You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Church’ tag.

Today was my first day on the worship team at my folks church in Montana. Well, I’m going to call it what it is. My church. This is my church now. 

Glad we got that settled…

Yesterday I practiced with the team and then again this morning before the service and I though they went well. Is always been hard for me to blend my piano playing with guitars but they were gracious and we worked the logistics of pretty good, I thought. I was a little nervous but not a lot, mostly about getting used to the sound system honestly. My playing isn’t amazing but it is sufficient for what they want me to do. 

Before the service starts every week they have prayer downstairs,  the elders gather around first the worship team and then the children’s workers and then the pastor and pray for them. While they were praying for us they kept saying things about how thankful they were that I was there and that they had been praying for someone to play the keyboard and that I was their answer to prayer… I don’t think anyone in church leadership has ever said I was an answer to their prayers. It blew me away. 
As we were walking upstairs to start the service the worship leader turns to me and says “I hope you stay here forever”.

Wow! These people really like me! I’ve never been accepted so warmly by any church leadership. 

I’m humbled. I’m honored. I’m flabbergasted and I’m a little concerned they’ll change their minds once they get to know me better… 

The actual service went as well as the practices. I hit a few wrong notes and sang at the wrong time once but overall it was good and I felt like I fit right in with the team. After the service several people shook my hand and thanked me for being on the team. I felt so loved today, by an entire church body that I barely know. 

God brought me here. That knowledge shines brighter every day. This is where I am supposed to be and I am home. 

Advertisements

For the very first time ever I went back and re-read every single blog post I have written here, it was very interesting to see where I’ve changed, remember things I had forgotten and make a few realizations about myself…

The very first thought that popped into my head when I had finished was “I’m not nearly as funny as I think I am!” Ha, Ha!  Oh well, it’s not going to stop me from being me, eventually somebody will think I’m funnier than I do 😉

The next thought I had was “Why have I worked so hard to keep this blog and my identity a secret?  Good grief, there’s really not any juicy details in here at all!”  But the truth of the matter is that if my ex had read this blog while I was still married he would have been so angry with me and I would have lost my safe place to express my feelings.

I feel like I should clarify that he never hit me (or our children) or abused me physically.  I wish he would have because then I would have felt free to leave him much earlier but his abuse was far subtler and took me years of seeing counselors here and there to realize he really was abusive.  Anyway…

Back to this blog – before we were married he found my diary and asked if he could read it.  Stupidly I said yes, believing that we shouldn’t have any secrets between us and after he read it he was upset that I wrote about having feelings for someone else BEFORE I MET HIM.  I should have known then that this wasn’t going to work out but I was incredibly young, dumb and naive… so instead I burned my diary and never kept another paper one because I realized he would always find them and read them if he could.

Dear God, I should write a book about who not to date or marry…

I am not a great writer but it is very therapeutic for me to write things down and get them out of my system, eventually I always come back to some form of writing despite the dangers of it being discovered.

I’ve decided that I’m still going to keep most of my details vague, I’ve given access to this blog to a few of my closest friends but it makes me feel better to think that it’s still “anonymous” even though I know that true privacy is a fairy tale in this day and age.  (The Machine is real!  Where’s Jim Caviezel when I need him?)  Also, just because of who I am, I have no desire to make my ex-husband look bad by airing his dirty laundry in public, that would just be rude.  And I suspect he has not changed enough to pull off another marriage so the truth will come out in it’s own good time…  was that mean?  Probably.  Oh well…

Oh, another thing I realized is that I think I know why my former mother-in-law is so upset with me… In the letter I sent to my family – and his – trying to explain why I left him I said that my ex was just like my mother.  Which is very true.  It is also something I had told him several times so it was not news to him but it probably was new information to his mother and his mom was not a big fan of my mom.  I really should have had someone read that letter before I sent it, it was far too long and went places there was no need to go <sigh>.  Oh well, it is what it is and I can’t change it now but her icy coldness to me makes a little more sense now.

