What would you do?

What would you do if someone you loved developed an autoimmune disease? A disease that attacks the insulin producing beta cells that live in the pancreas.

What would you do if they could die from this disease if not treated by insulin injections? Insulin injections that must be administered by needle six to seven times at day – minimum – to keep their blood glucose levels at a normal healthy range, their entire lifetime.

What would possibly be the root of this assailant on someone you love? This aggressor would be Type 1 diabetes. A debilitating disease. A disease of mystery and power.

This disease knows no bounds. It could attack you. It could attack me. Research has not proven why, or how. They know an autoimmune response is triggered. Maybe from an infection, maybe from an inherited gene, maybe even from not being breast-fed as a child. In addition, not everyone that has an autoimmune trigger develops diabetes. Some do. Some don’t.

The first person I ever knew with diabetes was my paternal grandfather. He died in 1975, I don’t remember him. I missed a chance to know him – he died too young. I never really knew anything about diabetes, despite my grandfather having had it. I was just a little kid. It didn’t affect me. I had no reason to find out why I didn’t grow up with my grandfather.

What did get my attention was another man who had Type 1 diabetes. His name was Uncle Bub. I would come to live with him and his sister during a separation from my second husband. It was a turbulent time of my life. Uncle Bub was my saving grace. He was my friend. Someone I would talk hours to. His health had deteriorated quickly with Type 1 diabetes.

In the previous years, He hadn’t taken care of himself and let his blood sugar levels get too high. He didn’t inject the life saving insulin. His body began failing. He had a stroke. He lost all feeling in his fingers. He developed heart disease. He lost his right leg, from above the knee down. He lost all his toes, except the big one on his left foot. He was near blind.

This six foot two inch tall man of such stature and pride, a leading manager for over twenty years with an oil company, was reduced to near helplessness in a wheelchair. His life stricken and battered by this autoimmune disease. He could no longer live by himself, nor take care of himself. This independent man had to rely on others. It was harsh and painful. The disease, left uncontrolled, wrought havoc on his fifty year old body.

When I came to live with him, I helped him as many ways as I could. His strength weakened, lay coiled inside. He was a fighter. Most men would have given up, faced with the nightmare, but he fought and he lived. I would load Uncle Bub’s insulin shots every morning for him. He could administer the shot himself, just not prepare it. His fingers, without nerves, could not navigate such a delicate task, nor he could his damaged eyes see the fill lines.

I would take him as many places as he wanted to go. Often to the computer electronics store, or Walmart, or to out to eat. I would throw his wheelchair in the car and off we’d go. Nothing could stop us. He never let his disability keep him down. In fact, he got the biggest kick out stuff – like when I searched, and searched for his matching sock. Um, yeah, he only needed ONE sock. Boy, did that give him belly laughs for the longest time.

We even got to take our girls to Orlando together (his granddaughter, my daughter). Airplane, car rental, two hotel rooms and two little girls ages ten and eight trek across the country. I wheeled him all over Universal Studios. He wore a cowboy hat everywhere. No matter who we met, they called him Big Tex. To make the trip truly memorable, a hurricane hit Florida. We rode it out in the hotel. Hurricane Charlie. He smiled and entertained the hotel guests all day during the storm. It took their mind off it. His smile lit the whole dreary room.

He was the first man I knew and loved with Type 1 diabetes. My heart ached over his disease. He died a year and half after our trip. Heart disease and complications of Type 1 diabetes. What a shame. What a loss. He had so much life in him. He was such a dear confidant to me. He wasn’t even MY uncle. He was first husband’s uncle. His love for me shows , what an incredible man he really was.

The second man to enter my life with Type 1 diabetes? My boyfriend Jason. He developed the autoimmune disease while serving in the Marines, diagnosed February 1997. He was 22 years old, in the pinnacle of his youth. What a shocking blow. But what could he do? This was his fate. There is no cure. He dealt with it, like the soldier he was. Twelve years now, he has tested his blood sugar, by puncturing his finger, taking a drop of blood, and feeding it into a meter.

If it’s high, he takes insulin to bring it down. He has to pierce his skin with another needle, using pressure, to inject a shot. It’s as painful as it sounds. If it’s low, he has to take in sugar to bring it up. If he goes too low, he could go into a coma. If he goes too high, he has to take another insulin shot. It is a dangerous game. It is a guessing game. Most days, there is no winner – just the constant ups and downs.

The highs and lows don’t come without a price. The highs, are edgy causing light headiness, thirst and nausea. The lows, are blackened vision, spots – an inability to stay alert. Imagine those things happening to you. Imagine how that would affect your moods and your nature – while working, while parenting, while sleeping, while exercising. It’s no cake walk. Welcome to their life.
jasonsupplies

In my quest to understand, I decided to check my blood sugar. I pricked my finger. I fed the meter. Mine was normal, of course. I did it ONCE. He does it, six to nine times a DAY.

