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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
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Sooo… it’s been just over a month since I told my husband we should think about Divorce as an option and just under a month since he told me I was acting just like my mother.

At the end of the I’m-acting-like-my-mother conversation we have agreed that, at least for a while, we will not talk about the church I left that he still attends and it has actually been a (mostly) pleasant month between us.   I have found another church, signed up to join one of their small groups and taken free veggies from their Bountiful Harvest Table.  He is trying extra hard to be loving and kind, thoughtful and sweet and I can see his efforts and I am proud of him for it.  I do actually like him as a person, believe it or not.  On my end I am trying extra hard to be receptive to his changes.

However, I don’t think that I am succeeding very well.  I’m so tired and worn.  I feel broken and damaged and in need of a larger personal bubble for healing.  On top of that I have reached a point where I don’t want to have sex ever again in my whole entire life.  Most likely this feeling will change over time and right now it’s honestly not his fault, he’s been trying so hard to be a good husband, especially over the last month.  He’s being affectionate outside the bedroom by reaching out and grabbing my hand – every single time I walk  by – and he’s wanting to snuggle  – every night – and he’s giving me lots of hugs – nearly every time either he or I walks into or out of a room – and I’m overwhelmed.  It’s too much.  He’s being so terribly sweet and these are all things I wanted very much 10 years ago but my desire for them now has pretty much shriveled up and died.

My prayers of the last 2o years, begging and pleading God to let me enjoy sex have never been answered positively and I’ve stopped praying for that particular request.  At the moment, I’m not praying for much at all except for God to Save Me.

I just turned 41 last month.  Staying with my husband who is trying so hard to be a good man seems like the right thing to do, the “Christian” thing to do, the Good Wife thing to do.  If I go through with my earlier thoughts of divorcing him I WILL be like my mother – in some regards.  I will be the one to blame for dissolving a 20+ year marriage and I won’t be able to give any reason other than I simply don’t want to be married any more and can’t stomach the thought of possibly having another 20 years like the first 20.

Something’s got to give.  I need God to do a miracle in my heart in order for me to stay.  I need God to do a miracle in my courage in order for me to go.

Our youngest daughter turns 18 in early January.  We had planned an extravagant (for us) 18th birthday party for our oldest daughter last year and are attempting to do something similar for our youngest daughter’s 18th this coming year.  In large part because of our youngest daughter I am going to put all my “What do I do” questions aside for now and once we get through the holidays and her birthday party I will reevaluate.  I’ll see where he’s at and where I’m at and go from there.  It’s about three months from now and a lot can happen in that amount of time.

I’m neither suicidal or homicidal but wishful thinking says that just maybe God will take one of us home during that time and I won’t have to confront this situation.  Nah, I can already tell that’s not going to happen.  God’s going to make me walk through this because it will make me stronger and He’s all about Growing Up, maturing, if you will.  Darn it anyway…

So moving forward I plan on:  Focusing on the moment, being present in the moment and planning no further ahead than the next three months; Responding appropriately to my husband and family while focusing on being with them in each moment; Planning a kick-ass birthday party; Surviving Thanksgiving and Christmas (with relatives who are all being super-nice to me right now because my husband has told them what’s going on – seriously, it took them 20 years AND the threat of divorce to be this nice to me?  That’s not really helping their cause much…) and last but not least, taking care of as much debt as possible because whether I go or stay next year having less debt will be a very good thing.  Less debt is always a good thing.

Just another day in paradise, and another, and another…  let’s see if I can get three months of days in paradise, eh?

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.

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.

Yes, those words were used to describe me at about age 13 by my stepfather.  I had no idea what that meant or what I might have done to have been labeled that way, I only knew that those words wounded me in a manner that I couldn’t describe.  My stepfather also said I “looked like a whore” the first time I wore makeup out of the house and many other not very flattering things throughout the two-and-a-half years he was  married to my mother.  Yes, I know, he wasn’t very nice.

My mother had her own issues as well.  She told me, somewhere between the ages of 12 – 16, that I was too forward with men.  She said that I stood too close to guys when I talked to them, that I pushed my chest into them, I touched them too much, and more than once, my mother told me that I was just asking to be raped because of the way I behaved around men, especially ones who were significantly older than me.

