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“As God is my witness!”

Words that used to work in convincing me that he was telling the truth. Why would he bring “God” into our conversation if he wasn’t telling the truth? I mean, if he were using that phrase AND being dishonest, I would have expected lightning to surely come bolting out of the heavens to strike him down . . . right? But there had been no lightening . . . or had there?

When I recently caught him in a bold-faced lie and he used that phrase in his defense, while looking me straight in the eyes, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. Not only did I KNOW he was lying, but his use of that phrase brought to memory every other time he had used it . . . and I couldn’t help but wonder if he had been lying those times too.

I felt scared. For myself and for him. Where was his fear of God? The One he so vehemently called on to be his Witness as he denied the accusations . . . even as I presented the proof that countered his exclamations of innocence.

I have never been a “name-caller”, but realizing that my husband was a liar and that this was probably not the first time he had been dishonest with me left me shaken. I felt like an idiot for believing his deceit as truth, when my intuition (the Holy Spirit?) had been telling me otherwise all along. Mistaking lies for truth can leave one’s mind clouded with self-doubt and confusion. Whether his behavior was intentional, compulsive, or self preserving, his deception resulted in me believing more than just the words that came out of his mouth. I began to believe what his denial of reality insinuated about me. Crazy . . . Insecure . . . Demanding . . . Suspicious.

There may not have been a visible bolt of lightning illuminating the sky that night, but denial in the face of unmistakable truth is just as jolting.

If only I had learned to recognize it sooner.

Psalms 119:66 Teach me good discernment and knowledge, for I believe in Your commandments.

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What would you give your spouse if you could give her anything?” our marriage counselor once asked my husband. His answer: “Financial freedom.”

“. . . Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and although yesterday was payday, I will only have $75 left after paying the bills. And that will be needed to put gas in the car for the next two weeks. We have no food for tomorrow and as I walk down the aisles of the supermarket, I am so drained, I could cry . . . not from the lack of funds in my checking account, but from the weariness of feeling so alone . . . ”

This is what I wrote in my journal November 2008. I can’t help but feel that same weariness as I remember my husband’s answer to our marriage counselor, as well as that walk down the supermarket aisle and realize that much hasn’t changed since then.

My husband recently told me that he feels I am the “parent” in the family and he is the “paycheck”. He feels like I don’t appreciate him for providing for us financially – I feel like he doesn’t realize just how dearly I have paid for his provision.

While my marriage has not changed much since 2008, and my heart is wounded just as easily by my husband’s words and actions, I find strength and comfort in a different Source.

“The Truth has the power to set me free and to protect my mind and heart from deceptive thoughts and feelings. The moments when I feel besieged with emotions or thoughts I know are not of God, I need to run to the Truth for refuge.” (Lies Women Believe – DeMoss)

When we are weary, looking at the future is draining and discouraging, but His mercies are new each day – we need to do what is right for today. Weariness leads to discouragement. When weariness sets it, go to the Word and wait (with expectancy) on the Lord to renew your strength.”    (J. Osteen)

My purpose in life is not to pursue all the health, wealth and happiness I can obtain but to glorify God in whatever circumstances I may be.

Isaiah 35:4-6 & 10b . . . to those who have tired hearts, “Be strong and do not fear for your God is coming to save you.” And when He comes, He will open the eyes of the blind and unstop the ears of the deaf. The lame will leap like a deer and those who can not speak will shout and sing . . . Sorrow and mourning will disappear and they will be overcome with joy and gladness.

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I have been living, unknowingly, in a world I never knew existed. A world where nothing has made sense and I never knew why. Where well-meaning advice to “let my husband re-assume the family’s leadership” left me stunned and dejected, further convincing me to believe our problems to be my fault. Where I have been angry. So angry. And while I didn’t want to live with this constant feeling, I also didn’t want to continue pretending it wasn’t there.

I now have a new awareness. An awareness that has caused ADD to no longer be associated in my mind with hyperactive, unruly children. An awareness that tells me perhaps it has been a factor in the unexplainable behavior of my husband. Does it help to know that ADD might account for his behavior? No, the damage is too deep. Lacking this knowledge though, I felt like I was losing my mind.

