Thursday, November 29, 2012

How to go back to your husband

My stipulations for returning:

*Counseling. Which he says he wants to get anyway, so I'm perplexed as to why he's not calling her up to schedule a time. I know denial is still battling for premium seating in his stadium of consciousness. I'm hoping he doesn't wait so long that tickets are sold out when responsibility comes to call.

*Read and process this. I printed off both chapters and put the pages in neat little page protectors inside a binder. I couldn't have possibly made it easier for him. It's still sitting unopened on his dresser.

Simple enough, right?

I stayed with him Monday and Tuesday nights. When I hadn't seen any progress I decided to go back to the townhouse with my roommate last night. My husband called and asked why and I told him as directly, and sweetly as I could that it felt as though my return was just assumed and that he hadn't done anything that I'd asked him to. As is his way, he shrugged my decision off like it didn't mean anything to him, but was sweet in return.

This is the waiting game. I honestly don't know how it will end.

Meantime, I think I ovulated early. Like around Thanksgiving. I woke up early Tuesday morning with a sense that something was different. I've been a little sensitive to smells, a little sensitive gastrointestinally, a little fuzzy down there, a little tingly in the breasts. I don't know what to think. I've been under a lot of stress. Sometimes the hormones do funny things to me when I'm under stress.

I'm going to University of Humble Pie in a few short minutes to assure myself that they've received all my admission materials. I've been approved for full PELL grant.

My husband admitted that he is jealous that I'm going back to school.

M— won first place for visual art at her high school for the annual Reflections Contest. E— is struggling to manage his grades and his life. L— tells me that the 10 minutes of reading from the Book of Mormon is making all the difference in her life. B— has the hardest time letting me go at night.

As mother and children, we're surviving on a single family prayer and personal scripture study. I think the Spirit and its guidance is and has been far more present in our lives than I've ever given him credit.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

First steps toward what comes next

Remember the whole college threat from a couple of months back? Well, it's gonna happen. The Lord rigged it so that I'd catch on today. 

My home teacher/first counselor in the bishopric gave me a blessing after church today. I was ready to emotionally implode, so it lined up nicely with my goal not to completely lose it this weekend. I have just enough direction and guidance to begin to move into the shadows. 

So first thing tomorrow, I must call University of Northern Jell-O until I reach a bonafide human who can help send my transcript to University of Humble Pie, which (Miss Meliss) I'm diggin' on at the moment. I'm still thinking English with a Creative Writing emphasis unless someone who knows better can change my mind. But I'm in no real hurry to finish any longer. Anything to constructively funnel all this pain and need for patience.

My home teacher/first counselor in the bishopric is also a financial aid guru for a technical school. He has offered to go over my FAFSA with me tomorrow to ensure that I get as much help as I can for living as well as for tuition.

Next item up for bid: To continue to live separate from my children or to hit up the bishop for further help to rent that house that's just opened up around the corner? My husband offered to vacate the house we shared for my use during the separation, which is kind and all. But who's to stop him from moving back if it doesn't work out? I guess I should get a hold of the bishop and ask what he thinks. Under current circumstances my kids are struggling to maintain. I'm struggling to maintain. Maintenance it shall be until we settle on what to do.

I could leave it at that, but tonight I'm feeling a load of resentment again for my husband. I texted him last night that it made no sense that we're in this mess because he hurt me, and instead of doing anything to help he's off playing and basking in the camaraderie of family members who don't have the slightest clue what's gone on and who won't because he's not going to 'fess up to everything he's done. 

I'm hurt. Wounded. I'm trying so hard to have charity and to be forgiving, but in the broad scheme of fair my slice is wanting.

I need to not stay here too long, but I think this is part of healing. Tonight I'm going to allow myself the ache and I'm going to put the responsibility where it belongs.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Solo, the days blur together

I feel like I'm losing it.

I spent three hours in the temple with M— doing baptisms. Mary's husband Jacob is baptized and confirmed. My husband said he'd do the initiatory and endowment the next time we go together. Only a short time away from sealing Mary and Jacob and then Josie to them. When I am doing the work I feel "together" and at peace. I feel direction and calm.

Outside the temple I think I'm slipping, and I don't really know how to deal.

