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Well, I survived Thanksgiving where my oldest daughter, my two brothers, their families and my dad and step-mom all met in a hotel conference room and celebrated Thanksgiving pot-luck style.  My step-sister and her boyfriend showed up for an hour or so as well and it was actually a really nice time.

My younger daughter, Tina, and I went up together and on the hour-long drive up she worried that she was unwanted because of being still married and having gotten a second tattoo recently.  Tina really struggles with feeling unwanted from both sides of her family but especially her father’s side since they care much more about “proper”.   Thankfully, this get-together was with my side of the family.  Anyway, on the drive home I asked her if it was better than she thought it would be and was happy to hear that she had a good time and didn’t feel like the black sheep she thinks everyone considers her.  She had a good time with her cousins, everyone oohed and aahhed over her new tattoo and she felt like she was able to connect with everyone a little more than previously in her life.  My two girls appeared to get along just fine, although I could tell they were both wary of the other and my older girl wasn’t interested in having any real conversations with me.  She also left the party early.

Sadly, Sean wasn’t able to come because his dad had just passed away a week before Thanksgiving.  That would have been a great time to introduce him to everyone.

Of course, everyone commented on my hair, being blue and all, and my step-mom (who had un-invited me to her home the weekend before and I still don’t know why) tried to be funny and say that it was “disgusting” how many compliments I get when were out and about together and I had a light bulb moment and realized that truly is how she feels.  She is jealous of me.  Possibly even jealous that my dad loves me.  I doubt he loves me more than he loves her, mostly because he’s so quiet and reserved that it’s hard to tell how he’s feeling about anyone or anything – except the dogs and cats.  He loves them best, they have his heart.  Possibly because they’re safe to love.  My heart breaks for him but I don’t know how to help him.

So Thanksgiving turned out better than I thought it would be overall but I’m also left feeling very alone, family-wise, and wondering if I did the right thing moving to Montana.  After I was un-invited to my stepmom’s house I wrote my folks a card, explaining that due to the financial aid problem I wouldn’t be able to keep coming up every week to go to church with them and spend time with them because I had to get a third job (again).  They should have received it just before Thanksgiving but only said “I’m sorry things are tight”.  I’m guessing my step-mom interpreted that as a request for a financial hand-out, which it wasn’t at all, but that seems to be the only thing she thinks of me, is that I’m constantly asking for things from her… ugh.

The weekend after Thanksgiving Tina and I went to Washington on Saturday to meet my brothers, their wives and my sister who came up for the weekend.  My sister was the only one not able to come up for Thanksgiving so it was nice to see her for a bit.  Sean’s dad’s funeral service was Sunday, the next day and they asked me to sing Amazing Grace and the song I sang at my own mother’s funeral.

Earlier that week my step-mom did reach out to me and ask me to come up on Sunday and do her nails, even offering to pay me, and asked if I wanted a little Christmas tree she was going to get rid of.  Fortunately I was able to say that Tina had a Christmas tree she brought with her when she moved to Montana with me and so we didn’t need her tree (I’m trying not to take things from her anymore because maybe that’s one of her hang-ups, I don’t ask her for stuff but she gives me a lot of things so maybe it’s in response to a perceived request that I didn’t actually make???) and I also apologized that I wouldn’t be able to come up and do her nails on Sunday (the only day that would work for her) because I was singing at Sean’s dad’s funeral.

Her response left me feeling like she was angry but that could just be me, texts are hard to read emotion into so I’m not totally sure. Oh, and she sent me another message saying they weren’t doing Christmas presents anymore, as in she’s not getting me or my daughter anything so we don’t have to give them anything either.  She tried to phrase it like it was a kindness to me, reducing my stress by not having to buy two more gifts but it felt like a punishment.  I’ve always thought gifts were her love language.  Possibly I was wrong given the way she’s angry with me for “asking for everything” but since she married my dad in ’91 she has always given me and my siblings and then our spouses and children wonderful gifts so yeah, it feels like a punishment.

Later my dad sent me a message saying he was “praying for (stepmom’s) heart to soften towards you and Tina”  What the hell?  Why on earth is she upset with my daughter?  And why won’t she ever say stuff like this to my/our face?  She acts like she loves us and everything is wonderful, I only hear about these things from my dad, who begs me not to tell her he told me, I’m guessing because she would make his life even more miserable than it already is.  Ugh.  At this point I’m over it.  I’m so happy to be living an hour away from her.  I wish I could be there for my dad more but I feel like my trying to be close to him is making his life more difficult with her so I’m just staying away from them both.

