I've been blessed with several truly incredible friends in my life. I'm going to talk about one of them today.
He and I go back almost 15 years now. He is second in longevity to only one other person - my other bestie, Mary. Theresa, if you're reading this and trying to do the math, I actually met him a full month before I met you. *Grin*
Anyway, this particular friend has been a consistent source of humor, intelligent conversation, and sincere comfort all throughout our relationship. We "officially" met during auditions for a Christmas play (which would find us portraying brother and sister), but we'd actually met about 6 weeks earlier at the start of the school year. My brother, Ray, called out his name in the courtyard, causing him to cast his eyes back towards us. He adjusted his school bag and white sweater (notable because almost every other student in the school wore garnet) as he turned towards us and sheepishly waved "Hi."
We've come a long way since that half-hearted hello. I've always known what a blessing he is in my life, and I've always voiced my appreciation for our friendship. However, he recently said something that was like a burning arrow straight to the center of my soul. It actually rendered me speechless, and I've been thinking about it - almost nonstop - since he wrote it to me exactly 3 weeks ago.
We've spoken since, but I haven't really addressed it because of how deeply it affected me... how deeply it still affects me.
He read my blog entry about the divorce (something he's known about for quite some time) and sent me the following message:
Got to read your post. Pretty bold of you to share all this. One thing really got my attention:
October 2015: Lord, You keep at me with this whole forgiveness thing. It
makes me incredibly mad that You want me to forgive this POS when he doesn't
even see anything he's done as remotely wrong. He. Doesn't. Deserve.
And here You are telling me I don't, either. And You're right. I don't. But I miss
You in the Eucharist. My yearning for You has not yet outweighed my disgust for
him, however. Therein lies my Purgatory. Will my desire for You burn out before my
disdain for him, or will my desire for You grow to engulf and obliterate the misery he
created? My heart wants You, but my brain demands blood. Wait for me in the
At the very least - you haven't done anything. Please do not feel as if YOU are not worthy here. You're supposed to be upset, enraged, etc. You need the support of it.
I'm no priest, but I suppose I could be called a theologian. There is nothing theologically keeping you. Murder him (like I want to) then I suppose you'd be unworthy... until confession.
Pope Francis said in Evangelii Gaudium:
The Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.”
Don't be afraid of that nourishment.
And don't be afraid to talk to me, k? Even when you want to talk, we have to spend 30 minutes of you asking me questions about my life, as if you needing to talk about something is selfish. It's not. Call, text, facebook, GChat, snapchat, Instagram, etc. me any hour, K?
His very simple message (containing no patronization, no "it'll be okay" BS, no ridiculous memes of "you're so strong, you don't need him" memes that tend to litter the feeds of divorced people) contained two things that I didn't know I needed so badly to hear:
1) You need Jesus. You absolutely, 100% need Him in the Eucharist, so go get Him. Now.
2) Not only is it okay for you to be upset / angry / murderous, I FEEL IT WITH YOU.
I don't think I can overstate how much that solidarity means to me and how I appreciated that he understood how much I actually needed the steel of those emotions! So far, the majority of people who know about the divorce have steered so clear of any mention of how horrific John's actions have been that you'd think they approve. Knowing that there was someone who understood and was just as repulsed and angry and indignant as I was made me feel so much better. It was like "Ah, thank you! Thank you for sharing this burden with me, because I am suffocating under the weight of guilt that does not belong to me."
For those of you who watch The Big Bang Theory, I felt like Penny after she'd discovered online gaming. I'd gotten so immersed in the battlefield of surviving divorce that I didn't realize just how badly I needed outside help.
Reading his message, I honest-to-God had a lightbulb moment of "Wow, I'm super jacked up and no amount of blogging therapy is going to fix this. He's right. I need the Eucharist. I need my friends."
And in truth, I suddenly recognized how much these friends have buoyed me these last few months. Theresa has checked in on me more times than I can count. JK has rallied her prayer warriors for months (years, really). Mary has offered sound psychological counseling. Brett and Sam have voiced their dismay, and God bless them, Hugh and Kim have hugged me from afar in New York. And of course, this one. This one. Dear God, this one.
So yeah. I needed to finally get around to processing my appreciation for that message. It's not often I get heart-tackled by an e-mail, but that's precisely what happened.