My husband is in Idaho. I'm the one falling apart and he goes on vacation. Not gonna lie, I'm resentful.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday

M— and B— took me to the mall for Wreck-It Ralph. It was my way of celebrating.

I am no longer a shelter resident. I moved into the townhouse owned by a recent divorcee in my ward. I have a private room and a private bath, and as much as my heart reached out to the women at the shelter, I have peace of mind knowing that no one is going to hit me up to share drugs or constantly be inviting me to go out for a smoke or to just have a morning cup of coffee. I have survived a week and a half of being surrounded by old vices that I used to turn to when in need of the comfort I need now. 

Thanksgiving was just about the strangest I can recall. I was worried about talking about it previously because I was still at shelter and under strict rules not to contact my husband. I suck at the rules. We had a "dinner date" at Zupas on Wednesday night that I had to lie about, and I decided to risk spending Turkey Day with him too.

No, I'm not going back to him. At least not yet. But a couple that means to work it out has to start repairing damages sometime and my scheduling didn't jive with the shelter's.

So I made chicken salad sandwiches. I bought craftily shaved carrots called "baby", a bag of SunChips, two oranges, and a box of cocoa mix. I told him to bring quilts, firewood and matches, and a thermos of boiling water. We met at the staircase at the southwest corner of LDS University of Choice at noon and then drove into the canyon. There is a park on the right side of the highway a few miles in from Happy Valley Falls. We turned in here and wandered into the hills until we found a campsite that featured fire pit, stream, and picnic table. And there we cuddled next to the fire, gave thanks, and ate chicken.

All this may seem picturesque and surface-level, but these encounters lead to long hours holding each other, and unraveling the puzzle of our limping marriage. My husband is facing facts about himself that I don't think he's ever acknowledged before. He knows he needs help to overcome tendencies and behaviors that are damaging to our union. I, in turn, know what I need to overcome to love with charity and to get the love that I deserve. We're only just scratching the surface, but at least there is a starting point. The wound is beginning to heal. Repentance has begun.

My husband will be going to counseling, because he wants to, because he knows change must happen to save "us". I will continue with Anick for all the same reasons. He asks me for a time frame because he wants me home, and I can't give it. I know this may take many long months. Only the Spirit knows when it is truly safe. I continue to pray that we can stay on course.

It's not time to go home yet, but if we continue in this path that time will come.

Meantime, I am trying to keep my chin above water. I am still very, very blue. Emotional and physical exhaustion are taking their toll. I am so so weary. My kids are wanting less and less time with me and I ache. I'm in a state of loneliness like the peanut that the elephant sat on. No light. No air. Just crushing weight.

I'm dog paddling for hope, gulping the current like it is release.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Solo, day seven

The first week is over.

Yes, I've still done the right thing. No, I'm not going back. And after four hours in the temple today doing work for Mary, my great-great-grandmother Josie's mother, I came away with direction. It's never been absent. My husband desperately needs help, and I can't, CAN'T go back unless and until he gets it.

After the endowment session I sat for some time in sealing room six, where my husband and I were married. Experiences like that, when the spirit is so strong that it radiates through my bones, leave me certain that the Lord is over all, watching, guiding and directing. My sealing is intact. My covenants stand resolute. My only sadness is that in the present situation I cannot enjoy such moments with my husband.

I didn't ever panic, but when I came out of the temple I noticed that he'd called. I listened to the pocket-dialed voicemail: Arrow 103 radio and my husband's voice obviously not directed at me saying something or other about his vehicle getting 110 miles to 1/4 tank. I listened once more before I decided to text him and ask if I could see him briefly. I needed to know where his heart lay amid the past weeks' uncertainty.

He didn't respond for half an hour. I picked up M-- to go shopping for dinner for the women and children at the shelter that evening. And then he texted back asking when and where. I drove to his work with M-- asleep in the passenger seat next to me. I roused her enough to explain what I was doing. She didn't seem alarmed and nodded back off.

