Friday, December 12, 2014

Joel. Michawn. {Part 4 - Joel's Post}

First, this is Michawn.  I wanted to be very clear about something here before we dive in...and that is that we're not telling our story just to be 'revealing.'  There are people who don't think we should talk about these things...we have heard from a couple of these people.  They might not want to do that in their own lives...and that is fine.  But, we feel freedom to do this...and not only a freedom, but a order to ourselves heal, but also to, in the long run, possibly help others who might have something similar happen to them.  So, just know that. 

If you are going to learn anything from the things you go through, you have to look at the bigger picture.  In order to learn anything, you have to look at the truth of what happened, and then you have to see the details of what happened in light of the bigger picture.  So, this particular post is not a post to place blame, although there is some blame-taking here obviously...stating clearly what happened and taking responsibility for that...because without those first steps, there is no way to move on and get better.  This has been done in real life.  But, the reason we are posting it here for all to see is because 1) we like to be real and honest, 2) there has been much speculation and talk (as pointed out below)...and it's just time to clear things up, and 3) if you're gonna go through a really crappy season, others might as well hear about it and learn a thing or two from it too.  Otherwise we would feel like we were just hoarding our experience...when it could truly help so many others (and already has...we've heard from those people too). 

Every part of our story is interlaced.  What happened to us has already taught us so much...and we continue to walk out healing and figure things out and learn more and more things.  But, what's contained in this post is a part that can't be left out.  Without knowing this part, much of what we say from here on out wouldn’t make sense...and each part of our story that is talked about just builds onto the next and points out things that we can ponder and learn from.  So, keep that in mind.  Joel is me, by God, by himself.  But, it's important to tell the story...

Hi everyone, Michawn asked me to do this post explaining a little from my view of our situation, which I was glad to do. So this is my attempt to capture what happened these last three years.

In the first 10 years of marriage, Michawn and I operated like a well-oiled machine. She was my best friend and teammate for sure and up for just about anything….our marriage was exciting and fun.

Vibrant, energetic, hard working, low maintenance, disciplined, healthy, loving God and life kind of a person is how I would describe her.

Loved challenges and never let much bother her….. and as you probably know…..very engaged with the people around her.

Felt like we were always on the same page and connected as we discussed and made all our decisions together.  We were always doing stuff together and humbly focusing on God and each other.

When we did have different ideas or disagreements, we always came to a compromised solution. For all those years, our differences had never been a problem…we blend well together and we were a good team for sure.

We always had a very solid foundation of love, trust, and respect that God put us on as we sincerely ran after Him. God put us together….no questions or buts about that. 

We were doing well individually, taking responsibility for ourselves, free to be who we were in our marriage and could count on each other's support and understanding.

Throughout all our decision-making (and there was a lot) ….raising kids, when/where to move, going to the mission field, when and where to travel….those and many more…. we were always together.

Hindsight is mostly 20/20 and to summarize what happened after that first decade, I regrettably have to say that I somehow missed Michawn's heart and created much much damage in the process.

And saying it like that doesn’t even do it justice. I still continue to try to grasp the horribleness and devastation I brought about to my marriage and family by my mindset and actions these last years.

The toll has been tremendous.

When I think back to the different situations and circumstances we had to deal with over these past years, which Michawn has written some about previously, its just puzzling to me how I thought I was being a loving and caring husband.

It is very evident now that I trampled Michawn and beat her into the ground…..and why I thought it was okay to do/act/have the mentality that I did is beyond me……just super insensitive uncaring jerk to put it bluntly.

When I say 'missing her heart' I mean really being clueless about what was really going on with her, the struggles we were going through, the things she was facing….. truly being disconnected…...  and therefore not acting like a team.

She was down for the count…..and I was trying to drag her along….demanding she get up and “follow” me. 

I'm ashamed to say that... but it’s true.

I did not listen to Michawn and her needs and the things that she was telling me needed to change….back in 2010 while in the US, Michawn did sit me down and let me know that our lives were just too unstable and she could not handle this gypsy lifestyle for much longer. We had moved so many times since we had been married! Looking back I should have done more right then and there.

When we got back to Brazil at the end of the summer that same year, there was more instability. I did realize Michawn was becoming increasingly uneasy and had a lack of grace to deal with the constant instability in our living situation….again, how I wish I had done more instead of trampling on her and hoping she would just get over it.

We came back to the US in May of 2012 and I made things go from bad to worse. First we had no place to live and that brought a lot of stress, complications, and situations that I could have handled way better and truly cared for my family instead of putting my agenda first. Secondly, as if the way I was acting was not detrimental to our marriage and my family’s health enough….. I began then going behind her back and talking about her to others (this ended up lasting for 2 ½ years)….telling them that I just did not know what was going on with her, that she might be depressed, in crisis, was being difficult and unreasonable….things that were not true, I should have never said, and that completely ruined her good reputation with those people.

Like a complete jerk, I talked about Michawn instead of protecting and standing up for her as we dealt with difficult furlough plans and difficult circumstances.

Another way I brought even more damage was:  I had promised her (twice) we would not miss a certain special event the next time we were in the U.S., but then another special event ended up falling on the same date.  Unfortunately, I tried to go back on my promise/word to her.  Long story…. I did not act honorably, did not put Michawn first, and in the process damaged her name with the people surrounding that other event when I tried to get out of my word.

All of this added up equaled the most stress to date we had ever encountered in our marriage. Like I said, huge story but to sum it up I made it very hard, stressful, damaging to our marriage.  And all this stress was added on top of the previous year of stress and instability that Michawn was needing to recover from.  

In Oct of 2012 when I finally had a roof over my family's head and thought I had solved all our problems, my focus turned to the demands of our furlough schedule that we had postponed for 6 months because of everything else that was going on (remodeling a house to live in, etc.)…..And that is when I started really making even BIGGER MISTAKES.

Michawn was barely able to function at this point (although she just kept pushing through), and needing for me to take care of her and protect her and I was way in left field focusing on schedule, trips, and other people!

As you can imagine, things just snowballed after that. We were not working as a team and the disconnect caused great damage in just about every situation we encountered or had to deal with. Things just got worse and worse. From the summer of 2013 to the summer of 2014 we worked with several different counselors, but none had really been able to help us.

Finally, this past August, I was awakened to the fact (with the help of a new counselor) of how I had just completely missed Michawn this whole time, and things began to change in my heart.  That was a huge turning point.

AlI the damage I had unknowingly inflicted. How I did not listen to or believe Michawn and the needs she expressed...and did not prioritize her.  My attitudes and behavior during all this time and the devastating effect on our marriage and Michawn's spirit and health…..all that pierced my heart and on Labor Day...

True God intervention.  I apologized in the most sincere way I have ever apologized before.

Since then I have been working to regain Michawn’s trust and win my family back.  Things are a lot better but are not perfect. Still different issues come up and at times I do more damage, but we are working together and doing our best to heal and recover from all the pain and damage I caused over the past few years. The way back to a healthy vibrant relationship is long and definitely not easy, but totally worth the while.

I pray that what I have written here, the lessons that I have learned so far will encourage you to truly actively listen to your spouse's needs and prioritize them no matter what is going on.

To truly work as a team is a wonderful thing.

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