One time during lunch, my blood sugar dropped. I was sick, anxious, and nervous. My leg twitched constantly. I wanted to rotate my head several times around, thinking that MIGHT make me feel better. After I ate, it took thirty minutes to kick in and stop the madness inside my skull. ONE TIME. Jason does this on a daily basis.

My hearts grieves over this disease. Not because one, but TWO men I love dearly have their lives directly affected by it. One’s life was cut short. One’s life could very well be cut short, if they don’t find a cure soon. I can try to put myself in their shoes, but I will NEVER truly know the pain of living with Type 1 Diabetes. I only know the pain of watching a loved one, bear the burden of Type 1 Diabetes. I pray for a cure. I long for a cure. I have hope for a cure.

October 24, 2009 – I will walk for a cure. I will walk next to the man I love with his beautiful children. I will walk in honor of Uncle Bub’s spunk, that encouraged me during a very low stretch in my life. I will fight for Jason. I will fight for the millions affected. I will fight to see him healed and free. I have to believe…we’ll win this fight.

What would I do? I would do anything.

If you’d like to join me in this cause -please do!- I would consider it a privilege. Even as little as $5.00 could bring them closer to solving this mystery. From what I understand, they are very close.

If financially this is impossible for you, then all I ask is that you say a prayer for those enduring Type 1 Diabetes. Pray for their strength, pray for their journey, and pray for their families – who love them and ache to see their strain. Lift them up.

Pray. Hope. Believe.

Diabetes – Walk for a Cure- Click here to visit my page and make a donation.
*Link updated for October 2010 walk for a cure.*
http://walk.jdrf.org/walker.cfm?id=87424375

***edit and update September 17, 2010**
This year’s Diabetes walk is Oct. 23, 2010. We have “registered” for donations. This time I am asking family and friends attending our wedding October 10, 2010 to gift us the greatest marriage gift we could accept. A hope for a cure. The link above has been updated to this year’s walk donations. We deeply thank-you and send you love and blessings in return.

Braving Love again-The Break

Part Two-

It’s mid-October 2008, I have just made a very shoddy decision to stop seeing Jason. I felt it was the RIGHT thing to do. He wasn’t divorced yet. But I also felt, intense regret, immediately. Honestly? We had already been together five months. What the heck did it matter NOW?

I wish I could answer that. It just did. I didn’t feel like we were moving forward, and that is where I needed to go. But you bet, I back pedaled. As soon as I saw that little heart broken icon on Facebook. As soon as his name disappeared off my page, as soon as everyone in the freeworld Facebook world knew we were broken up. I wanted to take it back. Desperately.

I got all my stuff from his house at lunch time. I said good-bye to my best buddy Cooper, crying my heart out the whole way back to work. I was a basket case. I couldn’t eat. I knew what I’d lost. It broke me. I functioned as best as I could. I tried to keep myself occupied, too busy to think about it. We were still friends on Facebook. I found myself constantly checking his page, like a creepy obsessed ex.

Speaking of that…..crazy, is exactly how I felt. Every day, I had some excuse to text him or email him. I would wait to see if he would respond or not. If he hadn’t responded, I would have been consumed by the dejection. He always did. The responses were my life line.

The day of the Pumpkin Patch outing came. The day he was taking his wife, and daughters, as a family to pick out pumpkins. A family tradition. The night before, I was on my floor, face down, praying. Praying with all my heart, and soul, that IF their relationship could be healed. Heal it. For the children, who I loved. In hopes, that they might have both parents in their lives (which I never had).

Not only to have both parents in their lives, but to have both parents LOVE each other. A love restored. A miracle. I didn’t want them to reconcile just for the children. I wanted the family unit brought back together. So, the girls could be raised surrounded by love. True love. Without knowing the brokenness of divorce. My heart yearned for this to happen. If I had to give him up. By GOD, let it be for THAT.

I told myself, if he called me Saturday night, after the pumpkin patch, then the healing did not occur. I don’t even remember why he might call, probably because I texted him. He did call. It seemed like a sign to me. Okay, God, you didn’t bring them back together. Can I have him back now? I really don’t like being destroyed.

The phone conversation did not go well. I hinted about just putting this behind us. Chalking it up to learning. Forget the nonsense, let’s just get back together (how hard could it be?). I WAS WRONG. I AM ADMITTING THIS.

It didn’t matter what I said, he was hurt by my actions. He was closed down. He said, I was right. He needed time to heal. The divorce was taking it’s toll on him. It was a good thing to take time for himself. *nooooooooooo*

My normally strong, infallible, self did not take it well. This ending. This finality. Oh, it hurt. My gut wrenched. I cried, endlessly. I knew time would heal. I knew, eventually, I would move forward. It was just getting to that point.

I began exercising, every day (like I used to). I still wasn’t able to eat (swallow food). I lost weight. Within four weeks, I was easily swimming an hour. Running an hour. Spin class, weights, you name it. Basically, right back at my former fitness level.

My life became before Jason, or after Jason in terms of any events.

