Monday, March 30, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 20 - More Questions Answered}

There were a few more comments and questions after my last blog I wanted to do another 'question and answer' post here just to get a couple of those in too before we moved on.  The next post will be done sometime this week.  It's a doozy.  So stay tuned.  But, now...let's answer a few more questions...

I got a message from a friend who asked these things:

Once you found that email between Joel and the wife of his friend, did you confront him on it? or just keep it to yourself? Did that play a key part in you knowing it was time for the separation?
So, in the telling of our story, and in telling about others, I have tried to make it as anonymous as possible.  And so in telling the story about the email correspondence I found between the girl who was supposedly 'reaching out' to me and at the same time badmouthing me to Joel, I kept it very anonymous.  But, in thinking through all that I have to write about in the future, and the way it needs to be done, and all the points that need to be made about the things we have learned...truly there is no way to keep it completely anonymous.  The need for letting you know a particular thing about those people is inevitable.  It is inevitable, so therefore I am going to go ahead and let you know...the 'wife' and Joel's 'friend' were actually family members.  There's a lot more to that part of the story that will come out as we go along.  But, to answer these questions here...

I did not confront Joel at the time.  If you'll recall from my last post, I stated, "as time went on, and that got more and more the case (him going to others, him believing others...not believing me, etc.), then we talked less and less. i would always forgive, reconcile, start again, try again...but, during the pregnancy/miscarriage stuff and he was so had been 2 years by that point...and i was just out." And I really was just out.  

I had the miscarriage.  A couple of weeks later, Joel traveled to Brazil and was gone for 2 1/2 weeks. was wonderful with him gone.  That was a big eye-opener...just how incredibly peaceful and how much freedom (read: not oppression) I felt while he was gone.  Joel got back the 2nd week of March 2014.  I found that correspondence between he and the girl that had reached out to me (but was badmouthing me behind my back) and her husband ( you members) the end of March.  I also found some other things that I will get into later. 

But, one of the other things I found I can tell you was an email that he had sent, while he was in Brazil, to someone he knows in Brazil.  It was concerning a job interview there in Brazil...something that he had never once discussed with me.  I don't know just how seriously he was considering it (it was such a non-issue by the time we got back together in Sept., esp. as compared to all of the other we just never really talked much about it), but he was planning to spend time there in an interview type situation while he was there in Brazil.  He ended up sending them an email that day, though, saying (in Portuguese), "Ontem a noite, tive um tempo de aconselhamento que realmente identificou a nossa situacao como uma crise de depressao na minha esposa." In English:  "Last night, I had a time of counsel which really identified our situation as a crisis of depression (depression crisis) in my spouse."  He went on to tell them that, because of his wife's depression crisis, he felt it best to stay in the United States until the situation resolved.

It was interesting to me that I wasn't there at all and hadn't talked to these people myself (the people giving Joel counsel), but they had all sat around and diagnosed me (with something that I didn't have, btw, for those of you who may not remember).  It had been decided that our marriage problems all stemmed from me...and that I was depressed and in a crisis.  Joel and the people he was talking to (*my* friends too with whom he had decided to speak falsely about me) clearly had all the answers.  How lucky for me!  (that's sarcasm, btw)

Anyway, as you can see, I found a few 'interesting' things that day in his email.  Things which just confirmed over and chasm between us that I thought was huge already...somehow it is even huger than I thought.  It was disheartening and completely maddening.  But, like I said...I was really done.  I was just so exhausted with it all.  It had been over 2 years at that point...I had tried to talk to him.  Nothing worked.  Nothing I said, no matter how I said it or tried to show it, worked to reveal the truth to his blinded self. 

So, I said nothing.  Honestly, I just felt like it didn't even matter anymore.  I had was futile.

I wouldn't say that these discoveries in his email account played a key part in knowing it was time for separation, no.  I found all of those things in his email the end of March (the 20th actually).  He didn't move out until 2 months after that. 

It was just another 'nail in the coffin' I'd of the many, many nails.  LOTS of nails, y'all.

As a friend told me just this weekend, "You give people a lot of chances." 

So, in May 2014 when we separated, it was because it was just time to do so.  I had wished that we could live apart ever since he had traveled to Brazil and everything was so peaceful (busy, because single parenting you do alone...but peaceful).  But even though I wished for that, I had no peace about separating...until mid-May.  The peace came.  So, there were lots of things leading up to the separation (and finding that email doesn't stand's just one of the many things that happened along the way)...but the peace that flooded me in mid-May about actually separating was the single key factor in knowing it was time to do so.

Hopefully that answers those questions sufficiently. 

More, on some other things I found there in his email account, to come later in the blog series. 

And some of the questions and comments I got the past few days will be explained as we go along in the blog, too.  So for those things, I will not address them here...but they will eventually be addressed. 

One more thing, though, I did want to touch on here.  And it's really more of a personal request before we move on with the series... 

I referenced a blog commenter last post...she had commented on the blog at Part 18.  But, by the end of the day that we started commenting back and forth, she had erased her comments altogether...all except one.  I wanted to address it in case you guys had seen this conversation in the comments...or if you had gone there only to find that they had all been erased (except one by her and all of my replies to her comments). 

I invited her to come and really talk to me via email.  She did write me an email...a very long email.  It talked about how we were just very different.  She used the analogy of art...and said that she was an oil painter.  And in her world she sees multiple colors, whereas in my world, I see largely in black and white and get irritated with people who want to know what the other colors in my story are.  She called me a pen and ink artist.  She said things like this:

I am not going to waste your time right now, but because other people who see the world through eyes like I do, WILL from time to time come across your blog and MAY try to ask you questions which you will not understand, pardon me while I try to make myself understood.
Look at that phrase again..."may try to ask you questions which you will not understand..."

This lady referred, over and over to me in her email, to having asked me questions.  Here's the thing...she never asked me not one question.  It wasn't that I was not understanding her's that she wasn't asking me any.  So, here was my reply:
dear oil painter…

and herein lies the problem.  this email is filled with the problem.  you just don’t see it.  hopefully you will by the end of my email here.  i pray you have ears to hear.  because this is something that actually has the potential of revolutionizing one’s life and the way they relate to everyone with which they come into contact.  it all boils down to this...

you come fulllll of assumptions.  you come in this email…full of assumptions.  you came to my blog…full of assumptions.  what you saw as asking questions……….there weren’t any questions!  lol.  go back and look at your comments on my blog (all of them)…if you don’t have a record of them (now that you deleted them) i can send you one.  but, there were absolutely no questions…except for the one that asked me if i was right this whole time (which was, of course, actually fraught with accusation, lol). 

when you go to someone to clarify things, esp. someone you don’t know at all, you need to go NOT with your own set of assumptions and accusations that you’ve already formed.  but, with actual questions!!  you need to go with an open mind.  you need to first, never assume things.  you need to say to yourself, ‘i do not know this person.  i only know this very limited part of her life, and about this tiny part of her life, i only know what she has written so far.  there’s no way i can even form assumptions and accusations…and if i’m feeling the urge to do so, i need to genuinely go to her and ask first to get all of the information i need to form an opinion on the matter.’ if you have questions about the way something is, you need to go to that person and actually ASK instead of coming and stating how you feel about it.  or coming and stating your assumptions…or coming and accusing that person of things.  because you simply do not know what you are talking about. 

and i tried to dissuade that in my comments back to you.  but, you just kept going at it.  no questions…just assumptions and accusations.  i felt like my comment about your ‘splitting hairs’ was a little less harsh than ‘stop assuming and accusing here’…so i said that.  but, what you need to do in the future is stop with the assumptions and accusations…and if you truly want to know more about a person, then you ask.  ‘ask’ means actually asking questions…gathering more information WITHOUT assuming and accusing.

