Thursday, April 23, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 27 - Forgiveness, 1}

The 'lighter' posts are done.  Now...back to the timeline of events. 

As far as the timeline, I had left off with Parts 17 and 18...and Parts 21 and 22.  Those parts are all kind of related.

Where were we?  Joel and I had come back together September 1st.  Joel moved back in.  And we had started to tackle getting to know each other again.  I had physically/emotionally/spiritually/mentally needed a break starting in the Spring of 2012 (after a really, really rough year in Brazil...I need to do an actual post on just that year and all that it involved that served as just the straw that broke the camel's back in my life) and as discussed, was denied that needed rest by my husband constantly...over the 2 1/2 years prior to us coming back together (January 2012 - Sept. 1, 2014).  Because of this, we had gradually gradually gradually started living very separate lives.  So, here we were, not really knowing each other at all now after coming back together.  Joel had turned into a person over those 2 1/2 years that I needed to distance myself from for my own safety and well-being...and in that distance, we grew to know nothing about each other. 

So, when we came back together, we spent the first few days reconnecting.  Getting to know each other.  Discussing the hard things.  I've talked about this before.  Some of it wasn't easy.  But, it was necessary. 

I had found the correspondence written about in Parts 17 and 18 in the Spring before Joel ever even moved out...but had never told Joel.  I told him that I had seen that correspondence as we discussed things.  And then, in reconnecting, I saw the things written about in Parts 21 and 22.  There were more things I found out about...lots more of the same.  And some other things that I'm not even going to go into.  Needless to say was a rough few days for me. 

But because of who the people were that were involved in this particular correspondence...because they were people who were close to esp. Joel...I knew that it was something that needed to be addressed soon.  It's already been established that it was family, so that just takes things to a different level.  And you treat things with family a little differently than if it was just some other random person.  It's just different. 

Along with that specific relationship (the fact that it was 'family') being a reason for it needing to be addressed soon, also because of the divisive role these people had played for the past few years, that root issue (of divisiveness) needed to be completely cut out.  It needed to be dealt with.  We were together again.  We were putting us and each other priority.  We were rebuilding.  There was going to be no room for tearing down and tearing apart.

So...we set out to deal with it. 

I thought I knew these people.  So when I was reading the correspondence, I was absolutely floored.  I couldn't believe what I was reading.  It was just so incredibly horrifying.  How could someone be so two-faced and cold?  How could someone speak with such authority about what was happening...and speak with such authority about me...and they've never even talked to me in years...and certainly not about any of the topic at hand.  And...those things they were saying with such authority?...truly horrible things!  I was literally just flabbergasted. 

But hey...I also knew that Joel had been talking to them about all of his perceptions and fears and uncertainties.  And since he had just ceased to see me and hear me, of course he wasn't actually  He was relaying himself...and that I hadn't followed him in his wishes.  And that I had refused to do this or that.  And that I was being so not myself and doing things like not dare I!!

Meanwhile, I am laying on the floor, wounded, injured, damaged, hurt.  Yet, how dare I!!  (ugh) Anyway...

Although these people were incredibly wrong in not actually asking me...and not actually valuing what I had to say...I still honestly just thought that we'd be able to talk this through and reach the other side.  I thought that we would be able to be honest with each other, we would be able to clear the air, we would be able to right the wrongs and clear up any wrong beliefs or misconceptions.  So...

Joel and I set out to do just that. 

It wasn't going to be fun.  But, because of who I thought these people were, I really did think that it would be a relatively easy and quick fix.  I think you all know by now that I was sadly mistaken.

I know there are many of you out there who have dealt with/are dealing with conflict and/or difficult/broken relationships.  I'm going to explain to you our specific story here...and go into principles and definitions so that hopefully people at large can get a better understanding of how to deal with conflict and others.  And hopefully, we can once and for all, clear up what forgiveness is, for heaven's sake!

Joel sent an email first...just letting them know that we had gotten back together...that we were reconnecting...that we were knitting ourselves back together bit by bit, that we had started the (probably long) walk down the road to recovery.  I honestly did not have anything to do with this first email.  I didn't feel connected to him enough yet...we were still pretty distanced in many ways.  While he showed it to me, I said nothing.  In it, he had mentioned how he thought that I had been wronged by himself and them...and that repentance was needed.  Again, I said nothing. 

Personally, if I'm being honest, his email seemed a bit abrupt and kind of rough...but, that's how Joel writes.  As I've mentioned here before, he is the first to tell you that he is no wordsmith at all.  It's why he doesn't write.  It's just not a gift he has.  And especially when he's presented with a difficult situation and conflict...remember, he doesn't do well with conflict.  So, when presented with a situation with conflict, he's usually either hot or cold.  Either he comes off as abrupt and a little rough...or he is super passive and just practically pretends like there isn't any conflict or problem.  He is the first to tell you is just not his thing. 

In general, he prefers talking on the phone or meeting face-to-face when possible...conflict or no.  But, that wasn't an option here.  So, he wrote this email.  And I said nothing. 

It didn't really matter though.  It wasn't the fault of this email that it wasn't well-received.  We figured we might get a little pushback since Joel had spent the past few years actually saying some pretty incriminating (and untrue) things about me.  And of course, the people he was talking to had not tried to find out if those things were true or not.  So...they were believing some pretty outrageous things about me. 

Again I thought, fine...this is normal.  Yes, they shouldn't have believed those things.  And yes, they should've come to me and actually asked.  But, since they didn't do the right things...this is normal for them to be pretty taken aback (and even mad).  I thought, that's ok...everything will be explained, they'll find out the truth of what has happened, I'll find out exactly what they are thinking and believing about me and will be able to explain all of my side of the story for these past few years, they'll see the error of their ways in believing what they believe about me, and we will be able to work it out and move on. 

That didn't happen.

They all eventually did say that they were sorry, that they wanted to ask my forgiveness...that they had believed Joel before in all that he was saying about me during those years...they could and would choose to believe him now that he was saying that he had had it all wrong during those years.  That's what they said.  That's all they said.  No questions.  Just 'Whatever...we're sorry.'

I said, fine...forgiveness is yours.  Thank you.  

But I also said, now that you know that forgiveness is readily available to you in your repentance, let's talk.

And even though their apologies had seemed less than sincere as related to me (basically 'fine, we'll believe joel...whatever' after some pretty serious pushback), I truly believed that they were capable of true repentance, esp. as they gradually found out the truth...about me, about the past few years, etc. 

So I said, "Forgiveness is yours.  But, I'd like to discuss all that was said and done.  It won't be pleasant, but I think it will be worth it."

Specific permission to discuss, with full knowledge that it wouldn't be easy or pleasant, was granted by one.  The others, Joel just told them that I'd be emailing them in order to discuss things.  Theirs was a less 'confrontational' type email since there had actually been correspondence with me, so we were going to just discuss the actual correspondence between them and me, and them and Joel.  That's what we did with them.

But, I took all the correspondence.  I wrote a warning about how I was completely just flabbergasted as to how this all had gone down.  I was completely honest and told them that I was angry at how it had happened and how they had acted.  I told them that I would respond to each thing that was written about me...and that in those responses it might even seem snarky at times...because I was seriously just completely floored by what I was seeing.  So yes...I even warned them about the seldom snark.  Because, as I wrote to a friend to explain true repentance...
when there is true repentance, the two parties can discuss what happened, ask questions, get answers, express anger even.
I told them that I would write them mostly in bullet points (there was a LOT to cover) in that writing style it might seem more pointed, but to take all that I said in the best possible tone of voice and assume goodwill.  But that, yes, I was angry and shocked and stung by their beliefs and words and actions.  I told them that, even though this was all true and I might seem angry and even snarky at times in my confrontation, that I was really hopeful that, with honesty, we could work through it all and reach the other side...reconciliation.  But that without that honesty, it wouldn't be possible.  I even praised the good I did see in hopes that that would just soften hearts a bit...and that through that kindness they would see that my heart was to get to the bottom of it all, not to 'attack' as I know confrontation can often be seen that way.  I assured them that that was not what I was doing...but that a really honest discussion was needed in order to work through things.