To this person - if you pop back here to see this - I hope you know how much I love and appreciate you. The Holy Spirit was with you somethin' fierce while you were typing that, and I still feel a bruise where those words smashed through me. But they were necessary. So thank you.
P.S. - Yes, you're a theologian. You paid good money to be able to call yourself that. *Grin*
Divorcee Fear and Temptation - Dating
I was asked to dinner by a very nice, very handsome, and very successful gentleman a couple weeks ago. I turned him down.
When he first asked, I actually thought he was kidding. I mean, he had just found out I was recently divorced (actually in process), that I have two kids, and that I am just starting out with a new job. What in the world would he want to take me to dinner for? Obviously it was a joke.
But it wasn't. When we parted for the night, he explained he'd be down in my area again in a couple weeks. He asked me to reconsider because he did, in fact, want to take me to dinner.
I bumbled my way through an excuse of sorts (because I am not even REMOTELY in this dude's league, and I have no intention of him ever realizing that). I then called my best friend and basically spewed "WTH, WTH, WTH, WTH, WTH" for the rest of the ride home.
Because seriously - what the heck?!
For those of you who are newly single (or in process, like me), this is going to be something that happens. It might happen right away - it might take a while - but eventually, you're going to be faced with the reality that you are no longer part of a pair and someone, somewhere, is going to want to rectify that.
To be honest, I wasn't expecting this to ever happen. Barring catcalls, the last time I was legitimately hit on was years ago. I don't typically dress up and go out, and when I have, it's been on the arm of my (soon-to-be-ex) husband. Thus, the opportunity to find myself in the above situation hasn't really presented itself until recently.
Now, it's sorta my job to dress up and attend social events. I no longer skate by with jeans, t-shirts and messy buns. I actually have to put on dresses, wear jewelry and *gasp of horror* smack on some makeup. God help me, I'm turning into a proper woman.
In all seriousness, though, this experience made me realize that not only am I on the cusp of being divorced; I am possibly on the cusp of being able to go on dates!
Here's where we all need to learn from Bryce Harper's mistake...
... and slow down.
Because seriously. This has got to be one of the biggest temptations / pitfalls for the newly divorced: rushing head first into a new relationship NOT because we're looking forward, but because we're looking backwards and trying to catch the broken heart that's hurtling towards the ground at a bazillion miles a minute.
The worst part though, is that this terrible idea is supported by everyone because folks seem to think the best way to heal a broken heart is to hand it to a stranger.
"Rebound!" they say.
"Get back in the saddle!" they suggest.
And to this, I have to say "No."
First of all, I'm not even legally divorced yet. And even if I were, the annulment takes another year or so to complete. So canonically speaking, I would be committing adultery if I even attempted to date anyone before the Church grants me the decree (if I'm granted one at all).
Secondly, and this from a purely psychological standpoint, I've spent the last 12 years in a committed relationship - 8 of them married. To shift from that sort of paradigm to one of being single is a HUGE shift that deserves a good amount of time to process. I should be focusing on finding stability for myself and my children, not looking to rock the boat with a new relationship and all the drama that goes along with it.
But the temptation is there, especially when an attractive man sweet talks you and presses you for dinner in Philly's theater district. The temptation comes again when your friends tell you that they know of so-and-so who would be perfect for you. The temptation comes when you see commercials for dating sites that promise you the perfect relationship you always knew you deserved!
And while I was able to fight the temptation when it surprised me out of nowhere, I fell victim to it on a gray and rainy afternoon after both of the kids had stretched into an unheard of synchronized nap.
Yup. I fell. Harder than Bryce Harper hit that wall up there!
I signed up for a free trial of a popular dating site "just to see what's out there" I told myself.
Within the hour, I closed the account because I got over 3 dozen messages from men I wanted no parts of.
I wasn't interested in dating; I didn't want a relationship. I just wanted to be assured that it was still a possibility should I be able to pursue it in the future.
Why am I sharing this?
Because should you find yourself in a similar situation, you are going to be faced with the same temptations (yes, that's plural).
Temptations? Yes. Temptations.
