Breaking Into the Jailhouse…

1 Wine is a mocker and beer a brawler;  whoever is led astray by them is not wise.

Proverbs 20 (NIV)

I woke up in the jailhouse this morning.

You know that glorious moment you have the morning after getting tore up, those wonderful few seconds between waking up and opening your eyes, where it’s just as if everything was normal.  Before the memory of the previous night sets in?  Then slowly, one by one the reminders come; “I have to pee like it was my dang job!”, “Who stuffed all this cotton into my throat?”, “There seems to be about a thousand small sharp knives stuck into my head!”, “Why am I sleeping on a hard concrete floor?”, “Where is this place?” … “Oh, Lord I drank too much again!”

If you’ve ever woken up unexpectedly in the jailhouse, you know that it’s not really difficult to figure out that you’re in the jailhouse.  Everything’s concrete, except for the gleaming stainless steel toilet/water fountain combination thingy (perhaps the one place on earth that as a man you will not be yelled at for not putting the toilet seat up/down – there is no toilet seat) and a rather imposing door which has a small glass window toward the top which apparently going by the number of scratches and other dings on it, is far stronger than it looks,  and then two small rectangular openings toward the bottom, one about waist level and one about ankle level, through which you may be passed food and handcuffed/shackled should it be deemed necessary for your captors to do so.

My point is that there was only a few seconds between realizing that I was in the jailhouse and beginning to address the far more challenging next question which is; “why am I in the jailhouse?”  This proves to be far more difficult.  Partially, because you don’t remember, partially because you don’t want to remember – kind of like that moment after hearing a glass break in the other room and not wanting to have to deal with going in there to see what happened.

I had been drinking, a lot and I know that my wife and I had been arguing.  Arguing about the stupidest thing too – me snoring.  I had gotten up to use the bathroom the night before and when I returned she had said something like “are you ready to turn over if I ask you too, so your snoring doesn’t keep me up?”  I honestly thought she was asking me if I would be ready to when she asked, but apparently she had wanted me to do so straight away.  She got angry, yelled at me about how even when she tries to ask nice It doesn’t work.  I said something about how it wasn’t right for her to disrespect me by yelling and she stormed out of the room yelling “You’re wrong”.  Somehow this turned into an argument which lasted the majority of the weekend.  Stupid!  But  I just couldn’t let go of the “I deserve respect” thing and she just couldn’t let go of the “I deserve to be frustrated when I can’t sleep because you snore thing” and it just went on and on.

I followed her out of the room and into the baby’s room, I’m not sure if she was just checking him or was fixin to get in the bed with him, and told her to go on back to the bed, I was going to get up.  I was about three thirty or four thirty (depending on if you went by the clocks that automatically skipped ahead an hour for daylight savings or the ones that still needed to be corrected) and the baby was awake, it would probably take a little while to get him to go back down.

He didn’t go back down, he stayed up till morning playing.  At one point(about six or seven, again depending on which clock you looked at) he went into the kitchen and came back into the living room with a beer.  It was something that we used to encourage him to do.  We thought it was cute that he would go get us beers when we asked him to and he loved to get them and put them in the beer cozies for us.  He just didn’t know not to do it at six am.  In any event, I took it from him and thanked him and put it on the table next to my chair for later.  Later would only be about an hour later, I justified it by saying that I didn’t want it to get warm and that I had been up for four or five hours anyway.  I drank the one then switched back to my coffee.

When my wife got up that morning she was still sore at me.  Ignoring me most of the morning she finally asked if I was going to church and I told her that I didn’t think that I was in the right frame of mind.  This likely made her even angrier.  She took the boys to church and I stayed at the house and started to drink.  After church she still was angry and spent the afternoon outside, I continued drinking.

Her angry and me hurt and drunk is about the worst combination for us.  Time and time again, I’ve seen this not turn out so good.  Time and time again, I convince myself that I can control it this time.  I’m really not that drunk.  I’m in control.  I’ve just had enough to take the edge off.  But my sense is gone.  My ability to reason, pray, show patience, grace, gone with it.  At those times, I’m like a frayed exposed electric wire.  My anger is just sitting there exposed, ready to hurt anything or anyone who might accidentally touch it.

It was at this point that my wife finally agreed to come in the house and talk about what was going on.  No good could have happened at this point.  I wish that I had enough sense to realize that.  To just put it off.  To just say “Baby, I’ve been drinking some.  Why don’t we talk about it tomorrow”.  Every time, I convince myself that I can handle it and that we need to talk about it right then.  Deal with the problem straight away.  I never learn.

That conversation must have lasted about fifteen minutes, before she went off in a huff.  She said that she had only gone outside to have a cigarette and cool off, but I thought that she was leaving, fixin to tear off in her car.  Our ten year old followed her outside and I was left alone in the house with the baby.  I remember not wanting him to go out with them, partially because I didn’t want to be left alone, but mostly because I was afraid that if she tore off in the car in anger she may not notice him standing in the yard.  I locked the doors, knowing that he could open the doors but cannot do so when the deadbolt is locked, but when they came back to the house ten or fifteen minutes later I opened them again.  My wife was very angry thinking that I locked them out.

Now she’s screaming.  She goes in the bedroom and the door slams.  I thought it was her but it turns out it was the baby, but in my anger I slam the door back open to yell about her slamming the door.  She screams and tells me to get out.  I scream and tell her she’s not going to tell me where to go in my own house.  I finally walk out the room and go back to my chair in the living room to drink some more.  Into the front yard pulls the law.

Apparently, our ten year hold had taken my wife’s phone and called the law.  It’s not the first time he’s done it and to be perfectly honest, I’m not entirely sure that his heart is in the right place when he does.   I know that sounds horrible and that a ten year old should not even be put in the situation to make a judgment call like that, but the kid really has dialed 911 when his mother and I are just arguing about bills or something, no alcohol, no one out of control, just disagreeing about if we should pay the mortgage or the car bill first.   He really doesn’t like me and has made no pretense otherwise since his mother and I have been married.  He tells my wife often that he hates me and truly thinks that if he can just convince her to leave me that she and his father can be back together.  His father hasn’t tried to contact him in the last four years.  He will not provide us with a telephone number, address, or email and have only a po box number from where the support checks come and even that we had to take him to court in order to start receiving.  He’s lied to my wife about me.  Telling her things that he knows will make her have to choose between us.

What kills me is that I do love the kid like he was my own son. I want to be a father to him.  I tell him every day that I love him.  I get up every day, to get him ready for school. I help him with his homework. Give him advice about girls. We talk about god.  I bought him a gun and teach him how to shoot.  I’ve tossed about ten thousand pop-ups to him in the front yard.  Take him to baseball, to church, to basketball etc.  I make sure that he has everything that he needs.  That he’s not too far behind the other kids when it comes to the newest wizzy-bang toy or video game.  I want to think of him as a son, but the boy has some problems and for the longest time now, I’m the only one who’s been saying so.

When we first moved to the farm on which we live now, we got a bunch of kittens for mousers.  Two of them we decided to let stay in the house for house cats.  One morning, about five am, he knocked on or door announcing “the cat is dead”.  Now I had seen him torture these poor animals before.  One time I happened to walk into his room to check on him only to find the two of them barely conscious stuffed inside a plastic bag.  When we told him that he was no longer allowed to be alone with the animals, he began getting up in the middle of the night and after assuring that everyone else was asleep, would take the cats back into his room with him and lock the door.  That’s exactly what had happed on this night and sure enough when my wife and I got out the bed to see what was happening, the cat lay dead on the floor in front of our door.  The front door was wide open and it was the middle of winter.  Now to this day, we don’t know what happened to that cat, because no one will challenge him.  His story has gone from, he found the cat that way, to accidentally fell asleep on top of it, to he didn’t know he couldn’t be rough with it, but the fact remains that that little (then 8 year old boy) took that animal in his room, killed it, then went outside in the dead of winter to hide it’s body and only after realizing how cold it was, brought it’s body back into the house and left it on the floor in front of the door.  The most frightening thing was that he never was upset about it.  After, my wife and I got up that day; he simply asked what was for breakfast and wanted to know if he had gym that day.

My wife convinced me not to overreact to this incident saying that he was just a boy and had been through a lot and it was quickly forgotten, but several months later she left him alone in the bath tub with the baby for only a minute, when she returned I heard her scream.  He was holding the baby’s head under the water.  His consequence for this was time-out.  Now, I’m certainly not here to nominate myself for any father of the year awards, but can someone please tell me if that’s the going rate for attempted murder in your house – a time out?  My Grandfather would have put my head through the damn wall!

I’m 44 years old.  I’m about 6’1” and I weigh 220 pounds.  I work in construction and I’ve been in a scrap or two.  I’ve only recently been told what a metrosexual is and I’m still not sure I understand it and certainly can’t understand why anyone would want to be one.  In short; I’m not a Nancy, but this kid scares the hell out of me!  He scares me because I know that rage.  I’ve felt it myself.  My parents split up when I was about the same age as him.  I remember all that fear and confusion and feelings like my whole world was being turned upside down and I remember what a little shit I’d become because of it.  By God’s good grace, I was given two very good men in my life; my grandfather, who showed me love and discipline and then later my stepfather, who showed me love and friendship.  Had I not been given these two influences I shudder to think what that anger might have turned into.

I don’t know how to help him.  I’ve always thought it had something to do with discipline, but I’m not so sure anymore that it’s enough.  For the longest time, I was the only one who ever disciplined him.  I was likely the first discipline he’d ever seen.  His life until me was characterized entirely by his parent’s unhappy marriage.  My wife, in the height of her addiction and depression and having affair after affair, his father withdrawing and ignoring them both as a response to this and likely dealing with his own depression, what became obvious to me shortly after meeting my stepson is that he was usually given his way.  His tantrum were usually met by giving him what he wanted, just so that my wife and his father didn’t have to deal with them at the same time as dealing with their own pain.  I think they both always knew that it was something that had gotten out of hand, something that was truly sending him down a bad path, but I think that each singular time either of them had the opportunity to do something about it, the temptation to just let one more little thing go proved to be too great.  This chained together with their own feelings of guilt about what themselves were doing, just all added up to the first 8 years of his life going by without ever learning that his choices have consequences.

I saw it again during my wife’s affair last year.  No discipline, just night after night she would return from being with her lover, hand over a sac of bakery goods and just go to bed.  At that time, I was the only discipline the boy had ever seen.  Now to her credit, my wife has come a long way since then in therapy and she truly has become a wonderfully responsible Mother.  She disciplines when appropriate and she no longer ignores his behavior, but still I think the damage has been done and that even my wife becoming a source of discipline to him now, in his mind, is my fault, that I have in some way turned his mother against him.  He just really wants to go back to the way things were before when he was allowed to do as he pleased.  He doesn’t know about my wife’s affair, her addiction, that she had that nigger in the house while he slept in the next room (at least I pray that he doesn’t).  He will not admit that his father has not wanted to see or even talk to him for four years now.  He blames me for everything.  He thinks that our family’s problems are entirely my fault.  That I am the biggest problem in his life.

Well it was with these things on my mind as, once the deputies had convinced themselves that everything was alright, I reentered the house.  I was furious.  “That’s not my son anymore!” I can remember screaming.

“Good”, I can hear him yell from the other room.

I honestly didn’t care that he was ten.  It’s really one of the last things I can remember clearly about last night.  I told him to go to hell.  I called him evil.  That I was done with him being a manipulative little shit.  I don’t remember it, but my wife told me, and I believe her, that I used the ‘F’ word.  Who does that?  Who says “fuck you” to a ten year old?  What kind of a monster?  What kind of a monster have I become?  You know, I write about these things, and I quote this bible verse and that bible verse, like I know what I’m doing.  It’s all horse shit!  I’m still just as lost as I was when I started this.  I talk about love and forgiveness and living like Jesus taught us to and still night after night, beer after beer, I betray that.  I’m such a hypocrite.  I can’t trust myself to drink.  I rationalize and rationalize it, but it’s true.  I say that it’s the only thing to take the edge off.  I say that I deserve that distraction because of all what I’ve been through in the last year.  I say that before the affair, I had the same six pack in the refrigerator from labor day until February when my wife told me she wanted to leave me.  I say that 99 times out of 100, when I drink nothing happens, but 1 time out of 100, I turn into a monster – isn’t that enough?  I just can’t control it.  Shit y’all – it’s not even fun anymore!  It’s like a damn job!  Do I have beer at the house? Should I stop to get some?  I’m going to get a 24 oz. or two to drink before I get to the house to make it look like I’ve drank less than I have.  In the course of a year it’s gone from social, to just a few to calm my nerves, to just wait until after the kids go to bed, to I just have to make it till after supper, to I just have to make it to the house after work, to I just have to make it to the truck and I’ll be ok.  I’m risking my life, my license, my job, my family and my faith – everyday on the way home from work.  Each time I leave the town limits and crack open a beer in the console, telling myself that no one cares out in the county if I have a beer on the way home.  I can’t wait five minutes to get on our property!  How did that happen?  How did I never see it?  I really am no better than my wife was last year!  I can tell myself, well at least I never had an affair, but really how long can I expect to not make that mistake when I pickle myself night after night?

I just can’t do it anymore.  I can talk as much as I want about Paul telling Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach or Psalms talking about God giving us wine to gladden the heart of man, but I know it’s all horse shit!  And I don’t mean horse shit, like it can mean fermented or not fermented, I’m not talking about the meanings of Greek or Hebrew words, I mean horse shit, like I know that what I’m doing is wrong and still I keep justifying why I should be allowed to continue to do so.  I just don’t think that I can bible verse that away with cherry-picked scripture any longer.  It’s time to admit that I have a drinking problem and that I cannot fix it by saying I’ll stop when I get the respect I deserve or I’ll stop when I’m over the pain, or I’ll stop when this happens or that happens.  I’m the one causing the problem now and until I own that, we’re not going to make any more progress.

Well the sheriff’s department was there again and this time they probably needed to be called.  I was out of control.  I still am being told things that I was doing that I simply have no memory of.  I hadn’t become violent, so the deputy (a nice guy) told me that he wanted to take me to the hotel.  I know I keep promising to have a look at my prejudice and I will, I just need to focus on this right now, but this guy is a black guy who is not a nigger.  He’s one of the deputies who came out to the house when my wife tried to kill herself, then latter when I tried to kill myself, he also drives the school bus in the morning.  He’s a hard working decent man and I respect him.  So when he told me that it would be best for me to go to the hotel, I trusted him and got in the car.

It was about a fifteen minute ride into town in the back of that police car.  Far too long for a drunk to be left alone with his thoughts and not be expected to think of something stupid to do.  I checked into the hotel, but had convinced myself on the way there that the same thing as when I was taken to the hospital was going to happen again.  My wife was going to take the kids and head off to New Jersey or someplace and that I’d never see them again.  As soon as the deputy left, I left the key to the hotel room on the bed and started walking home.  My only though at that moment was to get to my baby boy.  Well, it’s the last though I remember having last night and apparently part of my plan in getting home was to climb over the fence to the jailhouse yard and cut my way through the barbed wire on top with my small pocket knife in order to get to the other side off the jail in the direction of my house.  In addition, I’m told that the plan involved my yelling my son’s name at the top of my lungs after falling off of the fence and dropping my knife in the grass and leaves surrounding the jailhouse yard.  It was in this state that I was found during a perimeter check.

