going on at home and stopped inviting me to hang out with them as much as they used to while at the exact same time I would have had to start saying no to a lot of their invitations so that I could spend more time with Tina.  Life is good!  I am well provided for with my job, my relationship with Tina is better than it’s ever been, I have good friends, God is faithful and I am blessed.

For the 4th of July I went to a local water park with a friend, her sister and their kids and we spent a fun day sliding and floating on the lazy river and I even got a bit of a tan, whoo hoo!

8:30 pm that day my younger daughter called me, the 18 year old that ran off and got married and was a 12 hour drive away.  She was sobbing and wanted me to tell her that she could make her marriage work.  I told her she could but that I wasn’t sure that she should or that it was the right thing to do because it takes two to make a marriage work.  She had to go because he didn’t know that she was calling me.  I was afraid for her.  I headed out to the grocery store but before I got there she texted me “How soon can you come pick me up?”  It was 9 pm but I went back home, grabbed some clothes and left right then and there.

I called my ex to tell him I was leaving town to go get her and to please pray everything went well.  He asked if she knew I was going to get her and was upset that she contacted me to rescue her and not him.  He asked if my car would make it.  He did not say he would pray, he did not ask if I would be OK driving through the night since I was leaving at 9 pm, he did not ask if I wanted him to go with (I would have said no) and he did not offer to help with the expense of rescuing our daughter.  I found those things to be very telling…

I drove the entire night, speeding all the way – at least 10 to 15 mph over the limit – and prayed the entire time I would not get a ticket.  I managed to shave about an hour and a half off my 12 hour drive and there were no officers in sight, thank God!  She was waiting outside her house with some boxes and bags of her stuff.  All of her stuff, by the way, is terrible.  In the 6 months they were married he hadn’t bought her anything, not even clothing essentials.  She needs to just throw it all away, homeless people wouldn’t even want what she has – it was that bad.  But we loaded it into my car, she went back into the house and brought out a puppy, got into my car and away we went.  We drove another 12 hours to the ocean and spent the night there, although I only got 4 hours of sleep because of the puppy…  The next morning, Monday, we found a little beach and went wading in the ocean and looking for shells and little rocks to take home.

The ocean is my happy place, just saying.

We then drove another 12 hours home.  I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired in my life.  I drove for 36 solid hours with only 4 hours of sleep and a couple hours of beach time in there.  I was afraid to let her drive because she hadn’t been driving for the last 7 months, her license was expired and she kept accepting her husbands phone calls and was still constantly texting him.

Their phone conversations became very predictable, I kept telling her that she didn’t have to take his calls and didn’t have to stay on the phone, to just hang up, but she wasn’t strong enough to do it.  He would be mean and make her feel bad, she would say lots of things like “I’m sorry”, “I didn’t know this would be so hard on you”, “It’s not your fault” and be curled up in a little ball on the passengers seat, crying.  Once she was reduced to a puddle of tears and completely broken down he would start to be nice to her until he could make her laugh and by the end of the conversation he was back to being the nice guy.  And he said the craziest stuff to get her to come back to him – like he was going to have an experimental brain surgery the next day at 2 pm that would eliminate his second personality.  He finally called the surgery a trans-orbital lobotomy and I about laughed my head off.  No surgeon is going to schedule anybody for brain surgery the very next day, especially any kind of lobotomy.

Once we got home I think I was able to sleep for about 8 hours but was still really wiped out from the trip.  My youngest brother was in town – staying with my ex husband – but wanted to spend Tuesday with me.  I was a little nervous, he is fairly good friends with my ex husband but he and I have never been close and I was afraid he was going to pull some “tough love” on me and tell me how wrong I was for divorcing.  I met him and his daughter at WalMart and he and I sat in the restaurant there while our daughters wandered the store so we could talk.  Going into the conversation it was clear he had only heard my ex’s side of things and thought I was wrong.  That’s always a fabulous start to a heart-to-heart talk…  I tried to be general in things I said about my former husband but when I told my brother that I looked into my future and saw two choices, divorce or suicide, and that I chose to live was when I saw him relax.  He was glad I chose to live.  I think we can build a relationship now.