I got out and walked up the stairs to my husband's office. He came out and met me halfway. It was awkward. I mentioned his haircut and shave. He said it didn't itch as much this way, and I said that was good. And then somehow we were holding each other and he was shaking with tears and emotion in my arms. He apologized. True, heartfelt, tear-laden words of apology for hurting me as he had, so many times. He said he didn't mean to do it, and I told him I knew, but pleaded that he must, must get help. I told him I couldn't come home until he got the help and it was safe for me, and he said he knew. I said I would wait for however long it took. He said I wasn't obligated, that I didn't have to. And I said I didn't feel obligated and that I wanted to and that I knew who he was under all of that and that I want to. His eyes were wet with humility and remorse. I said I would only wait if he wanted me to. He said he only wanted me to if I wanted to, and I told him flat out that that wasn't good enough. Of course he wanted me, he said. I told him to give it all to the Savior, all of it, whatever it is, and I begged again for him to get help. He nodded.

The bishop has told him not to pressure me or contact me unless I contact first. I told him that was good. I didn't know when I would see him or contact him again, but I would. I told him I loved him and that I forgave him the moment he finally walked out the door last Tuesday. He said he loved me in return and thanked me for loving him so purely. I told him I couldn't help it, that's just how it is. We embraced again and I kissed him, and he kissed back. Then, I knew the briefly was over and that I needed to leave.

I told him I would be in church again on Sunday if he is there. He nodded and said goodbye. He watched me  leave. He waved.

My heart is comforted that I have done the right thing. I am doing the right thing. I don't know how it's all going to play out during this separation, but this is how it must go.

M-- and I drove to the shelter and made Amish Breakfast Casserole, a creamy fruit salad, and tossed greens for dinner while M-- played with the babies. When it was served I've never seen the children eat so well. Some of them came back for fourths. Their mothers thanked me profusely and told me to go spend some time with my daughter. We gave a ride to one of the women to 7-Eleven to get her smokes, and decided that since it was dark we would give her a ride back.

I feel a little guilty because I know the "rules". But I haven't backed down. I wasn't manipulated. In fact, I know my course better than I did before. In that I am basing my justification.

However long it takes. 1 Corinthians 13. The atonement of Christ and charity are the only things that can save this marriage. I can live alone knowing that is the long term goal.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Solo, day six

Dejected. The separation from my kids, and yes, even my husband, is taking its toll. 

I'm losing hope. I can't see what's ahead. I pray and yet can't tell for certain what to do or where to go.

My bishop spoke with my husband yesterday. Their appointment followed immediately after the bishop stood at the pulpit in Sacrament meeting and offered a fiery directive to center our homes and families around the Savior and his atonement and a powerful blessing that if we will the righteous desires of our hearts will be ours. I knew his words were meant specifically for my family. I folded an origami lily and took it to the bishop to deliver to my husband. "He'll understand," I said.  I've heard nothing from the bishop since. I'm trying to be patient, but my heart is aching. 

E-- told me he sat next to my husband in priesthood meeting. He admitted that he'd told my husband that he hated what was going on. My husband told him it may take some time, but that it would all work out. I don't know how that's supposed to be deciphered.

The Relief Society president informed me that there are housing options available for me in the ward. The bishop is supposed to be filling me in on those as well. Nothing was said as to whether those arrangements were for me only, or for me and the kids.

M-- called me at 12:30 a.m. in a panic attack. I spent the next hour on the phone calming her. We prayed together, I talked her through prep for bed, and then I play the "think about" game as my mother did with me when I was small...

Think about rainbows.
Think about kittens.
Think about all your favorite Homestucks.
Think about me there stroking your hair.
Think about Jesus.

She told me it would be best if I hung up first.

I went to the high school this morning to request assignment deferments in her behalf. M-- is a straight A student. I knew the teacher would understand. I could see she wanted to reach out and hug me when I explained our circumstances, but my defenses are up and I didn't welcome more than a pat on the arm. After school was out I picked M-- up and we spent some alone time, even catching the closing performance of "Hello Dolly" at the high school. By the end of the show I'd made the decision to leave a post-it on my husband's vehicle. 

All it said was--"Ditto."

His last text, Friday, was simply I love you and I miss you. Hopefully he makes the connection. Hopefully it matters.

I know what the rules are, but it is difficult for me to make decisions without communicating with him, without knowing where he is on the page. If we're even on the same page.

I'm so sad I can barely deal. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Solo, day four

I didn't have the time to get to the library yesterday, and staff wouldn't allow me on the computer yesterday. I apologize to everyone who may have been concerned. 

