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Archive for May, 2011

At 19 years old, I came to a crossroad in my life where the direction taken was completely in my control. Up to that point, my life had been about responding to circumstances and trying not to live as a victim of fate. With each life altering event that had occurred, I believed God had a reason for it all.

But now, here I was, with the power to determine my destiny by accepting or rejecting a marriage proposal from the one I had once thought I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. Yes, 6 months earlier, marrying this man would have been a dream come true for me, but now, having had time away from our unhealthy relationship, I had gained perspective and lost my virginity. Both making my decision so much more difficult.

Perspective allowed me to realize how degrading our relationship had been. And by the time it ended 6 months earlier, I had not an ounce of self-esteem left. I felt unworthy without ever understanding why. At the time he proposed, I knew that I wanted a relationship with someone who treated me with respect. Was he going to be able to change & provide that for me, or would our future be more of the same?

Promiscuity & no longer being a virgin would have definitely been a deal breaker, had he known. Would I be able to keep it from him? How unfortunate for me, that by giving away my virtue, I experienced for the first time, the power of my sexuality. I felt wanted & worthy of love. The devil’s way of twisting the truth . . .

The next few months became very complicated – correction – I made the next few months very complicated. I accepted the marriage proposal while inwardly challenging him to prove he’d changed, Outwardly and secretly I continued my licentious affairs. My new “fiance” was in name only. There was no ring, no announcement, no date set. He had not changed – but it really didn’t matter much in the end because he eventually found me out. We broke up for the final time and within weeks I discovered I was pregnant from a man I had been with a few times but barely knew.

Such a scandal ensued . . . This is what love did to me . . . This is what lust did to me . . . This is what he did to me . . . This is what I did to me.

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To tell people I grew up in a “strict environment” does not justly describe my upbringing. Not only were there the church rules to comply with, such as no make-up allowed, girls not wearing pants, no jewelry or cutting our hair; there were also the rules my family implemented in order to adhere to the socially expected behavior of the community within which we lived. Basically the “what would people think” rules. That meant, we didn’t go to the movies, we didn’t dance or drink alcohol, I was only allowed to go on dates with a chaperone in attendance & these dates could only be with boys from “good” families.

As I grew to be a teenager, I understood the importance of appearances . . . which means I learned to break the rules as long as it “appeared” I was keeping them. The make-up was put on after I left the house, skirts rolled up several inches as soon as I got to the mall, & chaperones dropped off at the location of their choosing, to be picked up before heading back home after the date. I never considered myself rebellious, I just rationalized that these rules made no sense and my protected bubble was suffocating.

This is where I was at 19 1/2 years old. Then, while I was in college, the ONE I had been dating for the last 18 months broke my heart & everything I thought I knew, up to that point, changed.

I thought I would be spending the rest of my life with this man. The death of that dream left me vulnerable to begin believing things that took the sting from that pain. I told myself, “He never really loved me.” Since we had agreed to “wait until we were married”, I began to believe that my virginity no longer had any value if it wasn’t going to be given to him. And it didn’t take very long before my plummeting self-esteem led me to many beds. It’s an interesting thing when shame, sensuality & approval seeking combine. So many years later, I see it’s actually very sad.

For six months, I led a double life – going to church & still “keeping up appearances” as I had learned do so well. Then there was the secret promiscuity I became involved in . . . me, the girl who had never even dated anyone outside of church . . . without even realizing it, my life was spiraling downward – until the call came.

It was him – the one. Acting as if we had just spoken yesterday. He offered no explanation, excuses or apologies – just an invitation to dinner. I accepted, not knowing what to think or expect – definitely not a marriage proposal . . . but that’s what I got. The offer I would have jumped at six months earlier. But I was a different person now with a different perspective on life & the man I once thought to be my Prince Charming. What happens to a dream once it dies? Can it be resurrected? I so didn’t want to make a mistake, but I also knew I wasn’t the girl he thought me to be anymore – if he knew, would he still want me?

(to be continued)

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I don’t quite remember the first time we met, but had I known the impact he would have on the rest of my life, I would have run far & fast in the opposite direction at first sight.

