So much has happened in my life since I posted here last. I’m going to need to go back and re-read my own blog to figure out where I left off in order to do a full update.
To make a long story short, I was fired from my job at the church this summer which is pretty much the whole reason I vanished for so long. It set off all my PTSD symptoms and I’ve pretty much spent the past four months recovering from the shock and looking for a new job.
Essentially I was fired because the pastor didn’t want to work around my PTSD. If I’d been smart, I would’ve kept detailed notes about things he said to me over the last couple of months that I worked at the church … I’m sure I would’ve had grounds for a lawsuit based on being fired because of my disability.
But I wasn’t smart and didn’t keep notes because I kept trying to be optimistic that he wouldn’t really be that cold-hearted and fire me because he didn’t want to accommodate my PTSD into his crappy management style. I was actually going to put in a request for accommodations when it came time for my next performance review … but he was smart and fired me before I could request the accomodations.
He actually lied to the church board about why I was fired. He told them that I was about to quit anyway (which he knew for a fact I wasn’t!) and he told them that he wanted to make certain I’d qualify for unemployment payments. Well, much to his surprise, non-profits (like churches) don’t have to pay into unemployment … so I didn’t qualify anyway! The church Board decided to give me a generous severance package in lieu of unemployment (but I’m sure that fact just burned him up when they wanted to take care of me … he just wanted to kick me to the curb).
To put it simply, the pastor is an ass. Short and sweet. And you know what else? He killed the church! Seriously! It’s closing officially in two weeks. I knew months and months ago that his agenda was to the kill the church … I tried numerous times to see if I could meet with the church Board and warn them about his plans, but I kept being told that he would have to be present at any meetings of the Board since he’s the Moderator of the Board.
It’s all been just plain crazy. I know this is incredibly disjointed, but I hadn’t really thought out how to talk about what’s been happening when I started typing. I’ll try doing a more comprehensible update later.
Oh, and on another note, I start training for a new job on Monday. My serverance package had just run out, so it’s not a moment too soon! Pray for continued health for me as I start the new job (my family’s been sick the past couple of weeks).
Life. Never a dull moment, huh?
I stumbled upon this blog post about tips for the Significant Others (SO’s) of people with DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). Wow. These “tips” were so difficult for me to read. It almost triggered a full on panic attack just browsing this list:
I know the person who wrote it meant to be helpful. But try to read it from the perspective of what it’d be like to be actually married to what’s being described. All the lying, mind games, confusion, sexual difficulties, cheating. Being the SO of someone with this disorder is enough to almost cause a similar disorder in the SO. It definitely caused the PTSD in my own life.
As difficult is it is for me — being the SO of someone with this diagnosis — imagine being the children of this sort of thing! I’m going to attend a seminar next month called “Childhood Lost” which is about helping churches be helpful to the children of parents with mental illness.
I definitely feel like my kids have lost much of their childhood to this horrible and confusing situation with their dad. They had to grow up so fast. They’ve dealt with issues that most adults have never even had to grapple with before.
Anyway, I hope you visited that link. I’m off to do some deep breathing and regain my calm and composure.
… just keep swimming, just keep swimming …
Is “Asking for Forgiveness?” even Biblical? Good question. Interesting thoughts here.
One of the most difficult things I’ve needed to work through in my whole crazy situation is something I don’t find myself able to talk about with anyone. Not friends. Not my pastor. Not anybody.
Since I haven’t really been able to talk about it, I’m not even sure I know how to write about it, but I just started thinking today that maybe this would be a fairly safe place to work through some of those issues (especially since I only have a couple of regular readers so I won’t have to worry about an onslaught of advice, etc.), either.
Where do I start?
One of the symptoms my husband experienced was that he would have “problems” sexually. Sometimes he would space out entirely (that’s the dissociative disorder kicking in), or he’d become unable to perform (that’s the frontal lobe dementia), or it’d just become icky or scary or nasty (hard to explain).
Anyway, I was coming from a world where a wife “biblically” had no right to ever say “no” to her husband sexually. It was all in the name 0f submission, basically.
So no matter what sort of problems he was having or what he was doing to me or how dissociated he became, I thought it was God’s will for me to submit to it all. To the point of injury. To the point of rape. To the point of a living hell.
Honestly, sometimes it seemed almost like God was raping me. Isn’t that a horrible thing to say?! But that’s how it started to seem. God wanted me to submit to my husband no matter what. My husband was essentially raping me. But I had no right to say no. It was literally my nightly hell on earth. I would lie in bed with tears steaming down my face, thinking that if I were a good Christian, I had to lie there and take it. No matter what “it” was.