I also realized that I never wrote about my Las Vegas trip!  That will have to be it’s own blog, it’s funny now that I’m a good six months away from it…

Speaking of being positive, I also felt like a great many of my posts had a forced sense of optimism to them, which surprised me.  I think I am a fairly positive person and always try to see the upside of things but it felt more like I was making desperate grabs at something I wanted to feel but didn’t or maybe that I was attempting to cover up how bad it really was by focusing on my faith that things would get better.  Well then.  I’ll have to think about that for a bit longer…

Today, I’m healthy physically and emotionally – I haven’t been on any medication for depression, anxiety, insomnia or my thyroid for an entire year now.  I’ve gained a bit of weight, OK – a lot of weight, since the hysterectomy last year but I guess that’s normal and I’m going to have to fight even harder to lose weight from now on than I did before.  Oh goodie…

Mentally and emotionally I’m stronger – I’ve learned how to deal with angry people and be confident in my own self and the skills that I have.  I’ve learned how to walk away from people who are toxic to me and love them from a distance where they can’t wound me anymore and I’ve even been able to stand up for myself on multiple occasions.  Practice makes perfect, eh?  (Please Lord, stop giving me opportunities to practice…)

Spiritually I feel bigger?  I’m not sure of the right word for that one.  I’ve simplified my list of do’s and don’ts and that has strengthened my faith considerably.  In October I started going to a little church near where I used to work and I love it.  It’s a tiny  little congregation, maybe 20 people on any given Sunday but they worship for most of an hour and it’s so real there.  Some days the service is a beautiful disaster.  People, both on the stage and off, are completely genuine and there is no show there.  The messages are spoken, not preached, with input welcomed from the congregation so frequently it feels like a group discussion more than a lecture.  I’ve learned a lot this year about God and His goodness, He has taken such good care of me and I know He will continue to do so during this next step in my journey.

If sharing my journey helps you then I’m glad and if you’re in a life like mine don’t give up!  If you want to be friends then say so in the comments, we’ll figure something out.  If you want to donate to the cause my PayPal address is… no, just kidding.  If you want to help go find someone in  your own life who is lonely or sad a lot of the time.  Find someone you suspect is being abused in some way and go be their friend.  Help them.  There’s a lot of us out there with stories like mine and more people out there with stories worse than mine.  Just go make a difference in one life, it will be worth it, I promise.

And Dear God, if somebody out there is friends with Keanu Reeves please have them introduce me… He is such a handsome man and everything I’ve read about him says he’s a nice guy too. It would be so niced to meet a nice guy… <sigh> 😀

It’s been 560 days since I left my ex husband and changed my world.  In that time I’ve grown and become different in so many ways and I think most all of them are good…

I’ve learned how to “mow” the lawn with my weed wacker, lol!  I never had to do yard work before and I’m still not quite sure this qualifies but there it is.  I move the sprinkler around my little patch of trailer park lawn and swing the weed wacker around  – I can count that as exercise too, right?

I’ve lived within my means and yet been able to spend money on myself.  At first it was very difficult – two months after I left him I spent $120 on four new bras.  For our entire married life I had only been able to purchase one or two bras at a time and it felt scandalous, extravagant, vain and almost sinful to spend that much money on a basic necessity for myself.  (And they were practical, not even pretty!)  I did get over it and have been enjoying finding clothes, outer and under, that are both comfortable and good for the level of professionalism required at my job.  (I work at a classier salon than most Asian nail shops I’ve ever been in, I wear clothes there that I would have previously worn to church on Sunday mornings!)

Speaking of church, I stopped going to church right about a year ago.  Yes, this is one of the not-so-good things and really needs to be the subject of it’s own blog post.  I have reasons, I promise, and I fully intend to attend church faithfully with my father and step-mother when I move up there with them but for now I’m not attending church anywhere.

I’ve come to realize that money spent on fun is not wasted and as long as I am staying within my budget it is not wrong to buy myself things I enjoy, try new foods that I may or may not like and do activities that will do little more than make good memories.

I’ve also been able to spend money on others and I enjoy that very much.  I’ve been able to bless others with gifts, meals, clothing, rides, a vehicle and even a place to sleep.

