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Yesterday morning I sat up in bed as my husband was sitting across the room putting his shoes on.  He had been withdrawn and grumpy for the last few days so, in my never-ending quest to become bolder, I simply said the words:  “Are you upset with me?”  I’m so brave, I know…

He paused and then we had a conversation where he told me:
1.  His addiction wasn’t really an addiction, it was just his attempts at filling a “hole” in his life of something he was missing and he only accepted 50% responsibility for this “hole”, the rest was my fault.
2.  He didn’t think I was a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him but he couldn’t prove it because he didn’t know any scriptures to back it up with.
3.  He couldn’t believe that there was never any “attraction” between us because why else would we have stayed married all these years (almost 19) if we weren’t attracted to each other?

I felt he was angry and speaking from his heart, finally saying how he really felt so I very calmly asked some questions to clarify his statement until I was satisfied I knew what he was saying.  Be proud of me, that took A LOT of effort, just sayin’.

I rode the bus to work and started writing him a letter which I finished on a break later in the day.  I wrote about how he had brought pornography into our marriage right from the start and after just a few years we were convicted that it was wrong so “we” stopped viewing pornographic materials.  (It always made me feel so yucky inside, it wasn’t very hard for me to stop.)  I felt like I was writing with “righteous anger” and the words just poured onto the page.  I refused to accept responsibility for any percentage of this “hole” in his life that was clearly there long before I ever met him and I informed him that yes, indeed, he had an addiction and needed to admit it and defeat it.  I concluded my handwritten, 9-page letter (on 6″ x 8″ paper) by saying there were plenty of $500/month apartments near where he worked and he should go get one and be gone from our house for a minimum of one year.

My anger has changed over the years, I used to withdraw and “turtle up” until it was safe to come out again.  In my quest to “find myself” I have become a warrior, hard as a diamond and cold as the Arctic.  Don’t mess with me, I will not be your doormat anymore.

So after work I go home and immediately have a phone situation to deal with.  Almost 2 hours later I have solved one of our two problems and am sitting in the easy chair, playing Farmville2 on my laptop while my husband is sitting on the couch next to me, watching a show and reading a book, acting like everything was fine and dandy.

I have not given him the letter, wanting to write it up neatly because it was a rough draft with things crossed out and what not.  I am trying to keep my face neutral to stern, hoping he will notice and ask me what’s wrong…

It finally becomes obvious that he is not operating under the belief that our morning talk had an impact on our relationship so I finally asked him if he had any other thoughts regarding our conversation that morning.

He put his book down, sighed and said that obviously I had some thoughts about our conversation so why don’t I share them?

We wound up having a good, open, honest talk.  Maintaining my austere aloofness I asked him, point-blank if he still thought I was an Ungodly Wife and if he still believed he didn’t have an addiction.

It immediately became clear that just as I shouldn’t have any serious talks at night after I’ve taken my sleeping pills, he shouldn’t have any serious talks first thing in the morning, despite his belief that he is a morning person…

I put my newly-found sunglasses of Love and Forgiveness on while he did most of the talking and realized four very important things:
1.  My husband has absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever.  The self-talk that goes on inside his head is so cruel and negative – he almost cried while talking about it and if I wasn’t in Xena Princess Warrior mode I would have cried too, it’s horrible to imagine anybody living with that.
2.  My husband has the emotional maturity of an 8-year-old.  Seriously.  Sticks and stones can break his bones but words and dark glances will kill him.
3.  My husband is not a good communicator.  He uses words that I associate with completely different things than he does.  For example when he said I wasn’t a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him I immediately thought “sex”.  He meant something more along the lines of “respect” and wanting to spend time with him… and so on.  Most likely I’m so weary of having sex all the time that I’m on the defensive, hearing and seeing “suggestiveness” in everything he says and does.  But still, what he means is not what is usually communicated to me.
4.  My husband is probably depressed and should be on medication.  He actually said the first part – that he wonders if he’s depressed.  I said let’s go to the doctor and he immediately resisted, claiming it was embarrassing enough to be going to a counselor.  I have quite a bit of Prozac left over from when my doctor switched me to another medicine so I suggested he start taking that (yes, I know, all kinds of wrong and illegal) and if after a month he felt better, then he could go to the doctor and get his own prescription and if he didn’t feel better he could stop taking them.  He said he doesn’t want to be stuck taking pills for the rest of his life…. ugh!  (This one I will win, he just doesn’t know it yet.)