I knew he was no longer in control of himself in this area of his life, so I didn’t blame him for it, but it was so horrible to think it was God’s will for me to endure such abuse night after night.
To top it all off, I found out after years (years!) of this going on that because of the dementia and the dissociative stuff, my husband had no memory of us having sex at all, so he thought I’d been holding out on him all that time!!!! It was such a nightmare!
I finally told my counselor (a decent Christian man) what was happening. He told me that under no circumstances would he, as a man, ever want his wife to endure what I’d been suffering and that he knew for a fact that my husband (the man he was before the problems essentially took him from me ) would’ve never wanted me to experience that nightmare, either.
So my counselor basically gave me permission to say, “No.” To stop submitting to all the nonsense and abuse and non-functional weirdness that my husband didn’t even remember.
But so much damage had already been done to my spiritual life, it’s been a struggle ever since. Trying to sort out the fundamentalist stupidness that I’d been taught from the truth of Scripture and the true heart of God has been a never-ending journey of pain and discovery for me.
I never realized that my faith had become toxic.
But it was killing me emotionally, mentally, spiritually and even doing a lot of physical damage, as well.
Okay, I have to stop typing now. I feel like I’m about to have a full blown panic attack as I’m thinking about these things. Need to go breathe and get my head about me again.
I’ll be back … probably.
I thought I’d be right back in a day or two to give an update on life, but turns out my intentions aren’t to be relied upon. Here it is more than a month later and I still don’t really have the gumption to write a full update. So I think I’ll just dive in and do some of that “rambling” I’m famous (ha!) for. 😉
I now know for sure that my husband is involved with someone else. While I’ve suspected it for a long time, it wasn’t definite. Now it is. So now I need to try to figure out what to do.
Evidently he’s happy with the status quo and not feeling a need to divorce me. His moral compass is one of the things he’s lost over the years due to his Frontal Temporal Lobe Dementia (FTLD), so the fact that he’s still married but essentially living with someone else doesn’t register in his consciousness as a problem (or a sin).
I guess I kept sort of hoping that he’d take things into his own hands and institute divorce proceedings so he could get on with his new relationship, but it looks like he doesn’t need to be single after all in order to feel all right about proceeding on with her. (To tell you the truth, I actually feel really bad for the other woman because I know she has no idea what she’s gotten herself into … He can hide his symptoms pretty well, sometimes for hours at a time … and I KNOW he hasn’t told her about his dual diagnoses of FTLD and Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). But I know that if I stepped in and tried to warn her about his problems, I’d just come across as the bitter “ex” trying to ruin things for him.)
And on a completely different note, there’s a guy at church that’s been showing interest in me for about two years. He knows about my strange, complicated life situation so he’s never made any sort of move about instigating anything with me because I’m still technically married, but it’s clear to me (and pretty much everyone else at church) :-) that he’s interested and just sort of biding his time until things resolve themselves one way or the other in my life (either I end up divorced or widowed, depending on which thing happens first).
As I’ve gotten to know him over the past couple of years, he’s become a very dear friend, maybe even one of my best friends now. I’ve never given any real serious thought to whether or not I was interested in him because, shoot, I’m married, after all!
After it became certain that my husband was involved completely with someone else, though, it felt like our marriage had already ended. The vows we’d taken nearly 30 years ago were already broken. The biblical grounds for divorce were already in place.
And the next thing I knew after realizing my marriage is essentially over (just not finalized), I found myself VERY interested in my friend at church. He fits into our little family (me and my three kids) so easily. My kids all love him to pieces and even call him “Uncle” now.
Now I’m facing this incredibly weird situation of being married but not, single but not, separated but not, and very interested in someone who’s very interested in me. But nothing can be done about it.
Or can it?
I know I have biblical grounds for divorcing my husband now, but I’ve never been comfortable with the idea of instigating things legally in that direction. I feel like I’m living a sham of a life being “married” but knowing that my husband has moved on and is completely involved with someone else. He’s even started ignoring his children and cancelling plans with them constantly because of other engagements (with her, I’m sure).
And it’s all so confusing because I know that the man before his illness (FTLD) would never have done something like this to me or to his children. Or for that matter, to his God. But it’s his illness that’s now taken over his sense of priorities and morality.
The man I was married to, the father of my children, has truly died in every sense of the word except physically. My kids say they feel like their dad died years ago and that now they’re stuck with this weird relative they don’t even know who they’re obligated to treat as their “father” when he’s actually more like a complete stranger now.
I’m afraid if I don’t divorce him now, people are going to assume later that I divorced him to be with the other guy. But the reality is that I’ve had grounds for divorce for a long time and it was when I finally knew “for sure” he had another woman that I finally felt the freedom to perhaps act on finalizing things with him. My kids even want me to divorce their dad. Isn’t that weird? But that’s the reality of what we live with … it’s just plain weird.