Work at the restaurant has been slow because it’s winter time and so on top of not getting all of my financial aid I haven’t been getting very big paychecks either.  I took another position, still in the same building but technically for a separate business, at the liquor store.  Now me, who is basically a non-drinker and completely clueless regarding types of alcohol and what they’re used for, is suddenly responsible for directing people to find all different types of liquor, vodka, whiskey, tequila, wines, olives, bloody mary mixes and the like.  I’m not sure this plan was very well thought out… but it’s a job and it’s not all that difficult so I’m going to do my best there just like I do everywhere else.  So far I’ve worked three shifts and all the customers have been really nice so hopefully that continues.  I think between now and Christmas, between the two jobs, I have two days off.  Go me…  but as long as it pays the bills, eh?

Speaking of bills, I’m trying desperately to stay on top of things.  The phone company is taking their automatic payment out on Wednesday, and I don’t get paid until Friday.  I called them and they won’t move it back two days.  Also, the landlords haven’t cashed their rent check for this month yet so that means there is money enough to cover the phone bill in the bank but then the rent check will bounce – and I’m terrified of what they will do if it does bounce.  I’m not confident that they wouldn’t evict me immediately, given the “trouble” they think I’ve already caused them with the firewood incident.  Talk about stress.  I’m trying to borrow money from my sister for two days but if she can’t do it then I’m going to have to swallow my pride and ask the school owner for a loan, something I think I blogged that I would rather die than do…  but this is life and you do what you have to do to survive I guess.  If neither can/will loan me the money I’ll to go the bank and ask if they can deny the phone charges and hold the money for the rent check and we’ll just go without phones for a few days until I get paid.  Adulting sucks, just sayin’.

But none of that is the worst part.  The worst part is that I am out of firewood.  It’s 8 degrees outside and I only have a few pieces left.  Since I’m hardly ever home between work and school it’s not such a big deal for me but I can’t keep my daughter warm.  It was surprisingly hard to ask her to go live with her boyfriend for a while so that she will be safe and warm until I can get on top of things again.  I cried after they left tonight.  It almost felt like I was putting her up for adoption because I can’t provide for her.

Sean was over the moon, of course, and watching him look at her is like watching a flower worship the sun.  He’s an amazing man and exactly what she needs, I’m so glad they found each other.  His mom really likes Tina too (and he lives with his mom) so it’s no problem for her to stay with them. They have just started to invite me on family outings, which has been super cool.  Tonight we went to hear his nephews sing in the Christmas concert at school and then we went out to eat.  It’s nice to get to know his mom, she’s a neat lady.

I know that I was supposed to come here to Montana but maybe it was just so that Tina and Sean would meet.  Maybe I don’t have to be here anymore.  I love this part of Montana, it’s so beautiful, but life has been nothing but hard since I came here.  I’m beginning to daydream about going back to where I came from, there are multiple people who have said I could stay with them for a bit, and I could always live with my Vietnamese family long term if I needed to.  I would have an instant job with customers who remember me and love me and I could make good money again… be that person again who goes to restaurants and orders food instead of the one serving it and praying for a good tip.  It’s very tempting to go back as I sit here in my living room, huddled underneath a blanket with my heavy winter coat on, typing with frozen fingers…  but to give up now when I’m so close to graduating would be a complete waste of the last year plus I’d have to start paying off my student loans right away without any extra license to do more than just nails.  Nope, not a good idea.  I’ll have to tough it out like I always do.  Dammit.

So just to be clear, I’m not asking anyone for money.  I made my bed and now I’m laying in it.  I’m just documenting all of this for later and getting it out of my head, this is my journal/blog, after all.

And whining a bit too, I’ll admit to that.

But in the end, I chose this life when I left my ex husband.  I decided to go it alone and even though everything pretty much sucks right now I’d still take this over staying married to him.  I can do this.  I’ve lost everything before, even if I lose it all again I will be successful in the long run and look back on these days, realizing they weren’t all that bad.  I’m going to be OK.

 

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So I really did intend to write more often than this… ugh.  It’s been another month since my last post and here’s what’s new:

I wonder if school will be the death of me…  At the end of October I reached the milestone of 1,000 hours at school, officially halfway done for the students who have to attend for the full 2,000 hours.  Being already licensed as a nail tech I have been given 400 hours worth of credit towards those 2,000 hours, allowing me to graduate after attending just 1,600 hours of school.  The first 1,000 hours were fine, I received the full amount of the Pell Grant and Student Loans.  But apparently, because I’m not attending school for another 1,000 hours I don’t qualify for the full Pell Grant or Student Loans.  I only qualify for 1/4 of the money I would have received if I didn’t have 400 hours credit.