So...I responded to each thing that was written about me.  I confronted the perpetrators about their beliefs about me, their counsel to Joel, their lack of getting my side of the story, their lack of believing me (the ones who actually did ask me, 2 years in, yet chose not to believe me), their 2-faced and backstabbing actions, their continued actions (starting in January 2012) that were clearly bringing about division between Joel and I instead of encouraging unity, etc. etc. etc.  And I said all of those other things (listed in the paragraph above) in the beginning, throughout, and at the end. 

I was hopeful that this was the beginning of an honest dialogue. 

These initial emails were written during the first 2 weeks of September.  There were ongoing emails until the end of October...all of their emails refusing to discuss things with me...all of our emails trying to convince them to just talk to us honestly, that that was O.K....that that was what was needed.  I was prepared, and wanted to, give an answer for all of my actions over the past few years.  They refused to give answers for theirs.  And weren't interested in any dialogue at all.

One of the perpetrators actually took 6 weeks to answer my initial 'confrontation' email (the one where I responded to all that he had written about me and asked him questions, etc.).  6 weeks.  Because he was 'busy.'  What profundity did he write in his response that we had waited 6 weeks for? 

He did say briefly that it was wrong of him not to get my side of the story...and for that he repented.  But then he said...
At this time I do not feel to discuss further everything I said.  God our Heavenly Father forgives us when we repent, and no longer remembers our sins against Him.  He who knows all things chooses to forget our individual sins against Himself. He does not come to discuss them with us, but remembers them no more. Then His Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth works in us bringing His truth to us that sets us free and changes us so we no longer sin against Him. 

Where I judged you wrong due to wrong beliefs, I ask the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth.
This is my only hope for change and transformation.

God reveals His truth little by little. His truth sets me free and changes me. That is the only way I can truly be changed.

That is the reason to accept my brothers and sisters in Christ and my family members because I know God is not finished with all of us He is still at work in each of our lives.  I will be patient with others as we are all God's handiwork, it is an ongoing project.

We love you and from this day forward choose to fully accept you knowing that God is at work in you as He is in me.
To some of you, that might just seem sweet and holy and lovely. 


1) to repent for not getting my side of the story...and then to, in the next breath, refuse to discuss things with me (including my side of the story) - that is NOT repentance; that is a clear sign that this person has not reached actual repentance.

2) "He who knows all things chooses to forget our individual sins against Himself. He does not come to discuss them with us, but remembers them no more." - exactly.  He who knows all things!  You know, the One who sees our hearts.  He knows all.  For example, if someone is truly repentant.  If that someone who is saying things like "I'm sorry" and "I repent" has truly turned a corner for good.  If that person even believes he's done something wrong in the first place.  In order for God to forgive you, you have to ask.  You must confess your wrongdoing, be truly repentant (as demonstrated by actions, not just words), and ask forgiveness.  God, who knows all, actually knows (without further discussion) whether or not that person truly believes they've done something wrong and are repentant.  People don't know all...but we can know more through discussion.  We are instructed to forgive as God forgives...and He forgives when men repent and seek His mercy; not before. 

3) ^^^ nobody was seeking my mercy during those couple of months.  lol.  Not even close.  It was like pulling teeth to get anyone to even email us.  I had done my part...and actually gone way above and beyond.  Bent. Over. Backwards.

4) as I replied to him addressing the 'not feeling like discussing it further':
i'm very confused as to how you think that this is ok...or why you think you are the one who gets to decide.  if i wrong someone, it humbles me to the ground.  i feel horrible.  i ask them, " can i make this right?  how can we bring resolution to this and restoration to our relationship?  what will it take for you?  what do *you* need?"  it's not about penance or, again (as we seem to not see eye to eye on) 'unforgiveness' on their's about meeting that person that *i've* mistreated, that *i've* wronged, where they are.  *i'm* the one who has pushed them away.  *i'm* the one who has caused them damage.  *i'm* the one who is then subject to whatever they need to make it right.  *i'm* the one who is just longing to bring them back into a relationship with me.  i *want* to do whatever it takes to bring us (me and the one i've wronged) back together.  even if that means discussing what it is, in detail, that i did wrong...and how on earth i was at the point that i *could* do such wrong to that person.  if that person wants answers, i give them to that person.  it takes *way more* than just "i'm sorry and i repent, but i no longer want to discuss what i did."
5) he said that the Holy Spirit can reveal all of his wrong beliefs to him.  O.K.  Sure...the Holy Spirit can reveal all, of course.  But, another translation of this part is 'I just refuse to talk to you.  Yes, discussing things with you and your husband could also be a way to reveal wrong beliefs that I've had about you and this situation.  But no...I'll just refuse you the thing you say you most need from me in order to reconcile our relationship...because I'm super holy and I don't need you, you little peon, to help reveal my wrongdoings.  The Holy Spirit is the only way we can hear truth.  Thanks though.  Bye, Felicia.'  lol.  Just throwing in some humor here.  Ha.  He wouldn't actually use those exact words.  But truly...this is a basic translation of what he did say.

6) basically, as the one person I shared this email with said, "i dont want to judge him, but in those lines he sounds very self righteous and the religion he is putting forth is yucky." I agree.

7) and I love his last sentence there.  "...we choose to fully accept you..." We also have the beliefs that you are controlling, manipulative, deceived by satan, have a mental disorder, and are 'uppity,' along with a few other things.  But, we'd rather just continue believing those things instead of actually discussing those things with you.  Thanks though.  But...'we fully accept you'...and who we think you are.

So you can see...what I thought would be a relatively quick and easy fix was actually over 2 months (over two months!) of really, really difficult communication leading us to a dead end.  Which, of course, (sarcasm following) was just exactly what Joel and I needed when we had finally come back together after 2 1/2 years of hell in our marriage.  What support for us and our union!  :/

I had been wronged so badly by these people.  Of course, by far the easiest and most comfortable (involving the least amount of stress) thing to do would have been to just distance myself.  But, I knew that wouldn't be the right thing to do.  So, I sucked it up, chose to deal with it the way the Bible says to, and went to them to work it out.  No matter what we said, they just refused to work it out with us.  I/we had been wronged, yet I/we were the ones who were doing all the work.  It was exhausting.

It was all just another devastating blow to us.  Here we had just had this literal miracle occur...and had gotten back together, full of love and hope.  And then this.  Another trauma-filled, stress-filled two months. 

I'll tell you more of the story in the next post...along with more principles and a bottom-liner of what I believe forgiveness is. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 26 - Who We Are, 2}

In the last post, I went more in-depth into what is called the Energy Profiling System by a lady named Carol Tuttle.  Her system, which she talks about a LOT on her blog, and in her book have helped Joel and me a ton.  We highly recommend all of that material. 

But today I'm going to talk about another helpful tool that we were introduced to by our friends, the couple who were actually the first (and only) people we met with who actually went after root issues...and therefore helped us greatly...even to the point of Joel moving back in after 3 1/2 months of living apart. 

The tool I'm talking about today is a book called Strengths Finder.  According to the front of the book, it's sold over 4 million copies and is the #1 Wall Street Journal it's hardly a secret tool. It's used by many businesses in order to fully utilize the strengths of their employees.  Our friends' church sells it at their bookstore and everyone in leadership at that church is required to use this tool...again, in order to understand each other and work together best, fully being aware of others' strengths...where one might lack in a certain strength someone else who is stronger in that area can take over.  It's all very logical, is it not?

This book is very practical in its approach...very short, easy to read, and to the point.  The goal of this book, this tool, which is 'the culmination of more than 50 years of Dr. Clifton's work (Dr. Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D....the father of Strengths-Based Psychology)' is to simply identify your strengths.  Because, the old adage that states that "You can be anything you want to be, if you just try hard enough" isn't actually true, is it?  No matter how much I tried or wanted it as a child (had I actually tried or wanted to), my natural talents and even physicality were never going to be what it took to become the next Mary Lou Retton.  It wasn't a matter of determination, self-discipline, or desire.  So therefore, can't be anything you want to be.  Truly. 

But, as this book states, you can be a lot more of who you already are

So...who are you already?

What are your strengths?  How did God hard-wire you? 

While we've always been the types to just roll with the flow...'why people gotta put us in a box?'...'don't label me,' etc., I think the last 3 years have proven to us, and to many of you too maybe, that finding out more about yourself is more of a pro than a con.  When you know more about yourself, it doesn't mean that you have to be labeled to a just provides a light in.  It's still scary to me...the risk of being labeled for all eternity.  Or, being labeled in a wrong way just because I have certain tendencies (example, labeled as a harsh person just because I am a Type 4...because I'm not a harsh person).  But...I think that our story, and what I wrote in the last post, gives great arguments for knowing ourselves, and knowing our loved ones, better.

