I got a message from a friend who asked these things:
Once you found that email between Joel and the wife of his friend, did you confront him on it? or just keep it to yourself? Did that play a key part in you knowing it was time for the separation?So, in the telling of our story, and in telling about others, I have tried to make it as anonymous as possible. And so in telling the story about the email correspondence I found between the girl who was supposedly 'reaching out' to me and at the same time badmouthing me to Joel, I kept it very anonymous. But, in thinking through all that I have to write about in the future, and the way it needs to be done, and all the points that need to be made about the things we have learned...truly there is no way to keep it completely anonymous. The need for letting you know a particular thing about those people is inevitable. It is inevitable, so therefore I am going to go ahead and let you know...the 'wife' and Joel's 'friend' were actually family members. There's a lot more to that part of the story that will come out as we go along. But, to answer these questions here...
I did not confront Joel at the time. If you'll recall from my last post, I stated, "as time went on, and that got more and more the case (him going to others, him believing others...not believing me, etc.), then we talked less and less. i would always forgive, reconcile, start again, try again...but, during the pregnancy/miscarriage stuff and he was so awful...it had been 2 years by that point...and i was just out." And I really was just out.
I had the miscarriage. A couple of weeks later, Joel traveled to Brazil and was gone for 2 1/2 weeks. And...it was wonderful with him gone. That was a big eye-opener...just how incredibly peaceful and how much freedom (read: not oppression) I felt while he was gone. Joel got back the 2nd week of March 2014. I found that correspondence between he and the girl that had reached out to me (but was badmouthing me behind my back) and her husband (again...now you know...family members) the end of March. I also found some other things that I will get into later.
But, one of the other things I found I can tell you now...it was an email that he had sent, while he was in Brazil, to someone he knows in Brazil. It was concerning a job interview there in Brazil...something that he had never once discussed with me. I don't know just how seriously he was considering it (it was such a non-issue by the time we got back together in Sept., esp. as compared to all of the other things...so we just never really talked much about it), but he was planning to spend time there in an interview type situation while he was there in Brazil. He ended up sending them an email that day, though, saying (in Portuguese), "Ontem a noite, tive um tempo de aconselhamento que realmente identificou a nossa situacao como uma crise de depressao na minha esposa." In English: "Last night, I had a time of counsel which really identified our situation as a crisis of depression (depression crisis) in my spouse." He went on to tell them that, because of his wife's depression crisis, he felt it best to stay in the United States until the situation resolved.
It was interesting to me that I wasn't there at all and hadn't talked to these people myself (the people giving Joel counsel), but they had all sat around and diagnosed me (with something that I didn't have, btw, for those of you who may not remember). It had been decided that our marriage problems all stemmed from me...and that I was depressed and in a crisis. Joel and the people he was talking to (*my* friends too with whom he had decided to speak falsely about me) clearly had all the answers. How lucky for me! (that's sarcasm, btw)
Anyway, as you can see, I found a few 'interesting' things that day in his email. Things which just confirmed over and over...wow...the chasm between us that I thought was huge already...somehow it is even huger than I thought. It was disheartening and completely maddening. But, like I said...I was really done. I was just so exhausted with it all. It had been over 2 years at that point...I had tried to talk to him. Nothing worked. Nothing I said, no matter how I said it or tried to show it, worked to reveal the truth to his blinded self.
So, I said nothing. Honestly, I just felt like it didn't even matter anymore. I had tried...it was futile.
I wouldn't say that these discoveries in his email account played a key part in knowing it was time for separation, no. I found all of those things in his email the end of March (the 20th actually). He didn't move out until 2 months after that.
It was just another 'nail in the coffin' I'd say...one of the many, many nails. LOTS of nails, y'all.
As a friend told me just this weekend, "You give people a lot of chances."