When you are struggling through a divorce, especially a divorce which you did not initiate, you are tempted with self-doubt. You are tempted with despair. Then, as you seek to allay those fears, you are tempted to heal them with temporary fluffs to your pride. Messages from online folks who are chomping at the bit to tell you how beautiful, funny, sweet and incredible you are (not really making that decision based on anything but a profile picture and a Robert Frost quote you vaguely remember from high school) is basically instant gratification. Agreeing to a date with a friend of a friend's cousin might help you focus on something new for a short time before your present reality reminds you it exists. Even flirting with the coffee barista who knows your favorite drink (and the drinks of every other customer who walks through the door, remember) seems appealing.
Fight the temptation. Don't give in. Not until you have given yourself enough time to find happiness for yourself. Not until you know who YOU are and what YOU want.
And certainly not until you are both divorced AND have the marriage annulled by the Church. Heaven forbid you start something that can't actually be finished on account of that whole "Crap, I'm still married in the eyes of God" business. That's not fair to you, and it's certainly not fair to the person you'd be pursuing.
So I know how easy it is to mess up. If messing up were an Olympic sport, I'd be a platinum medalist with my own cereal and legions of adoring fans. Thank God for Confession.
Anyway, the point is, the temptation to get involved with dating before your marriage is properly annulled is a very real danger. However, it's symptomatic of the feelings of worthlessness / despair / frustration you feel as a result of the trauma of having your heart smashed into a billion pieces.
Don't compound the issue by pulling a Harper and diving into a wall. Not only will your heart continue breaking - the rest of you will, too.
So my buddy, Brett, asked me to post what my various nativities look like. I figured I'd be easier to just shoot a quick video.
That being said, nativity art is some of my absolute favorite. If you've got videos / photos of yours, please share them! I'm especially a fan of those of you who do the traveling wisemen. So please, link 'em if you've got 'em!
This is a repost from November 19, 2014. It's been getting an uptick in hits recently (and I think for very good reasons).
I've had to gently remind family and friends alike of my policy regarding Christmas gifts this year. If they want to ask me for ideas, okay. But please - never plant the seed in his head that Christmas is the time of year he can make a list of demands that get fulfilled by a fat man if he's able to convince some creepy little Elf on a Shelf that he's been good enough to deserve his list of unicorns, iPads and plutonium.
That's not what Christmas is about, that's not who St. Nicholas is, and can we all just agree that an inanimate (and again, creepy) sprite shouldn't be the motivation behind good behavior?
I was talking to a friend the other day when she lamented the litany her daughter wrote in her annual letter to Santa. She showed me four pages that included everything from Tamogotchis (they're back?!) and Frozen dolls to clothes and electronics like an iPad and digital camera (you're five, kid, you don't need a DSLR).
I was aghast. Her daughter is a shade older than my son (by about four months). How does she already associate Christmas with "I get to have everything I want!"? The thought actually scared me a bit. Is Vince going to turn into this sort of greedy, entitled monster in a few short months?
Then I realized he likely wouldn't. My son won't be writing a list to Santa Claus, and even if he did, I doubt it'd include anything but sincere questions about Heaven, reindeer and his hairy face.
You see, I've never connected Santa Claus with presents. I've never played the "Be nice or I'm telling Santa" game. I've never put that God-forsaken Elf on a Shelf in various places throughout the house in an effort to trick my kid into being a decent human being (can you tell I hate that thing with the fire of the deepest recesses of Hell?). I've also NEVER asked him what he wanted.
In my mind, doing so creates the expectation that he'll get what he asks for. I'm sorry, but Christmas is not about Momma and Poppa Genie granting your shallow wishes for plastic toys that'll be discarded by Valentine's Day, kiddo. Why, then, do we keep teaching kids that it is by asking them what they want, telling them to write endless lists of what they want, and pointing out cool toy commercials with the ever present "Wouldn't you like that?" mantra that seems to fall from parental mouths this time of year?
Instead, I've taught him to be grateful for everything, regardless of what it was. I've also done my best to minimize the commercialism of Christmas. That means the most he sees Santa is ten minutes for a picture at the mall. We don't talk about him beyond the Santa Story I tell him each year. Obviously I would if Vince asked, but if you ask Vince who Santa is, he'll tell you "Saint Nicholas" as if everybody in the world knew that. If you ask him where St. Nicholas lives, he'll tell you "in Heaven with Jesus."
