In the last post we started to go through basically a timeline of what happened. We left off with June 2013. Today we pick back up.
Please remember Joel's post...and that he's already admitted to all of this. Knowing what he knows now, it is painful for him to revisit this...and he is appalled by his actions. This isn't me badmouthing him. This is just us elaborating on the details...so that a clear picture of what happened can be seen...and then deeper things that we've learned from all of this can be discussed in the very near future. Again though...don't despise the set up. This part is needed.
It gives you a clear picture of what happened. It also gives you a very clear picture of how incredibly hard this all was for me...and I was in it all alone. Completely alone. Hard stuff.
This is all a slightly revised (to protect others) version of part of a timeline I was asked to write out for a counselor (the 3rd one we tried). The timeline was written in March 2014.
July 2013 - Just a lot of strain. We hadn’t been working as a team (which was such an odd feeling and odd thing since we had been such a very strong unified team before all of this) for over a year at this point. But, now we were also just no longer friends at all. We went on a little weekend trip with my mom and brothers, their wives, and our nephew (that I wasn’t really loving the idea of given our circumstances, but it was something that I had told Joel for years that I wish could happen someday…that I’d love to get to know my sisters-in-law better and it had been since my baby brother was a toddler since we’d taken a family vacation…and he was now 21 years old). So, although it involved a short drive and suitcases, it was still relatively close and not super taxing (my mom had made all arrangements for where we would stay, it was comfortable and a fun, relaxing weekend…not stressing)…so we agreed to go. The weekend was full of us just kind of avoiding each other…and many times when he could’ve stepped up and again, tried to be a protecting, caring husband to me, but he did not. At one point, he stayed at the condo to put the kids down for the night while I went grocery shopping by myself. He was supposed to stay up and wait for my text that I was back (as everyone else was asleep already) and then come help me get things in. Instead of being alert for me, he fell asleep and his phone dropped on the floor (and no, this wasn't just an accident...this was the pattern). And I was left in the dark, lonely, someone-could-grab-me-and-rape-me-and-kill-me parking lot to unload the car and make my way up to the room. Just another example of him not coming through for me. Of course, he said ‘I’m sorry’ later (the next morning when he finally woke up), but he says that a lot…and nothing ever changes. So, it doesn’t mean much.
Since things had been so bad for so long, we thought of counseling of course. But for a long while, there was just nobody anywhere around that we knew of for that. Finally I remembered a man we had met that might could fit the bill. I was, at that time, a mix of very fragile and very done. I knew that this man would be kind and gentle. So, at the end of July, we started seeing him. He’s a pastor…not a certified counselor/therapist. But, he had had tons of experience.
August 2013 - Yet by mid-August, he had told us that unfortunately, he really had no idea what to do with us. He focused mainly on the travel…and how Joel didn’t need to mention travel to me. And also pressured me to give him a time of when Joel could start asking me to travel again…which of course, I had no idea how long it would take to heal. I’m no counselor of course, but all of that is just focusing on the symptoms. It wasn’t about the travel alone. It was about my husband’s lack of willingness to lay that aside for the sake of his struggling wife and family. And the attitude and heart that came with that (Joel's lack of the heart of a warrior husband protecting his wounded wife). That was never addressed…just treating the symptom of travel with a prescription of No Travel.
So we left him and we tried another person…a licensed counselor who is a part of a Christian counseling center. This lady was not kind. She treated me like I was a loser and told me some of my actions and some of the things I hold very dear ‘seemed silly’ (her words…actual quote) within the first 10 minutes. I found out later that Joel had sent her an email before we went that majorly tainted her view of me (although she shouldn’t have let it). So, we never went back to her. I came home, showered, crawled up in my bed and cried…and knew that I would not ‘put myself out there’ with another just random counselor that either didn’t know us from Adam and didn’t care about us, or didn’t come highly recommended by someone we know for our specific situation.
Also, later in August, Joel supposedly got a revelation through a dream about us…he woke me up crying and just wanted to hold me and was saying that he was so sorry…that he understood, etc. It was time to send out another newsletter, so we included the good news about the turn of events in our newsletter (Joel’s life-altering revelation dream; we weren’t completely forthcoming in our newsletter…but people knew we had had a rough year or two already, and with this newsletter, we let them know that that included some marital issues). And we were friends again for a while. But it was soon apparent that that ‘revelation’ wasn’t quite life-altering after all. He told me later that that dream didn’t tell him anything specific…but that he had just lost me in his dream and he woke up knowing that he didn’t want to lose me in real life. But apparently he didn’t want that enough to start listening to me, believing me, taking care of me, and protecting me. Because he didn’t start doing any of those things.
