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Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

The last one was so vivid. They are always the same ~ my husband moves back into the house. This morning I woke up thinking, “Thank God it was only a dream!” I have been having these dreams almost every night since he moved out.

We went to see my therapist last week – all 7 of us. Compared to the day we told the kids that “dad” was moving out, they were very quiet. Only speaking when answering a question and volunteering no information on their own. Giving very little indication of “how they are doing”.

My husband also acted so strange during the therapy session, doing most of the talking and saying several times that despite his circumstances, he felt “so blessed”. (?!) He told us that he lived in his car for a week, (yes, you read that right, he lived in his car!) until one of his friends took pity on him and invited him to stay in a guest room. Being true to his character of always wanting “all” or “nothing” he said to me privately that we either need to divorce or he is going to come back home.

Whatever strength I lacked in enforcing boundaries in my marriage up to this point, I lack no longer. I have told my husband that our separation does not have to end in divorce, but he should use this time away from the family as an opportunity to work on his personal issues. I will not consider a reconciliation until:

1) He receives counseling – he can not change his behavior long term if he doesn’t understand what drives it.
2) He repairs his relationship with my two older children – the damage he has done to them as an emotionally abusive father can never be undone, but I pray it can be healed.
3) We attend marriage/family therapy – we are a broken family and it has been that way long before the separation

This is such a bittersweet time for me, I’m not sure how much of it I will be able to write about. I am glad my husband has moved out and I feel such a sense of peace and renewal in our home. But at the same time, the ugliness that caused the situation looms nearby and the strength required of me now is elusive. I know it can not be my own strength, it must be His. I also know myself, and know I am not always the most faithful of followers. I tend to lean on Him only when I have no other choice.

As I stand on the precipice of a new season, I acknowledge I don’t know what is next. Whether I feel ready or not, I remind myself, He is ready and I have to be clinging to Him.

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“We write to taste life twice . . .” ~ Anais Nin

I write so I will not forget. But some days, I just don’t want to remember. Sometimes I just don’t want to “taste life twice”. This is one of those times. So for anyone who follows my blog, I hope you forgive me, but today I am posting only a song. Like most of the songs I post, this one speaks for me.

Where I am today.

Right now.

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To say the last week has been difficult would be a great understatement.

He had been caught. He just didn’t know to what extent when I confronted him. And so he lied. Had he told the truth, would the outcome have been different? No point in wondering that now. Once I began reading out loud to him, the e-mails they had exchanged that were in my possession, my husband realized he could lie no longer and the ugly details were revealed.

He met her 18 months ago . . . It became “inappropriate” early on. I told him he needed to leave. Move out. And he needed to tell the kids why or else I would. I gave him 1 week. He refused. By mid-week he even began to deny everything he had admitted just a few days before. Why wouldn’t he? I’m sure he was thinking that we would fall back into our usual pattern by telling me,

~ “You are blowing things out of proportion”
~ “You are being over sensitive”
~ “It wasn’t what you think”

It didn’t matter. Nothing he could say at this point was going to weaken my resolve.

Despite my husband’s juvenile and desperate protests, (“I’m not going to tell the kids and you can’t make me!) we had a “family meeting” exactly 1 week after the thing that changed everything happened. My younger ones cried. My older ones were angry and demanded him to explain. He couldn’t. And then the dam burst. Every crazy, dysfunctional, hurtful, narcissistic behavior of my husband was confronted . . . By the kids. There was no blatant disrespect, but they held nothing back.

His response? He took off his wedding ring, set it on the table, packed a bag, and left the house. He was gone and I could finally breathe. We all could finally breathe. The toxic energy was gone and now our healing could begin.

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The minutes before someone is about to experience an unexpected life changing event . . . Is there any warning? A sense of foreboding? A flutter of the heart? Does the sun shine brighter or the night seem darker?

Even with 20/20 hindsight, I can not say there was a moment when I KNEW something was about to happen. That the thing which would change everything was about to assault me as I walked through the door that evening.

Maybe my mind was too preoccupied with all that still needed to be done at home after a long work week. Maybe it was the feeling of being thrown off balance when I came home to an empty house. Where was everyone? No note, no text, no voicemail.

As I stood in the middle of the empty stillness, so foreign to my usually bustling home, I immediately heard the insistent and unmistakeable beeping of an electronic device. I made my way through each room until I found it. My husband’s Blackberry. Usually locked and password protected . . . But not tonight.

My hands were trembling, and my conscience questioning as I fumbled with the phone, pressing multiple buttons trying to figure out how to open it. Not sure what I would find as I quickly scanned through the texts and e-mails, but in a matter of moments, my trembling hands turned into full body shakes.

Elaine.”

There were more messages than I could count that were either from her or to her.

Someone whose name he had never even mentioned to me, but apparently was communicating with daily.