I think I was about 16 years old when he moved to town. His family had been long time friends of my family, so he was welcomed warmly. My secret crush started soon after we met. But since he was nearly 10 years older than me, I never imagined my crush turning into anything more . . .

I was nearly 18 years old when he asked me out. To say I was on Cloud 9 is an understatment. Even my family approved. He came from a “good” family, worked as the music pastor at a “good” church and was considered quite the “most-eligible bachelor” around at the time.

Wasn’t I a lucky girl? – (heavy sigh) – I thought I was.

I had dated other boys, but no one compared to him. This man became my first love. Even if I spent the rest of my life with him, it wasn’t going to be long enough. This was the one I was going to marry. I saw no flaws and when others pointed at them, my feelings for him filtered out any behavior that could pose potential problems.

We had dated for about 18 months when even I could no longer deny that our relationship was unhealthy. He would break up with me, then want to get back together within a few days. He didn’t want any of his friends to know we were dating and complained I was “immature.” He never showed any public display of affection to me, but once we were alone, he became passionate & expressive of his “love”.

As a young girl, I was so confused by this man I adored with all my heart. His frequent breakups would crush me. Was he embarrassed by me, since he would not acknowledge our relationship to friends or family? Was I not good enough, pretty enough, old enough? – and instead of questioning the amorous attention he only gave me in private, I concluded it confirmed the mutual feelings of devotion we had toward each other.

The day came when I timidly broached the subject of needing changes in our relationship and that’s when he said the words I can still hear so clearly more than 20 years after they were spoken: “I need some time to get myself together. If I don’t call you in a month then don’t ever expect to hear from me again.”

Initially, I fell apart. Then I rationalized. This was my future husband. Of course he would call. Of course we would get back together. Spending my life with this man was meant to be. It was my heart’s desire. It was my Plan A and there was no Plan B. Needless to say, I spent the month praying, pleading really, telling God all these things and more.

One month passed and no phone call came. This is when my world really began to fall from beneath me . . .

(to be continued)

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While my husband was in Arizona, I tried to make the most of his absence and view it as a break from his difficult personality. The household was peaceful but the kids were so needy, not giving me even a minute of downtime to do anything else but be available to them. Since my husband is not usually welcoming to their friends, while he was gone, the kids had friends over almost every night for dinner. Despite the work required in being a hostess, the atmosphere was relaxed and dinner time was filled with much laughter and conversation.

With my husband’s return, the tension, chaotic energy & guarded interactions that keep us disconnected have also returned. I saw the following comments from the blogs I read and could relate so well to the author’s sentiments:

” Sometimes I feel like I have the maturity of a child. It takes days for me to relax and trust that your presence is not fleeting. It takes weeks of consistency for me to trust & depend on your friendship. It takes months to feel comfortable enough to call you when I need a friend.” – (mindspace by t.c.)

” . . . the times he’s absent and you numb a piece of your heart, resentment leaving a thick, bitter coating . . . What you wouldn’t give to feel like you were created from a piece of bone near his heart, wildly adoring who you are together.” – (a deeper story)

On the first weekend of my husband’s return, we attended the wedding of his cousin. I dressed with care, hoping he would notice. I spoke with endearment in attempt to draw him to me. Longing for his approval and some glimmer or sign to indicate he had missed me. As usual, he seemed too pre-occupied with a hundred other things to observe my attempts to connect.

At the end of the day. when the vows had been exchanged, congratulations had been given and the wedding couple toasted, we drove home in silence. My husband lost in his own thoughts and me, with this on my mind: “I realize how far I am from that innocent bride that was filled with so much hope as she walked toward her husband at the marriage altar. A bride who would have laid down her life out of love for her husband. No, I am not that bride anymore and I never will be again. My co-dependant self screams to him, ‘You killed her. You starved her little by little, till she was gone.’ “ (mindspace by t.c.)

Ephesians 5: 22-28 (the Message) Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives.

How and when did we get things so wrong from the way they should be?

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