“Drunk and disorderly” is what it says on the paperwork, which I’m to bring back with me to my hearing next month.  Plain “stupid” is what it should say.  I was arrested for trying to break into the jailhouse instead of walking around it!  There’s not too many ways to spin that without coming back to “stupid”! And it occurs to me that that is what my drinking is like.  It’s like time and time again trying to break into the jailhouse. You know no good can come from it.  You know you’re going to only find trouble there.  You know they’re probably gonna be a little sore that you’re trying, but time and time again I trap myself like that.  Same stupid over and over and every time I think I’m in control.  I think I know what I’m doing.  I think I’ll be able to traverse all those hidden pockets of resentment that now fill my house.  I resent her for the affair.  She resents me for resenting her for the affair.  He resents me for taking his Mama away.  I resent him for not giving me the respect I deserve.  Everybody resents everybody and everybody thinks that they are entitled to it.  Everybody thinks that they should be permitted that misery.  Everywhere is hidden hate and hurt and negative feelings, but no one wants to say so.  We all just keep trying to break into that jailhouse time and time again; me with drinking, her with shutting down, him with his behavior and each time were surprised when they actually put us in the jailhouse.  Crying that we want our freedom, each of us, time and time again, try to crawl up that fence in order to continue our imprisonment.

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

~2 Peter 2:9

Please God, get this out of my house and give me the strength to do whatever I need to do to stop my part in contributing to it.

Well it was morning now, not that I would have known from my cell had I not been able to see the clock on the wall behind the desk in the jailhouse through my cell door’s window.  I was in a bright orange suit and woke up on a hard concrete bench.  They will notice that I’m not at work I thought and began to resent my wife for letting this happen to me.  I was probably going to lose my job when I just didn’t show up and not call.  In a little while they brought me breakfast and passed it though the little slot window on the door and in another little while they came to get me for fingerprints and pictures.  They asked me if I wanted to make a phone call.

As the officer was dialing my wife’s number, I fully expected there to be no answer.  I was certain that she was gone, the boys with her and that I would never see any of them again.  I deserved it.  I really just told him to call her number to confirm that.

She answered.  She hadn’t left with the boys in the middle of the night.  She hadn’t told them that I had become abusive or out of control or anything like that.  I told her that I was in the jailhouse and she simply said that it’s what she thought had happened, that she’d been trying to call the hotel and they told her that I had left.  She’d been phoning my room all night.  She had called my job and told them that I wouldn’t be in and wanted to know if I needed her to come pick me up.  I told her that I had to go to court but they would let me call again when I was done.  Before I hung up I said “I love you” and she said “I love you too”.  I don’t think that I can ever describe the way that made me feel.  How much that meant.  That she didn’t just up and leave like she did when I tried to kill myself.  That she didn’t use that as an excuse to just take off, be done.  I had been a perfect ass and she was being perfectly gracious.

After court, they let me out and she came to pick me up at the Hardee’s in town.  Again, I thought maybe she was just waiting; she was going to tell me that she was leaving when she came to pick me up, or not come to pick me up and let me get the idea then.  She showed up.  Didn’t really say anything.  Just drove quietly back to the house.  When we got to the house, I could see how out of control I’d actually become.  There was a mirror by the front door that I had apparently broken by throwing the remote control, she told me that when she tried to vacuum up the glass, I had grabbed the vacuum and tried to throw it out the door into the front yard.  That the cord had gotten tangled around her ankle and she showed me the bruise it caused.  She told me about all the profanity I had used last night, the things I said to our boy, to her, all in front of the baby.  She only said that she thought I had a problem.  Even now I was saying things like, “ok, I’ll cut it back, but I still want to be able to have a few beers if we go over the neighbors or on the weekends and stuff”.  Even now.

In fact there really wasn’t much consequence to all this at all, considering.  The judge released me on my on recognizance.  I’m going to have to go back to court next month and pay $262.50 fine and if I don’t there going to put me back in the jailhouse for 30 days.  I lost a day at work.  My wife wasn’t furious.  My kids weren’t taken away.  I just feel like aside from my conscience I got off really easy.  She said that I must be tired and told me to go lie down for a while.  I slept for a couple of hours and when I woke up both her and the baby were sleeping.  I Googled A.A.  “It’s probably not for me” I thought “but at least I’ll be showing that I’m making an effort” I found a meeting and told her that if she took the boys to baseball, that I would go.  She agreed.

The meeting was about 30 miles from the house.  Everything is about 30 miles from our house.  Except for a few stores and offices in town, most everything is a ways away.  I took a bath to get the stink of the jailhouse off of me and shaved and reluctantly drove to the meeting.  I got there early and wasn’t sure if I was in the right place.  I had used the Tom-Tom to get there and, as is not uncommon in our rural neck of the woods, it had directed me to a vacant lot, that looked like there may have been a building there some years before, but had long since see those days.  If I didn’t have the actual street address, I likely would have left and gone back to the house.  I found the address and it seemed to be a vacant building and was sort of walking around looking puzzled when a woman got out of her car and asked if I was there for the meeting.  I said that I was and she told me that there wasn’t anyone there yet but that they should be along fairly soon.

I’ve been to A.A. before, never serious though.  I had to go when I was in the hospital and I had to go in college.  I always thought that it was an admirable program, but just not for me.  It’s just really that lifelong commitment, the this is now going to be your whole life thing that I think I recoil from.  I wasn’t entirely sure that tonight would be any different, but still there I was.  You know, it really surprised me but they didn’t want me to talk a lot.  I thought, hey I woke up in the jailhouse this morning, this is what these people live for – “keeping them green” I think they call it.  Reminding them “there but for the grace of God” and such.  I mentioned that I was in the jailhouse, asked a question or two and then they pretty much told me just to listen.  There was another guy there who was new as well, he started talking about God and church and how he may be able to control the drinking but he’d never be able to control the devil – they hollered at him pretty good.  “We’re here to save your life” they said “then you can let the church save your soul”

Well, I was glad that he had made that mistake instead of me, because I may have been likely to say about the same thing.  I resigned myself to sit there and let them continue to holler at him, to keep my mouth shut, but I was beginning to doubt if I would be able to continue to go to this program if they were openly hostile towards going to church.  I mean, between my life and my soul, I’d have to choose my soul, but it seemed obvious to me that there were several there who would not agree with that choice.  “Don’t let religion get in the way of your recovery” they kept saying.  I decided to get through the meeting and get out of there as graciously as I could, but that I would probably have to find another way of getting help.

One of the older men, the one who pretty much told me to just shut up and listen, started to speak.  He said that talking about jail got him to thinking about a story he had heard years before in one of the rooms.  A story about two brothers who lived on a farm.  They would work hard all week and when the weekend came around thought that they deserved to tear it up a little.  One was a little more wild than the other so almost every weekend, he would get taken to the jailhouse and almost every Monday morning, his brother would come bail him out and take him directly from the jailhouse to work.  Well on one of these such Mondays, it started getting late, the hours ticked by and although  he didn’t mind so much, because it gave him some extra time to nurse his hangover before going back to the farm to work, he began to wonder where his brother was.  Eventually he started to clank his cup on the cell room bars to get the jailer’s attention.  The jailer came and asked him what he wanted and he said “Hey, how about you call my brother and see when he’s going to get me out of here”.

The jailer stared at him blankly for a moment and then asked if he remembered anything of the night before. “No”, the man replied.

“Your brother is dead” he said, “you stabbed him last night”.

I thought of that broken mirror in my living room.  How I had absolutely no memory of breaking it.  The things that I had said and done, without having a single memory of deciding to do so.  Not even a second worth of thinking about it.  About how in less than twenty four hours, I had gone from having an argument about snoring to ending up in the jailhouse.  I thought about how easy my story could have ended like that one.  I have a problem and even if that problem only shows itself 1 time out of a hundred, I cannot take that risk again.  I have to get this out of my house.  I have to get this out of my heart and I don’t know if it’s something that God can do for me, or something he wants me to do for myself, but I have to stop.

What’s really strange is that when you go to A.A. for the first time, or when you first go back, they give you a white poker chip.  There are other colors, but you have to stay longer to get those, I only ever got a white one.  Before going to the meeting I took a bath and put on clean clothes.  I just grabbed the first pair of britches in my drawer.  When they gave me that white chip, I wanted to keep it safe so I went to put it in that little poker chip size pocket you have inside of your pocket on blue jeans and when I did, I felt something in there.  I stuffed my chip insider there anyway, but when the meeting was over I got curious as to what was in there already.  I stuck my finger in and pulled out two white chips.  One I had just been given and one must have been given to me in the hospital last year when I was committed.  It had been in there all this time waiting.

On the way home I stopped at the same convenience store that I do about every day. I was dying of thirst, still very dehydrated from last night.   I wish I could say that I didn’t even think about it, but I did hesitate a step as I passed the cooler where I almost daily have been getting a 24 oz Bud Light for my ride home from work.  It’s as if my body was conditioned to do it without even thinking about it.  I could do it with my eyes closed.  I’d know how many steps from the door to the cooler, I’d know exactly how far up to reach to get the Bud Light can.  I know exactly how much money with tax it would cost.  I didn’t open that cooler tonight, but as I walked by it to get me a Dr. Pepper, it became apparent to me that this is not going to be an easy thing.

There is another meeting tonight.  Y’all please pray for me as I do this thing which will not be easy, because I honestly would rather go back to the jailhouse or get hit by a truck then to put my family through again what I did last night.  I don’t think that I can ever take away the wrong that I’ve done.  I can start again with the boy, with my wife, with myself and with God, but those mistakes will always be there.  I pray that they might someday forgive me.  Best what I can do  is make it so they’ll never happen again.

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Bring Zoe Amanda Home…

I wanted to ask y’all to visit this blog and to pray for God’s hand to be on this family as they fight to bring the newest addition to their family, Zoe – a little Taiwanese girl with health problems, home to be with her new family. If you’re able, you can donate to their cause here:

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I think I did the link to the picture right, but if you have any problems, you can email me and I’ll let you know where to send your donations.

Even if you can’t donate, maybe you can re-post this on your blog, and certainly keep them in your prayers.

God Bless.

A Little Walk in the Sunshine…

But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him

~John 11:10

It was recently pointed out to me by someone that I may appear to have been dwelling a bit on the negative here.  That it’s nearly impossible to see why I choose to stay in a marriage that causes me so much pain and while I tried to explain that much of what I’ve been writing is historical and intended to give the reader a foundation of understanding to my situation as well as a baseline against which my progress may be made, it occurs to me that they are probably right.  I do need to look at this stuff, challenge it, get it’s poison out of me, but I also need to remember why I’m doing it, what’s right about us, what’s changed and what I’m fighting for.   Thank you the old heave ho for giving me something to think about.

The following is a list that I compiled shortly after my wife and I began therapy.  It was one of my assignments.  It was meant to be something for me to go back to, when I really began to dwell on the negative, in order to remind myself what has gotten better.  I’d like to share it with y’all.