To be honest, I'm a little scared. Not because I think that I'm in any real danger, but because my hits have gone through the roof and I'm not always certain of their sources. I've only given the URL to about ten souls. I'm praying they account for all 300 pings of interest in the last week.

I am once again in possession of reliable transportation. It makes a world of difference. Sleep is ever illusive, so I push through days doing my best not to give in to exhaustion.

Today my ward Relief Society held its holiday Super Saturday. I'd signed up for far more crafts than anyone should, and paid for them before I knew I was leaving. I arranged to pick up my daughters at 10 a.m. and together we joined the throng of Mormon women from our ward making holiday gifts and crafts for a couple of hours. It's so unlike me that it was quite lovely; entirely nice to abandon the reality of where I'm at in life to glue and cut and trim and stamp. We came away with one muffin tin advent calendar completed, two more in the works, and several jeweled trinkets my youngest daughter had fashioned with metal stamps and crystals. Maybe this is why women do this sort of thing in the first place--to immerse oneself in decoration and forget reality.

I picked up my youngest son and between him and the three of us girls we stormed Deseret Industries for a pair of dress slacks for my boy, a coat for L--, a lengthy phone chat with my mom, and an NIV Bible for one of my sister refugees who is Southern Baptist and was stranded here by her husband with absolutely nothing. Of the two spiritual confirmations I received today, the fact that she needed that Bible was one of them.

Once that task was completed I finally got to making dinner for all the women and children staying at this location. M-- worked on an acrylic  portrait of me, L-- played with the babies, and B-- was himself in his private world while I put together two pans of chicken enchiladas (my specialty at home), a green salad, and a barge of a bowl of grapes. Talk about warm my heart. Seeing the kids dig in, and hearing the women mmm-ing and aw-ing as they did. I told them I'm up for it whenever they like. I even take requests. This evening, no matter how small, I made a difference in the world of people who are stressed and somewhat frightened and entirely unsure what the future brings. Tonight this location felt like home.

It pained me to drop off my children, but I'll be back tomorrow morning to get them for church. We'll see how well I can orchestrate that. I'm nervous. I'm not going to lie. My husband texted me midday yesterday, just to say he loved and missed me. Today, he hasn't texted at all. I haven't spoken to him since he stormed out of our house on Tuesday morning yelling that I was a child, over-reacting to his belittling mistreatment by crying, and that I was damaging my son by holding him and protecting him from the shouting and anger. 

B-- told me tonight, "I know what you could have done different. You could have just let dad take me to school, instead of telling him that you would do it when he was yelling."

My mom says B-- feels he's at fault since he wanted me to take him.

So tomorrow, should I run into him, I really don't know what I will say or do. I can't return. Not until he has accepted that he needs help, until he's received that help, until he has changed sufficiently that it is no longer an emotional threat to me or my kids.

I tell myself that if he is willing, I can wait. I will too. I just pray that I get the chance. I'm praying for miracles.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Solo, day two

I'm together on the outside. I even had one of the kids here ask me if I'm staff. 

Inside, it's a different story.

I miss my husband. He texted at 3:20 a.m. begging me to come home and talk, to fight for our marriage, that he was sorry for hurting me, that he can't nor does he want to do this without me. Kudos to the real staff who listen when I finally break down at the end of the day and level what I'm feeling. I asked the night manager how many women come here thinking that if their husbands get help and change that they'll be able to go home. She told me the answer was half, and that of those that return to their original situations none of them go home to healthy, lasting relationships.

I know what that means. I'm separated. I'm going to be separated indefinitely. I may even divorce based on whether my husband is willing and demonstrates follow through to reach out and get the help he needs.

I still feel like I'm the one who was left.

My bishop called to tell me that my husband had emailed him to find out where I was and what was up. He's only been told that I'm in a safe place and that I'm mulling over the situation, considering my options. They will meet to discuss the present circumstances in greater detail on Sunday. 

I'm still trying to figure out how to get myself and my kids to church without having a confrontation. I'll have to bring it up with staff in the morning. (I'm on the computer in my undisclosed location. Perfect considering the upcoming info...)

This day has been packed with events.

8:45-10:30 a.m. I had the root canal done. The infection was the nastiest thing I've ever smelled. Thank you, ex-dentist from four years ago.

11 a.m. I dropped off my van at a shop in the next town up. Gas leak. They brought me back to town.

