I wrote about our first few days of counseling here, our second few days here, and this post here ends the posts on counseling and our time in Dallas.
That didn't end up happening. We ate...and then we went back to our hotel room after yet another fallout. A fallout caused by lack of understanding and selfishness.
Instead of scheduling to leave Friday afternoon after our last session, we had booked the hotel through the weekend and planned to leave on Sunday. We did that in hopes that, after our last session on Friday, we could spend until Sunday morning really reconnecting and talking things out before we had to go back to 'real life.'
We did talk and lots of things came up...that disconnected us even more. They were the big things that have continued to come up over and over again during the past few years without any resolution. And...there was still no resolution.
So...instead of leaving on Sunday morning, we arranged it so that we could stay until Wednesday morning. And Monday evening, thankfully, our counselor squeezed us in again.
We met with him for over two hours. Two of the three main issues that we had to discuss I'm not going to get into here. The 2nd issue is a big issue, but not as big as the 1st. And the 3rd was, for the most part, easily solved.
The first issue though...that has been the kicker all along. I'm sure you can guess what it is given the history of these past few years. It is the issue of family...and more specifically, family of origin, i.e. parents, siblings, etc.
When you are married, you become ONE with your spouse. You quite literally and figuratively leave your family of origin and cleave to your spouse. That verse of scripture, actually, speaks specifically about the males...the husband. He leaves his family of origin and cleaves unto his wife...and they become ONE.
I think we all can tell that Joel never really did that. He completely betrayed me by going to his family of origin over and over again. And then, at the end, doing it completely behind my back when it had been agreed that he wouldn't even be in contact with them.
So...that was a huge issue that needed to be settled once and for all.
The counselor listened to us both for a really long time. There were even some moments when the counselor asked me certain questions where I thought, oh no...he's going to say that no matter what happens, family is family...and they always will be...and you're just stuck with them, or something like that.
He listened long and hard.
He reminded us that healthy people can vacillate between moving towards people to cooperate, moving against people to challenge them and stand for your own beliefs, and moving away from people (detaching) when they have proven to cause harm to you.
And then he told a story.
He told how his own family of origin, his parents and siblings and their children, all lived near each other. He and his wife and children were the only ones who lived far away. They would go visit, and something always happened. A very specific thing and very unfair thing that, after a certain amount of time, was really causing pain to some of his family (his wife and daughter specifically...which then caused him pain). He had a choice to make. He saw what was happening. Would he continue to let that happen? Or would he stick up for his wife and daughter and not allow that?
What ultimately happened? In the end, he broke ties with his family of origin...they no longer went to visit. Why? Because they were causing his family damage...and wouldn't stop.
Oh my gosh...again I was floored and so very, very grateful for our counselor. I could not believe he was saying that...and that he had lived it himself. I could not believe that he soooo got it.
What had Joel and his family and every other counselor said? "Well, they're family. Family is family. Honor your father and mother." Yada yada yada.
No!! Praise GOD this counselor knows that if someone is causing damage, no matter who it is, you give them chances, sure...and I give many chances (as I'm sure you can see)...but if they refuse to get rid of the damaging behavior, you flee!! Like a bat outta hell.
Joel was told very clearly, "She is your wife. You are ONE with her. Have you taken up for her? Have you made it very clear that their behavior caused much damage and pain to your family and marriage...and that the things that caused all of this damage will be tolerated no longer? Have you made it very clear that you are on her side...and that you will stick up for her against their harmful behavior, always?"
"That is what you have to do. That is your role here. It's you and her. Not you and them. That has to be made very clear...and without that you will never gain her trust again. You have to do what it takes to win back her trust. You'd be a fool not to. If you don't, you'll lose your marriage."
Joel, teary-eyed, said, "Yes, I would be a fool not to do whatever it takes."
We left there that night having all three things worked out with specifics about each all laid out. That night we went to sleep with the plan of talking more the next day, Joel planned to write an email to his family, and we hoped to have a good day of doing something fun to reconnect.
Tuesday morning, first thing, that plan was all shot to pieces. I won't get into specifics, but yet again, things went wrong.
Plus, I saw the email to his family...and it was just more of the same.
That day, our scheduled last day in Dallas, was a wash except that we were able to eventually talk about the email. Finally that night something happened that really allowed for us to have a very 'this is so serious' conversation. Joel really, really listened to me about what was wrong with his way of thinking and his whole approach. We reviewed what the counselor had said...and what had to be done. He really, really listened. And was completely humbled and broken and in many ways unblinded after the week, and especially after that last evening with the counselor concerning this subject. And then he wrote the following to his family. He wrote it (just to be clear...since we all know others like to accuse me of putting words into Joel's mouth)...I only added two tiny phrases in order to clarify what Joel had already said. Even the 'same betrayal as a full-fledged affair' part he wrote. It had happened. His eyes were opened to this specific part of our story.
Michawn and I finally found a counselor in Dallas that has earned our trust, is very wise and helpful.
We spent last week with this older gentleman and he was great in helping us begin to sort out our personal issues and start uncovering some root problems in our marriage.
We saw him again yesterday to deal with some other conflicts and we hope to meet with him every few weeks to help us keep on track to rebuild our marriage.
God has given this guy the ability to “see" our heart, soul and spirit and during our prayer times with him he uncovered a lot of thing in our lives….specially in mine.
When he was "journeying thru my heart" there was so much damage that he sensed God decided to just give me a new heart instead of trying to repair it.
