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I had this great post written out and then I lost it… so long story short – I’m doing well now.  I wrote my last post towards the end of a really bad depression spiral and had a really horrible, nasty day a few days latter and then I snapped out of it and now I’m fine.  Most days really, truly are good for me, I just tend to write more when I’m in the depths of a depression episode because it’s therapeutic.  Lucky you.

I am currently not interested in dating anyone anymore.  Not sure why but it does make life easier and I am at peace, lol.  I was all twitterpated for about three weeks over my 26 year old former co-worker but that disappeared overnight and although I have no clue why my romantic feelings towards him are gone I am completely OK with it.  He doesn’t communicate enough to make a relationship with me work and I see that now – after I finally looked away from the bright light of Possibly Not Being Alone Anymore…

My nephew’s graduation turned out great, the ex didn’t show, although his parents did, and I wound up having a really nice chat with them.  Tina and I stayed at my best friend’s house and had a good time.

I’m going to try and specialize in facials, body waxing and eyelash extensions since there are tons of hair stylists in this tiny town I live in but very few people offering any of those three services.  Besides, hair isn’t my favorite anyway and I just don’t feel like I’m that great at it either, ha, ha…

Waitressing is still going well, tips are getting better and I’ve even lost some more weight, yay!  I’ve lost 13 pounds since I started this job last September but I’m hoping to lose another 30 in the next year.  I just set up my Wii and have the Zumba disc, hopefully that will help 😀

I’ve started reading books again, partly because our internet here at the house absolutely sucks but also because I’ve tired of always having something on the television.  It’s been probably 5 years since I’ve really sat down to read a book, I forgot how much I enjoy it!

A co-worker invited me to lunch a week or so ago and it was a lot of fun, I think it’s a good start to an away-from-work friendship and the beginning of a social life so woo hoo!

Overall, everything is back to normal and going well.  I’ve had almost all good days in the last couple of weeks.  I’m not panicking about giving up my life for my daughter and/or her baby anymore.  Life isn’t scary and I’m not feeling stuck here any more.

I can breathe again.  It was just the depression, kicking my butt for a short time.

I’m going to be OK.

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My laptop has been trying to die and therefore blogging has been difficult so I will try to catch up since Easter in a brief and succinct fashion… to be brief and amazing, so to speak, ha, ha…

It took almost 6 weeks to get my cosmetology license, after 4 weeks I emailed the state to find out what was taking so long and they replied with “oh, we need more information”.  Apparently they needed confirmation – again – of my Idaho nail license, the same one they already verified to give me my Montana nail license 2 years ago.  Sooo frustrating…  but I requested the information that they required and my license was emailed to me the next day so all’s well that ends well I guess, right?

The day I got my license I started getting sick, which turned out to be the B strain of the flu virus – the worst strain, this year – and kept me out of working both of my jobs for a week – AND – I gave the flu to my pregnant daughter.  That was terrifying for me, the thought that harm may come to her and the baby because of me but she was diagnosed early enough in the course of it that she could take the Tamiflu whereas I was stubborn about going to the doctor and waited too long so I could only tough it out.  I have never been so sick in my life and I feel a wee bit lied to.  I didn’t throw up once so how could it have possibly been the flu?  That’s why I didn’t go to the doctor right away, I thought I just had a bad cold… ugh.  An unfortunate side-effect of having the flu and being out of work for a week was that I could not afford to go to my oldest daughter’s graduation from the little college her church has.  I really wanted to be there to show her that I was there for her, that I am willing to travel and spend the time and money to be as much a part of her life as she will let me and because of a virus she probably thinks that I just didn’t want to go and made up being sick to get out of it.

This whole month of May has been very defeating for me overall…

I’ve gotten better at waitressing and as much as it is NOT the job I want for the rest of my life I have accepted that it pays the bills and is a necessary part of my life for the foreseeable future.  It is also very much like going to the gym and getting paid for being there as it is more exercise than I will ever get cutting hair or doing nails, lol.  The shift in my mindset seems to have improved my service at the restaurant and the managing waitresses have noticed so that is good and tips have been better too so that’s one for the plus side!

Tina and Sean will probably never get back together, that is becoming more and more clear.  Sean seems to have stopped gambling and has cut back his drinking again to focus more on his music and creative endeavors.  They both go to the doctor appointments together and the ultrasounds – she’s having a girl, by the way, I’m so excited! – and they’re getting along fairly well.

Sean and I, on the other hand, have become fairly close.  We communicate almost every day and we are there for each other in life’s little ups and downs.  It bothers Tina something fierce and I’m not entirely sure what to do about it.  He has become a dear friend – nothing more and nothing less – but I don’t want to give that up just to make her feel better.  We all have to get along for the rest of our lives because of the baby, why not get along well?  She is the only one who struggles with he and I getting along.  His mom and I are starting to be friends as well and Tina definitely struggles to have a relationship with Sean’s mom, she is a very black-and-white sort of person and I think it reminds her too much of her father and sister.

I haven’t gone back to FetLife for a while but the Montana man and I have continued emailing.  I found out, after 7 weeks of emailing him, that he was married.  I was starting to think we could be more than friends and so when I found out I immediately friend-zoned him, which he accepted fairly graciously and we have continued to email back and forth several times a week.  I do enjoy having a simple, normal conversation with him – even though he would still like it if we could meet up and “cuddle” – but he is not pushy about it so that’s probably as good as it’s going to get for me right now.

Tina and I were invited, at the last minute, to my father’s birthday dinner and it was nice to see him, my step-mother and my step-sister along with her son and finance.  My step-mother paid for everyone’s meals but ours and then texted me the next day apologizing for the fiance who talked non-stop about the wedding that Tina and I aren’t invited to.  It was a crazy dinner and they all had obviously given my father his gifts earlier, at his home, without us.  I’m sorry I ever moved to Montana to get to know my dad.  He was happy to see Tina and me at his dinner but nobody else was and I cannot get closer to him without his suffering repercussions from his wife so I have less of a relationship with him than ever.  I should have moved to the Oregon Coast like I wanted to, dammit.

But if I had never moved here I would not be having a granddaughter and everything inside me screams that it is very important she exists.  I believe she is going to change the world.  But how?