I’ve gone places and seen people!  I used to do a lot of road trips, I would pack up my girls and we would go places to see people and experience things, for some reason our adventures quit happening about 8 years ago, I’m not sure why.  But in these last 560 days I’ve taken 7 road trips and 1 trip by airplane!  I’ve seen my dad, brothers and best friend more since I left my ex-husband than I had in years and I also got to go to the ocean and Las Vegas – so much fun!  I’d forgotten how much I like to drive and take trips…

I feel safe.  All the time.  My Vietnamese family has played a large part in this because they all take such good care of me and none of the guys are even a little bit romantically interested in me.  Especially, bless his heart, my flirting buddy (who has been the more than occasional subject of my post-divorce junior-high-like infatuation) is a man of such high standards that while he could have easily taken advantage of my damaged heart he has never even come close to crossing that line.  I am as much a genuine part of their family as a chubby white girl could possibly be and thanks to that treatment I am no longer worried that a male touch or look is going to end in a request (or a demand) for sex.  It’s so hard to explain but being adopted by them has been so freeing – and very healing – for me.  God knew what He was doing to put me with them and I am so grateful.

I’m sure there are more ways that I’ve changed and grown but these are the big ones for now.  Sweet dreams!

Dear Family,
I know I need to say something about what’s going on in my family but I really don’t want to say anything at all.  I have felt so disconnected from all of you for so long now – and yes, I know that it is largely my fault.
For the last two years at the campouts I have wanted to tell everyone how much I struggle with depression and how overwhelmed I have been.  I envisioned a moment around the campfire, after all the kids had gone to bed to just be open and honest with everyone… but I could never bring myself to say the words.  You see, I have lived my whole life in fear.  It started out as fear that Mom would be disappointed in me or mad at me for something I said or did – or didn’t do.  Growing up I felt I failed her at every opportunity and that she was never proud of me, I honestly believed I couldn’t do anything right and yet my world centered around trying to win her approval.  I learned to hide my feelings and emotions, to not expect anything from anybody so that my fragile heart would not be crushed when it didn’t happen.  By the time she started telling me she loved me and was proud of me I was suspicious of her motives and didn’t believe her, I was already that damaged.
I used to think that I had a good relationship with my brothers while we were growing up because we never fought.  Then I graduated from high school, moved out and got married and realized I didn’t have ANY relationship with my brothers because we never talked.  We spent all of our time trying not to upset Mom and I never got to know them.
So, not knowing any different, I married a man who was more or less Mom as a guy.  I tried to please him just as hard as I had tried to please Mom and although he tried his best to be a good husband and father I learned to hide my feelings and emotions even deeper, to not get hurt.  I hid myself so well that by the time he began to truly become a good husband and father I was incapable of expressing myself.  Any time I decided to tell him how I felt I would experience shortness of breath, chest pains and sometimes my arms would go numb.  I would freeze and be unable to speak up at all – and so I rarely told him that he was wounding me, however unintentional.  Several times I thought I was having a heart attack and a couple of times I worried I might be having a stroke.  I went to the ER several times for the chest pains but they were always just panic attacks and eventually I learned to ignore the symptoms although they persist to this day.
When we moved here things changed, we got involved with a local church and took every class they offered and we became better people, a better family.  Then something in the church changed and the leadership seemed to be in control of every aspect of our lives and it felt like church was all rules, rules, rules and not very much about love at all.  I started asking questions and eventually left that church even though the rest of my family stayed.  It was hard for me to do in the face of all the disapproval I received, both from my family and from the church but it was the first step towards emotional health for me and it has been a long, hard journey since then.
In the meantime we lost my younger daughter.  She was so wounded by receiving the same parenting – from both of us – that I did that she decided to quit going to high school in her senior year, move clear across the country and marry a guy she’d only spent 2 days with face-to-face and then stay and live with his family while he went back to base on the other side of the country to get on the waiting list for base housing now that they’re married.  Her new mother-in-law has nicknamed her “My F**n Potato” and while there is lots of angry yelling, swearing and smoking in this house there is also a strong sense of family unity, they play games often and talk with each other all the time.  While I was there I could see that even though it was an extremely rough and tumble family life the kids were very clearly happy, loved and cared for.  Apparently our family life was so cold and sterile that an atmosphere like that is preferable to our daughter and while she is communicating with me on a limited basis she clearly wants to have very little to do with me anymore and nothing to do with her father or sister right now.
My husband and I have never truly had a healthy relationship nor been able to communicate clearly or effectively and it is for that reason I left him to go live with my sister on Monday.  After all these years I still get panic attacks when I try to tell him how I feel and I am incapable of telling him “no” or that I want to do something different than what he wants to do or that he’s hurt my feelings and so on.  I have tried and and tried I just can’t do it.  I’ve gotten to the point where it is very hard for me to have positive emotions anymore either, causing me to feel and appear very robotic, cold and aloof.  My self-preservation methods have pickled me something fierce and my depression has consequently gotten worse and worse and I have considered suicide many times. We even went to counseling together a year or so ago and I’ve even gone to a counselor, just myself, and yet I am still unable to change my behaviors with him.
I have been angry with each of you, at times, because you’ve never seemed to care to really get to know me and find out that things were not going well inside of me, nobody ever seemed to notice how badly I am damaged.  I came to realize that my anger was irrational, one must appear to be open for others to feel it’s OK to ask personal questions and find out how you’re doing – and I couldn’t stop trying to protect myself so I shut you all out and closed my heart as tightly as I could.  I’m sorry for being so unfriendly.
I don’t know what the future holds, I only know that I need space and time to find wherever it is that I buried my heart so I can dig it up and I need to heal from losing my younger daughter.  To accomplish this I will not be moving back in with my husband anytime soon.
My goals during this next season of life are to get back in to see my counselor on a regular basis, to get back on my depression medication and establish a healthy communication habit with my husband.  I also hope to find a way to connect with my older daughter because I shut her out as much as I did all of you and have been very unfair to her.  I will be continuing in my job as a Nail Tech and I am hoping to go back to school to become a Nail Tech Instructor sometime this year.
I’m sorry if anything I wrote in this email hurt anyone, I’m just trying to be open and honest about what’s going on, I am still very overwhelmed.  Please feel free to respond to me but don’t expect a rapid response back.  I’ll reply as I am emotionally able to do so.
Me