As a result of my active choice to downplay the commercial side of Christmas, my son has never understood the holiday to be anything other than Jesus' birthday party. We get presents because Jesus shares His presents with all of us. Santa Claus exists, but not in the red-suit / jolly elf sense. Vince has never questioned where the presents come from. He knows that on Christmas Eve, they come from Daddy's side of the family and on Christmas Day, they come from Mommy's side.
At home, they come from Mommy and Daddy. There might be one or two in there from Santa, but that's because - in his mind - Jesus made sure to remind Saint Nicholas to bring a few by so Vince knew Jesus was thinking of him, too!
After seeing the letter and the overwhelmed frustration of my buddy who felt pressured to split the items on her daughter's list between herself, her parents, and her husband's parents so that everything was purchased without duplicate, I was thankful that my son hasn't yet picked up on those aspects of the season.
Granted, his special needs sorta help me out in that he's typically blind to the social cues of other kids who are clamoring for the hottest toy or stamping their feet in anticipation for the first giddy glimpses of Santa Claus, but I honestly think that he's got a pretty solid foundation on Who Christmas is really about.
And I assure you, it's not a list of presents.
So please, do not ask my kid what he wants for Christmas; it's not about getting what he wants. Christmas is about celebrating the Greatest Gift of All and sharing in that joy by gifting ourselves to others through time shared, memories made and thanksgiving offered.
If you want to give him a gift, that's great, but please do so without his input. Gifts are meant to come from your heart, not his.
Preparing for Christmas in the midst of divorce is no fun at all. I never expected that it would be, but then again, I never expected divorce, either. I thought I'd made that perfectly clear before marriage, but hey... apparently John decided that vows are only binding so long as you have the warm fuzzies.
But I digress...
I went back to work the first week of November. I have a 4 month old. I have a 6 year old who has been officially diagnosed with Autism. I am in the midst of divorce which basically makes me a social pariah amongst some friends. I have postpartum depression. Life is basically giving me a giant middle finger.
And that's okay. Life does that from time to time. However, it's easy to forget that while it's giving you the finger with it's left hand, it's ALSO giving you a big old "thumbs up" with the other if you're willing to look. Life's bipolar like that.
I have two beautiful, healthy children. I have a core group of friends who have been and will always been wonderful. Vince's diagnosis opens the door to therapies that weren't available to him before. Nate is finally starting to sleep better. My job, if hectic, is fulfilling and my coworkers are genuinely good people. God hasn't completely given up on me because, hey... still here. All thumbs up, right?
However, even acknowledging the good does not lessen the sting of the difficult. Thus, the thought of decorating for Christmas was about as appealing as dancing with rabid squirrels. I'm an adult, though, and I have two incredibly special little boys who deserve to have the beauty and magic of Christmas surrounding them. So I rolled up my sleeves, shoved my tiredness, my frustration, and my hurt aside and I put up the tree. I put up the Advent calendar. I put out my various Holy Family statues. I even put out the Nativity set that Vince has loved since his very first Christmas 7 years ago (and he immediately went to town playing with it, to my delight).
This is more than my first Christmas as a single mom. This is Nathan's first Christmas and it's Vince's first Christmas in what will become his new normal (Oh Heaven, forgive me for the vehement disgust I want to spew at those words). So decorate I did. I even let Vincent help decorate the tree - something he's never done before. He was so proud of himself. I was, too. Nate, for his part, happily watched us from his high chair, perfectly content to watch his favorite person, Vince, go crazy with the shiny decorations.
We had to get a skinnier tree than we normally do this year on account of the changes I made during the renovation. I was bummed that we wouldn't have a big fat tree, but the end result ended up being just as festive. And it fits. :)
And tonight, I'm going to the craft store to pick up a few extra things to decorate the house with. I'm actually looking forward to surprising Vince with them so we can come up with fun places to put everything. God bless him - he deserves the happiness. And though Nate won't remember a lick of this, at least he'll fall into the new, joyful traditions we create for ourselves in spite of the situation they innocently find themselves in.
I'd like to paint you a picture, my friends. I'd like to paint a picture of my last few months which will explain the unintended hiatus I've seemingly taken.
For a moment, put yourself into my story. Become one with my thoughts and feel each heartbeat as they rise and fall, discontent and rebellious.
September 2014: Joy of joys! Lord, you have answered my most earnest prayer and softened John's heart to another child. How can my poor, miserable heart ever express the gratitude and awe I have for such a gift?