The Strengths Finder book breaks it all down into 34 basic strengths that each of us have to a certain degree.  So, you buy the book which includes a code, you use the code online to be able to take the quiz, and then you are provided with a list of your top 5 strengths.  If you want to see how all of your strengths rank (all 34), you can get those for a little extra moolah.  Because of our last 3 years, I was like, 'um, yes...I want to know all I can in order to prevent this from ever. happening. again!'  lol.  KnowhutImean, Vern? 

So, I got all the information I could about me and the Mr.  And it was really very revealing and helpful.  And interesting. (Read all the way to the end in order to see how this information fits together and how it all played out in our lives in the past 3 years)

Some of the terms used for the listed strengths are self-explanatory.  For those that aren't, I'll try to explain. 

They say that opposites attract.  While there are some things about Joel and me that are definitely pretty opposite, we've always said we're, in general, more similar than opposite.  If there were a line marking two extremes, one on each end...if you were graphing Joel and me along that line, we would both fall somewhere in the middle. 

I think that was confirmed when we saw that 6 of our top 10 strengths are the same.  And 2 of our top 5 are the same. 

We both got Includer as #2.  We both want to include people and make them feel a part of our group.  :) 

The other one that we both got as part of our top 5 was Adaptability.  I mean, does that not just make perfect sense?  That is the reason why I was able to not only survive, but thrive, for so long with that gypsy lifestyle.  Joel got it as his #3.  I got it as my #4. 

I'll list out our top 10s here.  You can see if you think you might have any of these strengths.

1.  Connectedness - see?...I had forgotten it was my #1 on here, but I did say in the last post that it was super important to me, remember?  This is the idea that we are all connected.  From the book: We are all part of a larger picture.  We must not harm others because in doing so we will harm ourselves.  In exploiting others, we are exploiting ourselves.  Certain of the unity of humankind, you are a bridge builder for people of different cultures and beliefs.  Your faith is strong and it sustains you.
2.  Includer
3.  Woo - From the book:  You enjoy the challenge of meeting new people and winning them over.  Strangers rarely intimidate fact, you are drawn to them.  You want to learn their names, ask them questions, and find some area of common interest so that you can strike up a conversation and build rapport.  In your world there are no strangers, only friends you haven't met yet...lots of them.  I love that last line! great.  So true. 
4.  Adaptability
5.  Belief - Basically, you possess certain core values and beliefs that are very, very strong and enduring...and from those, you make decisions and live your life consistently.  From the book:  This consistency is the foundation for all your relationships.  Your friends call you dependable, saying, "I know where you stand." Your Belief makes you easy to trust. 
6.  Strategic - From the book:  This strength enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route.  It is not a skill that can be taught.  It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspectine on the world at large.  This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity.  Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, "What if this happened? O.K., well what if this happened?" This recurring question helps you see around the next corner.  There you can evaluate the potential obstacles.  You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path - your strategy.  Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. 
7.  Positivity - From the book:  You are generous with praise, quick to smile, and always on the lookout for the positive in the situation.  Some call you lighthearted...and your glass always seems to be quite full.  People want to be around you...their world looks better around you because your enthusiasm is contagious.  Spoiler alert:  This is Joel's #1.  You can see how it could be my #7 probably...but for sure Joel's #1, right?  It's a pretty conclusive and accurate little tool, this book/quiz.
8.  Empathy - I even mentioned this specific thing in the last post.   
9.  Learner - From the book:  You love to learn.  The subject matter that interests you most will be determined by your other strengths and experiences, but whatever the subject, you will always be drawn to the process of learning.  The outcome of the learning is less significant than the 'getting there.'  This is interesting to me.  And while I think the overall sentiment is true, I need to tweak it to better fit me.  The truth is that the outcome of learning is the most important part for me.  Without the outcome, I would have no motivation to learn whatever it is I'm learning.  Because I don't just love learning just to has to have significant meaning and purpose in my life in order for me to learn it.  For instance, all of this stuff that I'm talking about here in these blog posts.  Or, another example, Portuguese.  I never had any desire to learn a different language.  Ever.  But, it was needed in my life.  So I did it.  I think we all know that I research things a lot.  So, I do enjoy long as I see a practical need for it. 
10. Relator - From the book:  This strength pulls you toward people you already know.  You may have other strengths that cause you to enjoy the thrill of turning strangers into friends too, but you derive a great deal of pleasure and strength from being around your close friends.  You are comfortable with intimacy.  Once the initial connection has been made, you deliberately encourage a deepening of the relationship.  You want to understand their feelings, their goals, their fears, and their dreams; and you want them to understand yours.  For you, a relationship has value only if it is genuine.  It involves risk, but you don't care.  These are your steps toward real friendship, and you take them willingly.

Now Joel's.  As said already, we share 6 of the same strengths in our top 10s.  So, most of these have been described above in my list. 

1.  Positivity
2.  Includer
3.  Adaptability
4.  Harmony - From the book:  You look for areas of agreement.  In your view, there is little to be gained from conflict and friction, so you seek to hold them to a minimum.  When you know that the people around you hold differing views, you try to find the common ground.  You try to steer them away from confrontation and toward harmony. 
5.  Developer - From the book:  You see the potential in others.  Very often, in fact, potential is all you see.  In your view, no individual is fully formed.  On the contrary, each individual is a work in progress, alive with possibilities.
6.  Arranger - From the book:  You are a conductor.  When faced with a complex situation involving many factors, you enjoy managing all of the variables, aligning and realigning them until you are sure you have arranged them in the most productive configuration possible.  You like to try to figure out the best way to get things done.
7.  Individualization - From the book:  This strength leads you to be intrigued by the unique qualities of each person.  You focus on the differences between individuals.  You can draw out the best in each person.  This helps you build productive teams.  You know that the secret to great teams is casting by individual strengths so that everyone can do a lot of what they do well. 
8.  Belief
9.  Empathy
10. Woo

Interesting, yes? 

So, how did these strengths, and what we lack as strengths, contribute to the past 3 years of our lives?

In order to see that, we have to go back to what happened.  A quick summation of that:

--grace for the gypsy lifestyle gradually lifting since 2010
--really, really rough year in Brazil spring 2011-spring 2012
--a DEEP and unmistakable need for rest and recovery once back in the states for summer 2012
--impossible to rest and recover...just the opposite of that actually when thrown into the tornado of not having the basic need of shelter; working frantically and tirelessly may-october 2012 in order to get out of suitcases that whole time
--then, after shelter acquired, the need for rest and recovery was constantly denied me by my husband
--so, never any rest and recovery provided;  as a result, the breakdown of our marriage and my health continued to decline

How could that have all been stopped using each of our strengths? 

I think the key is to know when to use each strength...when to use which of your own strengths, and when to bow out and let someone else use their strength.

So, for instance, there are many many times in life when the strength of Harmony that Joel has (Harmony came in #17 for me) comes in handy.  When I would need to step back and let him shine with that strength he has.  Yet, in our particular situation the past 3 years, conflict was just a part of our lives as related to others (and each other sometimes)...conflict of schedules, conflict of beliefs, conflict of personalities and worldviews and cultures.  There were times in which his Arranger strength needed to take over instead of his Harmony.  Yet his Harmony ruled...and was not used within his marriage at all, but with others...which destroyed his marriage.

So, what would that have looked like had other aspects of his strengths taken over?  Instead of trying to please others (because of his disdain for conflict and confrontation and disharmony), he could have/should have used his Arranger skills in order to say, 'O.K....this is a complex situation involving many factors.' Instead of letting his Harmony strength take over and get him out of balance...even going so far as to not taking care of his in-need wife and instead putting others over her, he could have/should have said, 'O.K., my wife is in need.  Even if that is going to cause problems, I will take care of her...and I will arrange our lives in order to do that.  I will tell people the truth that our family needs a break and a time of healing, even if that brings disharmony and we can't meet their expectations.'  He had the strength and gift available to him in order to get that job done...but, one of his other strengths took over...the wrong strength to use in our particular situation. 