One-fourth of the money for missing less than half the hours, how is that right?

Oh, and did I mention that I have to pay for the full 2,000 hours?  That I don’t get any discount whatsoever for not needing 400 hours of a teacher’s time?  So I’m being charged for 2,000 hours but only receiving financial aid for 1,600 AND I’m getting charged overages at the rate of $6 a hour for every hour it takes me to complete my time after 1680 teacher hours.  I will be close to $1,000 in overages by the time I graduate even though I’m paying for a 2,000 hour contract and won’t come even close to reaching 2,000 hours in the end…

Knowing this ahead of time would have been helpful but oh no, the school owner and newly hired school accountant/financial aid adviser (also a former school owner herself) kept telling me things without knowing what they’re talking about.  When I first questioned the lesser amount to the accountant on Tuesday she said “My mistake, I’ll fix it”.  The next day from the owner it was “Nope, the numbers are right because of your 400 hour credit but if you change your contract and attend for the full 2,000 hours you can get all the money”.  This was Wednesday and I asked to have until Friday to make my choice.  I was so upset that I vented to other students in the break room.  There are cameras throughout the school, I’ve always known that.  What I didn’t know was that the one in the break room and possibly all of them record audio as well.  Everything I said was truthful but I did say it while I was quite unhappy and trying to process everything I had just learned.  We’ll come back to this…

I took the next day off of school to crunch the numbers and see if I can survive off of the smaller amount of financial aid or if I will need to go to school for the extra 400 hours to receive the full amount.  After some mathing I realized that my income will still be short almost $500 a month and I won’t receive enough financial aid to cover that deficit for the next 4 months so therefore I must do the full 2,000 hours to receive the full financial aid benefits.

School is so stressful for me, my depression and anxiety have jumped into overdrive since I started attending there.  After two years of being off of my antidepressant pills I had to go back on them 3 months after starting school and they just don’t seem to be keeping up with my emotional stability needs so deciding to attend an extra 400 hours of school is A Big Deal.  I feel like I’m being forced to chose between having financial peace and my sanity.  But the numbers don’t lie and I just don’t see how I can do it on the fraction of financial aid I was expecting so I accepted that the decision to stay was the best thing for me, I made peace with my choice and made some plans to try and survive the longer time at school.

Today, Friday, I went back to school and asked to change my contract to the full 2,000 hours so that I could have the full financial aid.  The owner and her husband, who had previously handled the financial aid adviser position, sat me down and he explained to me that it wouldn’t make a difference if I went for the full time or not because the government wasn’t going to pay a second time for hours I’ve already done.  “It’s fraud”, he said…  The owner then told me she listened to the recording of me venting to the other students, told me I was “unprofessional” and because I did that she isn’t going to forgive my overage charges that she had agreed to not charge me for when I spoke with her on Wednesday…  I have a feeling that it wouldn’t have matter if I had vented or not, I would still be paying for my overages, it’s just too much money to forgive.

A classmate brought it to my attention that recording anyone without their knowledge and consent is illegal.  Well then.

Recognizing that I am fully and completely screwed and there’s no way they will show me any kind of grace I apologized for being unprofessional and turtled.  The owner then went on to say she could expel me for my outburst in the break room but she “wouldn’t do that to me” and went on for another 10 minutes about how much she wanted to help me graduate and how I deserve it more than anyone else in the school – and then she went on another 10 minutes after that about all the nice things she’s done for other people (both in the school and in the community) and repeated over and over again that if I need financial help to please come to her and ask her for money.

I think I would rather freeze, live out of my car and starve to death first…

I finally escaped her office and felt numb for the rest of the day.  I couldn’t even cry.  I just feel empty.  I’m grateful I can still graduate in early March instead of June but I don’t know how I’ll make all my bills – although God has taken good care of me so far, I know He will continue to provide, I was just hoping to be done with 14-hour school-then-work days but I guess not.

I’ve been advised to take all of this up with the State Cosmetology Board and I probably could do something petty and trivial about the illegal recording but I’m afraid that she will expel me for real and then I would have to move across the state to find the next nearest beauty school to finish my hours.  I’m afraid that it’s best if I just keep my head down and push through until I am done and then approach the Board about her school policies…  we’ll see just how many enemies I want to make after I’ve graduated.