November 2014: Father, you have worked a miracle within my womb by working another in his heart. My thanksgiving and joy shall never end! You have vindicated my hope and proved my faith. This child is Your victory, and our families have rejoiced at this miracle!
March 2015: My God, my God, another little boy! A brother for Vincent! How my heart chirps in delight! News spreads like wildfire that another little prince is coming, and again it seems as if the whole world revels in Your gift of love. My heart and the hearts of those dearest to me echo endless psalms of joy.
March 2015 - 2 days later: Father... Father... no. My heart. I cannot reconcile the joy with the anguish. I'm exactly 20 weeks pregnant - halfway through this miraculous pregnancy - and satan slips in to snuff out my marriage. Divorce? Again? For shame.
April 2015: Lord, how do I find myself here? I am lost, wounded, bleeding. The doctors want me to take medicine for my blood pressure, but it could affect this miracle growing within me. However, if I don't take it, the doctors warned that I might not make it to term, affecting him just the same. What do I do, Father? What do I do? You would not have allowed me the gift of this child only to take him away, so I trust in Your Providence. I will not take it. As my heart is not strong enough to juggle this crushing betrayal, please take it and replace it with Yours. Use it to nourish this tiny child within me, because I've never felt more helpless in my life.
May 2015: Holy Spirit, I no longer trust him to be responsible. He's constantly saying one thing and doing another. We have to tell his parents because it's terribly unfair to allow them to continue thinking we'll be moving into their home. He promised he'd take care of it, but that was more than two months ago. You and I both know he is incapable of having this conversation on his own. He consistently fails to have ANY serious conversation with anyone. Thus, please facilitate it. Provide the means and I will acquiesce, no matter how much it tears at my heart.
May 2015 - Same Day: Geez, Holy Spirit, You work fast. I'm so incredibly anxious about this discussion that I can't stop shaking. It's all I can do to not vomit from the stress. Please send the Blessed Mother to embrace this poor child - calm me enough to remain stable for Nathan.
May 2015 - Same Night: Holy Spirit, comfort and protect his parents. I love them so much. So very, very much. It is unfair that he is putting them through this, and I feel guilty for being a party to it. I know it's not my fault, but I can't help but feel responsible for their heartache that now echoes my own. Comfort them.
May 2015: Oh Father, how do I not hate him? He admitted to lying about me - to his friends and to his family. He admitted to lying about his own feelings. He admitted to lying about wanting this innocent child within me. It's all I can do not to tear into him like a savage beast. Looking at him is enough to send my pressure spiking. My rose-colored glasses are gone. He is vile, repugnant. Any man capable of doing this to the woman carrying his child is no man at all.
I am angry with myself most of all. I married this man-child. I've always said the most important decision a woman can make is who she marries because that man will be an example to her children of what it means to be a man.
I have failed my sons. I have failed them in the worst, most heinous way possible. Forgive me.
June 2015: I'm nearing the end of pregnancy, Lord, and I'm constantly being told to rest. But how can I rest? My house has been made uninhabitable and my husband does not care that I am tripping over boxes and struggling to get things in order for the children. I am alone in this. Entirely alone. I cannot share this agony with anyone because I don't want anyone hating him as much as I am on the cusp of hating him. I don't want Vincent to hear negative things about his father - no matter how true they are. It is a fight not to hate every fiber of his being every waking moment. I want to rise above this disdain, but Lord, I cannot. He is revolting to me. His cowardice and selfishness physically repulse me. A viper is less vile.
June 2015: I ask him to clear the master bedroom so I can begin preparing to turn it into the nursery. He and I no longer need it, but our child certainly will. Instead of cleaning things out properly, he left this for me, Lord. This is what he left his heavily pregnant wife who was ordered on bed rest. The wife who was admitted to the hospital for pre-term labor twice on account of his atrocious behavior. The wife who STILL kept her mouth shut so he wasn't outed as the loathsome, selfish coward to his family and friends. The wife who was maligned for years - completely undeserved - by this repulsive excuse for a husband.
Again, Father, he is no man. Wild beasts do not act in such a manner. I know it is sinful, but God, I have no capacity for any emotion other than wrathful indignation. One day I hope to let this bitterness go, but I am incapable at this juncture. It is the only thing I have that keeps me going. I don't want to let it go, and I don't even feel the slightest remorse for that. One day I will beg Your forgiveness for my arrogance, but Father, today is not that day.
