Sunday, August 30, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 45 - Counseling Done Right, 3}

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.  

We left our last counseling session, Day 5 of counseling, and went to eat.  Although I was extremely cautious and guarded, because not all had been discussed or worked out, I truly was hopeful for the afternoon.  We went out to eat.  And I even wanted to go to a movie with Joel...something that I hadn't wanted to share with him in months and months.

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?"

Joel:  "No."

"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 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 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.  

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 44 - Counseling Done Right, 2}

Disclaimer:  Occasionally I feel the need to remind you that I am not 'exposing' (as some people call it...I just simply think of it as being honest, but what do I know?) our lives and struggles for exposure's sake.  I've gotten many messages from people over the course of the last few months since this first came out that tell of how our talking about it has helped them.  I've gotten several within the past month that basically just rocked me how much they said it has helped and encouraged them.  Many people who have been dealing with similar things, all alone(!!), for years and years and lady specifically for over 40 years!!  One of these days I am going to share some of those messages, completely anonymously of course (and with permission), just so you know just how much good honesty and transparency does in the world.  Wouldn't it be so great if more people wouldn't hide their problems and instead would talk about them and share them and let the world learn from them?  If more people did that, I'm convinced that we wouldn't, in general, have as many problems.  Had someone gone through what we're going through and actually talked about it openly...maybe we could have been spared some of this!!  Gosh, that would have been awesome!  Not sure that we know anyone who has even been through something similar and come out the other side...but if we do, they didn't share it. we are.  And we're sharing.  Even before we come out the other side.  Because it is important.  Every part is important.  I pray that through our sharing, others can be spared, or at least encouraged in their walking through a similar path.  That has already happened...the encouragement part I know.  And for that I'm grateful.  But, this is another blog post that might seem a bit 'exposing.'  I'm telling it, as usual, in complete truth and, as usual, I'm not sugarcoating anything.  And...again 'as usual'...Joel read it and approved it beforehand.  The good news is that our story has not reached the end...and although this blog post does not actually include a happy ending, it did get better as you will read next time.  Thank God for our counselor.  Now...on with it...

I wrote a couple of weeks ago, while we were still in Dallas, just a little something about how our week-long intensive counseling session had gone.   Then last week I went a little more in-depth, writing about the first three days.  Today I'll talk about Days 4 and 5.

On the night of Day 3, Joel started this discussion right before bed...
J: i would like to be friends.
M: and how do you think that is a possibility?
J: the last argument we had was about 'so and so' (he said specifically, but it is an irrelevant detail that i'm leaving out here).  before that we were sort of friends…and we had worked through all the arguments before that.
M: joel, we hadn’t worked through anything.  because it all just kept happening.
J: but, we solved it all and i haven’t mistreated you again.
M: oh dear Jesus.
J: what have i done to mistreat you?
M: wow.  so blind.
J: i’m not blind.
M: you don’t know right from wrong.  you are blind, joel.
J: well, i’m praying.
M: you’ve been praying for years.  i don’t think you can hear from God.
J: i don’t judge you and your relationship with God.  i don’t think you should judge me and my relationship with God.  you’re dealing with your stuff and i’ll deal with mine.
M: i don’t have any stuff.  and i’m looking at your behaviors and attitudes and beliefs and thoughts.  those make it evident.  you’ve got until sunday to get unblind.
J: how would i look 'unblind?'
M: ask the counselor.  i’m not making lists and explaining the same things again to you anymore. 

Day 4

We had separate counseling sessions again, each for an hour and a half this time, and then met back up for counseling together for the last hour.  I don't know what Joel's hour and a half with the counselor alone involved specifically, but during my hour and a half, first I shared that conversation.

The counselor got it, y'all.  He knew that this was the last ditch effort.  He knew that this week of counseling would determine the course of our marriage.  And not only did he know that, he completely understood that.  He was completely on board with it and agreed.  He didn't at all think that I was being unreasonable.  He didn't at all think that I was lacking grace or being unforgiving.  He didn't at all think that I was being a bad wife.  What he actually said was that I had endured so much...and that it was time. was way overdue.  Something had to happen.  And he knew that.

This conversation from the night before just made it clear that Joel was still blind.  And not only was he blind, he didn't understand that the counselor considered him to be blind.  He didn't understand that the personal story our counselor told on Day 2 was a story he told for Joel...he didn't understand that, even though the counselor was looking right at him the whole time he told that story.  He was willing to be unblinded...but, he didn't believe he needed to be...which is the definition of 'being blind.'  Lol.

So, based on the conversation between Joel and me the night before, the counselor could see what had to be done.  And he assured me that he would make it clear to Joel that he believed he was blind and was calling him to pray for his eyes to be opened.

The rest of my time alone with the counselor was spent going through and praying through very thoroughly another defining memory like we did on Day 3.

When Joel and I came back together for the last hour of counseling, we started what would be our last main activity of the week.

Our counselor goes deep, as I said.  Super deep.  Like, down to the very depths of your heart and soul and spirit, literally, through prayer.  God has given him a true gift...and what a gift it is.  I'm not going to go into detail here about it, but basically it uncovers a lot of things in the lives of his clients.  It was very, very powerful.

So, we spent the last hour on Day 4 with him getting started on doing that with Joel.

Day 5

We met and quickly, for the 1st 18 minutes, went through that exercise that I wrote about last time...where we face each other and take turns taking 3 minutes to speak.  This time we made it through the whole 18 minutes.  It was a little brutal and as usual, even in this exercise, Joel tried to downplay things and I continued to call him out on those things, speaking the actual truth about what had happened.  Tenacity is not in my list of weaknesses.

Then we resumed the 'going deep' activity/prayer with Joel.  And then the counselor did the same thing with me.  It is a very involved exercise, so that actually took up the rest of our time...and in fact we ended up going almost an hour over our time.

When the exercise was over and we were about to say our goodbyes, the good thing was that a LOT was revealed through going deep.  A lot.  Especially in Joel's life.  When you live your life thinking that it is all just grand and peachy keen...when you then go deep and really get to the root issues of some things, you realize, ok wow...maybe things aren't so perfect after all.  So...a lot was revealed during that time, especially about Joel and his life.

Why not mine?  Because I already knew the crappy parts of my life.  LOL.  Believe me.  Haha.  And I've always known them and been aware of them.  I was not at all blinded to them or in any sort of denial.  My crap was not hidden by any 'religiosity.'

Sadly, that was not the case with Joel.  And because of the blindness to it all for all of these years, it had sadly caused way more damage to him than the unhidden crap in my life ever caused me.  And...because of the blindness to it all, our marriage was hanging by a single very, very frayed thread.  So frayed that one lonely, barely-holding-on strand was all that remained.

While so much had been revealed that week and I felt so much gratitude for that, and just that I was respected as a person and listened to and believed and understood (cannot tell you just how grateful I was for that)...the truth was that after I left that office, what next?  Sure, counseling had been different this time...but, would anything stick?  Would things go back to the way they had been for 3 ½ years?

When I expressed my concern, the counselor asked Joel if he wanted to share a little of what they had talked about the previous day.  Joel said that we were going to make decisions together and that was final.  I asked him, "What if we aren't coming to an agreement?  What if you continue to think one way and think your way is best no matter what?  What then?"  Joel stammered around a little and said that sometimes things would have to be done even when I didn't like it...because it just needed to be done.

Lol.  Wow.

