down tonight.

Dear God

I am tired of crying myself to sleep. I feel pulled by work and home. Something has got to give.

I’m sick. Everyone at work is sick and since I am their supervisor if they can’t work I have too.

I don’t want to have to force my work smile, I want it to be a real genuine smile; an expression of real feelings.

I  want to slip into an alternate reality. One where I like my job, my daughter’s  mind is whole, and I can feel hope.

Now I  lay me down to sleep I pray my hope to keep.

Amen

Oregon, My Soul

In the 8th grade, my parents moved us from Myrtle Creek, Oregon to Carlin, Nevada. My Uncle Jim owned a drilling company and my father would work for him. During the move, Dad and I rode in a U-Haul truck on an endless stretch of a deserted highway.  In the distance, I spotted Doherty Summit or as my family calls it Buzzards Gap. The summit stood massive and barren. Looking, I wondered ‘where are the trees?’ I turned to dad asking about the trees. He responded, “there aren’t any, just sand and rocks”. My expression prompted dad to say, “it’s not very pretty, is it?” I shook my head no.  He proceeded to tell me how things will look different in our new town. As he talked, I began to understand how much my father loved Oregon. He wasn’t talking about where we were going, but what he was leaving. He painted a picture of Oregon’s beauty, joked about the people, shared his family connections and memories. In my 12-year-old mind, I began to grasp the deep love between my father and Oregon!

We returned to Oregon a year later after graduating from high school I moved away, returning in less than a year. A short time later our family moved back to Nevada where I married someone who didn’t share my love of Oregon. My next trip to Oregon was 20 years later with 3 more visits in the years to follow. As my massive family slowly dwindles, my continual prayer is to go home.

The minute I enter Oregon I become overwhelmed with emotion. It never fails as my car climbs the winding mountain passes tears will brim my eyes. Sitting in the passenger seat I’ll watch the trees grow stronger and taller. The forest grows thick only allowing me glimpses of her deep blue lakes. The sights, the sounds, the smells begin to confuse my thoughts with a mixture of memories and familiarity.  I try to share what’s happening, but the words choke in my throat. Climbing down the other side of the mountain, there are farms with rows and rows of freshly tilled land. Cows will be gathered in the corners of pastures. The closer I get to the town I call home the worse it gets.

This town holds my youth, my history, my childhood dreams. As I drive around, I see the past. My schools. My old homes.  Every corner brings familiarity. A wrong turn brings back lost memories. If I look closely, I can see ghosts. In our old home, my mom tends her flower beds while my brother’s tinker with their bikes. At my grandparent’s farm, grandma is feeding her chickens while grandpa mows. There’s the cafe I worked at in high school if I gaze there’s me as a teen waiting tables. In the green grass in front of my high school, my friends and I sit laughing, teasing, living out the day-to-day drama of teenagers. The foundations of my opinions were shaped here. What was to become my life was started here.

The first place I usually go is to one of my many Aunts houses. There is nothing better than being wrapped in someone’s arms who unconditionally loves you.  A woman who’s genuinely happy to see you.  A person whose eyes bring back pictures of ancestors long-buried. There will be laughter, food, and stories of days gone by. The stories I’ve heard a million times, but my soul longs to hear them a million more. I will be made to feel important, cared about, and loved beyond measure. I am connected.

Another place I will visit is the Roseburg Memorial Cemetery, I know weird! I love that I can go to one cemetery and visit both sides of my family. I sit by my father’s grave and visit. I say hi to my grandparents, uncles, and aunts; it’s strangely comforting.

Eventually, time runs out. Reluctantly, I start my trip home with every mile my heart grows heavier. By the time I reach the state line pieces of me are missing. Once again I’m disconnected.

January Saturday 

Saturday 9 am: Sitting on the floor in my comfy black sweats, back to the sofa, laptop on grandma’s old coffee table, smoking hot cup of salted caramel coffee, I’m ready to work on genealogy. D comes out of the bedroom “What you doing?”

“Genealogy” I answered observing that he was wearing a dress, “You must not be working today?” Dam! I thought I had the day alone.

“You sound disappointed. I have the day off is that alright? It’s like you don’t want me around anymore. You need to put away all your Christmas stuff today.”

“All that’s left is the snowmen I always put them away at the end of January. I got up early and cleaned house so I could work on my genealogy.” I answered exasperated.

“I want all your stuff out of my den.”