September 2013 - Again he asked me about traveling to that training that we’re supposed to go to. He would say to that, ‘Well, people are asking…and I have to give them an answer.’ To which I would say, ‘Yes, you should give them an answer. You should say what you should’ve said at the beginning of the summer of 2012…that we have no answers, that we won’t be traveling or speaking at churches or visiting, that we won’t know our future plans until we have had a time of rest and recovery, healing and refocusing on our family for a time.’ Also, at the beginning of Sept., about a week after he said he had had that revelation, he started prodding me…’we have to talk…we need to make some plans for our future.’ ?!? Again, his excuse was that people were asking. And I’m sure they were, esp. given the fact that we had been in the states for over a year at that point. But, the problem was that nothing (except the physical acquiring of our house) had been accomplished. What should have been accomplished (our recovery) within that first year or less of our time in the states hadn’t even been believed to have been a need in my husband’s eyes. We were far from making any kinds of decisions about the future. And he needed to be honest about that. First things first.
October 2013 - After August, we were on again/off again friends again. We were still hanging out sometimes just doing fun things…going to a movie, eating out, watching something on TV. These times were definitely fewer and fewer as time went on, but they were happening a bit in the fall. When he said things like ‘I want to take care of you…I just don’t know what you’re wanting, how you see that being’ I have always answered the same way…and it really just kind of boils down to being a team again…working as a team (which includes listening to each other, believing each other, taking care of each other, and protecting each other). When you see your team member down and hurt, you don’t just ignore them and keep playing the game. The game is stopped…you stop. And you go see about your teammate. You help them in any way you can. You work together…you are in sync. We used to be a championship team…and now we’re not a team at all.
That was illustrated in real life very well in October at my daughter’s birthday party. I’m usually in charge of the bulk of the birthday party, as most moms are. I ask the child what they want as far as theme and then we come up with fun things to do around that. Joel has no responsibilities except to help me whenever I need it. Usually his part is games, but we weren’t doing games this time, we were making birdfeeders and painting birdhouses. So I had gotten everything together (big chore) and was going to show and explain to the kids what to do, while Joel passed things out and distributed supplies/paint, etc. Yet both times, he was not there. He wasn’t up and ready, willing to help. He was sitting down on the side, and made it very evident that he was irritated that he had to get up to help me when I asked him to come help. I had to call him each time I needed him…he wasn’t there, actively participating with me, being a team player like he usually is at the birthday parties. And he was annoyed when I asked him to be. Later when the party was winding down, a swarm of yellow jackets started getting all over the food. I started taking things in the house and asked Joel if he could help me. Instead of just helping to get it all in really quickly, he argued with me saying that it was fine…’why do we have to take it in, it’s fine.’ Lots of resistance, and no teamwork. Not at all what our parties have always been like, otherwise I wouldn’t think anything of it. And Joel thinks that I made a mountain out of a molehill about this. He says that I wouldn’t used to have gotten mad about this. But, not true…this would’ve made me mad had he done it before…but he didn’t. Our birthday parties have always flowed so well and were not stressful because we worked as a team. Not this time. He was totally uninterested in the party and in helping me. Besides all of that, because of all that has happened in the past couple of years (and has not stopped), I and our marriage are already in a fragile state. In order to remedy that, he should be even more attentive and more eager to help. Yet he is less. It was a relatively small occurrence within the setting of a relatively small event (a birthday party) that just gave a clear picture of what our marriage has turned into in the big scheme of things.
November 2013 - He asked about traveling again…to spend a few weeks with his family. He even threatened to just take the kids and leave. He didn’t understand why on earth that would bother me…for him and the kids to go. If I didn’t want to travel, fine…he would go with the kids and spend Thanksgiving with his family. Again…absolutely not getting it. This continued all of November.
December 2013 - We found out we were pregnant the first weekend of December. It was a weird time because we were super happy about the baby, but also just in a yucky place in our marriage/life. But…we had to pull it together…because we had to return to Brazil by the summer so baby could be born in Brazil (all for reasons concerning birthing options and preferring my doctor there in Brazil…weird I know, considering the C-section rate in Brazil…but it’s true).
I started spotting on Christmas day…just a tiny bit of blood, but enough to really concern me of course. The day after Christmas, we went for an ultrasound to see if baby was still alive (I was 7 ½ weeks along at that point). On the way to see if our baby was dead or not, right before we were there, right as I was my most anxious of course, Joel brought up and wanted to discuss our plans for our trip to Brazil in February. Completely and totally insensitive and ridiculous. I was appalled. And another ‘cord‘ broke (the cords tying our hearts together…there weren’t many left at this point). Baby was still alive…and all looked normal.
January 2014 - I had been working on revamping our homeschool all of December and until mid-January. A TON of work and research on my part. Totally new homeschool curriculum that I had to put together myself. And I was so excited to start it the 3rd week of January. We started that Monday…and Monday and Tuesday were awesome! Loved being back in the swing of things. The kids were excited. I was excited. That Wednesday was a scheduled day off of homeschool…and I went to see my midwife for the first time (I was 11 weeks 2 days at this point). I found out that afternoon that there was no longer a heartbeat. According to measurements, it looked as if baby had actually died around 8 ½ weeks…although medically I was still considered to be having a miscarriage at 11 weeks 2 days…almost 2nd trimester. There’s more risk the further along you are.