1. Tries to text during the day.
2. Hasn’t hurt herself.
3. Hasn’t used drugs.
4. Gets up in the morning for coffee.
5. Wants to hold me when I have bad dreams.
6. Worries if I eat.
7. Wants to go to church.
8. Likes to spend time with the Judy’s.
9. Facebook’s nice things.
10. Has lunch with me.
11. Goes to women’s circle.
12. Being respectful of my work.
13. Is accountable for money.
14. Is accountable for time.
15. Asks my opinion.
16. Sleeps with me.
17. Prays with me.
18. Doesn’t find excuses not to be home.
19. Tries to tell me how she feels.
20. Wears her wedding rings.
21. Holds my hand in public.
22. Calls when she will be late.
23. Trying at marriage counselor.
24. Getting rid of the Teddy bear dog.
25. Wants to get rid of jeep.
26. Mindful of the music she listens to.
27. Takes her medicine.
28. Wants another baby.
29. Put property in both our names.
30. Talks to me.
31. Listened to me.
32. Picked a tree for me.
33. Wants to have company.
34. Started the “dream of me” again.
35. Is making Christian lady friends.
36. Tells me when something is wrong.
37. Wants me to feel like this is my home.
38. Talks about the bills.
39. Talks about projects.
40. Doesn’t act entitled.
41. Doesn’t complain about my truck.
42. Wants to watch tv with me.
43. Says she loves me first.
44. Doesn’t play semantic games.
45. Admits when she’s wrong.
46. Wants to go to celebrate recovery.
47. Wants to make me egg sandwiches.
48. does the dishes sometimes.
49. Feeds the chickens sometimes.
50. Spends time with the boys.
51. Worries about the boys diet.
52. Disciplines the boys sometimes.
53. Doesn’t berate me in front of others anymore.
54. Picks the boys up from daycare.
55. Rededicated herself.
56. Understand when I am angry.
57. Understands when I am hurt.
58. Wants to live simple.
59. Wants to stay home with the boys.
60. Laughs at my jokes.
61. Makes supper sometimes.
62. Doesn’t speed anymore.
63. Doesn’t text and drive anymore.
64. Let me put the bible on her phone.
65. Let’s me check her phone.
66. Told me how to check #s on her phone.
67. Worries if I have cigarettes.
68. Does groceries.
69. Showed me the hiding place in her car.
70. Unlocks my car door.
71. Uses the TomTom.
72. Yells at the dog for licking me.
73. Makes sure I have a towel.
74. Tries to tell the truth.
75. Home when she sais shell be home.
76. Wants to get a tattoo.
77. Takes turns getting baby a bottle.
78. Gets my kind of pizza.
79. Doesn’t criticize as much.
80. Made chicken and dumplings.
81. Made birthday cake.
82. Doesn’t kick/hit me anymore in bed.
83. Doesn’t slap Baby as much.
84. Brought me lunch.
85. Worries that I’m depressed.
86. Doesn’t criticize me for not doing house/yard work.
87. Doesnt speed away from me in morning.
88. Wants to bake.
89. Honest about money from baking.
90. Wants to know if I saw text/facebook.
91. Cares about my Mama.
92. Prays for others.
93. Is letting go of her Mama’s creeps.
94. Takes baths with me.
95. Wants to make love.
96. Emails me.
97. Is disappointed when I don’t have a signal.
98. Knows where I was born.
99. Wants to go to beach as a family.
100. Saved hair from Baby’s first haircut.
101. Tells me about her past.
102. Offers me some of her drink.
103. Touches my face.
104. Is upset that I flinch when she touches me.
105. Fells bad when I have bad dreams.
106. Asks what’s wrong.
107. Tries to understand my work.
108. Tries to remember my old dreams.
109. Bought me a candy bar.
110. Leaves doors open.
111.  Wants me to feel good about making love.
112. Doesn’t cuss anymore.
113. Wants an economic car again.
114. Buys fruit.
115. Told Crustal to not have an affair.
116. Doesn’t always wear black.
117. Is happy sometimes.
118. Wants to be happy more.
119. Talks about the future.
120. Tries to be in the word.
121. Wants to make me lunch sometimes.
122. Doesn’t look for things to blame me for.
123. Remembers what I say.
124. Chooses words to not be hurtful.
125. Said that I’m hardworking.
126. Doesn’t make jokes at my expense.
127. Thinks ahead about money.
128. Doesn’t roll her eyes.
129. Wants me to build stuff.
130. Wants me to fix stuff.
131. Picks flowers.
132. Tries to be country.
133. Knows the difference between flat slab and valley gutter.
134. Says that thing about the peanut.
135. Takes advil for her headaches.
136. Is grateful for good days.
137. Doesn’t keep track of bad days.
138. Doesn’t keep score.
139. Doesn’t exaggerate.
140. Hugs people at church.
141. Doesn’t use that carwash.
142. Stays awake for me.
143. Admits when she’s craby.
144. Wants muck boots.
145. Doesn’t ditch her phone.
146. Doesn’t get angry about me checking on her.
147. Doesn’t talk about me as temporary.
148. Doesn’t scowl so much.
149. Keeps promises.
150. Is careful about negative people.
151. Defends me to me.
152. Eats so I will eat.
153. Worries if I have coffee.
154. Thinks about money for basket at church.
155. Is encouraging.
156. Is humble.
157. Listens to the birds.
158. Smells flowers.
159. Thinks of nice things to say.
160. Sits in the sun.
161. Cares about the dogs.
162. Wants someone for me to talk too.
163. Accepts responsibility.
164. Makes exceptions for my schedule.
165. Came to camp work day with headache.
166. Steals my mannerisms.
167. Cares about the houses appearance again.
168. Happy socks.
169. Asked me to paint her toenails.
170. Gave me a backrub.
171. Looks for advice.
172. Plays with Baby.
173. Wants to see this list.
174. Knows that easy things are hard for me.
175. Accepts that I’m analytical.
176. Wants me to be the head sometimes.
177. Tries to be angry when she knows she should be.
178. Sees that I love her unconditionally.
179. Wants to stop stopping loving me.
180. Doesn’t run out anymore.
181. Understands that I have shortcomings.
182. Doesn’t judge me for being a hick.
183. Doesn’t judge my appearance.
184. Says thank you.
185. Makes Our boy take his Meds.
186. Let me change her facebook picture.
187. Called Dannette.
188. Offered to help jeff and I with fence.
189. Things take as long as expected.
190. Plays footsie.
191. Sits on my lap.
192. Told me that she saw that guy
193. Asked for forgiveness.
194. Said it was the biggest regret of her life.
195. Gets a little jealous.
196. Lets me have some blanket.
197. Lets me have a good pillow.
198. Wanted me to get good shave cream.
199. Wanted to change Bayb’s sheets.
200. Likes days when I’m done early.
201. Saves chicken treats.
202. Gets the eggs.
203. Doesn’t bully.
204. Wears her seatbelt.
205. Cries when she needs to.
206. Does things she doesn’t feel like because she knows she should.
207. Doesn’t use the chopped wood in the fire pit.
208. Asked about people I work with.
209. Texts me when she knows I can’t get it.
210. Said Jesus would like the flowers.
211. Wants to cook for us.
212. Asks what I want for dinner.
213. Doesn’t spend hours in Momy Our boy time.
214. Wants to wash my work vest.
215. Saved the feather.
216. Saved the letter.
217. Put up her first husband’s knife.
218. Doesn’t compare me to Chris.
219. Doesn’t compare me to her ex-husband.
220. Wants me to go to men’s group.
221. Wants me to go to Celebrate Recovery.
222. Counts Our boy’s Meds.
223. Doesn’t throw butts on front yard.
224. Bought butter pecan ice cream.
225. Doesn’t look for excuses to not be home.
226. Doesn’t want to travel alone.
227. Cleaned the chick butts.
228. Asks me how she looks.
229. Says she’s making herself pretty so I’m proud.
230. Feels bad about my birthday.
231. Knows my pant size.
232. Says I make pretty roads.
233. Kissed me at the pig.
233. Mailed our taxes.
234. Wants that thing out her arm.
235. Knows where my hard places are.
236. Tossed the blanket.
237. Got rid of necklace.
238. Kept my picture in hospital.
239. Jokes about me opening her bra.
240. Picks my clothes for church.
241. Says sorry when she’s wrong.
242. Starting to show that it’s important that I think she loves me.
243. Doesn’t leave the baby crying in crib.
244. Changes behaviors that bother me.
245. Shows love when she’s angry
246. Sooner to listen when she’s angry.
247. Tells me about time off she earns.
248. Tells me about extra money.
249. Says God bless you.
250. Hugs me when I’m stinky.
251. Gives me tastes of her cakes.
252. Tells Baby to give me a kiss.
253. Tells Our boy to hug and kiss me goodnight.
254. Gives me gum before church.
255. Loves on me when she sees I’m hurting.
256. Wants to meet for kisses.
257. Notices cuts and scrapes.
258. Knows what’s going on at school.
259. Knows what’s going on at daycare.
260. Is happy about the chicks.
261.  Prays for me to have peace of mind.
262.  Caries her bible.
263. Quotes country songs to me.
264. Warms me when I’m cold.
265. Tries to save gas.
266. Talks about God on facebook.
267. Comes to me when I come home.
268. Sings/hums
269. Make sure she eats.
270. Asked me to forgive her.
271. Says she will always regret what she done.
272. Wants to quit smoking.
273. Said she sew my vest.
274. Calls me from work.
275. Prays by herself.
276. Tells me God hears me.
277. Gets the lighthouse thing.
278. Wants me to not be depressed.
279. Sends me pictures.
280. Said that she would move.
281. Wants to find ways to make me feel good in bed.
282. Goes to church without me.
283. Gets angry when I’m mistreated at work.
284. Called me every break in the hospital.
285. Wants to take Our boy to birthday party.
286. Wants to cut grass.
287. Doesn’t minimize my feelings.
288. Looks happy.
289. Comes to my job.
290. Jealous of Soup.
291. Wants to learn how to show love.
292. Wants to learn how to stop bullying.
293. Told me about truck on road.
294. Told me when that guy came to bank.
295. Wants me to light her cigarettes.
296. Stays hairy.
297. Butt kisses.
298. Says good morning.
299. Asks about asphalt.
300. Wants to have lunch.
301. Told me about lottery ticket.
302. Isn’t angry at me for not doing dishes.
303. Tells the truth even when it’s hard.
304. Talks about him negatively.
305. Thinks of me when listening to music.
306. Makes love and wants to talk.
307. Tells people I prayed for them.
308.  Doesn’t read as much.
309. Let me have angry country music playlist.
310. Tells me what’s at the dump.
311. Buttons her blouse.
312. Says she wants horses.
313. Wanted to buy kiddie pool.
314. Laughs about what’s in my pockets.
315. Said it was a good idea about the slide.
316. Wears my underwear.
317. Understands that I don’t like to leave my truck.
318. Keeps trying when I don’t respond right away.
319. Can be demure.
320. Picks her fights.
321. Appreciated the lilies.
322. Likes when I send funny emails.
323. Holds my hand in the car.
324. Likes when I remember shakesphere.
325. Kisses me at stop lights.
326. Talks about making love during the day.
327. Wants to live for God.
328. Understands Jesus’ sacrifice.
329. Seems excited to make love.
330. Paid the daycare bill.
331. Asks what I want for dinner.
332. Holds my hand at Mrs Kayie’s.
333. Doesn’t go to sleep as soon as we go to bed.
334. Doesn’t nap as much.
335. Answers questions at bible study.
336. Stays away from places she used to meet him.
337. Does more than just what therapist  says.
338. Ignores bad advice.
339. Is relaxed.
340. Not so moody.
341. Tells me when she feels moody.
342. Eats with me even if not hungry.
343. Notices I lost weight.
344. Can respond positively to me being negative.
345. Told me about his truck.
346. Doesn’t hoard change.
347 Took the toothbrush out her purse.
348. Says that he disgusts her now.
349. Wants to hate what is evil.
350. Hold onto what is good.
351. Says that I am beautiful.
352. Says that I love her like no one else ever has.
353. Doesn’t talk ghetto.
354. Wants me to wear shorts.
355. Days my coffee mug is cool.
356. Wants me to take my shirt off in bed.
357. Didn’t use cutting against me.
358. Didn’t use drinking against me.
359. Didn’t pick just the boys.
360. Doesn’t want hair dye.
361. Knows I think she’s beautiful.
362. Can see how much I love her.
363. Understands that my anger comes from hurt.
364. Smokes with me.
365. Hugs me randomly.
366. Looks at me during worship.
367. Wants to be a good person.
368. Wants people to see her as a good person.
369. Wants to look at herself in the mirror.
370. Doesn’t think she knows it all.
371. Doesn’t accuse me of thinking I know it all.
372. Tries to see me in positive light.
373. Doesn’t talk about guy stuff that I’m not good at.
374. Doesn’t drink.
375. Doesn’t pretend things are ok.
376. Doesn’t rationalize.
377. Wants me to trust her.
378. Understands that I’ve lost trust in her.
379. Let’s me be hurt.
380. Cares that I am hurt.
381. Likes that I play ball with Our boy.
382. Understands that I don’t want to work nights.
383. Wants to be accountable.
384. Admits when she wasn’t accountable.
385. Doesn’t look for fights.
386. Wants a relationship wit God.
387. Sees how important God is in our relationship.
388. Gets my shave cream.
389. Doesn’t pretend not to hear me.
390. Shares the coffee.
391. Shares cigarettes.
392 wants me to quit smoking.
393. Worries when i cough.
394. Wants me to live.
395. Is sad if I talk about dying.
396. Gets chicken treats.
397. Is proud of me.
397. Tells me about her stories.
398. Tells me about her dreams.
399. I’m a good guy in her dreams.
400. Chinease food.
401. Would let me buy stuff.
402. Doesn’t fuss about apps.
403. Doesn’t fuss about iTunes.
404. Doesn’t fuss about double standard.
405. Trusts me.
406. Tells me I’m a good father.
407. Wants me to pick a show.
408. Asks about spending money.
409. Generous at church with money.
410. Sees all the good people around her.
411. Loves the old ladies at church.
412. Didn’t want to change churches.
413. Washed my phone cloth.
414. Make my coffee to go.
415.Wanted to defend me.
416. Want Our boy to be happy.
417. Says that I have been good fir Our boy.
418. Saves treats for animals.
419. Trusts my judgement with boys.
420. Prays for my Mama.
421. Calls my Mama Mom.
422. Wants to go to mother daughter dinner.
423. Doesn’t expect me to do things.
424. Shares jokes with me.
425. Teaches me Spanish.
426. Sits with me.
427. Knows I need her time too.


Papa’s Chair…

‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest’”

~Mark 6:30, 31 ( NIV)

We have this chair in our living room, given to us by my wife’s aunt. It’s my chair. When I’m home no one will even try to sit there. They know I’ll only chase them out of it if they try. It suits me. The cushion is squished down and fits my behind just right. It’s the right distance and angle from the TV. It’s by the window so I can see out into the yard. It’s by an outlet and a table. It’s right next to my wife’s chair, so we can talk.  It’s my chair and I love it.

The thing about my chair is that it’s a little tore up.  The back squeaks. The arm rests are frayed and the chairs’ innards are visible to guests. The cushion is squished down and a significantly different color than when it was given to us. Put simply; the chair’s wore out.

Now I know that my wife looks at that chair and resents me because of it’s condition. I see her stare at it and slump her shoulders and look away in disgust, or sigh, or say something like “will you look at what you’ve done to that chair”? Her disappointment, in me, is palpable, to me, when she looks at that chair.

I must admit that I probably do spend too much time in that chair. Time that I could be spending playing ball with the boys, or fixing what needs fixing, or helping out with house chores. I do have a bad habit of coming in from working in the yard or home from the job and sitting there without washing up first. I could be more mindful, knowing how my wife feels about the house’s appearance, about taking better care of the chair.

But, in the most general sense and at the very least, doesn’t the fact that the chair is wore out mean that I’ve at least been there? That chair is where I sit with our baby on my lap each morning and give him his bottle. It’s where I sit and talk with my 9 year old stepson, because he and I are finally talking about stuff. It’s where I sit with my wife and, together, make decisions about what’s best for our family. It’s where I sit each morning to drink coffee and do my daily devotional, trying to learn God’s word and how to lead this household. That chair is the one place that both of our boys know, that no matter what they’ve gotten themselves into, or how hurt or scared or alone they might be, they can come to and have the best chance of finding me.

What I wish is that my wife would look at that chair and not make some comment to herself about my laziness or inactivity or personal hygiene, but rather see it for what I think it is and that is a blessing to our home. Because, shouldn’t every house want Papa’s chair to be wore out? Shouldn’t every family cherish time spent at home? Children to spend time with and chairs to sit and do it in? Wouldn’t it say something worse about me if the chair were not wore out? If it just sat in our living room just as it did in the showroom? Never touched, never used, no memories?In 2 Corinthians 4:7:
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay”

That’s what my chair is to me – a treasure in a jar of clay. I love that chair, not because of how it looks on the outside, but because of what it holds on the inside, what it’s meant to our family.  I’m proud of it.  Proud of the time I’ve spent in it and I don’t either care that company can see the stuffing coming out the arm rest.

I understand that men and women are different in this respect.  I understand how she feels like the condition of our furniture is a reflection of her.  I understand that most women would look at that chair and think the same as does my wife.  I only wish that sometimes, my wife could look at me and see a treasure in a jar of clay.  To take what I do and try to see it in the best possible light.  To understand that I’m not perfect, that I’m going to forget to wash up, that sometimes I just feel lazy, that I’m going to wear out chairs, but that the important jobs I do.  The important things I’m here for. The important stuff I get.To be fair, I’m sure that I’m guilty of the exact same thing with her. That there are things that I see only superficially. Things which I may see as selfish or hurtful or disrespectful, without really understanding what’s going on inside? Shouldn’t that be what marriage is about? That is looking past the imperfections to see the beauty inside? To see through the chips and cracks and holes in our very fragile jars of clay in order to know the treasures each contain? That those treasures are gifts from God? And in the end, might we realize that those very imperfections which we resent so much, that hurt us so much, that we wish so badly that we could change, are in themselves beautiful? That without them we could never see our treasures inside? That they themselves are part of His design and are really gifts as well?
Jesus, I pray that I might learn to do so. That I may see my wife as you do. Love her as unconditionally as you do. That I might look past her imperfections and see only God’s light shining through. Help me to do so, Lord Jesus, and help her to do the same. And help us to both remember that as each of us move along own paths toward you, we are ever moving closer to each other. AMEN

Thoughts on a Bench…

1Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. 2And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.  3And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,  4They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.  5Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?   6This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.   7So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.   8And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.   9And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.   10When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those hine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?   11She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no  more.

~John 8(KJV)

Searching for Stones…

I read the words of this verse (above) as I was sitting on the bench outside the hospital where my wife had been committed, the day I picked her up.  I was told that she would be discharged at 10:00am, but it was closer to 2:00pm by the time she was released.  The wait made me anxious, but the extra time was well utilized as I had gotten a week and a half or so behind on my devotionals and the delay permitted me to catch up my daily readings.  Reading the story about the adulterous woman about to be stoned was neither planned nor anticipated, it was simply on the list of readings on which I had fallen behind, but I can’t help but feel that there was a hand behind it.  That it was a message, a lesson, something I was meant to think about, but I had nothing.  It seemed too obvious to me for God to even to have to mention.  I thought:

“Well yeah!  I get it!  My wife committed adultery!  I’m not perfect either!  I don’t get to throw a stone! Come on now God, is that all you really have for me?  This still really tastes like shit!  Alright!  I’ll think about it some more, but honestly God, I get this one.  There’s nothing more here for me to take away.  It’s not making me feel any better!”.  Still I reread the words.

“What the heck is this for anyway” I thought annoyed at the seemingly pointless necessity of having to reread the same story I’ve read a thousand times and coming upon this part:

“But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.”

What’s the point of that?  Why doesn’t Jesus just get to his point and say “Look, hypocrites, you suck just as much as she does”?  What’s with all the dramatics and writing in the dirt and theatric delays.  Just get to it Jesus!  We got stuff to do!  Could there possibly be any point to that?  I wouldn’t waste time like that, unless it’s for a reason.  What the reason for it?”

I didn’t feel a reply, I think he was just drawing in the dirt.

“Well what would my reason be?  Oh wait I do that too.  I do that when I’m trying to teach my kids.  When there is something I know that they should know and want to give them a chance to see that they know it already.  OK, so what does he think they should already know?  Who were these guys anyway?  Scribes and Pharisees – know-it-alls!  Religious bullies, who thought their poop didn’t stink.  Was that Jesus’ point?  I’m going to ignore you if you’re a know it all?  Maybe, but Jesus lays into know-it-alls all the time, why not now?  Why is he ignoring them?  What would Jesus choose to turning away from?  What is so distasteful to him that he refuses to acknowledge?  Well what’s distasteful to Jesus?  Oh!  Sin!  ”

Here is how I think of this story now, since that day on the bench; it wasn’t about them being Pharisees or Scribes, it wasn’t about them being know-it-alls or trying to test Jesus.  Jesus had seen that stuff before – he’d just rip them a new one (but, you know, in a Jesus kind of way) and be done with it.  Something is different here.  It wasn’t about them being any of those things, it was about them being men.  Men like me.  Men with fears and weaknesses and insecurity.  They had corralled up this woman because she represented the thing they probably feared the most.  That is you can sling some bible bs now, to justify about anything you want, even to yourself.  You can give yourself a false sense of security by doing so, but the worst way a woman can hurt you, the worst thing your wife can do to you is step out on you.  I knew that better than anyone now.  They hated her not her sin.  They hated not what she had done but what she represented, probably their worst fears realized was that what this woman had done to her husband to her family, might just of easily have happened to them and theirs no matter how well everyone else thought the knew the law.  They weren’t hating what was evil, they were hating what evil might do to them.  Right there.  Right in front of Jesus plain as day, they stood with hate in their hearts, trying to justify acting upon that hatred and that hatred alone.  Jesus didn’t turn away because they had also sinned, he turned away because they were actually sinning right there and trying to package it with piety.  What a bunch of Jackasses!  What fools!  How could they possibly think they could get away with that?

