Remember, as with most of these posts (esp. the past few), that this is part of the story. Am I mad that all of this happened? Yes. Am I bitter? No. All of this horribleness, if used for good in the end, drives away bitterness. Bitterness doesn't even have a chance. And that's what I'm doing here...that's why I'm here sharing our story. To turn it into something good. But, the story has to be told...the real, authentic, no-holds-barred, conveying-all-emotions-and-truth honest story of what happened. Keep that in mind as you read this.
And an added disclaimer this time because of a new perspective that was voiced by a 'peacemaker by nature'...in response: Someone who is primarily a peacemaker might definitely not be able to see what I say as, in the end, loving. True, deep love highlights truth…as ugly as it might be…in order to get to the good. It might take a while to get to the good. But, love is patient…and gets there eventually. Love is kind…in that it doesn’t fake it, but goes down deep to get to the roots of something so that there is freedom. Love holds no record of wrongs…but that wrong first has to be truly worked through and dealt with and fixed and a true state of repentance reached. You get the picture. We can’t just quote warm and fuzzy scriptures and ‘claim’ them to be true when we haven’t done the work to *make* them true in our lives. They have to be walked out. There has to be actions to make these words of wisdom, these power-filled scriptures, true. They aren’t just true because someone speaks them. They are whole, healed-life-giving scriptures…but you have to be willing to walk them out to get you to that whole, healed life.
Now, on with the story (as ugly as it might be; we will get to good parts eventually, but I refuse to sugarcoat it whilst in the dark places of the story; I want to convey what it was really like there)...
Right around the time I stopped meeting with counselor #5, Joel took
three weeks off work and traveled to visit his family. When he got home
he came straight to our house that night and it was, quite frankly,
horrible. Many things happened that night and I could not wait
for him to leave. It was just very clear that our relationship was just
getting worse and worse and worse...not better at all.
day (August 1st), the kids and I had to go to Ruston for something (Ruston is a nearby
town...where Joel works and was also living at the time). He met up
with us and had lunch. When we were about to leave town, he said
something about how he was going to come to our house the next day. I
said that we would just see him another day...maybe Sunday...but, that
we (i.e. I) needed a break. We were just going to have a
relaxing day, just us (me and the kids). Thursday night with him at our
house had been horrid. Friday in Ruston had been no better. And I
knew I couldn't handle a 3rd day in a row with him.
become increasingly belligerent and bully-ish over the summer...very
inconsiderate, very controlling. There were a few times over the course
of these years (since January 2012) that he had voiced how he was the
man, the husband...and because of that he was in charge, he was
responsible, he was the boss, etc. But, two times in particular during
the summer of 2014 he voiced very clearly that he was the boss...that I
could not make the decisions...and that he was bigger than me, so there
was no way I could 'win.'
Joel was never that way before.
Never even close. But he had refused to see the truth of the situation
for years already. And when you harden your heart to the needs of those
around you, you end up with...a hardened heart.
Joel (and therefore I too) had many other things working against him (and us) at this time too. Things that I didn't even find about until much later. Things that very much contributed to what happened and why. I'll get into that more later. It's all just quite appalling to me to say the least. Others might feel otherwise, but I still can't get over how horribly unhealthy people can act. And what horribly unhealthy things we teach in the name of God. Again...I'll get into it more later. But, there were definitely other things (i.e. people) affecting Joel and his behavior...I'll post about it soon.
But that Friday when he said that he would come to our house the next day, and I had said no, that we needed a break and he could come another day...he told me again that he was going to come the next day. I told him no...he really couldn't come the next day. I would compromise with him and stay in Ruston that day and he could hang out with the kids all afternoon. But truly...we had seen him two days in a row (two days which had been horrible)...and I couldn't do a 3rd. But, he didn't want to compromise. He just continued to disregard me and my wishes. He stopped talking to me at all and directed his conversation toward the kids, telling them that he would see them the next day. When I said that they would see him not the next day, but another day, he started doing a little chuckle and smirking and telling the kids again that he would see them the next day. You get the picture. That went on for a few seconds and then Joel and I of course shut the van doors and had a little conversation of our own.
I told him that if he was coming the next day, that we would not be there. He was so insistent that he was the boss, that he was in charge, that I was only interested in being controlling and manipulative and he wouldn't allow that...and he continued to insist that he was coming the next day...and that we weren't going anywhere.
The kids and I went home.
I cannot tell you what that was like. I felt like Farrah Fawcett in The Burning Bed as I packed up our stuff, drew out cash from the ATM, and drove out of town as the sun went down.
Joel had never been physically abusive. But, he was so convinced that I was trying to be controlling and manipulative, and he was so caught up in being the authority and being in charge and not letting me 'control him,' that he constantly plowed his way through our lives with no consideration. And he had gotten to the point over that summer that he had twice brought up how he was bigger and stronger than me...that I 'couldn't get away' with whatever it was that I was in the process of doing that he didn't agree with.
Obviously, it was a mess. And it was at its 'boiling point.' So, we fled. One of the wisest things I've ever, ever done in my life. Controversial maybe...but wise.
I didn't tell anyone where we were going. I stayed invisible. We were gone for two weeks...and it was just what the kids and I needed. It even gave Joel some perspective...and helped him to see that he could not demand his way.
You might be wondering how the kids were at this point. Contrary to what Joel and his mentors and advice-givers were believing (and some still believe), I am a very grounded and logical person...and because of that, I just told them the facts...exactly how Joel was seeing me. And exactly how I was seeing the situation. In short, I told them...the truth.
At the time, Joel was not able to see the truth of the situation...and hadn't been able to for years. But, my kids were in the know. As Hadley said very matter-of-factly that night we fled, "Well, I guess he will know from now on that you mean what you say." And she said that because...
They had seen that I hadn't been heard for a very long time. They had seen that I hadn't been listened to or believed. They had sadly been told that Daddy was 'in charge' and Mama was 'sick' and 'wrong.' I told the truth...that I had not been sick...but that I had been injured in the battle years before...and that my strongest ally and partner had continued to drag me to the front lines of the battlefield for years after, without giving me the chance to retreat and heal.
Our kids are smart and clever and wise. And they've been taught from day 1 that life isn't all about lollipops and rainbows. They've seen hard in others' lives. And now they know, to a certain extent, hard...personally. We shield them from lots. But we don't shield them from the bottom line truth. And because of that, they don't fear or panic. They know that through it all, whatever comes, God is trustworthy and He is there. He is love. And He is peace. And we will wait on Him.
The kids thrived on our little impromptu mini-vacation. I did too. We did school in the mornings and played all afternoon and evening. We were free from the 'cares of this world' that had taken over our lives...free for at least our time there. We were staying at a place that represented major peace to me...I had a history there and it was a wonderful history. And it was just what we needed.
We went back to Saline after two weeks away. The next week, counseling with counselors # 6 and #7 started. I went to meet with them first. I'll fill you in on that next time.