To further complicate things, the beautiful, long-haired, Jesus-looking man at my waitressing job has become an important part of my life (that will be the next post) and his father was admitted to the hospital yesterday and died today.  There’s just so much going on right now.  I really think I’d just like to quit everything and live off of welfare for a few years, no more adulting please, I’m over it…

There’s so many things I think “I need to put this in the blog” and then the minute I have time to write I can’t think of anything to talk about.  I know, right?

It’s my first entire day off from everything – no school, no nails, no waitressing – and I’m sick with a head cold.  I tried to sleep in but I couldn’t breathe so I got up and started watching the Firefly series.  Took a Mucinex, ate chicken noodle soup, had a nap, made some eggs and toast and am back to watching Firefly with only a slight fever…  Oh the exciting life of me.  I have tomorrow off from school but I have to go to a doctor appointment in the morning and waitressing in the evening and then back to school on Wednesday.

I’m finding I dread going to school and have for a while now but the more days I take off the longer it takes me to get out of there so hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to school I go.  I knew it would be hard, to go back to school for a year but I didn’t expect it to be this hard…

Dammit.

I feel like I live in three different worlds – one world is at school, another world is the restaurant and the third world is with my folks.  School I endure, I have mostly acquaintance friends there, with a couple of closer friends.  The new girls, called “Back Class” because they have to stay back in the classroom until they’ve hit 300 hours, all seem to look up to me.  They all know my name and seem to treat me with great deference, which is both sweet and intriguing because I wonder who said what to them about me to make them act that way.  But I am bone-weary at school, all day every day now.  My favorite teacher left in mid August and the teacher that was left is trying her best to be king of the hill – she seems to have a personal grudge against me, scrutinizes my work more than most of the other students and nit-picks even the tiniest details of what I do on the mannequin head to fulfill my requirement sheet items.  The teacher that replaced my favorite teacher is the owner’s daughter and she’s a nice lady, seems to like me just fine but she’s only there a few days a week.  The owner has her favorites and while I’m not one of them I’m also not on her black list so I just kind of float along as much under her radar as I can.  I just try to keep my head down, get my work done and put my hours in but it’s become a miserable existence for 38 hours a week.  My dream of being cosmetology teacher is waning away into nothingness…

At the restaurant it’s a completely different world.  I show up 15 – 20 minutes early, work hard, am appreciated by my co-workers, we laugh and joke together, I help them, they help me and I get energy from working with all my customers, walk so much I’m losing weight, make money and go home happy, smiling and excited.  One of the servers is a fascinating man with the most beautiful long hair – when he lets it down he seriously looks just like all those paintings of Jesus and I’ve always been a sucker for long haired men, lol.  I think he might like me and I think it would be easy to like him, really easy.  But my daughter just started working at the restaurant with me as a busser and she says he treats everyone the way he treats me – as in, I’m not special to him, lol.  But he’s a joy to work with, kind, funny, a hard worker, helps everyone and has overcome a crazy past.  I like him very much but I’m not sure we would be right for each other, maybe that’s why I’m looking for signs he might like me too.  Although I’m pretty sure one of the cooks actually does like me and he while he seems like a nice guy I’m pretty positive that he isn’t for me.

At my folks I am quiet.  I mostly listen.  I do a lot of turtling.  Sometimes we go to lunch after church with their friends and I try to mainly smile and nodd.  I feel like my step-mom gets jealous of any attention I get from her friends – and from the strangers who approach me frequently to complement me on my hair – so I try to be quiet.  Every other week I give my step-mom an acrylic fill for which she thanks me but neither pays nor tips me.  At first it didn’t bother me because she let me live with them rent-free for 5 months but I must admit it is becoming annoying because she doesn’t seem to recognize that not only am I saving her a bunch of money by doing her fills for free but it actually costs me product and gas.