Noon-2:30 p.m. I slept. I'm still physically exhausted, and it's difficult playing catch-up when I have the future bearing down on me.

2:30-4 p.m. I received an email from OAKE National Children's Choir informing me that my daughter L-- had been accepted to next year's conference in Hartford, Connecticut. I started spreading the news. By 3:30 she called to inform me that her vocal teacher at school said she hadn't been accepted. L-- and I began efforts to contact the teacher about the discrepancy. 

4:30-5 p.m. I walked to the local Coffee Shop and learned that some dear, anonymous friend had left me a $40 gift certificate. I sat and enjoyed the late afternoon light, sipping my yerba mate, and wrote a bit of poetry. L--'s teacher emailed me apologizing for the mix-up, but verified that L-- had not been accepted. I called L--'s dad with the news. He volunteered to break it to her. Because I don't have a vehicle I haven't been able to see my kids today. It's probably the hardest part of the day.

6-7:15 p.m. Group. There are tough cookies at this place. The support is phenomenal, and for the first time I felt the cracks in my "with it" exterior coming to light. Tissues.

7:15-8 p.m. One of the women dropped me off at the grocery store to purchase my evening meal. Yogurt smoothie, banana, granola bar. I have to remind myself to eat.

8:20ish-9:30 Open mic poetry back at the Coffee Shop. I read. I saw people I love. It was the best I've felt all day.

9:30-10:30 I caught a ride back to my location and got down to helping with daily chores. I'm starting to open up to the other women here. We all relate on different levels. We've all been hurt. We're all just trying to move to the next part of life as gracefully as possible. Some of us are worried about whether or not we'll go back. Some are worried about what man they'll go to next. Some are just looking to secure long-term housing. 

My biggest plan is to cook dinner for everyone tomorrow night. I'm not doing well not taking care of people. I think that's my coping mechanism. Service. Love. Being positive.

The staff all say it, I'm emotionally healthy. I have a great attitude and an honest view of the situation.

So I'm just keeping the dialogue open with God that he'll take the helm and steer this ship to port. Show me the way through the fog.

I'm hoping to get to the temple tomorrow. Even if I have to walk a mile in heels.

M--, if you read this tonight, I love you. I miss you. Take good care of each other and I pray I'll see you tomorrow. GIGANTOS HUGS!!!

G'night world.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Solo, day one

I'm safe.

Where to start? I'm a the library, which seems the only place I'll be able to update SSW for the time being. I'm actually not allowed at present to disclose my housing location. Nor am I allowed to contact my husband, which is difficult. He texted at 9:30 last night asking me, "Please [Gudri] come home and talk to me. Please."

I'm glad I left. I know it was the right thing. But as is usual with domestic violence victims, part of me wants to go back.

My Relief Society President is hugely supportive, having known my husband for sixteen years and, while caring about him, isn't blind to the abuse that is his pattern of conduct in familial relationships.

Might I say for the record... Everything that my husband told me his first wife accused him of and that he subsequently denied, everything, he has also done to me. I've dealt with her on some account, and I realize there is emotional maturing that needs to take place on her side (Who wouldn't be emotionally stunted after 22 years of this treatment?), but my husband's ex is a saintly, strong woman who has sacrificed much for her kids. I have wronged her any time I may have spoken of her in unkindness. I am remiss.

That said, my heart's desire is to be reconciled with my husband. I'm not stupid. I realize that in order for this to happen he must undergo intensive, long-term individualized therapy to overcome learned behaviors that presently he will not acknowledge. He must change. Going back just enables further abusive behavior. I haven't been able to speak to him, so I don't know if this is even a possibility, or even a reasonable hope for the future. But it's where I'm at, and what I want.

What that would entail... A lengthy separation. I have resources available to try and establish housing for myself. My children are all presently with my first ex--bless his heart--and they may stay there for some time. I'm doing my best to stay in close contact with them through texts and phone calls, and I visit as often as I can. For being gone only a day, however, it feels I've been without them for a lifetime. Not having them constantly around, not having the routine of caring for them hampers my spirits. But I've taken children into houses of safety before, and while it is "safe", it is discomforting and not emotionally nor geographically stable when familiar surroundings are. So I'm sacrificing having them with me for their well-being over my own. 

