When Marriage is a Mirage

My marriage is in the crapper these days. It’s been there for awhile but I tolerated it much better when my stress level wasn’t through the roof. Once upon a time, I had a lot of grace. These days, I need it more than most.

There’s really three roads you can take when this happens.

1) Take advice from men hating divorcees who claim you’d be better off alone

2) Take advice from conservative Christians, doormats, and conflict avoiders who convince you the problem is all you


3) Get professional help.

I’ve tried door number 2 first and hated myself. I listened to door number 1, but decided that door was not for me. They advised me against door number 3 stating that my husband would just manipulate the therapist.

I entered door number 3 well aware of the fact that it might end in disaster. I was the one who dragged my heels into counseling when he asked me to go. I didn’t want to meet with another male who could possibly blame me for everything again and I didn’t want my husband, who is the better conversationalist, to make me into the bad guy.

But I went. It was my last try, I told myself.

The first meeting I walked out mad but wasn’t sure why. Maybe because I felt like the advice he gave was too simplistic: go home and take turns discussing our feelings. I thought that was stupid considering the entire problem was that my husband refused to actually communicate with me, shutting down every time I had a negative emotion. I felt as if I wasn’t allowed to feel. He felt as if my feelings were too out there for him.

But we tried. We attempted to communicate. And things got a little better. But in the midst of the weeks between our next session, more stress happened. And when I tried to express my feelings, he said I was abusive (later apologizing for using that word) and shut me down again.

So I dragged my heels into counseling again. I didn’t expect much really. But the counselor got to the root of things, surprising even me. He talked about how I’m more reactive and how my husband is more logical. He said I’m logical too but emotions usually win. And it was my husband’s job to make me cry. Not by insulting me but by getting to the heart of what hurts. And instead of running away, he needs to embrace my feelings and validate them. He also talked about how my husband personalizes how I feel when he shouldn’t. My feelings aren’t judgments against him, but my own feelings. I own those, not him.

My husband, confused as to how talking and validating would help, asked the counselor what the point was if he couldn’t fix it. The counselor said because then I’d feel less crazy and less angry (i.e. abusive) and would feel understood. So we were to use “I feel” statement. It was my husband’s job to “pick a fight” or draw out the emotion. I was supposed to not say “I feel like” because “like” masked the true emotion. “I feel like crap” instead would be “I feel angry” or “I feel depressed”.

I will admit this is awkward. For years, I’ve not been able to truly say how I feel for fear of him calling me overly sensitive or telling me I’m wrong. So it is foreign to say how I feel out loud to someone I don’t trust emotionally. And I still feel hurt by the things he has said.

But working it out with expert help is better than the alternative. Granted both of us are trying. If you have one who gives up and won’t try, then door number 1 or 2 might be better.

I’m still not sure where all of this will lead in the end but at least it’s progress. It’s slow but it’s moving forward.


Defense of negative feelings

The other day, my husband told me i was abusive. It took me back because although my anger can get the best of me, I’ve never been told that before.

The comment came about after I had told him I was angry that he kept something from me. Lying by omission is still lying. And he seems the master of hiding all kinds of things from me, even rather unimportant things. So in an effort of telling him how I feel, he insisted he didn’t tell me because it involved my daughter and that he shouldn’t have to endure my abuse.


That’s a heavy handed word. I know what abuse is because I’ve endured it. To be fair, he later apologized and said that was the wrong word to use. He doesn’t care for conflict or negative feelings. So when he hears me get upset, he assumes it’s terrible. And then his reaction causes more anger for me.

So I wondered if maybe I was abusive.

To top it off, my kids all said they didn’t want to tell me about this incident (everyone but me knew) because I’d get mad.

So the question became am I a hot headed, volatile bitch?


Are they afraid of feelings and conflict?

Well I never thought my kids were afraid of me. I’ve always prided myself on having a good relationship with them. So when they said that, I was hurt. I further questioned them and asked if I made them afraid or I was cruel or mean and they all said, “I just don’t like when I make you mad.”

I’m not saying I don’t have anger issues but it’s bull crap that I’m abusive. Maybe I act like a crazy when I’m mad because someone is a Hector projector and likes to gas light instead of deal with hard things. That’s not my problem.