The counselor interrupted him at that point and said, "Allow me to just 'rewind' with Joel a little bit here.  Joel, remember that what we actually talked about was that Michawn, I believe, all of her life, has been surrounded by people who haven't tried to know her and understand her."

Wow...I just started crying.  That was crazy.  Again...he totally got it.

It's true...the people who were people in my life who were supposed to want to get to know me and understand me, haven't.  In fact, throughout this whole horrible process of the past 3 ½ years, most of the people in my life who were supposed to be for me are the ones who have said things like "I don't know the whole story and I don't want to know the whole story."  Or when told about how things weren't as they seemed, "Oh...I just don't even want to know."  Who does that?  Who does that to someone they supposedly care about?

Guess what?  If you really care about someone, you want to know about their lives.  You want to know about them.  It doesn't matter if something in their lives makes you want to know them.  You want to share in their joys and their sorrows.  You want to help them in any way you can.  You want to love them...the VERB love...and you can't truly show love to someone when you don't even want to know them.

Sadly, that has been a running theme in my life.  That was one of the things that was revealed to our counselor this week, partly through my memories that we walked through.

Here's the crazy thing about that...I am not hard to understand.  The specific people in my life that we are talking about truly didn't try to get to know me.  Either they had certain beliefs and preconceived notions about children (during the early years)...and/or females; or some people just see who I am and don't like me and what I stand for.  But, understanding me is not hard.  Anyone who truly gets to know me (which is also not hard...I love getting to know people), they easily understand me.  Because, as you who truly do know me know...what you see is what you get.  It's not like I'm this complicated human being.  LOL.  Not at all.

But...Joel stopped trying to understand me.  When things came up and we disagreed, he just started calling the shots (as per his counsel at the time) and listening to others about me (who said there was 'no reasoning with Michawn') instead of talking to me and listening to me.

So, when the counselor went back and reviewed with Joel what they had discussed the day before, he reminded him that what they had talked about was that it isn't his job to make the decisions.  It's his job to listen to me and seek to know me and seek to understand me...and then he would be able to see and know why I have the beliefs and opinions I have.  And then we would be able to make decisions together.  The counselor reminded Joel that, despite some of the things he had been told by others, his wife is not an unreasonable person.  In fact, she is quite the opposite.  And it would behoove him to listen to her.  And then and only then would we be able to move forward in any decision that came up...and, move forward in our marriage.

Joel said, "Yes...that is right...that is what we talked about."

It didn't quite make me feel at ease that Joel had already forgotten that...and had gone back to his old ways of thinking immediately.  But...our time was up and they both assured me that it would be better, so we left.

I knew we weren't done though.  I knew it.  I'll talk more about that next time.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 43 - Counseling Done Right, 1}

I cannot tell you what a night and day experience it was between the counseling we got last week and all of the counseling we had before.  Night and day, people!!  Night and day.  I seriously cannot get over it.

Partly because it makes me soooo sad.  So very very sad.  It has become very evident that it is so very rare to be able to find a really, really good counselor.  A just and super knowledgeable counselor.  One who truly seeks to know you and understand you.  One who is so mature and so wise and so discerning that they can see each person for who they are...that they can look deeper and listen and learn.  That they don't even think about doing things like projecting their own experiences or feelings onto someone else's situation.  Or assuming things or twisting words.  And they don't even entertain surface issues, but go straight for the root causes.  Someone who is so very empathetic and kind...and at the same time very straightforward and truth-telling.  

In short...very, very led by God and so very God-like.  

This is extremely rare.

But, praise God, it does exist.  And we found it.  Finally.  

I can't tell you how much damage and harm has come to our marriage by seeing the 8 (!!) counselors before this (4 lay, 4 licensed).  Incredible damage.  Why?  Because none of those 8 people could do what this one man did in just a few short hours.  Because these people are not like this man...they don't have the qualities and characteristics mentioned above.  Even the 4 who have undergone extensive training and should be able to do what he does...they can not, and they do not.  

It's an extremely rare find.

Which is just extremely gut-wrenching to me.  If there were more actually good counselors, there would be many less divorces and hurting people around...I'm convinced.  Because many of these people want help...but they just can't find it.  

I don't know if I can convey to you with words here just how extremely grateful I am that we were able to see this counselor (and will continue).  He is the only counselor I will ever go to from now on.  He is the only counselor I will ever recommend to others.  

And he is worth the travel to get to him and the money spent.

Just a little ditty here that might mean something to some of you to show just how awesome he involves some name-dropping (which he himself never does, but I just know these things about him) and adds to his 'credentials':  He was on staff at the Vineyard in Anaheim and worked closely with John Wimber.  He also, now, is the counselor for John Eldridge and all of his team.  Yes...he's amazing.

Here is the account of the first few days with our wonderful God-sent counselor. 

Day 1

Given our history with counselors, I was sooo sick to my stomach and nervous and scared that I couldn't eat a thing.  It was horrible.

We got there at 10am and he was very nice.  I had listened before (last year) to some teachings he's done, so I knew his voice.  His voice is a great, soothing, wonderful mix of Kevin Costner and Jeff Bridges.  I love it was inviting to me.

As the 4 hour session went on, I also knew that he was listening to me and believing me and respected me.  That is HUGE.  And, he was kind and caring...sympathetic and empathetic...really understanding when and why something upset me.  "It's ok, dear...take your time."  So sweet.

He started out by asking us what we wanted from the week.  I said that I just wanted to get to the root issues...the real root issues here.  If we could take care of the root issues, then in time, most often the symptoms fall away on their own.  He agreed.  And assured me that that is his philosophy too.

Joel said that he just wanted to find out for sure what was going on too.  And that he still really wanted our marriage to be healed.

We talked a good deal about just some background stuff.  A little background on each of us, some things in our marriage that brought us to this point.

There were a couple of times where I could see that he was getting me.  Ahhhh, finally.  He was looking to the bottom line, to the root issues.  He was seeing.  He wasn't blinded.

At one point he even asked Joel point blank, 'In the things that you've agreed that you've done, can you see why Michawn doesn't trust you?'

I was floored.  Unbelievable that this had never happened in our counseling before.  That's a very basic, no-brainer tragic that nobody had ever talked to Joel like that in all of these years.

After a couple of hours, he said that he knew a couple of bottom line things.  He explained to us that, when faced with challenging things as a child, people respond to that in one of three ways.  They either become moving toward people, they start moving against people, or they start moving away from people.

The people who move toward people are your compliant people...they are your 'people-pleasers.'  They generally are 'needy' and seek approval.

People who move against people are your more competitive people.  They want control, they want to be the best, they want to be the most, and they will fight against anyone who might stop them from doing that.

People who move away from people are your detached people.  They are strong and independent.  They need emotional distance.  They draw a magic circle around themselves and prefer to be alone.

A little more about these three 'trends':
All three trends are available to us and healthy persons are able to move in any of these directions when needed. What usually happens, though, is that we become comfortable and used to one of the trends and so the other two become less accessible.  
We can exaggerate a good thing or miss the mark. At the core of each trend is a healthy striving to cooperate with others, to assertively set boundaries, and to step back to be with ourselves in solitude or step away from/break ties with a harmful person. When we overdo these maneuvers, or when they become defensive and reactive instead of proactive, we become compliant (people-pleasers), aggressive (people who move against/are competitive & controlling), and detached (people who move away). There is a healthy to distorted continuum with these three trends.
Our counselor, after the 1st day's session, said that he thought Joel moves toward people and I move away.  And that was the bottomest of bottom lines for us.  The root issue.  Everything else sprung out of that.

