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Archive for February, 2012

My therapist warned me there’d be days like this. “As you grow stronger,” she cautioned, “the enemy will attack harder. He will use your husband, your children, your circumstances . . . Be ready.”

Another busy day. I had worked an evening shift and after the 45 minute commute, I was ready to crawl into bed once I got home.

My husband was still up, which should have been an indication that something was different. He usually never waited up for me when I worked late.

I had barely shut the bedroom door when he said, “I can not live under the same roof with your daughter another day. Either she moves out or I will. You choose.”

I listened to his version of how the evening unfolded without saying much. The next day, I then asked my children, who had witnessed the blow out, for their perspective.

The kids: Sissy went to the supermarket that afternoon to buy all the ingredients she needed to bake apple pies for us and 2 friends she had invited over to watch the season finale of her favorite show.

My husband: S. made a complete mess of the kitchen using our food to make a complete dinner for her friends, without even asking if it was OK with me.

The kids: When her friends arrived, Dad answered the door and told them that they couldn’t come in.

My husband: I told S. that I was not expecting company and suggested she make a different plan with her friends for the evening.

The kids: Dad told S. that he couldn’t afford to feed her friends and he couldn’t wait for her to move out.

My husband: I want her to be happy, and I told her that maybe she would be happier if she got her own place, where she wouldn’t have to follow my rules. She then starting screaming at me, saying that I’m wrong if I think my marriage and relationship with my sons will improve if she moves out. What was she talking about? What have you told her about our marriage?

She also seemed to know a lot about our finances, saying that you are the one who pays the bills around here. Basically telling me that I have no authority in my own home since I don’t contribute financially as much as she thinks I should. Is this what you are telling the kids? With you influencing them like this, no wonder they show no respect towards me.

(I felt from the beginning of this conversation that my husband had been trying to involve me in the drama of the evening, which is why I chose to just listen. But when he tried to insinuate that I was somehow responsible for it, I had to speak.)

Me: I don’t have to say a word about our marital difficulties for her to be aware that we have issues. Everyone who lives in this house KNOWS what dysfunction goes on here. As for who pays the bills, that’s no secret, either. We have all heard your endless tales of woe as to how broke you always are and can never seem to make ends meet without “help”.

The kids: The situation got out of control, and both dad & S. were yelling at each other.

Me: How did that make you feel?

Kid #5: I made myself as small as I could, so I could be invisible . . .

Kid #3: It made me feel like I want to be NOTHING like my dad when I grow up . . .

“Being a child of a “broken” home is not a label just for kids whose parents are divorced. It’s about not having two parents around that you can look up to and model your life after. It’s about not having someone see the potential in you and speak to it.”

“It’s not just about just having two parents that are still married to each other. We need more than the acknowledgement that we are the children of our parents. We need endorsement, love, and support. And most important, we need to be taught how to use the gifts we have been given.”

“Making a son tough is not a parent’s responsibility. Never telling your daughter that she’s beautiful is not protecting her. Being a parent is about being someone to show your child their place in this world then releasing them into it.”

“A father’s job is to teach his daughter what to expect from a man, and to his son, to exemplify what it takes to be a man. Otherwise, not only will our homes be broken . . . So will we.(Max – Making it MAD)

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Today I am pushing the reset button. Even though the story of my life has not unfolded in the way I thought it would, it is MY story. Time to own it, rather than protest, question, or feel victimized by it. I am still learning how to take responsibility for my responses, so I’ve tapped into the wisdom of others to help me. With every situation I face, when I don’t know what to do, I will read this list.

When I do not feel nurtured or cherished by my husband, I will turn to the Lover of my soul.

I will find a balance between dealing with my own issues, while still being able to help and bless others.

I will stop waiting for my husband to encourage and support me. I will find the consolation, support and encouragement I need from friends who are emotionally able to give it.

I will start asking myself, “How can I use the issues I am trying to run from, and instead, respond in a way that pleases God and grows my holiness?”

While I would love to have a husband on whom I can depend, I will depend on God instead.

I will choose hurt and grief over anger and detachment.

I will no longer be in bondage to the belief that my husband will hurt me, for if (when) he does, I KNOW that “the Lord is close to the broken-hearted (and) He rescues those who are crushed in spirit” (Ps 34:18)

I will hold myself to high standards, regardless of my spouse’s behavior.

I will remind myself frequently that I am not the only Witness to my husband’s behavior. And just because he may act as if nothing is wrong with his behavior, that does not make it true.

I will stop comparing my sin to the sins of others but against the holiness of God.

I will practice powerlessness by letting go of losses, mourning the things I wish were different and try not to live life in a constant state of protest.

I will breathe in the air that heals me and breathe out the air that poisons me.

Psalms 142:1 I (will) pour out my complaints before (You) and tell (You) all my troubles, for (when) I am overwhelmed, You alone know the way I should turn.

