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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.

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 The crash and burn of realizing you are only wanted when you are needed

The light-bulb moment of finally understanding that’s one of the many things he did for all those years, the one who broke you

The self-loathing at recognizing every man you’ve ever fallen for could not or would not love you back – and yet you gravitate towards another just like that over and over again

The fear that you will never be able to love someone who is different, someone who is better

The accepting of yourself – you fall fast and hard at the first drop of kindness and think it’s love 

The knowledge that this may never change

The hope that it never changes because then you would not be you

The draining wariness of constantly being on guard against falling in love

The battle between wanting to fall in love and needing to feel safe

The sadness that “safe” and “in love” have never come to you at the same time

The weariness of needing to decipher your own emotions and those around you non-stop

The utter exhaustion from carrying all of life’s responsibilities while guarding your damaged heart that still slips out the window like a teenager and falls in love with the wrong guy anyway 

The desperate need to believe in fairy tales because maybe, just maybe, you could have a happily ever after too

The sleep that finally comes to give you just enough strength to make it through one more day so you can do it all over again

This is a little embarrassing…  OK, more than just a little…  Here I am, a fabulous shade of 41 and in the course of six weeks or so my heart has experienced the entirety of Junior High School.  I fell madly “in love” – with two different guys that I have occasional contact with –  complete with all the freaky, weepy and totally illogical thoughts and emotions that go along with it.  Crazy, crazy stuff like:

“Does he know how much I love him?”

“I just want to be near him, I don’t care that he doesn’t seem to notice my existence.”

“He is sooooo beautiful.”

“How can I get him to notice me?  I’ll just die if he doesn’t love me back.”

“I wish I could hold his hand… ooohhh, a dance would be better, where do grownups go to dance?”

“His eyes… his smile…  his laugh… <sigh>”

I tell you, it is a miracle that Junior Highers can grow up to become functioning adults at all!  I suspect I’m a little more stable than your average Junior Higher on the downs but the ups are an amazing high that I don’t want to let go of quite yet although I know that if my infatuation were actually to be reciprocated I would be terrified…

Fortunately being 41 and having survived the life I had is good for something!  I’m pretty handy at hiding all those emotions away where they can’t hurt anybody until I can sort them out later – and in my case it’s been decades later.  My counselor says “Maybe you need to experience these things because you didn’t get a chance to work through them as a child” and there might be something to that – the sensations of Being In Love are absolutely delicious, I’ve never had them before.

Seriously, never.

The grown up part of me knows that the insanity will come to an end and hopes it will be sooner rather than later but the newly discovered, child-like part of me wants to stay on this roller coaster for a long, long time and enjoy the ride.

At the very least I’ve spared myself some of that famous Junior High humiliation by refusing to pass notes that say “Check the box if you like me”, eh?

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!

“Write all of this down so you remember how you feel.”  Words of advice from my sister.  She doesn’t know about this blog and that I have been documenting my experiences for the last couple of years but it was a good reminder to get on the laptop and write another post.

My husband came to my work today and when I saw him in the door I panicked a little bit.  He had a Dr. Pepper and a white envelope in his hand.  When we spoke at McDonalds he had asked if he could leaving an occasional card and donut in my car.  Recognizing that his personality type has to “do something” I said yes and promised to eat the donut and not throw it away.  So when he came in the shop today my first thought was “This is not leaving things in my car” and I was a little upset but more scared.  “Why were you scared?” my sister asks.  “Because I was afraid of what he would say to make me feel bad.”  My heart was pounding and I couldn’t hardly talk.  What he actually gave me was not a card but tax-related mail along with the Dr. Pepper and reminded me that my car was locked and he doesn’t have a key.  He said “How are you?” and all I could get out was “Preegoo”.  Auto-pilot kicked in and I managed a polite, “How are you doing?” at which point his face went hard, he said “Have a nice day”, turned on his heel and left.  I felt anger from him.  It took a good half hour to get my heart and breathing back under control.  

I feel badly that he’s hurt and that I’m the one causing it, I really do.  And it’s not just an “Awww, that’s too bad I hurt you”, it’s a gut-wrenching grief that is nearly incapacitating.  That sorrow makes me wonder if I’m really doing the right thing and waters the little seed of doubt in my heart.  At the same time just seeing him outside of our agreed-upon parameters made me realize I am physically afraid of him.  I haven’t quite reached the point of peeing my pants but the rest of my body is doing it’s own equivalent.  This is not healthy, why did I accept living in such a fear-heavy atmosphere for so long?  I’ve made excuses for him all our married life by explaining his hurtful words and actions as “He’s just grumpy”, “He doesn’t deal with change very well” or my most common excuse “It’s my fault because I…”.  I am such a victim.