And in his Arranger strength (had he been using that), he likes to try to figure out the best way to do things.  Guess who is great to work with in order to help the most in figuring things out!!  Someone who has the strength of sorting through clutter (complex situations) and finding the best route.  The person who can see the big picture.  The person who instead of seeing complexity sees patterns...and can mark out a plan.  The person with the Strategic strength. 

Lucky for Joel, he was married to someone with that strength!!  Strategic is #6 for me.  Where did Strategic fall in the rankings for Joel?  Next to last!!  #33 out of 34.  See where it can come in handy to know not just your top 5 strengths, but how each strength ranks in your life?  Not only is Strategic something that I am better at...Joel practically doesn't have that strength at all.  That's not bad...just different. really needs to know that so they can step aside and let the one who does have that strength do what they're best at.

But unfortunately, since January 2012, the overall thoughts about me that Joel was having was that I was difficult and controlling.  And he was getting nothing different from his 'counsel'...they were only reinforcing those thoughts.  Therefore, he had just stopped working with me and listening to me and believing me and even seeing any strengths that I might have.  So, even though we had gifts and strengths that could have navigated us through the complex situations (and have many times over the years), those strengths were no longer being acknowledged.  The wrong strengths were being employed...and the right strengths were being benched and ignored and dismissed. 

Because I was being seen as difficult and controlling and manipulative and non-submissive, and because Joel's counsel was only reinforcing this view of me...there is no way I was being looked to for any of my strengths. 

Sad really.  It all could have been handled and taken care of easily if our strengths were actually being used properly and we were working together.  Sadly, that was not allowed. 

With my Type 4-ness along with strengths like Strategic and Learner (tons of research and reflection during the past 3 years...Joel's Learner rank? #27 out of 34)...had I been listened to, none of this would have happened. 

But with the way Joel was viewing me (because of the wrong use of his strengths in this situation...and because of his selfishness, to be blunt)
his view (and his counsel's view) of the role of husband/wife in a marriage (which we'll talk more about later)
= my strengths were benched and ignored. 

We were only working with Joel's strengths.  And with only Joel's wrong strengths being employed, that is a big part of how we ended up where we are. 

Again, it's just so so important to know ourselves.  To know our spouses/loved ones.  To know the best way to work together

So important.  It's a matter of health vs. disease.  It's a matter of life and death for a marriage.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 25 - Who We Are, 1}

I've talked about personalities before.  This is our 2nd 'lighter' post (which actually isn't super light, turns out, ha...but, it's lighter).  The topics to talk about just keep piling up, lol.  This past weekend...just wow.  So much to say about it.  Counseling?...yes, there will be at least one blog post about counseling in general.  I want to talk about it now.  But, I will refrain. 

For now...this post.  About Joel.  About me.  About who we are.  Please don't think this post vain of us.  Because truly, 1) I think it will help to understand our story we look at things, how we've responded to things, how things went wrong, how things kept going wrong, etc., and 2) to encourage you to get to know yourself and your spouse (or other family members...children, siblings, etc.; and others) better.  When you understand why a person acts the way they do (to a certain extent...there's also sin of course, but you know...) according to the giftings they have (or those being out of balance), you see things differently. 

Since last September, since we came back together, we have done a couple of different strengths/personality tests and research.  We actually did the famous Myers Briggs Test with counselors #4 and #5.  I've done that test 2-3 times in my life...and I still don't like it, lol, for many reasons that I will not go into here.  But, in general, whatever the results are at the time just never line up with actually who I am, even though I'm answering the asinine questions honestly.  Ha.  The bottom line is that I think we both prefer something a bit more simple and straightforward. 

So, after we came back together, I had been introduced to what I mentioned a little in Part we both started looking into that more.  Also, counselors #6 and #7 (our friends that aren't actually counselors, but they actually helped us the most) got us each a book that is really good...really to the point and gets at what strengths God designed in He hard-wired you basically, and how those strengths listed rank in your life. 

We'll go more in-depth into what I mentioned in Part 17 first.  And then we'll talk about the strengths book. 

I don't remember how I was introduced to this information, but I decided to check it out for some reason...and since then I've spent a lot of time researching it.  We just got the book actually...before this, we've only been watching videos and reading about it online.  The lady who came up with this 'program' has a really great blog that has TONS of information and resources on it.  She has a company called Live Your Truth.  They state as their main goal that they want to help everyone embrace their true gifts, and by doing so, be able to live their best life. 

I want to tell you this upfront...some of the things she says and alludes to can sound almost 'new-agey.'  Almost.  Some of you freak a little more than I do about such things.  I mean, God did create 'energy' after all, did He not?  So, I don't take the terms she uses as new-agey...but rather I look to see what words we would use in Christianese for the same things.  Haha.  Because truly...sometimes it all comes down to semantics.  And I'm not going to miss out on something that is really helpful just because of a few terms that are sometimes associated with certain things that are not what I believe in.  Just wanted to throw out that little disclaimer here.  This lady and her family are all Mormon, by the way. 

So, a basic synopsis of her system, which she calls the Energy Profiling System, is that she says that everyone falls into 1 of 4 categories...Type 1, 2, 3, or 4.  Obviously, we all have some of each, but we all have one that we lead with.  And some of us really use our secondary type a lot too. 

I am Type 4 with a secondary Type 2.  In Part 17 I said that we believed Joel to be a Type 1, also with a secondary Type 2.  Since I posted that, we did get the book, It's Just My Nature! by Carol Tuttle, and have both read up on it more.  And Joel is actually a Type 2 with a secondary Type 1. 

What on earth does that mean, you say?  Well, I'm just going to go through some of the things about each of those types that apply to us really quickly (most information and descriptions taken from the book)...and not just that apply to us, but that reveal some things about us that specifically relate to our story the past 3 years.

Joel's Type 2 - Type 2 is a very medium to medium-low movement (in other words, slow steady movements as opposed to staccato type movements of a Type 1 or Type 3, which are high movement types...'high movement' often thought of as more on the 'quicker'/'hyper' side of things).  Joel is calming, subdued, sensitive.  He is subtle, steady, easy-going, relaxed.  Comfort is a priority in every area of his life.  Of course that includes his clothes, shoes, furniture, etc., but also includes 'acting appropriately' so as not to cause discomfort for others (and with this comes the challenge of being a 'people pleaser'). 

Type 2 people are the people who best take an idea and gather the details in order to make something happen.  They ask the question, "What do we need to know and do to make the idea possible?" For instance, in remodeling the house that we are living in now, it was a real duo effort.  There were things that needed to be done that I had no clue about (plumbing, etc.)...and Joel would gather the know-how in order to make whatever idea he had happen.  The more non-functional things were a joint effort, but practically speaking, more up to me (the decor, etc.).  I would come up with the practical specific idea of how to make that space to perfect it (very Type 4 of me)...and Joel would make it happen.  He would ask questions and gather details and formulate a plan for making the idea a reality...which is a very Type 2 gift (not that other types don't have to do this in their lives...but, Type 2s are just naturally more gifted at it).  His sensitivity to the details in everything he did or created for the house...a remarkable Type 2 gift.  Presentation is important.  This shows up in little things too.  For instance, when he makes a meal...even it's just a light meal of cut up vegetables with peanut butter...he makes it into a presentation on the kids' plates.  Every time.  (I just throw it on there, lol). 

They are seen as the saints of the world.  When misunderstood, or when they are acting out of balance, they can also be seen as the doormats.  They are often the connectors...the 'peacemakers' if you will.  They move through life like a deep, steady river...deliberate and methodical in their approach to life. 

The same natural tendencies that are huge gifts in your life can also be challenges in your life if your dominant type takes over and isn't balanced out by the other 3 types.  Makes sense, right?  We've already discussed one a couple of paragraphs up within parentheses, which is actually a pretty big tendency for Joel.  Pleasing people is a good and nice thing, but can turn into a bad thing...for instance in our particular case, as we've already discussed elsewhere, when Joel put others' expectations of him/us first over his wife's needs.  For the most part, Joel is a very balanced person.  But, everyone has the potential of becoming unbalanced and their gifts actually becoming downfalls.

Because of his sensitivity, he often takes the blame when it is not himself to blame...when actually the people who are getting upset about something are the ones to blame.  And since we are 'one,' I am often also to blame when others get upset at us for whatever reason (even though in my Type 4-ness, I know very well that I/we are not to blame). 