Life is often riddled with conflict. Choosing to avoid it by telling me I’m abusive so I can’t express emotion is, in and of itself, abusive. I feel at times like I’m losing my damn mind.

I called my husband an asshole at one point during this debate so he said that was proof I was being abusive. I reminded him he WAS being an asshole, so not exactly proof.

It’s frustrating to try to communicate a negative feeling and then to be told you are the problem. I wonder if there’s any chance for change. Seems like I’m often defending my feelings. And I’m tired of it.

Mid-Life Changes

I decided to start up a new online biz. I create digital lead magnets for blogs and small website owners to attract readership. I know it seems a bit silly considering I’m using a free account at WordPress and don’t even care that much about readership–I basically did this intentionally. I am OK with not being famous or in any way remarkable on this blog. But, I did create another website with the intent to start a career.

My days of homeschooling are about over. I am signing my youngest up to school for next year. My oldest graduates. My middle child is off to public school. So I figured out an idea, tossed it around for 4 months, then finally launched myself into my own job. But after being home for several years with limited contact with people besides my own family, I’m feeling kind of lonely. I tossed out some resumes to some places in the hopes to get hired and have a real job. And today, I should have been excited when I got my first website client, but instead, I feel sad. I’m doing something I love–graphic design. So why am I feeling so lonely and sad? So detached? So blah?

I’ve always wanted my own business and to be an entrepreneur. But lately, I’m realizing that I’ve isolated myself to the point of where I hate being an introvert. I have one friend that I never see. I rarely see my family (intentional as they all are dysfunctional butt heads). I talk to my husband and kids, but my life is ALWAYS about them. And part of me wanted something that was just mine. But still, having my own website with paying clients (which is a dream to most people) seems lonely.

I’m not exactly sure what my problem is. Maybe I need to find more friends or be in groups or something extroverts do. Maybe I’m just depressed. Maybe nothing really fulfills me these days. Or maybe, I’m just mourning over another change in my life. What should be exciting and great reminds me that I had to close a door on something I used to love. Maybe I’m just sad that it feels a bit like failure in the mom department.

I used to curl up on the couch with my kiddos, reading all kinds of books, exploring the world, talking about whatever I could with them. We drove to interesting places, talked about fascinating topics, and for a time, it felt like “this is where I belong”. But then stuff happened. BIG stuff. Like mental illness, autism, and bullying. Like negative body images, church abuse, and rejection. And ever since then, I feel like I fit in nowhere. My kids are no longer small and cute, but have their own personalities which often voice their disagreement with me. I take them to counseling and I’m told how I could have talked better, to create a safe place for my teen. I guess how I talk isn’t “safe”. Since when? Disagreement is no longer OK. It just feels like 1+1 doesn’t equal 2. You can do all the right things, but in the end, you have no control over what your kids do or if they will be in your life forever.

So I leave behind the years I taught my kids, the lessons I tried to instill (I will continue doing this, but won’t be the only voice in their ear once they go to school full time), the cuddles on the couch reading about Charlotte’s Web. It’s just a change that is hard to embrace sometimes. To go from full-time mom, homeschool teacher, principal and spiritual guide to taking a back seat and doing what every other mom got used to in Kindergarten. And then to find a career after homeschool was your entire life–it feels like imposter syndrome.

I have skills…no doubt. But I don’t have a work history to back up those skills. And so I feel like I’m competing with my own self worth now. I know I have skills and people have told me how much I helped them and how they are so happy with the outcome, but yet I doubt myself. I feel like I’m just winging it. I never went to college except for a brief semester and I don’t have a degree. I’m self-taught through and through. In a sense, I’m homeschooled too!

I’m not exactly sure how to feel at this point. I should be happy to have clients (or a client at this point). I should be excited at the new journey ahead. I can let go and let God and know that I did the best I could. But there is a nagging feeling that I battle as I go. It reminds me of the years I could have worked, the college I do not have, the lack of real world experiences I sacrificed to be a stay at home, homeschooling mom. And I wonder if the world will be graceful with that fact.

