Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Story, 2009 Chapter (part 1)

In honor of thanksgiving, I wanted to blog about all that the Lord has blessed me with this year, but felt I should write some background first. Most of what I write will be no surprise to those that follow my blog, but in case a stranger should wander in (and for posterity’s sake), I won’t make them guess what I am referring to.

The word for this year was divorce. This is the first time that I am publicly acknowledging my personal issues, other than a relationship status change on Facebook. As I indicated in quoting BeyoncĂ© below, I am not here to slam my ex on the internet, but I want to share what has happened as a way to help someone else who may be going through the same thing. I would hate to have gone through all this for nothing. I am sure that my ex has a different story, colored by his personality and experience and I am sure that mine is colored too, but I am honest and we’ll leave it at that.

I have been married for 14 years. I got married when I was 18 years old. Not a smart thing to do, but hindsight is 20/20. I’ll blog my soapbox on that at a later date. My husband made me believe that I would have the life I desired, a life in full-time Christian ministry. My wake-up call was when I arrived at our new home, a military housing apartment in Germany, 3 months after the wedding and found pictures of him at the German bars with beers in his hand. My heart sunk. I don’t drink and I didn’t want to be married to someone who did. And I knew that as a teen, my husband had had an alcohol problem and I feared that.

We had our differences in the beginning because it was obvious that we were complete opposites. But I thought the alcohol was not a problem because he was always with me and was never drinking. We moved to Tennessee to go to Bible college, but he never attended. With me working full-time and going to school full-time, we didn’t have much time together and he was often with friends or his aunt, uncle, and cousins. The one real problem was when we would go back to Wichita, Kansas to visit our families. He would morph into this monster. He would act like his old self, the guy that was into selling drugs, stealing car stereos, hanging with the wrong crowd, rude, and drinking. He treated me like garbage every time we were in town, but as soon as he would get back home, he would turn back into the good husband. It was like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I knew we could never survive living in our hometown again, if his behavior was any indication.

After I got pregnant with our first child, he announced that he was quitting his job and moving back to Wichita and I could come if I wanted to. I was floored that he was actually going to leave me behind, which I was going to do because there was no way I was going to live with Mr. Hyde full-time. We eventually compromised and decided to move to Tulsa, OK—closer to home, but not actually in Wichita. However, when we got there, we found out that the house that we had rented was condemned and the landlord was in jail for child molestation. We had no choice but to continue on to Wichita and stay with family. I felt like my spirit died then. Maybe I doomed things with my negativity but I knew it was the beginning of the end.

Immediately after, I went out to Arizona to visit my best friend (she was so wonderful in paying for my trip and taking me shopping!) and while I was there, I called my husband to check in and he thought I was someone else…his ex-girlfriend, in fact. Apparently she had just stopped by and intended to call him later.

Everything went downhill from there. He sometimes stayed out all night, drinking with the guys. I would be up crying, even out searching for him. He got arrested a couple of times for bar fights. Things seemed to calm down a bit after our first daughter was born. Not right away, but eventually he seemed to settle down and prefer to be at home with us.

Then 9/11 happened. His National Guard unit was activated and he was sent back to Germany to guard the post there. I was pregnant with our second child at the time and had a really bad feeling about this deployment. Call it women’s intuition or whatever, but it turned out to be true. He informed me in a letter, a couple of weeks after our daughter’s birth, that he had met a German girl and was having an affair and was leaving me. I was devastated. I think physical abuse or even killing me would have been kinder. I was severely depressed and contemplated suicide. For some reason though, even though I had sworn to myself I would never let a man do this to me, I decided to fight for my marriage.

He agreed to come back and work things out, but left again after only 3 days and flew the girlfriend to town. He came back to me again, begging forgiveness. I allowed him to come home, but it was never easy. I believed he had a mental illness. Manic-depressive disorder and schizophrenia runs heavily in his family and I wondered if that was the problem. I had him in to see doctors and psychiatrists. They put him on different anti-depressants and anti-psychotics and as long as he took them, he seemed to do better, but as soon as he would stop, he’d “go off the deep end.” Over the next 6 years, he left me 9 more times. Sometimes there was no indication that anything was wrong, not even an argument. He would just come home and pack his stuff and leave without a word. He’d always come back, beg for forgiveness, promise to never do it again, and I’d forgive and let him come home. I think I died every time, though.

Those 6 years were full of things you might see on a bad episode of the Jerry Springer show. I suspect he may have been involved with prostitution for a time, I contracted HPV (an STD) and had to have pre-cancer cells removed, there was another affair that resulted in a child that may or may not have been his—she refused DNA testing, he punched me in the face, he regularly phoned and visited other women, he stayed out, he drank, etc. I also had my third child in the middle of all of this. I had a ton of reasons why I stayed—some make sense, some do not. But that list is long.

Last September (2008), he threw me out of the house and said he was keeping the children. Of course since he was never around, he didn’t know how to take care of the children. The children seem to agitate him, he can only take them in small doses and for some reason, never has them alone. If he has them, he takes them to someone’s house. Anyway, it didn’t take 12 hours before they were back with me 95% of the time. We stayed at my mom’s for a month, but he was begging me to come home and I was struggling with some severe depression and was quite suicidal. So I went back. I was there for 2 weeks and he left. Then he came back again, then left again. I had gotten on some great anti-depressants that allowed me to think clearly for the first time in a long time. I had finally had enough. For the benefit of 14 years and 3 kids, I gave him one final chance. I told him in December that he had until March to get himself together or it was over. In January he admitted that he was living with a new girlfriend. I moved to my own house and filed for divorce.

I had been in turmoil and fought it for so many years, but overnight, God gave me complete peace about letting my marriage go. He was still back and forth, begging me to let him come home or being belligerent and hateful, but I felt calm. I had feared being alone, but I found that I loved it. He continued to bombard me with texts and phone calls, and often showed up at my house in the middle of the night. I was starting to get scared. He was threatening suicide and I feared a man on the edge would try to take someone with him. I feared becoming a statistic or one of those stories you hear on court TV where the man snaps and kills his wife and kids and himself. One night when he showed up, I felt a definite jolt of fear and thought, “this man could really kill me.” I found out later that he had come to my house to hide because he had just tried to strangle his girlfriend and the cops were looking for him.

That is some of the background and it is long enough. I think I will split this into two posts. The rest of the story to follow….

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