I was encouraged by our time together.  I felt like he really *got* it.  I felt like I could probably trust this man (although I was still very cautious; time would tell).  And I was looking forward to more insights.

He gave us homework...

We both read our handout on our 'bottom lines'...mine the 'moving away' handout, and Joel's the 'moving toward' handout.  We underlined the things that most resonated with us about our bottom line.  And then we switched and anything that I thought was true of Joel that he didn't underline, I underlined with a different color ink.  He did the same.

We also read a handout called "On Being Ordinary" (an article he wrote some years ago).  Very interesting.  It was all about how everyone still has sin.  When God comes and saves us, He "removes sin from the soul, the spirit, and heart.  But, He does not remove sin from the body and the brain.  So the believer is both a person who has sin removed from him and has sin abiding in him.  He is a 'duality of purity and impurity.'  In other words, the inner man is cleansed.  The outer man continues to contain sin.  The body and brain, or outer man, isn't sinful just because it contains sin...but rather, it is the 'home on earth' of sin."  So, the battle of sin is not within the heart, it is a battle between the heart (inner man) and body/brain (outer man).

Day 2

I have to admit...I woke up and was already kind of irritated.  Just tired and irritated that we are going through all of this.  And irritated with Joel that...of course he just still doesn't get it.

We got to the counseling session and he wanted to teach us a tool...the one tool he was going to teach us this week.  He got us to turn our chairs to face each other.  It's a tool that is supposed to foster connection.  So, you each spend 3 minutes talking about certain things...6 different time slots of 3 minutes alternating between each other, so 18 minutes total.  Joel went first and the first thing he was supposed to talk about for 3 minutes was just what he was sensing with his 5 senses.  He did that and then also went into how he saw me and talked about how he liked my glasses and my outfit, yada yada yada...and how he still just had a heavy heart about all that had happened and where we were and how much it might take to fix it.

Then it was my turn.  I had no desire to connect with Joel.  I just couldn't do it.  So, I said that all I could see was the man who destroyed my life in every possible way.  And that I felt no good feelings toward him.  And then I said nothing else for the rest of my 3 minutes.

The counselor quickly decided that we wouldn't be able to do that exercise quite yet...just not time.  What was different about this counselor in this instance?  He didn't think that I was being difficult.  He wasn't upset.  He completely understood...and said like it was no big deal "That's's just not time yet."  Again...very unlike other counselors and people in our lives the past few years.  That is a sad and scary reality, folks.  :(

So, we put our chairs back and started talking about the handouts.  Joel went over his first...he agreed that it fit well with him.  He isn't 'needy' as is typical of that type of person, but he does seek and depend on approval from others (not all others, but some).  And he is compliant and a people-pleaser, no doubt.

Mine, turns out, wasn't so cut and dry.  While I underlined several things that I see in me that was listed in the 'Moving Away From People' handout, the things that are apparently key in being a 'moving away from people' person is not true of me...specifically "What is crucial is their inner need to put emotional distance between themselves and others."  While I have the ability to detach from people (which Joel and 'moving toward people' people do not really possess), I only truly detach from people who have been given many chances to connect with me (and/or many chances to not mistreat me), but refuse.  It is only toxic, damaging people from whom I detach...and I give lots and lots of chances before I do that.  In fact, what I wrote on my handout specifically was, "While I am independent and strong (listed characteristics of people who fall into this group), I only truly detach from certain people...people who have been given many chances to connect with me, but refuse."

So, it was back to the drawing board for me.  He gave me the handout to read about the "Moving Against People" to see if that rang more true for me.  I asked him what happens if it doesn't.  And I'm clearly not a compliant people-pleaser.  He said that we would have to figure me out if this didn't ring true for me.

I read it.  It didn't ring true.

The 'Moving Away From People' was the closest thing to me, but without that crucial need to distance myself from people across the didn't really apply to me either.  So...we had to figure it out the next day.

I read an article he wrote called "Journey Out of Religiosity."  So good.

"The deep issues of religiosity lie in the heart.  The religious heart as compared with a kingdom heart is a concealed, hidden heart.  It is a blind heart filled with denial.  It is a stubborn, hard heart resting on the shaky foundation of needing to be right.  It grows directly from the heart of a child who has certain factors being 'religiosity in parents.'"  Very interesting read...and I could see where religiosity has played a big part in where we find ourselves.  I've actually been saying that for years...but this handout just really confirmed it in a clear way.

The counselor finally received and read the timeline that day.  Joel continued to say that he couldn't see how it could possibly be that all of our problems (or sometimes he says 'all of her problems') stem from anything he's done.  The counselor immediately went into a story...and he told this story to Joel...a personal story of how he, in the early 90s, had some decisions to make.  His family was hurting and with problems.  They were saying that he was the problem.  He wasn't connecting with them.  He was unavailable.  He just could not see it.  The counselor finally, after a whole hour of hearing him defend himself, told his wife and children that when the optic nerve doesn't work, the eye is blind.  It's not that it's blindfolded...the sight just will not work no matter how you try to see and no matter how much you believe you can see.  There was really nothing that he could do...he couldn't make anyone see.  Their husband/father, our counselor, was just blind.

Our counselor said that he was extremely taken aback by what his family's counselor had said...that he was just blind.  So, they went home and our counselor prayed.  He prayed and prayed.  And on the 14th day of praying, it was like a light shone straight down on him and within that light was all understanding of what he was doing and he was no longer blind to the situation all around him...and his wrongdoing.  It was like a flip was switched.

"This is what has got to happen in our marriage," I wrote on Day 2.  "Joel has to see it.  Otherwise, our marriage will not work."

I also wrote:  "Praying for the blinders to be removed.  Only God can do that.  Only He can reveal that to Joel.  There is such a religious, blinded, concealed spirit.  Even if someone else were to tell him, that alone wouldn't be enough.  Because walking that out in will power...that wouldn't work.  It has to be revealed to Joel personally...God has to reveal that answer to him.  Praying."

Day 3

We met with our counselor separately...each for two hours (although mine turned into three hours...ha).

Day 1 had been so good.  Day 2 was good...but it was just more vague and kind of left me with questions again.  So...Day 3 first thing, I had questions.

I needed to know where we stood.  I needed to see where our counselor was with it all and see what he was thinking.

He started out reassuring me that he believed in a partnership marriage.  He said that that is what God intended when he made Adam and Eve...and then the fall happened, and then when people start focusing on the New Testament is where they get all messed up and it is damaging to marriages (Egalitarians know exactly where he is coming from with that last statement).

He said that he knows what man has done to women.  He knows what churches do to women.  He said that he knows the wife/women are blamed...that all the blame falls on her 99.9% of the time.

In short, he reassured me.  He could see me.  And he wasn't there to tell me that I need to do better or be a better wife or be a better Christian and if I did those things our marriage would get better.  That wasn't the problem.  He saw that.  He knew that.  Joel was blind to the things he had done and continued to do, he said.  And that is what had to happen...Joel had to be UNblinded.

Ahhhh...I felt relieved.  Praise God.  Someone could see it.  Someone was getting to the root.