I decided to start dating. Not because I was over Jason, but because that was the ONLY way to keep my mind off of him. The endless, thinking and over analyzing of what happened, was beating me down. A good friend told me, “Don’t view dating as a relationship, but just as it is. A date.”

Fine, so I would date. I would learn the art of it. I would master dating as dates, rather than dating as in “relationships”. There is a difference, you know? I didn’t have much experience dating. I had tons in relationships.

I realize, I shouldn’t have subjected other people to my dysfunction at the time. I realize, I should have taken time to heal, and find myself; like I did when my marriage ended. I realize that. The reason I didn’t? I was mad. How could I lose the sweetest man in the world? Was it really necessary to push him into a corner? Did I really have to make him responsible for MY last relationship problems?

Dating seemed a fit punishment for my crime. For my idiocy.

I call the next season of my life, my power dating phase. Oh, it’s one for the books. It was bad. I was bad. Whichever you want to call it. I got a date, the same night, I signed up on a dating website. The SAME night. The guy asked me, “How long have you been on blank website?”. I answered, “Today”. HA. You should have seen his face. I was that coquettish. I became a pro dater, pro talker, pro dating site profile surfer. Maybe I was just myself, with no reservations. I really had nothing to lose. I could get a date faster than you could say…..What??? What?

Like I said, it passed the time. I met a lot of great guys, proudly, I call some friends. I exercised. I dated. I tried not to text, or email, or CALL, or Facebook, Jason. Daily. Hourly. This was so strange for me. I had NEVER had anyone turn me down (like he did, not wanting to date me again). I had never NOT gotten over someone like this. I consumed myself in activities, in hopes of consuming my thoughts of him. *life was HELL*

Finally the precious passing of time, started me on the road to recovery. Happy day. I met someone right before Thanksgiving, that I actually LIKED. He had a very true heart. He was funny and kind. I met him by my work, the first time, and the same week went to a Turkey fry at his Men’s Church group. He was a very active Catholic. Fun, silly and polite. It didn’t seem like he was playing the field. He was genuine and most importantly, honest. More available to hang out, than some of the other guys.

Life took a turn for me. I still thought about Jason, but it wasn’t as bad. I actually removed him as a friend on Facebook. It was the only way to stop obsessing over his page and news feeds. That was hard (we met on Facebook), but necessary for me to move on. Once I close the door, I am finished. I don’t ever find it, advantageous, to revisit past mistakes. I learn and move on. Period. That part of my life, with Jason, was behind me.

Apparently, someone else had other plans. December 9, 2008 – On a trip to Austin to visit clients, in a strange turning of events, I fell and injured my wrist. It swelled up, and began bruising right away. I couldn’t open the car door, or shake hands without excruciating pain. I put ice on it. I thought I had sprained it. Nothing like this had ever happened, I decided to go to Carenow and have it checked – just in case. Not any Carenow, but the Carenow by Jason’s house. Oh, it was an excuse, and a need. I was hurting. He was the one I wanted for comfort (of course).

When I called, he came. I will never forget, the instant, I saw him walk through the door. I was struggling over the paper work, trying to write. I couldn’t use my right hand! I glimpsed his profile through the glass, and looked up. My heart dropped. Literally. What a precious sight he was to me. I met his sky blue eyes, and smug, precocious look, with exuberant joy inside. I had longed for this. It was soooo good to see him.

In that split second, everything I had stuffed away the last two months bubbled up. All the hurt, all the pain, and the KNOWLEDGE. That I LOVED this man. THIS ONE RIGHT HERE IN FRONT OF ME, so incredibly much. Nothing, no amount of time, or space would ever change that. I knew. Simple as that.

That knowledge did me the least bit of good, sitting in that office, with a bum wrist. I soaked him up, relished every second like a bite of Lindt Milk Chocolate Truffle. My name was called (way too soon). I went inside, and he left. I was so happy to have seen him. Nothing mattered but that. Those moments are frozen in my mind. Forever. I will never forget. He was all I thought about through the exam, and x-ray. Life was good. The doctor came in the room to tell me the results of the x-ray.

Yeah. My wrist? The sore one? The swollen one? Broken in TWO places. Not one, no, not me, gotta do better than that. TWO. Ouch. *Are you serious?*

My first thought? This is a Carenow, what do they know? Turns out, they know broken bones. They gave me a splint, told me to see an orthopedic doctor to cast it as soon as possible. *Gulp, a cast?*

I got prescriptions for pain medicine, which I can hardly take, and by this time, it’s darn near 11pm. I NEED to stop by Jason’s on the way home. He loans me a pain pill. I’m STANDING in his house. I get to see Cooper. *Is this for real?*

I wasn’t there long. I have to head home. Broken splinted hand and all. We didn’t set any dates, or future get togethers. But you know what? I had HOPE. The spark was there. I hoped with everything I had.