My emotions were spinning and swirling with the power of a hurricane, but my mind was functioning in the eye of the storm as clarity of thought possessed me. Not knowing how much time I had before everyone came home, and knowing that I had to be sure before I confronted, I began forwarding the e-mails to myself.

I knew I wouldn’t have the opportunity to read the e-mails thoroughly until the following day when I was alone, but before I did, I wanted to give him one chance to explain.

***

It was a simple question. Asked that night before bed.

“Who is Elaine?”

My husband blinked several times in surprise, but recovered his composure quickly as he responded nonchalantly,

“Oh, just a friend that I met through work.”

“Is there anything I should know about her?” I asked, making direct eye contact as I spoke.

“What do you want to know about her? . . .”

I shrugged my shoulders.

“She’s someone who I met through work and we have been exchanging prayer requests.”

And with that, he rolled over, turned out the light and ended the conversation.

***

The following morning, during my first moment alone, I opened my inbox and began reading. The endearments, the familiarity, the inside jokes. It was obvious this was more than a casual friendship. And, of course, there was not a single “prayer request” to be found.

(to be continued)

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Wishing this couch wasn’t so familiar to me as I settle in with a box of Kleenex, anticipating an emotional hour spent sharing the events of my week.

“I just want you to sit and listen while I read something to you“, my therapist announced unexpectedly. With no preface, she began reading:

Narcissistic wounding starts early in life to children whose parents are insecure, abusive, addictive, or have narcissistic patterns themselves . . . People with narcissistic traits process information, emotions and unresolved pain to make up for what they did not have in childhood.”

“Narcissistic injury happens to the child when his emotional needs are not  met . . . They learn how manipulation and using guilt gets what they want.”

They cannot tolerate negative emotional distress and turn it on others in blame, rather than looking within to see their own part of the problem . . . They deny and rationalize their own contribution to the problems to preserve their own internal fantasy of being good and right.”

“They are super sensitive to criticism and either attack the other person or leave the scene. This blaming the person who gives criticism helps the person with narcissistic defenses avoid feeling guilt, shame and depression, but it also keeps them from taking responsibility for learning from their mistakes and ultimately from growing up.”

“They seek refuge in being seen as the good guy and try to gain approval and recognition from others . . . Constantly seeking attention and approval puts them in the precarious position of always needing something from yet someone else.”

“As they believe they are right and others are wrong, they rarely admit faults in themselves . . . They believe they have the right to do whatever it takes to get short term gratification without suffering any consequences . . .They have little or no remorse for the pain they caused the other person, only anger that they did to get away with their behavior.”

“Family members learn to back off from confronting their bad behavior in attempt to not ‘hurt their feelings’ . . . Criticism of their behavior or trying to get them to see what they are doing only causes them to entrench further into defensiveness.”

“When found out in wrong doing, they get evasive, lie or get angry . . . They would rather threaten their relationship than face humiliation, embarrassment or injury to their self esteem.”

“The narcissism defenses of becoming angry, shutting down, minimizing and distancing keep them feeling safe in the moment . . . People with severe narcissistic traits do not change because they do not believe that they have a problem . . . They CAN NOT see the damage that they inflict on others.”

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NARCISSIST

* Uses emotional blackmail to get what he wants
* Has poor insight and can not see the impact his selfish behavior has on others
* Wants to control what you do and say – tries to micromanage
* Is unable to see things from any point of view other than his own
* Ignores your feelings and calls you overly sensitive if you express feelings
* Does not expect to be penalized for failure to follow directions or conform to guidelines
* Neglects the family to impress others
* Is overly involved with his own hobbies

She looked up from the screen of the tablet from which she was reading and asked, “Does this sound like anyone you know?” I nodded, speechless.

“I’ve always doubted the diagnosis of ADD for your husband, and even though it might be accurate, this sure seems to describe him as well, doesn’t it?” Again I could only nod, dumbfounded.

But what does this mean? Then I realized . . . my husband may have multiple issues which could explain his behavior, and that are blindingly evident to those closest to him, but it really is quite irrelevant until he sees that he has issues which need to be addressed and until he wants to resolve them.

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Good morning, had a crazy dream about you last night, so I’m checking in, making sure you’re alive and well . . “

I received this text the other day, from a long time friend whom I treasured, but who had no idea of my struggles.

Me: “I’m alive and well. What was your dream?

Friend: “That you and your husband were splitting up and you were walking away from it all – Crazy.”

***

I had recently been feeling that God wanted me to expand my accountability group, and that my family was going to need an even larger covering of prayer. My prayer partners, at this point, were a group of three women from my church, but I knew God had been leading me to believe I now needed to have a group of seven. (including myself) I was hesitant, but not because I didn’t believe it was necessary. As a matter of fact, God had been consistent and insistent that I prepare myself for what was to come by surrounding myself with more prayer warriors.