He had started taking a family history the day before in the remaining minutes of our session.  He finished that with me...and then we just prayed.  Lots and lots of prayer.  Lots and lots of exercises mixed with prayer.  Exercises that involved me praying that God would bring to mind a defining memory that needed to be healed.  Then the counselor, in prayer still, would walk me through that memory and have me describe it in detail, I would 'go into' that memory (at the age I am now) and be with 'little girl Michawn' or 'younger Michawn' and talk with her, we would invite Jesus in, etc.  The counselor would take me through this memory very slowly, healing every part that needed to still be healed, guiding me through talking to each person that was a part of that memory, etc.  It was very, very interesting the things that came out of those memories that we walked through in prayer.  (Joel did the same thing with his time in his session...maybe he will write about it someday)

One of the things that came out for me personally was that, in each of these memories, 1) when I invited Jesus in in each memory, it was soooo powerful because it wasn't like I was inviting Him in or He was coming in for the first time...He had been there the whole entire time, from the beginning, completely protecting me from what was going on around me.  They were hard things and hard situations, but I went through those things, in real life, having learned from them, grown from them, and having the ability to be aware of what was going on around me without feeling like any of it was my fault or like I was to blame...or having any real lasting damage.  Even from as early an age as 3-4 years old.  And, I believe that is possible only because He was always there.  He protected me.  And, 2) I had already forgiven the people who were parts of these memories...who did harm to me.  I had never lived with unforgiveness toward them.  Which just confirmed something about me, that I knew, that was really great to see and hear...forgiveness is easy for me.  That is where I live.  It never occurs  to me to not forgive someone.  That's just not a part of my life.

Again, something I felt like shouting, "I told you so" from the rooftops after that session given the constant accusations the past few years that I am 'unforgiving.'  So...people who have said that about me...just shut up.

Another thing that came up was...he was trying to still figure out what the deal was with me since I wasn't fitting into one of the three categories...people who move toward people, people who move against people, or people who move away from people.  I had taken home the information about 'people who move against'...but that didn't fit me at all.  He had asked me about it at the beginning of the session...I had told him that it didn't fit.  So, at the end of the session...

I said, "Given the fact that moving away from people doesn't quite fit me and the other two options don't fit me either, do you think that it is possible that...?" 
Counselor:  "I do, dear." 
Me:  "Wait...what do you think?  You know what I was going to ask?" 
Counselor:  "I think that you probably move toward the people when it is right to do so, you move against them and challenge them and set boundaries when it is right to do so, and you move away from people when they have consistently shown that they aren't safe.  It's very rare, dear, but I think you are able to do this."  

By the end of the session, after having gone through all of those memories and seeing what was shown as a result of walking through those memories and seeing how I dealt with it all and how I felt about the people in those memories, it helped to solve the mystery.

Ahhhh.  Unbelievable that he saw me.  That he understood and knew me.  After all this time...someone could see me.  And knew me!  Just HUGE.  And they weren't afraid to say..."she's actually a very healthy person."  All this time I have been accused of all of these things...and if the accusers (including counselors) couldn't find something solid to accuse me of, they would make up stuff, even going so far as to making up that I have a mental illness.  I mean...being a healthy person wasn't an option for anyone.  How sad is that!  Being able to just healthily move between these three trends for instance, being able to forgive because the problem wasn't that I wasn't forgiving it was that the behavior I kept forgiving wasn't stopping, being able to walk away from people who were consistently harmful in my life...these are healthy things, people!  The people accusing me of being unhealthy and 'crazy' either didn't see these things as healthy (particularly distancing oneself from harmful people...they saw that as unforgiving instead of a healthy thing), or maybe it's so rare to see someone actually being able to move within these trends healthily, they didn't believe that to be true of me.

Whatever the thoughts of everyone in my life these past 3 ½ years, the bottom line is that they missed me completely.  They either 1) chose not to listen to me.  Or they listened, but then 2) chose not to believe me.  These are the only two things that I have experienced for the past few years by the people who were supposed to love me and by the people who I trusted to help me.  (How very sad and scary is that?!?)

And the whole time I've been telling the truth...and not being unhealthy while doing so.  I'm the one who could move between these three things in a healthy way.  Me!  I'm the one who forgave.  I'm the one who could see the root issues.  I'm the healthy one here!!

I'm not saying all of this here to be braggy, believe me.  But...after all the attacks from so many sources the past few years (and they just keep rolling in), I say this all to stick up for myself, yet again.  To defend myself.  And to say to the people who are still attacking and accusing...step the hades back!  You don't even know what you are talking about!  So stop wasting your breath with your accusations that are, still (and always have been), false.

:)  Hmmm...that felt good.  Hahaha.

To my very few friends that I have left in my life, in internet land and in real life, who have always known me and backed me 100%...thank you!!  You were right!  Haha.

I'll tell you about Days 4 & 5 and more next time.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 42 - Just a Quick Word}

What I really want to do here...for all of you naysayers (and people who called me crazy or were convinced that I had some sort of mental illness/disorder or people who said I was wrong and bad and 'out of line'...)...what I really want to do is fill in the entire blank space here with a HUGE


But I won't.  ;)

The bottom line is that finally we met with a counselor who goes deep.  A counselor who doesn't just focus on symptoms and superficial things.  A counselor who goes straight for the root issues.  In fact, so much so that he would not even address the symptoms.  Joel would say things that, in other counseling sessions, would deter any focus on root issues.  Didn't work this time.  lol.  The counselor would just kindly say, "O.K., but that's not helping us here.  Let's focus on things that will help us here."  PRAISE JESUS for this man.

I'm so filled with righteous indignation by how this has all been handled by 'God's people.'  It is literally ridiculous.  And finally this week, I found someone else who feels the same way...who saw me for who I am...who knew me.  Who is filled with a passion and a purpose to help people see truth.

"Honey, I know how men and the church has, and continues to, treat women.  I know that the blame is almost always put on the woman.  I have seen it.  And I just want you to know that I am aware...I know."

That's what he said to me on the 3rd day.  He knew.  He looked much deeper than surface things...and got straight to the heart of the matter.

After 3 ½ years of hell on earth...I finally found someone who stood up for me and saw with spiritual eyes what has been going on.  He couldn't believe what I've endured.

I finally found someone who wasn't so focused on how this was all my fault, or what part I played, that that became the only focus.  I finally found someone who wasn't worried about that.

He told me, "Usually both parties have something to do with it.  Even if your part is only 1-2%, are you willing to take responsibility for your part?"

I said, "If you can identify what my 1-2% is in causing all of this, yes...I'll gladly take responsibility.  But, to blindly take responsibility, even just for 1-2%, just to make someone's male ego feel, I won't do that."

"Fair enough," he said.  :)  Seriously love this man.

Here's what Joel says about the week (which he just dictated to me, speaking to me)...

"It was a week of self-enlightenment.  I learned a lot about myself that I didn't know.  I learned about my tendencies, personality, weaknesses, blind spots...the areas where I have been just completely blind with you.  There probably still are areas where I am blind and I need to work on those.  This week was a step in the right direction...of me understanding myself.  I'm the problem here.  I'm trying to understand why I've treated you the way I have.  Why have I not listened to you or believed you?  Why have I killed myself doing things/tasks for you, and yet still not met your needs?  You told me your needs...and I just didn't agree with or believe you.  Why?  How have I missed you all this time?  I didn't know I was so damaged...I learned that this week."

It was truly a really great week.  What will happen with Joel and me?  I honestly don't know.  He was finally held accountable for what he has done.  He was finally shown very clearly that all that he has done was wrong, and why.  For that I'm thankful.  He seems to have been receptive.  It seems to have made an impact.