My bosses called me in to work because it was really busy.  I told them I couldn’t because I was spending the day with my brother – which they had known about for weeks – but they kept bugging me, which was unusual, so I told my brother I was sorry, asked him if he would look at my swamp cooler (which had stopped working) and took my daughter to work with me for a few hours.  My sister came to the shop and picked up my daughter and the two of them went to have coffee with my brother and niece and when the rush at work was over I went and joined them and then we went bowling, which was a lot of fun.

The next day, Wednesday, I took my daughter to work with me again because there was no way I was going to leave her alone for 11 hours talking and texting her husband.  I had spent most of the 12 hour car trip home talking to her about the people at my work and how much they meant to me.  I also told her how she could be helpful to us – cleaning the pedicure bowls in between clients when we’re busy, cleaning the utensils, setting up the trays, asking customers what lotions and sugar scrubs they wanted, asking customers if they wanted a soda or water, getting their polish color, etc.  I described how the pedicure chairs worked and told her I would pay her $20 a day out of my own pocket for her help.  She has been a very good worker and my bosses fell in love with her and immediately started treating her like one of their family, which made me love working there even more.  On payday they even gave her $100 for her help, entirely on their own, I didn’t ask them to pay her and I didn’t tell them I was paying her, they thought she was just there helping out for something to do.

She spent most of the first week waffling between staying with me where she could finish high school, work for my bosses, have a car and a new phone and be taken care of – or going back to him and be controlled, miserable and broke.  Going back to him almost won, I was so scared for her because it seemed like he had such a grip on her soul.  And to be honest, it’s probably my bosses that made the biggest difference in her decision to stay, even more than me.  They treat her like a niece, they love on her and tease her and ask her go with them when they run errands or help them with projects.  They’re teaching her how to be a nail tech and do things “The Asian Way”.  On Thursday they had her and I over to their house for dinner so she got to try her first “Vietnamese burritos”.  The older brother, I think I call him Hank here, really dotes on her and has gone out of his way to be kind to her.  He is being what her father should have been to her.  After just a week of working with me she now loves my bosses as much as I do and I honestly believe they tipped the scales in her decision to stay here with me.  I thank God for them every day.

Last night she agreed to change her phone number and not give it to her husband or his family so I got her a new phone – however she has gone to the dark side and got an iPhone… – and she wants to be called by her middle name from now on as a way to completely change her life and start over.  I’m so proud of her and I’m so very relieved that she’s going to stay with me, words just can’t even describe how I feel right now.

My next oldest brother sent me a text today saying he doesn’t understand why I don’t initiate communication with him so here’s my response:

Hi Brother,

     That was a good question and I had to think about it and then decided the answer was too long to text…
     My initial thought was that I don’t initiate contact with you because I don’t know what to say.  But the real answer to your question is that I feel like I stopped initiating contact with you not too long after you guys moved back home from clear across the country because in my mind you weren’t responding to my attempts to be friends.  It felt like your family was more important than anything else and you weren’t interested in what was going on in my life. Right or wrong, I shut you out because I felt like you didn’t want me to be a part of your life and it was less painful to stop trying than to continually feel rejected.
     I know, you didn’t mean it that way and you’re sorry that’s how I felt…  I’m not mad about it, you asked and I answered, that’s all.  It’s been over and done with for a long time now and I’ve come to recognize that it wasn’t intentional and I shouldn’t have taken it personally – I’ve forgiven you and moved on.  The fact that you and I finally started to “talk” again right before I left my husband frankly bewilders me.  We don’t have hardly anything in common anymore and if you were just someone I met in high school I doubt we’d be friends so why on earth are you trying to get to know me now?  My tone here is kindly puzzled, again, I’m not angry.
     I’ve never felt like you (or a whole variety of other people) ever loved me and for most of my life I believed it was because there was something wrong with me that made me unlovable and I deserved to live a life of heartache.  Last year I started going to a really good counselor and slowly came to realize that I’m worthy of love and I don’t deserve to be emotionally bullied, manipulated or guilt-tripped into anything (these things are actually emotional abuse).
     After I left my husband I spent two months of trying to address these issues with him but there was no forward progress or even acknowledgement that he ever has been emotionally abusive, and to a smaller degree still is so, I told him it was over and yesterday I filed the divorce paperwork.  That decision may have been announced in anger because I wouldn’t have had the courage to say it otherwise but it certainly wasn’t  made in anger.  I know my husband feels like he’s the victim in all of this but according to the people with degrees and licenses who dedicate their lives to helping women in abusive relationships I’m the victim and therefore qualify for an amazing amount of assistance.  Legally I’m homeless and a victim of domestic abuse.  But I don’t want to stay a victim, I want to move on and heal, become a whole person for probably the first time and have a real life.
     I know I’ve made the right decision and am doing the right thing.  I have found a good church and have started to get more and more involved with the ladies there and God has been blessing me in amazing ways since I moved out.  I hope that my  husband finds his own healing from a past that made him who he is but whatever he does, he’s going to do it without hurting me any further.
     So there it is, more than I intended to write but hopefully answers to a few of the questions you didn’t know how to ask. If you still want to communicate, ask me more questions and I will do my best to answer them when I have time to sit down and type them out.  I wish I had been braver and able to do this sooner in my life but better late than never, eh?
I love you too,
Me