Tomorrow, my first order of business once this root canal* is completed will be to reapply for housing assistance. I've spoken with my bishop who is a phenomenal support. He is hopeful that I would be able to find housing for myself within ward boundaries while I wait out the duration of the separation should my husband agree that a separation with intent to reconcile is what he wants. If he doesn't choose this option then I haven't left my husband; he has abandoned me. (Which runs in line with the emotions I was swamped with last night. It's funny. I don't feel like I am the one who's left.)

My bishop hasn't yet been in contact with my husband, so I am uncertain how my departure may have impacted the situation, for good or ill. What I do know is that I'm being encouraged not to return unless it is absolutely what the Spirit prompts me to do.

And so as friends have asked me what they can do I tell them to pray that inspiration and mental clarity will coincide and that without doubt I will know the Lord's will for me and my family. Also, if those offering prayers in our behalf would pray that my husband's heart be softened... The night before I left my family read the scripture from 1 Nephi 18 where Nephi's brothers had bound him on the ship in crossing to the Promised Land. It came to my mind last night. 

 20 And there was nothing save it were the power of God, which threatened them with destruction, could soften their ahearts; wherefore, when they saw that they were about to be swallowed up in the depths of the sea they repented of the thing which they had done, insomuch that they loosed me.

I sense the Lord on the conductor's block, baton raised, and a great storm brewing around my husband.

I am free to come and go as I please. I need time in the temple for reflection and spiritual refueling. I need to be there often. I also need my friends around me. If you have my number, please call if you have time available and maybe we could visit the temple together, or hang and pretend like life is normal and it's just girls getting together to be girls.

I love all of you. I feel the strength from your prayers for me. 

Someday, I'm going to be there for all of you in some way or another. These blessings do not go unnoticed.

*I don't have a cavity. A former dentist left a deep filling in my molar which has irritated and caused infection in the nerve of the root. The infection is now destroying the tooth. I'm in the beginning stages of an abscess that the dentist claims wouldn't have been detectable even a week ago on x-ray. And it has absolutely nothing to do with my brushing habits. My ward is covering the cost of all the dental work.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

I'm leaving

I'm packing and heading to safety as I type.
I'll be in touch when I can.

Toothache and tyranny

I was up all night with pain in my jaw.

While I was up I wrote and sent this:

I’ve been laying awake, praying and pondering for hours.

I’ve decided to share these thoughts with you. It is not my intention to hurt you. I am searching for solutions and I need to be honest.

B— came to me this afternoon and asked, “Do dads sometimes break moms’ hearts?”

I was struck and asked him why. 

He said, “Because I hear you crying when you are with dad and I think he is breaking your heart. If dads do break moms’ hearts does that still mean that they love each other?”

I told him not to worry, that he is loved and all will be well.

For a year and a half, perhaps even before that, we have found ourselves in a cadence that some would call the cycle of abuse. I acknowledge that neither of us is without fault in participating in and escalating this cycle. Bishop Clark has advised me that rather than counseling he feels we need the Atonement. As I’ve thought long and hard about what that might entail I have realized that the gift offered us is not simply a request that we forgive and move on. Forgiveness does not equal reconciliation. Without active repentance and change happening on either side the cycle will continue. At present we are in the lull of that cycle, exchanging patience and pleasantries while tension builds before the next eruption. I bring these thoughts to you now to try and dispel that tension and hopefully address the issues before the next cataclysm.

It is no secret that I am struggling. Emotionally and physically I can’t take much more relationship stress. My ability to allow myself to trust in you to treat me well and to protect me will not return even when I ask it to. Whenever we are together I am in fear that the state of affairs is only seconds from crumbling. I am ever on my guard and the tension is taking a toll. 

I am certain your own wellbeing is suffering too.

Presently, I feel trapped in the situation. I do not see how to make the marriage better, and I wonder if walking away would indeed be the best option for all those involved. I do not feel safe expressing myself when we are together, and I do not feel you take my concerns, thoughts, feelings on problematic topics seriously. Our expectations of one another seem ever in conflict, even when we exert our best efforts conditions deteriorate, and our children are on the sidelines witnessing the downward spiral.

I have wondered many times since if we made the right decision to marry. That question is neither here nor there as we made the choice and must now answer the consequences. 