But, what now?  We'll see how it goes from here on out.  Will he keep taking responsibility?  And keep working on his blindspots?  For the sake of our family, I hope so.  But, one thing I've learned through all of this is that you can't predict what someone else will do.  And I've learned that I can't depend on Joel.  He now, again, has the assignment of earning my trust back and becoming a dependable person.  But...we'll see what happens.

It's going to be a long road ahead even if it works out between us.  One of the things that we found out this week was that Joel just has no core beliefs.  I've said for years (way before this even happened) that he is tossed to and fro.  He is a people-pleaser.  He has no strong beliefs that are his.  That he will die for.  He is easily persuaded.  He has no clear sense of right and wrong.  That makes him unstable and, for me, untrustworthy.  That will have to change.  And that will take time.

The good thing is that all of this was prayed for immensely.  And prayer for healing of these damaged areas, prayer for these things that need to come to pass...there was much prayer.  In fact, our last 3 days (out of 5) were spent in prayer.  Hours upon hours of prayer.  I'm telling you...this counselor...he is amazing.  And so rare.  He is seriously the real deal...and believe me, we've met many counterfeits.

So, we go forward having learned a great deal and with much prayer having covered us.  Am I skeptical that the areas that need changing will change?  Of course I am.  I would be a fool if I weren't skeptical after the past 3 ½ years.  But, we are moving forward with the possibility of these things being repaired.

We are actually staying a few extra days in Dallas just to 'debrief' a bit...hoping that some of the things talked about are able to take root before we have to go back to 'life as usual.'

What can you do?  First of all, all of you people who have accused me of all the many things that I've been accused of...stop it.  I don't ever want to hear an accusation again.  Yes, I'm making our story public.  But, that doesn't excuse bad behavior towards me from you.  None of the accusations you have made toward me are correct anyway.  I have refuted those accusations and proven them wrong over and over.  The counselor this week was so incredibly saddened by the many accusations that have come my way, and by 'Godly' people (those accusations were anything but Godly).  All of your accusations, that can sometimes become like curses, were prayed against.  So, stop with your accusations...that are made in ignorance anyway.  Just stop.  They will be tolerated no longer.

Secondly, for all of you actual supportive people out there, just continue to pray for us.  Pray for Joel as he had quite the awakening this week of reality in his life...a life that he felt was quite charmed and perfect with a perfect past and family, but his thoughts on that came crashing down as not reality at all.  Pray that he is able to rebuild his life and become who he is supposed to be and develop that core of beliefs within himself.  Pray that he will continue to seek to understand truth instead of just moving through life, tossed about.  Pray for me, for patience.  Much much patience.  And for bitterness about all of this to stay at's been a completely miserable 3 ½ years of people just constantly coming against me and finding blame in me...when I was not the one in the wrong.  And for me to finally get a break from all of that...and get the break and rest that I needed to begin with that was refused me.

Pray for understanding in Joel's life and for him to be able to continually stay on the path that will win back my trust (instead of destroy it yet again), and for me to just have energy to keep going.  It's been a long, long brutal road for me...and we still have much longer to go.

I asked the counselor if I could just stay with him and his family.  :)  This week was the first time in 3 ½ years I felt taken care of and understood and safe.  First time.

For that I am truly grateful.  I pray that that feeling returns in my own home.  Thank you for praying for that too.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 41 - The End}

We head out today to try.  I'm going to more time.

There's a counselor in Dallas we heard about last year.  He is, supposedly, really good.  From the things I've heard about him and from him, I do actually have hope despite my hideous experiences with counselors so far.  Maybe I'm just gullible...we'll see.  

The first thing that made me think, ok...I might like this guy:  Someone told me how he has said that it is hard for him to find and go to a church...because of the things that are taught and believed there.  I was like, yes!...this guy is no-nonsense...and he's not afraid to go against the grain.  He is not religious...he's real.  And he can cut through all the BS...and get to what's really going on.

That is the impression I've gotten anyway.  But...I had high hopes and had heard great things about the last counselor we went to too, and we see how that went.  So...I'm not getting my hopes up too high.

I did ask him three things before I even agreed to go.  I had to make sure he had no male bias, he didn't believe in the 'shared responsibility lie,' and he was egalitarian.  He answered all to my satisfaction...for instance, he said that he takes all couples back to creation, the ideal, before the fall.  Great egalitarian answer.  

But...we'll see.  I'm skeptical, as anyone with my experiences in the past 3 ½ years would be.  

This is the end, though.  I've reached the point where, if Joel is not held accountable and some growth and mentoring him out of this is done this week, it will be time to move on.  

A friend of mine, who has realized, within the past month as everything has come out, just how deep the issues go and what exactly has happened here...she said to me tonight, "He has ruined y'all's marriage!"  And he has.  It's time for someone to actually hold him accountable.  

For a long time, even during this past year when I've been blogging about it, I was still protecting him.  I was still never quite telling everything that was happening in the present as I typed.  I was still telling all about what had happened in the past to get us to this, the things that were happening in the here and now weren't really being told completely.  

So, now you see what it was like, even in this past year.  Now you see how much pressure he put on me to 'make it right' with his family...when I had already tried.  How much pressure I had all around me from lots of people...attacks and covert operations, basically...and nobody to protect me and take care of me.  Now you see the depths of everything that happened in April...and now, as of the beginning of July, what we know about that was happening all along.  

I have literally been all alone.  I have three good real-life friends still.  Three.  lol.  Three people that I can talk to, that get it, and that are for me.  But, even they aren't in a position to protect me and take care of me.  

It's been rough.  Some have said, "What are you going to do?  Why are you still with him?"  Those are incredibly legitimate questions, obviously.  Here's a reply to those thoughts (originally posted in a comment thread on Facebook a couple of weeks ago)...
i just want to share that the *only* reason i haven't left at this point is that, truthfully, joel has always been a teachable person actually. in this instance, not teachable by me obviously. but, i just keep thinking that if *anyone* would just speak the actual truth to could turn things around. i kid you not when i say that the message he got (included in the comment above) is literally all he's heard throughout all of this. if *anyone* came to him and told him that what he was doing is wrong instead of 1) blaming me, 2) coddling him in his sin, 3) saying he has had a right to do all of this because he is the head, and/or 4) insisting on shared responsibility...i truly do think he would listen. but i promise...that hasn't happened. 
oh, *i* get messages and emails. he sees comments here. 
but, his beliefs are deeply rooted. it would take more than someone sending *me* a message disapproving of his actions or him seeing comments. it would take someone literally walking through this with him...walking him out of his wrong set of beliefs and into the right ones. a mentor. 
he doesn't have that. the ones he's always had believes in 1) him being the head, 2) shared responsibility, and 3) how i'm so wrong in how i've handled *his* sin...and blame me for how it continues to go.
truly though...he's always been teachable. i really do still believe he would still be teachable. it would take LOTS of work...and lots of renewing of his mind. but, i think he could/would do it. truly. that's the only thing that still has me here. we're at the end though. if it doesn't happen soon, we'll get the divorce.
all he ever hears from his 'friends' are things like that message that was sent to him today. if he doesn't hear something else soon and isn't able to change his ways, we'll call it quits.
So, either way, we're at the end.  Either this counselor will be truly God-sent and he will speak truth into Joel's life and hold him accountable (or God will divinely send someone else to do that this week) and start mentoring him out of his sin.  Or...we'll start the steps in the other direction.

I now have peace about either one.  Sad to think about the latter.  But even sadder to think about continuing to live like this.  Because living like this is literally killing me...literally.  So...I have peace.