I am also enjoying living just a few hours from my best friend, instead of the 8 hour drive it was before I moved to Montana.  She still lives in the same city we both moved to after graduating high school and even though I swore to never live there again it has become a tempting thought to me to go back just to be closer to her and other friends from high school, I could have a social life and girlfriends again, maybe even find someone to date…

The beginning of June Tina and I are going to attend my nephew’s high schoo graduation and spend time with my best friend. Also in attendance will be my ex-husband, his wife and my former in-laws. I am not expecting to have a good time at the graduation – or at the BBQ at my own brother’s house afterwards – because of them.  Hopefully I am wrong…

Forgive me, I am not in bright spirits right now.

I signed up on Match.com and it’s been the weirdest thing – when I was on the free dating sites I received  many messages and quite a bit of interest from the men there.  The minute I pay for a membership at a site with a better reputation every little bit of interest dried up like I was suddenly in the middle of the salt flats of Utah.  I finally stepped out of my comfort zone and initiated contact with 5 men.  One of them sent a polite “no thank you” and one responded, we had a coffee date and then he sent me a message saying that we were not a good match.  The other three did not respond at all.

There is a slim chance that a nice man I used to work with likes me.  I feel like he likes me and I have become very fond of him.  He is tall and handsome, a gentle soul, kind of introverted – like me – and a man of few words.  I could love him easily.  The catch is that he is only 26 and I suspect that no matter how much he may like – or love – me, it is not enough to overcome the 18 years of difference between us, something I have been considering in depth recently and have decided that I don’t care about an age gap anymore.  If a man is of a character that I would date him then it doesn’t matter what age he is.

I’m feeling tired, worn out with no end in sight and very, very alone.  Forever alone…

I’m in a tiny town with hardly any chance of meeting anyone new, male or female, for dating or for friendship.  My purpose in moving to Montana has been defeated by my father’s wife.  What’s best for me would to be closer to my support network of my best friend and high school friends but if I move I either lose the closeness I’ve gained with Tina and will miss out on being a part of her daughter’s life – OR – she moves with me, I am never have space of my own again and Sean misses out on being a part of his daughter’s life.  There is no win-win here.  My leaving to better my own life costs other people. My staying costs me but would make sure my daughter has help and support with her infant after delivery will also ensure that the child will be safe and taken care of in spite of the fact that my daughter has little to no experience with children, especially infants.  Both Tina and Sean like to drink and smoke pot.  Tina has not drank a drop since she learned she was pregnant but she continues to smoke cigarettes, although less of them, and she still smokes pot, but again, less of it than before she was pregnant.  Will she go back to these things once she delivers?  Probably.  Will Sean be safe to leave his child in his care or will he drink and smoke pot while he has her?  I firmly believe that he would never purposefully endanger his child but I also wonder if he might think that his taking a hit here, a drink there wouldn’t affect her.

I don’t know and the not knowing is eating away at me.  It traps me here and I am entering another round of depression and hopelessness.  How can I leave and risk my grandchild’s well-being?  Staying feels like I would be, once again, devoting my entire life to another person and, in exchange, giving up any rights to a life of my own.  Somewhat like being trapped in my marriage again.  I don’t want to go back to that place in my head, in my heart again.  But if I don’t what happens to the child?  Tina’s getting pregnant has changed everything.

Everything.

And now everything is about the child. I have to keep her safe.

Three days ago my best friend from high school’s mom died very unexpectedly. That was Friday and today, Monday, my BFF was scheduled to have a surgery that she could not postpone so I drove the 8 hours to come stay with her children while her husband was with her in the hospital for the surgery, which went great and she is recovering nicely.

It was outpatient so she came home and went straight to bed.  I decided to go visit one of my brothers who lived about an hour away because he was really wanting to get together since I was in the area – and that’s a bit unusual for him, honestly.

It was a good visit, it really was.  We talked about lots of stuff, work, kids, dogs, horses, the usual…  I asked them if they knew my ex was engaged and not only did they know but they had met her.  He brought her all the way up to have dinner with my two brothers and their wives on the same trip he took her home to introduce her to his parents.

Why in God’s name did that make me cry the entire hour I drove back to my friend’s house?

I had to really think about it.

Before I go any further I should explain my position on my ex-husband’s new relational status. I left him at the end of January, 2015, we were still trying to “work things out” up until April of 2015 and our divorce was finalized in mid-May 2015.  That means he has been legally single for fourteen and a half months and I was absolutely expecting him to be dating by now because he has never done well on his own and with his sexual addiction a celibate life just won’t work for him.  But to be engaged right now, that blew me away.  Huh.  Although it does tell me that he was over me a long time before I left him in order to meet, date and propose to someone else this quickly.  So I totally did the right thing in leaving because his heart hadn’t been in trying to make our marriage work for years but he was continuing to do so out of duty and obligation, as was I.  That’s a recipe for hell on earth right there in my humble opinion…

So aside from being a wee bit bitter that I had to be the one to leave in spite of his wanting to move on as much or more than I did I think it’s funny that physically she’s shaped a lot like me and looks similar enough to me that I’m sure people will mistake her as the natural mother of our firstborn daughter – or worse – her sister because she looks closer in age to our oldest daughter than to him, lol!

But honest-to-God, the primary feeling I have about his engagement is overwhelming relief.  Over. Whelming.  Relief.  Hopefully he will stop being mad at me now that he has someone else in his life.  And believe it or not, I’m happy for him.  I wish them well and I hope that she will stand up to him and make him a better man, that she won’t put up with the things that make him a bully and that she’ll improve his relationship with his children, especially our youngest, whom I keep telling to give her future step-mom an honest chance and try to be her friend because she could be the best thing that ever happened to him and hopefully she is exactly who he needs.  I know I wasn’t.

I said as much to my brothers (not the bitter or funny part, just the happy for him and told my daughter to give her a chance part) and I could tell they were startled by my words but why, dear God, why won’t they actually ask me the questions they want to know the answers to?  They just won’t ask any questions at all about how I’m feeling or what I think about situations.  Ugh, brothers!

But back to why I cried all the way home, I was trying to pinpoint the source of my soul-hurt and this is what I realized:

My brothers like him more than me.  Truth accepted.

My brothers are more on his side than mine in all things, the divorce, our beliefs in God, parenting, etc.  Truth accepted.

Introducing her to MY brothers and not just his relatives on their we-just-got-engaged trip makes me feel cut out of my own family.  Absolute truth although probably not done intentionally but still very hurtful.

It’s not enough that his family hates me but he wants mine to completely dislike me as well because he’s the righteous one and I’m the evil sinner so he’s trying to get my own brothers to replace me with her.  99.9% probability that this is not truth but I could definitely see him thinking that way.  Extremely hurtful.