The reason I was hesitant being that the whole process of telling my story was so draining. Opening myself up and becoming vulnerable by telling of the pain I had endured by the one everyone knew as my dear husband, was no easy task.

. . . But the time had come. (again)

***

Me: “Your dream is pretty accurate . . .”

Friend: “No! . . . My husband and I had a feeling something wasn’t right the last time we saw you. Ever since then, we’ve been praying and my husband actually wanted to call D last week, but he didn’t want to over-step . . .”

Me: “I’m sure D wouldn’t mind having your husband call. He mentioned that your husband asked him about our marriage the last time we saw you, but he never told me how he responded. Especially since his point being to accuse me of disrespecting him by talking to you about our marital problems, which he concluded HAD to be the reason your husband asked.

Friend: Funny how God works. My husband said that it was D who actually made a few comments that led them down that path. He told me later that he wanted to pray for you both before leaving . . . That began a conversation between my husband and I, about how we should never leave something undone that the Lord is prompting us to do.”

Me: “So glad you texted me this morning. God definitely uses people who listen to and obey His voice.”

Friend: “I will keep you in prayer – hang in there. Some bumps in the road are bigger and take longer to get thru. Trust God. I know what I’m talking about.

Me: “Even though my difficulties have been going on for many years, it was only some months ago that I realized I had reached a place in my journey where I couldn’t go any further without the help and prayers of others. I have been blessed to have 3 women in my life who have been my prayer/accountability partners, but I am now at a point where I feel the challenges my family will be facing are going to intensify, and I feel led to expand my group of prayer warrior women.”

“I am hoping you will consider being a part of this group.”

Friend: I am so glad you have reached out for support. Too often we find people going the journey alone, and it’s not necessary. Many of us have been through the valleys and can lend a ear, a shoulder, and most importantly, pray with you.”

I am humbled that you would include me in this very important group of women that you hold dear to your heart. I’m always amazed at how God works. You can count on me.”

***

I then did something that I never thought I’d do. I sent my sweet friend the link to my blog. While I thought it would be the best way for her to “catch up” on my life, by no means was it the easiest. Up until now, no one knew of this private place I call my gossamer life. But again, I felt it was time.

Within a few days, I received this message:

I couldn’t sleep tonight. I’ve been up since 3:30am reading your blog.”

“Saying we had much to catch up on doesn’t even begin to describe all the things floating in my head right now.”

“I wish you would have shared. I wish I had known.”

You have listened to me without judgement, as I shared the things my own marriage has endured. You listened, and never said a word, even though you were enduring your own struggles. Forgive me for being so selfish.”

I want to be someone who gives as much as I receive. You have been my constant friend and I will stand with you in thought and prayer.”

***

Proverbs 27:9 The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense.

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I recently spent 4 days alone. In virtual silence. Amidst the beauty of the mountains, I walked the trails, in awe as nature lived and breathed all around me, but mostly, I listened for answers.

And I received none.

God spoke, but not in the way I expected. I was both drained and refreshed. I cherished the isolation, yet yearned for company. I grieved, and I was comforted.

But I came home still having no idea what to do about my marriage.

While I was gone, my husband sent me this e-mail:

“You deserve a vacation. You are a devoted mother of five, who works extremely hard. I recognize it and so do the kids.”

“I know that when we communicate, I feel constantly accused, which is very difficult on me since I am not someone who has any desire to be close to anyone on any level – (emotionally or physically) other than you, my wife.”

“As I’ve said before, I take my marriage vows very seriously and feel that is not something that will ever change. Our marriage is not going to end because of me walking away.”

“I understand that it is disrespect you feel by my behavior. I am aware of your feelings, however, I am not seeking anyone’s friendship, nor have I ever been in a compromising situation seeking companionship.”

***

I had to read and re-read the e-mail in order to process all the emotions that his message incited.

The first read brought feelings of guilt. My husband’s words sounded sincere and, for a moment, the memory of all that had transpired between us was forgotten history. The weight of responsibility slowly began to creep upon me as I questioned why I couldn’t be a better wife. A wife deserving of my husband’s kindness.

With the second read, I couldn’t help but notice the presence of denying any unfaithful intentions or behavior, and the absence of acknowledging my issues with his trip to Arizona. Why was that? My feelings had been hurt by his lack of communication and from excluding me in his vacation plans. Yet, he chose to address an issue that had nothing to do with either one of those.

By the third time thru, I was angry. I began reading what was not written and raged over the fact that my feelings regarding the present issue were ignored and invalidated. Was it really that unreasonable for a wife to want to know that her husband is planning to take their children on vacation and have her feelings hurt when she finds out about it after its been planned? – Only to realize she has not been included in those plans.

And as I sat with the peace of God’s nature surrounding me, so opposite of the resentment churning within me, I had to question the spiritual aspect of my situation. Was the devil trying to destroy my marriage . . . Or was God allowing me to view it from a different perspective?

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