I think an online business is great if you can network with real people, but right now it’s all online. I might pick up the phone to ask questions or skype a client, but it’s still hands-off in the day-to-day. This makes me feel isolated still. Except now my kids are gone too. And that makes me feel even worse. Maybe I need to think creatively about having real people time and not blame my online website biz for that problem. So this change involves a lot of moving parts and maybe I’m feeling ill equipped for what’s ahead. I know it’s where I need to be–doing something else and letting go–but sometimes that feels so daunting.



Entitlement or Depression

So yesterday I had an epiphany of sorts. It happened after another high emotion incident with my teen.

She had been saying she was suicidal so her dad and I contemplated sending her to the hospital. After the last time, I wasn’t overly impressed with that option. It’s basically like an expensive holding area. So I opted to watch her like a hawk, hide all sharp items, and wait until her counseling appointment.

She seemed to lighten up and engage with us the next day so I took her shopping and we were chatting. She also was laughing and playing with her siblings earlier in the day. I asked her if she still felt suicidal and she said more so yesterday.

We went to her counseling. In what I think was an attempt to look sad, she put her hoody on and covered part of her face. Her entire demeanor changed. I went to tell the counselor what was going on. Then my daughter had her session and I waited in the waiting room.

The counselor wanted to speak to me at the end and said, again, she was concerned for her safety and I probably need to send her to the hospital and gave me a pamphlet to a nearby hospitalization program. I said, “so this is what we do? Just keep putting her in the hospital?” Yep. Until she gets better.

From my perspective, all this has done has made things worse. I’m not saying this is true of all kids, but I’m saying it’s true of mine.

This news upset me, of course. I had a few words with her but sat in silence all the way home. It was dejavu. I had done this once before and I wasn’t happy about uprooting my life, her siblings life, and doing this again. Last time was hard enough.

I honestly wanted to smash my car into a tree and do us both a favor.

I went home and I was angry. My husband and I argued. I left the house while he babysat her. She continued with her hoody, sad face.

While I was gone, I realized 2 things:

1. My mental health was suffering because of the stress.

2. I was giving her too many of my emotions, so much so, I had none left for anything or anyone else.

I hate to say it, but I think I’m dealing with an entitled brat.

Over the years, the pattern has been that if I didn’t jump high enough to make her happy, she’d run away, leave suicide notes, cut herself, or generally make everyone else pay. My response has always been to try to fix it. Especially the suicide stuff. And she eats it up.

I’m not saying that she doesn’t have depression and I shouldn’t take it seriously, but the thing she’s always had is me. All of me. My time, my energy, my emotions, and even to some degree my marriage. We fight more than ever about her and how my husband elevates her in our relationship.

I feel at this point someone is gonna give me crap, so let me just say that I have run myself ragged trying to help her and I’ve done everything I was told to get her therapy, put her on meds… The whole gamut of help. This is not my first rodeo.

She refuses to help herself. She refuses meds, eating healthy or eating at all, blames all her problems on depression, refuses to take accountability. I rush in and help her.

But yesterday I said no more. I didn’t tell her that but I told myself that.

I will not be sucked into her emotional vortex.

I will not let my day be ruined by her moods.

I will not put my other kids on the back burner.

If she wants to walk this road again, I will admit her to the hospital for a 72 hour hold but I will not cry, plead, beg, or sit up there coddling her.

I’m done having my emotional state resemble hers.

She will lose her job, her ability to get a license, and will be behind in school. She will not get to enter classes where she could have made friends (something really important to her). She will lose her family relationships to a degree. But she will not find the same amount of emotional energy as last time. I refuse to lose myself and my values to help her. I will still help her, be a good parent, but I will not sacrifice my mental sanity for hers.

I will literally emotionally detach. That doesn’t mean I will be mean, but will treat her like a stranger that I met in a grocery store. I will afford her pleasantries and kindness and help, but I will not be her savior.

Why? This might sound a bit harsh to people reading. But here’s the thing. Yesterday she told us she was mad we controlled her. I only did two things that could be viewed as controlling: took her phone away for a time (she got it back) and told her she couldn’t engage with an unhealthy friendship. Oh I’m so controlling!!

Right after that, she started this downward spiral. When I continued to put my foot down, she brought up suicide. Who is controlling who?