I moved to Montana to be closer to my dad specifically but I wanted to get to know both of them.  She and I have had very few conflicts over the last 26 years that she’s been married to my dad but since I moved here I’ve seen much more of her true character.  She is probably the most insecure person I’ve ever met and takes pretty much everything personally.  Case in point, I was at church with them one day and asked one of their friends (who knew me when I was a little girl so he’s been friends with my dad a long time) to pray for something that was going on.  I was thinking that he would just pray throughout the week but he said “Let’s pray right now” and put his arm around me and started praying.  That was cool, I wasn’t asking for or expecting prayer right that instant but it was really nice of him to do that.  I get a phone call from my dad the next week saying his wife was offended that she (and my dad) weren’t invited to pray with us that Sunday.  He stressed that he didn’t think I did anything wrong but that it made her feel left out and to please be aware of it for the future…  Dad has also told me that she gets upset when I post something on Facebook before telling them first – to the point that I suspect she made my dad give up his Facebook page completely as she didn’t even have her own page but kept checking his…  Since I see them once a week I preferred to just tell them my news in person so we could chat face to face instead of me texting them things throughout the week, in all my spare time, ugh.  She is kind and gracious to my face but I can only imagine how she must carry on to my dad before he finally calls me and tells me what I did that upset her and he always begs me not to tell her that he talked to me.  And once when I was still living with her my dad tried to fix something and made it worse instead – it really wasn’t a big deal – but she berated him and called him pathetic and made fun of him for even attempting to fix it.  She did this to him in front of me and in front of his friend that came to help him fix it.  Then she continued to rant and rave about him to me when he left to go to the hardware store for the part.  I was so shocked that I could only try to redirect the conversation.  She did stop and we talked about something else and then apologized for what she said but when my dad got back with the part she started up on him again.  They left to go see my brothers the next day for a long weekend and I wept for most of Saturday and Sunday to the point that I couldn’t even sing on the worship team and could barely continue playing the piano.  That was Mother’s Day weekend and I decided to move out from their house because of how she talked to my dad.

I am so glad I moved an hour away from them, it’s much easier to be less involved with her now and I won’t ever hear her say things like that to or about my dad again.  Now that I don’t live there I can try to stand up to her and then just leave.  Since I quit my movie theater job I don’t have to go in to see them every Sunday for the last month so I’ve missed a few Sundays lately and will probably not go every week anymore.  Honestly, I wish I was rich and could afford a big house with enough space to let him live with me and away from her…  I’m not sure he would actually take me up on such an offer but I wish I could at least offer him a space away from her.

I miss my movie theater job, or at least the people there.  That was a fourth world… I went back and saw a movie yesterday, got to say hi to some of my favorites and one nice young man, Jared, invited me and my daughter to dinner this Thursday here in the town where we live.  Does that qualify as a date?  And with which one of us?  I feel like he and I have connected on a deeper level than just friends and you don’t drive an hour to have dinner with someone and then turn around and drive an hour home just for fun normally…  He is an amazing man, tall and handsome (he’s Native American, of course. I have thought Natives were the most beautiful people in the world since I was a child), a hard worker and going to school for psychology.  I really, really enjoy working with him.  The problem is that he’s only 26.  He’s met my daughter a couple of times and I did mention that she was single now so I’m hoping that he’s wanting to date her and then maybe they’ll get married and have super cute babies and I’ll have him as a son forever…  <dreaming>

So, I live in three different worlds and I’m only really happy in one of them, when I’m working hard and interacting with the public.  School will be over in early March as long as I don’t take any extra days off and that, hopefully, will change the largest part of my day.  In the meantime, I’m in survival mode.  Again.  But this time it won’t last 21 years, lol.

Life is flying by, dang!  Day 11 was January 13th, a Friday.  I will try to summarize…

I sat at my new nail shop allllllll day Friday the 13th with not a single customer.  I finally talked my (step) sister into coming in and letting me give her a full set and then she took me out to dinner and introduced me to a bunch of her friends.

Something I’m learning about (at least this area of) Montana is that going out to eat is more often than not in a bar and drinking is The Thing To Do around here.  We spent probably 5 hours at the bar that night and a few of my sister’s friends were already sauced when we got there… by the end of the night everyone but me was too drunk to drive – I had only consumed one rum and coke, most of one shot of something apple flavored, a sip of two other drinks and 3 Dr. Peppers, with a full meal towards the beginning of all that, lol.  I actually had a great time hanging out with my sister and her friends, even drunk they were great people, happy, friendly, lots of hugs and laughter.  I really enjoyed myself that night and left with a great fondness for each of them.

The next day, Saturday the 14th, I sat at  the nail shop all day again and again, no customers.  And I was out of family to call in and work on for free just for something to do.  Panic starts to set in.  I had just committed to paying for space at the nail salon and had paid the first two weeks up front in cash, leaving me with $100 for the next six weeks… but there wasn’t any walk-in traffic on what is normally the two busiest days of the week.  Granted, it was January (the slowest month) and the weather was below zero so nobody was out and about who didn’t absolutely have to be but I had no other source of income than that spot in the nail salon, my only other skills are secretarial and those jobs don’t happen quickly and require working during school hours. So unless I could find a spot as a Walmart greeter on short notice I had little to no hope of getting any other job at all.  My bills are covered through the end of January but February  is coming quick… what do I do?  Anxiety began to ride the heels of panic.