I feel like Pinnocchio after the Blue Fairy changes him “I’m a Real Girl!”  I am somewhat shocked to discover what it’s actually like to have feelings again after stuffing them into a box and putting them on a shelf for the better part of 20 years.  The emotional roller coaster is a little scary though – I experience highs and lows in a matter of seconds, swinging from:

Being so overwhelmed with gratitude that I literally want to weep and throw myself at people’s feet.
Crying real tears at emotional movies.
Being angry enough to swear actual curse words (NOT normal for me!).
Grinning like an idiot until my cheeks bubble up so high they affect my eyesight.
Occasional bouts of fear that I won’t make it on my own that tempt me to stay in bed all day.
Wanting to run around, hugging and kissing everyone like they’re an adorable 4-year-old.
And so on. 

I’m a little worried that I will scare people if I actually did all those things, lol. 

Most of my emotions are positive, less are negative but all are more powerful than I’ve probably ever experienced in my entire life.  Feelings are the most amazing high…  I count myself blessed to have them again.

More blessings – a friend has offered to give me a washer and dryer and another friend will give me a loveseat when I find my own place!  I get my housing certificate from the shelter in 4 days and then I can start looking for a place to live so hopefully I’ll be in my own Home, Sweet Home by the end of May. 

The housing certificate is another HUGE blessing – they will pay for the deposits necessary for me to get started renting AND the first six months of my rent.  The goal is to set me up so that all I have to do is maintain my monthly expenses after the first six months.  I am beyond words!

And what I consider to be the biggest blessing right now is my job.  I LOVE the owners of my new salon!  After only 23 days of working there I was given a key to the shop so when I get there before the they do I can let myself in and start getting things ready.  I worked at my last salon for over 7 months and when I left the owner wouldn’t even let me do acrylic nails on walk-ins, much less consider give me a key.  Not only can I do arylics and have a key but tonight I was invited to a company/family dinner at my very favorite seafood resturant.  It was so much fun – sitting at a table with the 5 of them and listening to the Vietnamese and English flowing all around me while we pulled apart our crab and lobster.  It occured to me, being the only white girl at a table of Vietnamese, that it probably looked like I was the girlfriend of one of the brothers and he was introducing me to the family… That made me giggle so hard!  I told the brother I was sitting next to and we laughed together.  I feel so accepted by their family in a way that I was never accepted, as-is, in my own family.  Heck, I’ve never even felt this accepted in any church “family” I’ve ever been a part of either.

I am so very blessed and I love my new life, it’s going to be amazing!

It’s been about 2 weeks since my last blog entry so here’s a little bit of catch-up.  First the negative:

My Easter visit to my younger daughter and her husband was heartbreaking and I’m still working through the roller-coaster of emotions, trying to regain some sort of internal balance.

I had a talk with my husband about splitting up our possessions and while I agreed to dividing things a certain way at the time I have since realized that allowing him to get 3 vehicles and 2/3 to 3/4 of the profit from selling the house is very unfair to me after 20 years of marriage.  Therefore I will be telling him that we need to sell the house right away and split the profits 50/50… I’m sure that will be a lovely conversation, ugh!

My car is the only car that is not paid off and the loan is only in his name.  Originally I was going to apply for a loan in my own name and transfer the car to my loan but then I realized that signing myself up for another 5 years or so of car payments was not the smartest thing I could do so I bought myself another car with my half of the state income tax return that finally showed up and left the car with the loan on it at the house for him to do whatever he wants to do with it.  He shocked me by saying “What happened to us being nice to each other and you applying for the car loan?”  My jaw dropped – I was not trying to be mean to him by giving the car back to him!