I was sooooooo sheltered growing up, we had no television, strictly monitored music choices, carefully selected library books, clothing modest enough to be made fun of all through junior high school and no unsupervised interactions with the opposite sex until I was old enough that they were impossible to prevent.  Add to that the fact that I was raised by a woman who was most likely a sex addict and who was oh so scared to death that her little girl would turn out to be just like her… and I was doomed from the start.

She never taught me how to behave around men and conversely, she never taught me how NOT to behave around men either.  I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 18, and since I graduated at 17 that meant I had already moved out on my own and didn’t live with anyone of whom I could ask questions regarding the many mysteries of dating.  Mom never really welcomed those sorts of questions at any point of my life so I was pretty much on my own.  Doomed, I tell you, doomed…

All of this has come back to haunt me because this last weekend I was a chaperon on my youngest daughter’s music trip.  This involved a 15 hour bus ride there, one day at the competition, one day at a theme park and another 15 hour bus ride back.  My daughter dress and behavior both mortified and horrified me me on this particular trip.  Besides wearing Daisy Dukes, that I naively thought she only wore around the house, paired with either a skin-tight tank top or a mostly see-through shirt my daughter was one of two couples on the bus that were repeatedly asked to stop making out!  I was so embarrassed I cried.  A lot.  I told my daughter that her clothing and behavior made me embarrassed to be her mother at that moment.  She apologized.  We hugged.  She came out the next morning wearing pants and a more modest shirt.  Peace was restored.

The bus ride home started at 10 pm and went through the night so the teacher required girls to sit with girls and boys to sit with boys.  My daughter was The Poster Child for love-sick teenagers all over the world in spite of my changing seats to sit in the seat in front of her and me sitting in that seat cross-way so I could watch her.  Oh. My. Gosh!  That child and her True Love held hands across the aisle, with that Brave Boy sitting very awkwardly in his seat, leaning his head against the back of the chair in front of him so that he could reach his arm forward and hold her hand.  You could almost hear that famous line from The Princess Bride “Wuv, Tuhwooo Wuv”.  I wanted to vomit.  Throughout the long, long drive home I had to tell her to stop laying down in the aisle so she could be closer to him and get back in her seat.  I had her come up and sit with me and we started watching a movie on my laptop.  She said she was going to go to sleep and went back to her own spot where, surprise, surprise, she suddenly became wide awake and started talking with the other boys sitting near her as Prince Charming had finally managed to fall asleep once she stopped being a growth on his hand.  Eventually I fell asleep for a short while (I’m old, I couldn’t help it), only to wake up and see her sitting on his lap.  More tears from me.  She feels bad and says she’s sorry again and goes back to her seat but for the remainder of the trip I am seriously considering suicide, especially because once the sun came up the “girls sitting with girls and boys sitting with boys” rule ended.  I had to stop the other couple from kissing and my daughter went back to sitting openly on Lover Boy’s lap.  I was at my wit’s end. I felt like a failure as both a parent and a chaperon. There was every chance that if I could not stop my daughter and the other couple from excessive public displays of affection that her teacher could get fired and/or the entire music department could get banned from trips requiring bus transportation.  It has happened before in this school district!

I have to admit the thought that my daughter was acting “like a virgin in heat” did come to my mind more than once.

The nightmare finally ended, the bus pulled up to the school and we silently disembarked, wordlessly loaded all our luggage into the car and quietly went home.  In the car on the way she and I started talking and I think we finally, finally connected.  I shared some of my stories about growing up with my mother.  I told my daughter that based on what I saw – and wished I could unsee – from this weekend that she looked like a girl who sleeps around (I specifically did NOT use the “virgin in heat” phrase) and that if I got that impression after only a couple of days with her and her school friends than what were her teachers and fellow students thinking?  What kind of reputation did she have around school?  I then asked her to tell me what kind of girl she is.  She appeared absolutely shocked that her behavior could be interpreted as promiscuous and told me that she does not sleep around.  I chose to believe her.

I really, really hope that this conversation actually got through to her because if it didn’t I don’t know what else I could possibly say to her that would make a difference anymore.  I feel like I’ve failed her somehow, to let her become this desperate, broken, lonely heart but I don’t know how to be a better mom.  I know I’ve done my best but I don’t think it’s good enough and I’m scared for her.  Really scared for her.