I had hoped initially for an equal, a confidante, a companion, a fellow parent, a partner in faith. I rarely feel that I am viewed as any of those things. I feel, instead, that you view me as a child and forget the strength, wisdom, and vitality that I offered you at the beginning of our union. 

As you said once, you felt you had a lot to offer the right woman. I felt the same of the right man. Anymore, I feel I have nothing of worth to give you beyond my presence at your arm in public to complete the appearance that you have your life in order, and then occasionally when you decide you want company every other weekend. Granted, I believe I have expected you to be there for me as a friend and companion far more than is sometimes reasonable or right. And perhaps I should take off my rose-colored spectacles and re-explore my life without you by my side more often. Though if I return to not needing or wanting you around, what was the point in marrying in the first place? I wonder at the words of the apostles who say that marriage can be the most fulfilling and satisfying relationship a man and woman can have on this earth. I don’t know that I will ever know what that is like as our expectations clash.

And then there is the trouble of allowing myself to be sexually, emotionally and spiritually close to you. Frankly, I no longer want it. Not from lack of love, but that the resulting desire to bear you a child is far too painful and confusing in its loneliness. I have studied, prayed, and fasted long for help, but even in the calm the Lord imparts all I am met with are stark, constant reminders that this is my role and purpose within this marriage, regardless of whether you want it or feel you need me for it. I could share scripture and prophetic counsel and point to indications that you would choose not follow, but I will spare myself further pain. The Lord has guided me to ask you again and again. I see the Lord giving you signs as well that you refuse to acknowledge. I see faith that you are unwilling to grow. I see the blessings of Abraham open and unaccepted before us. I see the restoration of Job offered to you, and I am, truly, heartbroken that you will not partake. 

Aside from the unborn, I have children who need a father, the linking ordinances of the gospel, a spiritual guide, and a priesthood leader. I do not believe it is a coincidence that when you prayed for a woman to be dropped in your lap bearing all the gifts and attributes that you requested, that she came to you physically and mentally strong, of childbearing age, with children already present who were in need of your guidance through the second veil.

Where much is given, much is required.

I cannot make this marriage or this family blending work on my own. At present it is you and your children, and me and my children, and no sense of unity even in our marriage. The lot of us are no more than roommates. I need you to join with me and actively help lead in the scripture study, family prayer, FHE, observance of the Sabbath, and peace that existed in my home before I met you. I need us to pray as a couple. I need us to study the scriptures together. I need what I believed you had offered in asking my hand in marriage. I had believed we would create our own house of the Lord.

I have hoped since day one for the healing you spoke of in your letter to the First Presidency when requesting permission to be sealed to me. I hope now for that hope to return, but I am left without recourse. I need your help to know what you want to do. I already suppose that you are either fine with the present situation as often happens, and that you believe these words harsh and ungrateful, or that you too are unfulfilled and need to be able to express your concerns and desires for our marriage. 

It does us no good not to wash out this wound, air these problems and actively work to create a plan together to correct them. There is no forgive, let go and move on without joint repentance. 

Please. Think on it.
Please, don’t be angry.
Please. Try to understand.

I found a cavity in my molar this morning. It sent him into a rant about my brushing habits. That I brush before I eat. And sometimes I do, but not every day, and never the only time that day. He scolded me like I was a child until I had crumpled and broken. I said I would take my son to school and he flew into a rage. In the door, out again, repeatedly, mocking my fear with mimicry and more taunting.

"I'm not leaving until this is fixed."

My boy was confused and afraid. I knelt over him to protect him from the yelling. Finally my husband left. I drove B— to school.

"Are you going to get remarried?" he asked.

I emailed my bishop via FB as soon as I returned home because my husband won't give me the bishop's private email unless I tell him why I'm emailing. It's only been a week and one day since my husband's last verbal and emotional tirade.

My mistake was that after I wrote the letter I softened and curled up next to him in bed. I know not to leave myself exposed like that. I know.

Monday, November 12, 2012


If you zoom out, we're doing okay with the normal ups and downs of marriage. If you zoom in, at rapid shutter speed it looks more like this.

The weekend is over. There is no such thing as "us" in some sort of attachment to Friday-Saturday-Sunday any longer. There is only surviving with the kids around or surviving when they're not. The two instances can be both positive and negative.

And then there are the days in between.