Oh wait, am I not kinda being like that too right now?  Am I now currently sitting on this bench, bible open, in front of Jesus, thinking that I know everything there is to know about this story?  Reviewing in my head what my reaction to my own wife’s infidelity should be?  Thinking about how this is gonna change and that’s gonna change and she better show me how sorry she is and get her butt up and make me lunch every day and grovel at my feet and …?  Have I not been sitting here choosing my own stones?  Angry?  Fearful? Insecure?  Hating my wife instead of her sin?

I think that Jesus spends a lot of time writing in the dirt where I am concerned.

I Love You – Now Eat this Placenta…

Still sitting there I can remember thinking how grateful I was that my Mother was at home with the boys and that she had by then been there helping me get the house in order for several days.  It was such a relief to have her there.  Not only to help out with the house work, but just knowing that there was someone else there.  Another adult -I wasn’t alone.  I’m not sure if I can explain this accurately to someone who has never been in a similar position, but in the week or so before my Mother came to help us, I had gotten to the point where I didn’t really trust myself or my judgment.  My thoughts had become so fragmented and I had gotten myself to the point of being so sleep deprived and malnourished, that I just wasn’t sure if I was making even the most basic decisions correctly.  I can remember at that time, having conversations with people and a minute or two into the conversation realizing that I just forgot to listen to what they were saying.  We would get to a point in a conversation where it was my turn to speak and I had no idea what to say, because I had no idea what we had been talking about.  I was so afraid of becoming so badly inattentive that I would do something foolish where the boys were concerned – to the point where I was actually leaving myself notes on the refrigerator to remind myself to do the simplest of things like; make dinner, change diaper, take baths etc. Now, that my Mama was there, I was still in agony, but at least I didn’t feel so out of control.  I had slept some and ate some now.  I wasn’t as scared for the boys.

I remembered something that my therapist had said.  I had seen her two or three times since my wife had been hospitalized and to be honest, most of those meetings are just a blur to me now, but one thing she talked about stuck with me.  She must have noticed my depressed condition, or assumed it, because she spoke of God helping Elijah through his own depression.

1 Kings 19

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. tAnd he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.And the angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food uforty days and forty nights to vHoreb, the mount of God.

She pointed out that God had Elijah sleep and then eat and then sleep again and then eat again, before doing anything about his condition.

I think it’s odd how much our appetites are tied so unpredictably into our emotional condition.  I can remember when my Grandfather died, that I couldn’t stop eating.  For about a week I ate anything that I could get my hands on; meals, snacks, the food that was put out after the funeral, I never did find that missing cat (just kidding), but in the few days after my wife’s affair had become apparent and her subsequent suicide attempt, the thought of even putting food near my mouth sickened me.  I just never even thought of eating.  I went for days without taking a bite and never even felt hungry.

I recently read somewhere the words “food is love.” Now the context was such that the author was trying to say that when we don’t feel loved we may turn to food, as it also represents something to our subconscious that feels good.  Now that’s probably correct, but it wasn’t the way that I took it at first.  My immediate reaction to the words was to think of the adage “The way to a man’s heart…” – now that’s true too!  There’s something so basic about the necessity of food to the human condition, that we universally recognize its provision as a gesture of caring – a gesture of love.  Think of all those old Indiana Jones moves where the explores would enter a new village and having no other means of communication available, the natives would sit them down and give them a big bowl of monkey placenta and spiders or something.  Now the comedy of it is the assumption that everyone likes to eat monkey placenta, but what this humor relies on is the universal recognition of all of our basic needs to eat.  I could offer you some booze or a nekid woman or try to shake your hand or give you a kiss, but that might be offensive, different cultures, different religions, different customs dictate different values and meanings to these things, we recognize that they are regional and that what is flattering to one may be off-putting to another, but hey – we all have to eat.  We all have to sleep.  We all got to poop somewhere.  You really can’t go wrong by offering someone these things because we know that, no matter what, it’s something they need.

I don’t think I’ve ever really realized it until right now, but I think it’s why I’ve always been a little secretly offended that my wife has always refused to make my lunch to take to work.  Yes, I know; 21st century, women’s lib, I’m perfectly capable, why should she have too…, I hear ya!  And that’s why I’ve never really fussed about it.  I always just dismissed that slightly haunting feeling as some sort of nostalgia of watching June seeing Ward off to work.  I’ve known for a long time that those sort of Hollywood/MTV people don’t really exist and never have really existed.  I’ve always attributed my feeling slighted by her refusal to ever do so to more of a regret that those people really didn’t exist.  I think now that it may have been something more.  It may have been the recognition of a missed opportunity to be made to feel loved, cared for, looked out after.  To make someone a lunch is to make sure that they have something for lunch – to recognize that their basic need to eat is attended to, to express caring for their wellbeing – to love.   That’s why I think it’s so meaningful to me, not because I can’t do it myself, not because I’m some sort of “make me a sandwich or I’m gonna give you a smack”! type male idiot, not because I think that it should be expected, but rather because it shouldn’t be expected.  I should make sure that I have my own lunch, it shouldn’t be required of her, there’s nothing in the marriage papers (I checked) that contractually obligates her to do so, but that she would choose to makes all the difference.  The “choose to” is everything!

We validate people with food, assign significance to them.  My Grandmother knew it for years!  It’s how we’re rewarded and punished as children.  It’s why we pride ourselves as adults and why there is so many country songs about the nobility of keeping supper on the table.  It’s tied into our sense of security and safety.  It gives us a sense of worth, because we know that they need it too – “Wow! I must really mean something to them if they’re giving me some food.  They might need that later”!  I can remember during the affair and maybe even sometime before, being made to feel like I was not worthy of food.  It seemed like every time I would eat something at the house, or open a box of cereal or crackers, my wife would roll her eyes and sigh, as if to say “really?  Now you’re going to eat that?  I guess we’ll just have to go spend money to get more food”!

My wife’s affair began, when she convinced me late one autumn, that she should get a second, part time job, at the bakery in the local food store.  My overtime was dwindling because of construction seasonal restrictions and it would just be for a few months to keep our heads above water till the restriction was lifted in the spring.  What it became was a way to excuse herself from being home so she could see him and hoard money to buy drugs.  This family never did see an actual paycheck from that job.  There would be excuse after excuse about why she couldn’t get direct deposit and had to cash her check each week.  I could see a little money that she would deposit trickle into the bank account $40.00 this week, maybe $60.00 the next, but never close to enough to warrant the time that she had supposedly spent there.

During that time, she would leave her day job at the bank and drive across the street to the food store to work a few hours before coming home, so I would pick up the boys after work from daycare and take them home to make supper.  She would do the shopping, because she worked at the market and I would do the cooking because I was home.  As things got worse, she brought home less and less food for me to make.  I would plead with her to bring home some fruit and vegetables for the boys, but day after day she would not and instead bring home sacs full of leftover bakery goods; cakes, cookies, pies etc. in their place.  It was not until after the discovery of the affair that I realized, that she just didn’t want to waste the time shopping because she would lie about the time she actually got off and was in a hurry to run off to him.  She didn’t want to spend the cash that she had horded because it would take away from her drug money.  Those things just had more value to her than her family’s need to eat.  Now that’s a rough pill to get down, because then it’s not just me!  I doubt very much that even the staunchest of women’s lib advocates are going to argue it’s the 21st century, that one year old boy should be able to get food for himself, why should she have to…  She should have to!  But even in the state of mind that she was in, and it sickens me, she knew enough to at least grab a sac of leftover sweets from the bakery.  She walk in and hand them to the boys, see how excited they’d become over the treats the bag contained and probably congratulated herself for thinking of them.  “What a good Mama I am”, she must of thought “to think of my boys with all this other stuff going on in my life”.  “Look how happy I’ve made them!  They’ll never notice that I’m never here anymore as long as I keep bribing them with sweets”.  What a monster!

I think that why I ate like a horse when my Grandpa died, but couldn’t touch a bite after my wife’s affair became apparent and her suicide attempt; that is my Grandfather dying made no relative statement to me about my own self-worth.  He didn’t choose to die.  He didn’t choose to leave me.   It hurt, but not in any way that I could see that he chose to hurt me.  I still had value to him.  I was still worth food.  This was not the case with my wife.  The hurt which she had inflicted was conscious, a choice, a statement of what had value to her and what didn’t.  Somewhere along the way, the value I had form myself got tied up with the value she had for me and when that was taken away, so was my own self-worth.  I literally couldn’t believe that I was worth the expense of eating.

That certainly makes sense in the context of the above passage from scripture spoken about by my therapist.  God loved Elijah so God made sure that he ate.  He made sure that he slept.  He made sure that his very most basic needs were taken care of, before moving on to the bigger stuff.  Elijah’s mind was reeling with a thousand different compelling concerns taunting him; the war and I let God down and I’m not worthy to live and what should I do and I have to run away and … and God just said “easy now, just breath.  Take it easy and we’ll work on one thing at a time.  First things first.  Get you some sleep and some food.  Get yourself strong.  Get yourself settled down and then let’s proceed.  Oh and by the way, here’s some food because I love you”

This was now to be my task, I thought, that is to ensure the most basic needs of my family were met before moving on to the bigger stuff.  I have to keep us together, I have to make sure we have food shelter, I have to realign this family under Jesus, I have to get us strong, healthy, and loving and committed to one another, then we can worry about the hurt, then we can worry about the what the heck happened, then we can worry about how hurtful it was.  Right now it’s not about me and my hurt and what I deserve, it’s about getting some sleep and something to eat.  It’s about our basic needs first.

I’m still on the bench…

“I mean, I’m just sittin here on the bench, sittin here on the group W bench…”

What song?  Anybody? Anybody?

Still sitting on the bench, waiting for my wife to emerge from the very large, intimidating locked doors I thought of the events of the previous day.  She was actually scheduled to be discharge the day before.  In order to be released she had to go to court.  Not real court, but a thing that they call court where just me and her and the social worker and a judge and a lawyer sit in a room somewhere and the judge takes away her commitment to the hospital.  They had sent me a letter in the mail saying that I should be there.  I was extremely nervous, my wife and I had spoken on the phone several times a day, but I had only seen her twice since they took her away.  Once for the family therapy and once for visitation.  All very supervised, very civil, very safe.  The ride home was to be the first time that we would be together alone since this happened.  That scared me, because I didn’t know how she would react.

When we had spoken on the phone the previous night, I could tell that something was wrong.  It seemed as if she had done a complete 180 from the progress that she had made while she was in there.  She had been sounding progressively more hopeful and strong each time we spoke on the phone, but that night it was gone.  The same melancholy, somber, macabre voice had returned and she was speaking again in half statements.  Vague comments that could later be remolded into whatever she wished.  She was saying things like; “you can’t expect me to get better right away” and “you can’t judge me for being a failure” and stuff like that.  I was hoping that it was just a mood that she was in, nervous about leaving the hospital or coming home to me and the boys.

When I got there they led me into a meeting room where I was to wait for the judge, the lawyer, the social worker and my wife and when they entered the room I could see from her face that something was wrong.  They started talking in a very official court kind of way.  “Pursuant to the record submitted on … pertaining to the matter of … and in the best interest of the parties “ – I didn’t understand a word of  what they were saying, but what I did get was that she wasn’t coming home.  I guess she had told someone that she was having feelings of still wanting to hurt herself and they decided to keep her a little while longer.  The wanted her to spend one more night and talk to the Social Worker in the morning at which time it would be determined if she was well enough to come home.

I asked if I could say something and was told that I could.  I was terrified, but I remember my words almost verbatim.  I was surprised at how well I thought I spoke as I had never really considered this to be my property.  I said

“I understand that y’all are concerned and of course I will defer to your better judgments, but my wife is not a broken water pipe.  We’re not going to be able to just duct tape her up in here and think that everything is going to work ok when she goes home.  These are lifelong behaviors and it’s going to take more than a week and a half for her to replace them.  In my book, didn’t she do what she was supposed to do?  She felt upset, she felt like she was being pulled back into those old behaviors and she admitted it.  She asked for help.”

I could see an indignant look wash over the face of the social worker who then said “Well she didn’t come to us and tell us how she was feeling”!  To which I replied:

“Well I can tell you that she tried to come to me, and when she leaves this place, I am what she’s got.  I’m her social worker, I’m her psychologist, I’m her group therapy and recreation therapy.  I’m it!  Maybe she was just trying to get use to that”

I don’t know that my words had any real effect on anyone.  I think they had already signed the papers to send her back, but she was released the next day without issue.

Anyway, on the ride home from that court date alone, I heard a song that reminded me of a story in the bible.  The story of the prodigal son.

Home Boy ~ Eric Church

You were too bad for a little square town,
With your hip-hop hat and your pants on the ground,
Heard you cussed out mama, pushed daddy around
before you tore off in his car…

Here you are running these dirty old streets
Tattoo on your neck, fake gold on your teeth
Got the ‘hood here snowed, but you can’t fool me
We both know who you are

Homeboy, you’re gonna wish one day,
That you were sittin’ on a gate of a truck by the lake
With your high school flame on one side, ice cold beer on the other
Ain’t no shame in a blue collar forty, little house, little kid, little small town story
If you don’t ever do anything else for me, just do this for me brother,
Come on home, boy.

I was haulin’ this hay to Uncle Joe’s farm,
Thought of us barefoot kids in the yard,
Man, it seems we were just catchin’ snakes in the barn
Now you’re caught up in this mess
I could use a little help unloading these bales
I could keep you pretty busy with a hammer and nails
Ain’t a glamorous life but it will keep you outta jail,
Not worry us all to death

Homeboy, you’re gonna wish one day,
That you were sittin’ on a gate of a truck by the lake
With your high school flame on one side, ice cold beer on the other
Ain’t no shame in a blue collar forty, little house, little kid, little small town story
If you don’t ever do anything else for me, just do this for me brother,
come on home, boy,
Come on home, boy…

You can’t hold back the hands of time,
Mama’s goin’ grey, and so is daddy’s mind
I Wish you’d come on back and make it all right
Before they’re called home, boy…

Homeboy
Come on home, boy
Homeboy
Come on home, boy.

I started thinking about the parable of the prodigal son.  I think most will be familiar with the story; there is a father with two sons.  The younger of the two comes to him asking for his inheritance up front, which he is given and promptly runs off to a faraway place and spends it all on hookers and booze and what have you.  He ends up dead broke and working for a pig farmer, so bad off that he ends up eating out of the pig trough after the pigs are done eating.

Eventually he begins thinking to himself, hey this bites!  Even my father’s workers are treated better than this.  I’m going to go back home and beg him to take me back as one of his servants and even that will be better than this.  This he does, but to his surprise, not only does the father let him come back, but he celebrates his return.  He kills the “fatted calf” and has a party to celebrate his son’s return.  The story is a parallel to the love that God shows for us – no matter how far we get ourselves from him, how much trouble we get ourselves into, how lowly our status has become, it brings Him joy for us to return to him.  That’s awesome, but there is another part of the parable which is the part about which I was thinking on the ride home.  The eldest son.  When I got to the house I reread the story paying particular attention to the final section.