this email is full of the same.  you know one minuscule part of me and my 40 years on this earth.  so to say things like you’ve said here…just more of the same assumptions and accusations.  have you been dreadfully hurt by pen and ink artists in your life?  is that why you are quick on the draw and sure to get your assumptions in about them before they draw on you?  is that why you want to try to make this about color vs. black & white (because that accusation and assumption is just blatantly false)?  i don’t know.  that’s why i’m asking.  see…that is what you call a question.  and if i was actually coming to your blog, esp. if you were in the middle of telling a story about lots of painful things, i would even word those questions in a much better way…without my own thoughts about the possibilities of your life and your story in them.  because see...i don’t know anything about you.  i would only be able to assume, but i don’t do that.  and with assuming comes accusing without the proper information…and i don’t do that either. 

it’s a learned art (esp. if it wasn’t modeled for you growing up)…how to ask for and gather information from someone, and at the same time showing great grace and empathy.  and not just showing great grace and empathy…but when you walk away from that person, them feeling like they have been *bathed* in grace and empathy…instead of actually having been accused and assumed upon.  no matter your personality type or how you see the world…*nobody* likes assumptions or uninformed accusations. 

i would encourage you in the future to practice this discipline.  the more you practice it, the more it will become 2nd nature (just like anything else in life).  and i invite you to email me or participate in the blog too…but only if this is in practice.  assumptions, and accusations without first gathering the information needed, will not be tolerated.  that’s just the boundary that must be drawn to promote health in our lives. 

a pen and ink artist
Folks, I genuinely love discussion.   I love talking about things that have happened and the things that we've learned from it.  I love sharing with you all (obviously).  But, assumptions and accusations are hard.  I've had some people come to me with a real heart of concern...and I get their heart behind what they say.  I know that they mean no harm and that they truly come out of love.  But, whatever it is that you are concerned about...please take those concerns and voice these things in the forms of kind, loving questions that illicit the information you need in order to see if your concerns are valid or not. 

When someone comes stating a concern, it unfortunately is most often in the form of an accusation.  For instance, in this lady's first comment on the blog, she said, among other things, this:  "Please forgive me if I seem harsh or rude. Your husband was wrong. But I feel you have need of giving him grace & mercy."  She feels I have a need of giving Joel grace & mercy?  She doesn't even know us.  And she's only heard part of the story of us, and that part is only from the past 3 years and how this all happened.  There is definitely more to tell.  Also, again...while I'm writing about past events, I write as if they are happening at this present moment in order to take you back to how that really was and how that really felt.  And of course she might have that question about grace and mercy since she doesn't even know us.  But, instead of making assumptions and accusations, she could have actually asked those 'questions' she so comically thought she had.  She could have said something like, "Tell me about your relationship with Joel.  Tell me what role grace and mercy has played in your lives during this time...I suspect a huge role, but please tell me more.  Has it been an important part?  I'm sure it's an ongoing need...can you give us an example of how grace and mercy were utilized and given in your relationship during all of these past hard times, and recently?"

See how that works?  See how that is supportive and kind?  I try to be clear in the telling of our story, but we all have different personalities and different backgrounds.  Some of you know me in real life, so therefore you might understand my story-telling methods and the way I say things better.  Some of you who even know me, may not.  Then there are those of you who don't know me at all apart from the blog or the online world.  If you only know me from this blog, and esp. from only this blog series, the view you've been given of me is very, very limited.  If you're friends with me on Facebook, you have a little better idea of who I am since I post often about how I feel about things, what my views are on things, etc.  But, then we're back to the different personalities and different backgrounds issue, even if you do know me. 

Jumping to conclusions, assuming things, and making uninformed accusations...these things are never the answer and they do more harm than good, even if your intent is to help.  "It's the thought that counts." Get me a gift and that might apply.  Falsely accuse me of something...that phrase does not apply.  Can I get an 'amen' from the congregation?  ;) 

Get informed first.  And you can only get informed by asking questions.  Questions that don't include assumptions or accusations. 

Assume goodwill.  I talk about this a good bit.  But, assume goodwill.  Even if you've read my blog and you think you know how a certain thing is, assume the best until proven otherwise.  And the only way you can be proven otherwise is by asking me

Hopefully I've hit this point on home, yes?  lol.  Again, I LOVE discussion.  But, dealing with assumptions and accusations becomes very, very stressful.  All of your genuine and kind questions are very, very welcome though...just remember that.  I love hearing from you in that way.  Hearing from you helps encourage me in this.  So thank you.

Love you guys.  Next time, we'll dive right back into it.  It's kind of a rough one next was rough on me anyway.  Just be prepared. 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 19 - A Pause To Answer Questions}

There is so much more to share to this story.  So much that happened to us.  So much that we learned from it all...and are still learning. 

But...I have gotten a few questions and comments that I want to respond to here.  1) maybe some of you have some of the same questions and thoughts, 2) even if you don't, it might be good for you to hear these answers and replies, and 3) I know that if you don't have these specific questions and thoughts, you might have some of your own...and I want to just take a little time here to answer you before we move on to the rest of the story.  Read all the way to the end to see what you can do for me.  ;)

Here we go...

There have been three people now who really honed in on the part I wrote about our anniversary and expressed concern.  Here's what I wrote. 
Today is our anniversary.  I have very mixed feelings about days like today now.  A feeling of disgust is what rises to the top to be honest.  It's all...tainted now.  "I love you" he says.  But, really?  Really do you love someone and treat them this way?  Is that what love looks like?  We're not talking about leaving the toilet seat up...we're talking about years of mistreatment here.  Years.  And while we have learned the source of that mistreatment (to an extent), he's still the one who did it.  And while he's repentant, it's not something that easily gets worked through.  Not only do effects of that mistreatment still exist, but also remnants of the attitudes and beliefs that brought about that mistreatment.  There's a lot to work through.  And's tainted.  As we move forward and continue to go toward the light in this and away from the darkness, will that taintedness fade?  I sure hope so.  That is definitely the goal.  But for now...tainted.  Happy tainted anniversary.
It's interesting to me that that touched such a cord with at least 3 different people, maybe more of you.  As I've said before, I cannot stand to dress things up just to make it look pretty and 'acceptable' and more comfortable to read.  If I'm going to bare all here, then I'm going to bare all...completely authentically and as it is at the moment.  Here's what I wrote in response to concern that this paragraph conveyed bitterness: 
i was just being authentic. i personally think that all of this sucks the most on the days that are supposed to be important. the things that went wrong are more in your face on those days. so…that was just all the truth. didn’t mean i’m bitter. just means that an anniversary now, esp. this close to the events of the past few years, is very, very different and crappy compared to the anniversaries pre-2012.
Is that hard to understand?  I just want to be real here.  That was my 'real' that day.  It might be my 'real' on my next anniversary too, who knows?  They say time heals all wounds.  Of course, that is not true.  But they do get better over time.   We'll see how things are next Feb. 17th. 