The counseling we are going to is an intensive week-long counseling.  We will meet with him 20-25 hours this week.  We will be gone the whole week, so please be praying for us and the counseling of course, but also for our kids (and us in their absence)...this is the longest we've ever been apart and I'm hating every minute of it already and it hasn't even started yet.  :(

Pray for open hearts and open minds.  Pray that this counselor truly isn't like the rest have been.  Pray for energy and strength, especially for me...I am so exhausted and energy-depleted and beaten down already, and going into a week like this is a bit overwhelming...esp. considering how beaten up by counselors I've been in the past.  So please pray for me in that.

Pray for real, deep, root issues to be identified right away and dug out by the roots and killed!!

I can't imagine that I will be blogging.  Who knows what the future holds...even this week.  But, just plan on not hearing from me again for a while...then whenever you do hear from me, it will be a surprise.  :)

Until then...just pray.  Thank you.


Saturday, August 08, 2015

Joel. Michawn. {Part 40 - The Rest of April}

So so so defeated when we left that counselor's house.  We had traveled 2 ½ hours one way to get there.  So, we went to eat before heading back home.  And I could not be alone with Joel.  I was desperate for someone who loved me and cared for me and was for me.  So I got in touch with a dear, close friend and her husband to come meet us.

We talked about everything, because she's that kind of friend.  We don't chit-chat...we plunge right into real life.  Ahhh...those are the best kinds of friends.  And that was so so needed at that time.

She and her husband started the work that would continue for the next few days after that.  When we left that counselor's house, I had just no more hope.  So so defeated.  But with our friends, there was finally someone to talk truth to Joel.  My friend has known us as long as Joel and I have known each other.  So...they know us.  Our time at the restaurant that night was a time of 'hold up here!' truth, and really kind of knocking down some of those things that had been just essentially made up about me.  They questioned me too, don't get me wrong.  But, the truth always came out.  My friend was like, 'um, no...I know this girl.  YOU know this girl.  You know her.  Wake up, Joel.  Let's look at reality here.'  So so needed.

Also, looking back on it now, his family was discussed...a LOT.  Because you know...he's obsessed.  He was told over and over by our friends that his family had to go.  That they needed to be 'put in the garage for now at least.'  That he needed to focus on me and us and our family.

Of course, now we know that he was in constant contact with them.  He was griping the whole time about how he couldn't talk to them and couldn't be in contact with them...yet that's exactly what he was doing all along.

But, the 2-3 hour pow-wow with our friends started some good things.  We drove back home and the next day was full of just hacking things out some more.  One thing led to another and we ended up going over the entire timeline of events again...basically from 2010 to the present.  By going over the timeline and each part of the timeline very slowly, talking out each part, he was able to see, again, just how neglected and not taken care of I have been by him.

So...after the 'reality' talk with our friends and taking a few hours to really go over the timeline, we were better again.  We were on the mend again.  For a few days.

Then Joel found out about his brother being in Mississippi.  Because, you know...he was in contact with them.  He got his brother to write me an email to ask if we could meet up with them to hang out.  I didn't know that Joel did that.  I didn't know that Joel was in contact with his family.  But, I got the email and it was all just a re-opening of wounds.  And Joel got mad that I got mad that they were contacting us again when they weren't supposed to.  And it all started being blamed for reconciliation not happening with his family.  Joel saying that I was wrong for not wanting to go to Mississippi to meet up with his family.  Joel saying I was an unforgiving person, etc. etc. etc.  Kick kick kick, punch punch punch.  Just getting beat up over and over and over again.  The spiraling down was happening...again.

This is the email Joel sent back to his brother faking to be mad, by the way.  I mean...just wow.  Major Crazytown up in here.
Hey brother.  Not sure why you disrespected Michawn by being a jerk months ago and not finishing the conversation to resolve things between us all.  
But distance what I need to put between you all and my wife/family.
Appalled that you think things are good enough to meet up and have fun.  
As Michawn said, please respect us in our wish and do not contact us.
As Michawn said, we are taking as much time as we need.
Wow.  And I'm the one that is accused of having deeper issues?

So...I was, again, being blamed for 'not doing it right' in regards to how I approached reconciliation with his family, and then as the hours/days went on, that again turned into me also being blamed again for all of this...i.e. I made stuff up, I took things the wrong way, I made mountains out of molehills, etc. etc. etc.

Well...because of all of that, I decided to go back to emails and other correspondence (Facebook chat, texts, Skype, Whatsapp, etc.) that showed, without a shadow of a doubt, that I was not making things up, I was not making mountains out of molehills, and that it was all there, just plain as day.

We're talking hundreds of examples that I pulled from correspondence.  Literally hundreds.  I spent 9 hours on a Saturday and 16 hours on that Sunday going through all the correspondence since January 2012 that could be shown to prove that I was not making this up!!  Proof that all I was being accused of?...I was innocent!!  Without a shadow of a doubt.

Proof that I had warned him of all of this well beforehand...I had let him know very clearly, months before we left Brazil, that I needed a break, that I needed rest, that I needed respite in a bad way upon return to the states.

Proof that his family was extremely divisive starting all the way back in January 2012...and the correspondence back and forth shows that clearly.  Proof of how the wedding/festival conflict was handled oh-so-poorly by Joel and his family.  And how Joel then handled it poorly also by 'conspiring' with his family and trying to get out of his word to me.  Really snake-y correspondence.  Yuck.

Proof, through correspondence, that he was putting others over me...over and over and over again.  That he was not protecting me or meeting my needs, but that he was throwing me under the bus over and over.  Others' expectations won out.  Others' opinions and beliefs won out.

Proof that he just slandered me, to many people, accusing me of things that were just not true.  And when others spoke ill of me (mostly because of the way he had slandered me and made people think certain things about me), he didn't defend or protect...he agreed with them.

Proof that he constantly minimized reality in order to please others and so that his world didn't get thrown off track (although that always backfires since that just makes it worse).

Proof that, although he always constantly ensured me emphatically that he didn't agree with or take his father's counsel, and that I was making stuff up when I said that he clearly did and that was shown in his actions...the truth was that he did agree with and follow that counsel, as shown in his emails, saying things in his replies like, "Thank you so much for this email.  It all rings very true to my heart.  Very true." and "I'm going to read this and re-read this so that I can line up with this in my life."

Proof of all of the horrible things he did and said during the miscarriage (January/February 2014)...and how he handled that whole time.  For instance, when he had to (because I insisted, not because he wanted to) postpone his trip to Brazil, he was soooo worried about what the people would think there...the people with whom he had meetings set up.  He hated to postpone and resented me for it.  I wept as I read those people's replies to him.  How very tender and gentle and understanding and loving they were!  I couldn't believe it.  My husband was being anything but.  Yet they were sticking up for me and being for me during that time, even though they didn't even know that was such a need I had.  It was all proof of the way he should have been.  It was an eye-opener to me that, no...the people in Brazil (our landlords, etc.) weren't pressuring him to come or upset that he had to postpone.  In fact, they were telling him to please just stay and be with me and for me.  They were giving him personal stories of theirs, of loss and miscarriage...being so sweet and understanding and telling him that whenever it suited us for him to come, that would be fine.

Sooo much proof.  Proof of many, many things.  That is what I gathered in those hundreds of articles of correspondence.

He took off work that Monday and we started going through them all.  We only got through a few...because major conversation came from it all.  So, he took off the next day and we went through some more, but we were far from done.  It was very, very productive.  Incredible conversation came from it...understanding and many lightbulb moments.  Reconnection (again).  It was have to re-live it all.  But, I thought that if it would expose the truth by reviewing it all with the proof of what actually happened, then it would be worth it.