As I learn about the symptoms of ADD, I breathe deeply, realizing how many of them I see in my husband:

  • Impulsivity – trouble delaying gratification, doesn’t think before acting or speaking, failure to consider consequences
  • Hyperactivity running unnecessary errands, feels overwhelmed easily, restless, has difficulty engaging in leisure activities quietly, is often “on the go”, rushes through or has difficulty completing tasks
  • Insatiability – tough to please, seldom satisfied
  • Rigidity – uncooperative, either/or patterns, low capacity for or expression of empathy
  • Poor coping techniques (defense mechanisms) – avoidance, rationalizing, blaming, controlling, aggression

Issues with confrontation include:

  • Arguing about little things
  • Skipping through topics
  • Defensive and blaming
  • Poor short-term memory

Issues with conversation include:

  • Conversations that go everywhere
  • Monologues
  • A love of arguing or inability to argue
  • Poor memory of argument or incident
  • Difficulty understanding non verbal expressions
  • Difficulty understanding sarcasm
  • Difficulty understanding abstract thinking

Behavioral Issues:

  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty coping with stress
  • Often loses things
  • Depressed or anxious
  • Low self-esteem
  • Trouble focusing/concentrating
  • Disorganized
  • Lack of follow through
  • Makes piles of “stuff” around the house
  • Usually late
  • Overestimates time
  • Easily distracted
  • Poor money management
  • Hyper focus on certain things
  • Forgetful
  • Addictive tendencies
  • Hypersensitive to criticism
  • Unstable relationships

“I’m not asking for a perfect husband, but I feel like I’ve given so much and tried so hard and it hasn’t made any difference at all. This relationship has taken so much out of me and the return just doesn’t seem worth it some days.” – Joann

“If things don’t change, marriage for the non-ADD spouse will continue to be painful and eventually become untenable. She feels she has no choice but to become either more aggressive in expressing her needs or to disconnect completely.”

Psalms 31:7b You have seen my troubles and You care about the anguish of my soul.

(Excerpts taken from “Is It You Me or ADD” by Gina Pera and “The ADD Effect On Marriage” by Melissa Orlov)

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June 2009

Welcome to the Mommy Club!” the card read. It would accompany the bouquet of flowers I had just ordered. The florist would have to deliver our “Congratulations” since the new mom had let us know she was too “overwhelmed” for visitors. Having had her first baby at age 40, it was understandable.

What was not understandable was that after a few months, having still not received an invitation to meet the new baby of my husband’s cousin, my husband told me that he had met the baby, had been over several times (without my knowledge) and had even been asked to babysit.

Confused? So was I.  Apparently, this cousin had invited (only) my husband over because she wanted him to be “a part of her daughter’s life”. His explanation of this behavior on both their parts made absolutely no sense. Just like all the rest of his behavior.

Does anything about this seem wrong to you?” I demanded. “Have I done something to offend her or her husband?” was my next question. He answered “No” to both. He claimed to have no idea why she didn’t want me or our children to meet her new baby and felt he should not have the responsibility to “facilitate” a relationship between her and us. He also saw nothing disrespectful in going to visit her when she was clear in saying to him that his wife and children were not welcome.

What is wrong with this man? The dysfunction is obviously familial or else what other explanation could there be for his cousin’s behavior?

December 2009

He has been distant, difficult and defensive. I am now familiar with his cycle of behavior when it is directed towards me, but when he pushes the kids away as well, I find it intolerable. This month, with Christmas coming, his behavior is all the more apparent since he has not participated in any holiday activities with us as a family.

The annual “Live Nativity” was the only event he had agreed to meet us at after work and the kids were looking forward to the community affair. It always drew huge crowds and we arrived early to get in a line that serpentined around several blocks before the doors even opened. The sun had long set and the spotlights were on the angels atop the church building as they moved in time to the Christmas music. Camels, donkeys and lambs were led though the streets. Men dressed as Roman soldiers walked by, demanding us to “pay our taxes” and “register for the census”.

It was in this line that the call came. His aunt had come to town to visit her daughter and now 6 month old granddaughter. He would be spending the evening with them instead . . .

December 2010

He asked almost tentatively. And rightly so. Our relationship had been through one of the worst years of our marriage and could not take much more strain before it was broken beyond repair.

His aunt would again be coming to spend the holidays with her daughter and now 1 1/2 year old granddaughter, but she would also like to spend time with our family as well. Would it be possible to host them all for a Christmas Eve dinner?

With all the graciousness I could muster, I smiled and said, “Of course.” As much as I enjoyed entertaining, I knew this dinner party would require a grace that could only come from God.

Christmas Eve came and the kids and I worked non-stop to make sure the house was picture perfect. I set the table with our best linen, crystal and silver. The menu was simple but delicious. Martha Stewart I am not, but that night, she would have been impressed. When I cleared the table after dinner to set out tea and dessert, I breathed a sigh of relief knowing that the end of this stressful evening was in sight. Up to that point, I tried not to be resentful that my husband had not lifted a finger to help with ANYTHING, nor uttered a single word of thanks for the effort we had put into it all. Instead, I tried to take satisfaction in the fact that I had been gracious and hospitable with our guests, despite their bad manners.