I also said this about bitterness and perception:
*is* bitterness there under the surface…is it something that i have to watch for? yes. and there are LOTS of things to choose from that i could be bitter about, lol…not just related to joel and things he’s done. i just don’t buy into the way of thinking that suggests that 1) anger = bitterness…because there is definitely some righteous indignation that *needs* to rise out of what happened to us and our story and WHY it all happened…and reform needs to come, or 2) that really taking you into the moment…really taking you *there* as i do with each of my posts…= bitterness. i said that you had to wait for the end of the story. the truth is, though, that we’ve already shared the start of the hopeful ending in all of the first few posts we did…and we’ve sprinkled the hopeful/we’re-not-bitter-but-we-have-to-honestly-tell-the-story-and-take-you-*into*-the-story/drag-you-*there*-for-you-to-really-get-it parts throughout the posts in all of the disclaimers we constantly have to put to remind folks. apparently even those constant reminders escape some folks and we (or i, as the writer) are still sometimes perceived as bitter. but…i just refuse to doctor it up. or sprinkle it with confetti or rose petals. it was a dark, dark time…and still is at times…and i want to convey that. i’ve conveyed the hope too…but, i can’t make people see that or remember it as they walk through the darkness of it with us. i do hope that you’ll try to remember those parts from now on as you read the darkness though.
About the hard parts: 
it’s like, God gives us the darkness all the time in the Bible. He doesn’t shy away from it or make it all pretty. do we know the end of the story…do we know the bottom line truth? yes. because we’ve heard it before. but, He doesn’t constantly give disclaimers and remind us of the end in the hard parts. we have to just trust that there is a point…that in those hard parts we read in His ‘blog posts’ to us (ha), it is taking us somewhere. so, i’m not God. but, maybe you’ll just have to trust me. (besides, we *do* provide those reminders and disclaimers…so, just remember those)
It was brought up that I spoke about the yoke, but that God's yoke was the one we should take on...and it is easy and His burden light:
you know, what you say sounds really nice and lovely and spiritual. but…it’s just not fully true and practical. why? because YES you can (and should) be yoked to God, obviously. you should take on His yoke...and His yoke IS easy. but, when you are married, you are also very practically and assuredly yoked to your husband. there’s just no getting around that…unless you separate yourself from him. and…if your ox starts to go a way that is literally destroying you…what do you do with that? and that is the question that comes from our story. i think, unfortunately, that is a common thing that happens to women (men too maybe, but moreso women). yes, His yoke is easy…too bad His yoke isn’t the only one you have on in those times when your ox is walking in ways that destroy you and your family. it has to be dealt with. how? that is what we’re continuing to talk about in our posts.
While I don't feel bitter, I wrote to a friend that I do feel:
...a sense of real urgency. 1) for myself and my family - this situation, and these things that caused this situation, have robbed from us long enough, and 2) for the church and world at large - because *serious* reform needs to happen. i look at this and don’t just see the ramifications of this all for my little family. i see what it means large scale. and…both of those reasons is why we want to get our story out there…the good, the bad, and the ugly. tables need to be *turned over* girl. and He has brought me to this place (i sure wish He didn’t, but He has; i think esther felt the same way) for such a time as this. and i’ll keep marching forward…even when a few don’t understand my motives or think of me as something that i’m not. it’s ok.
These questions were sent to me recently:
How did you convince Joel to move out? I mean how did that happen??? Reading your blogs I just wonder how?
Some of you may have been wondering the same practical questions as you read that part of our story.  I replied:
it had just gotten really bad of course and we were in counseling. i introduced the subject a couple of weeks before he actually moved out. i basically just had to convince him that it was a good thing...that i needed time *apart* from him because with things going just the way they were going for that whole time, it wasn't working...nothing was getting better. we had to separate ourselves from the situation. i had to convince him that, for me, it wasn't a step toward divorce, but yet a step toward hopefully gaining some perspective and getting better. now...i didn't actually know if that would happen or not. but i knew that i could NOT live like that anymore. so, either it really *would* be a step toward change or it would eventually lead to divorce. but...the moving out part had the possibility of making things better. staying together in the same house didn't include that same could only make things worse. that whole 'the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results' thing. we had reached the point where it was just the only answer for bringing about possible change.

so, he didn't want to...but, i was able to get him to see it that way, so he was willing to move out. he thought it was wrong at the time (although it definitely wasn't), but he agreed to it.
I was also asked about how much Joel and I really talked during the past 3 years: 
we talked less and less, esp. after the Christmas 2013 - February 2014 time frame. it was all just so weird...we were seriously best friends. i mean, of course you're supposed to be that when you're married, so people sometimes say that and yet they really aren't best friends. but, we really were. so, it was just super weird when he started going behind my back and talking to others about the hard spot we were in...beginning in jan. 2012. i didn't even know he was doing it until later. and we were going through a really rough spot circumstantially (one thing after another) at that point...but, only after he started doing that did it turn into a rough spot maritally. it was just...crazy. so, as time went on, and that got more and more the case (him going to others, him believing others...not believing me, etc.), then we talked less and less. i would always forgive, reconcile, start again, try again...but, during the pregnancy/miscarriage stuff and he was so had been 2 years by that point...and i was just out. so, after that, we really didn't talk much. he kept trying to talk, but he was saying the same things over and over and i just refused to keep living out the definition of insanity. and then he moved out about 3 months later.

even after that, we would have long skype convos trying to come to an agreement...but, there was no agreeing until he saw things for what they really were...and that didn't come until after he had met with someone who FINALLY also saw things for what they really were (besides me) at the end of august.
I was asked about the kids...and if we've talked to them about this all and how much, etc.:
about the kids...yes, i've used everything as a teaching moment. there have been soooo many. not necessarily while it was going on at the time...mostly not. but, later...we've always talked about it...each thing that has happened. these are life lessons that we'll probably always draw from. we talk about the past 3 years and what all has happened...and what we're still walking through because of it all...a lot.
And last but not least, I got a comment yesterday on my blog (from someone I do not know...or if I do, they are not letting it be known that I know them) expressing concern that I was not showing and extending grace.  You can go to my last blog post and read the comment there.  Here is my reply:
thank you for your comment.  and i appreciate your concern.  honestly, i think that anyone who can read our *whole* story and think that grace has not been shown in abundance here doesn't have the same definition of 'grace' as i do.  i am not someone who is motivated or led by emotion...what motivates me and leads me along in my actions are the facts about a situation.  therefore, as i'm writing this, i am writing from *my* i should, since it's *my* story.  ;)  so in writing from my perspective, i'm just basically reporting the facts of what happened here.  what went wrong.  it is 'plain writing' as you say...because that is my perspective.  very plain...very 'these are the what are we going to do about it? and what can we learn from it?' type thing.  but, for you to see a lack of just makes me think that your definition is much different than mine. 

for me to even still be here in this marriage shows more grace than you even have to be shown to prove the lack of grace question unwarranted. :) the fact that i stuck around through all of these 3 years and the neglect and my husband going to others instead of actually being a friend to me and listening to me and believing me and caring for me...that is huge grace.  and while perfection is never part of the deal with any human being, i know what our marriage was like for the first decade (and i’ve written about that in great detail in this series and on my blog in general).  so, i know that there was a very definite turning point.  a point in which there was a change.  there was unquestioning grace for that (for that change in behavior…for that *bad* behavior) for a long period of time.  as in, years. 

but, when there is a very destructive pattern…a *way of life* that has developed that is against what the very Bible teaches and is destroying your family…what is often given in response to this and often seen as ‘grace’ is actually an *enabling.*  i am many things, but an enabler is not one of them…esp. when it is destroying my family.  grace and mercy were given freely…for years.  if you’ve read the full story here, you’ll see the beginning of our timeline…the year 2012 and first half of 2013 where i just literally thought that joel was having a ‘glitch’ of some kind…he had never acted like this…and i fully believed that he was just going to snap out of it at just any moment.  and i was hanging on until that happened.  you’ll see that how, after that, i still hung on, but it was getting scarier by the day…and i began to come to the devastating conclusion that he wasn’t just going to ‘snap out of it’…but that this was a permanent fixture (joel's new attitude and outlook and way of being…his new way of treating me).  we are starting to dive down more into the *whys* of all of that and how that occurred here with my facts and plain writing…for now, we’re still in the ‘this is what happened’ setting-the-stage-to-discuss-the-whys phase.  again, if you can look at the ‘this is what happened’ + the fact that i’m still here with my husband and not conclude that there has been an exorbitant amount of grace shown here…then honestly i don’t know what else to say. 