So, to sum it all up, for almost 20 we’ve pretty much had the exact same needs – to be appreciated and loved/respected for who we are – but we’ve been speaking totally different languages and had completely unreasonable, and entirely unspoken, expectations regarding the other.  That, right there, changes everything…  I decide to hold off on giving him the letter.

I grew up with no self-esteem.  I started to recognize that fact it in my 20’s and have been actively working on believing that I have value for the last 10 years.  I never imagined guys would have this problem too, and especially not my macho, controlling, selfish, easily angered husband.  I had actually thought he esteemed himself too highly for all these years, if you want my honest opinion.  But last night he was broken before me, poured wide open in emotional honesty for possibly the first time in his life.

This changes the way I will talk to him – I will use simpler communication not expect him to react like a mature adult.  I will give him more encouragement and praise and ask the girls to do the same.  I will (quietly) ask men at church to encourage him and build him up.  I will wait another year to see if he improves and re-evaluate life at that time.  If he is playing me, and I’m sure some of my friends will think he is, then a year is ample time to prove himself to me one way or another.

My eyes are wide open and my heart is still going to be guarded but last night, in just a few moments of listening and hearing what he was saying, everything changed.

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I was on my way home from work and the sun was shining brightly.  So brightly, in fact, that I was wearing my way cool – and polarized – sunglasses.  There was a large cloud next to the sun and I saw the widest, most brilliant rainbow I’d ever seen on the side of the cloud.  It was just in that spot – nowhere else.  It wasn’t raining, just a bright, sunny day with a few big, white, fluffy clouds.  I took my sunglasses off and the rainbow turned into an unbearably bright white spot on the side of the cloud.  I put my sunglasses back on and – rainbow!  Off again, bright white spot.  On, off, on, off…yes I did this for a while…

That got me thinking, where else in life are there Hidden Rainbows?  Where are things, especially in my own past that I might look at and say “Oh, that’s just a cloud” or “Oh, that hurts my eyes to look at it”.  When I view life with a different filter what will I see?  Beauty where there was normal, or even ugly?  Rainbows in places that are still too painful to look at directly? 

But what filter do I use to change my vision?  My sunglasses are polarized and let me see all kinds of things my normal eyes can’t see.  When I am wearing my polarized sunglasses I find that many electronics have a colored sheen on the displays, almost like when water runs down the street and sometimes you can see a rainbow of colors in the surface because it picks up all the traces of oil and antifreeze, etc from the roadway.  The polarization also cuts down the glare from the sun on the windshields of other cars making it possible to see what’s going on inside the cars around me with my sunglasses on but without them I can only see that yes, there is a car there but the glare of the sun on the windshields makes it impossible to see the driver or passengers. Unfortunately, sunglasses can only help you in the physical world, they can’t show you the hidden rainbows in your past – or present – or help you see into a co-workers weird and unexplainable actions (or maybe it’s my weird and unexplainable actions…).

Love is a good filter, probably the greatest filter.  Love God first, then people.  If we can do this – if I can do this because I am totally preaching to myself here – then we the people will have insight into the ways of others and see the hidden rainbows everywhere we go.  Life will become a better place for all of us. 