Not knowing if they were aware we could hear them as we sat in the living room, my husband and his cousin could be heard laughing in the kitchen. My cheeks flushed with humiliation as she questioned the formality of the evening, the choice of menu, the size of the tea cups (who drinks from those?!) and my husband in complete agreement with her as they both laughed . . . at me.

Today

I feel I haven’t received all the answers I need to explain and let go of ANY of my husband’s past behavior. Until that happens, I don’t think I will ever be able to trust in all the ways needed to make a marriage work. I may never get those answers . . . And then what? Or what if I do get answers and I am still unable to trust or let go of all the ways he has hurt me? Either because of the answers themselves, because of so much prior abuse, or because of my own flaws?

“Lord, I am broken. My life is in pieces, but Your strength is perfect in all of my weakness.”

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There are days when the memories of my husband’s bad behavior are fuzzy and my life seems less difficult. There are days when I have a glimmer of hope that my marriage will be good and my children will be fine . . .

Then there are days when I look at my world and wonder how much longer I can continue to be married to a man who justifies his emotional abuse by acting as if all our issues are my fault. Where he says I am the one making our life together so hard . . .

There are days when I feel the insanity of the situation fogs my mind and I begin to ask, “Am I the reason my family is dysfunctional?” . . . And then I blog and through writing about my situation, I am able to see reality clearly. This is a journal entry from one of those times:

“I have been giving some thought lately to my husband’s conclusion that in order to regain my identity, I want/need independence from him. While that is partially true, in no way is it that simple. His only focus is on my financial independence from him but he fails to see that my identity is not solely related to money.

First of all, looking at my life before I was married, yes, I was financially independent; (since the father of my first two children was inconsistent in meeting his financial obligation to us) but I was also a person who was heard when I expressed my thoughts and feelings. I was able to raise my children according to my standards, go where I wanted & keep my house the way I liked. When I got married, a lot of that changed. And while that was to be expected, things began to change in a way that caused me to feel less and less valued as a person.

The first changes were the financial ones. My husband immediately became the sole controller of our money. I wonder how he would have felt in my situation if his paycheck went directly into my account, he had no access to it, had to ask for money when it was needed, and had no say in how it was spent. He would have never accepted it, yet as a submissive Christian wife, I was supposed to.

Then came the changes in parenting. Again, how would he have felt if it were him going from being a single parent to a married parent whose opinions are no longer respected and all decisions now needed to be deferred to the “head of the family”. I could make no decision on my own because my new husband acted as if his judgement was superior to mine.

I had no bank or credit accounts with my name and all the cars were registered to my husband.

Some things have changed since those days. My money is now my own and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I do realize that by having our money separate & paying our own set of bills we are financially isolated from each other. I also realize that to successfully join our finances would require communication and cooperation, but I am just not ready for that.

I bought myself a car with my own money & in my own name. My husband reacted by saying he would never drive it or ride in it. Why was it OK for him to have all the cars only in his name up to this point? Why the double standard? These things make me so angry, yet I feel like I can only talk to him about them in the presence of our marriage counselor, so that he will be forced to acknowledge that they are valid issues and not reasons that I invent to be upset about . . . but he doesn’t go to marriage counseling anymore . . .

The parenting issues have also changed, but not for the better. My husband wants to still be the “final authority” but the children are now older & question that authority by asking him to provide reasoning behind his rules. This is difficult for him and he considers their lack of unquestioning obedience as disrespectful. Since it is usually coming from my two older children, my husband is always ready for them to spend less time at home and more time with their (biological) father. This is such a tough situation for me, especially when my daughter cries and says she doesn’t want to spend the weekend at her dad’s house. But my husband will insist and say he “needs a break” from her & her older brother.

I write these things to remind myself of reality on the foggy days. It is not about me having PMS or trying to start a fight or having unwarranted insecurity issues. No matter how often he tries to tell me otherwise, we have REAL problems that are causing damage to myself and our children. ”

I write these things to remind myself of reality on the foggy days . . .

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The word “carpool” has never conjured up negative connotations in my mind . . . until my husband began to carpool. The decision was casually mentioned as an afterthought one day with little significance on what it would entail. When I began to ask questions and was met with defensiveness, I had no strength to pursue the issue further.

Over the course of time, my husband would casually make comments about his “carpooling co-worker”. She was his immediate supervisor at work and since we lived in close proximity to each other, they both thought it was a good idea to share the gas expense that their 45 min commute (each way) was costing. I was immediately uncomfortable with the arrangement but said nothing due to my “self talk” saying that my discomfort was from my own issues & insecurities.