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As I have been considering the boundaries (values, characteristics, behaviors) I want to have in my life, I am compelled to look in the mirror with honesty, and face the person I have become over the course of my marriage.

Angry – Pain and anger abound. Even when my husband has done nothing (recently) wrong, my anger is still there. Just below the surface. Anger over every unresolved conflict, every hurt feeling, every bad behavior, and every time I’ve felt disrespected and disappointed.

Disconnected – “Anger and disconnection permeate many interactions with the ADD spouse. Sometimes the anger is expressed as disconnection . . . Some claim that disconnection is the only way to bear the pain, the downside is, the pain is still there . . .” (author unknown)

Discontented – Not being satisfied with what God has already provided. Looking for people or circumstances to bring me happiness. Forgetting that He is more interested in my holiness than my immediate, temporal happiness.

Conscious Blindness – During those times when things are going “well” in my marriage, it is usually because I have chosen not to “see the elephants in the room”. I ignore all the issues that need to be addressed for the sake of momentary peace. A fragile harmony that gives the false perception that we are OK, when in reality, I deem him unsafe, unworthy of reckless abandon of my heart, my trust . .

Manipulative – Instead of being assertive and emotionally mature, I have resorted to manipulation. “As frustration and anger build, the non-ADD spouse may start making less empathetic decisions, sometimes abdicating responsibility. This serves the dual purpose of punishing the ADD spouse and proving the non-ADD spouse correct. The non-ADD spouse is subtly and unknowingly sabotaging the relationship by doing this. And at the same time, complaining that the ADD spouse cannot change.” (G. Pera)

Frustrated – That we’ve gotten to this point and incredulous that we haven’t been able to make things better. The same issues come up over and over again and I am convinced that every bad behavior my spouse has done only proves his incompetence, inconsistency or inconsiderateness.

Hopeless – While anger, disconnection, and manipulation have been a result of my frustration, at times, I am just hopeless. My dreams have been put aside and profound grief pervades the daily difficulties of my life.

There it is. The person I have become after all these years of marriage. It’s an ugly list. I say this not with judgement or self-condemnation, but with resolve. Resolve that the boundaries I will now establish will not depend on the behavior or needs of others. They will be values, characteristics, and behaviors that I must absolutely have in my life as the person I wish to be. And I can think of no better list than the one already written in Galations . . .

Love          Joy          Peace          Patience          Kindness          Goodness              Faithfulness              Gentleness              Self-Control

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Boundaries have always been an elusive concept for me to grasp. In raising my children, it came as a natural part of parenting. But in my marriage, I have never understood the purpose or proper maintenance of them. As a result, they have proved useless to me.

My husband and I recently had a few “good” weeks. But because of our history, I’ve been forced to finally acknowledge that “today’s” behavior will not predict future behavior – despite any “boundaries” I’ve put in place. While I’ve been thankful and appreciative for his thoughtful attention, I no longer have any reason to hope for long-lasting change.

And even with the psychological self-protection this acknowledgment brings to my mind, it provides no protection for my heart. I have come to doubt whether there really is any way to truly guard one’s heart from a spouse, and I rebel at the reality that I need protection from him.

Then, as I was reading about ADD, I came across this chapter written by Melissa Orlov:

Autonomy – a way of setting and respecting personal boundaries.”

“A personal boundary is a VALUE, CHARACTERISTIC, or BEHAVIOR that we absolutely must have in order to live our life as the person we wish to be, in any situation.”

“Boundaries protect who you are.”

Finally, the lightbulb came on. Boundaries were so foreign to me because after many years of being married to a man who showed no respect for my boundaries, they eventually became pointless. But without boundaries, there was nothing protecting who I was. Consequently, I lost my identity and felt invisible, believing it was only his approval that validated my existence. I was no longer the PERSON I once was before this relationship.

With this concept now being illuminated, I went on to read,

Boundaries should be enduring and effective rules that will lead you back to the person you want to be and how you want to live your life in the future.”

“The best boundaries protect and respect. Less effective boundaries are created in response to an argument, or are intended to hurt or punish.”

“In identifying your most important boundaries: “

1) “Think about where your personal boundaries or rules used to be when you were happiest. What was important to you? How did you behave?”

2) “Think about where your boundaries or personal rules are today. What has changed? What boundaries do you wish you had in place, but are currently missing or being ignored by others?”

3) “Where do you want to be in the future?”

“Once you have defined your personal boundaries, create a plan for change and act on it. Begin behaving in ways that are consistent with the person you wish to be.”

“. . . the person I wish to be . . .” Ahhh, another reason why boundaries may have been so baffling to me. So much of my behavior has become based on what I thought was expected of me . . . But now I understand that boundaries have nothing to do with my spouse, my family or my friends. They are completely about ME and MY behavior. This realization demanded I answer the question, “What kind of person do I wish to be? . . .”

Change only happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.

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