“What stuff?” I ask confused.

“Your Christmas stuff and if you’re going shopping go this morning before the storm hits.” he goes over and looks out the window. “DJ needs to shovel the snow. Aren’t you doing your laundry today? It’s your day.” He rambles on with his list of chores.

“I don’t have anything in your room.”

“I want you to take the van to Les Schwab to get the windshield wipers changed. Put all your Christmas stuff in your storage unit. When’s Lisa coming home?” He continues ignoring me.

“I checked them yesterday, they’re fine. My storage is full. She’s staying until at least Monday.” I’m starting to feel cornered.

“I already set it up. You should get a bigger unit for your stuff. What’s for dinner? Tomorrow I’ll go pick up Lisa with the van………………………….” and on and on he goes. I set on the floor

How can anyone have a conversation that only consists of badgering? I want to scream at him:

#1 Our daughter is 22 years old she can come home whenever she wants.

#2 Our son shovels the snow every day. He also checks my oil and changes the windshield wipers when needed. I’m not paying anyone to do it, for that matter, I can do it.

#3 Yes, I don’t want to be around you. That’s why we got a divorce, but I would settle for some space.

#4 Ask! don’t assume it’s okay for you to use my van. It’s mine I’ve made all the payments, and the judge gave it to me.

#5 Put the Christmas stuff under the house. I pay almost $700 a month for me and the kids to live here. I can’t afford another shed.

Last, but the most important, quit telling me what to do. I am a grown women. Don’t plan my day!

But I just sat looking at my computer

“that’s all wrong”

The other day when in an innocent conversation a relative made a comment describing my decorating style as she chatted I thought “that’s all wrong”. It was like the person in front of me was a perfect stranger. A woman I love someone and spend a great amount of time.

On Christmas morning my son told his sister that blue was mom’s favorite color. My favorite color is red, dad’s is blue.

How can people who know you; actually not know you? Well, it’s easy, when all I reveal to them is what will keep the peace, guarding anything that may cause anxiety for my spouse. I do this particularly with the people I love, constantly seeking to project the image of happiness. When you’re with an individual that gets upset whenever you choose something he doesn’t like the result will be dramatic or physical. He will carry on using criticism, badgering, pouting, or passive-aggressive behavior. Finally, you just do whatever it takes to have peace. Over time, you learn to adjust your choices to match what will keep him from losing it.

An example: I absolutely hate pizza, especially Hawaiian pizza. Why? Because when asked “where do ‘you’ want to go for dinner?”  I would suggest a restaurant only to have that choice followed by 20 minutes of badgering until we ended up going where he wanted, usually pizza. After arriving at the pizzeria, he would order his favorite pizza, Hawaiian, if I suggested another flavor the harassment would begin until I caved. After years of this, I learned to just choose Hawaiian pizza. So people around me believe I like Hawaiian pizza.

As I forge forward with my old relationships as a divorced woman, I’ve noticed this pattern occurring in everything from food to my religious beliefs.

I find it difficult to reveal my true self to others when I do I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. This has been an issue since childhood. This needs correcting. I want honest and true friendships.  O.K. now I understand what needs fixed, now how to go about it? 

Assignment: Loss

At the end of the Friday night DV meeting Karen, the counselor, announced a new assignment, “For the next month I would like everyone to work on writing a paper listing 5 things you lost by staying in an abusive relationship. I want you to describe what you loss, how it was lost, when you realized you lost something. Then tell us why you plan on trying to regain the loss or if you suspect it wiser to let it go. This paper is one I want you to share with the rest of the group.”

Leaving I thought this will be easy; a month later I am still agonizing. I never concerned myself about what happened yesterday, my only care was surviving tomorrow. There was one goal: to live long enough to get my kids through college. Eventually I came up with these five losses.