but, back to the grace vs. enabling —> when there is a continuous destructive pattern being shown and that pattern shows no signs of relenting, there comes a time when you have to decide if you are going to enable that behavior or not.  i chose (after a few years of it), and choose now, not to enable it.  i read a sermon recently that included this quote:  ~People can easily grab hold of the concept of grace, but any call to “obedience” is labeled as “legalism” that is contrary to the gospel. It’s like they either forget or don’t acknowledge the part where Jesus said to the adulteress, “go, and from now on sin no more.”~

substitute ‘legalism’ there for your ‘wives often expect perfection from their husbands’ quote.  i find that when anyone ‘gets caught’ doing something, if they don’t truly have a repentant heart, the most used response is ‘well, i’m not perfect.’  which is, in my view, just a ridiculous statement.  we all know that nobody is perfect.  therefore, it is ridiculous to think that one can be perfect or act perfectly.  therefore, it is ridiculous to try to state the obvious as a defense of yourself and your actions.  but…we also know that when one has truly seen something they’ve been doing as wrong, when they truly repent, they *turn* from that wrong way and walk in a different way.  they are to ‘go and sin no more’ in that area.  does it mean they will never ever slip up in that area again?  hopefully they won’t…esp. if it’s something like adultery or neglect.  it *is* possible to *not* slip up.  but, even if they do slip up, it is most definitely never ever a *pattern* in their life again. 

we *really* need to work on our definitions within Christianity.  the picture of grace in the Bible is never one of enabling bad behavior.  grace is shown.  a lot.  but, continually allowing a destructive pattern is not grace-filled at all.  “go…and sin no more.”

after typing all of that, i just did a google search on this area.  i found this post to be very interesting and dead on.  love this quote from it:  "Grace gives room to grow, mature and heal. Grace does not give permission to continue in sin.”

i’m all about grace.  but, enabling will never happen here. 

thank you so much for your well wishes.  with grace (*not* enabling) AND 'going and sinning no more' in this area :)...we will prayerfully, yes, have a wonderful, happy marriage for the rest of our days.
She actually wrote back today addressing a few things...a concern that I'm not addressing how I was wrong in all of this, a comment that basically sounds like she thinks I'm over-reacting (because he didn't commit adultery after all...), which I replied (she was very gracious in her final response to this can go to the comments section of Part 18 to see the full conversation between us): 
for the people who know me in real life, the questions that you bring up are not anything that i hear.  not even close.  because they know me…outside of just a blog.  therefore, these things are non-issues to them.  so, that should maybe answer your questions on some level.  but, for those who read this and do not know me outside the blog, i will of course address your comments. 

again, nobody is perfect.  but, what we are addressing with this blog series is what happened to us.  where it all went wrong.  and what caused it all.  unfortunately, in this instance, it was a very specific turning point…and the turning was done by my husband.  i did not turn.  now…having said that…again, no one is without fault.  as far as day-to-day, every-marriage issues, sometimes it is joel that screws up and sometimes it is me.  those are the easy things.  those were the only things that we had to deal with for the first decade of our marriage.  but, we are specifically talking about, here in this blog series, the thing that happened *after* that first decade of marriage.  the thing that turned the tide.  sadly, that had nothing to do with me and i had no control in that matter. 

no, he did not commit adultery.  for that i am thankful.  but, i was speaking to a friend of mine who *has* lived through adultery…and so very much more in marriage (incredibly hard things in her adult life).  i said, ‘look, i know that he didn’t cheat…’ and she stopped me cold.  she said, ‘yes, michawn…but it’s still betrayal on a very deep level.  you were betrayed…not sexually, but in every other way.  so, actually, it is very much the same.’ and i just teared up.  she, who has actually experienced adultery…she totally got it!  she knows the whole story here.  the whole story that i have yet to get to on the blog.  so, maybe that will answer some of your questioning too.  but, no…it wasn’t adultery.  but it was not only neglect…but a deep betrayal. 

because i have the full story, which you do not yet…when someone says something like ‘yes, but what did *you* do wrong to cause all of this?’…that’s like saying to the wife who was cheated on (adultery), ‘yes, but what did *you* do to cause him to cheat?’

also, because i have the full story, yes…i *can* see the big picture.  you do not see the big picture yet…because i haven’t shared it yet.  i do not think that what i am going through is the worst.  nor do i think that you are not appreciating my pain.  i think you just speak in ignorance…and please do not take that as an insult.  you just simply don’t know me outside the blog and possibly even just this blog series (which is very different than the rest of my blog).  and…maybe you just don’t have the patience that other people have to really wait to see where this is all going. 

there is a point.  the history has to be laid out first.  the series of events has to be given.  and then we can move into what it all means…and what went wrong.  because it *is* a ‘big picture’ thing that went wrong.  it wasn’t just joel taking a wrong turn.  but, WHY did he take that turn?  these are the kinds of questions we are going to answer…as i’ve stated all along.  we’re going after *root* issues here…that are very deeply planted. 

do we still have to deal with the everyday failings of man…and woman…husbands and wives?  yes.  but, again...what we are addressing with this blog series is something different.  a turning point. and why it happened in the first place. 

and btw, my husband did not betray me sexually, but i very much have protected him, and others, in this blog series.  so for those who think that i’ve been hard on people here…if you only knew the full story and details, you would see that i’m being very, VERY gracious here.  very.
I hope that my replies to these questions and concerns that other people have had have maybe answered some of your own questions and thoughts.  Please let me know if you have more.  You can either comment here on the blog, comment on Facebook, send me personal messages (I will always keep them anonymous here on the blog), or emails or texts...whatever way you want to ask me a question or bring up something that I haven't addressed yet that you wonder about...please do.  I will eventually answer you, whether here on the blog or personally...or both.  :)  Chances are, if you have questions, others have questions.  So...hit me up.  ;)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 18 - Two-Faced and Backstabbing}

Sorry...but I couldn't think of a better title for this one that would accurately describe this part of the story.  lol.  I promise I'm not bitter, hahaha.  (shoulder shrug)  This is the most accurate description and I truly couldn't think of a better one, even though it sounds all harsh and in your face.  Annnnyway...

If you're new here, you might consider going back to Part 1 of this series so you can really be in the know.  But also, with this post in particular, it is a continuation of a story that I started telling in the last post.  So, you might want to at least go back to the last post to read the beginning of this particular part of the story.

And as always, I tell these stories not as any kind of template for what I believe anyone else's story might look like.  But, if we can take the bad in our lives, share it, and all learn from it in any way...that is a beautiful thing.  That's why I'm here.  Giving all these hard things that have happened a purpose...turning it into good.  It's part of my healing process...and hopefully it can help others in some way too. 

So, in this series I've told our overall story.  In Part 16, I got to our lives (overall) present day.  And now, starting last post, I'm making my way back through parts of our story elaborating on other things that happened to tell a more complete story and revealing many things from which we've learned a lot.  Most of these things that I'm elaborating on now I did not even know about until Joel and I came back together in Sept. of 2014 and started working together to heal our marriage.  These are things that happened over the course of time since January 2012. 