Don’t worry, I’m not going to get involved with someone else while I’m still married. MY moral compass isn’t messed up. I just wish it was clear and simple what to do. I think my next step is that I’m going to ask if I can meet with my pastor and a couple of the elders at church to talk over this situation with them and get some input from people who don’t live inside my own head. My own thoughts just keep running in circles, and I hope by talking it through with people adept at biblical thinking, I can get off the merry-go-round and make some sense of what my next steps should be.
Well, I’m off to get ready for church. More later, I’m sure.
Nothing huge to report, but I wanted to thank anybody who might have prayed or been praying for my work situation. Things are actually quite a bit better. Although continued prayer would be so appreciated!
Will update later when I have some uninterrupted time online. Might not be for another day or two, so don’t worry if you don’t hear from me right away.
Hope you’re all having a Happy Valentine’s Day.🙂
Now my boss has started taking a hard line with me in meetings. Somewhere along the way, he found out about my disability (PTSD) and in the past month or two, he seems to have decided to change his tactics of dealing with me.
He used to be encouraging and positive and sensitive to things that triggered my anxiety responses. I remember thinking that I couldn’t find a better person to work for. But now he’s discouraging, negative and insensitive. It’s such a drastic change! I honestly don’t know why he’s done such a severe about-face. Other people see it, too, as it relates to how he treats me. It’s not like he’s doing this to everyone … just me (and sometimes to one other woman who works there part-time … and even she’s on the verge of quitting, as well).
Everytime I see him or talk with him one-on-one now, he’s constantly harping on this or that area of my job that he feels I’m not doing up to his standards. And he’s even starting to do it in front of others, as well … such as at a Board Meeting this week where he detailed for the others where I’m falling short (and in something that wasn’t even true!) and then he insisted that I apologize to the group for my lack of whatever … it was sooooooooo embarrassing … and it actually triggered a full-on panic attack so that I had to leave the meeting (I was shaking so badly, I almost couldn’t walk to my car or drive home afterward).
It’s like he’s decided that the best way to “handle me” is to abuse and threaten me. I also have to hear constantly how he hasn’t decided yet if he’s going to keep my on at the job … and keeps adding new “goals” and things I need to do to meet his criteria for keeping me around … but when those goals and timeframes are met, he tells me once again that he can’t decide yet … and lays down more goals and timetables with threats of laying me off. He’s also told me that he doesn’t want me to stop doing the things I’m already doing … but he wants me to add in all these additional things now. For goodness sake, I only work part-time! I already have more work to do than I can squeeze into my time allotted each week … how on earth does he expect me to work this new miracle?
My goodness. I’m a single mom of three kids … and he knows that this part-time income is all I have other than child support to pay the rent, feed my family, and keep the lights on (so it’s no small threat when he threatens me with losing my job, believe me!). Scares the heebie jeebies out of me.
Yes, I know I need to find a new job. 😦
Unfortunately he’s got me so scared and anxious that I can ‘t even muster up the wherewithal to go look for another job. I honestly don’t even want to leave my house anymore. I think I’m actually starting to understand how people develop agoraphobia.
This really, really sucks.
Honestly, it’s taking every ounce of faith I have to continue believing that God loves me even though He’s allowed all this on-going stuff into my life.
And you want to know what makes all of this the hardest on me, spiritually? Hang onto your hat because I don’t think I’ve mentioned this here before … I work for my church. And my boss is the Senior Pastor. And the board that he embarrased me in front of this week is the Board of Elders. 😦
As Dory would say in Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming … just keep swimming.”
Been over at Molly’s “Adventures in Mercy” blog today … reading through her archives, etc. I just love the conversations in the comment sections, too. Good stuff, Maynard. :-)
My family (my older kids and I, that is) is still struggling to make sense of the whole complementarian/egalitarian stuff. Before my husband’s problems surfaced, we were more of a Comp-Lite version of the whole Biblical roles stuff. We paid lip-service to the “Husband-is-the-Head(read:”leader”)-of-the-Wife” Complementarian paradigm … but in practical workings of our marriage, it was basically Egalitarian. If we didn’t think about it too hard, it worked pretty well for us.
But then I’d have these awful moments when I’d wonder if my husband wasn’t the right sort of man because he wasn’t a type-A, dominant, take charge, strong willed sort of guy. He didn’t take his “role” seriously enough … or so I thought sometimes when I listened to my hardcore patriarchal friends and their ilk. He was a laid back, kind, gentle man (when he was in his right mind, that is!). But since I’m more of the leader type of personality, I can’t tell you how many times men in our church hinted that perhaps my husband was “hen-pecked.” Ugh.