  1. What: Being myself. I am afraid to express myself even to people who love me. I fear they will realize I am stupid and will stop wanting to be around me.
    • How D did this: everything I said or did was wrong from my opinion to the way I did the laundry. When I disagreed with him, he withheld affection, attention, and his presence.
    • When: I realized, I stopped expressing myself at a family gathering setting with my family and was afraid to join in a conversation for fear of looking stupid or being rejected.
  1. What: destroyed my self-worth. When I look in a mirror all I see is ugly. No matter what I weigh, how I do my hair, or what I wear – I see ugly.
    • How D did this: It was subtle; I can count on one hand the number of compliments D gave me. Each one holds a memory like they are some precious jewel. I also remember all the compliments he lavished on other women. Each affair-took a bite out of me.
    • When: One day D told me I had beautiful blue eyes, I realized that compliment meant way too much. Another time I read a letter sent to one of my friends from an anonymous person, it was sweet, kind and wonderful. It made her feel beautiful. Years later I learned D wrote the letter to her, I realized I never felt beautiful.
  1. What: I quit believing in a future. More times than not when plans were made something bad happened. I prayed just for nothing bad to happen.
    • How D did this: He never kept a job and refused to save for tomorrow. If I saved anything I had to hide it. D got loans without telling me. He had a constant attitude of nothing’s going to happen. In our marriage the cops came to our door 5 times because of his behavior. We had hospital visits that could have been avoided. If I got anything nice we sold it to pay for his lawyers.
    • When: One day I realized things will never change that we are living our future now, this is as good as it’s going to get.
  1. What: Squashed my creativity. I use to paint, write and draw. I use to love crafts.
    • How D did this: I wasn’t allowed to leave them out; everything had to be put away even if I was only half way through a project. He criticized all that I tried to create by critiquing it with passive-aggressive compliments. D complained I was neglecting the kids and him if I had a hobby.
    • When: I realized what you did to me when I watched you do it to our children.
  1. What: I have lost the ability to trust.
    • How D did this: D cheated on me and manipulated me for his gain. Everything in our marriage was a lie. Every promise he made to me was broken. I couldn’t trust what I saw, heard, or what seemed logical. The secrets created an atmosphere of insecurity in the end I couldn’t even trust my own mind.
    • When: When he went to jail for hurting me and all his secrets came pouring out like water. One after another: his second life, the mail not being delivered when I was off work, the extra women, bills I had no knowledge.

    Why I will or won’t be trying to regain the loss. I think it is too late to regain some of the losses, age and life circumstances make it impossible. Others I think only time and education can fix. So really I have no plan-that’s my plan.

Roller Coaster 2 Weeks

I hate change, partly because every time my life changed it seemed to make things worse for me and better for D. The last couple of weeks I have been living way out of my comfort zone with many changes and a roller coaster of feeling. As the days passed, I jotted down these short notes.

Wednesday the 12th: Phone call, the divorce is finalized. Judge went over everything. Papers will be mailed. ~Feeling strangely unsettled.

Thursday the 13th: Boss informs me of a new work policy. If someone calls in sick, as the supervisor, if I can’t find someone to cover the shift I can’t call agency anymore I am to cover the shift. Also they are cutting the crew and changing the shift rotation. ~Feeling frustrated.

Friday the 14th: Received divorce papers Judge gave D. 40% of the bills I got the other 60% because he doesn’t work full-time, seriously! He got the house and his boat. I got the van. Really! Did the judge read everything? I didn’t share at D.V. group. ~Feeling cheated.

Saturday the 15th: Packing while D. hovered over me questioning everything I packed. ~Feeling frustrated

Sunday the 16th: Someone called in, so I am working the shift so I can’t go to church. ~Feeling agitated

Monday the 17th: Met the new E.D. He has great plans. ~Feeling hopeful.

Later today: D. Informs our kids in front of me that everyone has to buy their own food for now on. Without missing a beat DJ asked his dad if that included him. ~Feeling humored.

Tuesday the 18th: The E.D., the nurse, and I have a meeting. I like him she doesn’t, Oh wonderful. ~Feeling nervous.

Later today: screaming, banging, and cursing when I run downstairs to see what’s going on D. yelled at me that my dog at your piece of pie. My dog is shaking and scared. ~Feeling pissed

Wednesday the 19th: Training a new girl 5 minutes in she quits because she is told to stop talking and to pay attention. Later I found out I have to do two 16 hour shifts (3pm to 7am) on Thursday and Friday. My sweet Karla offers to cover 4 hours of Thursday for me. ~Feeling thankful and frustrated at the same time.

Thursday the 20th: nurse text me “We need to talk”, so we scheduled a meeting for tomorrow. ~Feeling anxious.

Later today: D. seems ready for us to leave. D. asked when I was moving out because he found someone to rent our daughters room. ~Feeling confused and happy at same time.