While his gift of being easy-going and going with the flow is a great thing, it can also take on the from of being wishy-washy when not in balance.  That is just the nature of Type 2.  And by simply being aware of these things, it is more easily kept in check. 

Because it is not in the Type 2 nature to just 'say it how it is'...oftentimes they don't comprehend how others can either.  Therefore, they can tend to assume things...about others, about what others say, about situations.  Knowing this tendency, Type 2 people can consciously manage this and avoid unnecessary conflict by being more open and sharing the assumptions, or even trying to avoid making assumptions at all. 

You can see how all of the above challenges that present themselves when a Type 2 isn't in balance...or when a Type 2 is being pressured by others to think a certain way or do certain things (because they want to accommodate others and make others comfortable, first and foremost), were contributors to the downfall of our marriage.  And unfortunately, he wasn't seeing me as part of the 'others'...because we are one after all.  I was just an extension of himself...and I wasn't acting the way he thought I should act in order to accommodate others and make them comfortable. 

In general, for the first decade of our marriage, Joel moved in more of a balance, so it was all good.  Type 2s are amazing people and really great people to be married to...when they are in balance.  

There are things about our dominant types that, of course, just don't line up with us at all.  Not many, but some.  For instance, normally change does not come easy for Type 2s at all.  That is not the case for Joel.  With the gift of being easy-going coupled with his life experience, change is not a problem for him at all.  He also isn't super connected to the past and is not sentimental at all. 

Type 2s are the type that, out of the 4 types, is the 'worrier.'  Joel is not a worrier, unless the subject is the comfort of others (not me...but others others, ha).  But, anything worry.  Some of these things that don't line up with your typical Type 2s are because of his secondary type...

Joel's Type 1 - Type 1s aren't deeply attached to their ideas and can easily adapt.  Type 1s are also all about fun.  While Joel is very methodical, he also tends to use fun in many ways, good (mostly) and bad...even when distracting himself from tackling something more serious that needs to be dealt with.  :)  He also likes to brainstorm and just shoot ideas out like they're coming out of a machine gun.  Haha.  He lands on one of course...and is very methodical about how to make that one idea a reality.  But, I remember when we were first married and he'd just start letting the ideas fly.  He'd say one thing and I'd be making plans in my head as to how that could a matter of a couple of minutes, I would have made drastic changes in our lives in my head (very Type 4...being able to see the big picture)...I was already there, to his idea being a reality.  Also by the end of that same 2 minutes, Joel would have made his way to the next idea.  I would scrap the plan in my head and make a new plan...only to, 2 minutes later, be presented with another idea.  Hahaha.  I quickly learned to just wait until he had settled on one idea.  But...when he does that, his shooting of ideas, that is his Type 1-ness coming out.  There's nothing wrong with that...but I just had to become aware of that being how he processes things sometimes.

So, you can see how we all have a mixture of all the one is more dominant...and how another might definitely be seen as an obvious secondary type in your life. 

Michawn's Type 4 - Oh, Type 4.  Carol Tuttle, the author, says over and over that Type 4 is the most misunderstood and can be the most misjudged and unappreciated type.  How fun for me!, right?  :) I can definitely vouch for that, what Tuttle says, especially these past few years...but, that's definitely been true my whole life. 

Type 4 is a constant, still movement...they actually have the lowest of natural inner movement (in other words, they are usually the most still people...with slower movements...even less movement than the Type 2s).  Type 4s are reflective, concise, and clear.  They mirror exactness and balance back to others.  Type 4s are bold, authoritative, polished, striking, structured, clean, clear, simple, exact, and grounding.  The Type 4 natural gift is to perfect and we are the ones saying, "Here's how we can make it better."

Because of the Type 4 stillness, we can be compared to a still lake, reflecting perfection back to the world, as the book says.  It's funny, because I distinctly remember my college roommates saying precisely, 'You're like a still lake, Michawn.'  They were specifically, at the time, referencing my steadiness as far as emotions and how I was always constant, the same.  I wasn't trying to be any certain way...that was just who I was.  They noticed that...and appreciated it.  I had great roommates.

As I said, it tends to be the most misunderstood (and because of that, I actually go into it a little more here).  That is because it is often perceived as authoritative, critical, and more serious.  People who know me in real life, and especially apart from this blog series (because this blog series, by nature of the material, is pretty serious stuff), would probably never use 'quite serious' as a descriptor of me.  I tend to not take things seriously.  I'm pretty easy-going and chill.  I am lighthearted and have lots of fun.  Mostly what I do when with others is laugh and cut up.  But...

It's true that I am quick to notice something that is not right.  Something that needs to be better...especially when it's something that truly matters.  I could care less about most things...since I do have the gift of adaptability (we'll talk more about that later).  But, when it is important (for instance, many things about the past 3 years), I will stand firm, I will be bold about it, and I will not back down. 

Some people don't like that.  Some people get offended.  In the end, I don't care.  What's right is right...and it has to be stood up for.  The counseling session I asked you to pray for this past weekend?...a very, very clear instance of me living this out.  Whew, it was brutal...but we'll talk about counseling specifically, and all that I've come to believe about it, in the future.

One thing that can be offensive is that Type 4s don't typically look to outside sources to help them understand themselves better.  They are deeply reflective, and know who they are.  Again...that is really offensive to some.  Others have basically said to me over these years, "How dare you think you know yourself better and hold to that instead of following what I think and say about you?"  See how completely ludicrous that is?  Yet...that is what has been voiced and acted out.  If I was a different type maybe and I wasn't reflective at all and I didn't actually know about myself, then maybe that point would be more valid.  And even well-received.  I don't know.  But, it's lost on me and my Type 4-ness.  And if they knew me at all, they would know that what I know, as a result of all that I've reflected on, is trustworthy...that I am trustworthy and will always be honest (even if what I know as a result of my reflection is that I was wrong and I need to change). 

As the book says, "A Type 4 person likes to play by the rules - to color within the lines - but only as long as they trust the source of the rules and the rules themselves.  Once they respect and accept the authority of another person or an organization, the rules that person/organization lays down are easier for them to keep, even if they do not fully agree with those rules." 

And we don't trust anyone who doesn't listen to us, respect us, and honor us. 

Being a Type 4 is challenging...but being a Type 4 woman is even more challenging.  Being authoritative and bold aren't necessarily looked upon as 'feminine' traits.  It doesn't fall into the picture of your stereotypical picture of a 'submissive' woman.  So again...certain people have issues with has been displayed within everything I've shared here before and also within some of the comments directed toward me that some of you have seen. 

Type 4s, because they are still and reflective, step back from a situation rather than jumping into it.  They take in the bigger picture and see what is really going on.  For instance, in relation to these past 3 years, I said nothing to anyone about any of what was going on for a year and a half.  Nothing.  That's a long time.  What was I doing during that time?  I was being still.  I was reflecting.  I was really getting a still shot of the big picture.  I was seeing what was really going on. 

That's why it was so wrong for people, who had not been around, to just totally discount me and what I had to say about my life that I had been reflecting on for years.  And instead of listening to me, they barged in and insisted that what they had to say and think about my life was the actual truth.  They literally formed beliefs about me without listening to anything I had to say.  Their way was right...yet, I was the one who was being accused of being a know-it-all...about my own life.  This was very evident in the parts of our story that I wrote about in Parts 17, 18, 21, and 22...23 wasn't much different either.  :)  It was also evident within counseling sessions.

I mean, haha...just completely ludicrous. 

It's not that Type 4s aren't teachable.  Teachability has nothing to do with it.  In this circumstance, it's about not being heard.  Not being believed.  Not being respected.  Not being honored.  If you honor and respect me by listening to me and actually taking into account what I have to say...we're good.  You don''s never going to work between us. 

It's also not about 'my way or the highway.'  People (counselors, the people I talk about in those Parts 17, 18, 21, and 22) have, over and over in the past 3 years, accused me of being someone who just doesn't want to be with anyone who doesn't agree with me.  Yet, 1) It's actually the other way around...they are the ones who refuse to listen to me about my life and refuse to incorporate anything I say is needed, lol, and 2) If you are my friend in real life, or if you have paid attention to some of the more controversial posts on my Facebook page in which people know and see that I have tons of real, close, heart friends who don't agree with me about lots of things.  Agreeing with me about life has nothing to do with whether or not you're my friend or you're a part of my life.  In fact, the ability to disagree is actually more of a prerequisite for friendship with me (ha, truly)...and many people just don't know how to disagree with someone (as evidenced by the several 'unfriendings' I've experienced over the years after said controversial postings and their disagreeing).