I’m not playing her games but I will get her help. Just don’t expect much from me other than rides and more debt. It’s gonna hurt her more than me when she realizes I won’t play into. The only worry I have is she is good at getting therapists to see me as the bad guy. Last time she convinced them that I was to blame and I had to sit through 45 minutes of them asking questions about my brothers suicide. If she can’t control me, she controls how others see me.

I love my daughter but the past five years have sucked me dry. My other kids have suffered. My marriage has too. My husband said to me last night that she seems to want to tear us apart. She is an emotional vampire. I hate saying that about my own child but she’s learned how to fill her pain by manipulating and attention seeking tactics. I won’t give in to them any longer.

I will only own what is mine. I will not go down like this. I’m important too. I hope someday she realizes that self pity and manipulation never works. But until then, I will protect myself from it all.

The Land of Make Believe

There’s a big hole in my heart right now.

For the past 5 years, I’ve been dealing with a daughter who is mentally ill. It is always at different levels. Sometimes it was cutting and suicide notes. Other times it’s lying. Lately, it looks like refusing to take medication and not caring for herself which leads to suicidal thoughts. And in between, she thinks the most important thing for her right now is to make friends. It’s devastating to her to not have someone who is constantly in her ear telling her they love her, but that person will never be her parents. She’s basically pushed us into the corner and glorified the Almighty Friend “who gets me”.

Of course, I’m angry. I don’t sleep. I have to babysit her and she’s 15. I’ve been in and out of counseling and therapy offices. I’ve been in Emergency Rooms and talked to social workers. I’ve taken her to DBT and admitted her to a month long hospitalization program. I’ve hidden sharp objects, watched her scare her siblings and threaten if they “tell”, and run away from home. The cops have been to our house at least 3 times over the years. It’s embarrassing, shame filled, and leaves me feeling confused most days. Where the hell did I go wrong?

And in between, I tried to treat her like a normal teenager who is able to make decisions. That was my big mistake. Because she isn’t one.

As parents, we have let her make decisions she wanted to make. We sent her to a school she thought was great. She ended up bullied. We warned her about certain friends and now she’s been in at least 3 manipulative relationships, one boarding on predator. When I try to point out the red flags I see, she gets mad and glares at me like I’m the devil. I barely know her anymore. We decided to put a stop to one really bad relationship and it’s like pulling her out of a cult. This girl convinced my daughter that we hated her, we didn’t understand her, and over numerous phone calls, social media chats, and other means, she poisoned my daughter into thinking that their friendship was all that mattered. She’s gone from boy crazy to lesbian to bisexual in a matter of months too because this “friend” is also a bisexual. When I confronted this friend, she acted as if she had a right to my daughter. Don’t tell me lesbians can’t be predators. They sure can. Not to mention this girl is mentally ill herself.

It’s my bad for assuming she is ready for all of this kind of stuff. Of course, I had no idea the lengths they were chatting, the things they were talking about. I didn’t know my daughter would stop taking her medication and refuse to care about herself because she was so wrapped up into another dysfunctional human being. And it’s not about her sexual orientation either. It’s all about how she can’t seem to think for herself–she is always trying to please the person who tells her what she wants to hear and belittle, shit on, and basically degrade anyone who doesn’t. If it was a boy, I’d be equally disgusted with her behavior. No 15 year old should be that wrapped up in another person.

Some days I just can’t believe this is my life.

It makes me wish I had never had children. It makes me feel insane. It makes my mental health feel like it is failing too.

I sit in counseling sessions where they tell me I’m half to blame–or at least they suggest it. They say I need to speak better, detach, not take it personally. They tell me stories of teachers who have to do this at work. The difference is, teachers go home and they don’t have to deal with that same shitty kid. They get a break. They get relief. And once the kid moves to another grade, that kid is no longer their problem. So don’t tell me how to f’ing feel or compare me to a teacher who has to care for some random child.

This is my kid. The baby I held, the girl I watched grow up, the teen I am now uncertain of. I wonder if I’ll be burying her in a few years. I wonder if she will turn a corner. I wonder if I’ll still be here to see my youngest grow old (because of all the stress and health problems I now face). It feels so very lonely.