Each post on this blog is a little snapshot of my thoughts, feelings, emotions, decisions… it’s glimpses into my life as raw and unfiltered as I can write them out.  I don’t always have the right words to properly express myself but I try.  I’ve spent most of my life stuffing my feelings and emotions in a bottle and putting them up on a shelf because “nobody got time for that” so now I’m not very good at identifying how I feel, much less knowing how to deal with those feelings, which is one of the big reasons that this blog is pretty much anonymous – I think I’ve only invited a couple of people who know me to read it and if you do know me please don’t tell anybody my secret identity, lol!  This is how I sort things out in my head and in my heart, by writing them down and mulling them over, and over, and over…

If you’re reading this and it doesn’t make sense normally I would say that you’re just going to have to wade through the last two years of posts although I suppose after this amount of time it’s worth summarizing – OK, here goes:

I’m in my 40’s, married for 20 years with two kids – one is barely a legal adult and the other 6 weeks away from being a legal adult.  Thanks to my upbringing and then marrying a man who treated me the same way I was treated while growing up I never believed I had any real value as a human being until about two years ago when something changed.

I can’t tell you exactly what it was that gave way inside of me  – I had gone to a few years of counseling but all the counselors I had didn’t give me any solutions, they just said that I was doing great and they didn’t know why I was going to see them so I’m pretty sure that wasn’t it.  I had been on anti-depressants for a couple of years by then but I was actually getting worse, more depressed and more suicidal so I don’t think that was it either.  About that same time I started to have concerns about the church that we were attending and I brought those concerns to both my husband and the pastor’s attentions – nothing happened and I sank further into my depression.  But somehow, something snapped almost 24 months ago and I started this journey of becoming bolder, stronger and brave.  I dared to believe that I just might even be beautiful.