Fair warning, today I am on the down side of life.  

I did a full set of sculpted pink and white nails on a fellow student at the beauty school today and they didn’t look very good.  Now for those of you who don’t know, sculpted pink and whites are hard to master and I’ve only done two sets previously so I’m not surprised that they looked Really Bad – but she shouldn’t have been surprised either.  To make it worse she kept saying ouch and telling me to be careful when I was using the dremel to shape the nails after I had applied them.  I was honestly trying my hardest not to hurt her but apparently it wasn’t enough.  When I finally finished (after 3 hours) all I wanted to do was burst into tears and run from the room.  To me, it felt like she thought I was hurting her on purpose, that I did a bad job on purpose and she was sorry she offered to be my guinea pig.  Also, I’m fairly certain she’s going to file them off as soon as she can tomorrow.

The world is full of people who will make me feel the same way when I do their nails, how will I ever manage to have my own nail business someday?

And that set my thoughts off into a bad downward spiral:

1.  We owe the state over $4,000 in taxes from 2007 & 2008 and they are going to garnish our wages soon so we might lose our house this year.
2.  Speaking of the house, we are three months behind in our mortgage payments because I lost my job in September and didn’t get another job until November so there’s another $3,000 we owe that we don’t have.
3.  The beauty school wants me to start paying for my tuition (the verbal agreement when I started was “pay what you can when you can” and the lady – who isn’t there anymore – who signed me up knew I had just lost my job and wouldn’t be able to pay anything for a while) and the school might say I can’t go to any more classes until I’ve paid them.  My total bill is $4,000.
4.  Our power bill is over $1800 because we haven’t been able to pay the power company very much since September when I lost my job.  They put us on a payment schedule of $185/mo until March because it’s winter and we have children in the house so legally they have to work with us without shutting the power off but we keep adding more than that to it every month so what’s going to happen in April?
5.  There’s another $5,000 in medical bills floating around out there, unpaid, because of my youngest daughters post-concussion trips to the ER for migraines…  Can anyone else hear Bankruptcy calling our names?  Either that or it’s a winning lottery ticket…
6.  I’m a bad mom.  I just am.
7.  I’m a horrible human being.  My husband has made all these changes, really super-huge changes, for me over the last year and I just wish he would go away because I don’t want to be married anymore.
8.  I’m a 40-year-old failure because I work at a call center.  This has got to be one of the least prestigious jobs I have ever had.  Receptionist is even sounding pretty good to me right now.
9.  I’m selfish and manipulative and wicked and evil…

Oh wait, was that my mom’s voice I just heard?

Crap.

I’m letting my emotions run wild because a dead woman’s voice is still in my head.

Am I going crazy?

Crappity, crap, crap, crap, crap.

I pray all the time for God to change my heart because I KNOW mine is not right.  I cry and weep and beg God to save me, to fix me, to give me His heart for other people.  To restore my faith and renew my passion for Him.

Instead I feel myself sinking beneath the waves once again.

God I believe, help my unbelief!

I’m finding that the hardest thing to believe right now is that I am lovable and that I am savable…

So what is in my life that is good right now?

1.  I have made one good friend and a lot of fun friends at my new job.
2.  The cosmetology students at the beauty school really seem to like me, one of them even gave me a completely unsolicited hug before he left for the day today.  (Don’t get any crazy ideas, he’s right about the same age as my girls.)
3.  I still have my two best friends.
4.  There’s a new nail tech teacher at the beauty school who really knows his stuff and I’m looking forward to learning from him for the second half of my schooling.  Provided, of course, that I can keep attending classes…
5.  I get to sleep in almost every day because of my new job schedule.  I work four 10’s from 11:30 am to 10 pm and love it because this schedule takes advantage of my body’s natural sleep cycle.
6.  I joined the gym at work and my goal is to use the treadmill, elliptical and/or bicycle at least twice a week to start on my goal of losing 20 pounds.
7.  My new schedule at work gives me a four-day weekend every-other weekend, yay!  I want to take some quick “vacation” trips to the ocean and other fun places this year.
8.  I’ve set up a little nail station in my home and have had several people come over and let me do their nails.
9.  I’ve stopped gaining weight and have been holding steady for almost two months now.