My sister found this guy on a dating app and started messaging him.  Turns out he attends the church I left and is being mentored by my husband.  This guy says that my husband freely admits that our divorce is his fault and he is “very humble about his shortcomings”.  So it’s OK for him to be angry and unpleasant to my face, take away my house key in spite of the fact that I am still on the home loan and the house is filled with my stuff, refuse to allow me the use of the pickup truck that still has my name on the title to move my things… but to the people at church he is a meek victim, freely confessing his faults and worthy of everyone’s pity and compassion because his rebellious, soon-to-be-ex-wife won’t give him a second chance.

I had already figured out that he sees himself as the victim in our upcoming divorce but this takes the cake, I’m literally blown away.

No wonder I was about to burst into tears all day today…

But here’s the positive side of life – my new job!  When I “auditioned” for this job they said over and over again “We are like family here” and I’m discovering that they really, truly meant it.  My bosses are Vietnamee, two brothers and a gal that they’ve known since childhood.  The older brother, I’m going to call him Hank here, has been a nail tech for 11 years and is the brains of the business but does not speak very good English.  The younger brother, I’ll call him Todd, has only been a nail tech for about 2 years but speaks much better English so he is the public face of the business and he jokes and laughs with all the customers.  The gal, I’ll call her Sheri, has also been a nail tech for 11 years and her nail art is AMAZING!  Her English is fairly good too so she helps answer the phones and interacts with the customers.  All of them put sanitation as their top priority with customer service a close second and I am so grateful, it’s such a different atmosphere than my previous salon!

My first day there Todd gave me a top-of-the-line pedicure.  Sugar scrub, a clay leg mask, paraffin wax, hot stone massage, lotion massage, the works.  It was Heaven!  Todd says that I have to experience everything the shop offers in order to tell customers about it.  Hank gave me a full set of acrylic nails and told me he wants to teach me everything he knows.  My second day on the job Todd showed me how to do glitter gel toes by putting them on me.  Sheri invited me to eat the food she brought – meat, veggies and rice – it was delicious!  My third day Todd bought donuts for all of us and Hank re-did my nail polish so that it would be perfect for my trip to see my daughter.  Each day was filled with smiles, food and laughter and I felt so included, like I really was a part of their family.

When I came back from my Easter trip nothing had changed.  I’ve left work each day since with warm fuzzies, feeling totally loved and accepted.  Hank bought the bolts to put my new license plates on my new car and after he finished attaching them he told me “Anything mechanical I fix for you, just ask me”.  They’re teaching me to speak Vietnamese, so far I know how to say “Help me” and “Hello”, lol.  Sheri makes food every day and she saves me a good-sized portion if I’m not able to eat it when she and the boys do.  Today they all stayed late so that I could finish my food, Todd helped me heat it and put it together, rice noodles, meat and broth formed some sort of soup that was very yummy.  They teased me about needing to learn how to use chopsticks. Hank said “Take your time, no rush” and with a bowl of Vietnamese soup I realized I have a new family, and I love them.

My sister and I just finished watching “This Means War” with Chris Pine, Tom Hardy and Reese Witherspoon and if I had been her I would have totally chosen Tom Hardy’s character instead of Chris Pine’s character.  Last night my sister and I watched “Failure to Launch” and this whole last week or so has been full of movies that have happy, romantic endings.  No, we don’t have much else to do in this teeny, tiny apartment except watch movies all night…

I realized while watching these movies that I’ve never been “swept off my feet, head-over-heels in love”, except once in high school.  He was a senior and I was a junior and my mom told me I couldn’t date until after I graduated high so I told him I couldn’t go out with him.  That’s one thing I would change if I had my life to live over again.  Then again, he promptly stopped paying any attention to me and started dating a freshman so even though it seemed like true love at the time for me it obviously wasn’t true love for him.  Last I heard he had just gotten married to his second wife. 

I know some of my friends have found their one true love and while I’m happy for each of them I tend to view their relationship with their spouses as more of a fluke of nature than any sort of attainable goal.  Therefore, “happily ever after” movies make me suspcious of the hero and a little part of my heart is always screaming at the girl who’s swept off her feet “Don’t Do It!  It won’t last!  It’s not worth it!” 