The tendency of the way others take Type 4s is that they can see them as harsh, judgmental, or too opinionated.  And while I definitely have, through much reflection and research, developed specific opinions and beliefs about certain things, even in those things...that is where my Type 2 comes in.  Thank God for balance.

Michawn's Type 2 - The way Type 2 shows up in my life is that being connected to others is super important to me.  Super.  Everyone who knows me in real life knows that I love to network.  I not only love to connect with others...but I love to connect these people I know with those people I know when I know that it's going to serve a greater purpose.  Besides's just fun.  Connectedness is huge for me.  Therefore, even if you don't honor or respect me, I will give you many, many chances to do so.  I might be straightforward and honest in how I let you know how I feel about your dishonor and disrespect (the Type 4 in me), but I will be gracious in my honesty, and I will give you many chances to still be connected with me. 

I am also very sentimental.  And my empathy is generally through the much so that I literally feel it with others and therefore when you are crying, I am usually crying.  In fact, many times if you are not crying about it and I'm hearing your sad story, I will still cry...and wonder how on earth you can tell that story without crying.  Hahaha. 

It's all about balance, people.  There are definite things/gifts/motivators that we lead with...but, with all of the other giftings we have, we can usually pretty easily live in long as we are diligent to keep things in check.  But we do have to have the knowledge about these things in order to be able to keep them in order to make sure we live in balance.  And we have to be knowledgeable about these things so that we can be better at living well with others.  It is really a great tool to use...when relating to anyone.  You can know, "ok, this is a Type 2 I'm talking to here...they are, in general, more sensitive.  I'm going to honor this person in that...and make sure that I keep those things in mind when with her." 

Study your friends and loved ones.  Really get to know them.  Don't be lazy.  That is how you show love and care and respect.  Get to know them and who they really are.  Ask questions.  Listen.  And then believe them and honor them in who they are. 

As said, this is an useful tool in living well with others.  That is especially true between spouses...because they are literally yoked together. 

Joel and I thought we knew enough about each other that we were good.  I mean, we knew a lot about each other.  But, we didn't know enough.  It wasn't clear, to both of us, what tendencies we had and what problems could arise because of those tendencies.  Some people only learn by experience.  And some things can only be learned by actually going through them.  But, if you are one of those people who can learn by someone else's experience, and if anything that you might go through can be headed off at the pass before it really gets going in your life by just learning more about this kind of stuff...I highly recommend it.  It's worth it.

This 2nd 'lighter' post turned into not being so super light...but, this was the subject that needed to be talked about.  And it's actually turning into a 2-part subject, because I still need to talk about the strengths book that we went through.  I'll get to that next.  Then...Forgiveness!  :) 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 24 - The Blessings From The Weekend}

After the 'drama' of last weekend and 'the Facebook comment,' I told Joel on Sunday night that I just feel like we all need a little breather.  I'm so sorry to you who are waiting and asking for the forgiveness topic.  I promise it is coming.  But, like I told Joel, I really felt (and still feel) like we needed one or two 'lighter' posts here for just a minute.  So, I'm going to post a couple of lighter things. 

The next post (after this one) is something that was always 'in the line-up' of posts.  I just didn't know exactly when I was going to post it.  It was always in the line-up because it is important information and it is important to our story...and it is a part of some of the things that we've learned about ourselves through all of this.  During this little 'breather' is a great time to post it.  It will also inform you as to some of the whys of what we do and how/who we are...which will hopefully be helpful in reading the rest of this series.  It's interesting stuff.

This post was never in the line-up.  Ha.  Had no idea this post was going to even exist.  But, here we are.

Last weekend was interesting.  It was difficult.  It was heavy.  It was sad.

But, it was also...lots of great things. 

I rarely rarely use the word 'blessed.'  I'm not downing you if you's just not a word that is for me usually.  I just have a hard time with it.  Most people use that word when something good happens to them.  But, are we not still blessed when that good thing doesn't happen?  When that job promotion doesn't come through...when that hopefully positive pregnancy test comes back negative, etc. etc.  So often the way people use that word is when something they were hoping for comes about.  But what if it doesn't come about?  Are you still blessed? 

Or, they use that word in place of 'lucky.' Because using the word lucky is, you know, 'not Christian.' :)  So they use 'blessed.'  Except, sometimes 1) ain't nothin' but luck that got you whatever you are talking about, and 2) using the word 'blessed' about something that someone else wasn't 'blessed' with doesn't make them any less blessed.  You see my difficulty with this word.  I just don't like it.  I think it's over-used.  And lots of times about just silly things too.  "I got the new purse I wanted.  #blessed"  Um, ok.  I didn't get the new purse I wanted.  #notblessed? 

Clearly it's a pet peeve.  lol. 

There are the rare times that I find it appropriate.  And then I will use it.  But, mostly I steer clear of both 'blessed' and 'lucky' (although I'd definitely be more likely to use 'lucky'), and instead I use 'fortunate.'  It conveys the same idea, isn't so limited or offensive (to the ones left without whatever makes you 'blessed'), and it passes with the 'Christian words' police. 



I do use, though, the word 'blessings.'  Because everyone can come up with a list of blessings.  I don't use it when talking about my blessings that you don't have...for instance when talking to my friend who has sick kids all the time, 'yes, my kids hardly ever get's just such a blessing.'  See?  Instead I say, 'We're so fortunate.'  But, I do use it when something bad or tough or trying has happened and great things that were completely unexpected come out of it...things that really take you by surprise.  You know...blessings in disguise.

Cue last weekend.  And hence, this title. 

There are three main things that came out of last weekend.  

Firstly, I think that, unfortunately for some, it really brought some things out into the light.  I've sometimes wondered if you reading this blog might think to yourself...'Is she telling the truth here?  Surely it wasn't that bad.' I think that what happened last weekend, at the very least, showed you a tiny bit of what has been coming against me for the past few years...the mindsets, the attitudes, the accusations, the...non-supportiveness (to put it super lightly).  The truth is that I'm still protecting.  There are still some things that I have left out of these stories (and even my last post) in order to protect.  But yes...some truth was shown last weekend.

Secondly, there were some things that I needed to talk about here, but I didn't know how I was going to talk about them without letting some things be made known.  Unfortunately, by letting those things be made known, it would be hard to protect the people I was trying to protect.  Yet, how on earth was I going to tell that part of our story or make that very important point without telling those things?  Fortunately for me, those things were all outed last weekend...and I didn't even have to do it.  Now those things that I wasn't sure how I was going to talk all of those things have been made I'm free to talk about it now.  And I didn't even have to 'lift a finger.'  It was all just laid in my lap.  #blessed  Hahaha...kidding.  But, it's one less worry for me...and for that I'm grateful. 

And last, but certainly not I put in my last comment there on Facebook: 
i am, honestly, just overwhelmed today, and a little speechless...with the love and support shown to us here. we suspected that people were behind us and hoped that people could see the heart behind our telling our story...and that people felt some of the things that you guys have expressed here. but, you've really just blown us away. and after the past few years, your words and love and support just mean more than you'll ever know. thank you thank you.

again, none of you had to comment here. none of you had to show us your love and support. but i can't express to you just how much it means to us. you (and Jesus) have sustained us this weekend. thank you!! we love you.
It's true.  While a few of you had commented or 'liked' something that I would post, and I'd also heard from a few of you privately, I didn't really have a very good feel of how the blog was being taken.  I just didn't know.  I had no idea as to who was reading...if very many were reading...what people were thinking about it...if there were many that were finding it to be interesting and needed.  I just had to trust that it was the right thing to do...and I did.  It literally provides healing for me.  And I believed that it could for others too.  I already knew that it had for some.  But, after something came against me, I was soooo overwhelmed with gratefulness at just how many of you commented going to bat for me and us, and the many others of you who reached out to me in other ways to check on me and make sure I was alright.  And...for the many of you who encouraged me to keep it up...that this is important...that this is needed. 

So, I had my answer.   