This room looks precisely how I feel. Ravaged, dirty, discarded. I close the door and will not open it again until the painters have erased this image, replacing it with the blank canvas that will become indicative of the future - Nathan's future. I allow my heart to break across the hall on Vincent's empty bed. I vow that this will be the last time I cry due to his father's utter stupidity.
July 2015: Nathan is to arrive soon and I am still mostly alone in my struggle, Lord. I feel alienated and forgotten. I'm angry and hurt and so worried about how this stress is affecting the boys. He still denies that his decision will have any noticeable effect on Vincent. This enrages me to the point of a blinding fury. Heaven forgive me, but I feel capable of murder when he willfully blinds himself to the inevitable pain he will wreak upon his own sons - all so he can spare himself the guilt of his own failings. Father, I can accept sins against me, but these children?! Father, I beg of you - justice! I know it is a terribly sinful thing to pray for vengeance, but I'd be lying to You if I said I didn't want him to feel the full weight of his actions.
July 2015: Nathan is coming, Lord. He's coming and I'm so ill-prepared. I feel I've failed him already and he's not even in my arms. He deserves to have an intact family, but instead, he's getting this sorry excuse for a family. He's getting a broken home where he should have been welcomed into a stable, loving environment. How I despise the selfish coward responsible for this! And yet I allow him - against every instinct within me - to be present for his birth. He is not worthy of such a gift, but I allow it anyway. Not for his benefit, but for my mother's. She is still unaware of John's treachery, and I don't want to burden her with such heartbreak... not when there is joy to be had in welcoming her newest grandchild. Please give me the strength to not revile him while in the midst of labor, hormones and utter vulnerability. Bind my lips, Lord. Bind my lips!
July 2015: My sweet, sweet Nathan has arrived. I am overcome with a plethora of emotions, all of them fleeting as if playing tag with one another. I feel denied my own happiness. This child - this gift - was supposed to be 100% joy. Instead, I am wracked with depression, anxiety and utter sadness that his little world has been tarnished by such savage narcissism. Father, I still trust that You've got a reason for all of this, but I no longer care. Not right now. Maybe someday, but certainly not now.
I know it is not You that wants this. I know that evil was incensed that You worked such a victory within John. That evil worked double time to undo that which You laid out. It's working hard at me, too. Thus far, it's winning, and I am content with that for now. I welcome it. Forgive me for the blackness of my soul, but Father, I welcome the abyss. I want it. I daresay I even need it. Forgive me.
August 2015: Ugh, God - my priest friend keeps asking if I'll ever accept John back. John's wonderful mother asked if there was hope. My heart yells out NO! NO, NO, NO!
He could come crawling back and a thousand times I'd want to curb him with a soccer cleat.
He has destroyed our family, laid waste to my heart, and set a horrible, HORRIBLE example for the boys on what it means to be a man. To take him back would teach them that it's perfectly okay for men to treat women as their father treated me. It would teach them that it is perfectly acceptable to commit unthinkable, unspeakable acts of cowardice and selfishness because, in the end, women will always take the abuse. What a horrible lesson.
So why are you whispering to me, Holy Spirit? What are You saying? That I, too, commit unspeakable, selfish acts against You? That You are willing to forgive me? Stop it, Holy Spirit. This isn't the same thing. You have to forgive. You have no choice but to forgive. You are God. You are Holy. You are Love fully personified... DEIFIED. I am but a miserable mortal who cannot chew back the bile when I look at this person I vowed my life to. He has disappointed me in ways unimaginable, and no - while I know I am called to forgive him, I cannot. I will not. And if that throws my soul into mortal sin, then so be it. I am sick of trying to do the right thing only to be scourged anyway.
I deserve so much better than he has given, and even knowing that, I upheld the vows I made because those vows MEAN something to me. But it's clear now that those vows didn't mean anything to him, so why should I bother extending to him anything but the contempt he so deserves? I'm halfway through the annulment paperwork and he still hasn't bothered getting paperwork together for the divorce yet. I'm not playing games anymore. I'm sick of being the mat he scrapes his mucked up boots on. He made the decision to divorce and I'm not holding his hand while he figures out what that means.