The first thing I did was to give my husband an ultimatum to quit his pornography addiction “or else”.  In February that will have been two years ago.  I didn’t specifically state what the “or else” would be but it was going to start with separation and go from there.  I let him talk me out of separating that night because I honestly didn’t think that he would be able to quit but he surprised me.  Almost two years later he has not only kicked his addiction but he has been instrumental in starting a men’s purity group at his church and is co-leading it, helping other men in their fight against pornography. He has also worked very hard to become a nicer person, a better husband and a more involved father.  I have both noticed these things and told him, repeatedly, that I am proud of him for all the changes he’s made but we can both tell that it’s a “That’s nice” kind of proud of him.

I should be bursting with pride.  Why aren’t I?

I guess I feel like it’s a day late and a dollar short.

About nine months ago I started seeing a new counselor and she made a difference in my life.  The reason I went to her was because I didn’t like sex.  My husband fully endorsed my going to a counselor for this reason but I think he soon came to regret supporting me in that manner.  What she actually helped me with was opening my eyes to see that I was in an abusive relationship.  There was no physical abuse going on but nearly every other kind of abuse was present.  Had I been physically abused, i.e. beat up, I would have left a long time ago but mental and emotional abuse are “invisible” and “don’t really count” in the Christian church today and there seems to be no such thing as sexual abuse between a husband and a wife.  In America, and as far as I know in the world at large, sexual abuse within marriage is barely recognized and rarely addressed but in the church the subject is completely taboo.  My counselor told me that being manipulated, coerced or guilt-tripped into having sex when you don’t want to is sexual abuse.  Who knew?  I thought that the only thing “sexual abuse” meant was that you were raped or forced into giving oral sex against your will.  Being a good, submissive Christian wife I stayed married because it was “the right thing to do” and that kept me in a miserable relationship for 20 years believing that by doing so I was pleasing God.

It got to the point that I was considering changing my faith – or abandoning it completely – in order to leave the church we were and get him to divorce me.  I considered suicide many times because I thought it would be easier than divorce and I had become crazy enough that somehow I thought suicide might even be a spiritual solution because it would fulfill the “till death do us part” vow I made.  Yes, I’ve been messed up in the head for a long, long time now…

Ultimately, in an act of abnormal bravery, I left that particular church without him.  Aside from a couple months of extra stress immediately after that decision our life has returned to “normal” –  we just don’t talk about the fact that he is still attending that church and I have been trying out other local churches to see where I will fit the best.  Now the only real decision I have left is do I stay married or not?  I honestly don’t want to be anybody’s wife ever at this point but I’m not sure leaving is the right thing to do either, I’m in a quandary.  I have begged God to change my heart and make me fall in love with this man that I’ve never had any kind of passion for and yet he’s made so many changes to please me.  I have pleaded with God to make me enjoy sex.  And yet for 20 years nothing has changed in my heart – or my with hormones either for that matter.  It actually makes me understand homosexuals a little better – I can’t change it no matter how hard I try so maybe God made me this way.

And that’s where I’m at right now.  This is really real life – my life.  I have a big decision to make, do I stay or do I go?  I’m not going to rush this choice though, I want to be sure that if I leave I have done everything I could have possibly done to make it work.  If I leave I don’t want to have any regrets that I didn’t explore every option or try hard enough.  If I stay it will be because I chose to stay and not because I felt obligated to stay.  I’m going to  make this choice, probably within the next 6 months, and be comfortable with my final decision.

Stay tuned…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wow.  So now, according to my husband, my leaving this church against his will makes me like my mother.