Friday the 21st: When the nurse met with me she complained about the E.D. goes on and on about how it’s his way or the highway. Complains how she has to catch up her charting. (I told her that 6 months ago) She is mad because he likes me. ~Feeling confused.

Saturday the 22nd: only slept 2 hours before the dogs woke me to go outside. The sun was up so I am up too. ~Feeling tired

Sunday the 23rd: I have to cover another shift. No church again. ~Feeling like I need to get my resume ready.

Can’t we raise the standard?

A man puts a gun to his wife’s head. His sister tells the wife it’s both your fault.

A man in power has sex with a young secretary the wife defends the husband. The girl is shamed. She loses her job.

A mother tells a wife if he doesn’t like squash don’t cook it then he won’t get angry.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard women justify, defend the abuse that their son, husband, brother, or father inflicts on another woman. To me personally, this is as abusive as the man’s behavior.

The adage of “Stand by your man” is disgusting whether it’s their son, husband, father, or brother. If you are a woman and you condone the behavior of a man that either physically or mentally abuses a woman – you’re being abusive! You’re an enabler and part of the problem. If a woman tells me it’s my fault somebody strangled me, hit me, threw me around that’s offensive.

Society would be outraged if a man made any of the above statements. We need to hold women to the same standard we hold men. I agree wholeheartedly we need to hold men accountable for their actions, still, if we don’t as women meet this standard ourselves then the world will never change.

Why aren’t you afraid?

granby-co

Almost every Friday I set with a group of women who like me are victims of emotional and physical abuse. This is a closed group with strict rules: be faithful, honest, and listen to the feedback.  It’s a tight group with a committed core. I sat perched waiting for the talking ball to be passed to me. I usually come in and say little, but tonight there was a plan, I wanted to vent…..

I received information that D is setting himself up as a victim. He told his transgender group I am leaving him because of his chosen lifestyle. He’s never mentioned to them his conviction of domestic violence. I’m sure his affairs or the years of gaslighting me until I began to believe I was crazy never came up. He told his family that I am leaving him because he doesn’t make enough money. Twenty-nine years of marriage and over twenty jobs with years of unemployment, yes money was an issue!

Yesterday was the last straw I damaged my van, the second I pulled up in front of my house he was waiting on the curb. I watched as he paced around the van, arms crossed, eyes glaring at me. I joked with him, “Aren’t you glad I’m getting the van in the divorce?” It was met with a cold face as he muttered, “I haven’t got any divorce papers.” His response is confusing, it’s illogical. One would assume only the person making the payments on the van would have an interest in the damage. What isn’t understood is that D thinks of me as property and anything of mine is his.

I sat listening to a young woman who had attended about three meetings. We had spoken a couple of times after group. As she spoke she reminded me of myself about 10 years ago. I was thinking, I hope she gets out sooner than I did. With no warning, she looked me in the eye and asked: “why aren’t you afraid.” She tossed the talking ball to me. Startled I half-heartedly laughed, “I’m afraid, very much so.  I’m afraid of everything: to write a blog, of losing my job, of not paying bills, of what people say, of disappointing my family, of my kid’s opinion of me, of the silence when I enter the church, of his silence.”

“I can see what’s going on around me. I sense the escalation; his panic with every box packed. He yells at our kids, my dog, and inanimate objects; anyone, anything but me. I’m like the forbidden fruit. His anger management class training is being stretched to the limits. I realize if he crosses the line he won’t stop. Knowing he feels he’s losing control and all of this adds up to a ticking time bomb.” The talking ball rolled back and forth in my hand I sat silent for a while before continuing, “I made a choice some time ago, that no matter what he did I would stay with him until my children were out of college. I wanted them to have a chance at a great life. I wanted them to have choices. I chose not to tell anyone what was happening. If people regard him as a victim and they can’t see through the layers of lies; that’s their problem, not mine. Don’t know what will happen in the next couple of months if he’ll let me slip away or if he will snap. I am afraid” I stopped and focused on trees outside the window.  Lowering my voice I continued, “I also made the choice he wouldn’t do it anymore. God gave me peace with this decision, my pastor blessed it. For this change to happen I kept moving forward with my fear.” I looked her in the eyes, “You need to keep moving forward with your fear. The fear we share is of the unknown because we both know it can get worse. How many times have you said ‘it can’t get any worse’ just to go to a new level of hell? I came here tonight to vent, but now I realize it was a step backward. People will think what they want. If I stress over my ex’s behavior it won’t accomplish anything except maybe make him happy.”