In the last post I started telling the story of something that happened in Feb. 2014...the story of someone close to us (the wife of someone Joel has always been very close to) reaching out to me and showing interest in hearing my side of the story.  At the end of the last post I had reached a certain part of our correspondence...and revealed that a couple of months (the end of March 2014) after that correspondence with her occurred, I found an email from her to Joel (which also included her was part of an ongoing mass email including all three of them) that had been written on the very same day that she was corresponding to me.  Again, here is the email that I found:
hey joel.  just wanted to let you know some stuff.  i did send michawn a fb message over the weekend.  i was pretty annoyed and was expecting her to get pissed and either not respond or to write back and tell me to butt out.
anyway, a dialogue started.  she started with being super vague and telling me that i could ask whatever i wanted and she would let me know.  i assured her that i wasn't trying to be nosey but was concerned.  so she wrote me a lot
about what is going on.  i wrote her back with a challenge to do her part.  after this message who knows if she will write back!  i just wanted to let you know that i wasn't planning on a back and forth conversation, but if she engages i
will continue to write with her and do what i can.  i doubt that my messages will change her, but maybe i am another person…
just know, that i will not talk bad about you (don't even know what i would say!) and i will listen, validate her feeling and then try to hopefully get her to see her side in it all. i don't want things to be weird with anyone.  if you want to know more details about
what we are saying..just ask.  i am praying for you guys.
It was incredibly appalling to find this email.  As someone said in the comments when I shared the last blog post on Facebook, "Wow! I have never understood that way of doing things......To think someone would pretend to be one thing and then go behind your back and be another...I do not understand. On top of that, essentially speaking poorly of you to your spouse. That is not acceptable at any point!" 

Keep in mind that before this correspondence in Feb. 2014, she and I had never talked about any of this before.  And we hadn't talked at all (about anything) for almost a year at that point.  Mostly it was our husbands that communicated...and it had always been like that.  But, I still considered myself to be 'close' to them...a part of the group.  Until I saw some true colors starting to eek out beginning in January 2012.  We'll get to more of that later.  But, these were the specific points I drew from this email from her to Joel:

"i was pretty annoyed and expecting her to get pissed..." - *why was she annoyed?!?*  what had i done to her?  was she just annoyed by the whole situation that joel and i were in...and her perception of it from what she had been told?  or had i literally offended her in some way?  she obviously already had her strong opinions about the situation if she was already annoyed when she wrote to me.  that's not coming with an open mind and with a pure, genuine heart at all!

"after this message who knows if she will write back!" - what kind of immature people does she have in her life that she would assume that i wouldn't write back?  that's twice now that she had said that she didn't think i would write back or had her doubts that i would write back.  ??

"i just wanted to let you know that i wasn't planning on a back and forth conversation..." - and here it is again.  if she were writing to someone with genuine concern...and actually *wanting* to hear their side of the story and get to the bottom of things and to the truth...then she would not only plan and expect to hear back from them, she would HOPE for that.  she would GO AFTER the truth.  she wasn't planning to have a back and forth conversation with me?  WHY NOT?  was she just wanting to send me that first message and zing/sting me with her words or be the 'hero' that helped turn things around with her wisdom and experience contained in one little message?  was that it?  i'm pretty appalled that she just wanted to give me 'answers' or 'make me think' (or just sting me) or whatever it was that she was going for there...and didn't plan on having an actual conversation.  very telling of her in general and the way she thought.

"...but if she engages i will continue to write with her and do what i can.  i doubt that my message will change her, but maybe i am another person..." - 'do what i can'...yes, she already had her mind made up when she first wrote...and was definitely not really listening to what i had to say.  had she actually listened and believed is possible that she *could've* helped.  instead of conveying to joel 'poor you, joel...your wife, wow...i'll do what i can...but i doubt i can change her'...instead of conveying that, she *could've* actually listened to what i said, been objective in the matter, and relayed *that* information to him (not that he hadn't heard it all before from me...but like she said...she was another person).  instead, she was convinced already...before she even sent me that message...that there was something that she needed to do for/to me ('i'll do what i can') and that *i* was the one that needed to change ('i doubt that my message will change her').

"just know that i will not talk bad about you (don't even know what i would say!)" - yes, because joel was just being so very perfect.  poor, poor joel...stuck with this wrong and stubborn, blinded-to-the-truth and ungodly wife.  no, of course she wouldn't talk bad about him...but she'll jump at the chance to talk bad about his wife *to* him, behind her back...pretending to be so super sweet and open and genuine to her at the exact same time.  she would talk about *her,* saying things that were just reinforcing the *wrong* belief in him that it was me that was being unreasonable and not understanding things. 
As for Joel, he had actually asked them for their help in it all.  He was glad that they were talking to me (although I had no idea he knew we were corresponding at the time).  She wrote her email to him in the afternoon of Feb. 11th.  And this was his reply to her that night: 
Hey, Im glad for you to be conversing with Michawn. Talk all you want/can.

I really want another person’s take on our situation…..Please feel free to ask me anything because If Im wrong I am open to be corrected.

Blessings to you all

Unfortunately, she was apparently so sure that he was doing nothing wrong (along with her husband who was in on the correspondence), and that I was just outright lying about our lives and the things that I saw him doing wrong, that she didn't bother to mention anything to Joel...even with him genuinely asking input from another person based on what I had to say.  She shared nothing with him about what I had to say. 

I replied on the 12th to her nice message she had sent me before her correspondence with Joel.  I basically just re-iterated what I had said before, but in different ways.  She had asked about counseling, so I told her about our experiences with that.  She asked about the kids, so I let her know how they were doing.  At the end I summed up that basically my heart was out.  I said:

it's not that i want to separate or get a divorce. it's never been like that. because that would bring even more horrible problems, for the kids primarily. and i would never ever want to do that to them. but, at this point, my heart is out. joel acts like everything is just honky dory and i'm just being a brat. he does not get the gravity of everything that has gone down. soooooo many instances of him not being a husband to me. therefore heart is gone. it's out. at this point, he would have to win back that heart that is completely not his anymore...because he didn't act like he wanted it anymore anyway, so it left so as not to get just completely pulverized. he would have to start over. but, it would be different this time...even harder to win my heart. because when we first met, i assumed the best from him. it was a clean slate. there's not a clean slate anymore. sure, there's forgiveness. but, there's damage. lots of it. the slate can be cleaned, but it's all shattered and broken. and he would have to repair that.
She didn't bother replying to me next.  Instead, she wrote to Joel again on the morning of the 14th:
it's me again.
man joel, i have no idea what to tell you.  i will keep talking to her, but i do not think it will do any good, as she seems very set in her thinking.
i'm praying for you guys...
It's interesting to me how she said that I was set in my thinking.  She was the one who came into our conversation with her thinking set (based on what Joel had been telling them for 2 years).  No matter what I said during this correspondence, she had her mind made up about me.  I mean, it was my life we were talking about, yet she had her mind made up about what was really going my life...not listening to me or believing me when I was telling her my very own story about my very own life.  

Part of Joel's reply that night to her: 
I appreciate you taking the time. The facts just don't add up.
And the facts didn't add up.  But he definitely wasn't even getting any facts from her.  All of my baring of my soul to her, very graciously...and all she could do was badmouth me to Joel. 

Let that sink in for a moment.  Someone has been wounded deeply.  Someone has been abandoned and mistreated badly for 2 years straight.  That someone graciously and patiently bares her soul (at a time when, on top of everything else, has just gone through a very traumatic - emotionally and physically - loss of a baby days before) to someone who is saying that that they are concerned and care.  Yet what they do in return is go behind her back and speak badly about her.  Let's not just skip over that.  Let it sink in.

She wrote me again the morning of the 15th, basically just telling me that I needed to do my part, that surely I had sinned and contributed in causing this all, and just basically 'encouraging' me to not give up but also being sure to let me know that I was wrong in how I was seeing it and needed to do more.  She immediately emailed Joel again after she sent me that message (I love how everything is time-stamped now, ha, so I know the series of events and how this all went down). 

She said, "i just replied to michawn and my guess is that i won't hear back."  So crazy that she is so used to having 'conversations' with people who she actually never hears back from.  Who are these people?  lol.  She went on to tell Joel that she had said some things to me that I probably had never heard before or thought of myself, but she just had to say these things. 