My brothers value their friendship with him over their relationship with me and have a stronger sense of loyalty to him than to me because they participated in an event that could only make me feel excluded AND they made a big outing of it at a fancy and very expensive restaurant.  They didn’t tell him that meeting her would be like saying he was their brother more than I was their sister and so they must regretfully decline.  They didn’t say it was not a good idea because they are his ex-wife’s family, not  his family and it would be awkward, for them and for his fiancé, to spend a dinner together.  They didn’t stand up for me, even the tiniest bit.

Aaahhh… there it is, that is why I cried for an hour.  I feel betrayed by my brothers in favor of him.

Life is hard sometimes and then it gets better.  And then worse and then better again.  This is one of those worse days but soon life will be good more than it’s hard… I’m looking forward to that!

 

I am almost ready to move!  I am excited, nervous, annoyed, frantic, happy and going crazy all at the same time.  Hopefully by the end of August everything will haven fallen into place and I can go. This is a game-changer…

No more working 55+ hours and 6 days a week.  I’m so tired of not being able to do anything but work, eat and sleep!

No more spending nearly every waking minute with my Vietnamese family.  I still love them all dearly and am more grateful than words can express for the love and care they have shown me over this last year, they truly scooped me up and healed me with their acceptance as I was recovering from my divorce and I’ll never forget that.  Now, by the way, my Vietnamese family consists of about 20 people as some of their friends and family members also love me and claim me as their family too!  In many ways they are just so amazing and I’m sad to leave them.

But the Asian culture is very different from what I’m used to and I’ve hit a wall in certain areas – I just can’t do it anymore and it breaks my heart.  Fair warning, I’m going to do a little venting here but please read it knowing that I would still fight to the death for any one of them…

With the four siblings who initially took me in, there is a lot of anger, raised voices and unfair/unfounded accusations whenever they are upset about something they perceive that I have done wrong.  Very rarely have I actually done anything wrong but because English is hard our communication is not always the greatest and what they see or hear is filtered through their cultural background and not usually interpreted correctly in regards to me because I have an entirely different cultural background that they don’t comprehend most of the time.

One example is that any time I speak softly to a customer (or to the other white girl nail tech we had for 6 weeks) they automatically assume I am saying bad things about them.  Soooooo not true!  It’s a salon, you overhear a lot of conversations and most the time people are just telling me things they don’t want everyone to hear and repeat.  Occasionally I’m explaining to a customer (or the new, white girl nail tech) the beliefs and superstitions of my Vietnamese family – things like why they don’t let customers put their purses on the floor, why they offer food to Buddha, why they just did something that doesn’t make sense…  The rest of the time I’m telling them something personal about my life that I don’t want everyone to hear and repeat.  I know so many people’s secrets about their boyfriends, husbands, girlfriends, children, parents, finances, jobs, you name it and trust me, not everything should be spoken loudly and some things I hear shouldn’t be spoken at all.  But I NEVER speak badly of my Vietnamese family and it hurts my heart that they would even think I would do such a thing.

Another example, they have accused me of trying to get bigger tips by taking my time with my “favorite” customers and going too quickly with the “shop” customers (walk-ins and other employee’s normal customers who couldn’t get their usual nail tech that day).  Also not true.  A great many of “my” customers are elderly and have thick toenails, tons of dead skin, cuticles with a Napoleon complex that are trying to conquer the entire toenail and calluses that could remain undamaged from everything short of a nuclear bomb.  They. Just. @#!&* Take. Longer.  And because I’m really good with the aging and very kind and patient with those who have dementia I have a lot of women who bring me their mothers and a whole slew of retired ladies who send me their husbands and then give me good tips because I am so gracious to their loved one.  I have a soft spot for the elderly, what can I say?  I don’t take longer because I’m trying to get bigger tips, I do it because it needs to be done and because I take the time to do it well people come back and request me.  It’s not about the money but I’ve been yelled at four times now for it and they refuse to accept my explanation that some people’s feet take longer, they keep telling me to stop trying to get bigger tips by taking more time.

Also, their view of how to treat The Boss seems to be much closer to The Boss is The King.  Therefore trying to bring clarity to a situation, by explaining something, is usually seen as disrespectful because I’m correcting The Boss.  So how the hell do I communicate about anything if I’m not allowed to speak and if they won’t listen to what I do manage to say?

One final vent for today…  I keep – entirely on accident – running into cultural landmines.  The first one I did they thought was funny, I gave daisies to one of the girls for her birthday, only to find out that daisies are used to pray to Buddha for the dead at the temple so they’re the equivalent of funeral flowers.  Oops! My bad!  But then I hit a couple that they got upset over, told me about and quickly cooled down because they acknowledge that I didn’t know what it was I did.  This last one, however, was a doozy!  I had a problem with my service ticket not matching the book we wrote all of our charges down in.  I had written $47.50 on my ticket and they wrote $35 in the book.  I had always been told the purpose of the book and the tickets was to make sure everything was correct and if I had a question that I should just ask them.  So I did.  Except the one guy I needed to ask was sitting with most of the other guys from the shop and they all got involved.  Once they thought they understood what I was saying I wasn’t allowed to say another word and in the end I was told the book was right and to stop worrying about it.  I went and double-checked the book and it was not right so – in the only expression of frustration I’ve displayed in the entire time I’ve been there – I tossed my ticket book into the little alcove where they were kept.  Now I did not throw it, I did not slam it down on the desk, the ticket book is probably two inches by six inches and I was holding it by one end.  All I did was toss it so that it spun around a time or two before it landed and as I tossed it I said “It’s still not right” and went to sit down, accepting the fact that I was shorted $12 on that service.  The youngest girl in the shop, one of their daughters, goes outside and tells the oldest brother that I threw the ticket book and all the guys come boiling back into the shop and I get this huge lecture – in front of customers – about why did I throw the ticket book?  Why was I making such a big deal about $5?  How could I treat them this way after they had been so nice to me?  How could I be so rude after they had taken me in and treated me like family?  Why was I so disrespectful after they spent so much money on me by taking me out to dinner, buying me coffees all the time and even paying for me to go to Las Vegas with them?  O.M.G.  I was in complete and utter shock, I knew I had done a cultural no-no but couldn’t figure out why tossing my ticket book had such an effect on them.  I apologized over and over again to no avail.  Two days later we had an hour-and-a-half meeting after work where they explained that to throw down your ticket book is a huge insult and sign of disrespect in their culture.  Apparently it’s like quitting and demanding your wages all at the same time in the most angry way possible.  I apologized yet again but this time was not given any grace for not knowing what I did was wrong in their culture – it was still completely my fault and I had to be punished for it – although the guy who lectured me in front of the customers did apologize for not taking it into the back room, apparently that was the only thing he was at fault for…

That meeting, by the way, was when we lost the new white girl tech who had been hanging on by a thread for the entire six weeks she’d been with us.  She’d been wanting to quit from the get-go because their teaching style is so fierce and their expectations were far too high for someone who just came out of beauty school but I kept talking her into staying until that day.  The way they were so angry and yelling at me because of that incident was too much for her.  She started to cry and they asked her why she was crying and she said it was because they were being so mean to me and then they got angry with her, saying they weren’t being mean to me, they love me like family and were treating me as such.  Huh.  Lucky me to be loved like that…  But in the end she left work that day and never came back.