Sunday the 15th I went to church and hung out at the house, reading a book the rest of the day.  It was a nice, relaxing day and I was happy not to have to do anything…   One of Dad’s friends is the worship leader and he was interested in getting me on the team so he asked me to come to the next worship practice and meet the pastor.  I am so excited!  I have missed being a part of a worship team so much.

Monday the 16th – I have one income option left, Uber.  I had signed up to be an Uber driver for Montana way back in July and I was approved, ready to go, all I had to do was open up the app on my phone and accept rides… so I did.  It happened to be Martin Luther King day and the buses here don’t run on Sundays or holidays so I actually did 17 rides that day in a 12 hour period and made over $100!

Wow, wow, wow!  Monday through Saturday I went out every day, driving for Uber, between 12 – 14 hours a day and for the week I made $616. It was long and boring, I spent most of that time waiting for my next ride and several times there was 3 hours in between rides  – but most of the riders themselves were very nice people and the ones that didn’t make it to the “very nice” category were certainly not difficult at all, more along the lines of “indifferent” to my attempts at small talk.  There was an Irishman from Ireland who said he liked MY accent (I didn’t think I had one, lol) and lots of really nice people who welcomed me to town and answered my questions about the city.  My drunk riders were almost all happy drunks – except for the one attorney who was a sad drunk and told me that he didn’t know anything about being an attorney except what the television and movies showed before he made the choice to go into law and then got stuck in a very sad job where he specializes in divorce and child support.  I felt really bad for him, he was so sad…  But I was never in danger from any of my riders and really enjoyed (most of) their company.

I made enough money to go a long ways towards February’s bills.  Uber isn’t something I want to rely on for my full income but in this time period of waiting for the financial aid to kick in it is a perfect job and my stress level went waaaaay down.

Saturday morning the 21st I did go to worship practice, I slept in a wee bit and then went to  the second half of praise and worship practice – just to listen.  I met the pastor and we talked as a group a bit and then the pastor offered me access to the piano in the basement to practice whenever I wanted to, more or less.  I just have to contact him first so he can let me into the church.  After our talk I played the piano for an hour and a half and it felt so wonderful!  I’d been without a piano to play since probably July.  More stress gone…

Sunday the 22nd I went to church with my folks again and the pastor blew me away with his sermon.  The previous week I had thought the message typical and rather unremarkable but this week he talked about placing relationships first when reaching out to others.  His statement “We need to stop trying to clean the fish before we catch them.”  really resonated with me and put into Montana-style words something I have believed for a long, long time.  I can commit to this church wholeheartedly.  More stress gone…

Monday the 23rd school started and let me tell you, this first week has been crazy!  Trying to adjust to waking up at 6:30 in the morning as opposed to 8:30 is rough.  It didn’t help that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I went out and drove for Uber again for several hours trying to add to my pay-the-bills fund but because of it I have spent this first week of school being so tired that sometimes I’m afraid I will fall asleep while reading the textbook in class, ugh!  Fortunately it sounds like the financial aid might kick in sooner than I was told, I hope so…

The school has lots of students (maybe 30 girls and one married man, lol) and not very much space. Like, I can’t even bring my purse because there’s no place to store it while I’m in class… On top of the 30 or so existing students there are 9 girls in my class of newbies.  Everyone in the entire school is very nice, although some are a little crazy – but I suspect that goes with the territory, ha, ha!  The dress code is black shirts and black tops so all of my nice, professional wardrobe is of no use to me now, except on Fridays (like today) when we can wear jeans and other clothing.  There are two textbooks we learn out of and each student got a duffel bag/kit of supplies, including our very own mannequin head!  On Tuesday five of us newbies decided to carpool from the bigger town we live in to the smaller town the school is in an hour away.  Each of us will drive one week at a time and that brings my monthly gas bill down from almost $400 a month to about $75.  More stress gone…

On Tuesday a total stranger found my ad for nail services on Craigslist and scheduled an appointment online for a pedicure with gel polish tonight, Friday night, and she loved it and plans on telling her friends!  The four girls I carpool with are interested to coming to me to get their nails done and they will show their co-workers and refer me to them as well.  AND some of my Montana sister’s friends are interested in coming to me… my nail business could get started and take off big time this way!

God has been soooooo good to me in this move.  I feel like it was a true leap of faith, not having much of a plan, no immediate source of income, no housing arranged, no job arranged…  I have often looked back and thought, “What on earth did you do girl?  Why did you think this was a good idea?”  but God has met me every step of the way and proven to me every day that this was His idea and He is providing for me, just like He always has, just like He always will.

I am so grateful.