The truth is that it was nothing I hadn't heard before.  And, in my Type 4-ness (I don't get stuck in overthinking at all, but I do think very thoroughly and arrive very clearly at a view of the big picture), there was nothing that I hadn't already thought of myself anyway...thinking of things from all different angles, from all possible perspectives, etc.  I had been living this for 2 years at that point...I had thought through all possible scenarios and causes.

Anyway, after I got her message, I knew that my work was done there.  As I explained (to her) later:
i could tell after your last message to me that there was no point in going any further.  you didn't really 'get it.'  at that point, i had not seen your emails to joel.  so, i had not seen your *real and true* heart behind your messages...and what you were *really* thinking.  so, at this point, without the knowledge of your backstabbing emails, that was all i thought...that you just didn't get it.  i saw you as a 'friend of job.'  you got that there was an issue...and that there was something wrong.  but, you were convinced that surely i had sinned and that had caused this...or surely i could do more, etc. etc. 

those things weren't true...but, it became clear in your messages to me (esp. the last one) that there would be no convincing you otherwise.  so, i decided to just graciously move on and bow out. 

let me speak to the whole 'it takes two' belief system for just a minute...since you seem to be a bit hung up on that.  the truth is that 'it takes two' just does not always apply.  does it take two to make a marriage successful?  yes.  but, it only takes ONE to destroy a marriage.  this is just fact.  it's super sad...but it's true.
And then after I found her correspondence with Joel, I was really just super shocked.  My experience with people like this personally in my life has been very, very limited.  Honestly, I don't even remember it ever happening with anyone I know personally...truthfully.  But, I'll just be gracious and say that maybe it happened in elementary school or something...I just don't remember it.  So, it was an eye-opener to see that people still behaved this way, even in their 30s and 40s.  What was even more eye-opening was the fact that they didn't seem to think there was a problem with it.  You'll hear more about that later.

Because of who they were in our lives, after Joel and I came back together Sept. 1, 2014, I knew that after we had some time to just hunker down and figure things out a bit those first couple of weeks, we would have to address this and start working toward reconciliation with this couple.  Reconciliation doesn't come by just saying you're sorry and moving on...that might work when you step on someone's toe accidentally or something.  But, with something this substantial and this on-going, there has to be some major discussion about what happened, what was said, the attitudes and beliefs that were cultivated, etc.  There has to be explanations given on both sides.  So, Joel originally breached the subject of how we had come back together and how we wished to start working toward reconciliation.  There was some reluctance.  So, mid-September I personally sent an email out to start addressing some of the things that had happened specifically...this email was about, and included, all of our correspondence...and the emails between them and Joel that I had found.  It was time to do the work of reaching reconciliation and I was hopeful in starting a dialogue with them. 

I'll let you know the rest of the story about how that went, along with more details of how we arrived at the point of being ready to reconcile and some of the things we said exactly, soon.  But, first, next time I'll start sharing about another couple who was 'speaking into Joel's life' throughout these years as well.  I'll share some of the 'help' Joel got from them. 

As you can see...many factors here led to the almost-demise of our marriage.  It's truly a miracle we survived at all.  We have LOTS of battle wounds.  LOTS.  I'm thankful we're recovering and healing from these wounds.  There will always be scars...but we will eventually get to a point where the scars will no longer be tender, and we'll look at them and be grateful for what those wounds meant in our lives, and how much we learned from them.  I honestly can't imagine being 'grateful' for anything concerning this all...right now I just wish it never happened honestly.  But I know that time will come eventually. 

...Over the next few weeks, you'll continue to hear more about what caused all of these wounds, how we dealt with those things, what we've learned, and how we've moved on. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 17 - Personalities & Being A Good Neighbor}

And here comes the part where I just dive into topics that we've had to dive into ourselves over the past 6 1/2 months.  Things we've encountered along the way.  I speak about these things only to shine a light on reality.  To shine a light on the real deficiencies we have several different areas.  Some of these things we are still learning about.  With some of these things there is nothing more to's just a harsh reality that needs to be talked about and light needs to flood the darkness. 

You may never experience things like this.  If you have marital problems at any point in your marriage, I'm not presuming that you will come up against the same set of obstacles that we have.  That would be completely illogical for one thing.  But, even if you do experience some of the same sorts of things, the things you learn from those things and the way you process and handle and walk through those things might look nothing like our experience.  So, I don't share all of these things as any kind of template here.  Far from it.  But, we just want to a picture of all the bad that can happen...and then a picture of the lessons that can be learned and the good that can come from it. 

In some instances it might seem like I'm trying to be a 'whistleblower' type.  Hey...if you want to use that title for me, I don't see that as a negative term.  Some things really do need to be called out and reformed (and that involves actually telling you what happened, which might seem really yucky...just be forewarned).  But, the truth is that these things happen all the time.  Many of you have sadly encountered these types of things yourselves.  Some of you have tried to speak out against some of these things...only to be silenced or shunned.  Others of you did not feel the freedom to speak out...and you never heard anyone else speak out, so you just miserably kept your mouth shut and may have even doubted yourself, your convictions, your feelings. 

I am a dominant (as in primary) Type 4, so I don't have that issue.  Ha.  Thankfully I am a close secondary Type 2 so that rounds off some of the rough edges that is possible with Type 4s sometimes.  I don't judge things in such a black and white way (I think just living helps you to see that most things involve at least a little grey...and many times lots of it).  I'm not super serious at all, I'm very social...feeling connected and making people around me feel comfortable is very important to me, I'm very sentimental as far as possessions and things that connect me to the past, etc.  But, what motivates me...totally Type 4 stuff.

Sidenote:  That link and system of 'personality discovery' really helped both of us a's very interesting; it also explains many of my actions and motivations...and the ways I process and think about and write about these things that happened in the past 3 years.  For instance...

Type 4 Natural Gifts summary is listed as such...
  • The Type 4’s gifts: Eye for perfection, structure

Catchphrase: What can we do to make it better and then duplicate it?

Challenge: They may stall their progress because things aren’t perfect enough yet.

Maybe you’ve thought… I could have done more, others should know better.

Type 4 Thoughts and Feelings Process summary is listed as such...
  • The Type 4’s thoughts and feelings:*

Black and white thoughts with a high degree of mental organization. They look at the big picture.
Rather than lead with feelings, Type 4’s lead dominantly with their intellect.
They feel deeply, but only share feelings with a select few.
* (Of any group, Type 4’s don’t think Energy Profiling is pertinent to them because they are their own authority. I believe Energy Profiling honors a Type 4 more than any system out there. I’m honored if you’ll even consider this possibility that this system may be speaking to you.)
Type 4 Personality summary is listed this way...
  • Type 4 personality:

Their gift is perfecting, so they see the world with a critical, keen eye. What could be made better?
*I love how my Type 4 son perfected my laundry room. (In the video 18:52 to 19:54) Don’t assume the Type 4s in your life are critical. Appreciate their keen eye and gift for perfecting.
Being aware of this quality in yourself helps you manage your delivery with others so your keen eye is better understood.
You can see this video for more information.  Joel is a Type 1.  But, just like me, Type 2 comes in a very very close 2nd.  We both have many Type 2 qualities that ground us well I the world, and as we relate to each other.  Thankfully...because Type 1 and Type 4 are pretty different, but they do compliment each other. 