We had done the timeline...and that had worked for a few days.  Now...if I had the actual proof, from correspondence, from the horses' mouths themselves...maybe being on the mend would last for more than just a few days.  Maybe it would even be permanent.  That is what I hoped for.

He ended up taking off work all week.  We stayed in our room all. week. long...going over those hundreds of pieces of correspondence.  And at 11pm on the last day of April, as we were going over a few more and then going to go over the last 30 or so the next morning, Joel was, I thought, typing out more 'notes' on his computer as he had done all week.  I had no idea what he was actually doing. But, he was posting a status on Facebook.  It said...
I made the expectations of others so so big on myself...and for so long that in the process I just about killed my wife while stressing myself out for no reason to meet them.... because in all reality they really were no big deals at all. Im so so sorry for being so short sighted, moved by everyone else's expectation and putting them all priority over you my Michawn Madden Ebersole. What a jerk husband you have had for these last 4 years!! I'm so sorry!!!
We woke up to basically five kinds of comments the next morning...1) comments commending Joel for his humility and vulnerability, 2) comments saying that he shouldn't say things like that, that he should forgive himself and move on and not wallow in guilt or shame, 3) comments saying that people would be praying for us, 4) comments, as usual, saying that I should not be blogging about it all, and last but not least...

5) comments accusing me of getting on Joel's Facebook page and writing that myself.  They were serious too.  A barrage of comments and messages, from his family.  I have yet to address this, but I'm going to now.

"Joel- for someone who is normally so quiet you have a lot to say today. Such lengthy responses when you're normally not one to write such long and detailed posts."

"Hi michawn posting thru/as joel ;)..."

Joel (Joel, not me) continued to answer them and assure them it was him typing these things.  He continued to get comments saying that they didn't believe that...or just comments that were speaking directly to me instead of Joel (since they thought it was me on there).  Then he got a message from one of them:

"Not going to get involved with that comment thread but anyone with slight to moderate linguistic experience should be able to easily tell that the particular usages of grammar and punctuation are almost identical to the ones Michawn uses in her posts and comments after a quick scan of her Facebook page not to mention that another brief scan of your page (Joel's page) shows no indication of this style of writing...ever. Not sure if she's posting in your behalf with your permission but that is most certainly not your writing style."  

Joel wrote back:  "it is me....all me. I hardly ever write but I am doing it now and I am being very careful with my grammar. Tell the others to stop please.  I want to fix my marriage and am doing so.  so you understand that all coments like that really really don't help
I just read your comment to Michawn
she is laughing.....because....she would never make all my typos
take care"

The reply he got:

"But when someone who has never shared more than one sentence on Facebook writes paragraphs that use identical usages of grammar as their wife such as lack of capitalization of sentences and "..."  it comes off the wrong way to people who would consider themselves daily emotionally and mentally tied to this situation"

Let's review Joel's status that he posted, shall we?  It's interesting that I see that he capitalized each sentence, did he not?  And, if Joel has never shared more than one sentence on Facebook, then how does this person know Joel's writing style?!?

Although if he had just scrolled down just a couple of swipes on the mousepad on Joel's page, since Joel really doesn't post that much, he would have found this from his birthday:  "Thanks to all of you who wished me a happy birthday on social media.....and those who wished me a happy birthday mentally. I do the later thing the most so I totally understand and I appreciate your thoughts (smile) Just want to let you all know that you all are super important to us even if we don't keep in touch on a regular basis."

I'm not seeing the difference in writing style here between this birthday post and the post about me.  Hmmm.  (I mean, com'on!!)

It was all just so ludicrous.  Truly.  Amazingly ludicrous.

And...why?  Why would they do that?  If my brother and his wife were having problems, even if I did think that the wife was posting stuff on Facebook in my brother's place, attacking the wife and being bullies to them both would be the farthest thing from my mind.  Unbelievable.

Also...if I was the type of person who played games and did things like post things on Joel's behalf, why would I not be doing that all these years?  If I wanted to live in make-believe, I would have just started posting things I wanted to hear from Joel long, long ago.  LOL.  Why would I go through all of this hardship?  I could have just pretended he was a certain way, posted on Facebook,  for him, to make him look a certain way, and lived in pretend land.  Why wait until April 30th of this year?


I think we can all tell that I despise anything fake.  I'm pretty sure that people can deduce, from anything that they see about me, that I am all about being real and honest.  Therefore, writing fake feelings on my husband's page on his behalf...just. ludicrous.

And I'm the one who gets accused of not being logical and not being able to reason?