It was amazing to me how similar the words of the song was to the parable and to my wife.  They all thought they deserved better that what they had, they all thought they could do better off on their own.  Eric Church was actually singing a modern day version of the prodigal son. Y’all check this out now;

Luke – the Prodigal Son

Eric Church –Home Boy

11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. You were too bad for a little square town,
With your hip-hop hat and your pants on the ground,
Heard you cussed out mama, pushed daddy around
before you tore off in his car…
14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want.15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. Here you are running these dirty old streets
Tattoo on your neck, fake gold on your teeth
Got the ‘hood here snowed, but you can’t fool me
We both know who you are
17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’ Homeboy, you’re gonna wish one day,
That you were sittin’ on a gate of a truck by the lake
With your high school flame on one side, ice cold beer on the other
Ain’t no shame in a blue collar forty, little house, little kid, little small town story

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

I was haulin’ this hay to Uncle Joe’s farm,
Thought of us barefoot kids in the yard,
Man, it seems we were just catchin’ snakes in the barn
Now you’re caught up in this mess
I could use a little help unloading these bales
I could keep you pretty busy with a hammer and nails
Ain’t a glamorous life but it will keep you outta jail,
Not worry us all to death

32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

 

You can’t hold back the hands of time,
Mama’s goin’ grey, and so is daddy’s mind
I Wish you’d come on back and make it all right
Before they’re called home, boy…

Isn’t that cool?

Honestly, I was exhausted and really didn’t get much from reading the story the night before, but my thoughts returned to it on that bench.  I took it out and looked at it again.

Luke 15 (New King James Version)

The Parable of the Lost Son 

11 Then He said: “A certain man had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.’ So he divided to them his livelihood. 13 And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. 14 But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. 15 Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything.

17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, 19 and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.”’

20 “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

22 “But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring[b] out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ And they began to be merry.

25 “Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.’

28 “But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 So he answered and said to his father, ‘Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. 30 But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.’

31 “And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. 32 It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.’”

“What a raw deal this guy got” I thought to myself.  His brother off and parties away all his inheritance, the same inheritance that he’s been working his butt off to get and then is just welcome right back in, given the same old status, even celebrated over!  That sucks!  That’s like my situation.  Really the same situation as anyone who has remained faithful to a marriage wherein their spouse has not.  Then have them slink back to them expecting everything to be just like it was before?  So not fair!  I thought of the song again.  I had, at that time recently just heard the Eric Church song and I though how much I loathed the guy to whom the song was sung.  Pretending to be something that he’s not.  Thinking that he was too good for where he was from.  Rejecting everyone and just running away. I thought about how much I identified with the singer’s perspective, the prodigal son’s older brother’s perspective.

What’s the point?  Why even try to do the right thing if in the end we know that well just be forgiven anyway?  It seems like it’s better to be lost first before you get things right no?  I sat there and brooded about this as I twirled her wedding rings around my pinky finger.  She was not permitted to have her wedding rings in the hospital for safety reasons, but wouldn’t have had them anyway.  They had been prominently hanging on her night stand lamp for months.  She had told me that it was too hard for her to work with them on as they kept sticking her as she counted money at the bank and decorated cakes at the bakery.

I read the passage again read again the fathers response.  In the NLT it reads like this:

“”His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.”

And that’s really it isn’t it?  I understand that certain renditions say “all that I am is yours”, but either way “all that I have is yours”.  That’s what we’re supposed to want as Christians anyway isn’t it – What God has to offer us?  The other thing is significant too; “you have always been with me”.  There’s value in that; “you have always been with me!  Twenty years from now, she will be able to say “you have always been with me”, my boys will be able to say “Papa, you have always been with me”, She’ll never have that.  She’ll never be able to tell herself “I was always there for my family.  They always came first”  No matter what should happen from this point on, she will have always given up the “always” for what she got from inside those little plastic baggies and from whatever she got from this man in the woods.  Once something is not, it can never be always again and once something is, it can never be never again, and in the end, I think that’s a far higher price to pay than the insult suffered by your pride when your wife cheats on you.  Because I still have the always. Now, I’m not so naïve to think that “always” actually means always.  We all fail others from time to time.  I think I don’t get to say “always” every time I crack a beer or stop to buy a pack of cigarettes, but something that our preacher said (actually not our preacher a guy from our church studying to be a preacher filling in for our preacher, he’s our youth minister) in the sermon a few weeks ago.  That time the prodigal son spent away from his home is time that he will never get back.  It will always be a part of him.  Likewise, although I pray that she will move on, learn, grow, realize that she is forgiven by me, by God and eventually forgive herself, the time she spent at her pig trough will always be a part of who she is, because it will always be a part of who she was and for that, I feel truly bad for her.

It was at the same moment that I was thinking of this, that the heavy doors opened and she walked out.

Home Alone…

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”

~ Genesis 2:18 (ESV)

Yeah, that's me!

The night my wife was taken away, I don’t think I slept at all.  After being caught in her affair, she had ended up running off in the woods with a long gun to kill herself and when she decided not to do so, she returned to the house with the gun in hand.  By then the law had come, saw here come out the woods with the riffle, arrested her and took her to the local hospital.  She had been drinking, taken a bottle of pain medication that was prescribed to her by the dentist and the remainder of one of our boys ADHD medication.  This all had happened before I returned home with the boys and I know of these events only by the descriptions of my wife and the neighbor who was here.  As I have mentioned, the preacher was here when I got home, my neighbor and his wife and his parents.  The preacher stayed for a bit but had to excuse himself, the neighbors helped me get supper and the boys to bed and stayed for a while, praying with me and making sure that I was ok.

The hospital, initially was willing to share information about my wife’s condition, but subsequently would not.  That made me very nervous, as if she had sobered up and decided that she didn’t want me to know about what was going on.  Did she still hate me?  Was she back with him?  Was he now her contact person?  Did they have plans for her to get out that hospital and snatch up these boys and take off somewhere?  To do me harm?  Would he show up here at the house?  These questions haunted me as I sat and drank and smoked cigarettes all night with a little league baseball bat at my side (the police had taken the guns) listening and watching for vehicles to come down our dirt road.

In hindsight, I’m not sure how I got through those days.  I just remember being strangely calm.  I’m certain that this was in part due to just being in shock and denial, but there was something else as well; I felt relieved.  Relieved just to know.  To know that I wasn’t crazy, that my intuition was right, that I wasn’t just jealous or controlling.  It was a comfort to know that all the lying and sneakiness and making me feel as if I was ridiculous for  being hurt or concert about the things she was doing was over.  It was in the open now and for the first time in a long time, I felt a little more in control.  Like I could trust my mind again.

Something happened that night that to this day I’m not sure if I handled correctly or not.  My phone rang and it was the man who was having the affair with my wife’s pregnant girlfriend.  I debated about whether or not to answer and as I was the call went to voice-mail.  I don’t remember what the voice message said but latter in the evening I returned the call.  She was hysterical, drunk and difficult to understand.  She had gone through each of the messages on my wife’s secret cell phone and told me about the meeting in the woods and at their home, at my home, about the pictures of my wife on his phone, about the leaving each of us to be with each other.  She told me that he had done this time and again to her with other married women.  My heart went out to her but I felt a distance, a separation that I don’t think she was hoping for.  I think I knew even then that her and I having even so much as a friendship would only serve to compound the hurt that we were both experiencing.  She was not, what you would call a “respectable Christian girl” and I didn’t think that she would be able to understand that I needed to approach this via my faith, which I thought was still intact, and I just didn’t have it in my heart to witness to someone right then.  I ended up doing so anyway as she wouldn’t let me off the phone until I explained to her that I hadn’t decided yet what I was going to do and justifying why I hadn’t.  All in all, we were only on the phone for about 30 minutes or so, but now I had opened the door.  She thought of me as a confidant, a partner in our miseries and who knows what else.  It sickened me to think about the what else.  Not so much because of any particular characteristic of this girl, but rather because it just never until that moment occurred to me that I would ever again think of someone other than my wife in that way.  I knew then, that no matter what happened from there, that I would eventually have to.

I spent most of the rest of that night trying to decide what I should do.  What my plan should be.  Who should know and who didn’t need to.  Both of my parents had heart attacks within the previous year.  Did they need to know? The boys.  People in town.  People in church.  Some would need to be in the know and all would notice eventually if she left, but which was which.  I couldn’t think.  My mind just keep reeling through the events of the previous day.  It was uncontrollable, like a movie that you put on and forget about just looping over and over again in the background.  Every few minutes it catches your attention and you watch it for a while, then drift off to something else until it captures your attention again, but it’s always there.  Always playing.

“My priority has to be the boys”, I can remember thinking but being uncertain if I would be able to do so.  I decided that I would act as if I was regardless as to if it was my true motivation or not.  It seemed like a fairly simple, unbiased metric.  That is that if I promised to make decisions now based solely on what I honestly thought was right for the boys, I wouldn’t have to worry about my hurt and anger and embitterment and my need for vindication etc. to muddy the waters.  I knew that either I would take this woman back and have to learn to live in a way that my hurt did not affect the boys or not take her back and have to learn to live in a way that my hurt did not affect them.  I was so overwhelmed by it all that the promise seemed like the most logical way to check myself.  I prayed a lot that night.  Not a peaceful gracious prayer.  An angry indignant Job like prayer.  Kind of the way you’d ask someone who just lit you ass on fire to pass you a bucket of water.  Respectful, because you know they can always make it worse, but pissed.  I made some choices and I called my Mother.

When dawn found me still sitting in my living room chair, I decided that I was going to get the boys up and off to school/day care.  This was in part selfish, because I didn’t want to have to deal with the events of the previous day and still be responsible for them (read, I probably was gonna want a couple of beers) and partially because I thought the best thing for them would be to maintain their normal routine.  Our older boy was aware of the situation, he had been through this before.  The hospitalizations and the suicide attempts, the cutting and the drugs, it’s awful but, all had become fairly common place for him.  He was angry at his Mama, for doing it again, but I think a certain part of him had learned to no longer be surprised when it happened. I got him on the school bus and drove the baby into town to daycare.  I had decided the previous night that both the school and the daycare needed to know some of what was going on.  I still could get no information from the hospital.  I didn’t know if my wife was still in the hospital, released, transferred, if she didn’t have access to a phone or if she did and decided to call him instead of me – to be perfectly honest, my mind got a little bit away from me; was she trying to get out so she could snatch up the boys and take off with him, could she not get out and decided to contact him instead of me in order to plan for him to snatch up the boys and meet her later or plan for him to hurt me and/or the boys so that they could be together… a hundred scenarios played themselves out in my mind and I just knew that I needed to warn the school/daycare.  I spoke to the school nurse and the director of the baby’s daycare and told them both about the affair, the drugs and the suicide attempt and about what my concerns were then.  I described my wife’s boyfriend and instructed each to phone the police if they were to see him.  I was told by each that I could not legally prevent them from taking the boys, but they would notify both the police and me if she were to try to.  That all done, I set out to find a lawyer.

Our preacher’s daughter is one of our neighbors.  She was also one of the people I decided should be in the immediate know.  I didn’t know how often this man had been to my home and if he had intentions of coming back and to be honest, I just wanted another set of eyes so that eventually, whenever I would be able to do so, I’d be able to get a few hours sleep.  They were wonderful, helped watch the boys, brought over some suppers and she had also said that she would speak to her boss, the town dentist, in order to see if he was friends with any lawyers.  She called that morning with the phone number to one, who I called and was given the phone number to another, who I visited and was told could not take the case because they knew my wife only to give me another …  I ended up having to drive to the next county over in order to find a lawyer who would even  listen to my whole story.  It was by then early afternoon.  I sat in his office and told him what had happened.  Told him about the drugs and affair about the suicide attempt and not knowing where my wife was or what she was doing.  I was so afraid that the boys would end up split up.  Our older boy is not biological mine and if she had decided to just up and split my fear was that they would send him back to his father who hadn’t even called in a year and a half.  Aside from me they were all each other had, I thought, I had to keep them together.

In fact, I was so preoccupied with that concern and was so relieved when he told me that there was a contingency for such a situation that I was completely taken off guard, believe it or not, by his next question; “I take it” he asked “that you’ll be filing for divorce at the same time”?  I honestly hadn’t thought at all about that.  Not once the entire night before.  It never occurred to me.  I mean, sure, I realized that there was a good chance that I wouldn’t be married anymore.  I thought about where I would go.  I thought about what I would do.  I thought about what a loser I would be now that my third marriage had failed despite my thinking that I was doing everything right.  Through all that, it never once occurred to me that I had a choice about getting divorced.  That I would be asked.  It had been so long it seemed since I had a choice about anything in our marriage, I guess I just never thought to see it as I had a choice about this either.  Wow!  This was really my decision wasn’t it?  It wasn’t something that was just going to happen or not happen to me.  It was something that I was going to make happen or not make happen.  I mean, I guess I always knew that I had a choice, we all have choices, but now that the affair was apparent, I wasn’t even bound biblically to stay and make my marriage work.  No friend, or preacher of family member would blame me if I just shut her out.  Took the boys and left.  Stayed and changed the locks.  I had an out and I never once considered if I wanted one.

He must have seen the pause he had given me, because almost immediately he said “well that’s not something you have to decide right now” and left it at that.  He then went on to talk about something far more horrifying “Now”, he said “let’s discuss my fee”.  I honestly can’t remember what the exact amount was, it was thousands.  I only remember thinking to myself that it was so far out of my reach that it would take me years to save it up.   I didn’t have anything that was worth that much and didn’t know a sole who did that I could borrow it form.  That is any sole but one, but it was about the last call I wanted to make.  Anyway, as I was walking outside to call my Parents, something happened; my cell phone made that little noise they do when you get a voice mail.  I must have not had service inside the office, because when I came out I immediately got a couple of notifications.  I looked at the list, one from my Mother, one from the preacher’s daughter, one from my buddy and one I didn’t recognize.  It had been there since just shortly after I arrived at the lawyer’s office.  I called my Mother before listening to any of them.  I told her what the lawyer had said and how much he wanted and she said that they just didn’t have it.  Both of my parent’s health had been failing that year, their restaurant was failing and they themselves had pretty severe money problems.  It broke my heart to even ask, but I didn’t know where else to turn.   I thanked her anyway and got off the phone with her, but then she called right back.  She said “OK, I guess I can borrow it against my retirement, but please ask him if you can make payments”.  I knew already that he wouldn’t because I had already asked, but I promised I would and once more got off the phone.

Before walking back inside to do so I listened to the messages, saving the unknown caller for last.  It was an in State number, but not one that I recognized, I thought maybe it would be the hospital asking more insurance questions and that I would once again have a chance to piece together any little bit of information.  My heart went cold when I heard my wife’s recorded voice.  “Hi.  It’s me.”  she said half crying and sounding disoriented – just broken, “I just wanted to hear your voice.” and then hung up.  In that instant a hundred unanswered questions became answered.  She wasn’t conspiring with him.  She was still in the hospital.  She did want to speak to me.  A hundred questions answered, but a hundred more to take their place;  Was she just afraid of losing the boys, did she want to fix the marriage, was she still suicidal, self-injurious, self-destructive, was it safe to let her home with the boys… I don’t think I can say that I decided right there that I wanted her back, but I know I walked back in that office with a whole different attitude that I when I had walked out.  I walked out wanting her gone, I walked in wanting her back.  After honoring my Mother’s request and being denied again, I told him that I was going to have to think about it and went to pick up the boys from daycare.

As soon as we pulled in the yard, the phone rang again and I could see that it was her – same number as before.  We spoke for a while but I can only remember two things we spoke about; she wanted to speak to the boys, which I wouldn’t permit because her tone was morose and depressed.  I wasn’t trying to punish her, but I just didn’t think that it was would be good for the boys to hear her like that.  Secondly, she wanted to know if I would give her another chance. I remember telling her that I thought it was unfair for her to ask me that at this point, but I think I already knew that I would.  I remember saying something like there would have to be a real change and that it was her who would have to make the plan to do so.  She asked if I would bring her some clothes and cigarettes.