My mother:

Who was so controlling and mentally/emotionally abusive that I never realized I could be my own person and not just an extension of her until I was in my 30’s.
Who never said a good word about sex, and then turned out to be quite promiscuous, a sex-a-holic, if you will.
Who attempted to destroy my marriage and my two brother’s marriages.
Who never told me I was pretty, smart or valuable until after I had graduated high school because she “didn’t want me to get a big head”.
Who accused 10 different men of sexually abusing either her, her children or grandchildren.
Who played no small part in the implosion of a small church she attended towards the end of her life.
Who left my 10-year-old sister alone with a man who raped and molested her while Mom was off playing  in Alaska as a traveling nurse for almost a year.

A very low blow.

He just wants me to “accept his authority” and go back to church with him.

I can’t do that.

But first an update on “…and She Left”

I’ve officially left the church we were attending for the last 7 years.  I went to see the Pastor last week to shake his hand, smile and let him know I will be attending church elsewhere so please remove my name from the church’s member list… but he wasn’t available so I left a note with the same message.

The first church I tried out was what I thought was a small community church but it turns out it’s actually about the same size as the church I left.  I went there twice, the sermons were good and while the worship was sincere and heartfelt it was really conservative for my taste.  I found some brochures on the doctrine of the church and while I agree with most of them there were a few that  I don’t agree with, such as:  1. The board of elders are in complete control of everything that goes on in the church and are over the two pastors on the “teaching team”.  2. They allow women to be leaders of “sub-categories” but they may not be the head of any department.  3. And they sprinkle instead of immerse for baptism.  All in all, I don’t believe these things are salvational issues but I’m going to try a few more churches and see what else is out there.

It feels so good to know that I have a choice in where I attend church.  Grace is a powerful thing!

And now on to the new news…

I said the “D” word.  Out loud.  To my husband.  Dee-vor-iss.  What I said is that we should start to consider divorce as an option because this, our marriage, isn’t working anymore.  We believe different things regarding church and our faith.  I don’t agree with how he parents our youngest daughter.  While we don’t have The Biblical reason to divorce – adultery – when it comes right down to it he is a bully, he is emotionally/mentally abusive and he even qualifies as having been sexually abusive, although strictly in a requiring-sex-on-demand-even-when-I-didn’t-want-to sort of way.  (Yes, that’s right, it’s technically rape.)  To be perfectly fair, he has made a great many changes over the last two years since I first required that he end his pornography habit, and I must say that I am proud of him for all his efforts because he has, indeed, “kicked it”.  Like any addict, he still struggles with temptation regularly but he has stopped his online and magazine activity and is co-leading a class at church for other men struggling with sexual addiction.  This class has caused him to face some of what his life-long addiction has made him become and as a result of identifying some of his bad traits he is now nicer, easier to talk to and less demanding of me sexually.  In particular, he makes sure to get my permission/acceptance before we have sex nowadays and while he desperately wants us to “make love” it’s only ever sex, for a whole variety of reasons that I won’t get into now.

But even with all the amazing changes he has gone through he is still quick to anger, knows – and regularly takes – the many shortcuts to being frustrated and still has sex on the brain All The Time as evidenced by unsettling, seemingly random comments that he makes consistently.  And recently he asked a very alarming question – two nights ago we let one of our younger daughter’s friends stay with us because she was having difficulties at home with her step-mom, saying she “beat the crap out of her”.  (Yes, it was an exaggeration, the girl had no obvious bruising or wounds but she cried like a terrified child in spite of being 16 years old when I picked her up,) but the first question my husband asked our daughter before I could go pick her friend up was “What did your friend do to make her step-mom beat her?”  Seriously?  There is NO justification for beating a child, no matter what they did.

It’s high time we consider divorce.  Maybe that would allow us to develop a relationship with healthy boundaries, for once.  But I kind of doubt it.  I think my old church, that he is still attending, will encourage him to divorce me and move on, to remarry someone who will be a properly submissive and godly wife to him.

As for me, I am not the least bit interested in marrying again.  I just can’t imagine what would ever make it worth it…

 

Well, I did it, I told my husband Saturday night that I would no longer be attending the church we’ve been attending for the last 7 years.

Deep Breath.  Hold it.  Let it out sloooooowly…

It was a huge step for me, I’ve thought about it for a long time.  Over the years I’ve prayed about it, I’ve sought the advice of people I trust and I have even discussed it with my counselor and I honestly believe this is the right thing for me to do.