September 2015: I need to start looking for work, Lord. When John and I moved forward with having another child, it was with the understanding that I'd take a year off to be with the baby just as I'd done for Vince. Divorce is not cheap, and neither is health insurance. Thus, I am being forced to seek work while struggling with postpartum depression and no sleep. Awesome! And Lord, I swear to You that if I hear him complain again about how tired he is when he sleeps soundly through the night, I might actually take a tire-iron to his windshield. I won't be seeking absolution for that, either.
October 2015: Well, Lord, You found me a wonderful job to make lemonade out of the lemons John keeps kicking out. Kudos on that one. However, I'm still not feeling this whole forgiveness thing. I can't even offer you the unforgiveness like I once did for my sister. At least with her, I saw some semblance of good. With him? I can't see any redeeming qualities. His humor now seems juvenile. His fiscal responsibility comes off as him trying to buy his integrity and honor. His fun-loving antics with Vince only highlight the complete lack of care he seems to show Nathan. I see NOTHING good in him. He is a cesspool of filth.
And DANG IT, Holy Spirit, would you stop it already with the whole "I forgive you" shtick?! I don't want to hear it. Stop calling me to be a better person, because, damnit, I don't want to be. He doesn't deserve my forgiveness and he sure as hell doesn't deserve Yours.
But damnit, You just wanna keep reminding me that I'm wholly unworthy of Your forgiveness, too. I don't care. I don't CARE, God. Do you get that? I don't care.
And here is where I cry, Lord, because you know I do care. For all the bitter words I cast Your way, You know I care and You know how much I need Your forgiveness. I know I don't deserve it, which is probably why I shirk it, but I know how necessary it is. I'm just not there yet. I can't ask for it because I'm not sorry for how disgusted, angry and vengeful I feel towards him. I know I need to let go of that and be a beacon of Your love, but there is no room for that love right now because I've willingly allowed the darkness to move in and set up shop. I don't know how to shove it out. I think I want to; I know I need to. I just don't think I'm willing to give up the only steel I have left.
And when I think of how much I'm being forced to give up because of his selfishness, how much the kids lose out because he wants to chase unicorns and be a perpetual frat boy... the anger engulfs my logic and I refuse to work past it. His selfishness is forcing me to place my infant son into the arms of strangers so I can start work. His arrogance is forcing me to give up daily chats with Vince's teacher where we'd come up with strategies to ease his transition into school. His outright selfishness is forcing me to miss out on so many things for my two boys that it drives me almost insane. And none of this matters even remotely to him because none of this ever mattered to him. Again, my heart falls into itself with guilt for marrying such a selfish monster and breaks with the knowledge that there's no way to shield my children from the effects of this. No matter what, they are negatively impacted by splitting time between families, missing parents at events, and not seeing what a stable, loving relationship is supposed to look like between their mother and father. What a vile, perverse thing he has done to these children... to me. God help me, this is why I cannot forgive right now. There is too much abhorrence.
October 2015: Lord, You keep at me with this whole forgiveness thing. It makes me incredibly mad that You want me to forgive this POS when he doesn't even see anything he's done as remotely wrong. He. Doesn't. Deserve. Forgiveness.
And here You are telling me I don't, either. And You're right. I don't. But I miss You in the Eucharist. My yearning for You has not yet outweighed my disgust for him, however. Therein lies my Purgatory. Will my desire for You burn out before my disdain for him, or will my desire for You grow to engulf and obliterate the misery he created? My heart wants You, but my brain demands blood. Wait for me in the Tabernacle.
November 2015: I've noticed that he's attempted to be more active in Nathan's life. He's stepped up with Vincent. He still barbs me with thoughtless, careless comments, but at least he's not completely ignoring responsibility. Poor Vincent knows now and has taken to soiling himself, Father. I know that's a normal response to anxiety in a child, but Lord, I don't know how to help him. Please help him. Please, I beg of you, please. Help him understand that he is loved beyond measure. That no matter how confused and scared he feels, love is stronger, bigger and more capable of tackling his fear than he realizes. Help John and I to do better by him.