I have taken multiple tests online and they all say that I am an abused spouse.  Not physically abused, it would have been so much easier – and socially acceptable – to leave if he was physically abusing me and I would have left a long time ago for physical abuse.  My doctor offered to prescribe me a couple of weeks in the funny farm to have a break from him.  Strangely enough, I did not take her up on that, fearing they would never let me go.  My counselor very patiently walked me through the stages of identifying abuse until I could not help but agree that I am abused.  So why is it so hard for me to draw the line and stop feeling guilty about leaving?  Is it Stockholm syndrome where the abused person protects and defends the abuser?  I think I should look that up…

My immediate goals are to get on the state health insurance so that I can get back to my counselor and start taking my medication again.  And apparently I’m legally considered “homeless”, which made me laugh the first time I heard it because I’m staying with my sister, not under a bridge somewhere but I guess this experience is teaching me that all kinds of words have more than one definition.  There’s a local organization that helps homeless people get into housing so I’ll be calling them tomorrow as well.  I love my sister and we get along great but we’ve made different lifestyle choices – and this apartment is teeny tiny!  

So I am well on my way to becoming healthy, maybe for the first time in my entire life.  I know it will not be a quick or easy process but I’m looking forward to the end result.

 

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

I made it home safe but exhausted on Thursday and was greeted at the airport by my husband and younger daughter who immediately started talking smack about my younger daughter.  Too tired to argue with them I went to bed and stayed home from work on Friday to rest.

Back to work on Saturday and then church and work on Sunday.  Sunday evening, last night, I finally let my husband have it over his attitude regarding our younger daughter.  For the first time in our entire marriage I did not mince words about how I felt and he sat there and took it, apologizing left and right.  I let him know that I do forgive him but that does not mean the damage he did is magically undone and I am still going to have to work through my feelings and these circumstances and I need some space to do that.

Monday, today, I realized that if I was really going to leave him, that now is the time.  And so I left.  I wrote him a goodbye letter, packed up a couple of suitcases and moved in with my sister.

I feel so strange.  I “know” that he is not going to come and find me and drag me back by my hair but I’ve got major, almost paralyzing anxiety that that’s exactly what he’s going to do.  I am surprised at how deeply it grieves me to wound him by leaving and yet I know that if I stay he will continue to wound me and I’m already suicidal more often than I’m not.  I thought I didn’t care anymore what my family (aside from my sister) or his thought about me leaving him and have found that a little, tiny corner of my heart truly is bothered by the negative view I’m sure they’ll have of me now.  Furthermore, I don’t plan on airing our dirty laundry (except for here, because it’s anonymous) to make him look like the bad guy even though I know that will just cause it to look like it’s all my fault to the casual bystander.  There’s a feeling of great relief to be done with him and quite frankly, to be done with my older daughter as well but that feeling is conflicting with my feelings of guilt for destroying my marriage, except my marriage has been destroyed for a long, long time now (and not by me) and we have never, ever had a healthy relationship because neither of us knew how to communicate when we got married over 20 years ago.

I expect my emotions to be at war with each other for a while.  I really wish I could find some movie magic that worked in real life, just press a fast forward button and wake up a year from tomorrow instead of tomorrow morning.  But each journey begins with a single step and I have started a brand-new journey today.  We’re still going to have to find a way to communicate soon because both our names are on the mortgage and we have two children… and who knows, miracles can happen and maybe we’ll get back together someday.  Someday as in years and years down the road after lots and lots of (productive) counseling.

Getting out of an abusive relationship is always the right thing to do whether it’s at school or work, church or the home.  Believing that our marriage qualified as abusive because I was never physically beat up took a lot of convincing for me.  Believing that I’m worth an abuse-free life has required that I change the way I think of myself and has not been easy at all for me to see myself as having value – to me, much less anyone else.  I know a lot of people will paint me black and say I’m an ice queen but I just want to get away and find some healing for myself…

And so I shall.

My younger daughter has been gone for 4 days.  My in-laws have graciously given us the money for me to go see her get married.  I started texting her to talk about when we can get together when I go see her and was completely shocked by her response.