After almost exclusively hearing words like were in those comments for the past few years, truly, I can't even begin to express how much your words, and knowing that the purpose of this blog series is actually being accomplished, is a HUGE blessing.  It is literally like a healing salve being applied to my heart.  That sentence sounds a little dramatic for me.  But, it is literally the best word picture that describes what happens when hearing supportive things after hearing the non-supportive things for so many years. 

It's been a long road.  And we have a long road still to go.  In fact, after that all happened last weekend and we made it through that, we were presented with another situation on Monday that brought out some other stuff. 

It's a process, y'all.  A journey.  It's a dusty, curvy, hilly road.  Sometimes it even feels more like a mountain range filled with cliffs and crevices and blizzards.  And there are no cars or buses or planes.  You have to walk this road.  There ain't nothin' made easy. 

We've always known that we would eventually go for more counseling.  I needed this break from counseling.  And I was leery of starting again...with anyone...for good reason.  We haven't actually had a ton of success with counselors who both 1) made us feel safe and 2) went after root issues.  But, there have been a couple of counseling possibilities that have opened up.  In fact, we go for our first counseling session with a new counselor this weekend (the last people who 'counseled' us, if you'll remember, were not actual counselors...just friends that helped us over a hump, but were never going to be ongoing 'counselors' for us). 

I'm letting you know this so you can be praying for us.  But, also...just in case I don't blog as much as usual in the next little while.  I might still be blogging as much.  But, I might not.  I just wanted to give you that explanation up front just in case. blog post, whenever that might be, will be another lighter, but important, topic.  And then...then I'll get to the forgiveness parts after that.  That's the plan.

Thank you guys so very, very much for your support.  Truly.  We really do appreciate it more than you know.  As my girls say as they leave the room, literally verbalizing it, 'ex oh ex oh.'  ;)  XOXO

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 23 - The Facebook Comment}

Many of you are not friends with me on Facebook.  But some of you who are saw 'the comment.'  I'm sure the other comments made by a certain couple of people following that comment on Facebook provided quite the entertainment for your Friday night/ Saturday morning.  It's what some would call 'drama.'  Not really usually my Facebook's M.O....or all.  But, you can't control others and what they choose to say. 

For all of you who valiantly came to my rescue and tried to kindly and patiently inform these commenters in order to assure them of what people actually take away from the blog, I thank you. 

As I said there:

when you get a comment like this, you have 3 main options. you can 1) not even acknowledge the things that were said, 2) answer and provide explanation, or 3) delete it. we all know that the 3rd option would never be something i would choose. that leaves option 1 and 2. and at this point, option 2 still wins out over option 1 for me. it will not always be so. because at a certain point, all that is possible for me to say will have been said…and then it will just be up to the reader to not be completely misinformed. but at this point, there are still things that can be explained further.

i was hoping to leave some of the details out in order to provide protection (as much as possible) for the people involved. but, since those details have been brought up here, i will now address them. not here. but on the blog. and soon. i’ll keep you posted.
So, I will put the full comment here, but in sections...and address each section.  Here we go...
I have read all of these posts without commenting, which has been really hard for me. All of Joel's nieces & nephews call me Aunt though Michawn & Joel would not know this because of Michawn's decision to decision to distance herself from Joel's family.
Some of these sections will be short and to the point.  Because, quite frankly, the things brought up in those sections have already been discussed profusely.  This is one such example.

Before last fall, I never 'distanced myself' from Joel's family.  As I've said, when we got back to the states, I was in dire need of some stability and zero travel.  If you haven't moved 18 times in 11 years and traveled tons on top of that, then you might not truly understand just how dire that need was.  It literally felt like a life and death situation.  I was barely able to function already at that point.  Then, we were thrown into a situation where we couldn't rest and have stability...for the next 4 1/2 months.  And then...I wasn't allowed that rest and stability.  But...never was it about 'distancing myself from family.' Until last Fall.  And that story starts in the next blog post.  But to take the stance that the reason we didn't travel to see family (and we did travel to see family in April 2013, just fyi...a very miserable trip for us, but we sacrificed and did it) from April 2013 to the Fall 2014 just because I wanted to 'distance myself' is a very, very selfish and egotistical (and completely uninformed) stance. 
There is no relationship or marriage that does not have fault with both people. Maybe one more than another, but both causing issues in the relationship.
Reread my posts.  You'll see that this has been addressed over and over.  I have literally posted this particular part in my blog twice now.  This is the 3rd time:  "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."
I personally know & love the people that gave counsel to Joel. In no way did they ever want to cause Michawn pain. They wanted both to admit mistakes & work things out. I can assure you that Joel's family & friends did.not ever speak the word divorce.
Again, this has already been addressed.  I've said that the people giving this very wrong counsel meant no malice since they really did (wrongly) think that what they were doing was best.  But, 1) they did give wrong counsel, and the counsel is what we're talking about here, 2) they only talked to and believed Joel...there was no true reaching out to the other half of the marriage, and 3) after Joel and I were back together, they continued to cause strife instead of promote unity and healing...and continue to this evidenced by the Facebook comments for one (but there are other things that we'll get into soon). 
The "incident" that so hurt Michawn because of the Watermelon festival was Joel's brother's wedding. A once in a lifetime event that Joel was to be a groomsman in. Way more meaningful than a festival that will be repeated again & again.
And the reason I didn't say what the event was specifically was because I was trying to protect the people involved...and the way they handled that situation so badly.  But, here it is...the event being named specifically (I'm sure the actual Ebersoles have cringed all day with the comments being made 'on their behalf').  So, I will address it. 

Yes, in January 2012, we found out that Joel's brother had planned his wedding date for the date of the Watermelon Festival.  Here are the facts about the wedding/festival:
1) we were not asked or considered, at all, about dates.  my brother got married the same summer...the first thing he did?  ask us if there would be any conflicting dates since we would be traveling so far (at the time both of our brothers were planning, we were in brazil with no plans to come back to the states). 
2) we found out that Joel's dad had told his brother that he couldn't mark the wedding on the date of a family reunion.
3) so then we decided we'd better just tell Joel's brother, even though we hadn't been asked, about our ONE conflicting date of the whole year.  we did.
4) we found out that he had marked it on that date. 
5) we were wholeheartedly expected to forego our plans (that had essentially been made 2 years prior) in order to attend the wedding.
6) Joel told them that we would not be able to come...he had given me his word in 2010 (see below paragraph) and had given me his word again after we found out about the conflicting date.  we would be going to the festival. 