I keep hearing that people will pray for me. I pray myself. But what does prayer do, I wonder. It seems at times if God takes away and gives and offers no explanation. My daughter could take her life and I’ll have to find some answer like “Only God knows why” or “It was his plan” or some other bull shit. I’ve been through this before with my brother. He took his life and I heard all the Christianese. I heard his decision was based on that “rock music” he listened to, the dad that wasn’t in the picture…anyone can find a reason to blame if they look hard enough.

But I feel guilty for being so fatalistic. Maybe it’s my way of preparing for the worst. I wish I had one of those stories to tell–the ones I hear so often in church about how “God gets the glory”. My life sucked ass but then God came into the picture and swooped in and now my daughter doesn’t have depression anymore! I just can’t let my head go to such fantastical places. They don’t exist. And never have. In fact, most of those stories are made up, if you ask me.

I suffer with depression too, although it seems to be more situational than anything. But I struggle with living each day. I have to pull myself out of that funk and keep going. I don’t know if she knows how to do such things. She says she’s tried all the coping skills she learned in therapy, but her go to is clinging to crazy people and cutting herself. She says the only way it will end is if she dies.

She only speaks what she feels and I can’t blame her for that. But I am angry that my days are becoming less and less my own and more and more something I can’t control. And I’m becoming someone I barely know, sucked into the abyss of therapy appointments, anxiety, and the unknowns. I worry about every decision I make–will it end up like before? Will she attract another narc? Will I have to talk her off the ledge or bring her to the ER again? Will she run off for good this time?

There seems to be no answers, not in prayers and not in life. And I am slipping too. Each day I let go pieces of my own dreams and self. And I’m just waiting my world to stop spinning. If it ever will.


Shut it all off

I deleted my social media apps from my phone today.

Mental health wise, I can’t deal. Everyone is debating guns, gay rights, or bad mouthing Trump and the abuse in churches. Oh, they all have valid, real points but I’m so damn tired of the constant stream of bitching.

I wish I lived during simpler times. I get the irony that I am using technology to complain myself. I just wish sometimes technology didn’t take up so much of our culture. I wish things were less complicated. I miss being naive about some things. I don’t need to know about the Kardashians or the mind of a killer. Sometimes it’s just too much.

I wonder if others have similar feelings. If my life feels chaotic, social media can make me feel worse. Today I felt downright confused and wondered if I was sane. It wasn’t anything specific. I just felt like my brain was on overload.

This might be an introvert trait. We tend to get overloaded rather easily. I read it helps to shut off lights, turn off noises, and relax. Hard to do as a mom though. I opt instead for naps and disconnecting from apps.

I hate how I feel though–like everything is a giant mess or that something is terribly wrong with me. I can’t quite explain how I feel but that I don’t feel good. And there’s no real reason. It’s just mostly stress. But I feel like I can’t possibly take one more thought, one more emotion, or one more outside stimuli. So I have to shut it all off.

If I remember that tomorrow will be better, I am OK. But sometimes, I do get depressed and I can’t figure out why. It’s sometimes extremely insufferable.

My sister told me a story about her ex husband’s father who passed away. On his death bed, he stated he wished he would’ve never married his wife. He said she ruined his life. This is an example of me ruminating and not being able to process outside stimuli. I can’t seem to stop thinking about it and then thinking about myself. What if I regret my life when I die? It’s just so sad.

This is when I can tell I’m not dealing very well with things. I just don’t feel right. So I escape to my womb-like state and shut it all off until I can emerge again.

I don’t know how else to deal. I’m in counseling. I’m trying. But life seems to hand me too many curve balls.

On top of it, my husband wants to go back to church and I feel upset at that. It’s another layer of complication. Is there such thing as a peaceful, loving church? I’ve never been to one. It’s full of phony people who dress up and act perfect. Do I want to add another place to pretend?

I think I’ll slink back into the black. It’s easier. I hope someday things are easier and less complicated because life is just not what I imagined.

The Problem With Reality

I haven’t been much for writing lately. I am in a bit of a funk. Well, a big funk actually. I’m trying to keep going, but some days, I just feel like I’m dragging my ass around trying to look normal.

It’s mid winter here in Minnesota. The ground has been covered with snow for months. We get snow once a week. It turns from being beautiful, pristine white to dirty and nasty. It isn’t very picturesque. The sun sometimes shows up and is welcoming, but mostly, it’s cloudy. Nature is hiding, but today I spotted a chickadee which made my morning a bit brighter. The earth is rather silent in winter, leaving me feeling melancholy and sometimes lonely. It’s that lonely ache that is sometimes hard to process and write about.