Truth be told, that day I wanted to leave too.

I think that was when I realized that as much as I love these people, it’s time to move on.  It’s time to go forward with my own life, to build a world for myself and not just live in theirs.  To begin reaching for the stars and trying to see some of my dreams become reality.  And in that moment I made the decision to go back to beauty school and get my full-on cosmetology license followed immediately by my instructors license.  That way I will have the knowledge necessary to open a learning salon where the newly licensed beauty professional can come and work for a year or two in order to gain the speed and quality of service necessary to secure a good job in a professional salon – or even open their own shop.

Just a little FYI for you – right now, when you graduate nail school you have to find a salon owner who is willing to put up with your mistakes and tolerate your learning curve knowing you might lose many of their customers in the process.  It’s not an easy thing to do, trust me – I’ve been there, and when you do finally get a job you’re not allowed to work on very many customers.  So the owner turns down customer after customer while you sit there twiddling your thumbs because you’re not good enough…

Seriously, it’s hard for the newly licensed to succeed in the nail industry!  Which is why I wanted to open a learning nail salon – but the more I think about it the more I want to make it available to every newly licensed beauty professional; those licensed in cosmetology, esthetics and nail techs.  Therefore, I need a cosmetology and teaching license of my own so that I can be a mentor to every group and I am going back to school to get those licenses and then I will pursue opening a learning salon.

Life is just one bold adventure after another and all I have to do is keep putting one foot in front of the other, who knows where I’ll end up?  But it will be a good place, of that I’m sure!

Forgive me friends, for I have been busy, it’s been 8 months since my last blog…

Since November, in mostly chronological order, all of this stuff has happened:

In early December I had a hysterectomy – it went well, I recovered quickly and my life-long anemia is gone, yay!  Sadly, my need to chew ice is also gone which means I’m not drinking enough water anymore <sigh>.  Overall it was a super good trade though, especially since there is an entire row in the grocery store I can avoid now, whoo hoo!

I went to visit my dad twice, once in December and again in April.  Both trips were good and made me realize that moving to be near him is definitely the right thing to do.

Christmas was a little disappointing, mostly because my household of kiddos left me for their parents homes so it wound up just being me and my sister for most of the day, binge watching Netflix and missing the bounty of a holiday table prepared for lots of people.  It made me realize that being able – or not being able – to give isn’t what lost the Christmas “magic” for me, it was being with people I love and who love me back and that honestly hasn’t happened for years and years… and years.

Online dating, yes, that happened too.  I tried three different sites – I started with Christian Mingle, figuring that I would be most comfortable there and found Tom.  We were chatting up a storm using their online messenger service and I was really enjoying his writing style, I felt like we were clicking and had been messaging each other for a good hour when all of a sudden he blocked me.  It was so weird, I hit send to post my latest response to our conversation and the website informed me that he had blocked me.  Rude!  Beyond that there just didn’t seem to be very many guys on Christian Mingle so I kept my membership there and started a second one with eHarmony.  They are soooo expensive!  Dang!  It was the day before my hysterectomy that I found Mike.  He was a Russian man living in Oregon (the Oregon coast is my happy place) he was nice and kind and sweet and gave all the right answers… until he started to ask me questions about sex.  Now I know that I have a hang up in this area because of my ex – I’m starting to realize that most of the sex I had in my almost 21 year marriage could probably qualify as date rape and I should probably go see a counselor – so when Mike started by asking basic questions about sex I went along with the conversation with the thought that it would help free me from some of the chains I had been carrying.  But once the conversation turned physical Mike didn’t want to talk about anything else and I became more and more uncomfortable until I finally let him know.  He admitted that his plan for our first face-to-face encounter was picking me up at the airport, dinner and then a hotel.  Nope, nope, nope.  I ended it right there, cancelled both my eHarmony and Christian Mingle subscriptions and took a break from online dating for a few months.  Then a customer told me she was engaged to someone she met on Zoosk and said that she had a great experience with that dating site so I figured I would give it a shot and I  narrowed my search to the town my father lives in, thinking that it would be nice to get to know someone online really well before meeting in person (because it worked so well with Mike, right?  I’m not quite sure what I was thinking…)  On Zoosk I met Tony.  Nice guy, gave lengthy, real answers to my questions and we seemed to have a lot in common.  On day four of our online chatting I asked if he had any pets, he said that he lost his cat recently.  I said that must have been hard for his young daughter and he said – all in one chat bubble – that it was harder on him than his daughter and he bet I was a good kisser.  Really?  He seriously went from dead cat to kissing.  It fizzled out with Tony shortly after that and I ended my search on Zoosk.  At this point I am so close to moving that I’m just going to wait until I am in Montana before I attempt to meet any more potential boyfriends, ugh!

In April I took 10 glorious days off of work and went to the Oregon Coast with my best friend from high school for 5 days and then went to visit my father for 3 days, it was a great vacation, very relaxing and reestablished my desire to live in either Newport or Lincoln City someday!

Just before Mother’s Day I ran into my ex husband at the movie theater and my, oh my, wasn’t that exciting!  My bosses took me to see the new Captain America movie that he and my older daughter just happened to attend as well.  He marched up to me and said in a very grumpy voice “I just want to say Happy Mother’s Day” and also told me that he had given a piece of paper to our younger daughter earlier to give to me.  I asked if he wanted to meet my bosses and he curled his lip as though he had just eaten something extremely distasteful, said no and then turned around and marched away.  My older daughter never once turned to look at me, say hi or even wave.  Huh.  They were with a group of people from their church and a few of them were friendly to me and said hi, which was nice but the very best part of the entire evening was when my Vietnamese bosses – who are from San Jose, CA – asked if my ex was a gang member.  They have a lot of experience with gangs (and have been victims of gang activities) and based on their experience and what they saw at the movie theater – the way he approached me, stood and spoke to me and marched away – they thought he was in a gang!  I nearly laughed my head off!  So much for the love of Christ shining through him, they saw him for what he was, a very angry man with no love or compassion in his heart towards those he doesn’t believe deserve it.  That frankly, was the highlight of my month!