Figure out what type you might be.  Don't let the fashion side of what they do throw you or make you think it's only for women.  Out of all of the personality tests I've been asked to do throughout the years (to be a part of leadership teams, and in the past couple of years for counseling), this is the best, most concise 'profiling' tool that I've come across.  Maybe it's the Type 4 in me that likes a very streamlined, quick thing that I myself can figure out all on my own instead of those incessant questions that are worded in a way which completely alters your answers...because there are several different ways of seeing each question and I need to be able to explain, haha (can we say 'ugh!' to all those dadgum questions on the personality tests?!?  UGH!  I seriously despise them.).  We'll be talking more about this personality and 'Types' stuff (as well as other personality tests we took) as time goes on.  Turns out, it really makes sense as far as what went wrong in our relationship...and how all of the 'help' that we were getting was actually so detrimental for us.  So stay tuned for that.

O.K., 'sidenote' done.  Moving on...

I will not use names here, but the truth will be told.  It's just more of our story and what happened to us.  Some of what happened to us was hard...and might be hard to read.  But, there are points to be made in telling these stories.  And I love what a well-known author says:  "You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people had wanted you to write warmly of them, they should have behaved better."  Lol.  Id'n 'at the truth?  I hope that by telling these stories it all makes you think, brings about discussion, and helps you to evaluate your own life and your own convictions and beliefs. 

These are the stories of what one might encounter when they're going through a rough time.  These are the things that, in many ways, explain the spiraling down that kept happening in our marriage...that help explain how many factors there many things were coming up against us.  This is the kind of 'help' that was coming our way.

Here we go...

During the past 3 years, there have been many unknowns.  Many.  Joel had no idea what was going on (with me, with us, with the situations swirling about him), even though I was explaining in every way possible the entire time.  And I had no idea what had happened that made it so that Joel had just simply stopped listening to me and believing me. 

Unfortunately what happened in all of that was that Joel began to verbalize to others what he thought was going on.  Sometimes it was about missions...that I just didn't want to go back to Brazil.  That I wanted to live here in the states.  Then it started going deeper than that...that I was depressed, that I was sick, etc.  Sometimes it was that I was just being an unruly wife...trying to control and manipulate our lives and our circumstances.  He always had a theory...and shared those theories with the people he talked to about this all.  And some of them were sure to share their theories too...about me, about our marriage, about our situation.  Yet some of these 'theories' were not actually verbalized as theories.  They were spoken as 'gospel.'

Contrast that with the four people I had chosen to confide in about this all, after it had all been going on for over a year.  First of all, I had no theories.  I only had facts about what had happened and the lengthy series of events.  But, I had no idea WHY they had happened...what exactly had changed...what had caused the cause of all of this.  I had no theories.  I wasn't so presumptuous as to think that I knew what was 'wrong' with Joel...and I didn't even think in those terms.  I only knew that things were different.  That he was different.  My four friends I confided in (and I spoke to one moreso than the others) always listened, always supported, but were always very objective too.  They never diagnosed Joel, they never badmouthed him.  They were concerned for me and were very caring and supportive, but never at the expense of my spouse. 

Unfortunately, that was not the case for Joel and some of the people he confided in. 

Also unfortunately, those people, who were supposed to know me and be for me too, had consistently caused friction between Joel and me since January 2012.  Or, let me put that another way...they had known that there was an issue between Joel and issue that I didn't even realize was there...and they continued to encourage him to do something that would cause even more friction between us.  That was the first thing.  Then as the years went on and our marriage disintegrated more and more, and Joel confided in these people and told him his theories, these people echoed back their theories as well. 

All the while, they never asked me my side of the story.  Never once. 

Until...February of 2014.  I had just had the miscarriage the last few days of January (what I call my 'most traumatic' miscarriage by far since I was almost to the 2nd trimester point already)...was still going through the after-effects of all of that.  If you'll remember, Joel was less than comforting and kind during that time.  So, it was a pretty awful time of my life. 

And that is when the first person from 'Joel's camp' reached out to me to ask my side of the story.  Actually, this person (the wife of someone Joel has always been very close to) didn't reach out to ask my side of the story.  She actually reached out with her own version of the story already in her head...and didn't actually ask anything to be honest.  But, she let me know her own experiences with, and thoughts about, what she thought was 'wrong' with me.  She talked about the issues of depression and being controlling specifically.  She wrote to me February 8, 2013.

I gave her the benefit of the doubt.  I mean, I knew that Joel had been talking to them the whole time.  I knew some of the things he had been saying...because he had said the same things to me.  So, while she was clearly wrong in assuming things about me instead of just open-mindedly asking me my side of the story, I knew where she was getting these things from.  So, I assumed goodwill, as I always do until proven otherwise.  Lots of times I am happy to say that the 'proof of otherwise' never appears.  Unfortunately it did here...but I'll get to that. 

So, I was honestly so very excited that someone was reaching out to me from Joel's group that he was confiding in.  This had all been going on for over 2 years at that point.  So, I was surprised, and excited.  As I told this person a few months later:
i was actually surprised to get this message.  this situation with joel and me had been going on for so long and nobody had reached out before.  so, i was thrilled that someone was reaching out for my side of things and not just listening to joel...that someone was going to actually listen to me for a change.  to me, it was significant of someone who wanted to know the truth...getting to the bottom of things by listening to both sides, not just one side.
In response to her first message, I thanked her very much for reaching out, and told her that I admired and appreciated her for doing that.  I explained:
i'm not depressed, so i'm thankful for that. i *am* very very stuck in a bad situation though. i have tried to be very careful with my wording. and although i don't feel like i'm DEpressed, i do very much feel Oppressed. and not even by the devil either. which is why it's so blindsiding and damaging and hurtful. the devil i've had years of training to deal with. not this.

i'm not sure what specifics i should/could tell you. not because i don't feel comfortable being a 'sharer' (as i'm sure you've gathered). but, i don't want it to seem that i'm oh-so-willing to play 'tattle-tell' here. and i'm not sure what *you* would be comfortable with (if you want more detail, let me know).
I went on to say in that same email that there were many reasons I just could not trust Joel...and would not be able to return to the life we led until that trust was regained.  Again I told her that if she wanted to know more, to just let me know.  She sent me a message back asking more questions...was there something they could do?  Was there something her husband needed to talk to Joel about? 

I sent her another message basically wondering aloud about whether I should divulge more specifics.  In the end, I decided that I would.  I mean, here was someone finally asking me my side of the story...why would I not tell them?  Maybe this was the help we had been waiting and praying for. 

So, I confided in her.  I gave her a big summation of all that you've learned here by reading our story...what went wrong...the 'highlights' of the timeline, etc.  I sent that message in the evening on Feb. 9th. 

She wrote me back the morning of the 10th saying that she had lots of thoughts, but she had a busy day...she would write me back as soon as she could.  She just wanted to let me know that so the delay didn't make things seem weird or anything. 

Very considerate of her I thought.  Very nice.

She wrote me back on the morning of the 11th.  It was a very nice message.  She was very considerate to me and just encouraged me to not give keep try different things, etc.  Of course, at that point, I had truly already tried everything.  Our conversation continued after this point (I'll share more of the correspondence soon).  But, in response to this particular message from her and as far as me 'trying different things' with Joel, there really was nothing left for me to do but wait.  Just wait. 

And then, a couple of months later, I found an email from her, to Joel...that had been sent that same day...a few hours after she had sent that 'nice' message to me: 
hey joel.  just wanted to let you know some stuff.  i did send michawn a fb message over the weekend.  i was pretty annoyed and was expecting her to get pissed and either not respond or to write back and tell me to butt out.
anyway, a dialogue started.  she started with being super vague and telling me that i could ask whatever i wanted and she would let me know.  i assured her that i wasn't trying to be nosey but was concerned.  so she wrote me a lot
about what is going on.  i wrote her back with a challenge to do her part.  after this message who knows if she will write back!  i just wanted to let you know that i wasn't planning on a back and forth conversation, but if she engages i
will continue to write with her and do what i can.  i doubt that my messages will change her, but maybe i am another person…
just know, that i will not talk bad about you (don't even know what i would say!) and i will listen, validate her feeling and then try to hopefully get her to see her side in it all. i don't want things to be weird with anyone.  if you want to know more details about
what we are saying..just ask.  i am praying for you guys.
Hmmm...isn't that interesting?  Lol. 