So nine good things to counter nine bad things.  I’m not dead so that’s another good thing, eh?  Life goes on and every day is a chance to start over, there’s another one for the good side…

I guess that the moral of the story is that I have more baggage than a Greyhound bus full of musicians but God has brought me to this place where He’s thrown all my luggage off the bus and He is helping me sort through it before allowing me to travel any further.  I don’t like it but recognize that the process is necessary.

If you pray, please pray for me.  A lot.  If you even think you might have somebody like me in your life please love on them without any strings attached, they need it.

Okie dokie, so it’s been just over a month since my last post and I’m not even sure what I’ve blogged about and what I haven’t…  I’ll start with this – I’M DOING GREAT!

I’m not trying to say my life is perfect because it isn’t, but everything is soooo much better, wow!  A little recap:  I lost my job in the beginning of September, was denied unemployment, started beauty school in the middle of September, my car blew up, my appeal for unemployment was successful and I received everything I was owed from the day I lost my job forward, started a full-time job with great benefits in the middle of November, going to school part-time before I go to work, we had friends over for Thanksgiving and this is my last week of orientation at the new job.  Whew!

On top of all that I am completely off all prescription medication – no sleeping pills, no anti-depressants and no anti-anxiety medication anymore for this girl!  Also – no more counseling or psychiatrist visits!  Life has done a one-eighty for me, the only downside being that I have gained 14 pounds since I started my new job almost 5 weeks ago, ugh…

Financially things are still pretty hairy, we’re recovering from six weeks of only one income so all of our monthly bills are behind – including our mortgage which is 3 months past due – and we actually had to open bank accounts somewhere else because we were so far overdrawn in all our accounts…  😦  So, yeah, life is still kind of scary at times when it comes to money BUT I know it’s going to work out and be OK.  I get my second paycheck from the new job this week and the biggest challenge will be sticking to our budget while at the same time trying to entertain my husband’s parents for a week or so during Christmas.  Gotta love family, eh?

My girls seem to be getting along quite nicely, which is fabulous.  My husband got a second job delivering pizzas on the weekends which has been a great source of pocket cash for extra expenses and I’m very proud of him for working so hard for us.

Speaking of “us”, he and I have been steadily improving too.  Last February I gave him an ultimatum and two months to kick his addiction to pornography and get his act together.  I have to say that I honestly did not expect him to pull it off.  I thought that I would be well on my way to being single by now but he really surprised me.  The amount of effort he has put into saving our marriage and becoming a better human being, man, father and husband has truly shocked me, it really has.  I’m so very impressed and wish I had stood up for myself a long time ago, although it may not have had the same results 10 years ago as it did this last year…

And while words can’t really express how pleased and proud of him I am, now we get to the storm cloud of my silver lining – because nobody’s life can be all rainbows and unicorns, eh?  I’ve recently discovered that now my heart has some changing to do.  It was very unflattering to discover exactly how much of me wanted my husband to fail so I could finally get a divorce – be free! – and it would be his fault.  I think (now) that has been the biggest reason I never left, it couldn’t be my fault that my marriage didn’t work.  Twisted logic, I know, but consider my upbringing:  My mom left my dad when I was in grade school and I never thought she should have, I always believed their marriage could have been saved if she had tried harder and the things I learned after I became an adult only supported that belief – making the divorce her fault – and I have done everything I could think of to be as little like my mom as possible.

I think God used my faulty reasoning for good.  If I had left when I “should have”, according to some people, none of this would have happened.  My husband wouldn’t be a nice guy now.  My children wouldn’t have this fun-filled relationship with their father, full of teasing, smiles and laughter and none of us would have experienced how completely God can change a life.  There are still some days that aren’t great but those days are much fewer and farther between than they were even just a year ago.  I KNOW that everything is going to be OK now!

So all in all I am ecstatic to be off my medications…  I’m thrilled with my school and new job…  I am excited about my children’s improved relationship with each other…  I am in shock and awe of the “new man” I have for a husband…  I’m a little nervous about our finances…  and I am trusting in God to complete the work He started.

I think this is a good place to end a year and begin a new one.