Let me be clear in one thing, however, Love is different than tolerance, a LOT different.  America has become tolerant crazy and people nowadays seem to think that if you’re not tolerant of them and whatever it is their doing, well then you’re just a hater.  This is not true.   Love does have rules, and strangely enough, the list of Love’s rules contains a lot of “don’t”s.  I Corinthians 13:4-8 says

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but (does) rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.   Love never fails.

By way of example, it is loving on my part to NOT tolerate my husband’s addiction because it is bad for him personally, it is bad for me personally, it is ruining our marriage and threatening the security of our children.  Tolerance can be good but it has been misused and re-defined to the point that tolerance can also be very, very bad and allow all sorts of harmful things to grow up strong and completely unchallenged in today’s society.

But now I feel like I’m getting into an entirely different topic so I’ll save that for another blog. 

Another really good filter is Forgiveness.  Stop holding grudges and making people “pay” for their mistakes long after they remember they even made one.  Yes, you were hurt in the past but it made you who you are today so mourn for your loss – for a short time – and then let it go.  Forgive the one(s) who hurt you and move on.  You are stronger because of everything you’ve come through UNLESS you refuse to forgive because it takes all your strength to carry those grudges, especially when you keep adding new grudges to the old ones.  (Still preaching to myself here…)

So back to my sunglasses analogy – Forgiveness is like the dark tint of your sunglasses, you can’t see things in the shadows very well, or at all, depending on how dark they are, i.e., how well you’ve forgiven the offender(s).  Love is the polarization on your sunglasses.  It reveals beauty that can’t be seen any other way and can bring understanding of what’s going on inside people and situations that you couldn’t see before because, unaided, you could never see past the blinding glare they projected.

So put your sunglasses on, your “new” sunglasses of Love and Forgiveness.  Look at the list and stop doing some of the things you’ve been doing and start to do some of the things you don’t normally do.  The next grudge you remember – forgive the one(s) who offended you and move past it.  Find the Hidden Rainbows and you’ll discover that your world – and the world of the people around you – is a much better place!

So Who Am I?  I am….. a girl.  That is always the first defining word that comes to mind.  Not female, not lady, not woman, not wife, not mother but girl.  Not a fancy-schmancy, frilly kind of girl either but a practical, no-nonsense type of girl.I was always too serious to be considered a child but nowhere near enough experience to be counted as an adult either, that’s how I was in my junior high and high school years and how I still feel today – I don’t have enough, I am not enough to be who I need to be and do what needs to be done.

Does the fact that I prefer the term “girl” over “lady” or “woman” mean that mean I haven’t grown up yet?  Hard to say.  As a child I used to tell people that I never wanted to grow up so that’s obviously been something I’ve resisted my entire life.  Why?  There was a Star Trek episode that I really related to – it was a planet of children (who aged very slowly so they stayed children for far longer than normal) but when they finally hit they change they became “Grups” – short for “Grownups”.  Like the Star Trek show I watched, the “Grups” in my life never seemed to have any fun and were always full of “Don’t” instead of “Do” and they always said “You can’t” more than “You can”.  I understand a little more of that now, being a parent myself.  While I try to be “Fun Mom” and “Cool Mom” it’s just not always possible because I can never say “yes” all the time.  There are times that I do have to say “No” and “Don’t” and “You Can’t” and while I hate having to be that person the things my kids ask for are more often than not impossible and/or impractical to make happen.  It is by this I know that I must have grown up, at least a tiny little bit, because I can say “No” when no needs to be said.

There was an interesting quiz I took when I was in high school and I still remember some of the questions and my answers vividly.  You can take it too, go get a pen and paper and write your answers down:

1.  You find yourself in the woods – describe the woods:

2.  As you walk through the woods you see a cabin, you go up and knock on the door – describe the person who opens the door:

3.  You leave the cabin and keep walking through the woods, eventually you find a child, describe the child:

There may have been more questions but those are the ones I remember.  What are your answers?  The essence of my answers were as follows, although I was a lot more wordy back in high school (I know that’s hard to believe…):

Describe the woods:  Dark, can’t see the sun through the trees and there’s a bear nearby so I need to be very careful it doesn’t.  Someplace to step carefully and tread lightly so nobody else, especially the bear, knows I’m there.