I’m not going to bash that particular church, it has done a lot of good things for a lot of people, ourselves included.  When we first moved to this city 7 years ago and started attending this church we were a lost, hurting family.  We went to every service we could, attended every class that was offered and served/helped in multiple areas both as a family and individually.  We grew spiritually and I think that each family member’s character changed for the better.  It was definitely a good thing for us.

But time changes everything and almost three years ago I approached my husband with several concerns I had regarding the church.  He did not share them but tried to be supportive of me.  After roughly three months of discussions between both he and I and us and the pastors my husband said we would leave that church… and then changed his mind at the last minute.  Since then I have tried to put my concerns aside and just move on but it became more and more difficult.  Also, many of my friends started leaving the church, all of them hurt and wounded in some way by the words and/or actions of the church leadership.  As I heard bits and pieces of their stories I could see there was a common thread and that many of them shared similar concerns to mine.  So in June of this year I brought up my concerns to my husband again.  He still did not share them and was much less supportive this time around.

To be fair, this church is still doing good things for him.  He has received the support, encouragement and accountability that he has needed in these last two years to battle his pornography addiction and is currently co-leading a small group of other men who are all fighting the same or similar issues.  He is still growing and changing and I am glad for him.  But this church isn’t right for me anymore and it was a difficult thing to take that step from “I don’t want to be here anymore” to “I am not going to be here anymore”.  However, I did take that step and the peace that came with that decision was overwhelming.

My husband wasn’t very happy about my choice.  He verbally fought me for almost an hour.  I don’t normally think well on my feet and I would rather hurt myself than confront anyone about anything, but I know God was with me because my voice did not waver, my hands did not shake and I was able to answer his every question calmly, clearly and coherently.

My husband didn’t speak to me for most of the next day, Sunday, or for Monday either, but on Tuesday he started acting like nothing had happened.  It’s fascinating to watch him and wonder what’s going through his mind, what’s going to happen next…  Does he have “a plan” for trying to get me to stay or has he actually accepted the fact that this decision is the result of the last three years of me struggling with my concerns at this church and that I’m actually going to go through with it and attend another church?  I guess I’ll soon find out.

In the meantime, I’ve found a little community church just down the road from my house that I’m going to try out first.  The salon I work at opens at 11:30 am on Sundays and so my current criteria for trying out churches is whether or not they have a 9 am service and how big are they?

Let’s just say I’m not going to be interested in attending any large churches for a while….

What I’m looking for and hoping to find is a church that focuses on loving God and puts all their efforts into helping their members have a closer relationship with Jesus and less on obeying a set of rules, no matter how biblical those rules are.  The way I see it, obedience is the natural fruit of love but forced obedience rarely, if ever, produces love.

And so it begins!

Oh the joys of being me!  Here’s the roller coaster ride of feelings I  had today:

Overwhelmed
A Failure
Anger
Weary to the bone
Incapable
Suicidal
Hopeless
Unworthy
Faith-less (as in having no faith, not as in being unfaithful)
Rejected
Doubt
Alone
Zero endurance
Panic

OK, so that’s not really a roller coaster ride, that’s a gravity drop ride…

Today was horrible.  The fourth ten-hour work day in a row is always hard on me but this particular Monday at the call center there was non-stop calls from 11:30 am to 7:30 pm, just back-to-back-to-back, with a much higher than average ratio of mean customers than normal.  Seriously people, it’s not my fault you don’t open and/or read your statements and therefore “forget” to pay your bills on time or get interest charges from failing to pay off your promotional financing offers before they expire!