I was just floored when I found that email.  And by the way, occasionally I would check Joel's email (had always done that) because sometimes people (especially people from Asas...the mission organization in Brazil, but also others) would send him stuff but I would not find out about it.  So, I often looked at Joel's emails to 'catch up on things' that he had forgotten to tell me about.  Who knew I would find this that day a couple of months later.  And very unfortunately, I found some other things too.  It wasn't unfortunate that I found was unfortunate that the things I found existed at all. 

I had plenty of thoughts on that email to Joel from her.  But, those thoughts are too lengthy to include on this blog post.  We'll talk more about this next time.  But...along with a husband who no longer listened to me or believed me and was so not on my team, these are the kinds of things I was up against.  I never even acted this way in high school...or elementary for that matter.  So, it was just flooring to me that an actual adult, who was supposedly reaching out to me, had acted in this way. 

This was the kind of 'help' Joel was receiving. 

There are many points to this part of our story and some of them will be included in the next post.  But, Point #1 here could actually be a quote that I posted on Facebook the other day:
Don't be lazy and make assumptions about people.
Ask about their story.
Then listen. Really listen.
Be humble. Be teachable.
Be human. Be a good neighbor.
--Eugene Cho

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 16 - The Past 6 1/2 Months}

Joel moved home Sept. 1st, Labor Day.  On Sept. 5th we texted this picture and this message to the couple we had met with to talk things out. 
It happened Monday (at 4am)...the first of the miracles. Been a process of several small ones since ('several small ones' actually = 'several HUGE ones' really...but the initial one was the biggest and most needed of start us on this road.) Super tough process, but we're holding up and making it...just finished another all-day-long rough 'passageway.' Time for some take out, veggin', snuggling, and funny sitcoms. Whew. ;) Hard, but we're happy.

Those first few days were very, very interesting.  Here's what I wrote at the time (a week after he moved back in) to describe what was going on...
For the next few days (after he moved home), we just hunkered down.  Rarely left our bedroom...MUCH discussion.  It's like when you first have a baby and you want to nurture it...esp. easily done when you have a homebirth.  You have the baby, and then you just stay there, with nobody bothering you.  You can stay in your room/bed as much as possible, just easing that baby into life here on earth, letting it make an easy, gentle transition.  Nurturing it.  That's what needed to be done with our relationship.  So, that first week (last week) was all about that.
I had an very overwhelming sense of relief.  During those first few days, I found out some very hard things.  We had not been living in the same house for 3 1/2 months.  But, we hadn't been really together, we hadn't been one, we hadn't been a team for over 2 1/2 years at that point.  I knew nothing about him.  He knew nothing about me.  We had been living separate lives in many ways for a very, very long time.  I didn't know anything about his job, didn't know anything about who he talked to or had in his life, etc.  So, the first few days were partly about getting to know each other again in some ways.  And part of that involved finding out some hard things...things about Joel, things about people in our lives, lots of things that had happened and been done behind my back in those 2 1/2 years, etc. 

Despite all of those super hard things, I still had that overwhelming sense of relief.  I just couldn't believe it was over.  The truth is that I knew that reality was that it was not 'over.'  And in fact, much of it was just beginning.  But, considering what our lives and marriage had been like, I also knew that it was a huge turning point.  And I was going to just live in the relief of that for a while.

I updated a friend of mine that same week:
I've said this whole time that if Joel could see this for what it really was, he would be broken about it (because that's the way he is) and if he truly repented out of that, the reset button would be punched (because this was not about lack of forgiveness or grace) and we could move on from that.  But without that, that couldn't happen.  So...thankfully, that happened and the button was pushed.  So, things are back to normal...with just some real things to focus on and learn about ourselves.  Because it's been so long that this has gone on, there has been major damage that will need to continue to be repaired.  Those are hard things.  But, we're ok.
During the 2 1/2 years leading up to this point that all of this was going on, I had never said a word to my family.  As I have said, I had only talked to those four close friends about it (and had only confided in them a year and a half in), and then a couple more close friends after Joel moved out.  So literally, I had confided in 6 people...and only at the very end.  But I knew that it wouldn't be wise to involve family.  So, I had only told my family (my parents, brothers, SILs + a couple of cousins, nobody else) two weeks before...when it was absolutely necessary (turns out Joel had actually let some of them know already, behind my back, even though I had asked him not to...yes, that was a huge sin against me, to add to all the others we've had to work through).  This was part of my update to my family: 
Although you've really only known the deep extent of all of this for a couple of weeks, lol...if you'd traveled this road with me for the *years* that this has gone on, you would feel the full impact and know how huge and what a turning point this is.  So, maybe you can just believe me and imagine for yourself.  Ha.  It's huge.  It's a game-changer.  And there is still much work to do, but we are thrilled to have our family back on the right track.
We were on the right track again.  Finally.  

It was hard.  But, we were together again.  Joel had finally seen it all for what it was.  And, we could start working together toward a common goal. 

We went back to meet with that couple, as a couple, at the end of September.  Our time together there did not start out well, but it ended great, and they really helped us a lot in many ways.  Since they are not actual counselors and their lives are very full, it did not work out for us to keep meeting with them.  But, they had provided what it took to turn things completely around for us...and given us several tools to work through in order to stay on track to heal.  They also told us about a counseling opportunity that we might try in the future. 

But, for the past 6 1/2 months, we just continue to work through things.  We continue to peel back the onion here...of our marriage, of our upbringings, of the things we've been taught all of our lives. 

It has not been without some major bumps in the road.  In fact, in November Joel moved out again for a few days.  When you put others in front of your spouse...that doesn't work, people.  Thankfully, we did work through that.  But, there's not a lot of room for error here.  After all that happened and for how long it happened, it's do or die time. 

So, we're focusing on the reasons why it all happened in the first place, learning about what in our past caused that to happen, and what beliefs and traditions need to be changed so that nothing like this ever happens again.

We're hunkering down still.  If you're local and you notice that we're not being super social...that's why.  We set aside this whole year to do nothing but work on us.  To focus on nothing else.  To commit to nothing but healing our marriage and family. 

"But how are you doing?" you might want to say.  We're good.  And then something will come up and we're not good.  Then we'll work through that and we're good again.  Then...we're not.  You get the picture. 

The truth is that what caused this all is deeply rooted.  That's why it was so important to go after the roots.  Now that we know what the roots are specifically (and every now and then we'll even find another root, as we did just a few days ago), we can go after each one.  We can pull them up one by one.  It takes time...and sometimes the root is so firmly planted, it's hard to pull up.  You'll think you got it, but then there it is again, pushing through the soil of our lives and wreaking havoc.'s just going to take time. 

But, with each rough patch that we survive (and there have been many, even in the past 6 1/2 months), we become more resilient.  With each root we discover, we learn more.  With each one that we get close to pulling up at the root, we get to replace that unhealthy root with a healthy root...which makes us so much stronger. 

We've learned a lot so far.  In the next few blog posts, I'll touch on some of those things.  We've learned a lot about family.  We've learned a lot about the church.  We've learned a lot about traditions and belief systems.  We've learned a lot about how others treat you.  It's been...interesting.  

I'll talk about it all.  While the story has reached the point of us being back together...and then brings us to the present time and how we are continuing to work through this, this story is far from over.  There's lots more to say here.  Stay tuned.  ;)