She asked, “How are you moving forward?”

I shrugged my shoulders, “I don’t know. I pack hoping God has a place I can afford.  I pray though in my heart I believe God favors D. I force myself to do things that will make me more independent. God whispers and I listen that’s it.”

After the meeting, we exchanged phone numbers. I promised to text her every day.

I left focused: my fears in one hand, my goals in the other, and my ears on God.

my rambled thoughs today

Half way through dinner you started the dishes….

I’m putting my clothes in the washer, you go through them to make sure I’m doing it right…..

Trying to watch tv and you decide to listen to your music so loud I can’t hear the tv….

I tell you I have to be in the shower by 6am so I am not late for work. ..5:58 two minutes before my alarm goes off the shower turns on….

you’re not making the bed right, that’s not how you fry eggs, this is how you put away dishes.. nag, nag, nag…..leave my kids alone……

seriously you’re telling your son to cheat people….

will you put some clothes on when mowing the lawn, your mowing in a bikini…..

 

 

Tired

’
’

My ex was working the late shift so when I got off work I decided to stop at the grocery and get something for dinner. I wandered around the store trying to decide what to buy picking something up and putting it back down. I knew what I wanted, but would he want it. If it’s not hot dogs, pizza, or fast food he’s not interested in it. He’ll come home look at what is cooked then suggest we eat out. When I say no thanks I already made dinner, the pouting will start and snide remarks followed with “I was just kidding”.

I buy the broccoli, cube steaks and rice hoping he’d be too tired to fight. Next, I wanted to buy a glass of wine, but do I want to open that door? If I drink it seems to give him permission to get wasted. Every night he goes in his room and has a few shots of vodka. If I drink he will add several glasses of vodka and coke along with the shots.  When he drinks life gets unpredictable.

I am so tired of having to monitor everything I do to make sure he behaves. I want to go to the store and buy what I want for dinner and not have to worry it will turn into something more. It would be nice to have some wine or whiskey and not worry that the cops will be at my door. I am praying for God to be preparing me a way out of here soon.

Who does that?

After working a day shift then covering the graveyard, I crawled into bed at 5am. Luckily it was still dark. My goal was to fall asleep before the sun rose. I can’t sleep if the sun is shining and I had to be back to work by 11a.m.

7:30: I woke up to “What time are you getting up?”

I mumbled “10”

“I need to wash the pillow cases”

Seriously! My eyes flew open, dam, the sun!

I lay silently as he strips his pillow cases. He must have thought better than to even try to touch my pillows. Glaring at the ceiling I knew I might as well get up. All I could think was who does that?

Smile Sis, life is just waiting on you

 

 

When you get a divorce you worry. How am I going to pay bills? How am I going to repair the van? What will people at church think and how are they going to act? Do I care? Then you focus on how you failed.

The day before I filed these were my thoughts. However, on the day I filed I realized that women like me have a whole different reality – we are alone. We have no close friends. There will be no one deciding whose friend they will be, mine or his. There’s no shoulder for my tears. I needed contact with people I knew wouldn’t judge me, so I text my brothers and called my sister. She encouraged me that I was doing the right thing; that this will give me a chance to be happy, but I couldn’t touch her. I needed to look in her eyes. I sat in my car searching my brain for one person to share my sense of loss. I wanted someone to hug. Someone to listen.

What do I mean by women like me? I spent 29 years married to a man who was abusive, mentally and for a while physically. For reasons not to be discussed here, he wasn’t able to make and keep friends. When I had a friend visit he was in the middle of everything: our conversations, projects, or he pouted about being ignored. I learned to have my friends over when he was working but when I went to work that was no longer an option. Over time, my friends dwindled away.

As I drove to work feelings and thoughts rushed into my head. Are you crazy? There’s no future for you! Is this better than staying?  Is this my life now? For months I prayed, planned, debated, and agonized.  I dreamt of the sense of relief that would come on this day – but instead, I felt isolated and overwhelmed.

After work I attended group, watched a movie with my children, trying to adjust to what I was sure to become the new normal. As I crawled into bed, my phone lite up. It was a text from my brother, Matt, saying “Smile, Sis. Life is just waiting on you.”

Then I realized I needed to find my life, instead of waiting for it to find me, I needed to find……’me’.

 

Why a journal

This is the excerpt for your very first post.