Who knew…well, probably Michawn… that I had so many issues in my life.
A lot of what he would tell us he “saw" tied into our family history, our childhood/teen years or even recent events we had not told him about. Very neat and powerful.
He prayed a lot over each one of us and in his experience he told us that it normally takes months for us to start experiencing/living out the “repair" God has done to our hearts, soul and spirit.
Overall, it was hard but very good…. Michawn felt heard and so did I.
On the more natural side of things, we dealt with how I betrayed her in many ways and destroyed her trust. One of those ways being talking behind her back all these years with you guys….being on your team instead of hers.... And then promising to stop but not stopping….same betrayal as a full fledged affair.
Another huge topic that we talked about was about the things said about Michawn and accusations from you guys over the years and then how you guys, when Michawn tried to start the work of reconciliation, refused to have/continue to have an honest and straight forward discussion of the issues (emails) that needed to be discussed.
That was wrong to just "quickly apologize” and try to sweep it under the rug and refuse to talk about it... you all should have done whatever it took to make things right with her….but you din’t.
So, given all of these things right now the plan is to focus on our marriage before anything else and therefore we will not be communicating with you guys for the next 6 months at least….no matter what happens. Even if there is a death in the family.
At the end of that time Michawn and I along with the counselor will discuss the next steps…if more time is needed or not. More time will likely be needed. Michawn and I are sticking together on this and I’m fully backing her and siding with her. She was the one that was wronged. She is the one who gets to decide.
So, for the sake of my family, I ask that you honor this request. No mail to our home address, no emails, texts, phone calls, or comments on FB or Blog…no communication at all...as I make things right with Michawn and the kids.
I read that email and knew that he had finally gotten it.
And this kind of heart and actions is what it's going to take to even come close to winning back my trust. These are the kinds of things that are needed.
We got three replies. Two of them good responses. This was the other message we got:
Joel I need to talk to you. please call me I need to hear your voice and I need to look into your eyes. I've been having crazy dreams about you and I feel like you're in a very dark place. the other day in one of my dreams you committed suicide. I am super super worried about you. I was talking to C. M. she told me a big long story about all the things that her brother went through. it is a mirror image of what it seems like you're going through. I feel like you're in a big deep fog, a haze...and under extreme duress, manipulation, control, and abuse. and I hope you still have your head on straight, but I am really worried. We are all super worried about you.
I know you. you're my brother. none of these things you're admitting to sound like you and I'm sorry but Michawn is going off the deep end. I've been reading her stuff and it is insane.
I know you want to rebuild the house of your marriage but unless you build it on truth and honesty and that's what you use in your foundation it's going to crumble. whatever you're trying to build on lies will not last more than a period of time and even if it stands it will be crooked propped up and will have serious structural issues. Hopefully I don't offend you too much or get you into too much trouble with this email but I just need to speak my heart. quickly delete it. some day I'm going to come visit you unexpectedly.
Let me just remind you of this philosophy I hold to before I go any further, especially now after I've given people sooooo many chances.
LOL. This message we got was simply unbelievable. Yet I'm the one 'going off the deep end.' Ha. This family member sounds like a jilted mistress. Can we say Fatal Attraction, anyone? Relentless.
I love the 'Hopefully I don't get you into too much trouble' part. And the 'quickly delete it' part. Really classy of this person.
He's coming to visit unexpectedly? Just a little time out here so I can speak directly: Andre...that would be a definite waste of money. There will be no communication with you...period. Get a grip! Your brother is married and he is on his wife's team now...where he should have been all along. Too bad there are 'teams' at all...but you guys are the ones who made it that way. You and your words, and the words and horrible attitudes and beliefs of your family...they no longer have an effect here. Also...the 'quickly delete this' thing doesn't work anymore either. Goodbye.
Again...this is what I've been up against. And Joel has allowed them to do this...to me, to our marriage.
The past two weeks have been different. I pray that he continues to do the right thing.
Since our last day in Dallas ended up being horrible, we thankfully were able to postpone leaving, one more time, for another day. We got our last day of fun and connecting. It was so needed. We got that crazy message from his family member during our fun day, but Joel was untouched. He said, "No...that's crazy. He doesn't know what he's talking about...and we're not going to let it ruin our day."
And we didn't. We had a really great last day in Dallas together. We truly had so much fun...and felt like a team again.
Before we left the next morning, Joel sent that family member a video, so he could 'hear his voice and look into his eyes.' Lol. We didn't hear back from him after that...hopefully that solved it and let him know that Joel wasn't living 'under extreme duress, manipulation, control, and abuse.' (Insert sigh and eye roll). "Ridiculous" as Joel said.
We got home and there was some fun awaiting me...a letter from another one of Joel's family members (an aunt this time) addressed to me. Oh, it was all about how I needed to do certain things in order to make my life better. All about what I needed to be doing during this time. I'm quite sure it was meant to be encouraging. But, the problem lies in the fact that it was addressed to me about what I need to be doing...when it was her nephew that has caused all of this mess in our lives. LOL. These people just floor me. Was there a letter to her own nephew about what he needed to be doing? Of course not!
Needless to say, I am so very thankful to be free from these people in my life. Even if Joel 'strays' and 'has another affair' behind my back with his family...I will be free from them. I will just also be free from Joel too.
Is that what you, Joel's family, are rooting for? That's sad if so. If you are rooting for Joel to keep his wife and children, then you will back off.