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.
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. No...it 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.
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.
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 uncomfortable...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.