I’ve been married for almost 20 years. It’s hard to talk about marriage–it seems like a taboo subject unless you are talking about how happy you are. But marriage for me has often been quite lonely. I love my husband; always have. But because of details I don’t want to go into, he’s emotionally unavailable. It’s often like trying to pry open a jammed car door with a toothpick. It just doesn’t work.

He has been going to counseling and taking steps towards trying to get better. He asked me to come with last week. I had my reservations. First of all, I simply have lost trust in him. He hasn’t cheated on me, had secret emotional affairs, or abused me. There is none of that. Some of what he does could be labeled unhealthy, but I’ve concluded (despite what every divorced woman thinks) that he is not abusive. I think he’s stuck emotionally in childhood, still guarding his family secrets. Which means, he guards himself too…even from me. I’ve called him a robot on many occasions, much to his dislike.

There have been tense moments in our marriage for sure. He’s done some things such as invalidating my feelings or not standing up for me or responding passively when I’m hurt. Those things, some people have suggested are wrong and I should leave. But I’ve spent almost 20 years with the man. I have three kids. My life is wrapped up in all of this whether I leave or not. It’s hard to just dump everything and leave. Some people act like it’s just so simple. But, I love him. And as long as he is making an effort and repentant, then I have no reason to ditch him. Til death do us part. Even if I don’t like the person he is right now, doesn’t mean that I get a free ride out of here.

So I went to counseling with him. I told my side of things as best I could without sounding like a bitter wife (which I totally am, by the way). There were a few things that hurt to hear. At one point, the counselor said to my husband that his wife (me) is always there–24/7. His self-worth or lack thereof will never get better if he doesn’t talk to me and I’m always there. When questioned about why he didn’t feel like sharing details, or in the past has hidden details from me (specifically about his family), my husband said he was trying to protect me. Upon further questioning, the counselor said “It sounds to me that you are just trying to protect yourself”. So the bottom line is that my husband, growing up in the family that he did, has decided the best course of action for himself is to be secretive and vague with his wife. We are supposed to take 10 minutes a day to discuss things that are real–be vulnerable or whatever. So that was how it ended.

It also ended up with me being more angry. Since then, I’ve told him a few things that weren’t even nice. One thing I said was I wished he just would go have an affair. It would make my life easier. I mean, avoiding me and ignoring me is something I just have to endure forever until I die, but if he cheated, I’d have a reason. Isn’t avoidance and neglect sort of like cheating anyway? He told me that was hurtful. Yes, that’s the point.

Another time I told him I’m tired of it falling on me to fix his self-worth. This is probably dangerous ground for me. Since he’s already feeling fragile and not wanting to open up to me, I made it all the more difficult. Maybe I secretly am just sick and tired of being here–wasting my years with someone who doesn’t love me and I don’t know if he ever will.

I decided to share some things with certain people. Sometimes it’s a mistake. Instead of support, I often get told how they feel sorry for my husband, how it must’ve sucked growing up in that family, how sad it would be if I left. I get it. I do. But has anyone asked me how I’ve been? Has anyone tried to gauge how this all makes me feel?

Don’t get me wrong though. I am not wanting a divorce. Sometimes I just get fed up waiting around for him to catch up to me emotionally. It’s lonely to sit here day in and day out and try to have a relationship with someone so closed off.  Sometimes it is downright maddening. Our conversations are frustrating for me–a person who is emotional, honest, and authentic (or at least I try to be).  It’s a battle for him to open up, be real, be vulnerable. His knee-jerk reaction to most things is to check out, go look at his sports stuff, or zone out with television. He doesn’t want to relate to me and when he does try, it’s still not good enough for me. I don’t want a relationship where it feels unnatural to relate. Isn’t marriage where two people genuinely want to be around each other most of the time? Or at least, share things with each other? That’s not been my experience. Yet, I still hang on…hoping he’ll get there.