I have great angst, I think I need a Xanax…  or two…  Stupid movies…

I really, really, really enjoyed the conversation I had with my husband at the resturant last week.  If he would just be that guy all the time there would be some serious potential for our relationship.  Because of his humble attitude and the things he said to me – not romantic things but honest things – I actually gave him my sister’s address where I am staying on the condition that he would not come to the door without an express invitation.  Now I kind of wish I hadn’t, I’m wondering if I can really trust him not to bang on the apartment door if he thinks we really need to talk.  I’m hoping he stays that guy he was at the resturant and that I can trust him but I’m honestly expecting that he’ll only stay “nice” for another few weeks and then go back to being that angry, wounded, selfish guy I’ve always known. 

Enough of me yearns for a relationship like I see in the movies to keep watching them and torturing myself with what I will probably never have in this lifetime.  The rest of me is so distrustful of men… I just don’t think it will ever happen.

Ever.

In “What I Told My Family” I posted the letter I emailed to everyone.  Almost everyone, actually, I completely forgot to send it to my husbands brother and sister-in-law.  Oops!  It was an honest mistake, I didn’t intentionally leave them out although I’ll probably never be able to convince them of that <sigh>.  I did email it to them a week after everyone else got it so at least I tried to correct my mistake…

Both my brothers, my dad and step-mom, my father-in-law and my brother -in-law emailed me back and except for my brother-in-law all were surprisingly supportive of my goals to get healthy.  Dear brother-in-law responded within a couple of days but only with a basic, sorry to hear that, we’re praying for you and a very generic, Christianese blessing.  And this guy is a missionary.  <rolling my eyes>

I’m the oldest of my siblings and my next oldest brother was the first to respond.  His letter was very pastoral and reminded me how very little I actually know him because my sister says that is how he speaks all the time, I felt like I was a stranger who had asked him for counseling.  He was excited to finally catch a glimpse of the “real” me and so proud of me for actually having goals because so many people in my situations can only handle surviving day-to-day life and aren’t able to set goals.  He says I have strength that I didn’t know I had – to which I laughed because I’ve known that I’ve always been far stronger than I wanted to be in order to survive my life.  What I actually have is strength my brother didn’t know I needed to have.  But I digress.  He added to please let him know if he’s offended me and what he can do to help, etc.

My father-in-law responded next, confused as to how they might have possibly wounded me, proud of me for having the courage to speak up, a brief description of how depression skews a person’s reality, good job on having a plan to get help, a reminder that I was their first daughter-in-law and they love me.  They followed it up with a phone call about a week later but I wasn’t ready to speak with them so I took the coward’s way out and sent the call to voicemail.  It was another encouraging message, they love me and hope I’m doing OK.

My step-mom was the next to respond and of everybody her letter felt the most “real” to me.  Her email was like she was talking to me and we were just having a conversation.  She has also struggled with severe depression and knows what that is like, she was surprised that things had gotten this bad because I always said everything was OK.  She actually said that moving in with my sister was a good plan!  She was the only one to approve of both my leaving my husband AND my getting healthy, recognizing that I’m not going to get one without the other.  She was proud of me for having the courage to open up about how I was feeling, she is praying for me and she loves me.  She is hesitant about calling me because she is “only a step-mom”.  When I responded I told her I consider her as real a mom to me as anybody and to please stop thinking of herself as “just” a step-mom.

My younger brother was next to respond and I felt so bad after reading his email because he shared some of the wounds he received growing up from our step-father and our mother that I had never realized happened.  I had been so wrapped up in my own hurts that I never noticed his.  He, too, had struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts but he had a healthy marriage and was much farther on the road to recovery and healing than I was.  He thanked me for my courage in sharing and apologized for seeming absent or unfriendly.  He would like to get to know me again and said to please feel safe to tell him anything.

My father was the last to respond (besides my brother-in-law who I still hadn’t sent it to at this point) and my dad seemed to focus primarily on the paragraph where I said I had been mad at everybody at one point or another for appearing not to care about me.  He apologized for not being around while I was growing up and for “being immature”, a term I would have never applied to him.  He said nice things about my mom – and I have to say that I have never heard him say a mean word about her, ever, and that makes me respect him so very much because there were plenty of mean things that could truthfully be said about her.  He believes that I love God with my whole heart and reminded me that Jesus is bigger than my circumstances.  He asked if I had started my depression meds yet and committed to being more sensitive to me and my needs.