Well… not really.  But Dawn is the name my mother wanted to name me and my dad said no.

I hadn’t thought about that in years – I was so young when my mom told me that I had almost forgotten it completely.  Or more like it slipped through the cracks and landed on the “Miscellaneous Trivia” pile in the back of my brain that I shuffle through from time to time, for example, the other day when I was telling my own children what their names would have been if they were a boy… and the girl’s name I wanted to use but their father told me no with both of them.

What I do remember is I was young enough that when Mom told me she wanted to name me Dawn I thought “Why would you want to give me a boy’s name?”   That was so unlike her, she was very “boys should be boys and do boy things and girls should be little ladies and do girl things” so thinking she wanted to name me “Don” really puzzled me.  It also made me wonder if she had wanted me to be a boy instead of a girl – or maybe I really was a boy but something went wrong…  I’m pretty sure this is proof that I over-think things and always have. <sigh>

It “dawns” on me that this may be one of the few things that Dad said no to that Mom actually obeyed him on… hmm…  Different blog topic there…

At any rate, I started to wonder why Mom picked the name Dawn.

No matter where you try to look it up “Dawn” means “daylight, daybreak and sunrise” pretty much everywhere.  It’s a very literal word, not a lot of hidden meanings or secret messages found there.  For symbolism it represents things like starting over, a new day, hope, end of darkness and 99.9% of the time “dawn” is associated with good things.  Just hearing the word “dawn” usually brings positive feelings, right?  Unless you’re a night owl like me and someone says “We’re leaving at dawn”.  Then I just wanna cry and it’s not because the sunrise is so beautiful…

As her first-born maybe Mom was looking at my birth as the beginning of a new chapter in her life, the start of a different way of living, change, fresh hope, something good finally coming her way…

It would seem that she most likely thought of me as her new beginning, which is both eye-opening and sobering.  I wonder if my not meeting her expectations and failing to be the perfect child led her to withdraw herself from me, making me feel unloved by her and never good enough for most of my life.  Because that’s exactly what I’ve done with my own children.  My poor girls, they probably would have been better off if I had given them up for adoption at birth, God forgive me for being such a selfish mother!

Each time I became pregnant I expected to give birth to someone who would love me unconditionally.  I thought the mother-child bond was automatic because kids love their mothers, right?  I wasn’t being loved unconditionally by my own family so I guess it was rather unreasonable to expect it from my own children.  When I finally acknowledged that my children didn’t love me the way I wanted them to and it seemed that they barely even liked me, well, I just shut down and stopped pursuing a relationship with them entirely until just about a year ago.  Now they’re both in high school and I’m trying to stop being their mother and just be their friend so that we have some sort of teeny-tiny foundational relationship to keep us in touch after they leave home.

Looking back I see that is precisely what my mother did with me.  I shouldn’t be so hard on her, she did try her best.  I never wanted to be like her but look at me now, wow…

I’m afraid it’s too late – I’m afraid that my daughters will graduate, go to college and come home for the obligatory Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners with no phone calls or emails in between.  That’s a horribly depressing thought…

I need a Dawn of my own, a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate, light breaking into dark places and making them bright and free.   I am Saved but what I need is a revival, a fresh awakening, a re-filling.  I need dawn to come and break the darkness in my heart.

I think maybe I failed my mother by not being her Dawn.  I wish she were still alive, I think I’m finally brave enough to talk to her about these sorts of things now.

My dawn, my sunrise is here – Jesus is my new beginning.  All I have to do is Trust and Obey, Just Keep Swimming, stop living in the past and accept the gift of still having a future.

So I’m normally a very non-confrontational person but after writing my blog yesterday I was so upset that I confronted him on a few of the topics that bothered me the most.

Number one was me feeling like I did not have the right to say no to his sexual affection and what on earth happened to all the non-sexual affection we agreed on for this two month period that ends in a couple of weeks?

Number two was that if he wasn’t getting advice from anyone on how to treat me right why the <bad, bad words> did he wait until I said I was leaving his bed to pull out the manual on “How to be a Good Husband”, dust it off and put it into practice?  That, I think, is what upsets me the most – the fact that as far as I can tell he didn’t think that I was worth being nice to until I tried to move out of the bedroom.  And I never said divorce, I didn’t even say that he had to move out or leave the house, I just said I was going to move into the guest room and he was going to have to work on his sexual addiction and prove to me there was major progress in his life before I would sleep with him again.  But apparently that’s all it took for Prince Charming to come out of wherever he had buried him for the last 20 years – the thought that he would be cut off from his daily dose of sex.  Ugh.