And I know, I know. Forgiveness is key to this. The way I can be the best mother to the boys is by letting go of the bitterness I carry towards their father. I'm so busy being angry with him that I allow myself to focus on that rather than appreciate the joy they bring. Every time I think of forgiving him, though, I get mad because he doesn't deserve to just go about his life free from repercussions. It drives me insane that friends and family pretend that nothing has happened. They keep treating him like he HASN'T lied to them, betrayed his vows, left his wife and dismantled his children's stability. How can that be? How can they continue to tolerate his presence? How can they not stand up and rebuke him?
Because it's so much easier to ignore. Because society teaches us not to stand up for what's right because what's right is no longer objective. What's right is whatever one feels on any given day, so why bother telling someone else that what he's doing is objectively wrong?
This sickens me. I've had three friends come to me seeking advice on divorcing their spouses, and all three times I've doled out tough love. Three times I spoke up to defend the marriage they sought to cast aside. I believe in marriage. I see the goodness it offers. People are so quick to throw away what they have because they're constantly looking for something better. I seek to recognize the good, and I encourage others to recognize the good. Where are those encouraging John? They are silent, each inwardly praying they don't someday face the same threat. The truth, though, is that each and every relationship - no matter how strong - will someday face this test. Someday, they will all be given the choice to work hard or give up. I will ALWAYS be the voice cheering them on and telling them they can do it. I will always seek to support marriages because (unless there is actual abuse occurring) marriage can and should be salvaged because it is precisely by reconciliation that both people grow and find a deeper, stronger love.
But no one wants to be that voice for my marriage, so I have shouldered this responsibility on my own. At least it really feels that way. And since my words mean nothing to this farce of a man, I end up lashing out in frustration. And then I get mad at myself for even bothering because I can't even stomach his presence, so why the heck would I want to defend a marriage I don't want any parts of?
Because this marriage isn't about him. It's not about me, either. It's about FAMILY and growing closer to You. I know You get your kicks out of growth via fire, but Lord, the fire can consume, too. Make it hot enough, and the iron will break rather than temper.
I'm breaking, Lord. I'm breaking and no one seems to care. But still I try. My heart won't allow me not to try. My heart won't allow me to pretend that this is right or just or okay. It's NOT right. It's NOT just. It's NOT okay, and I can't enable him to continue being a perpetual teenager by my silence. I just can't. Their silence enables him which is such a deep, deep betrayal to me. Their silence says "Gina is not someone worth defending against such treachery. Gina's children are not worth defending against such irresponsibility."
Tonight, December 1, 2015: Advent, Lord. I am supposed to prepare for You, but I don't know that I really want to. It's too soon. Plus, You keep hitting me with forgiveness themes. I want no parts of it. I want NO PARTS of it. I might be able to forgive him for what he's done to me. In the past, I've readily forgiven him for the countless ways he trampled over my heart. I'd forgiven him long before he asked. I'd even gone out of my way to respond to him with love and compassion when I was struggling to process a miscarriage he was happy for. But my children? My sweet, innocent children? How do you expect me to forgive him for the life he is creating for them? The example he is giving to them?! This mountain is too much. Gandalf is before me, and he seems pretty confident that I shall not pass.
NO NO NO.
Don't You dare leave me here with the Blessed Mother, God. Don't do it! I know where this is going, and I don't appreciate it.
I watched my Innocent Son be slaughtered on the Cross as ransom for your sins, my child. I know what it is to extend forgiveness and love even to those who hurt your children.
Walk with me. I know this suffering well as it is close to my Sorrowful Heart. If you will not offer your unforgiveness to the Father, offer it to me and I will untie this knot in your soul.
Great. How am I supposed to argue with Our Lady, God? I can't argue with her. NO ONE can argue with her. Even Jesus backed down when she pressed Him at Cana.
I'm sorry, Blessed Mother. You're right. Of course you're right. I'm actually really ashamed of myself for thinking that my grudge-mountain is anywhere near the scale of yours. You had every right to turn your back on humanity for not only slaughtering your Son, but continuing to gleefully roll around in our sin like pigs in mud. Yet still you embrace us as your own. Still you seek to call us to Heaven. Still you encourage us to be who God meant for us to be.
I surrender. Take my unforgiveness. And what's this? As I reach my hand up to offer you this black bag of shame, I feel your hand reaching back for mine. You weren't kidding, huh? You have every intention of walking with me as you untie the knot in my soul.
Oh, for shame. Forgive me all the more for turning my back on this Love. May your example become the example I give to my own children. To John.
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