I texted Joel to let him know. And luckily I texted him right back to tell him not to tell anyone…because he was about to tell the kids. WITHOUT me. Another cord broken.
I began the process of physically miscarrying the baby and remains of the pregnancy the next day, a Thursday…started bleeding. By the weekend I was also cramping pretty hard. On Monday afternoon the cramps got worse and worse and then late afternoon/early evening I literally spent over 2 hours in actual labor (although the physical pain was much, much worse than any labors of my live children were…and I have homebirths…no pain medication at all), finally giving birth to a completely intact sac. Everything about it was just like a normal labor and delivery (except the pain…much worse and completely constant…no breaks between contractions, just one long contraction)…I threw up right before I knew it was time to push, I got in very warm water when it was time, I felt the urge to push, etc….just like my other births. I had just, very literally, given birth. I was weak and shaky afterward…I got my shower and lay down on my bed. I had endured over 2 hours of excruciating pain (seriously like nothing I’ve ever experienced), plus days of cramps…I had just given birth to the remains of my baby and was exhausted. Joel was there for the very last part of it. He helped me some. So he knew what it had been like. About an hour after I lay down, he came in and asked me if I could put the kids down for the night while he took a shower. Wow. Another cord.
I kept the remains so that I could show the kids…I’m huge on being very honest with my kids (on their level of course) and educating them…teaching them about life and death, plus the miracle of biology and life that can be seen in the gift of the remains we had (I got to show them the sac and how it has more than one layer so as to protect baby, etc. etc.; did you know that I’m also a childbirth educator…so of course that plus being a nurse plus just a driving need to be honest and open...it was a neat thing to experience with them). Plus…for them to see where the baby that had died had lived…might afford some closure for them. Not that they were needing it necessarily, but I wanted to give them as much information and opportunity for closure as possible…and they really enjoyed looking at it all and even picking it up and exploring it with their fingers. After we got done, I just impromptu said something about burying the remains with the kids outside. Joel just made a face and said that he’d prefer to just put it in the trash. Another cord. The kids and I went outside (Joel followed). I was glad to have remains from this miscarriage…even more symbolic closure (like a funeral) and treating it more like the death of an actual person, as it was…instead of flushing the remains down the toilet or putting it in the trash or something.
Another thing that happened was that before we found out about baby and the miscarriage, we had scheduled our son’s birthday party for Feb. 1st at the nearest Chuck E. Cheese (an hour and a half away). As I had just gone through birth that Monday, had buried the remains of our baby on Wednesday, and was still recovering physically, I decided that that Saturday was not a good day to try to have a birthday party. Birthday parties take a TON out of you even when everything has been peachy king for months/years on end. Things had been far from peachy king, for years. But, just that week I had had an almost 2nd trimester miscarriage!! That frustrated Joel...that I wanted to postpone the party. Why couldn’t we still have it?, Joel asked (like he had anything to do with it in the first place...it's not like he was going to get a gift and make sure all Grady's little friends knew about it and get a cake and party favors, etc. etc. etc.). Wasn’t it (the miscarriage) all done?, he asked. (flashback to April 2011...2nd miscarriage when he had asked the same sort of question) Another cord.
February 2014 - I gave birth to our deceased baby on January 27th. We buried it on the 29th. I was scheduled to go back to the midwife to check things out on the 5th of February…to see if everything had cleared out on its own, or if I would need a D&C (surgery to remove any possible remains that might be left in my uterus). Joel, however, was scheduled to leave on the 4th to go to Brazil for 2 ½ weeks (the time had come that we had to move all of our things out of our rental house and turn it over to the owner). Before the miscarriage, I also was scheduled to go to Brazil in February…to meet him down there for a few days, to get housing ironed out for when we would be going back in the summer in order to have this baby in August. When I found out that there was no heartbeat, I just immediately knew that it would change the traveling plans. That I probably wouldn’t be going at all…and that Joel would postpone. To my shock and disbelief, Joel had no such plans to postpone his trip. Hadn’t even crossed his mind. I had literally given birth to our dead baby a week before on the 12 week marker. I hadn’t even stopped bleeding yet. Didn’t know whether I’d need surgery or not. And he was planning to leave the country. He fought with me and resisted changing his dates…then wanted to just postpone leaving 2 days later. I was just beginning the physical recovery, with so many questions up in the air, and he was griping about having to change his traveling plans. That was something that he was supposed to do, on his own accord. He should’ve seen his wife, who had already been struggling with no help for years now, who was at the height of struggle now, and said, ‘yeah…there’s no way I’m going to Brazil right now. I’ll postpone my trip until I know that my wife is all better physically.” None of that.
And that was really just the last cord.We'll discuss more information that was sent to counselors next time...and lead into how it came to be that we lived apart last summer.