And then when the outright abuse started, it became insane. Here I was being abused physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and sexually on a daily basis … but he was “hen-pecked.” Give me a break. 😦
Anyway, all I can say about it now is, “What a bunch of hooey!”
When my husband’s mental disabilities took over our family, it was scary beyond belief. How do you “submit” to insanity? To abuse? To outright weirdness? I heard all the usual Comp crap (excuse my French) about how if I just submitted more, obeyed more, died to self more, etc., my husband would “rise” to his role.
It all sounded so spiritual, too:
- “Trust God when you can’t trust your husband.”
- “Obey so you can be blessed.”
- “Sacrificial submission to abusive authorities is a beautiful thing in God’s eyes.”
Yikes. I’m still working through so much of this. (When I re-read what I’ve written here, I detect more than a little anger. Bitterness? Sigh. I guess God and I have some work to do.)
Gotta run for now. Taking the kiddos to a movie this afternoon.🙂
- Next: Been a Long Time
“The patriarchy camp seeks to muffle the cries of the weak, of the destroyed. They shake their fingers at the women who speak up about their pain. They tell them they are rebellious, that if only they would have submitted better, if only they would have been more respectful, all would have been well. They don’t pause to think that something might be wrong with their system. No, the system is infallble. It doesn’t matter if hoards of broken battered families leave it every year. The patriarchy camp may not even know about those hoards—they have a firm policy of focusing on the families that look successful, a policy of blindness towards families that were left in pieces. Pieces don’t make pretty pictures in magazines. Pieces don’t make good blog posts. Pieces are not our business.”
- Oh. My. Gosh.
- It’s like this woman, Molly, over at Adventures in Mercy is writing the story of my life and my struggles with faith. I think it’s too bad she’s stopped updating her blog, but fortunately she’s leaving what’s already there for posterity.
- I probably won’t be posting here for a few days (or longer) while I spend my blogging time reading Molly’s archives instead. If you want to read about my struggles to make sense of Christian Patriarchal Fundamentalism in the context of an abusive marriage, go visit Molly.
- All I can add to what she says is, “Amen, Sister!” :-)
Since my husband and I had to separate homes because of his abusive behavior resulting from an early onset dementia and a severe mental illness, he’s found himself a girlfriend.
How she can put up with his crazy behavior, I’ll never know … but maybe by not living under the same roof with him, she doesn’t see it the same way I did. He can actually control himself for brief periods of time (maybe a couple of hours at a time) so just having a girlfriend rather than a full-time wife and family might work out better for him in many ways.
Now … where does that leave me? I’ve been married to him for nearly 30 years. We have three children together. I’ve been true to him the entire time of our marriage (even during our separation the past couple of years). I took a vow before God … “til death do us part.”
But according to many people, infidelity is Biblical grounds for divorce.
But what if the infidelity is committed by someone who’s lost their sense of right and wrong as my husband has? What if the person isn’t able any longer to discern truth and error, right and wrong, sin and righteousness?
Because I know he’s not capable of staying true to his former moral code, I actually don’t feel jealousy or anger at the situation. It just makes me sad for him, sad for our kids … and even sad for the other woman who’s gotten involved with something frightening that I know she has no clue about.
We’re still married. He’s still working and providing child support for our two youngest kids (our oldest is 21 so no longer subject to child support stuff) … and medical insurance (for me and the two younger kids).
But he hardly ever sees us anymore. He nearly always spends his weekends elsewhere (guess where?) and never sees us during the week. He won’t allow us to come visit him at his apartment anymore (why? who knows … is he hiding something?).
Other than the medical insurance I receive as his wife, there are really no benefits whatsoever to being married (our taxes are even higher because we’re “married filing separately” now which is taxed at a much higher rate).
And the reality is, I’m still fairly young … and VERY lonely. With no hope as a “married” woman of ever moving on, relationship-wise, as long as he’s alive.
I’ve talked with two pastors indepth about my situation and both have said that they think my case is unique and definitely would fall under Biblical grounds for divorce.
But it still confuses me.
The other marraige vow was: “In sickness and in health.” His infidelity is caused by sickness. So is it really infidelity? Is it really grounds for divorce? Would it be abandoning him?
But it’s not like he’d be alone. He’s already fully involved with someone else. I feel almost like by sticking this thing out, it’s like I’ve chosen to be part of a polygamous (sp?) marriage. And it makes me feel dirty. Which is such a bummer because I’m not the one doing anything wrong.
My kids have actually told me that they think I should divorce him so we can all move on with our lives.
Weird situation, huh?