Unfortunately, Joel did not stick with acting honorably between then and the wedding, as he now humbly admits to.  This is from an email Joel sent to his family after we had gotten back together last Fall.
"Lets clear up the wedding thing once and for all since that is still a sore subject.  A little back ground. The festival  was Michawn’s favorite time of year…even more then Christmas….ever since she was a little girl….and it doubles as a town reunion. So for 30 years she as been dreaming of having / sharing theses experiences with her own family...and now she had us. In 2010, the first time this was going to be possible in our lives (and the kids were really great ages for it, so it worked out great), I asked Michawn to give up her 30 year dream of going to the Saline festival/friend and family reunion for me, for our family...for the family get together in the mountains. She did….with tears rolling down her face we pulled out of town on our way to the PA reunion on the day the festival week all started. I gave her my word that the next time we were in the US her dream would be a priority….NOTHING would over ride it.  After we found out that Dad had told D he couldn’t mark his wedding date on the weekend of the family reunion, we told D that if he marked it on the festival day we probably would not make it. Then D marks the date and I told him that we will not be able to come if he didn’t change the date.  He didn’t….I understand there are many factors with that and maybe he couldn’t.  I saw the way this affected Michawn, and gave her my word again (in January 2012) that we would go to the Watermelon Festival, just like I had promised.  I then sucked being a real man and sided with you all instead of taking care of/ standing up for my wife (and standing by my word to her…that I had now given her on two separate occasions) and made her out to be an unreasonable person.  I had given her my word but then started trying to get out of my word and talking to/ taking side with you all…. Then as the wedding approached, as we sat living out of suitcases in someone else’s very full cramped house not being able to unpack (for 2 months already at this point…it would be an additional 2 1/2 months after that)), as we had just buried Michawn’s  very good friend who had died unexpectedly (very dark times in our life)….I went and bought my plane ticket to NY behind her back and told her I was leaving."
And there you have Joel's account.  I wrote about this situation in Part 5.  So you can go read that to see my account.  But a more specific account (now that it's been made more specific) is here, from my timeline:
January 2012 - We found out that Joel’s brother, out of all the days in a year, had scheduled his wedding on the day of the Watermelon Festival.  Even though we had asked him not to (and others’ requests to not schedule his wedding on certain dates had been heard/granted).  It was seriously a huge blow to me.  Huge.  I KNOW that when God calls you to be a missionary (or, when you’re a Christian in general, but even moreso when you’re called to full-time foreign missions), there are certain things that you have to give up.  Totally fine.  I had done that.  I have done that.  I continue to do that.  ;)  Yes, it’s hard sometimes.  But, that just comes with the territory.  But, there clearly has to be some give and take…and you can’t be asked to just give up, give up, give up constantly, esp. on those seemingly rare times when it is possible to not have to give it up.  I had waited for and looked forward to taking my family to and experiencing with them my favorite week of the year since I was a child.  The first opportunity we’d had to do that (in 2010), I gave up for Joel’s family.  I had been promised that nothing would get in the way of that again.  And they were asking me to give it up again?  With our lifestyle and vocation, we can’t just say things like, ‘oh, we’ll do it next year.’  Because that’s not the case.  It would be years before we had this chance again…and my daughters would be older (no longer even able to be in the little girls’ pageant…wasn’t sure I even wanted them to be in the big girls’ pageant…it’s cute and fun and innocent when they’re little, but not always when they’re big), but even regardless of the pageant aspect, I wanted them to experience the whole festival week as children…and in a blink they would no longer be children.  There are so many things we have willingly given up in the calling on our lives.  This is one thing that was super special to me and I wanted at least one time to experience with my children.  Not many people ‘get it’ about the festival week being that important to me (other than my close friends and also people who are also from my hometown of course), and that’s ok.  But, that’s just the way it is.  I was willing to give it up before (in 2010) when I knew that we’d have one other chance for them to experience it as children…but I wasn’t willing to give it up again.  Which brought incredible sadness…because 1) I knew it would cause conflict, 2) I also wanted to go to and be a part of the wedding…this brother was my ‘favorite’ of Joel’s siblings (the one I felt closest to), and 3) it made me very sad that others’ requests for dates had been granted and ours hadn’t…and given the fact that we’re the ones who live the farthest away (at that time, a whole other continent) and have to give up the most in order to be there, it made me sad that we weren't really considered or consulted on dates at all.  So, this was a major blow.  And Joel could tell.  He gave me his word that he would keep his promise to me.  And he would not make me give it up again.  We would go to the festival as a family.
So, as you can see, as far as the festival being an annual event...that's where the life of a missionary comes in.  When you live as a missionary, the things of home are never 'annual.' 

As far as the date for the wedding being set on the same date as the festival...although that was hard, once it was done it was done.  It was sad that we wouldn't be able to make it, but we really did understand not being able to juggle dates for us.  And it was their wedding.  We weren't demanding anything.  But...if they chose to set it on that date, which we told them we couldn't make, they should have had the grace to drop it...since we had forewarned them.  Instead, it was not dropped.  And I was made out to be the bad guy of course. 

Back to more of the Facebook comment:
Please ecplain to me why you needed to go to 6 counselors except for the fact that no one agreed with you that Joel was the one& only reason there were issues in the marriage. Finding someone to agree with your arguments obviously took alot of time & effort.
 I answered this in Part 15
When you & Joel separated, you also never told Joel where you were. You made the choice to take the children away from their father. Your issues with Joel should never affect his relationship with his children, yet you let that happen.
When Joel read your comment last night, he said, "Man, she gets so spastic.  And she needs to get her facts straight.  She doesn't even know what she's talking about."

And that's my basic answer to this section.  ;)  You're welcome. 

But, to elaborate a little more, you don't know what you're talking about.  Hahaha.  O.K., I'm getting delirious, folks. maybe you're just getting confused.  We were living apart from mid-May until Sept. 1st.  Joel knew exactly where we were.  He saw his kids all the time. 

There was a two week period in which we left home.  And I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat, just like I did it then...wouldn't change a thing.  I wrote about it here, in Part 14.  I think you just need to brush up on your facts a little. 
I am sorry about your miscarriage, because I have also had 2 myself. People deal with such grief in different ways. Who are you to say Joel was wrong & your way was right?
What I wrote about was not about how we grieved differently.  It was about Joel being completely unkind and frankly, pretty darn inhumane, during that time.  And ultimately, just incredibly selfish.  Again...there are root issues.  And I have yet to finish telling our story.  These root issues will be talked about.
I know I did not need see the pictures you chose to show. I am confused about the life you have chose to live.
 Don't know what you are speaking of here. 
The family members that you speak so badly of.are the same ones that pledged money for you to live as missionaries in Brazil, yet you are living in the states for the last couple of years. Maybe Michawn, you should not be so quick to defend yourself & be open to the advice & love that Joel's family has to offer.  
1) I honestly don't have a clue as to who gives us money.  And...I honestly don't have a clue as to what this has to do with anything we are talking about here.  But, the notion that anyone can have certain expectations of us or any control over us because they donate to us and our mission work, that is a twisted and completely wrong view.  Unfortunately, we have experienced some of that along the way too.  And I'll be talking about it here as time goes on.
2) We are living in the states.  And Joel is still working a position with Asas even here.  Now.  In the present.  About 20 hours a week...would be more, but he has to work a full-time regular job here too.  I wrote about this, too, here in Part 1.
3) Maybe others should really not speak in complete ignorance of the facts.  That is not said to be rude.  But truly...if you wish to speak about a situation, then learn about it first.  Ask.  Go to that person.  I wrote about that too, here in Part 20.  Making unfounded accusations shows just, to be frank, an extreme lack of maturity.  And it makes you look bad.  Don't do that to yourself.
4) I know that you might have Joel's family on a pedestal.  But nobody belongs there...on a pedestal.  Maybe you need to accept the fact that, just like Joel said in his comment, they failed in a major way here.  Everyone is capable of this.  Please realize this.
In case, other people don't know Joel waz raised in Brazil with his 4 siblings & his parents in a life as a missionary. His sister is now living in Brazil as a missionary. Joel's family could count on one hand the times that they have spent with his 4 children. That is because of Michawn.
I think that most people, esp. friends of mine on Facebook, do know that Joel was raised in Brazil and they were missionaries.  And what his sister serving in Brazil as a missionary has to do with this I do not know.  But, I'm guessing this is just more of your putting them on some sort of pedestal.  Putting others on pedestals never ends well.  It just doesn't. 

And the part about counting on one hand...that is simply just false.  We've always lived far away...but, we've also always visited often.  Until the time period of April 2013 - the present, that is.  So, basically the past 2 years.  And for good reason. 
I wish you all the best but am so tired of reading the one-sided posts. Joel's family is to nice to comment but are hurt to their core to read the blame that Michawn places on Joel & his family. Michawn, you might want to look inside a little deeper & see both sides of your marriage. Maybe the Ebersole family love & counsel could be a good thing for you & your family, if you could be more accepting & open. I am sure I will be blocked after this post, but I had to defend the Ebersoles. They want you as part of their family & you reject them. The Ebersole are Christians, pastors & the most loving & accepting people. No one is perfect Michawn. Not you or Joel.
And...all of this has already been addressed. 

The part about "I am sure I will be blocked after this post"...what can I say?  Like aunt like niece, and vice versa.  "I'm sure she won't answer me." "I'm sure I won't hear back from her." "I never intended to have a back and forth conversation." Now I know where she gets it.  ;)

As others have said, and continue to PM me today...they had no idea who I was talking about in my blog when I was telling the stories of the family members.  First of all, as one said, it didn't matter.  They were looking at the content of what I was saying...what had happened, the common mindsets involved, the lessons learned from it, etc.  But secondly, I had been so vague, they had no idea who I was talking about...other than 'family members.'  As someone said, they were clueless it was even the Ebersole family. 

The comments today on Facebook have nullified that.  In your attempt to 'defend' you have only outed

I tried to protect, as much as possible.  But, now it's out.  So, there you all go. 

Hopefully I won't have any more unexpected interruptions and I can start with the forgiveness topic next.  As usual, I'll keep you posted.