Number three was the way he kept phrasing that whole “I’m letting you have more control in our relationship right now but…”

My husband has a silver tongue and while answering my questions last night he was very convincing that he was trying hard to change his ways and we’re both still getting used to the big, new changes in our relationship, and he didn’t mean the “control” statement the way I took it… blah, blah, blah…

I still don’t see that his heart has really changed – but to be fair he is putting quite a bit of effort into changing his words and actions towards me so Kudos to him for that.  His efforts do touch my heart but in more of a sad way because I know the outward changes will never last without inward changes and he has to want his heart to change regardless of whether our relationship survives this year or not.  I’d like him a whole lot more if he was pursuing living a holy lifestyle for his own sake instead of pursuing me for a sex “fix” (and so that he doesn’t have to be the first person in his family to get a divorce, now there’s a stigma that his immediate family would never let him live down.)

I left him tonight.  That feels really good to say, actually, but it’s not a permanent thing and yes, I did get his permission.  I am spending the night at a friend’s house tonight (Saturday) and am not going to church with my family tomorrow (Sunday).  He wants me back home at noon… why you ask?  Because I did, I asked why.  Especially since he and the girls won’t be home from church until closer to 1 pm.  Do you sense an ulterior motive here?  I did because yes indeedy, the reason he wants me home at noon is so I can have lunch ready for them when they walk in the door from church.  I feel like he’s trying to punish me for not going to church with him or maybe it’s that he couldn’t contain the control freak any longer – or possibly it’s a bit of both…  So yes Master, I will do my best to have lunch on the table when you get home tomorrow.

I’d like to buy a bucket of KFC and just leave it on the counter for when they get home and be out shopping myself because I really don’t want to be there spending time with him.  Why else do you think I asked for a schedule at work that keeps me out of the house until almost 7 pm Tues – Friday?  That particular schedule means that I don’t have to be home with my disapproving husband and ungrateful children for any longer than necessary before bedtime.

Me, me, me, me.  I realize that everything I write makes him look like a terrible, horrible guy and I’m the total victim with no faults of my own and that’s not entirely accurate.  (I know, shocking, isn’t it!)  I have areas where I’m not a great wife/mother/friend/person either.  Yes, sad but true.  And to be completely fair you’re only getting one side of the story so it obviously can’t be 100% his fault.  (But honestly, you keep choosing to come back and read about my life – so maybe you or someone you know deals with this stuff too???)

I’ve felt like a victim my entire life and now that I’m finally acknowledging and dealing with that particular issue – and trying to STOP being a victim – I’m realizing that I married a male version of my paranoid, control-freak mother.  I’m now terrified that my girls will marry a man like their father and then I’ll get to watch them re-live my lonely, heart-breaking life, and I’ll watch their children re-live it… it’s the saddest story ever told and it’s played out in thousands of people’s lives in America every day… but the thought of my girls, My Girls, living through what I’ve survived, well, that just destroys me.  Even though my girls are ungrateful as all get-out and extremely self-centered I don’t want them to have to live through a marriage like mine.  I don’t even want you – whoever you are – to have to live through a marriage like mine.  It’s not worth it.

And that is why my constant prayer is “Save me, save me, save me…”  Because in saving me I know God will save my daughters as well.

I have so many ideas on what to blog but I feel scatterbrained and unable to complete an entire blog on anything…

I want to write a letter to all my husband’s relatives (and a few of mine too) and explain my life to them so they would hopefully understand why I behave in ways they deem “rude”.  I can totally see this as something that would turn into a bestselling book/booklet and millions of people could buy it and hand it to other people and say “Just read it, this explains everything”.  Lol.