My twin nieces graduated high school at the beginning of June and I took a few more days off work to attend their ceremony and party afterwards, which my ex also attended.  I knew he would be there so I was a little more prepared to see him but he did his best to avoid me at both the graduation and the party.  The graduation was busy but it was obvious that he refused to look at me and wouldn’t even come stand with the entire family once I joined then.  Then at the party my brother held at his home my ex and older daughter arrived after I did and it didn’t seem right to just jump up and greet him warmly when he got there but I tried to catch his eye here and there so that I could smile and say hi but he still refused to look at me.  I did, however, go and stand next to my older daughter as she spoke with her cousins for about two minutes and she never did turn around to say hi or acknowledge that I was there in any way.  I finally gave up and went to sit down at a table on the outer edge of the party area.  Then his parents showed up, which I thought was odd because it was my brother’s children’s graduation party… but I went over to say hi to his father knowing my ex was standing nearby and figuring I could greet him then – except that he moved away as I approached his dad.  His father was very kind and gracious, he gave me several warm hugs and we had a nice conversation for probably 15 – 20 minutes.  Which was, by the way, the only time at the entire graduation weekend that my older daughter spoke to me at all or even looked my way was when she and I were both speaking to her grandfather.  My ex’s mother was a different story entirely, I said hello and she said my name in a way that made me feel icicles stabbing my heart.  When dinner was ready my ex was serving the meat to everyone in line.  I debated whether or not I should get in line because it seemed obvious to me that he didn’t want to speak to me but then I decided to be the adult, get in the food line and say hi to him once my turn was up because then at least he couldn’t run away from me.  My sister was ahead of me and she said “Hi” and “Thank you” when it was her turn to get the meat but he did not look at her or speak to her.  I thought he was very rude to her.  I also said “Hi” and “Thank you” and he stopped what he was doing, looked at me and said with anger in his voice “I’m surprised you’re speaking to me”.  I’m sure my jaw hit the floor, from everything I could tell he was the one avoiding me and yet he was obviously angry that I was avoiding him.  The only thing I managed to stutter was “I wasn’t trying not to”.  I think I said that twice and then after opening and closing my  mouth like a guppy several times I turned and walked away from the food line because I was so shocked.  I left the party shortly after that, it was just to awkward to stay.  At my own brother’s house.  It’s actually rather irritating that he made me so uncomfortable that I left and he and his parents stayed to visit with my family.   Just one more testament to the fact that my brothers don’t really care that much about me I guess.  I made sure to tell him goodbye and that I was sorry he thought I was avoiding him.  Seriously?  I saw a meme on Facebook that said “You destroyed me and I apologized”.  Yep, I just did it again.  Crap.  His father gave me another big hug and his mother gave me a slightly less icy glare.  My father walked me to my car and said “I’m sorry to say this but I think maybe your marriage should have ended 10 years ago”.  Damn right!  But I wasn’t the person I needed to be in order to leave 10 years ago… but I am where God wants me to be right now.  My biggest hope is that since my father saw it maybe my brothers also saw how my ex treated me that weekend and that maybe their eyes opened a wee bit as to why I left him.  Although in the end that is not super important either, I know I did the right thing.

The week after we get back from the graduation my younger daughter had coffee with her father like she does every month and I took my older daughter out to dinner like I do every month.  He doesn’t even pay for my younger daughter’s coffee when they meet, he’s such a tightwad, lol.  My dinner with the older was was actually one of the nicest visits we’ve ever had, which I thought was very strange given the fact that she tried to have as little to do with me as possible just three days before…  My younger daughter’s coffee was much more exciting because her father introduced her to his girlfriend!  The girlfriend wants to be friends with our younger daughter and she’s not sure if she wants that but I told her to at least try it out – this gal might be the best thing that ever happened to her father and hopefully this girl will make him a better person.  It was curious to me that my very first emotion after hearing he has a girlfriend was relief.  I actually felt like a large stone had rolled off of my shoulders!  Maybe now he’ll stop being so angry with me – although judging by the fact that he had been dating this girl for some time before the graduation and he was still so angry with me at the graduation… that might not be a realistic hope.  I looked her up on Facebook and my second reaction was to laugh hard – she looks so young, I’ll bet she’s going to want kids!  The thought of him getting his vasectomy reversed for her and going through the whole infant and child-rearing thing again (knowing how “helpful” he was the first time around) really struck my funny bone and I just roared with laughter.  But ultimately I truly hope he finds someone that he genuinely loves and respects.  Maybe then he will become a decent human being and stop being so angry about everything all the time.  I wish him a good life with someone who loves him, I truly do.  I wish it for myself as well.

And now we’re up to the present.  Work is going well and I’ve had some amazing paychecks now that the weather is getting so hot.  I’m almost ready to list my trailer for sale and as soon as it sells I will be moving to Montana to be near my father and his wife – oh, and I started calling her Mom at Christmas.  I’m embarrassed it’s taken me this long to do it, she’s such a nice, kind lady who has always loved us kids as her own and I’m really looking forward to getting to know both her and my father better.  My bosses are still wonderful and thank God I’m not in love with either of the boys anymore, it was on-again-off-again for a while but I’m in a good place now and their entire family had a lot to do with getting me there.  They treat me like I’m a born sister to them, in fact they’re taking me with them to Las Vegas for the Fourth of July!  It’s me and six of their family members going and they’ve paid for everything – my plane ticket, hotel room, food, everything, they’re just amazing people and it will be sooo hard to leave them and not just because they buy me so much stuff but because I truly love them as my own family.

I know that I write all of this out for me, it’s how I process my life and sort things out in my head, but thank you for following me and for taking the time to read all of this.  I’m just an ordinary girl, trying to do the right thing every day.  Most of the time I feel like I succeed but some days I don’t.  I’m healthier now than I ever have been both emotionally and physically.  The one-year anniversary of the divorce came and went and I didn’t even notice it until a few days later.  I feel healed from my marriage and from my life before.  I wish you healing from your damage as well and blessings to you.

It’s already November and I must admit that I’m getting excited for Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time in a long time.  I’ve come to realize that it wasn’t the “Christmas Magic” I had lost, it was hope – and I have my hope back now!