I felt ok, in control, maybe a little proud of myself for handling things, being able to make decisions and for kind of acting like a grown up.  My insides were still numb, but the boys and I were still here, still alive, still surviving.  Maybe I could get through this without feeling it.  Maybe I could just do what I had been doing – that is just thinking about the boys and I wouldn’t have to think about the betrayal and pain and wave of hurt that I knew I should be feeling.  Maybe God was fixin to spare me from all of that…Maybe the Yankees would call looking for a third baseman.

What opened the flood gates was our youngest boy, who apparently, only now remembered that he hadn’t seen Mama for a while.  We sat to have some supper and I could see the question wash over his face – where’s Mama?  I heard the words even before he opened his mouth and they cut straight through me.

“Papa, where’s Mama”?

Honestly, once would have been enough to get me to start feeling it, but that boy must have repeated those words four dozen times that night.  All night, searching the house for his Mama, over and over, “Where’s Mama”?, “Where’s Mama”?, “I want Mama”. “Mama, come out”!, “Mama, where are you”?  Half walking and half crawling he searched the house.  It tore me up and all at once come the feelings; My God, how that boy loved his Mother, how he needed her!  How could she throw that away?  Reject it? Now see what she was doing to him, to this family?  How could she be so selfish?  So cold?  So unfeeling?  What kind of a person was I married to?  What kind of a monster had we been living with?

The rest of that night is just a slurry of anger and hate and hurt and loneliness and love to me now.  I tried to get in the bed, but didn’t sleep at all again, maybe start to drift off here and there but would always shock myself back awake with the sudden realization or memory of what had happened.  Maybe another beer…I’d get up sit in my chair, drink a beer, smoke a couple of cigarettes, decide to go try and lie down again.  Nothing!  Still lying there awake, same thoughts running through my head, same fears – That man was lying with her right here in my bed where I was lying now.  His head on my pillow, his clothes on my floor.  Did they have unprotected sex?  Should I get a STD test?  Have the linens even been changed since his last visit?  Am I lying in his semen right now?  This Nigger drug dealer’s semen who she brought into my bed!  What else had he touched?  Corrupted?  Poisoned? Did he help himself to my clothes?  Food? Beer?  Did he pee in my toilet, take a shower in my tub, use my body gel, shampoo, toothbrush?  Pet my dog? Take my tools? Watch my TV?  Did the boys know that he was here?  Hear them on the other side of that locked door?  Knowing that I was away and wondering who was making those noises with Mama?

Man, what a bitch!  What a whore!  What a horrible, conniving, manipulative, lying nightmare of a wife and what a neglectful, abusive and uncaring Mother!  How I loathed her, who she’d become and the things she let herself do!  Why couldn’t I just not love her?  Even now, after all of this, lying here, most likely in this nigger drug dealer’s cum, why couldn’t I just put her out of my mind, give up on her, start anew, fresh, somewhere else, maybe with someone else?  My God I still loved her!  The boys still loved her.  This family still needed her!   I felt so hard pressed, like the fulcrum of a see-saw with two elephants on either side.  Just crushed beneath the equal weight of these two enormous objects.  Teetering one way then the other at the slightest change in wind, activity or movement.  Squished uncontrollably and completely to one side or the other each time it happened.  How could I possible feel so much hate and so much love for the same person at once?  What time was it? Was it morning yet?  Could I get up?  End this torture?  One more cigarette and then I’ll try to go to bed.  One more beer and maybe I’ll be able to…  This was becoming my normal night time routine.

The next day I drove about two hours to the hospital to which she had been transferred.  They wouldn’t let me see her, but I was able to drop her off some clothes, toiletries and cigarettes and I was given a number of her social worker to phone.  When I called the number, I was asked to come in for “family therapy”, which I agreed to do.  I drove home silently, entertaining the same demons that had occupied my mind for the previous two nights.

That night, I read the book of Hosea. It’s amazing  how much this guy’s story is similar to that of my own. Hosea lived in the time of Jeroboam II, about three quarters of a millennium before Jesus.  He was a good man that love God and tried to seek his will.  The time in which he lived was a great time of prosperity for Israel, but not entirely unlike our present time, that prosperity led to immorality among God’s people.  Secularism and materialism captured the hearts of the people and sin ran rampan: swearing, lying, killing, stealing, adultery, drunkenness, perversion, perjury, deceit, oppression, were all commonplace, but the thing that really bothered God, the thing that grieved his heart more than anything else was the sin of idolatry

Hosea 4 (NASB):

11 Harlotry, wine and new wine take away the understanding. 
12 My people consult their wooden idol, and their diviner’s wand informs them;
For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray,
And they have played the harlot, departing from their God.
13 They offer sacrifices on the tops of the mountains
And burn incense on the hills,
Under oak, poplar and terebinth,
Because their shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters play the harlot
And your brides commit adultery.
14 I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot
Or your brides when they commit adultery,
For the men themselves go apart with harlots
And offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes;
So the people without understanding are ruined.

God viewed the people of Israel as his bride, so when they worshiped other God’s, he viewed it as adultery.  Hosea, you might call a budding preacher, who was trying to spread the message of  “Return unto the Lord”.  God chose him to be His prophet, speaking to him”

Hosea 1

2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.” 3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 And the LORD said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”

Like Hosea, I knew that I was marring a worldly woman.  I knew it the night I fell in love with her.  She had been through, experienced and seen much of the world and I knew that she was effected by it.  I also felt God led in doing so.  Also, like Hosea and Gomer, our marriage was wonderful in the beginning; we also conceived and bore a son, who has truly been a blessing.  But also like Hosea and Gomer, things began to change with my wife shortly after the birth of our boy.  Like Hosea, although I could sense that something was wrong, I continued to pursue activity that I though was important ministry; I moderated a Christian message board, was becoming involved in prison ministry, was being considered as a deacon for the church – thinking that my example would sway her.  But like Gomer, my wife became less and less interested in anything involving God.  She resented the time I dedicated to it and would repeatedly belittle and make fun of my commitment.  Like my wife, Gomer began spending more and more time away from home.  Like Hosea, I became more and more concern and allowed that concert to affect my ministry.

I think Hosea gets it when Gomer bears a second child, which God instructs him to name Loruhamah, which means “unloved” and then a third, which God’s instructs him to name Lo-ammi, which meant “not my people,” or “no kin of mine.”  Gomer’s adultery was exposed.

In the next chapter God actually speaks of the adultery of Israel, but it could just as easily been the words of Hosea or me or any man who has experienced adultery:

2 “Contend with your mother, contend, 
For she is not my wife, and I am not her husband;
And let her put away her harlotry from her face
And her adultery from between her breasts,
3 Or I will strip her naked 
And expose her as on the day when she was born.
I will also make her like a wilderness,
Make her like desert land
And slay her with thirst.
4 “Also, I will have no compassion on her children, 
Because they are children of harlotry.
5 “For their mother has played the harlot; 
She who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
Who give me my bread and my water,
My wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
6 “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, 
And I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.
7 “She will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; 
And she will seek them, but will not find them.
Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my first husband,
For it was better for me then than now!

Like Hosea, time and time again, I would plead with her, threaten her, promise her anything I could, just to get her to stop.  I would time and time again forgive her for the fits of rage and the disrespect and the missing money and the coming home drunk and high and the neglect which she had shown our family and just like Gomer, she would time and time again, find an excuse to do it again.

Then just as my wife chose her drug dealer boyfriend over me, Gomer lets Hosea know in no uncertain terms that she had found another.  She’s leaving for good.  Found her true love.  She’s never coming back.  Now, I’m certain there will be those who read this and say “don’t let the door …”, “Good riddance” or “Y’all be better off without these woman”, I heard such things time and time again in those first few days after my wife’s affair became apparent to me, our church and small community.  But just like Hosea, my heart couldn’t let go.  Whether that makes guys like me and Hosea naive or pathetic or stupid, I’ll leave to the reader, but I’m gonna tell y’all what; it takes a great deal of strength to remain under that seesaw for any length of time.

God gets that.  In fact I think it was rather his point.  He loves us, just as Hosea loved Gomer, just as I love my wife, even though we’re really all harlots! He knows Hosea’s pain, the love he has for Gomer, the weight upon him, wanting nothing more than to restore his wife in God’s favor.  God speaks to him:

Hosea 3:

1 Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.”

God tells Hosea to go and love his wife, even though she was an adulteress,  the same way He continued to love Israel, even though they worshiped other gods, other things.  Now I don’t even know what a raisin cake is.  I don’t worship other Gods.  I don’t have any idols lying around the house – or do I?  Are there other things that I put before God:  money, pride, status, worldly comfort, beer?  The fact is that I do every day.  We all do and He still loves us.  What a hypocrite I am, to be forgiven like that but not be able to show the same forgiveness.  Hosea went and found his wife at the auction being sold as a slave, I went and found my wife in the mental ward of a hospital in Columbia.  To this day, it amazes me how similar the stories actually are.

I slept a bit that night, only a couple of hours and probably due to exhaustion as much as anything else, but it was the first sleep I got since they had taken my wife away.

The next day I attended the family therapy session that I was asked to.  It was the first time that I had seen my wife since the library and I could tell in an instant after seeing her that something was wrong.  We had been speaking on the phone and she genuinely seemed sorry, willing to change, to work on things and get better, but now she seemed distant, far away, unemotional almost angry.  When the social worker asked me if what I had planned to do, I told her that I just wasn’t sure, that I wanted my wife back home, but couldn’t allow that if she continued to behave as she was.  That I had to be sure that she wouldn’t put our boys in danger and that I just wasn’t sure if I was ready to believe that she wouldn’t.  That I just couldn’t understand how she could do these things and just wanted her to know what was right from wrong.  My wife became very angry and said “Look, I’ve already forgiven myself for this!  I’ve decided to get better for myself, my boys and you, in that order and if you can’t support that then there is nothing I can do about it”.  That was not the response I was hoping for.

I backed it off and spoke very gently to her and by the end of the session she seemed less angry, but it became very apparent to me that day that this was not going to be a snap her out of it type thing, my wife would be fighting against years of learned behavior and this was going to be a process not an instant transition.  The trial was not yet over, in fact it had really just begun.  That night, after picking up the boys and getting back to the house, my phone rang – my Mama was coming and I would not have to be alone much longer.  It really wasn’t a moment too soon as I just needed the help.  I had managed to keep the boys fed, got them to bed, baths, clean diaper, but the house was a disaster.  I had been doing laundry, but didn’t have time to fold it.  The living room was littered with piles of clean, but unfolded clothes, dishes falling out the sink, no food in the fridge, and I, I was a train wreck.  I hadn’t slept or bathed or shaved or changed my clothes or eaten in several days and I just couldn’t find the motivation to do so.

Seeing my mother walk out that departure gate was probably the greatest sense of relief that I have ever known.  A giant weight lifted from my shoulders.  She came on a Sunday, I remember missing church to drive up with the boys to get her.  The airport was actually just around the corner from the hospital my wife was in and it was visitation day, so my Mother took the boys to dinner and dropped me off at the hospital.  I brought the letter that I had woke up early to write:

Baby Girl,

It rained last night.

When I woke up this morning and sat down to have my coffee, I looked out the front window at the yard where XXXXXX’s been playing, digging holes and filling them up with a water hose.  I saw a kind of yucky yellow chemical all over the ground there.  I thought “what in the world? Did XXXXX get into something and dump it into those holes and now the rain last night brought it all up?  Well I don’t have the time now to clean it”.  Then, later, as we were on our way out to XXXXXXXX’s, I noticed that it had also gotten into the dog’s water and thought, “Man, I hope that’s not poisonous because I don’t have time to stop and change the water right now”.  As we were driving away I felt guilty and thought “all i need now is to get home with the boys and find those dogs poisoned”.  We needed to stop for gas on the way and as I was putting the cap back on the tank a bee stung my finger and I thought “Lord Please! what more can you put on my plate right now”!  Then on the way home XXXXX started sneezing, maybe 4-5 times in a row.  I asked, jokingly “what are you getting allergies or something”?  Finally, we got home and I was relieved to see that the dogs were ok, but noticed that the dog house was covered with the same gross yellow powder.  So I said “XXXXX, do you know what all this yellow stuff is”?  He went to pick some up and I hollered “Don’t touch it! I don’t know if it’s dangerous”! but by then, he had already picked some up and was bringing it over for me to look at, “Why Lord?  Why another mess for me to clean up”? I thought.

Baby Girl, it was pollen.  The rain must have washed it off the trees last night and spread it all over the yard.  I finally looked up and say that it was everywhere, covering everything, that the trees were budding, the flowers blooming, the grass green, the birds were singing, it was warm.  Baby, it’s spring!  The winter’s over!  Somewhere, in the middle of all this that has been going on, all the darkness, all the cold, all the sorrow, that the world seeming dead and broken and withered and gone, God just said “Enough!  It’s time to start anew”!  All the signs were there; the pollen, the bee sting, XXXXX sneezing, the grass.  I even said to XXXXX when we were at her house, “you know talking about looking for signs in everything, I was just filling up XXXX’s car with gas, because she left the tank empty when they took her to the hospital and got stung by a bee”!  All those sighs but I just didn’t see them.  I didn’t realize that it was spring.

It’s Spring for us too Baby Girl.  Let’s begin anew.  Do you remember sitting in the gardens when I said “if all the flowers didn’t smell like you then they should”?  I need to remember that.  I need to remind myself, because there is no flower, no Spring, so single thing in this world more dear, more wonderful or more beautiful to me than you are and I have you all year long.  And although I know that there will be other winters, other hard times other things to deal with, I never want to forget again that Spring will always come.

I love you Baby Girl, with all that I am or ever could be.

A reason, A season, A lifetime

me

P.S. A small bone to pick

Baby, I’ve asked you this before and I don’t mean to be a nag, but I have to say it anyway. I pray that we can work together and find a way that you will never feel again that you have to run away, that you never have to drive somewhere and leave your car, and leave us wondering, worrying not knowing what’s to come.  I think you know by now that I’ll always come after you, always find you.  I pray that I will never have to again, but if I do ever do can you please, PLEASE, for the love of God, just once

LEAVE SOME GAS IN YOU CAR!!!

For the first time in a week I slept and bathed and ate.  Although I knew that there were to many more trials to come, I was no longer alone.  I had made it through probably what was to be the worst two weeks of my life and I couldn’t help but start to feel better.


Bad Days…

Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.”

~Hosea 3:1(NASB)

Raisin cakes?  What in the world is a raisin cake?

OK y’all, this is the one I’ve been dreading since I decided to start blogging about all this, so please forgive a bit of nervous humor.  I’d like to write some about the last few weeks of my wife’s infidelity, the discovery of the affair and the immediate aftermath.  This is gonna suck! Hard!  In fact this is probably gonna be one of the ones that I’m a little drunk by the end of.  But I think it’s something I need to hold before I can put it behind me.  Forgive me if I skip the pictures and stuff in this one.  I also am not fixin to include any scripture, not because I don’t think its relevant, but because I really just want to get this out – kind of like puking when you know you need to.

My wife’s affair started about three months before where I’m fixin to pick up.  For the benefit of anyone who hasn’t seen any of the other posts in this blog, my wife had an affair with her drug dealer.  As I am told, it began as a business arrangement, simply to buy drugs, and became intimate when one day they decided to rent a hotel room in order to use cocaine privately.  She tells me it was never her intention to do so and that it just happened, but I don’t know if I believe that you can go to a hotel room with someone and not at least suspect that as a possibility.