I saw his behavior change slowly. First it was just comments on how nice it was for him to drive her new Audi on their ride in to work. Then the comments on how she would confide in him during their commute. How she was recently separated from her husband and going through a difficult time. Then there were the after-work events they would attend together since they both needed to be at these work related events and they also conveniently carpooled. When he chose to have her accompany him to his Employee Recognition Dinner, instead of me, I was hurt and suspicious. When I tried to talk to my husband about this and directly confronted him about fidelity, he responded by saying he saw no reason why I should have a problem with his behavior since he was just doing the “Christian thing” in being a friend to her.

Then things got even worse. He began doing favors for her. Such as keeping her child’s car seat in his car because he was now picking up her daughter from pre-school. He began taking her mother to doctor appointments. She began calling our house daily and they would meet for miscellaneous reasons on the weekend. Oh, and did I mention the change in his personal hygiene habits? All the while, assuring me, “as God is my witness – there is nothing inappropriate about our friendship” I began to think I was crazy.

I briefly mentioned my lowest point during this time here : https://mygossamerlife.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/i-am-a-self-protector/

It has been a few years since this was at its worst. The relationship eventually ended when she left the organization at which they both worked and moved to another country. My husband has rarely spoken of her since, but the damage that was caused during that time may never be forgotten.

“I had to begin to take responsibility for working through my barriers to love(Boundaries in Marriage – Townsend & Cloud)

Has this breach in trust been another of my “barriers to love”? Is one able to love another despite the actions/attitudes/words of the other person? The Bible says how we are to discern a person’s character:

Matthew 12:34b-35 . . . for whatever is in your heart determines what you say. A good person produces good words from a good heart, and an evil person produces evil words from an evil heart.

Matthew 15:10 Then Jesus called the crowds together and said, “Listen to what I say and try to understand. You are not defiled by what you eat; you are defiled by what you say and do.”

There are times that I struggle with never really knowing what happened between my husband and this woman, while at the same time my instincts tell me I do know. How does one deal with situations where you struggle between what your instincts are saying and what someone is telling you?

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.

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Once upon a time there were 4 sisters. They lived with their single mother who was quite overwhelmed with her life and took it out on her daughters – both physically and verbally. Their father was banished from the family when his philandering ways were discovered, so there was no one to rescue these sisters from their mother’s abuse.

The sisters grew into women and although each went her own way, they still remained close. The eldest sister suffered from schizophrenia which never allowed her to live a “normal” adult life. The second sister suffered from depression, paranoia & OCD. Her depression became so severe that she had to be institutionalized for 3 months following the birth of her one & only son. The care of her newborn son during this time fell to her younger sisters, who also battled their own mental illness issues.

That one & only son grew up to become my husband.

There was no father in his life and he spent his childhood with the streets of an urban city as his playground, an emotionally unstable mother and far too few rules. He was never quite sure of his next meal for, although his mother had a job, she could not always be relied upon to provide responsibly for her son. At the age of 12, he was kidnapped from his mother and taken out of the country.

Out of concern for his well-being, it was his aunt (sister #3) who had kidnapped him, and because his mother would have never agreed to give up her son, the aunt felt abduction was her only choice.

He spent the next 6 years living with his aunt and her husband, but it didn’t take long before her disturbed mind became as apparent as that of her two older sisters.

After graduating high school, he set off on his own, working odd jobs and taking junior college classes intermittently. It was in 1990 that we met and in 1994 that we married.

His mother did not come to our wedding. It was after our 5th child was born that we finally met. At the time we flew her in from her home in Mexico City, I knew very little of the history I just wrote of and had been told she was an “old & lonely woman” who was only living for the day she could finally meet her grandchildren. What was my first indication that things might not be exactly as I had been told? . . . it should have been that my husband had not taken any time off from work to spend with his mother during her (month-long) visit, but it really took her actually arriving before the severity of her instability became alarmingly apparent.

At that point, I became known as quite the evil daughter-in-law when I told her, my husband and her sisters that with 5 children under the age of 8, I could not be expected to take on the care of a mentally ill woman. That I had used the words “mentally ill” is, ironically, what they all found offensive. My husband finally had to agree that she indeed was mentally ill on the day she attempted to take refuge at the local Catholic parish and stood behind the priest while yelling at my husband, “I’m not going back! – You can’t make me go back home!”

Well, she did go back home and has only visited us once more since then. That visit did not go any better than the first – worse, actually. When she overdosed on her medication while I was home alone with her and the children, my husband agreed that any future visits with his mother would be at her home – even if we had to pay for international travel. . .

The eldest sister has since past away, from complications arising from her mental illness. Sister #2 (my mother-in-law) continues to live alone and untreated for her mental health issues as does Sister #3. (she divorced her husband for unfaithfullness in 2005) Sister #4 is still married and has raised 4 children of her own, battling more with conforming to society than her past. (but that’s another story)

Everyone has a very long story. . .

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