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

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