It the months that followed, the affair became more and more torrid.  They would meet in the woods at their “special place”, in the parking lot at his job, at his pregnant girlfriend’s home, at lunch, in the morning on the way to work, instead of going to work.  There was times when my wife told me that she needed a “girls night out” just to get a break, she enlisted the assistance of another girl who agreed to be her alibi for these times and would go off to hotels with him.  There were times when I had to be away for work and she would have this man to my home, while my children were sleeping in the other room.  They had secret cell phones, so that they could contact each other without suspicion.  They bought each other gifts; a teddy bear which slept in my bed for months and a necklace which my wife would prominently wear at home, to work and to church.  She would come home from “work” with rug burns on her back, drunk, high, and become angry at me for asking what was going on.  She would receive ticket after ticket, for driving like a maniac just to spare an extra 5 minutes here and there with him.  She would tell me that she needed to go to the dentist and use the money and time which that would require to spend on drugs and him.  She had me help her make him a birthday cake, telling me that it was for someone at church.  She would drive our boys home from daycare in almost complete blackout states and tell me that it was ok because she was a very “high functioning” drug addict.  I would beg her to not text and drive with the boys in the car but would watch morning after morning her speeding away 75-80mph, just to get ahead of me to meet him, texting him that she’d be there soon.  She opened secret bank accounts and would secretly transfer hundreds of dollars from our account and her paycheck.  She would never bring home a paystub and insisted that she couldn’t get direct deposit and had to cash her pay check each week before coming home.

When all was said and done, this man’s girlfriend gave me my wife’s secret cell phone and I read hundreds of messages which I would have given anything to have gotten from her myself.  I read of the affair, the plans to leave me and his girlfriend so they could be together, how each of them blamed us (his girlfriend and I) for forcing them into their behavior.  I apparently was a horrible lover, an overbearing father and a jealous (shit! Do you think?) husband.  I was a stuck up, pretentious Christian, because I had shushed her and our son, during a sermon at church, when I saw that they were disturbing others.  I was cheap and that she needed drugs to be able to not kill me.  I had the special treat of getting to see nekid pictures of herself that she decided to send to him as well as pictures (not nekid) of my boys.

I was able to see from the dates of the texts that one night, she and I were out sitting by the campfire, I can remember her telling me how much she loved me and wanted to make love to me.  She said go to bed Baby and I’ll be there soon and we’ll make love.  I just want to listen to music for a little while.  She did and we did, but I saw later that after I went to bed she texted him to say how much she wished he was there to make love to her by the fire under the stars.  She texted him that, came to bed and made love to me then got up the next morning and went to his house and had sex with him.

I remember the day I got that cell phone and sitting in my truck reading each one of the text messages.  Texts about thinking of each other each time they saw the stars.  Text about what their gonna do with a jar of honey.  Text about how much she hated me and wished I was dead, but the one that stopped me in my tracks, the one that really hurt, the one that I just can forget went like this”

“Sorry, Baby.  I have to go be a Mama now, XXXXXXX is sick so I won’t be able to see you later”

I guess at first glance, it seems relatively benign.  At least I didn’t have to hear about how much I suck between the sheets, how much she hated me or how much more he understood her than me.  But all I could think of when I read that was; “Why in the world, would anyone ever be sorry to have to be a Mama & what was she being before that”?  That made me sick, because then it wasn’t just me.  You know I don’t think I deserved any of this, but at least I’m a big boy.  I’ve eaten shit before and I’ll do it again if I have to.  I kind of knew what I was signing up for when I decided to love a woman who was mentally ill, but she resented our boys too, then 9 and 1!  How could anyone possibly resent a 1 year old?

I don’t post these things here in order to feel sorry for myself.  I’m not trying to deaminize my wife.  I simply want y’all to know where I’m starting from.  That is a place of complete mistrust.  Complete confusion.  Complete fear.  I don’t know how I made it through those day, except for a half a case of Budweiser and three packs of cigarettes each night.  It was awful.  What y’all need to understand is that I knew my wife was mentally ill when I married her.  Depression, Bi-Polar affect, Borderline Personality Disorder, Suicide attempts – I’d seen it.  I loved her anyway.  I can remember when we first started dating, her showing up at the at my door one morning, covered in blood.  She’d been up all night drinking and cutting herself.  I brought her to the hospital that day for the first time, but not the last.  There have been numerous times that this has been my only option.  She’d get caught in a lie, leave a note and run off in the woods with a gun.  I have to call the law, I don’t know what else to do.

The Worst Birthday Ever…

My birthday this year was on a Monday.  Two Fridays before that, my wife came home from work and told me that she wanted to talk to me.  She said that it was just on a whim, but someone had come into the place where she was working who smelled like pot.  She took a chance and passed him a note to ask if he could get her a bag of marijuana, which he did.  She said, that she did it for us and just really wanted to have the experience of us “smoking” together one time.  Lord!  I’m gonna tell y’all what.  If you thought peer pressure sucked in high school, try being a 40 something year old, on your third marriage, knowing that your wife thinks you’re an asshole, and being faced with that offer.  I wanted so badly to be cool in her eyes.  I wanted so badly for us to be together on something.  I wanted so badly to just have a pleasant night, but I have the sort of job where they can ask you to pee in a cup at any time and this family depends on my income.  Still I struggled.  To be honest I think I just wanted her to convince me and I would have, but she interpreted my hesitation as rejection, got angry, smoked the marijuana right in front of me and complained about how judgmental I was being.  I’m so glad that I didn’t, because it would have meant that I was willing to risk the ability to provide for these boys for what – a buzz?

Well she hated me that night, but apologized the next day and things were kind of ok for a while.  The next Friday she came home with a black eye, tore up face and hunks of her hair pulled out.  She told me that she was taking the garbage to the dump and accidentally walked into her hatchback door.  The next day that story chanced. That she had decided now that she had to tell me the truth; she had bought pot now two or three time from this guy and the last time was on credit.  She was just going to pay him off when his girlfriend saw them together and cut her butt.  I believed her and we had an ok weekend.  I later found out that she had paraded that black eye and cut’s on her face all over town, saying or at least acting in a way to let people believe that it was me who hurt her and not just those scumbag friends, lawyers,  police, the people with whom she worked and I work.  To this day, I still get looked at sideways from many of the people in town, a town in which I used to have a good reputation.

The following Monday was my birthday.  When I woke that morning it was from a bad dream.  The dream was about the story she had told me the previous weekend.  When she got up, I told her about the dream and she became furious.  Cussing, slamming doors, “that’s it I’m done”.  Apparently, I was accusing her of something by having a bad dream and she was sick of it.  I found out later, buy reading her phone that she had text him saying that she was ready to leave me and be with him, but something happened that day – he didn’t text her back.  He was choosing his girlfriend over her – the real story that previous Friday was not that she just went to pay him off, the real story was that the girlfriend caught them together and went ballistic.  She had to tell me about her, tell me something, because we live in such a small town that she knew it would get back to me.  The girlfriend was threatening to do so herself.

I took off after lunch that day and went to see her.  She had pressed charges against the girlfriend for assaulting her, but had decided to change her mind about going through with it.  “She’s somebody’s Mama”, she said, “How could I do that to a little kid”?  I found out later it was just the boyfriend who had asked her too.  Well, I took her to the police station, but she wouldn’t let me come in with her.  When she came out she told me to take her back to work.  I pleaded with her as I drove her back, to try to save our marriage, to get counseling, to let God back in our lives.  She agreed coldly and just went back to work.  All afternoon, between thanking people for happy birthday wishes on Facebook,  I was responding to texts like “maybe I should just run my car into a tree and make everybody happy” and “I’m just gonna become an alcoholic because apparently drugs are socially unacceptable”

That evening our 9 year old had an event to attend at church.  He had been playing in the church basketball league and had his award ceremony that night.  When my wife got home from work that day she had an open bottle of Vodka with her, but had promised me that she had had it in her car for a while and that she wanted to take our boy to the ceremony.  She seemed ok to me.  Pissy, but that was nothing extraordinary in those days.  Now I had known by then, that when my wife volunteered to do stuff like that, it usually was not for the purpose of being helpful.  She’d volunteer to run the garbage to the dump 4 miles down the road and be gone for 5 hours, but for whatever reason that night I thought it was encouraging that she was showing an interest in going to the dinner with our boy.  She hadn’t been to any of the games, because she was always scheduled to work at those times.  In fact she was scheduled to work during anything that went on at church; basketball, bible study, Wednesday service, Sunday service.  She said that she had no control over her schedule and would ask to have at least once a week off to go to church with us, but somehow, each week she had to work on those days.

When they left for the dinner, they did so with our only car seat.  I stayed home with the baby, because he was typically very difficult at those things.  I felt good, like maybe our talk that afternoon had some effect.  Maybe she was finally committing to be more a part of this family, stop being so angry, make things better.

About 45 minutes after the ceremony was scheduled to start, I received a phone call.  It was from a friend at church – “your boy is here alone and crying because he wants to go home”.

“Where’s my wife”? I asked.

“She dropped him off and said that she would be back later to get him” he replied.

Now I’m in a panic.  I remembered the Vodka.  I remembered the “crash my car into a tree” texts.  I’m about 10 highway miles away from the church and don’t have a car seat to take the baby to go get our older son.  The friend I was talking to on the phone  couldn’t bring my boy home.  I simply didn’t know what to do.  I called the preacher, who promised that he would stay with our boy until the end of the ceremony and bring him home if my wife didn’t return.  I stayed in contact with him for the rest of the evening and did get a message that my wife had returned shortly before the scheduled end of the ceremony.

When she returned about fifteen minutes later, I said nothing.  I asked the boy how the ceremony was and he said “fine” only and went into his room.  I waited for her to come into the living room and asked her how the ceremony was, I wanted to see if she would tell me the truth about not being there.  “Good I guess”, she said “I think XXXXX had a good time.”

“How was the food”?, I asked.

“I didn’t really eat”. She replied.

“Baby, they called me and told me that you weren’t there”.  I finally said.

“Who, called you”?, she snapped.

I told her the name of the friend who had called.

“Well, He just needs to learn how to mind his own F***in business!  That’s why I hate that church!  Everybody is all up in my business all the time!”.  This I’d seen a thousand times before.  The strategy;

Deny Everything – Admit Nothing – Launch a Counter Attack.

Fortunately, on this night the counter attack was aimed at my friend from church, but more often than not it was aimed at me, for having a couple of beers, for having to work late, for disciplining our boys too much, for not disciplining our boys enough, for having a bad dream.  Just anything to unleash all that anger on.  The first think to come to mind.  Sometimes it would be something from years ago, talked about, apologized for, and resolved – just anything to get the focus off of her.

“Where were you”?

“I went to the bar and had a drink”?

“Baby, this was supposed to be XXXX’s night”.

“I couldn’t go in there with this black eye.  What would everybody think”?

“Baby, you have been parading that black eye around town for three days, at work, at school, at the market.  Now you’re worried about it. We have no money in the bank, how did you even pay”?

“I had change and when I got there this old guy bought me a drink”.

“Change from what”?

Now, in addition to noticing that she was slurring her words (she had made herself a drink when she got home), I detected another habit of hers which I had been becoming aware of.  Y’all know when you’re using an older computer, all full up with old data and pointers and links and stuff, that delay you get when you ask it to do something computational.  It can be seconds or longer.  The things the computer could do almost instantaneously when you first got it would take a long time now as the computer tries to trace through all that junk that’s stored up in that computer brain now: Chuca-chuca-chuca-chuca-Ahnt-Ahnt-Chuca-chuca-chuca-chuca-Ahnt-Ahnt.  Watching my wife during conversations such as this, and there had been many at that point, was like using one of those old computers.  The simplest of questions; “where did you get the money when we have no money in the bank”?, would sometimes require a fifteen –twenty second delay to respond to.  I could see her fix her eyes on something neutral and trace through that web in her mind; “I could tell him this, but that would contradict that other thing I told him, do you think he will remember – or I can admit to this, which is less culpable that that, but then I have to create and excuse for this… Chuca-chuca-chuca-chuca-Ahnt-Ahnt”  I don’t think she was even aware of doing it.  It had become commonplace to her, but I think that it must have been exhausting to constantly keep all those lies straight in her head, because usually what she would do at this point is just shut down, run off, tell me to leave her alone.  She’d literally run away, or go to sleep, or become busy with something else and when she couldn’t get away with those things she’d just sit there, like a beat dog, unresponsive, without affect, completely shut off from the world outside herself.

That’s what happened on this night.  She just shut off.  Curled up in her chair with her back to me, drinking her vodka and smoking cigarettes, completely ignoring anything I said.  I talked and talked, but it seemed like she heard nothing, but she must have been listening, because she began to cry.  When she did, I literally got down on my knees and kissed her feat.  I’m not kidding I did.  I thought of Jesus washing the apostles feet while I was doing it.  I said “Baby, I can forgive you for anything, the drugs, if there’s someone else, anything.  I just can’t take the lying anymore.  Please just tell me the truth!  Is there someone else?”

I was pretty sure at that point that there was.  I had come home from being away five days for a work training about a month before and out of nowhere she had told me that she didn’t love me (she swore on her GrandMa’s life that it was no one else, she just didn’t want to be with anyone) then changed her mind, but that’s when things had really started to get bad.  On off love me didn’t love me, everyday I didn’t know what to expect.  I knew this woman so well, her behavior, her mannerism, what she knew and didn’t know.  I know that at least once during this period, I came to her and said, I honest think that there is someone else who is an auto-mechanic.  He was.

Even now, now that it was so obvious, she wouldn’t admit it.  “I need to take a bath she said, let me go take a bath and sort things out”

I knew from previous episodes, that this was a red flag.  I also knew from previous episodes that sometimes I can make it worse by forcing her to stay with me just to be safe.  “Promise me that you’re not gonna hurt yourself”!  I said, and she did.  She went into the bathroom with her drink and started the bath water.  I put the boys to bed, waited and prayed – and drank.  I knew things were out of control, but for whatever reason I was relatively calm.  It’s always been like that; when things are” in your face” bad with my wife, I kind of switch into automatic.  Somehow, I just know what to do, what to say and how to behave.  It’s those times in-between, waiting for the other foot to drop, not being able to trust that things are really good, during which I’m lost, say the wrong things or invariably make things worse.  But on this night, for whatever reason, I was on my game.  “Give her space” I said to myself.  “Let her think it through”.

It was a half hour, forty-five minutes, an hour, an hour and a half – now I’m getting nervous.  I go to the bathroom door and find it locked – something we never really do.  I can hear her crying from the other side of the door.  I call to her – “leave me alone” she replies.

Words started coming out of my mouth but I can’t remember ever thinking about them – automatic.

“Baby, you and these boys are the most important things in the world to me and I would do anything to make us right.  You are the most beautiful thing in the world to me, even when you can’t see it yourself.  I love you and noting you’ve done or could ever do is gonna change that.  Please let me help you.  Please let’s get you some help.  Please ask Jesus to help you.”

Her sobs became wails, but I continued;

“All I care about now is getting you happy and strong for this family.  Nothing else matters.  Not the drugs, not another guy, nothing!  I told you that day on the river that I would stand by you through anything and I meant it.  Please Baby, you have to see that my love for you is real”!  Then I started singing, I don’t know why, but I sang a song that I used to sing to her when we first started dating.  I don’t know, maybe y’all can infer some meaning to it, but I really think it was just the only song that I could think of that I knew all the words to:

“Sweet Baby James”

James Taylor

There is a young cowboy he lives on the range

His horse and his cattle are his only companions

He works in the saddle and he sleeps in the canyons

Waiting for summer, his pastures to change

And as the moon rises he sits by his fire

Thinking about women and glasses of beer

And closing his eyes as the doggies retire

He sings out a song which is soft but it’s clear

As if maybe someone could hear

(Chorus)

Goodnight you moonlight ladies

Rockabye sweet baby James

Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose

Won’t you let me go down in my dreams

And rockabye sweet baby James

Now the first of December was covered with snow

And so was the turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston

Lord, the Berkshires seemed dream-like on account of that frosting

With ten miles behind me and ten thousand more to go

There’s a song that they sing when they take to the highway

A song that they sing when they take to the sea

A song that they sing of their home in the sky

Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep

But singing works just fine for me

By the time I had finished the song, the crying had stopped.  I called to her, but she did not reply.  I banged on the door, but could hear nothing inside.  We have those kind of doorknobs that lock, but you can unlock from the outside with a butter knife, so I did and went into the bathroom.  I would call her state at that point only semi-conscious.  She was still in the tub. The drink was gone and the tub was filled with bath water stained so richly red with her blood that I couldn’t see the bottom of the tub.  I had to feel around in there to push the little stopper out in order to drain the water.  She had tore apart one of her lady shaver razor things and used the little blades to slice herself all up.  Her legs, her arms, her stomach, all tore up!