Things at home are changed a little bit but it’s a good change.  I don’t know if I’ve said this or not yet but my daughter’s best friend from high school, I’ll call her Mandy, is also living with us now – partly because she needed a place to live, partly because she’s a great kid and partly because she’s going to live there to help Tina keep up on the utility payments and what not on my trailer while I’m in Montana.  Starting this month they are each paying a third of everything to get them prepared for paying fifty percent of everything when I go. Mandy is a no-nonsense kind of girl and very helpful in corralling Tina when needed because she’ll say things that need to be said bluntly and Tina will take it from her when she wouldn’t taken the same thing, kindly phrased, from me.  Kids!  All in all though, my home is a very happy place.  Both girls bring their friends over and sometimes their friends bring friends.  My home is a safe place for them all and everyone calls me Mom, which makes me very happy.  We laugh, smile, hang out together and have lots of fun together – I really love my life right now!

The trailer itself is another matter entirely, ugh.  There’s something seriously wrong with the electrical wiring throughout.  In July the outlets in the tip-out tripped and the breaker would not reset no matter how many times I flipped it so a friend’s husband took it out for me so I could get another one.  Lo and Behold, it’s so old they don’t make them anymore so I can’t simply replace it.  That’s two outlets gone and a empty space in my fuse box.  Come the end of October and I bought space heaters because my friend’s husband informed me that the duct-work of the furnace wasn’t connected properly and I didn’t have the money to have a professional look at it.  We plugged the largest space heater in, the one with a thermostat to keep the temperature steady… and it trips a breaker.  Many tripped breakers later we discover that if we leave the thermostat off and let the heater run on Low then it doesn’t trip any more breakers.  Fabulous.  I now have one space heater in the bathroom that keeps that tiny room at around 80 degrees – which is absolutely amazing in the chilly mornings we’ve been having – and I’m afraid to move it or touch it in case adjusting it in any way will trip more breakers – and another space heater for the rest of the trailer that only works on Low.  Needless to say we’re all wearing lots of sweaters and I’ve been buying blankets at the thrift stores like mad.

And the timer on the dryer broke.  I found that out when it ran allllll night one night.  God was gracious and kept the dryer from catching on fire and burning us alive while we slept.  So we can still use it – if we set a timer to go check it after 30 to 45 minutes – but can’t turn it on and leave it running while we leave the house or go to sleep because stuff like that is a leading cause of house fires.

Oh yes, one more thing, the cherry on top, so to speak.  I bought a waterbed off of Craigslist and got it home, put it all together by myself… and it leaks.  Turns out they forgot to unplug the heater while they were draining it and they melted the liner to the heater which must have also made a tiny hole or two in the water bladder because I woke up wet this morning.  I had already moved my old mattress to my daughter’s room because she didn’t have a bed so tonight I’ve kicked her to the couch and I’m sleeping in her room.

To sum it all up, I have two outlets that don’t work at all, a dryer that shouldn’t be operated without supervision, one space heater on low for the majority of the house, no stove to cook or bake with (thank God for the microwave!) and a bed I can’t sleep in tonight.  I feel like I should qualify to be on one of those extreme home makeover shows where they do nice things for people with sad stories – except that they don’t do trailers, lol.  It’s OK.  Everything will work out in the end.  I’ll go buy a new bladder for my bed tomorrow and then I will work on saving up for an electrician.  Not sure what I’m going to do about the stove though…

But it’s not all bad, on a very positive note, my older daughter consented to talk with me last month.  We met at a local bookstore and talked for about a half an hour, which was all she could handle.  She walked in very unhappy and displeased to be there but she asked me some questions which I tried to answer as factually and unemotionally as possible (because facts and logic are what she relates to the best) and I felt like she walked out a little more at peace so that’s a great start to building a new relationship with her.

I’ve told my sister that I’m moving and my older daughter already knew when we met at the bookstore so at this point everyone but my bosses know that I’m moving to Montana.  While that bothers me and I really want to tell them Right Now – I’m going to stick with my decision to not tell them until after my surgery at the very soonest and at the latest, two months before I go – because I want them to have plenty of time to replace me before the busy season starts.  Mostly I’m waiting because I’m 90% certain that Todd will be quite upset and give me guilt trips from the time I tell him until the time I go.  He’s a great deal like my ex husband in a lot of things, especially stuff like that, and I just don’t want to deal with it any longer than I have to.  I will miss them all so very, very much.  They’ve taken me in as a part of their family and while I know this is going to hurt them my father is more important right now. Fortunately family is a big deal in the Vietnamese culture so I’m hoping they’ll understand and not be too mad at me for leaving them.

My hysterectomy should be scheduled for sometime in December so I’ll probably be down and out for Christmas, boo!  I should find out the exact date next week when I meet with the doctor.

Except for the material household stuff things really are going well for me and life is good!  Smile, hug someone and show love to others today 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ever.

Dear Husband,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sincerely,
Me

Dear Husband,
This has not been easy to put into words and I doubt that it will be easy to read, I’m sorry.  You wanted honesty and I am trying to be completely honest in answering these questions.  Also, please bear in mind that these questions are not designed to look for positive characteristics in people, only the negative so please don’t feel like this is the only view I have of you.
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I have gone online to http://www.healthyplace.com/psychological-tests/woman-abuse-screening-tool/ and am taking their test and I will write out the questions, my responses and reasoning’s behind them.

Question 1:  In general, how would you describe your relationship?  A lot of tension, Some tension or No tension?
I chose a lot of tension because for me there is a lot of tension over several issues, mainly over feeling like I can’t tell you how I feel without making you hurt or angry.  This tension is a large contributor to my depression.
Question 2:  Do you and your partner work out arguments with: Great difficulty, Some difficulty, no difficulty.
I chose Great difficulty because on the things that really matter, like your church and our younger daughter, we aren’t really working them out, we are agreeing to disagree and there is no resolution.  The smaller things I feel like one or the other of us usually gives in more than that we reach a solution that works for both of us.
Question 3. Do arguments ever result in you feeling down or bad about yourself?  Often, Sometimes, Never.
 
I chose often because while our actual arguments are rare, 90% of the time I walk away from them feeling like there was something wrong with me, it was my fault, etc.
 
Question 4. Do arguments ever result in hitting, kicking or pushing?  Often, Sometimes, Never.
 
I chose never, obviously.
 
Question 5. Do you ever feel frightened by what your partner says or does?  Often, Sometimes, Never.
 