The drive home was brutal. As much as I hoped? I was still scared. Scared, I wouldn’t see him again. Scared, that the hope was just sympathy, and being nice on his part. I didn’t know what had been going on in his life, if he was seeing someone, or not. I didn’t know. All I knew was this unbelievable pain. Tears poured down my cheeks. I could hardly see to drive. I was bent over, clutching my arm to my chest, hurting. This PAIN, could possibly bring us back together. And it was worth it. Every ache, every throb, every pang, was worth finding his love again.

We became friends again on Facebook. I added him, groveling. We talked more and more. I still dated my Catholic guy. I still dated period. I really didn’t know what to do. I felt like the ball was in his court. He knew how I felt about him. The door was open. Was he brave enough to step through?

The next two weeks, I got involved with the Christmas tree, for crisis kids, at my Church. The crisis kids are near and dear to my heart. Sydney and I adopted a family of three children that year. For some of these underprivileged kids? THIS is their ONLY Christmas gifts. This ministry is a part of my soul. I did everything I could to get each child an adopter, so they would have a Christmas. I worked every session in the lobby, telling people about these kids, and what they needed, and how they could help. I even got Jason to adopt one.

At the end of the last lobby session at Church, I still had three unadopted angels. I called, Jason, begging him to take one or even two. *Hey aren’t you a big wig manager? I adopted three plus one today and I’m poor. That’s FOUR. You only have ONE. Pleeeeease*

He took the bait adoption. I asked him later, if I could take HIM to the movies in repayment. He said, YES.

We saw the James Bond movie, that I couldn’t follow, because I don’t remember the one before that. But I remember what happened, he snuggled with me. It was heaven. Know what else? He was officially divorced as of December 8th , 2008. The day before I broke my wrist. *The DAY before*

Despite that, we were still not back together. I was still dating. I was out with my Catholic friend from the Turkey fry, when Jason called. He was trying to get the angel gifts finished. He heard him talking in the background to me (I was in the car with him) and he got a teensy bit jealous. *Heh*

FINALLY, FINALLY he wanted me back. Me. To himself. Not dating anyone else. Big, giant sigh of relief. Facebook relationship status changed to – in a relationship again – December 21st, 2008. *YES!*

I took him back alright. I grabbed him with both arms, even the gimp one. I have not let go since. I will not EVER take his love for granted. The missing piece? Gone. He loves me, like I had always hoped he would. He always had, but now, he does without hesitation. I cherish every moment, MORE, because of losing him.

The broken hand? I wore a cast for seven weeks to repair the bones. My brokenness inside? Filled up. My spiritual break from the joy of life? Renewed. I wonder. If I hadn’t fractured my shaker? How far off the track would I have gone? I won’t deny, I was in some comprising situations – many times. Where would I have ended up? WAS the break an accident? Or was it a testament to God’s faithfulness?

HE brought us back together. HE mended us (in more ways than one). HE soothed, all the insecurities, and made things right. *At just the right time*

I wish for you, a happy ending. I hope nothing ever keeps you, from holding on to your true love. Never let go. I know I won’t.

Braving love again-The Meet

*warning long post ahead, grab food, water, a tent?*

On a snowy day in April, when my life changed for good. I took upon myself a time of reflection, a time of healing. Much of my time was spent reading books, Boundaries by Henry Cloud, Beyond Co-dependency by Melodie Beattie, Controlling People and Verbal Abuse Victims Speak Out by Patricia Evans, Adult Children of Divorce by Jeffrey Zimmerman, Adult Children of Alcoholics by Janet G Woititz. I went through DivorceCare class twice. Basically, anything I could get my hands on, that would help me understand what I went through, why, and HOW it possibly happened.

I found a wonderful Church (my first ever). I spent a lot of time with Sydney. I spent a lot of time looking inside at the ugliness, buffing it to a new sheen (or trying to). I wasn’t ready to date. I knew it might be a long time. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I would ever date again. I certainly never thought I would ever meet anyone, or be open to that scenario. *isn’t that how many people feel after divorce*

Two weeks after I moved out, I filed a notice of separation through a divorce lawyer. There is a 90 day waiting period in Texas, before you can divorce. They also need an affidavit signed by the other party, stating they are aware divorce proceedings are in the process. If you can not get them to sign it, and have it notarized, then you have to hire a Sheriff to serve them. As you can imagine, he did not want to sign, nor would he.

I had to save extra money to hire a Sheriff. Even after going through ALL that, It still did not mean the divorce would resolve. He could counter file against me, and stop the divorce. I wouldn’t know until the day of the proceeding at the courthouse. But this was my only shot.

It was my greatest angst. That I would NEVER be divorced from him. It would hang over my head, forever. I would never be able to move on, date or re-marry. This wasn’t like me. I am NEVER afraid of what might come my way. Ever. But this, this shook me.

I was terror-stricken by the very real possibility; the divorce would end up in limbo. The clock was ticking. Any day now, he’d be kicked out of his house. The Sheriff wouldn’t be able to find him. He wouldn’t be served.