So from everybody but my brother-in-law I got a lot of “we’re proud of you for your courage in sharing your feelings” and oodles of support for getting healthy, one recognition that I needed to leave to do it, offers to listen to anything I want to say, requests to help and lots of apologies for not being there for me.  All in all I felt heard, cared for and loved, there was healing for me in their responses, it was really nice.

I responded to each person individually with the same, basic information but I personalized it and answered specific questions each one had asked.  Here is the bones of my response:

Dear Family Member,

Thank you for your email.  <personal stuff here>
My younger daughter’s life is going from bad to worse and it seems to be entirely of her own making, my current prayers for her are that God will stop lies from coming out of her mouth, that when she tries to lie no sound will come out of her lips and that she will begin saying the truth, even on accident.  If you could pray those things with me I would appreciate it.
I am currently receiving food stamps and have qualified for the health insurance program for only $20/month starting in March so I will be able to go back to the doctor starting in just a couple of weeks. I am also pursuing a program with one of the local women’s shelters that combines housing, counseling and something they call “case management”.  I’m mostly interested in the counseling as it specifically deals with women in situations like mine – and worse – and the housing would be in a group situation, living with other women who are in the program.  I have been approved for their program but there aren’t any openings right now so I am on a waiting list.  I don’t care so much about the housing because I enjoy living with my sister but it’s part of the program and I think it will be beneficial for me to participate in it fully.
My talks with my husband are going fairly well, we have had several phone conversations and three face-to-face talks.   I am not mad at him, I don’t hate him and I don’t have any intentions of trying to make other people dislike him, my entire goal is to become healthy myself and to develop a healthy way to communicate with him – and I’m honestly not thinking or planning any further beyond accomplishing that at the moment.  I know that he is trying really hard to understand and accommodate my wishes but he is very hurt and frustrated and definitely needs your continued prayers and support.
Sincerely,
Me

I slept for 12 hours, which was fabulous, and woke up wondering what in the world I was going to do with myself today so I stayed in my jammies and started a movie on my laptop.  A couple of hours later my daughter called and I was excited thinking maybe I would get to spend some more time with her before I left after all but nooooo, what she really wanted was 20 bucks to go buy their marriage license.

I was crushed but agreed to give her the money.  She stopped by the hotel room for all of five minutes, just long enough to make some polite conversation and take the money.  I asked her if this was my in-person goodbye and she said yes, hugged me, said she loved me and left as quickly as she could.

Wow.  I traveled for over 24 hours to spend less than 3 hours with my daughter and was looking at at least another 12 hours to get home with another 24 hours to fill before I could even leave.  I tried to finish my movie but couldn’t concentrate so I went out to spend money, which always makes me feel better, ha, ha.  I started by attending the grand opening of the cutest Walmart I have ever seen and even though it was their very first day open they still had a clearance isle, which I found intriguing.  Knowing that I was going to have to pack stuff in my luggage to get it home severely limited my choices but I wound up with a candle, several scented discs to put in a warmer and five Christmas light extension cords that have an on/off switch by the plug in for about $9 total.  Feeling pleased with myself for finding such bargains I next located a Sally Beauty Supply – they’re everywhere, who knew?  Because I’m an independent contractor buying supplies for my job everywhere I go allows me to write off a great deal of my trips so I made a purchase there too. Next I found a Burger King and then headed back out onto the open road to visit a local landmark.

About halfway there I got a call from FMIL inviting me to dinner at 5:30.  All of a sudden the sun was shining and I was having a good day!  I still had enough time to reach the landmark and take a few pictures before heading back to their house for dinner.  I arrived 5 minutes early, there was loud music playing inside and I had to knock 4 times before anyone heard me.  My daughter and one of the kids answered the door and after hugging my daughter I turned to find a rat staring me in the eyes!  My darling Future Son In Law was holding the rat so it would be right in my face as I turned and I’m happy to say that I did not freak out one little bit!  I said “Oh hi there, you’re pretty” to the rat and pet it’s head.  I saw that it was friendly so I asked if I could hold it and he put her in my hands.  The rat was white with large brown spots, very soft and very sweet.  I held her close and she climbed up to my shoulder and eventually tried to go down one of my coat sleeves at which point I pulled her out and handed her back to FSIL.  It was clear that I totally burst his bubble with my reaction and I mentally chalked one up for me, none for him, whoo hoo!