Most of August was lovely…

Life at work was good, my Vietnamese family were all fairly happy with me, work was not busy but steady, making the paychecks good enough that I managed to save up all the money I needed to pay for putting new carpet in my trailer bringing me one major step closer to moving to Montana.  My Vietnamese family took me to the fair for my birthday this year like they did last year and then I went again with my sister a few days later.  Overall it really was a nice month.

On my birthday I arrived at work to find balloons, an orchid, cheesecake and a card with money on my desk!  I was on cloud nine…  A short time later there was a scheduling glitch that the older brother boss was sure was my fault and the day went from wonderful to tense and ruined.

I realized that these episodes are happening more and more frequently.  The oldest brother and youngest sister are the ones in charge of the salon I work at.  She actually has the majority invested and is the real boss but her English isn’t very good so he runs the shop.

For a long time I was “in love” with him because he was kind and sweet and funny and to some small degree, presumably as much as he can, he does love me, he has even told me so.  To his credit he never took advantage of my healing heart, he consistently said that I was Very Good Friend and treated me very nearly as another one of his sisters.

After he became the big boss at work, however, he changed and all of the nice went away. I suspect it’s a cultural thing and he’s only emulating other Asian bosses that he’s had, believing that there is only one way to Be The Boss and that is to be large and in charge while being suspicious of everything you don’t understand.  And since English is hard there is quite a bit he doesn’t understand.  When he’s in a good mood he will recognize his own mistakes and apologize for them quickly and sincerely but when he is in a bad mood nothing is ever his fault and even just trying to explain what happened is viewed as disrespecting him because you’re arguing.

I still adore him but I don’t love him anymore and I’m tired of the whiplash from his mood swings as he struggles to decide how he’s feeling and how a boss should be acting at any given moment…  I’m done with all of it and he makes me want to move to Montana tomorrow.

His sister, in fact both of his sisters, on the other hand, truly love me.  The majority owner sister with the poor English keeps buying me things – expensive things.  I think that giving gifts is her love language and I wish I could reciprocate in kind but all I can do is say thank you, give her big hugs and tell her I love her.  A lot.

The carpet gets installed in 5 days and was hoping to list my trailer for sale immediately afterwards but I still have to replace the shower walls and I have no idea how to do that, much less the time to get it done – and now I have a toothache and don’t feel like doing anything, lol.  But I know it will all work out…  When it’s supposed to…  God save me…

No offense intended towards anyone actually named Cathy… but good grief, I’ve become a prolific blogger! 

On a more serious note though, this is how I decompress, vent, sort things out in my head, etc. so I’m sorry if it’s becoming too much for anybody – it honestly boggles my mind that I have over 100 followers of my (hopefully) super-secret and (unfortunately) often depressing journaling experiment so thank you for reading along.  I only hope that if you’re the victim of emotional abuse that you will gain strength from knowing you’re not alone and get out of that relationship!

Today was hard, nerve-wracking even.  I had written the “Dear John Letter” (see my previous post) last night but decided not to send it to my soon-to-be-ex-husband until this evening being as in the last two months since I moved out he has already tried to blame me for causing him so much stress that he made “big mistakes” at his work and feared being fired over them.  Now granted, he does work with hazardous chemicals so his “big mistake” could be significantly bigger than, say, an office worker’s but regardless, his work performance is not my fault or responsibility.  A lesson I am finally learning…  Even so, it was out of habit that I decided to try and avoid being blamed for yet another thing that I didn’t do so I emailed the letter to him when I got off work Friday night at 7 pm.  That gives him the entire weekend to be comforted by his friends so he can get his act together before going back to work on Monday.

It was very difficult to press the “send” button.  I had worked hard on the letter itself, short and to the point but firm and leaving no room to “fix” anything.  But I still re-read it about five times and then had to force myself to actually send it.  What is wrong with me?  Well, whatever it was, I conquered it and sent the dang thing off.

Instant Panic Attack.

I smothered it with some chicken strips and gravy from Dairy Queen and an animated movie with my local best friend and her family. Yes, I’m a stress eater so I’ll probably wind up at 400 pounds before this is over *sigh*.  But I sent the letter.  As of yet he has not responded, not that I expected him to, but I know we’re going to have to talk and work out a few things sooner rather than later, like getting the rest of my stuff out of the house and what we’re going to do with my car – that is only in his name.

By the way, if anyone has noticed a decline in my spelling and typing abilities I just want to say that it’s the fault of my new tablet keyboard.  I’ve had it for about a month now but I’m a very fast typist and this silly little keyboard doesn’t always keep up with me so I’m finding that I don’t catch all the mistakes.  Sorry!