I felt my faith was being tested greatly. Didn’t I trust God? Didn’t I know he would take care of me? Why would I doubt him? Maybe, I needed this fear to learn something about myself, or about my life.

It took every OUNCE of courage to stand against this adversary, and stay strong. But I am just human, deep inside, I felt the dark wanting to swallow me up. If this divorce didn’t happen, I would live with the agony of it, and who knows how long I could stand it, before I absolutely broke down.

October 18, 2007- My court date. I enter the courthouse after scouring the streets, looking for his car, wondering if he would show up, and demand I STOP. I didn’t see it. That didn’t make me feel any better.

There were 30 other clients represented by my lawyer. Yeah. 30. I had to consult one last time, so he could check and see if my husband had filed anything against the divorce finalizing. He hadn’t. I wasn’t as relieved as I thought I would be.

I still half expected him to materialize, glowering at me, and making a scene. But then again, they could repo his car when he parked, so maybe he wouldn’t show. I was still shaken by the thought.

I had a scripture book for women in my purse. While awaiting my sentence name to be called, I read this, and knew God was with me. HIS grace, HIS power (that I prayed for) held me up.

Ecclesiastes 7:8
“The end of a matter is better than it’s beginning. And patience is better than pride.”

I was number two in front of the judge. A few sentences pronounced after the lawyer and I was done. Divorced. For real. *whooooosh*

At last, the relief swept through me. The long six years of pain, ended. All the clouds lifted. I was free. It was over. It really happened. I was not stuck in a time loop of uncertainty. My new beginning, begun. I wanted to skip out of that courtroom in sheer elation. *almost did*

Despite the conclusion, I still didn’t “date”. I did become a member of CHRISTIAN MINGLE for six months. I don’t recommend the theology message board for any “new” Christians. Yeah. Yikes!

However, the other message boards were brilliantly connecting, and full of many new found friendships. I found there not a “love”, but agape love. Not from a man, but from women and men, who have a heart for others. Agape love so complete, it’s astounding.

I met so many dear and wonderful people. I even attended a retreat in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Sixty-five women and ten men (I knooow). It was a blessing that I will never forget. Walking and running on the beach, the waves crashing, as the sun sank into the water, while I raced towards it. I was breathing and talking to God. So gloriously free, happy, and forgiven.

That was February, Valentine’s weekend, 2008. What a difference a year makes. Where I was a year ago? Polar opposite of where I was this day. Oppressed, and beaten, hammered by choices that I couldn’t make. To be on the other side, it was pure bliss.

Maybe, that is when my heart finally opened up again. I became less guarded. I began reaching out to people I didn’t know. I was confident that, I could discern the good, from the bad. Plus, it was fun and interesting. I love meeting people and learning about them, those like me, and those unlike me. I was still “afraid”. I won’t minimize my misgivings. But at least, I was receptive to the potential.

Before my membership on Christian Mingle expired, I did venture a date. He IM’d me and we began talking. He had a great, funny personality. He was adopted and raised by Christian parents. Also, going through a separation/divorce. We met and got along great.

There were some red flags (that got redder). He moved WAY too fast. I didn’t set up boundaries like I should have. I went to St. Louis to work for two weeks, and he moved on to another whirlwind romance. With someone who liked to party and go bar hopping (so, that’s what was missing). *Thank you GOD*

I chalked it up to GREAT experience. I had another “experience” with a man from Facebook this time. He was JUST like my second ex-husband. I was saved again. Enlightened quickly. I really was honing my skills and testing myself, in regards to who, and what type of person, I was coming up against, and how I reacted. These two “learning” experiences convinced me, I was no where near ready for anything remotely serious. I prayed fervently, for wisdom in my future choices. *fix my picker….PLEASE….fix my picker*

In the meantime, I was enjoying Facebook more and more, and their crazy applications. Friends for Sales. Pets. Gardens. Flirt. It was silly. It was fun. It was exactly what I needed at the time.

One of the flirty ones was called, “Are you interested?”. Over 8 million people from all over the world had this application. What happens is you click through profile pictures that Facebook gives you from users with the same application. Either click YES, or NO, on someones picture, that you like, or don’t like.

They know you clicked yes, and if you click yes too, you are a match. If you’re shy, you could be anonymous, but then they might never know you clicked on them. And what’s the point in that? I wasn’t shy. Most days. I, typically ran through Texas only pictures. I didn’t need any new friends from Turkey. I made friends with some neat people along the way and some not so neat (married guys pretending to be single-ugh). Good news, more experience. *yay me*

Well, one day, Jason’s picture came up. I remember exactly which one it was. It was just his face, and he was smiling. I remember thinking, my ex-husband, NEVER smiled. Certainly not in pictures, anyway. He actually had a very handsome smile, but it didn’t matter. He just wouldn’t. So here is this man, who had a smile from ear to ear. Of course, I clicked YES. I HAD too. I am sucker for smiles. Wouldn’t you have?