I don’t know what irritates me more: the people who don’t seem to have empathy for me, or the people who think my husband is a total bad guy. I hate both extremes. My husband is not abusive and his attempts at trying shows me that he cares about me. Maybe not how I want it to look, but it’s still an effort. I’ve been informed that my husband is a covert abuser. Sorry, but covert abusers have NO empathy and aren’t repentant and don’t go to counseling or try to fix their marriage. If my husband was a covert abuser, he wouldn’t be sorry. Abusive people never are.

As you can tell, I’m quite torn with the whole thing. I, an emotional, sensitive, feeling human being can barely stand the silence most days. I do feel like it is killing me. I have more conversations on Twitter than I do in real life. I’m looking for a job just to have something else because I literally cannot stand the lack of talking…with anyone really. But I’m always here and maybe I shouldn’t be.

The question is will he somehow, through therapy or other means, come to the conclusion that he enjoys relating to his wife? Will he stop hiding silly things from me?(for instance, he went to breakfast with his dad and didn’t tell me until just yesterday that his brothers came. Why hide that? If you can’t tell the truth in those kinds of scenarios, why would I trust you?) Will he continue to be vague, withdrawn, and isolating? If so, this will not last. I have a timeline. It’s called 1 year. ONE. That’s all I’m willing to sacrifice since I’ve already sacrificed 20.

So my life is in limbo. And I feel depressed for obvious reasons. Whether I stay or leave, my reality has shifted. I feel like most things in my life have from leaving our church and my eyes being opened to the realities of spiritual abuse, misogyny, and all the rest to realizing that my life is just not how I envisioned it. It’s just hard to transition from being in denial to being extremely aware. What do you do with the knowledge? That’s been my battle. And depression seems like the place I end up falling.

Let me mourn yet another person who I cannot trust. Let me mourn yet another rejection. Let me mourn that at the end of the day, all I have is myself. That is a troubling reality to swallow.




My Me Too

When I was a little girl, probably around age 8 or 9, I was playing in my yard. The neighbor boy was outside, putting up a tent. He was my older brother’s friend who was around the age of 18 or 19.  I was a curious little kid. I saw him putting up the tent and even though I was shy, I had talked with him before. His family had lived next to us for years. I have strange flash backs being in their small house, but I can’t really recall why. I remember the older couple that lived upstairs in the mother-in-law apartment that was attached. I spent hours over there, probably chatting their ears off or asking questions that annoyed them. My mom didn’t seem to mind me being gone. She seemed to trust them with her kids, or maybe was blissfully unaware.

So I crossed the sidewalk from our house and stepped into their front yard. Dennis, as this was his name, looked at me and continued putting up the tent. The conversation was small talk really. I asked why he needed a tent and he told me so he could sleep under the stars with a girl, or something like that. I thought that was weird. I really don’t remember the conversation or how it turned into what it did, but I do remember that he wanted to “show me” what he would be doing. And so then he decided to french kiss me. I honestly don’t remember if I ran away or sat there stunned. It wasn’t until years later that I actually remembered the incident, telling my sister and niece when I was a teenager and they laughed about it.

When I was about 18 years old, I saw him again. My brother had died and my family had a gathering at their house a few months later. Dennis showed up. He was now in his late 20’s or so. He kept saying how I had grown up and kept staring at me. I felt uncomfortable and left to go talk to someone else. I never saw him again. I don’t care to.

I see stories on Twitter of girls who have been raped or assaulted. Hollywood is full of these creeps. Churches even have been called out about their cover-ups of abuse. It seems silly to talk about a neighbor boy who “only” kissed me. I don’t feel traumatized by the event, but I have felt uncomfortable around men all my life.

When the #metoo threads came out, I felt drawn to the stories. I kept reading them and was appalled by the pain in the victims voices. I felt sad for all they had lost–their dignity, their respect, jobs, and the like. My story isn’t even close to theirs.

Maybe it’s because I was a child. I didn’t have a job or family to lose. I didn’t need to be threatened because I kept silent about it for 10 years until I told a few people and their reaction caused me to continue in my silence. Even now, I find it hard to write this and not feel it is something that should be told.