I was there about 3 1/2 hours and during that time I listened to him and his mom tell stories about him growing up and here is what I gathered from that conversation.

FMIL has raised her children not to shy away from a fight.  It was clearly stated many times with pride by both her and her son that if any of her children came home from school crying about being bullied that FMIL expected that child to go back to school and beat up the bully and not to stop until they had won the fight.  Older siblings were told to go to school and beat up other children who had picked on their younger siblings. If they didn’t beat up the bully and win the fight FMIL would beat on them at home and send them back the next day to do it right.  To FSIL winning a fight means until the other person starts to bleed and then he stops, unless they keep fighting him and then he has a green light until they stop.  As long as her children fought because they were standing up for themselves or someone else AND they fought “clean” (no groin shots) she was proud of them and would take them out for ice cream after picking them up from the principal’s office.  Over and over again I heard the mantra “You may not have started it but you WILL finish it”.  FMIL told FSIL repeatedly that by fighting he was a man.  Not surprisingly, FSIL was suspended from school many, many times for fighting and has a short fuse.

Here’s my conclusion.  FMIL, FSIL and family have good hearts.  They aren’t out to hurt anybody but by golly if you hurt one of them they will all come after you for revenge.  Their definition of being bullied is very, very broad and seems to go from just being talked to mean repeatedly to physical bullying.  In a duel of wits FSIL is unarmed, although it is not from a lack of intelligence but a lack of skill in verbal communication.  When he’s nice, he’s wonderful and I could see that he does love my daughter and she loves him – with the immature love of the young and naive.  When he’s upset, which seems to be often and easy to do, he’s a volcano.  And he’s a total mamma’s boy, she rules the roost and he always winds up doing what she says.  The good news is that she keeps kids she likes as part of the family.  A boyfriend who broke up with her daughter 7 years ago still hangs out at the house and calls her mom.  That eases my heart because if my daughter ever breaks up with FSIL that means FMIL is at least going to take care of her until she can get back home to me and at most keep her on as an adopted kid.

Other bits of knowledge I gleaned tonight:  FMIL is about 6 – 7 years older than I am and has been married to her 2nd husband for 20 years.  FSIL’s father was bi-polar and a bad, bad man.  FSIL is very good looking and charismatic, I can see why my daughter is attracted to him.  FMIL has lived through enough abuse of all types to justify spending the rest of her life drooling at a funny farm but is an incredibly strong woman and an amazing survivor.  Consequently though, there’s an acceptance in her soul for the terrible things that have happened to her children that flabbergasts me.  For example, one of her daughters was gang-raped by 17 men and had a child because of it that FMIL has now adopted.  Another daughter was born simple because FMIL had been beat up by her husband while she was pregnant.  Another daughter was attacked at age 15 by 8 guys who thought she was someone else – they beat her senseless and when she recovered she was simple because of the brain damage they inflicted.  And the list goes on and on, hearing about them was horrifying and made me wonder if my daughter will be safe living with them because bad things seem to happen to this family with great consistency.  FMIL has adopted three of her grandchildren that I know of, at least two of them are disabled in some way – one with severe physical and mental disabilities who lives off a feeding tube and cannot talk, walk or speak and one who is very bright but has significant mental handicaps when it comes to social and reasoning skills.  The third one I suspect may have a mild mental disability, judging by the way she speaks, but it could just be a speech pattern native to that area of the country, I couldn’t tell.  FMIL also took care of her mother with cancer for years until her mother became a danger to the children and she had to put her in a home.  FMIL has a HUGE heart and is a very protective mamma in every way that she thinks is right to be protective.  I have a lot of respect for her after hearing all the stories she told me tonight.  FMIL doesn’t look like much, a large, chain-smoking, middle aged woman who only has one upper tooth in the front but I could tell that her children all felt loved and secure in her house and there was a lot of happiness there.

That kind of an atmosphere is a soothing balm to my daughter’s soul, in spite of all the yelling and name-calling that is one of the ways they show affection toward each other.  It made me realize how sterile our own family atmosphere has been all these years, unwittingly designed to keep each of us from bonding to the other instead of uniting us as a solid family unit.

The whole visit was a lot to take in and I’m going to be pondering my experience there for quite a while.  It’s probably a good thing I have another 12 hours of air travel before I get home because I have a lot to think about.