…and I’m suddenly out of things to say.  I suppose that’s a good thing because I need to go to bed.  The boss has been on vacation all week so I only got one day off instead of my normal two and I’ve been super tired in the mornings.  Three more days until I get two off, then two days of work and then I’m off for five days to go see my younger daughter and her husband for Easter, yay!

So there was absolutely no response from my husband regarding my email about abusive relationships, which I thought was weird.  Actually there was no response from him whatsoever for about a week – and that I expected – but when he did talk to me again his tone of voice was formal and icy.  He didn’t say word one about the email, which was good because I had asked him to respond in writing, but our conversation was stilted and very awkward.

What we talked about my Christmas present, which was tickets to a live show two days away.  Shortly after I moved out of the house he had asked if he could still go with me to the event because, at the time, he wanted to spend as much time with me as possible.  After my email on emotional abuse I thought he might refuse to go but he said he still wanted to so we confirmed our previous arrangement to have dinner first and then go to the event after.

To say dinner was stressful might be the understatement of the year.  My original terms to agreeing to go to dinner with him before the show and for going to the show itself with him were:
1.  No talking personal relationship stuff. 
2.  No holding hands. 
3.  No hugging. 

I just wanted a nice, friendly outing so as not to ruin my Christmas gift.  He made it clear that he considered it a “date” and I figured as long as he adhered to my three rules for the event I didn’t care what he called it.

Those conditions were on top of my very first condition after I moved out that I didn’t want to talk personal relationship stuff for the entire month of February because I needed some time and space to work through things in my own head without having to try and verbalize them to him.  (Which didn’t really happen.) 

He had agreed to my three terms for dinner and the show at the time, (nearly a month ago,) but it was obviously killing him at the resturant.  I arrived first with nervous knots in my stomach and unsure if I would be able to eat anything.  I dressed casual but nice.  He arrived in business casual attire, as stiff and straight as if he had a poker iron for a spine and his face as solomn as though his parents has just died. 

This is not promising to be a happy evening.

We get seated, I order a bacon cheeseburger, he orders shrimp and we start talking.  He obviously wants to talk about “us” but just as obviously knows he promised not to.  He is frustrated and angry… and trying not to be but failing.

My anxiety level is rising and I am picking at my food.

He did something strange – he asked for my set of keys to his truck back saying “it’s locked and I need them”.  Seemed like a pretty lame excuse to me but I have no plans to borrow, steal or sell his truck so I gave him my keyring and let him take the keys off, not knowing exactly which ones were for the truck.  I noticed, however, that he removed three keys (it’s an old truck and has one for the door and one for the ignition) and that the third key looked like it went to the safe.  Hmmm…

I suggest we set a date to talk about “us” and our relationship issues to help the evening go smoother.  He is strangely unavailable for the entire next week so we pick a date in two weeks.  It helped but we still wound up talking about our relationship some… the two parts I remember are when he said “You abandoned your family” and “I did not abuse you”. 

At some point after those statements I felt like a switch inside me flipped.  I became calm and rational and suddenly able to start eating my food.  I went along with whatever remaining conversation we had and prayed the night would end quickly.

We arrived at the show early, I was determined to enjoy myself and he seemed just as determined to not like it.  It was a sold-out show and we sat next to each other, without touching, for two hours.  I laughed and giggled and had a great time.  I glanced at him a few times but he was sitting there like a stone head from Easter Island so after that I decided to ignore him.  On our way out I told him several times that I had a good time and asked him if he enjoyed the show.  His response each time?  A horribly monotone “It was fine”.  He then asked if I would be open to more dates – but made sure to point out that he was not actually asking me on another date.  I was a little confused about how I should be feeling about this…

Overall, I had a good time at the show itself.  Before and after, not as much.  My thoughts about his two statements that I abandoned my family and that he did not abuse me I am saving for another post – but there is a post I need to write between this one and that one because I found out why he took my keys and was not available to meet with me for two weeks…

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.
*******************************************************************************

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,

I left my husband on Monday afternoon, he found out about it Monday evening and we had no communication until Wednesday evening when we met at a local McDonald’s for an hour and a half.  It is now Friday evening and and I feel like I’ve been on the longest, craziest, scariest roller coaster ride of my life.

Like one of those little rubber balls you get in the quarter machines my emotions are bouncing all over the place and frequently ending up where I don’t expect them to be.

Overall, I feel like I’ve been pulled out of the Matrix and am just now learning to breathe… it’s so weird.

 

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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