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.  ;)

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