So…….he clicked yes too, and we were a match. Then, someone added someone to be their friend. I’m not sure who, neither of us can remember, doesn’t matter, it happened. We would comment or message each other through our pages, after a status update, or what not. He was going through a divorce. My heart broke for him. I had just crested a year of separation. Six months of being divorced myself. Divorce is the ugliest, most hurtful act in the entire universe, regardless of who wants it or why. My Divorce Story

A month later, I was a little more confident, but still wary. Jason posted an update. He asked if anyone was interested in Radiohead concert tickets. Well, I wasn’t, but I WAS interested in why HE wasn’t interested.

So, I sent him a message (that I still have). I knew one Radiohead song. CREEP. The only reason I knew that one, because performers would sing it on the reality show, ROCKSTAR INXS. I searched youtube and heard KARMA POLICE, oh yeah, I sorta knew that one too. I might have come across, to Jason, as knowing more Radiohead than I did? Oops. My bad. Turns out, he decides to use the tickets and take me. *woohoo*

We met Sunday, May 18, 2008 at his house on the driveway. I can still remember, distinctly, the look on his face, as I saw him standing next to his Jeep as the garage door opened. I was actually surprised! He looked better in person. He was over 6ft tall. I had thought he’d be short. Facebook doesn’t give you stats you know? I was wearing high heel wedge sandals. I was no where NEAR looking down on him, like I thought I would be, which is why I wore heels. *okay, okay, so I still had some guy issues, cut me some slack*

We talked the whole drive to Dallas and an HOUR waiting to park. It was madness. We had good seats under the awning at Super Pages. We were not extremely far back. The concert was AMAZING. I can’t describe it. I’ve tried. The lights, the lasers, the media, the songs, they all added up to an unbelievable stage show. I wasn’t a Radiohead fan. NOW I am. These guys were incredible. No wonder they sell out concerts.

It took us forever til 1am to get out of there. Through the long wait, we continued to talk, and learn about each other, with no weird silences. It was very comfortable.

I really liked him right away. I could tell he was a very sweet man. A good man. He was raised the way I was, with the same values, and mannerisms. A strong independent mother like mine. He had siblings like I had. The baby of the family like me. He was raised in the Church (so he probably knew way more than me), but he didn’t attend Church the last 11 years in his relationship. She was Catholic, but not practicing. He had two small daughters, age 2 and 4. I was very impressed but, I still wasn’t interested in a relationship with him, only because he wasn’t divorced. I felt he needed time to heal (like I did).

We agreed to continue going out, AS FRIENDS only. I didn’t want to date, he wasn’t ready to date. A friendship with dates would be perfect! We could hang out, no pressure.

Our second friend date was bowling. Neither of us had bowled in years, to say it broke the ice, is an understatement. We had a ball (heh). That night, I was getting in my car to leave. I had given him a hug good-bye. We had decided to meet again for a drive-in movie that Friday. We thought that would be kinda neat. Double feature, old fashioned. Surprisingly, before I shut my door, he leaned in and gave me a peck on the lips. I drove quickly away, thoughts frantic.

I was SO confused. Here we had made all these deals to be “just friends”. Where was kissing in the equation? Friends don’t KISS. Granted, it was just a peck but still….I was mad. Not mad enough not to go to the movies, mind you.

The movies were great. We saw Indiana Jones-The Crystal Skull and Ironman. We had popcorn and snacks. We were towards the back of the lot and I could see five other screens from the vehicle. A.D.D. or whatnot, I was distracted. I keep watching people and looking around. What was I doing? Oh yeah. The movie. So, he kissed me. Not a peck. A real kiss.

After that, I couldn’t remember what I was so mad about? Worried about? Friends? Huh? Who? What?

He had me at Radiohead. I just didn’t know it. Excellent provider, sweet man (computer man like my step dad), honest, hardworking (been at his job 11years), thoughtful, caring, clean, had a black lab (like I did). We had so much in common. When I was with him, all I could think about was HOW CRAZY his wife must be; to let someone like him go. I’d BEEN in the dating world (several times). You know what’s in the dating world? NOT HIM.

Our relationship began, and it was incredible. The only thing missing was that he held back. Not by much, just a tad, just enough to keep me unbalanced. Oh, I knew why. He was still married. He is a very honorable man. As much as he loved me, he had to honor his previous commitment. He could not REALLY love me. Not the way I needed. Not until he was divorced.

He required that final closure and it was taking forever. I began, unfairly, pinning my insecurities on him from my past relationships, making it tougher. I found being treated wonderful, uncomfortable. I made things worse, overanalyzing.

Someone in my Church group felt the need to advise me. I could not date him. I could not love him. I was an adulteress. I was keeping GOD from bringing he and his wife back together (despite the fact that he had bought HIS own house and I had questioned him endlessly, if reconciling was in the equation).

I had met his children by then, and loved them too. I didn’t want them hurt. IF I WAS IN THE WAY? Maybe, I needed to move. Jason and HIS WIFE, were taking the kids to the pumpkin patch the next weekend. I was torn. Was this it? Was this when God could move mountains? Was I in the way? Was I?