I want to write about the Orchestra trip to Portland with my youngest daughter… okie dokie, what I wrote here is actually long enough – and crazy enough – to be its own post so look for it soon 🙂

I want to write about passing Day 30 and how my husband has stayed Prince Charming 98% of the time – a new record for him!  The biggest proof so far of his new-found love and devotion for me is the fact that I mentioned at some point that I only own two bras and one of them has a broken underwire that pokes and pinches me.  He actually went to Walmart, on his very own, and purchased two bras – and even got the size right – although though it nearly embarrassed him to death to be seen anywhere near women’s undergarments in public, much less than purchasing them with a male checker.  He said he was nervous and beet red and kept looking around for another checker… I found that to be hilarious and bordering on true romance at the same time.

I want to write about the beauty of the waterfalls that seem to be everywhere and the greenness of spring that has already come, at least to Portland.  Visual beauty restores peace in my soul and I start to feel again.  There is so much water here that everything is alive and green – even mundane landscaping seems beautiful to me, is that weird?  Maybe I should move to Portland or Seattle someday?

I want to write about work and how I’m feeling like I will never be fast enough to do a good job like the other girls but I’m confident that I am doing my very best and truly can’t do any better.  I am and always have been very thorough in whatever job I do… but always at the cost of speed.  I’m not a slow poke by any means but I’ve never been Speedy Gonzalez either.  At this point I’m kind of waiting for them to fire me in the not-so-distant future and hoping I can talk them into just laying me off instead because A) I believe I was poorly trained and have brought that to their attention many times and B) My medical issues truly do prevent me from doing the job properly.  If I were laid off I could at least get unemployment and I would LOVE not to have to work for a while because both life and home are so overwhelming for me right now… all I want to do is sleep all day, every day.  I’m scared to lose this job though because the benefits are so excellent and how on earth will we be able to pay for everything my daughter with Post Concussion Symptom needs?  Also I won’t be able to get my own pills for depression, anxiety and insomnia or go to the doctor without the insurance, but then again, maybe I won’t need all the remedies for stress if I don’t have this stressful job, eh?

I want to write about the book I read on Boundaries – for several months now I’ve been on this journey of “finding myself” and never would have thought to phrase it as “I’m looking for my boundaries” because that seems like a negative thing – like someone else is trying to “fence me in” and limit me but honestly, I am looking for my boundaries because everything within my boundaries is me and defines who I am.  My skin is my physical boundary, everything outside it cannot be called by my name, but where are my emotional and relational boundaries?  The book talked about how children will either spend all their energy on surviving their childhood or they will thrive in their childhood and use all their energy to develop the skills they will need as an adult.  I’m realizing that I survived my childhood and there are a lot of skills that I don’t have.  I think my husband probably survived his childhood as well, we are each missing some of the same skills and there are a few skills that one of us lacks that but other has… it makes for a very confusing life together and I can’t imagine what we’ve done to our children.  I’m sure they survived/are surviving and can’t wait to get away from us, sorry girls.

I want to write about Panic Attacks since my body keeps trying to make me think I’m having a heart attack and I refuse to believe it anymore because every single time I’ve gone to the ER for these symptoms the doctors say it’s “just a Panic Attack” and that my heart is quite healthy… and then they hand me a very large bill, some of them I’m still paying for, ugh!

I want to write about beautiful music and how it breaks the ice around my soul and gives me emotions I haven’t had in years.  Right now the music that touches me the most is “New Age”, stuff like Yanni and Enya.  Soothing, beautiful melodies and harmonies with very few words but because of it’s categorization (New Age) my mother was very against me listening to it in high school.  She thought it was spiritually liked to some sort of cult.  There’s way more to that story but I will have to make another blog about it some other time.

I want to write about Farmville and how that stupid game gives me a sense of accomplishment just by feeding electronic animals and harvesting electronic crops that I rarely feel in the real world.  I stopped playing it for years at my husband’s request but my children started playing it so now we “farm” together – yes, I know, what a great family activity in this age of technology – it’s a true bonding activity for the girls and me. <snicker>

Each one of these topics seems worthy of its own blog entry and yet feel like I’ve just emptied my head about all of them.  I’m so tired and very weary… and yes, they really are two different things.

Right now I’m growing, I’m changing and I’m in a season of chaos.  Yet I’m learning that this is not the end, it’s actually another beginning.  Hope stirs within me like a crocus pushing through the snow in spring… winter is not quite over but the worst seems to be past and I may yet still bloom!