I replied to all the different kinds of comments except #5 on Facebook that same day...esp. the guilt/shame comments, saying...
i think that people sometimes confuse ‘guilt’ and ‘shame.’ they are two very different things. ‘wallowing in guilt’ is a little closer. but…
~Guilt is feeling bad about what you do. 
Shame is feeling bad about who you are.~
or, a more in-depth definition of the two…
~Guilt is an awareness of failure against a standard. Shame is a sense of failure before the eyes of someone else.
In other words, guilt is about disobedience to a law or code, but shame is how I perceive others see me (or how I see myself).~
so, as has been said already, guilt definitely has a place. and when you know what it means, it’s not something you have to ‘be careful with.’ shame, yes. guilt, no. thank God for the realization of it. and for true repentance that comes after that…and true healing that can then come. Praise God!! *Finally!!!!* (lots has happened this month…april…the whole story will be told on the blog eventually)
I also responded, still that same day, to those who would accuse me of 'inviting' such things by writing about it (and this bears repeating here again since so many in the past month have felt free to strongly voice their uninvited opposing opinions)...
joel is not around at the moment and won't be able to comment for a while (a couple of days). but i will go ahead and reply here. thank you for some of the nice things you said. but, i do also want to address the other things too, and address *everyone* who might read this with these things. 
i find it interesting that someone feels it's ok, or even remotely appropriate, to 'correct' me about anything in this way and about this subject. i just wonder honestly...who do they think they are? while i always want to be teachable, and i the same time, i will not tolerate such behavior. i find it interesting that someone believes that the doors are open to that (which is, in a way, an attack) just because i am telling our story publicly. if you have a problem and just can *not* keep it to yourself and can't move/scroll on, or you feel like the 'Lord told you to talk to me'...then do it as the Lord says to...privately. 
but, i want to be really clear, and i have been on the blog, that i *will tell my story.* i will. some might not like it. if they don't...they don't have to read it. but telling my story doesn't invite or open doors to attack...that is, again, blaming the victim here. what brings about attacks? people who are sinful and, as you said, say 'mean-spirited' stuff. who says mean-spirited stuff? people who are mean-spirited (or are at least acting in that way at the time about a certain thing). 
the person who actually talked about this first, publicly? joel. while i was quiet and didn't tell my story for years. the real reason for joel's public apology last night? we had spent all week going through emails and correspondence from the past 3 years. lots of which were joel...talking to others about me. completely slandering me. so, after we had gone through yet another email like that last night, he just got on facebook. i thought he was still typing in his notes. but no...he showed me this and said, 'i'm about to post it on facebook, if that's ok with you.' 
it was a nice, sweet surprise. really very sad and disappointing the mean-spirited people tainted it. but, it was *not* because they were invited to taint it. it's because they are mean-spirited. here we had had a grueling week going through all of that...had almost reached the end...he had posted that sweet post...and we were celebrating. only to be met with hatred this morning. and why did he do it...'publicly?' honestly because many people who would read it on facebook are people he had slandered me with. 
so, let me be very clear to you all. we have been very gracious. but, by no means is our opening up and telling our story an invitation or a door opening up to you to tell us how you think we are wrong by doing so, or to attack us in any way. no more. we're not asking for your suggestions on how we live our lives or how we heal our marriage. in any post really, but *clearly* not in this post!!
hopefully, by blocking/unfriending some of those mean-spirited people, that will cut down (and hopefully *eliminate*!) the 'drama' that we so do not like or invite or open doors to. 
but, we are going to share our story. period. the good, the bad, and the ugly. it helps us. it helps many others we know. if you don't want to read it or hear it, just simply move along. or hit the unfriend button. 
thank you. the end. any more attacks or 'suggestions' about how anyone thinks we should be doing things...those will just be deleted. just fyi. thanks!
sorry to be so blunt. but, sometimes blunt is needed. and lines have to be drawn. we love that many are finding the blog and our story helpful. hopefully the 'drama' will not come around anymore...and we can focus on only productive, healing, supportive comments and discussions for us all.
As you can see, Joel was already gone for the weekend at that point.  As was stated in a previous blog post, he called his sister while he was away (even though we had discussed it extensively and he had promised that he wouldn't).  His sister, a couple of days later, wrote me a Facebook message.  This was my firm-yet-still-gracious reply (when you look up the word 'longsuffering' in the dictionary, my picture can now be found there after all of these years)...
i’m going to start by responding to some things you said here.  i’m going to respond briefly to the accusations made on friday.  and then i will conclude with the reality of the situation.  we’ll get started…
“FB sometimes enables us to do/say things we never would in person” - actually, mature people don’t do that.  if they wouldn’t say it in person, they don’t say it anywhere.  
in a moment of irritation you gave into your flesh?  that’s what’s so crazy about it all.  why were you in a moment of irritation in the first place?  why the irritation?  
“i know we’ve not been helpful at times” - sadly, the truth is that you guys have never been helpful.  you’ve only harmed.  so, don’t fool yourselves.  
“I’ll be honest that, sometimes in my concern and sympathizing for Joel, i struggle with feeling frustrated/angry at you.” - again…that’s what’s so crazy about it all.  had your family actually talked to us about everything that had *actually* happened over the past few years, you would all see that there is *nothing* to be frustrated/angry at *me* about.  but…you guys refused to discuss anything.  while most of our emails that went back and forth when we first got back together and were trying to clear things up were not between us and you guys, you guys were included in many…and what *we* didn't include you in on, i’m quite sure you were either forwarded or told about.  you had the same chances anyone else did to discuss things and get the record set straight.  unfortunately, the first we hear from you since that time was on friday.  and you clearly have the same screwed up feelings and beliefs and attitudes that the rest of your family has, and has displayed continuously.  had you, or any of the rest of your family, actually listened to us in the beginning about the TRUTH, the whole ‘frustrated/angry’ feeling and ‘struggle’ you have wouldn’t even be an issue.  you all did it to yourselves.
after all of this for the past few years…and then trying for months to work with you guys only to be met with resistance and mean-ness and actions that just literally portray a HUGE amount of disrespect and hatred (and your comments on friday proves that you had the same thoughts/beliefs), we said, fine.  we tried.  no more.  we’re not spending our time on this when this was supposed to be the easy part that we were just getting out of the way so we could then focus on us and our healing.  it wasn’t the easy part…but we tried…and then we had to move on.  so we explained that clearly…gave multiple chances before that…and then set boundaries.  
and all of those boundaries have been continuously crossed.  you guys are seriously relentless.  it’s unbelievable just how disrespectful you all are…not just momentarily in the ‘heat of a moment’…but, *always.*  
after all of this, no…you are not my sister.  you guys are not our family. family doesn’t do that to each other.  family doesn’t treat people like you guys have treated us (yes, even joel…how completely disrespectful and hateful to continuously not listen to him and heed his pleas for discussion and to think of him as so weak of a person that he would be ‘controlled’ by someone else).  no…you’re not family.  we have already chosen others to fill those roles in our lives…it will no longer be you guys.  after friday, joel said simply, ‘no…we’re done with them.’ 
i hear what you’re saying here.  but, actions speak louder than words.  you never reached out.  then you do, and it’s to accuse.  very publicly and obnoxiously…and on a post of your brother’s that was incredibly special and signified a ‘breakthrough’ for us.  
to accuse me of hijacking his FB…or controlling him in any other way or in any of his other correspondence…simply ludicrous.  J wrote him and said that, ‘anyone with slight to moderate linguistic experience should be able to easily tell that the particular usages of grammar and punctuation are almost identical to the ones Michawn uses in her posts and comments…’  we read that and just laughed.  apparently he has ZERO linguistic experience!  we started looking at all the many differences.  1) first and foremost, i would NEVER make all of those typos, lol, 2) we just don’t speak the same way…i would never put things the way joel does, and vice versa, 3) he *always* capitalizes…i *never* capitalize (unless i’m posting something really short and do it on my iPhone and of course iPhone capitalizes automatically), 4) even little things like when he uses a series of periods to separate phrases (like i just did there in #3), he uses 4 periods…i *always* use 3, etc. etc.  there are more things i could list, but that should be enough to prove our point that it was just *completely ridiculous and disrespectful and OBNOXIOUS like i’ve never seen obnoxious and hateful* for you guys to say those things.  and…why would you want to be bullies anyway?  we’re just floored by your incredibly immature behavior in general.  again…not just for one day.  but for years.  
you guys being ‘so sure’ that what you were saying on friday was right is just more of what your family has been doing all along…so sure you’re right…when you guys aren’t right about anything.  
i am glad that people are seeing you for who you guys really are though.  i saw a friend of mine last night and she was like, ‘wow…joel’s family is crazy.  i would’ve never known exactly what was going on…but, they have all outed themselves.  what is wrong with them?  they sound like they just hate you.  and when they hate joel’s wife, they hate joel.  but, at least they are showing their true colors.’  
now, in going forward, the respectful thing to do is to 1) not contact us in any way, shape, or form…don’t even reply to this message, 2) stop thinking the way you guys are thinking…it’s completely false (and we tried to discuss it all so you guys would know the truth about that, but you refused) and highly disrespectful and divisive, 3) stay away and encourage all of your other cohorts/family members to do the same…we’re done with being understanding and giving grace in this area.  if anyone as much as bats an eyelash wrong at us, they will be deleted from our lives.  unfortunately, somehow this message still got to me.  so i guess i need to ‘block’ instead of just ‘unfriend.’  hopefully you’ll be respectful enough to just not reply to this though.
Of course, now when I read things like this and know what I know, I see that they were being encouraged to keep contacting us.  The boundaries we had husband had turned his back on me and run back and hopped the fence again.  And had been on the other side of that fence the whole time.

For him to be able to say to me on Friday, "no...we're done with them" and promise me that he wouldn't call his sister...and then hours later turn around and call his sister...and never stop being in contact with them:  these are very, very disturbing facts.

It's sin.  Sin that he continuously gets away with...for which no one holds him accountable.

He was playing me.

He knew it.  They knew it.

I'm the only one who didn't know it.

So...that's how our April ended.  And these last few posts gives you just a little glimpse into my world with Joel and his family.

The here-and-now update is next, I promise.  It will be posted tomorrow morning.