It took everything I had, I broke up with him. Over something stupid. I broke my own heart for HIM. For a possibility. For his children, that I cared deeply about. For his wife, in case she knew what a horrid mistake she had made. It was devastating to me, but RIGHT.

I braved love again. I found the perfect man for me, and I let him go.

Stay tuned for PART TWO…….Braving love again-THE BREAK.

Taking hold: Overcoming-my divorce(es)

OK. Time to dig down deep and pull up all the thick black crud buried deep down in the pit of my gut. Scrape away the residue and explain to you —my deepest darkest crime.

Not only being divorced ONCE. But to reprehensibly do it TWICE.

The shame is profound.

I have beat myself up over them, so many times, I have permanent bruises. I have HUGE indentations on my heart, that, one would call scars. No, I don’t think I will EVER forget the pain those created, nor will the pain of those divorces, ever truly be abolished. They will always remain intricately woven into my very being forever.

Have a I learned to live with them? Yes. Will I ever marry again? Yes. Have a I grown and learned from them? Yes. Would I be who I am today without them? No.

My divorces, explain who I am and why. They represent, an unchangeable, growth I had to endure.

First off, my life of divorce did not begin with my own divorce. It began with my mother’s divorce, before I was even born. My brother and sister have a different Dad. Then, my mom married my Dad, and my brother and I were born. Finally, she married my step dad when I was about 5yrs old. I was BORN into divorce. My life was swallowed up by it and produced from it.

My first marriage, I was very young. I met my first husband when I was 18, married him at 21, and had a baby daughter at 22. We were young and immature and barely starting our own lives. So, when things didn’t go EXACTLY as I wanted it, when my marriage faced many trials, and losses, I fled. I just checked out. It was easier to run than to work through the problems. What did it matter? I was a child of divorce and I survived. My child would survive. My life would survive.

The breakdown happened when I began conversing with a client. He was young, cute, and cool; something different, something new. I had a big crush. Rather than let it be that, a crush, and  just fun. I entertained the idea of a “relationship”. And that my friends,  knocked my marriage off the proverbial rails. Once the idea was entertained, I couldn’t keep my mind from it. And it was ALL I thought about. I pulled away from my husband and father of my child. I spent as much time away from him as I could. Hanging out with my crush and my single girlfriends. Frequently, we met out for drinks at pool bars or clubs in Deep Ellum. It gave me a distraction from the LOSSES I faced in my marriage.

The loss of life from losing pregnancy after pregnancy. The loss of a motherhood, that a husband, an emotionally challenged man, could not understand.  An unwillingness to work through it,  but rather just move on to someone else. I was 28yrs old. I’d like to say I really didn’t understand what I was doing, but rather, just imitated what I knew from my life experience. I’d LIKE to say that, but truth is, at any age, we know we can do better.

GRANTED, it was not ALL my fault. Yes, he was distant at times. He had stopped visiting my family with me. We had stopped doing things together. He was mesmerized by ESPN sports center which came on TWICE a night. He would take jobs out of town and be gone for a MONTH. I was taking care of a baby all by myself. I wasn’t happy. I was lonely. WHY, if I’m doing it all anyway, should I even bother? So I didn’t.

My marriage slipped through my fingers. The immediate bitterness and pain was enormous. What made it worse, I didn’t even want to TRY counseling. He was upset (understandably). I was defiant. I told myself I was doing him a favor. That he deserved someone that truly *loved* him. Man– what a crock. I destroyed a perfectly good marriage that could EASILY have been fixed. I ripped a baby’s father out of her life, and his, because I didn’t want to *work it out*. Instead, I chose to have fun with my new guy and my fun single friends.

Fun I had all right, barhopping, and carrying on when I didn’t have my daughter. I went to New Orleans with my crush. We hung out, drank, danced and clubbed. It was awesome. I was with who I wanted and it was a dream come true. In the long run? It was so NOT worth it.

He never committed. He couldn’t commit. Not to me anyway. I was great. I was a challenge. I wasn’t anything *serious*. How could I be? Didn’t I cheat on my marriage with him? Didn’t that make me untrustworthy from the get go?

He moved to Boise, Idaho the next year. I saw him one other time when I drove ALL the way to San Antonio while he was there on business. I keep in touch long enough to know he did eventually marry. I think he has two kids now. Point is, he never had my best interests at heart. If he did, he would have not pursued me either, out of respect for my marriage. Period.

In the meantime, I partied and partied and partied and partied and partied –it’s no wonder I didn’t die driving drunk thank you God– and partied and partied until, I met my 2nd husband in a bar Feb. 9 ,2001. I was 30yrs old.

He pretty much took possession of me right away. I was too nice to realize it. I was waaay too nice to catch all the red flags. He pretty much moved in right away. *why did I let him around my child? wasn’t he a stranger?* Needless to say, my judgment was on ice in a cooler of beer, and certainly not in my head. He told me the day after I met him, that he just got out of prison, not jail, PRISON. I thought he deserved a clean slate.