I started my day tired, cried off and on throughout the day because of my customers attitudes and comments and ended the day exhausted and yet, obviously, unable to sleep.  During my shift today I wrote several “Goodbye World” notes in my head – trying to decide what to put on Facebook to make the appropriate people feel guilty and how could I contact my youngest daughters only nice ex-boyfriend to ask him to look in on her when I’m gone.  At some point I realized my thinking was pretty messed up, which only made it worse because then the feelings of “I have no business being a parent” kicked in and only made the urge to off myself stronger.  I really began to feel like I would be doing the world – and especially my children – a favor by not being here.  Towards the end of my workday the calls slowed down and I became a little more rational.  Yes, stop freaking out, I am going to call my doctor tomorrow to get back on some form of anti-depressant because there really is something terribly wrong with me.  (I’m sure that someday this blog will wind up in a clinical textbook about depression and I’ll be reduced to nothing more than a case study, although that’s probably all I am to some of you anyway…)  I fantasize that my doctor will place me on disability because my jobs stress me out so much, but that is just one more fairy tale that will never come true.

I contemplated my faith, or current lack thereof, today.  As a child I loved God with all my heart.  As a teenager I was desperate for the peace my church promised I would have if only I followed God faithfully and did my very best to be a Good Girl.  After high school I began to see that reality was not the life I was told it would be as a Christian.  As a young married wife I slipped further and further away from believing the Christian ideal and now I’m wondering if God would even notice all that much if I cut that last thread and left Him altogether.  But if I don’t believe in God what’s left to believe in?

I have a jewelry open house this Saturday, trying to raise money to pay my school tuition and although I created a Facebook event and invited 50 of my Facebook “friends” to it I haven’t had a single response, yea or nay.  Which leads me to doubt that any of them will come because when everything shakes out I really don’t have “friends”, I have acquaintances.  Lots and lots of acquaintances.  I’ve chased most all the people who might have considered being my friend away by virtue of being mentally disturbed, distrustful and insecure.  I feel so alone, like there’s no one who will help me get out of this hole I’m in and I don’t think I can get out of it myself but I keep trying.  I really want to delete all my so-called friends and actually be as alone as I feel I am but I know I will regret it in the future.  I’m not sure why I’ll regret it but I just know that at some point I will…

My husband, who does woodworking, is all excited for my open house and has been making hand-crafted wooden pens this last week for me to take and try to sell at my fundraiser.  Not to help me get my tuition paid but to get him money to buy more wood because he wants to start a woodworking business from home.

A friend made sure to point out that her contribution to my efforts was limited to prayer.  Good grief, I’m not asking for charity – although standing on the side of the road with a sign asking for donations will probably make me more money than all my efforts to actually earn it will so I may do that soon too – but I wasn’t trying to guilt her into buying anything from me either.  It’s probably me just reading between lines that aren’t there again.  With her it seems like it’s always me reading between those damn invisible lines, I’m always wrong about something.

And that’s the core of what I always come back to.  It’s not you, it’s me.  It’s always something wrong with me.  I’m broken, I’m damaged, I’m wrong, wrong, wrong.  I can’t do anything right.  It’s true, that is my mother’s voice!  She has so much to answer for – although being dead she probably has answered for it by now…  Unfortunately I’m still sorting through all the crap she instilled in me growing up.  I’m 40 and finally realizing that most of it IS crap but I feel like the old dog you can’t teach new tricks to – how do I change the way I think?  The way I feel?  The way I respond to life?  The easier way out is death but honestly I’m a coward.  Too scared to die, not brave enough to live.  Clinging to the mushroom life because the evil that I know is easier than the good that I don’t know.

People in my church avoid me – and to be fair I avoid them now too.  The few that used to speak to me don’t any more and I feel like I’ve been given up as “lost”.  That I’m not worth their efforts anymore.  That I’m beyond “saving”.  That I could change if I would just decide to change.  My suicide would only cause them to “tsk, tsk, tsk” and think in their hearts that they were right.  My staying alive is the only way I would possibly dare to spit in their eye – and that’s pretty good motivation right now.

The next step is to get out of this job and start being a Nail Tech.  Right now I can’t deal with more than one goal.  Raise $1900 to pay my school bill, pass the state boards and start working as a Nail Tech.  After that, who knows?  Maybe reaching one goal will give me the courage to accomplish another goal, like leaving this church with or without my husband.