Yesterday my daughter told me that a boy in her homeschool co-op was hounding her to send foot video to him. He requested it be 45 seconds long and that she rub her foot on something. He admitted to having a foot fettish. She’s a smart girl and told him no. She eventually blocked him on all her social profiles. My response was swear words and anger. You just don’t expect this in a Christian homeschool co-op, but apparently evil is everywhere. It’s at this point that I find myself wondering if I should rock the boat & say something or walk away and let the dude continue to be a pervert. For my daughter’s part, he’s been blocked from her on all social media, but he still sees my daughter on Monday’s in her writing class. This makes me sad. Should she go an entire 1/2 year dealing with his creepy stares and knowing what she knows?

She doesn’t like conflict and doesn’t want attention drawn to herself either. How do I respect her wishes yet still show her that silence isn’t the answer? It’s taken me a long time to process that too. What actions are worth raising hell over? Which ones aren’t? Is there a line? I just don’t know.

Looking back, I wish I would’ve ran and told someone about what happened to me. Maybe it wouldn’t have mattered at all. I don’t know enough to say I would’ve prevented other situations from the likes of Dennis. I have no idea where he ended up or what he’s done or if he’s even alive. But it wouldn’t have been hard for people to believe me.

In other situations, like my daughter’s, I hesitate to speak up because I know that prize Christian kids will be believed over depressed teenage girls. She could be told she participated so she was wrong (which she didn’t) or she may be shamed or questioned about her part or even about her honesty. And I’m just hesitant to go there.

I wish these things were easy, but it often ends up in “he said” / “she said” and the woman is left defending herself again and again to people who don’t believe her. I am struggling to do the right thing in this scenario–and in so many other scenarios when I’ve had to deal with male bullies and not being believed. It’s like my last church experience all over again. Will I be listened to this time?

The Daily Fight For Joy

On my other blog, I try to share how to find joy. I write about the small moments and fighting for a thankful heart. I believe everything I write. I want to be the woman who embodies a thankful heart and encourages others to pursue love and peace through Christ.

But living that out is not easy. I fight feelings of failure. I try to squash my inner critic that likes to remind me of all the bad stuff. It is a real battle and sometimes I feel exhausted from trying to defeat my bad attitude.

As I write this, my kids are all playing a game together. It’s a rare moment. My middle child woke up depressed and forgot to take her meds which help her deal with her moods. My husband was going out so I forced her to go too. I struggle with not being resentful at her for refusing to do things like sleep & take her meds. But my little push made a difference and now she’s having a rare moment of fun with her siblings. I wish there was more of these moments but most of the time, my time is spent harping on her to take care of herself.

My dog is curled up next to me. The fire place is warm and cozy. Family life is pleasant for the moment. Yet I start thinking of the bad stuff–like wishing everyday was this way or wishing it wasn’t so hard for my kids to do basic things. Why can’t I just enjoy the rare moments and the warm dog cuddles?

I struggle just like everyone to keep moving forward. I struggle with loving my life. I struggle to keep a joyful perspective. I spend way too much time in my own head. But I’m thankful that God is reminding me of the good in life.

Sometimes we think we have to have arrived. But life is often a daily battle of our wills. We fight to think well. We struggle to not let our moods bring us down or affect our loved ones. These things don’t necessarily have an arrival point but are part of this journey called life. If we can remember that, then we won’t feel like hopeless failures. Instead we will have grace for the process and for ourselves.

Is joy a struggle for you?

Want to Be Happy?

I love happy people.

Their contagious smiles.

Their laughs.

The way they seem to love life and embrace it. Every bit of it.

It’s hard to be unhappy around happy people.

Their energy is contagious. Their passion is admirable.

I wish I could be like that.

Happy Does Not Equal Phony

Happy is not sucking it up & pretending to be OK when you aren’t. It’s not flashing a plastic smile when you’re heart is breaking. Those masks need to be thrown in the trash. In a world of highlight reels of perfect families, perfect bodies, and perfect social media posts, I encourage you to embrace the freedom of being you. YOU. Yes, the ugly crying, the salty emotions, and the bad hair days. YOU. The woman (or man) who longs to be happy, who struggles to find her voice, who wonders if her best is good enough.

Don’t take away the message that you have to be anything but who you are. I want to be happy just like you do. Not fake happy. Not pretend, here’s my Facebook photo to prove ithappy.

No, the real deal.

You can just feel it when someone is authentically happy. That’s what I long for. I am thinking you do too.

Continue Reading at Every Day Elle