The cycle began when I moved to Happy Valley. I keep pushing the date back, because I keep looking with more and more clarity at the development of our relationship and the patterns that existed from nearly the beginning. In the last two years it has gone through varying stages and rough approximations of a wheel that looks like this:

My mother tells me from an outsider's perspective the abuse is escalating.

The last sexual incident, Halloween night, as left me with headaches, flashbacks and body memories that will not resolve themselves. He attributes the ache and pains to a cold no matter how many times I clearly explain what he has done and what those actions have done to me.

The last emotional/verbal incident, a week ago Sunday, has left me feeling completely isolated, nearly hopeless, and completely frightened to trust him even when his behavior is "good." Although "good" always comes back around, and in the past I have given in, this weekend I found I could not.

His solution: Forgive me, let it go, move on. 

I rarely if ever get full, heart-felt apologies, and the sorry never lasts. Apology is usually, "I don't think I've done anything wrong. I'm sorry you think I have."

My mother told me last night that forgiveness ≠ reconciliation. And so I can forgive. I do. But until our wheel is acknowledged by more than myself, until the spokes are crumbled, until I feel safe, there is no full reconciliation. 

I tell myself that abusers are not all bad. I know I've hurt him. I've yelled back, (though never when he's grown silent and retreated to another corner of the house to weep privately, or when he had lost a child, or when he was cowering in fetal position with his fists balled over his ears, as seems to be his style of tyranny at its worst.) It's been months, but I can own that I've thrown punches. The fact that I'm abusive seems to be graven in stone according to him. It's never accepted that it's the other way around. And so I tell myself that he's not all bad. Good men and women can have abusive tendencies and learned behaviors that are not the full sum of their parts. I can give the benefit of the doubt, but I cannot let my guard down.

Last time I saw my therapist I said the words out loud, "I am being emotionally, verbally, and sexually abused, and have experienced some level of domestic violence. I'm trapped. I don't know what to do."

And because I'm not ready to leave, she replied, "I don't know what to tell you." And we scheduled appointments for the month to come.

My mother recommended this book.

Thankfully my Nook hides it well enough that as long as I hide my Nook I feel safe having it in the house.

The reasons I stay:

I am financially incapable of leaving. 
Staying offers "stability" for my kids after my past two divorces.
I hope that he will change.
I feel guilt over the prospect of abandoning covenants.

The reasons I would go:

I am no longer in love with him, and loving him grows more and more difficult.
No one should ever be treated this way.
It is slowly destroying my will to live.
I don't know if he will ever change.

Last time I spoke with my bishop he said our marriage needs the Atonement, not therapy. I want to believe that is inspired direction. But I know, deep down, that it is not. My husband presents well, while I am the bipolar wife with a crooked past. I don't hold it against my bishop, but I don't think he's looked closely at the developing print in his hand. 

The Atonement is not just about forgive, let go, move on. There must be repentance as well.

Because I stay, I suppose you could say I'm waiting for that to happen.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Where Genesis leaves you guessing, consider this the Book of Moses

I'm glad you're here.

You make it so I don't feel nearly as alone on bad days. You make it so I have someone I feel I can share my joys with on the good days.

This could be called the next chapter in a long book of rewrites. 

I am a woman, a mother, an artist, a survivor of mental illness, a Mormon. The role ever shifts.

The last blog was doing well, but it wasn't safe for me to write there any longer. It was being used against me in a long string of manipulations and threats that have cyclically become my life.

I chose to be where I am, though there were plenty of crimson banners waving. To my defense, God never told me not to make these choices. But he was certainly upfront about the fact that life was going to be hard. I thought I could do that. I still do. But I need a voice, and at present I'm a little frightened to be open elsewhere.

I am living in a relationship that features bouts of emotional and verbal abuse, occasionally sexual manipulation, and rare-but-present domestic violence. And I'm done hiding the truth.

I love my husband. There are good days, sometimes weeks, and I'm not ready to walk away from my marriage. I know that will infuriate some, and I understand.

This blog is about my life, its joys and hardships, empowerment, and surviving. 

If you care to read, I thank you. If you get frustrated and decide you can't, I thank you for being with me while you could.

You and I are at the same point in this journey; unclear where the road may go. But standstill is not my style. First steps are always the most uncertain...

Shall we?