The husband is silent, for the most part. I ask him what he’s thinking, what he wants to say, and he says nothing. That’s what he does. When he can’t decide he doesn’t decide. When he doesn’t know what to say he doesn’t say anything. When he doesn’t know what to feel he doesn’t feel. I used to think he just didn’t care, now I realize he’s temperate and long-suffering and he balances out my tendencies for outburst and impatience.
When my brother had the task of informing me of our father’s arrest he called my husband. Instinctively he knew the husband would be able to handle whatever emotion burst from my mouth. I arrived at the school in a gloriously happy mood. He took one look at me and couldn’t tell me; he decided to wait until later. As we walked into the room filled with our friends he whispered, “I need to talk to you after this. Alone.” It really didn’t occur to me that he was about to deliver horrible news.
The kids are running around and people are talking and he is on the phone. He takes me to the side of the building, away from people. He’s looking at me with tears and I know something bad is coming. I can feel the panic and anxiety bubbling, ready to rise to the occasion. I look at him. “I have bad news.” I look at him, determined. “Obviously. What is it?” He looks at me. “I can’t tell you.” And I see fear in his eyes and I’m scared. “Something awful happened that will destroy our family.” At this point I’m freaking out…I know he’s going to tell me he’s leaving us. “Just tell me. I can deal with it.” He begins crying. “Sin is ugly and it destroys us…” Now I’m mad. “Just tell me…what is wrong.” He looks at me… “Your father is in jail.” I can’t stop myself. My mouth opens “Why?” And this man who has no clue what secrets his own wife carries sobs “He hurt the kids. He *** hurt those kids.” And without thinking, I ask “How?”. But I know…even before he says, “He touched them.” I know. And I’m falling into the ground. I can’t cry, yet I’m crying. I can’t scream, yet I’m screaming. I can’t breathe, yet I’m breathing.
This was one of those situations where I’m thankful for my splitting mechanism (medically called disassociation). Somehow I managed to lock up the fall-apart me deep inside long enough to get off the ground. My husband handed me his phone and I called my brother. I didn’t know what to say and I didn’t really have questions. I didn’t know what do. So I silently cried. I managed to say good-bye to our friends, telling them I’d see them in a few hours. Then it was just us. The husband, I and our three kids standing in an empty parking lot. Wondering how the hell we lived after this moment and not knowing what to do or say. So we stood there. In silence. My daughter is pretty attuned to my emotions. “Is mommy okay?” The husband pulls her in and says, “She’s just sad. She’ll be okay.” I put my head on his chest and I sigh. “What do you want to do?” he asks. I just whisper, “I want my mom.” He tells me he’ll take care of the kids and just do what I need to do. He makes sure I’m ok to drive home and we leave. When I get home my step-dad arrives and takes me to my mom. She puts her arms around me and I sob. And sob. And sob until I can’t breathe.
The first day is a blur. A blur of what happens next and how did this happen and what do I say. A flurry of people telling me to not say anything to anybody and don’t put it on Facebook. A tangle of emotions ranging from anger to sadness to disbelief to nausea. A realization that I am never going to see my father again and I’m not sure I want to survive this. And a desperate loneliness. Because I can’t tell anyone and I can’t talk about it with the husband—I don’t trust him enough to understand all the skeletons that are loudly dancing in our closets. So, I do the crazy thing. The thing that gives me a voice and changes my life. I turn to blogging.
June 13, 2010
Today, outside, the sun is shining. After 9 months of cold weather we are finally blessed with warm weather. I wish today that my inside matched the outside. I cannot seem to get my head wrapped around the new reality of my life. I cannot seem to find a way to answer the questions…perhaps because they have no answers. Perhaps I just have to realize that sometimes you have to let go…you have to realize that choices were made, and they affect you – but YOU did not make them.
I want to be a little girl again…I want to have my mom say everything is going to be alright and believe her. I want to not have this huge hole in my heart.Most of all, I want to just scream that LIFE IS SO FRIGGIN’ UNFAIR!!
I wonder if sometimes God feels this way when he watches us. Does he wonder why we chose the reality of life away from God over a life of eternity walking in his presence? Does it hurt him to see us hurt one another, to see us destroy something so fragile, so beautiful, so innocent as a child…does it hurt him to know that sometimes there are pains he just can’t take away? Some days I just wonder how long I have to remain a human…I want to be in God’s presence. Life on earth has somehow become something so…I don’t know…unbearable.
Pray…pray for me. Pray for my entire family. All of us. We need God’s strength and we need love from those who are around us. NOTHING can take back what we have lost this week. NOTHING will ever erase the hurt and pain that one person caused us…the one person who is NOT supposed to hurt you.
I made some people in my family angry. I made some rejoice. And I made a mess. But as I blogged I found my voice and I became braver. And all this time the husband was silent. He let me blog about our trip and pretend for three wonderful months that my life hadn’t just been decimated. We ended our trip at my brother’s house. It was the most gut-wrenching days of my life. The pain was so hard to bear some moments. The investigation was pretty much complete. The accusations against him grew over the summer. More victims. More details. I ignored the nagging voice in the back of my head. “You know there’s more…” I left there with a bleeding heart, a box of pictures, letters, his Bible and architectural plans that represented my family’s broken dreams. But I also left there angry. And that anger gave me direction and woke my warrior heart. He hurt us…but he was not going to kill us.
I didn’t see the husband in all this. When he’d try to talk to me I’d scream at him. “This has NOTHING to do with you. Stay out of it.” I didn’t ask him how he felt, I didn’t let him tell me how he felt. So he remained quiet while I fell apart and tried to gain control of my out-of-control life. Blogging became my lifeline. And it became a wedge between the husband and I. People would ask him why his wife shared pictures of our kids, our trip, our lives online. Most of all, they wanted to know why he allowed me to share my pain…pain that was embarrassing and uncomfortable. My bravery online grew and I shared more openly about sexual abuse and marriage and growing up in a cult. And the husband didn’t know how to handle it all. The pressure for him to convince me to quit blogging grew. And as that pressure grew, the angrier he’d get at me and the more angry I would get at him. But I wouldn’t stop writing, no matter what it cost.
Recently a book arrived written for the spouse of an abuse survivor. I read it first and I cried through the majority of it. I saw my husband, the pain he carried and the ways I hurt him. And I told him which chapters to read. And he saw the pain I carried and the ways he hurt me. And now we are learning how to quit hurting one another. When my husband married me, he took on the burden of my pain. He didn’t know it and I didn’t know it. And I wish a thousands times a day that he didn’t have to deal with my life. But I know that he’s my husband because he’s strong and temperate and long-suffering enough…and he’s the one that my Father designed for me. I’m walking this journey still, but now it’s with his hand firmly in mine.
I have been careful to keep the husband out of my blogs, to protect his privacy and his reputation. And I will continue to protect his privacy, but we have agreed, together, to start sharing some of the hard parts of our story. To help other couples. To let them know that abuse can suck the life out of a marriage, if you let it. But there is hope. There is always resurrection and restoration and a Father who makes things better than before.