Last week when I posted the last post, someone mentioned to me that they can see Joel’s side too…and they could see how he could have felt lost in all of this. Which…it’s a good thing that people can relate to Joel in all of this and learn from him. But, that did get me to thinking…and I wanted to address just one thing very quickly. I don’t remember if I’ve even mentioned this here on the blog at all. But, the truth is that we had always discussed things and decided things together…this I have mentioned. We were an amazing team. If I felt I needed a certain thing, I always let it be known. There is no guesswork here. I never expected my husband to be a mind reader. So we were always super honest in our relationship. If he felt he needed a certain thing, he also always let it be known. That’s how it worked. So…I just wanted to clarify that maybe because of some of Joel’s expectations in life (because of a few wrong things that he was taught all of his life…which we’ll get into more as time goes on) he became lost in our situation, but it was not at all because he wasn’t clearly being told what was going on. Because he was. Again, there was no guesswork here. He just didn’t agree with what was going on. He didn't like what I personally was saying I needed (which was nothing unreasonable or illogical). Know what I mean? So, I just wanted to clear that up here before we go on with our timeline. Now :)...on with our timeline...
I was soooo done with counseling. We had tried 5 different counselors. I was just...done. In case you don't remember, here's a quick summation of what our time with the counselors were like...and why they didn't work out for us:
The first counselor was a lay counselor (a pastor) and although he had counseled many couples very successfully over the past 20 years, he very frankly did not know what to do with us and our situation after meeting with us several times. In our last meeting with him, he politely suggested that we find help elsewhere because he didn't know how to help us. Lol...yikes. A sure sign that the problems were pretty deep and extensive.So...the thought of trying with more counselors, which involved baring my soul yet again with yet another person, was honestly just nauseating and exhausting and super duper stressful. After trying for over a year, with 5 different counselors...I mean, why try again? It was pointless. It was useless. It was hopeless.
The 2nd one just wasn't a good fit...personality-wise and as far as her approach and what she thought was acceptable within a session and her subjectivity/opinions about some of our actions (mine in particular) being made known, even within the first 10 minutes (which made us unable to trust her...and trustworthiness is pretty important between a counselor and counselee).
The 3rd was in another country and agreed to try to help, but didn't seem to have done long-distance counseling before...he's very much used to one-on-one. So, it was a disaster from the start really...just circumstantial as far as connecting long-distance and miscommunications, etc.
The 4th and 5th (who worked together) were the most promising. But, it became clear pretty quickly (although, we stuck with them for over 2 1/2 months) that they (and *all* of the counselors had done this actually...) were really focusing on the branches and leaves (symptoms) rather than the root (the core issues that were causing all of this in the first place). Which is, to me, crazytown. It also isn't practical, logical, or biblical. And...it just wastes time. It can be likened to someone running around trying to keep the plates spinning instead of just taking the plates down altogether and putting them back in the cabinet where they belong ---> ahh, peace. I talk about that a lot on the blog too...in several places, but more recently in Part 13.
No wonder people get divorced!!
Even for the people who want to get help and try to get help and really, really pursue help...there is stinkin' no guarantee that any of it is going to actually work or help at all anyway.
So, I was seriously done with trying counseling. I wasn't saying 'let's go get a divorce.' But, I was beyond the hope that we would ever find a counselor who would actually see our situation for what it really was. So, I was just in 'wait' mode.
In July, when Joel had traveled to see his family, he met up with a couple who knew us pre-marriage, had walked with us through courtship and marriage, had been close to us when we started having children, etc. At some point a few years ago, we lost touch a bit. But Joel met up with them basically as a 'last ditch effort.' They are actually not counselors...they are just friends and have acted in our lives in the past as mentors. Joel didn't know if it would help anything...or if it did, how much we would be involved with them in the end...but, he met with them.
There was some correspondence that happened after that, and several things happened in the next month. They said that they wanted to help us as much as possible if possible. So, I met with them alone around the 3rd week of August.
And for the first time in over 2 1/2 years (at that point...since January 2012), I actually breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. That weekend I was with people, for the first time in years, who actually cared about me in this. Who weren't afraid to talk about what was going on. Who saw ME and all of my motivations and reasonings for everything I had done and felt and thought and just everything. They got it. And they were going straight toward the root level. They weren't concerned with all of this symptom stuff. They went back to the very beginning. And they went deep.
So I asked Joel to move out...they thought that was probably a good thing. So I 'fled' for two weeks...also wise. They weren't even focused on these things...they didn't even ask about these things. They were diving down. So I had stopped 'affirming' my husband...totally understandable and not the problem here. There were other things just like this...that never made them flinch or say 'well, you're the problem and this is why' that weekend. Something which had happened with all of the other counselors...they had each gotten hung up on some 'symptom' thing that I was doing and just would not let go of it...would not go deeper to the root problem and what was causing those symptoms. Funny how nobody cared about Joel's symptoms. I mean...how often did he affirm me, for example (FYI, answer: never!)? Interesting how that was never discussed, nor any of his other symptoms. Just mine.
Had they been, it would have still been a complete waste of time...root issues needed to be looked at. But, at the same time, the ill effects of me being blamed for these things in all of the other counseling sessions...it was brutal for me.
Thank God I knew that I knew that I knew what was going on. And I could see the big picture. And thank God I'm not so faint of heart that people who blame me are going to wipe me out of the fight for truth and right things. They didn't. They aren't. They never will. It really was brutal though. Like nothing I've ever experienced. And lasted for literal years.
So, meeting with this couple...it provided safety for me again. Literally for the first time in years, I felt safe. I was cared for and listened to and heard and believed and understood.
Joel went to see this couple at the end of that week. It went well. For the very first time he was told to, and taught how to, look deeper. To examine the big picture. To see ME. Not my symptoms. But, me. The deeper things. The reasons for what had happened. The reasons for why I had felt the way I felt and done the things I had done and needed the things I had needed.
Over the next couple of days, Joel prayed and mulled over what had been said to him there. That Saturday night, he started a conversation with me on Skype. It literally lasted until the wee hours of the morning on that Monday morning. Most of it was not good or pleasant. But, at the very end, around 4am, things shifted. I had shared a couple of emails with him that I had sent to that couple that we had met with. I had shared with them in those emails what his actions over the previous 2 1/2 years had done to me, to our marriage, to our family. I had shared that it had all really been a form of abuse...that it was to that point, and I had shared some stories of people we know that explained why it would be considered a form of abuse. When Joel read that, it seemed to grab his attention like never before. Of course he didn't want to be an 'abuser.' And so, something changed in him at that point.
His heart softened. He began to see it all for what it really was. He began to see January 2012 until that present time for what had really happened instead of what he had come up with in his head or what others had suggested to him. He was saddened and broken...and he began to apologize. That apology lasted for the next 16 minutes on Skype chat. That's a long time to spend just typing out apology after apology...line after line of what he was regretful about. He was getting it...after 2 1/2 years of nothing, he 'all of a sudden' saw it for what it was. I was silent for those 16 minutes. He just typed line after line, and I just sat there basically in disbelief.
That was September 1st, 2014. Labor Day.
He came to our house that morning. He was different. So, he moved back in.
That is not the end of our timeline or our story. So much more to tell. So much more that has happened. But, for now, you can just be happy in this happy ending for this post. :)