Describe the person who opens the door:  A man, tall with long hair and a kind face and a gentle smile.  Dressed comfortably but clean and neat with lots of muscles – a hardworking man.

Describe the child:  A girl, in tattered clothing with long, uncombed hair and a dirty, tear-stained face.  She is lost and it looks like nobody cares for her.

So big deal, right?  The final statement of the “quiz” was that how you described the woods was how you viewed your life.  How you described the person who answered the door of the cabin was who you wanted your spouse to be.  How you described the child is how you saw yourself.

For me it was dead on.  My life seemed dark and scary and honestly, my mother was the bear.  Those were the actual physical characteristics of the man I hoped to marry someday and to be fair I did get most of those – except he’s never had long hair in his life and his face reflects a great many things other than kindness with a gentle smile most of the time, although he is trying to do better and has greatly improved over the years.  But it was my description of the little girl that took my breath away.  It was exactly the way I felt, and to some degree I still feel this way.  Alone, uncared for and unloved without my very basic emotional needs ever being met – for so long not even realizing that I had basic emotional needs that were left wanting.  I didn’t realize until I was in my 30’s that this was not normal because it was all I knew, both in my upbringing and in my marriage.

Consequently I feel like I haven’t been a very good mother to my children, who will soon be graduating high school and are far past the point of a “do-over”.  But I’ve been told those feelings are normal in every parent, even the people that I think are Super Mom and Super Dad to their kids so maybe I haven’t been as horrible as I’m afraid I have.  I still don’t know if being grown-up is worth all the hype though, there’s an awful lot of bills involved…

What is it that I didn’t want to give up by becoming an adult?  I’m not entirely sure, except that I never truly believed I had what it takes to be on my own.  I didn’t go to college because I didn’t know what I wanted to be “when I grew up” and I didn’t want to go to school for 10 years switching from one degree to another while I tried to make up my mind and accumulate all that debt.  The thing is, my mother was a single mom with four kids, I probably would have qualified for grants up the wazoo but nobody ever encouraged me to pursue any kind of financial assistance whatsoever so I entered the work force (fast food) and had several jobs in the three years I was out of high school before I got married, and then we had kids and it has been just a juggling act between jobs (receptionist-type) and kids for the last 18+ years.  On a side note, I’ve also sold almost every home party product there is but that is a blog for another day…

Regardless of my wishes I did manage to become an adult, as is testified by the fact that this year I both turned 39 and became the proud owner of a CPAP machine that makes me sound like Darth Vader all night long.  Frequently, however, I don’t feel very grown up and most days I still don’t want to BE grownup.  Go figure.  But the first word I always use to define myself is “girl” so there it is.  I am a girl, grown up or not, here I come!

Butterflies begin life mostly as plain and wormlike caterpillars, slaves of gravity, soft and easily captured yet they don’t stay that way.  For a period of time they withdraw from the world, wrap themselves in a protective covering of their own making and when they emerge, they are something different entirely.  No longer bound to the earth they flutter to new heights as they dazzle the eye with every flap of their wings.  I’m tired of being a caterpillar – I think I need to withdraw, I’m ready to change into something beautiful now…

I am trying the blogging thing again…  Hoping to remain anonymous and yet needing to tell my story – there’s nothing like the desperate search for someone who understands what you’re going through and the anguish of letting anybody who actually knows you see what’s really going on.  This blog is mostly for me to try and get my thoughts and emotions out of my head and “on paper” so that I can sort them out better.  For the record – I totally “get” that many people have a much more difficult life than I do.  Regardless, this is my life and I’m trying to work through it by just writin’ it out… 

I welcome comments, my only request is that if you know who I am please don’t post my name, thanks!