Y’all ever try to dead lift a full grown woman, out the bathtub?  Now I’m covered in blood, but here again I know what to do.  I’ve been to this rodeo before; I have a kit ready, with ointment and bandages.  I did eventually get her out the tub, dried her off with a towel (it may sound pathetic, but I can remember being worried that the towel might be hurting the rug burns, that I have previously described on her back), I cleaned her wounds, dressed them, got her in her night shirt and got her in the bed.  OK, Pshew!  It’s over, let’s just sleep this horrible night away.  No.

You know, you wouldn’t think that a 140 pound woman could produce 150 pounds of vomit, but I believe I saw it happen that night.  It started in the bed, I got her up and carried her to the toilet, where she stayed for a while, then on the floor, in the sink, the bathtub, on me.  I would finish cleaning one mess just in time to see the next one happen.  She couldn’t hold herself up to the toilet, so I decided to just stay there with her.  “Leave me alone, I don’t love you”!, she would scream at me.  “Well, I love you very much” I would reply.  “Well just stop, I don’t want it”! she’d holler back. “Just leave, I can take care of the boys, myself”! She screamed.

I think that all the drugs and drinking and whatever she had been doing that day had just all cut in there while she was in the tub, because she was nearly completely incoherent by then.  She was however coherent enough to begin speaking to me under the mistaken assumption that I was the man with whom she was having the affair, and continued to call me by his name for the next few hours until she finally fell asleep.  I didn’t sleep at all that night, so afraid that she was going to stop breathing.  I spent the remainder of that night just watching her to make sure she was ok.

Only later, when I got that phone, did I understand that she had been trying to get him to talk to her all day.  17 text messages; “I need to talk to you”, “I want you to know that I dropped the charges, but you really hurt me”, “please call”, “damn-it, how come whenever I need you, you can’t call me”…  She had chosen him over me, but he didn’t choose her and it was more than she could handle.

My wife does not remember that evening.  I do not think that I’ll ever forget it.  Not really for any bad, I can’t let it go, obsession kind of reason.  I think back on that night now and realize that it is the first time that I knew that I would be able to love my wife through anything.  I’d always known that I loved her, but before that night, I never really knew how much abuse that love was willing to take.  Apparently, quite a bit.  It’s why this is a bad day, but not the worst day.  Top 5 perhaps, but not number one.  I had made it through all of that, with my love for my wife intact and while y’all might think that pathetic for me it will always be a great source of pride.

She didn’t get out the bed for three days after that.  Hangover, depression, as bad as I’d ever seen it.  On the fourth day, I literally dragged her out the bed, made her drink some coffee and go to work.  I didn’t know what else to do.  She kicked and screamed and told me how much she hated me, but she went.

I did some things, during those few days that she had stayed home from work, that may have been the right thing or may not have been, I don’t know, but I can tell y’all that they were coming from the right place.  One thing I did was download and app for her phone that would allow me to see where her phone was at any given time.  I did so without telling her, which may have been wrong, but I had promised myself that I was only going to use it if I thought she was in danger.

The second thing I did, was write an email to the husband of a woman with whom my wife worked.  I explained, fairly extensively, what was going on and asked him to ask his wife to kind of take my wife under her wing, keep an eye on her, not to be my spy, but just to let me know if things were so bad that I should be contacted.

Things were relatively calm for the rest of the week.  Not happy just calm.  I learned latter that the other guy had got back in contact with her, but I think that she had resolved herself at that point that he had chosen his girlfriend over her.  She agreed to go and meet the marriage therapist that Saturday, which we did.  She was somewhat cordial, but had a flat affect while we were there.  Still wouldn’t admit to the affair, became very angry when the therapist suggested that her behavior had amounted to neglect if not abuse of our boys and when the therapist asked her if she wanted to save the marriage she simply responded “yeah, sure” and shrugged her shoulders.  Later that afternoon she told me that she wanted to have another baby.

The Worst Day Ever…

The next Monday morning I called her from work.  I normally work in 7 different counties, but on that day was working fairly local, so I thought it would be nice for us to have lunch together.  Now she had admitted at this time that she often used her lunch hour to smoke marijuana before returning to work and promised to become more accountable during this time, but when I spoke to her, she became very angry.  She said that I was trying to control her and just wanted to check up on her, that my job was pathetic for not keeping me busy enough and that I needed to get a real job.  “I’m going to the Library”, she said, “There’s a book I want to get” and hung up on me.  I called her back and tried to speak as gently as I could, just wanting to sort out why she was so angry.  “Can’t you just leave me alone”? she said.  “I’m at the library now and I’m going inside, if you want to f***ing check up on me you can come”.

Well I did, but I think she thought I was farther away than I actually was, because when I got there and saw her car parked outside I went in and found her and the man she’d been cheating on me with at a table in the back holding hands.  He saw me first.  He was a black man, but had green eyes like a snake.  I could see him panic when he saw me come around the bookshelf to see them there.  I think she knew that I was standing behind her more from the expression on his face than anything else, because before she even turned around to see me, I saw her hang her head, slump her shoulders and put her face in her hands.

I knew this man.  He was a mechanic.  I can remember taking my tire to him one time when I had run over a board with some nails in it.  I can remember him shaking my hand and telling me how he was opening his own garage and would sure appreciate my business.  I can remember suggesting that my wife take her car to him for an oil change one time when I was working too much overtime to be able to do it for her.  I sent her to him!

He regained himself a little and decided to stand up and reach out to shake my hand.  I shook it.  He must have been terrified, but nowhere near how much I was.  “Hi, I’m XXXX”, he said.  “I’m XXXX’s cousin (the XXXX was the name of the boyfriend of the girl my wife had enlisted as her false alibi) I was just driving by and saw her crying and wanted to stop and make sure she was ok” he said and when he did I could see a false cocky confidence wash back over his face.  I knew he was lying.  I was on the phone with my wife as she walked into the library.  She wasn’t crying.  She was yelling.  I could hear the library’s heavy electric doors open and close behind her.

“so are you ok, now”, he asked my wife, continuing the charade.

“yes, I’m ok.  My husband’s here now” she played along.

These words, though seemingly benign and probably what you might expect her to say, have proven to be the ones that have haunted me the most about that morning.  Even then, she chose to take his side.  Even now that the affair was right there on the table.  That it was clearly over (she later told me, and I believe that she had asked to meet him there to say goodbye and to return his phone) she decided to protect him, do what was helpful to him, stand up for him, rather than just come clean.  Why couldn’t she just drop to her knees and say “Baby I’m so sorry.  It’s over and you’re the one I want”.  Why couldn’t she just admit what she had done?  Why couldn’t she just recognize that everything I’d been suspecting, everything that I’d asked about, what my guts had been telling me for weeks, was true.

“I have to go” she said and walked out of the building, I followed her to her car and said “Please, Baby, just tell me what’s going on”

Deny Everything – Admit Nothing – Launch a Counter Attack

“What do you think you have to F***ing baby sit me?  I should be able to meet a friend in the library for lunch if I want”  She pulled out of the library’s parking lot almost running me over.  My lunch was over so I went back to the job, but decided that maybe it was time to try out this little app thingy to show me where her phone was.  She was parked in the parking lot of a very seedy apartment building, renown for being populated with drug dealers through our town.  She was there for fifteen minutes, half an hour, now 45.  I told my boss that I was having problems at home and once again need the rest  of the day of and he agreed and I started to drive over there.  Before I could get there I say her wiz past me going the other way, now a half hour late for returning from lunch, so I pulled over and texted her.

“What is going on”?

“Nothing. Why?”

“Why were you in that parking lot”?

“I just pulled over for a minute to collect my thoughts”

“Baby, I put a thing on your phone.  I know exactly where you were and exactly how long you were there for”

-nothing.

Well I went back to the house and when I got there I called the therapist that we had seen that previous Saturday and described to her the events of that morning.  She told me that I was fixin to have to make a real hard decision, but that she was not convinced that my wife was ready to change.  That she was a bully and that the only way to stop her was to stand up to her.  That I may have to choose between her and the boys and that the situation was not going to get better as the way things were.

So, after a couple of beers, I texted my wife and said exactly that.  I told her that she was a liar, a cheater, a thief and an addict.  I told her that I was not just going to leave, that I didn’t trust her anymore with the boys and that she was going to have to do what she needed to do, but that her reign of terrorizing this family was over!

Well the story I got from her co-workers is that that just set her off.  Yelling and screaming in the middle of the bank – “he’s gonna take my kids away”, she run out of there and didn’t nobody know where she went.  They called me and asked me to come get her, but then a min or two later told me that she was gone.  About an hour later I got a text “you’re gonna have to pick the boys up from daycare.  You can use your app to help them find my body”.  Is all.  I did use my app and saw her parked down some dirt country road on the edge of town.  I called the sheriff’s department.

“listen my wife just texted me that she is gonna kill herself”

“Where is she”?

I told them.

“well she’s not considered missing…”

“she said that she going to kill herself and I should use my phone to come find her body”

“oh no we can’t use her phone unless a felony…”

Oh my goodness!  I got in the truck and drove to the Sherriff’s.

“Look, I’ll show you the texts, you can see where she is”!

“ok I guess we can send a car over there, wait a minute, that’s not our jurisdiction, we have to call the next town”

In the middle of this conversation, my phone rings.  It was my wife.  “I’m sitting here waiting for the next log truck and I’m going to pull out in front of it.  Promise me that you’ll never tell the boys what happened”.

I started to plead with her; “Baby, please think of the boys.  Think of that little baby at home waiting for you”!

“Everything you said was right, I really am all of those things”

“We can get through this, just let us get you some help”

Now, as if this all wasn’t fun enough, while I’m on the phone with her, begging her not to do this horrible thing, in to the sheriff’s walk this guy, with whom she’s been cheating, his 8+month pregnant girlfriend and her mother.  She wanted to see that my wife had really come and dropped the charges for assault that my wife had filed the previous week.

Now, I don’t really know what happened between them. I can remember her saying something like “now you see what you did, he’s on the phone with his wife trying to convince her not to kill herself”! I think I stepped outside after that to focus on talking to my wife, she hung up on me, but before I came back inside, they brought him by me in handcuffs.  I don’t know if he hit that girl or what he actually did, but I did later hear the girlfriend ask the Sherriff “now why was he actually arrested” I think she just wanted to know the actual charge, but the Sherriff replied “because we’re sick of him running around town making problems with these married women”.  I’m guessing that not really a chargeable offense and the Sherriff was just being snarky to her, but to this day I don’t know what he did.

It was then, after they had taken him away, when the girlfriend told me that she would give me my wife’s secret phone.  She insisted on exchanging numbers, which I knew was a bad idea, but really just wanted to be done with the conversation.  Again, my phone rings.  My wife again.  “where are the bullets for the .22, if you don’t tell me, I’m going to use snake shot”!

“Wait, where are you”? I asked.

“I’m home”

“Baby, I don’t know where all the ammo is”, I really didn’t.  “XXXXX and I may have used it all for target practice”.

“Well then I’m just going to use the snake shot” (snake shot, for those who don’t know is like a regular sized bullet, but filled like a small shot gun shell with these little pellets, maybe about the size of the sprinkles that you put on a cupcake, it has a plastic cover and really isn’t good for much else than killing snakes.  I recon you could do some damage to yourself with it if you use it enough up close.  I don’t really know), then she hung up.

I told the woman behind the desk that she was now at the house, but she said that it would take a bit to get someone there, because the car had been headed to the other side of town where she had called me the first time, so I called the neighbor’s house and she went over to see if she could find my wife.  I must have been there about a half an hour more or so, because I can remember talking to the woman behind the desk for a little while.  I know she said something like “I can’t believe that you didn’t try to attack him while he was here” and saying back to her “fussin with that man is not gonna help my boys” I don’t know how much else the conversation lasted but I know that that woman remembers me and that it was her who eventually told me about my wife telling everyone that it was me who gave her the black eye.

Well the phone rings or the radio or something, I can’t really remember, but that woman turned around and said that they got my wife and that she was ok.  She’d come walking out the woods with a long gun in her hand and apparently they tackled her and took her away in handcuffs.  The gun is still at the Sherriff’s.  They were taking her to the local hospital now.  I looked at the time and realized that I had to get the boys from day care, so I thanked her and left.

I did pick up the boys and go back to the house.  I must have also called the preacher somewhere in there, because he was there when I got back to the house, as well as my buddy from church.  I can’t recall how long the preacher stayed there, but my neighbor and his wife and his parents where there for a while.  They helped me get the boys some supper, prayed with me, helped me put the boys down and made sure that I was ok, before going back to their house.

I called the hospital while they were there and at first they were willing to tell me about her condition, but wanted her Medicaid card.  I arranged for someone to bring it to the hospital as I didn’t want to bring the boys there, but then when I called back later to make sure that they had gotten it, they would no longer tell me anything about her condition.

I’m gonna tell y’all what.  I drank a piece that night.  Don’t think I slept but an hour or two.  I just sat there in my chair wondering.  Wondering why the hospital wouldn’t tell me how she was.  Wondering if she would be admitted or if she would convince them to let her go.  Wondering if during the course of the afternoon she decided to go back to him.  Wondering if she had decided to be on his side again.  Wondering if he was he a thread to my kids?  Wondering if she would try to contact him and try to convince him to scoop them up and run off someplace.  Wondering if he would come to the house, and for the first time since the night I fell in love with my wife, wondering if I could really still love this woman.

That was the worst day ever.  I say this, not because of all that happened that day, not because I was hurt or afraid or had feelings of abandonment or betrayal, but because I felt nothing at all.  I think back on that day now and cannot remember having a single feeling at all; anger, fear, betrayal – nothing.  It’s as if I’m watching a movie of myself, but don’t really believe that it’s me it happened to.  There are no feelings at all that make it seem real to me.  That’s a sikining feeling.

I know that some of y’all will roll your eyes when I say that spiritual warfare is a very real thing.  Before I met my wife I may have rolled my eyes, at least on some level, too, but I’ve seen it, up close and it’s very very real!  I’ve seen my wife age 20 years in a single afternoon.  I’ve seen evil take a hold of her and make her say or do things that folks would be afraid of putting in a movie.  I’ve seen her fight it and beat it back for a while only for it to come back stronger, smarter, more wily and experience the next time.  I can see it inside her, feel it inside her and each time it comes back, I know it before she does.  Now I don’t by any means mean by that to dismiss the mental illness component of my wife’s condition.  I know that is very real as well, but I think the devil knows the best doors into all of us and doesn’t always wait for an invitation to supper.  Not just for my wife, for all of us, it’s a constant, every day, ongoing battle.  It’s why we need to stay in His word, why we need to pray without ceasing, why we need to constantly be checking ourselves and asking the tough questions about what it means to be a man of God, a Godly husband and a Godly father.  Satin really just needs a minute of us forgetting to do so and it’s – “Hello! Remember me?”.  Get behind me Satin! Get behind this family!  In Jesus’ name I command you to get behind us!  I’m not afraid of you!  You pathetic liar!  I’ve seen about your worst and I still choose Jesus!  I still think He can whip you ass!  If you have more crap for me than bring it, but you will not get me to stop loving this God!  You will not get me to stop loving this family!  You will not get me to stop loving this woman! Bring it Satin! But I’m gonna bring a buddy too!  Jackass!!!

Oh, thank goodness that’s over with.  I feel like I just gave birth!