So, in May 2014 when we separated, it was because it was just time to do so. I had wished that we could live apart ever since he had traveled to Brazil and everything was so peaceful (busy, because single parenting you do alone...but peaceful). But even though I wished for that, I had no peace about separating...until mid-May. The peace came. So, there were lots of things leading up to the separation (and finding that email doesn't stand out...it's just one of the many things that happened along the way)...but the peace that flooded me in mid-May about actually separating was the single key factor in knowing it was time to do so.
Hopefully that answers those questions sufficiently.
More, on some other things I found there in his email account, to come later in the blog series.
And some of the questions and comments I got the past few days will be explained as we go along in the blog, too. So for those things, I will not address them here...but they will eventually be addressed.
One more thing, though, I did want to touch on here. And it's really more of a personal request before we move on with the series...
I referenced a blog commenter last post...she had commented on the blog at Part 18. But, by the end of the day that we started commenting back and forth, she had erased her comments altogether...all except one. I wanted to address it in case you guys had seen this conversation in the comments...or if you had gone there only to find that they had all been erased (except one by her and all of my replies to her comments).
I invited her to come and really talk to me via email. She did write me an email...a very long email. It talked about how we were just very different. She used the analogy of art...and said that she was an oil painter. And in her world she sees multiple colors, whereas in my world, I see largely in black and white and get irritated with people who want to know what the other colors in my story are. She called me a pen and ink artist. She said things like this:
I am not going to waste your time right now, but because other people who see the world through eyes like I do, WILL from time to time come across your blog and MAY try to ask you questions which you will not understand, pardon me while I try to make myself understood.Look at that phrase again..."may try to ask you questions which you will not understand..."
This lady referred, over and over to me in her email, to having asked me questions. Here's the thing...she never asked me not one question. It wasn't that I was not understanding her questions...it's that she wasn't asking me any. So, here was my reply:
dear oil painter…Folks, I genuinely love discussion. I love talking about things that have happened and the things that we've learned from it. I love sharing with you all (obviously). But, assumptions and accusations are hard. I've had some people come to me with a real heart of concern...and I get their heart behind what they say. I know that they mean no harm and that they truly come out of love. But, whatever it is that you are concerned about...please take those concerns and voice these things in the forms of kind, loving questions that illicit the information you need in order to see if your concerns are valid or not.
and herein lies the problem. this email is filled with the problem. you just don’t see it. hopefully you will by the end of my email here. i pray you have ears to hear. because this is something that actually has the potential of revolutionizing one’s life and the way they relate to everyone with which they come into contact. it all boils down to this...
you come fulllll of assumptions. you come in this email…full of assumptions. you came to my blog…full of assumptions. what you saw as asking questions……….there weren’t any questions! lol. go back and look at your comments on my blog (all of them)…if you don’t have a record of them (now that you deleted them) i can send you one. but, there were absolutely no questions…except for the one that asked me if i was right this whole time (which was, of course, actually fraught with accusation, lol).
when you go to someone to clarify things, esp. someone you don’t know at all, you need to go NOT with your own set of assumptions and accusations that you’ve already formed. but, with actual questions!! you need to go with an open mind. you need to first, never assume things. you need to say to yourself, ‘i do not know this person. i only know this very limited part of her life, and about this tiny part of her life, i only know what she has written so far. there’s no way i can even form assumptions and accusations…and if i’m feeling the urge to do so, i need to genuinely go to her and ask first to get all of the information i need to form an opinion on the matter.’ if you have questions about the way something is, you need to go to that person and actually ASK instead of coming and stating how you feel about it. or coming and stating your assumptions…or coming and accusing that person of things. because you simply do not know what you are talking about.
and i tried to dissuade that in my comments back to you. but, you just kept going at it. no questions…just assumptions and accusations. i felt like my comment about your ‘splitting hairs’ was a little less harsh than ‘stop assuming and accusing here’…so i said that. but, what you need to do in the future is stop with the assumptions and accusations…and if you truly want to know more about a person, then you ask. ‘ask’ means actually asking questions…gathering more information WITHOUT assuming and accusing.