She thought I would only be there for the wedding and was surprised I had planned to be there for 72 hours so she isn’t sure how much time she’ll have to spend with me because she had made plans to spend time with his friends and family.  Our texting conversation went something like this:

I said I wanted to spend at least a little time with her and her fiance, maybe take them to lunch.  She said that his family hasn’t seen him for a year and a half and he will only be home for 11 days so they aren’t willing to share much time with me.  I said I was hoping to get to know him and his family and was wanted to spend some time with all of them.  She said I’m forcing her to chose between him and me.  I said that we’re going to be family now and I thought they would want to meet me just like I wanted to meet them.  She gave me her Future Mother-In-Law’s phone number so we could “hash it out”.

I called FMIL and it was clear from the start that she is not my biggest fan.  I introduced myself, said I was coming to town for the wedding and was hoping to get together with her.  She said she was sure we could find something to talk about.  I asked if there was a good time to get together and she said she was very busy and she’d have to let me know.  I thanked her for taking care of my daughter and she said that she loved my daughter and had nicknamed her “My F-n (name)”.  I said “What?” and she repeated it.  I managed some sort of polite goodbye and hung up the phone, absolutely dumbfounded.

After choking back some tears I called my daughter, who did not seem happy to hear from me.  I told her that I had just spoken with FMIL and she said “Oh, how’d that go?” in a tone that let me know she did not expect it had gone well.  I told her I didn’t think FMIL liked me very much and my daughter says “Well she speaks her mind” which makes me wonder exactly what has my daughter been telling her?  I’m trying not to cry and she asks me if I’m OK.  I decided to be honest and say no, I’m not OK because I don’t think she wants me there.  She gets upset and says of course she wants me there but I have to understand she’s been waiting to see him for 4 months now and I’ve had her for 18 years and just saw her last week.  I tell her I can’t do this and have to go, goodbye, click.  I then felt bad and texted her, apologizing for crying and said I loved her no matter what.

I get a text from FMIL saying my daughter told her I don’t think she likes me.  She “doesn’t judge” but has heard things she doesn’t agree with and is very protective of her son and feels his happiness is the most important thing in the world, being a mom myself, she’s sure I’ll agree.

I text back that my daughter doesn’t want me to be protective of her any more and I’m struggling with it and that she’s chosen to be happy with FMIL and her family.  Since we’re going to be family now I don’t want to steal the precious time they have with their son but I was hoping I could join them in some of their family times while I was there and get to know them.  Hopefully after meeting me they could decide for themselves what kind of person I am.

FMIL texts back that she hasn’t seen her son for a year and a half and only has 11 days with him and admits she is selfish but she has no desire to stop me from being at the wedding and that it’s “kewl” if I want to hang out with my daughter.

That particular spelling seems odd to me for a woman who has 8 kids and multiple grandchildren.  Something else in this text makes me realize that it’s her son who is calling the shots here.  He doesn’t want to spend time with me and has both my daughter and his mother on his side, refusing to allow me into his family.

I can’t believe that my daughter immediately ran to FMIL and told her that I didn’t think she liked me.  I’m realizing that I can’t tell my daughter anything that I don’t want her fiance or FMIL to know and that anything I tell her they’ll know in a matter of moments.  I’ve completely lost whatever relationship I thought I had with my daughter and I can’t believe that I’m going to spend most of a day flying clear across the country to sit miserably in a little hotel room about 2 miles from his house, staring desperately at my cell phone, hoping my daughter will call me and want to spend a little bit of time with me during the relatively few hours I will have where she is before I have to spend another day flying home.

I have never felt so alone or rejected and I’m not sure I’ve ever cried so much in my whole life, this parenting business is becoming more and more overrated by the minute.  I’m absolutely crushed.

And yet I know it’s time to practice what I preach.  I told my husband that all his rules and demands were only pushing her closer to her fiance and farther from us and that he needed to love her unconditionally and move his focus to building a future relationship with her.  Now it’s my turn.  If I make her feel guilty for the way she’s treating me it’s very likely that she will cut me out of her life like she has her father – or that her fiance will direct her to cut me out of her life and she’ll obey.

Somebody commented on my last post that they wanted to encourage me to stay in touch with her and I wanted to let you know, it’s not me you have to worry about staying in touch with her, I just hope she’ll stay in touch with me and that he’ll allow it.

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…

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.