I chose sometimes, While I have never been physically afraid by anything you have said or done, I have been afraid of how angry you might be with me or what you might say to me if I were to tell you how I really feel, especially if you have just finished speaking negatively of someone who thinks or feels the same way I do.  Sometimes your opinions about those people are quite fierce.  The example that pops to mind is concerning your church.  When you talk about somebody who left your church and is speaking up about their experiences you can become upset and very disapproving of them as a person.  I have many of the same thoughts about your church as those people and it makes me hide as much of my opinion of your church as I can because I don’t want you to talk to me the way you talk to me about them.  Over our entire marriage I haven’t told you a lot of things, mainly about how I felt, because I was afraid of how you would react.
 
Question 6. Has your partner ever abused you physically?  Often, Sometimes, Never.
 
Again, I chose never.
 
Question 7. Has your partner ever abused you emotionally?  Often, Sometimes, Never.
 
This one is harder, to define “emotional abuse” I went here:  http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/02/20/signs-of-emotional-abuse/   and looked through their bullet points. I’ll put my answers in all caps…
  1. Humiliation, degradation, discounting, negating. judging, criticizing:
    • Does anyone make fun of you or put you down in front of others?  NO YOU DON’T
    • Do they tease you, use sarcasm as a way to put you down or degrade you?  NO YOU DON’T
    • When you complain do they say that “it was just a joke” and that you are too sensitive?  NO YOU DON’T
    • Do they tell you that your opinion or feelings are “wrong?”  SOMETIMES YOU HAVE BUT NOT VERY OFTEN.  PRIMARILY IN REGARDS TO YOUR CHURCH
    • Does anyone regularly ridicule, dismiss, disregard your opinions, thoughts, suggestions, and feelings?  RIDICULE OR DISMISS, NO.  DISREGARD, SOMETIMES.
  2. Domination, control, and shame:
    • Do you feel that the person treats you like a child?  NO, NOT AS A CHILD BUT SOMETIMES I FEEL LIKE YOU TREAT ME AS A POSESSION – WHEN YOU SAY “YOU ARE MY WIFE” IT FREQUENTLY FEELS LIKE YOU’RE SAYING “YOU ARE MY POCKETWATCH” AND SEEM DISPLEASED WHEN YOU SAY IT AS IF I’M NOT PERFORMING MY FUNCTION AS YOUR WIFE CORRECTLY.
    • Do they constantly correct or chastise you because your behavior is “inappropriate?”  NOT MY BEHAVIOR BUT SOMETIMES IT FEELS LIKE YOU’RE TRYING TO CORRECT MY ATTITUDE(S) OR OPINION(S)
    • Do you feel you must “get permission” before going somewhere or before making even small decisions?  YES, ALMOST ALWAYS FOR GOING SOMEWHERE, NOT SO MUCH FOR MAKING SMALL DECISIONS
    • Do they control your spending?  YES AND NO.  I DID THE BUDGET SO YOU DIDN’T REALLY CONTROL  MY PERSONAL SPENDING BUT WHEN I WANTED TO SPEND MONEY TO GO OUT TO EAT, BUY SOMETHING FOR THE FAMILY, ETC, AND YOU DIDN’T THEN IT SEEMED LIKE WE USUALLY WOUND UP NOT SPENDING THE MONEY BUT IF YOU WANTED TO GO OUT TO EAT, BUY SOMETHING FOR THE FAMILY, ETC, AND I DIDN’T THEN IT SEEMED LIKE WE USUALLY DID SPEND THE MONEY.
    • Do they treat you as though you are inferior to them? INTELLECTUALLY I FEEL LIKE YOU DO TREAT ME AND SOME OTHERS AS THOUGH WE ARE INFERIOR.  ALSO IT SEEMED THAT WE DID WHAT YOU WANTED TO DO MORE OFTEN THAN WHAT I WANTED TO DO SO I FELT LIKE I WAS INFERIOR TO YOU THAT WAY
    • Do they make you feel as though they are always right?  VERY OFTEN.
    • Do they remind you of your shortcomings?  OFTEN.  I FEEL LIKE YOU DON’T LET SOME OF MY MISTAKES BE FORGOTTEN UNTIL YOU HAVE “DOUBLE-CHECKED” ME ON THE SAME/SIMILAR ACTIONS FOR A LONG TIME, LIKE MONTHS, TO EASE YOUR PARANOIA THAT I WILL DO IT AGAIN
    • Do they belittle your accomplishments, your aspirations, your plans or even who you are?  BELITTLE, NO.  IT SEEMS MORE LIKE YOU TAKE LITTLE TO NO NOTICE OF MY ART OR MY MUSIC OR OTHER THINGS THAT ARE IMPORTANT TO ME SO IT FEELS MORE LIKE YOU DISMISS MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS, ASPIRATIONS, PLANS, WHO I AM.
    • Do they give disapproving, dismissive, contemptuous, or condescending looks, comments, and behavior?  LOOKS, NO.  COMMENTS, YES.  BEHAVIOR, NO.
  3. Accusing and blaming, trivial and unreasonable demands or expectations, denies own shortcomings:
    • Do they accuse you of something contrived in their own minds when you know it isn’t true?  NO YOU DON’T
    • Are they unable to laugh at themselves?  I DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU CAN LAUGH AT YOUR MISTAKES, THEY SEEM TO STRESS YOU OUT SO YOU TEND TO HIDE THEM
    • Are they extremely sensitive when it comes to others making fun of them or making any kind of comment that seems to show a lack of respect?  YES, YOU ARE
    • Do they have trouble apologizing?  NO YOU DON’T
    • Do they make excuses for their behavior or tend to blame others or circumstances for their mistakes?  YES, I FEEL LIKE YOU DO THIS FAIRLY OFTEN
    • Do they call you names or label you?  NO YOU DON’T WITH ME BUT YOU DO LABEL OTHERS ACCORDING TO HOW YOU JUDGE THEM
    • Do they blame you for their problems or unhappiness?  I FEEL LIKE YOU TRY NOT TO BLAME ME BUT YOU DO FEEL I AM AN EXPLANATION FOR THE REASON(S) YOU ARE HAVING A PROBLEM OR ARE UNHAPPY.
    • Do they continually have “boundary violations” and disrespect your valid requests?  I DON’T REALLY KNOW WHAT IT IS TO HAVE BOUNDARIES MYSELF, THAT’S PART OF WHAT I NEED TO LEARN, AND YOU DO TRY TO HONOR THE REQUESTS THAT I HAVE MADE BUT I FEEL LIKE YOU’RE JUST GOING ALONG WITH IT INSTEAD OF UNDERSTANDING WHY THE BOUNDARY REQUESTS ARE NECESSARY
  4. Emotional distancing and the “silent treatment,” isolation, emotional abandonment or neglect:
    • Do they use pouting, withdrawal or withholding attention or affection?  POUTING – NO.  WITHDRAWAL OR WITHHOLDING ATTENTION OR AFFECTION, YES.
    • Do they not want to meet the basic needs or use neglect or abandonment as punishment?  NO YOU DON’T
    • Do they play the victim to deflect blame onto you instead of taking responsibility for their actions and attitudes?  THIS IS AN AREA YOU HAVE MADE HUGE IMPROVEMENTS IN AND I HAVE NOTICED.  WHERE YOU ONCE MADE NEARLY EVERYTHING MY FAULT ON PURPOSE YOU NOW ONLY MAKE ME FEEL LIKE IT’S MY FAULT SOME OF THE TIME AND I KNOW YOU’RE NOT DOING IT DELIBERATELY LIKE YOU USED TO
    • Do they not notice or care how you feel?  YOU DO CARE, YOU DON’T ALWAYS NOTICE BUT I HAVE BECOME VERY GOOD AT HIDING HOW I FEEL SO I DON’T FEEL LIKE THAT’S YOUR FAULT.  IT DOES SEEM, HOWEVER, LIKE YOU CARE MORE ABOUT HOW THINGS AFFECT YOU THAN HOW THEY AFFECT ME
    • Do they not show empathy or ask questions to gather information?  I DON’T FEEL A LOT OF EMPATHY FROM YOU MOST OF THE TIME AND IT SEEMS LIKE THE QUESTIONS YOU ASK ARE MORE FOCUSED ON HOW THE SUBJECT MATTER WILL AFFECT YOU THAN ANYTHING ELSE
  5. Codependence and enmeshment:
    • Does anyone treat you not as a separate person but instead as an extension of themselves?  I HAVE FELT LIKE IT’S NOT OK TO BE ME TO THE POINT THAT I DON’T FEEL LIKE I KNOW WHO I AM.  I HAVE FELT LIKE I HAVE TO BE WHO MOM WANTED ME TO BE, WHO YOU WANT ME TO BE, WHO THE CHURCH WANTS ME TO BE AND I DON’T REALLY KNOW WHO GOD CREATED ME TO BE
    • Do they not protect your personal boundaries and share information that you have not approved?  I FEEL LIKE YOU ARE PRETTY GOOD ABOUT NOT SHARING INFORMATION THAT YOU HAVEN’T MADE SURE IS OK TO SHARE, THANK YOU
    • Do they disrespect your requests and do what they think is best for you?  NO YOU DON’T
    • Do they require continual contact and haven’t developed a healthy support network among their own peers?  IT FEELS LIKE YOU DO REQUIRE CONTINUAL CONTACT WITH ME AND UNTIL THE LAST SIX MONTHS OR SO DID NOT HAVE A HEALTHY SUPPORT NETWORK OF OTHER GUYS.
So back to Question 7, I would have to say that yes, you have been emotionally abusive throughout our marriage so I chose often as the answer to that last question.
 