this email is full of the same. you know one minuscule part of me and my 40 years on this earth. so to say things like you’ve said here…just more of the same assumptions and accusations. have you been dreadfully hurt by pen and ink artists in your life? is that why you are quick on the draw and sure to get your assumptions in about them before they draw on you? is that why you want to try to make this about color vs. black & white (because that accusation and assumption is just blatantly false)? i don’t know. that’s why i’m asking. see…that is what you call a question. and if i was actually coming to your blog, esp. if you were in the middle of telling a story about lots of painful things, i would even word those questions in a much better way…without my own thoughts about the possibilities of your life and your story in them. because see...i don’t know anything about you. i would only be able to assume, but i don’t do that. and with assuming comes accusing without the proper information…and i don’t do that either.
it’s a learned art (esp. if it wasn’t modeled for you growing up)…how to ask for and gather information from someone, and at the same time showing great grace and empathy. and not just showing great grace and empathy…but when you walk away from that person, them feeling like they have been *bathed* in grace and empathy…instead of actually having been accused and assumed upon. no matter your personality type or how you see the world…*nobody* likes assumptions or uninformed accusations.
i would encourage you in the future to practice this discipline. the more you practice it, the more it will become 2nd nature (just like anything else in life). and i invite you to email me or participate in the blog too…but only if this is in practice. assumptions, and accusations without first gathering the information needed, will not be tolerated. that’s just the boundary that must be drawn to promote health in our lives.
a pen and ink artist
When someone comes stating a concern, it unfortunately is most often in the form of an accusation. For instance, in this lady's first comment on the blog, she said, among other things, this: "Please forgive me if I seem harsh or rude. Your husband was wrong. But I feel you have need of giving him grace & mercy." She feels I have a need of giving Joel grace & mercy? She doesn't even know us. And she's only heard part of the story of us, and that part is only from the past 3 years and how this all happened. There is definitely more to tell. Also, again...while I'm writing about past events, I write as if they are happening at this present moment in order to take you back to how that really was and how that really felt. And of course she might have that question about grace and mercy since she doesn't even know us. But, instead of making assumptions and accusations, she could have actually asked those 'questions' she so comically thought she had. She could have said something like, "Tell me about your relationship with Joel. Tell me what role grace and mercy has played in your lives during this time...I suspect a huge role, but please tell me more. Has it been an important part? I'm sure it's an ongoing need...can you give us an example of how grace and mercy were utilized and given in your relationship during all of these past hard times, and recently?"
See how that works? See how that is supportive and kind? I try to be clear in the telling of our story, but we all have different personalities and different backgrounds. Some of you know me in real life, so therefore you might understand my story-telling methods and the way I say things better. Some of you who even know me, may not. Then there are those of you who don't know me at all apart from the blog or the online world. If you only know me from this blog, and esp. from only this blog series, the view you've been given of me is very, very limited. If you're friends with me on Facebook, you have a little better idea of who I am since I post often about how I feel about things, what my views are on things, etc. But, then we're back to the different personalities and different backgrounds issue, even if you do know me.
Jumping to conclusions, assuming things, and making uninformed accusations...these things are never the answer and they do more harm than good, even if your intent is to help. "It's the thought that counts." Get me a gift and that might apply. Falsely accuse me of something...that phrase does not apply. Can I get an 'amen' from the congregation? ;)
Get informed first. And you can only get informed by asking questions. Questions that don't include assumptions or accusations.
Assume goodwill. I talk about this a good bit. But, assume goodwill. Even if you've read my blog and you think you know how a certain thing is, assume the best until proven otherwise. And the only way you can be proven otherwise is by asking me.
Hopefully I've hit this point on home, yes? lol. Again, I LOVE discussion. But, dealing with assumptions and accusations becomes very, very stressful. All of your genuine and kind questions are very, very welcome though...just remember that. I love hearing from you in that way. Hearing from you helps encourage me in this. So thank you.
Love you guys. Next time, we'll dive right back into it. It's kind of a rough one next time...it was rough on me anyway. Just be prepared.