This is the results of the test for abuse:
 
Quiz Results
Your score: 12.00 out of 17.00 (70.59%)
Passing score: 0.00 (0.00%)
Elapsed time: 02:47
Quiz Message
Scoring Abuse Test:

  • over 17: (not abusive)
  • 15-17: (potentially abusive)
  • under 15: (abusive relationship)

If you answered Question 1 with “a lot of tension” and Question 2 with “great difficulty,” there is a likelihood you are in an abusive relationship. If any Questions 3-8 were answered with “often” or “sometimes,” those are additional indications that you are in an abusive relationship.

So according to medically and psychologically accepted definitions, ours is an emotionally abusive relationship – not at all physically abusive and I would never, ever let anyone think otherwise – but everything all together has created an atmosphere where I am afraid to tell you things about myself, my ideas, my opinions, my likes or dislikes because I have been afraid of your reaction and what you might say to me that would make me feel bad.  That is why I freeze up and why I have the physical symptoms of a panic attack, the chest pressure, shortness of breath, etc. when I try to force myself to be honest and open with you.
 
This is a subject that I have skirted the edges of for many years because I didn’t want to hurt you and despite what you may believe right now, most of the things that I didn’t tell you were because I knew that telling you would hurt you so I kept my own hurts inside, trying to protect you throughout our marriage.  Instead, what I wound up doing was enabling you to continue to emotionally abuse me, however unintentionally.
 
Our prophetic word says I would help abused women in the same way you would help men bound in addiction – the only reason you could help the men was because you had come out of the addiction yourself, who did you think abused me to allow me to help abused women after reading that?  I had hoped that you would consider your own behavior after reading that, or even that other church people might draw it to your attention but it never happened.  
 
Also, I think it was in 2012 or maybe 2013 that I told you I took an online test and was considered an abused person – I could never come right out and say that you were an emotional abuser, it was much easier to put the majority of the blame on Mom, who was safely dead by then, but I tried to point your thoughts in that direction multiple times by telling you that your personality was very much like hers.  Since you are completely shocked that you could be labeled as an emotionally abusive person my efforts were obviously unsuccessful.
 
I KNOW that you are not abusive on purpose, especially during these last couple of years, and that our current relationship is the product of our upbringings and lack of skill in communicating in a healthy and effective manner combined with 20 years of bad relational habits and not knowing any better or how to do things differently.
 
You asked what I need to do to get healthy and the answer is I don’t know, that’s why I’m trying to get into the counseling program at the women’s shelter.  Specifically, it’s a program for abused women, aimed more at physically abused women but I asked and it is also designed to help emotionally abused women as well and so I’m trusting they will know how to help me heal.  If it takes too long to get in I do plan on trying to go back and see my last counselor after my insurance takes effect next month.  
 
As far as knowing the address of where I am staying I am not going to tell you partly because when I get into the counseling program I won’t be allowed to tell you where they put me and also because although you don’t see it as a control issue, I do, and also as a respect issue.  If there is an emergency either my sister or I will contact you and give you the address if needed.  In the meantime, the more you ask and get upset about not knowing the less I feel respected and the more it seems like it really is a control issue.
 
Again, I am sorry for the pain I know this email must be causing you, please believe that I do know you have not intended to hurt me and I am not mad at you, I don’t hate you and I don’t intend to make anyone think badly of you.  
 
Please respond to this information in writing, I don’t feel like I can communicate effectively on this subject over the phone or in person for the time being.
 
Sincerely,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Family Member,

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