We had unbelievable chemistry. He spent every moment with me. His control was showering with me affection, and playing on my sympathies. He told me about his rough childhood. I felt bad for him. I just wanted to hold him and make his life better. I wanted to fix him. *I just knew I could*  He told me I was beautiful every single day.

We married one year later on our anniversary meet date, Feb. 9, 2002.  I felt out of this world, most of the time, until he had a bad day, which happened more and more because honestly? Bad luck followed him around. His attitude attracted many adversities.  I became distanced from my family. He wasn’t all that wonderful to them. He began to rage. We started using “recreational drugs” on the weekends. For him, I know it was to numb his pain inside. It didn’t work, he raged more.

But on rare days, when all was right in his world, that wonderfulness consumed me, and I lived for those days; those moments. I had to answer for everything. The wrong answer I was punished. This made me very careful about what I did and said. I never wanted him to preceive me as having a roving eye. I did not want to look or entertain ANY kind of other man idea. I learned that lesson already. But it didn’t matter, I was always under the microscope. One wrong move or decision that wasn’t up to his standard and he went OFF.

Life for me was a roller coaster. Constantly. I did everything I could to keep the peace. I kowtowed. I pleaded. I prayed for relief. I basically did everything I should have done in the first marriage but nothing worked. He was just adverse to being happy, helpless to help himself, and paranoid as all get out. Not to mention, so many other things that I just couldn’t FIX.

The drugs really affected our emotions. He could, after a few days on speed, go completely out of his mind. I was accused of cheating, taking trips with clients, bugging the house, and recording everything he said. He insisted I had two hard drives on my computer and would switch between the two while he walked up to hide my online “chats” with who knows who.

He broke that computer too many times to count, presumably, trying to find the hidden hard drive that didn’t exist. I was working from home.  I was so lucky I didn’t lose my job, which was the only means we had to live on. He was usually out of work or making very little money. Sleeping on the couch most of the day,  waking up long enough to turn the TV on loud, while I was talking to clients. I burned inside with the shame of it. The utter disrespect.

However, I didn’t want to be divorced again. I was determined NOT to repeat my first mistake. But I won’t lie, it was HELL.

One time, during an accusation, he knocked over a coffee table in front me, almost sending a splinter of wood through my eye. Another time, he was so angry he drove, recklessly, down a busy street screaming at me while I held my breath and waited for the crash that would probably kill me and leave my child motherless. It was the scariest and most hurtful time of my life. It was the DARKEST time of my life.

There were a few rays of light, that, were his good days. They were few and far between. He became more and more tortured inside. He constantly cycled; from begging me not leave him, to pushing me away, to being paranoid of his closure, to promising the world. I was dying. From the inside out. I thought I was crazy.

Crazy to live this way. Crazy NOT to leave. This new life affected my child too. My daughter turned ADHD. I would learn, later, that is a symptom of anxiety in children that go through a life change, like marriage, and moving to the other side of town. I thank GOD her Dad was there for her. He moved close to us. It saved her I just know it. She had some normalcy.

I did try to leave him. After a fierce blow up, I packed my car and my dog and I left. My daughter moved to her Dad’s. I actually moved in with my first husband’s mother and brother. That’s right, I moved in with my ex-mother-in-law. I was so grateful for her. She took me, and my black lab, Salem into her small house. I had no place else to go.

My second husbands mom had given us her house for our wedding present. She decided to sell it the day I left. She had never really given this house to us after all. At that point, in 2004, I knew my life was completely changed. I went from having my own place, all my bills paid off, money saved to marrying him and losing it all. As with anyone whose life is upside down,  I sought GOD and guidance.

I found it in The Bible and The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I found it in my Uncle Bub, we had long talks nightly. His wife, of over twenty years, had left him. It careened his life a different direction. He didn’t take care for himself and lost his left leg and most of his right toes, to diabetes. He was in wheelchair for life. What happened to him, made me think twice about leaving my husband. I could see his pain and his heartache. It tore me up.

I, finally, talked to my second husband again after a month. I still loved him. He swore he would be better, change, get counseling, etc. I believed him (again). The Bible said to honor your husband, to love him, and to to not get a divorce. I truly thought I was doing the right thing. I thought it didn’t matter that he didn’t believe in God. I would do the “biblical” thing and abide by what The Bible said. I would submit to my husband and stand by his side til death.

For two more years, things did not change. The cycle continued, worse now, because he barely slept. He raged MORE. He began doing badly at work. I suspected he was doing drugs again but could never prove it. Maybe he was just bi-polar, a disorder I knew nothing about. By this time, we had a bought a house (my dream home). I was deeply in debt. For the first time in our marriage, I REQUIRED him to contribute to our living.

He never paid a thing before, but I could not pay a house payment, two car payments, all the utilities,  and raise a daughter. I needed him to financially survive, but he continued to bring home about $200.00 a week, which only paid for his GAS and food. He continued to do badly at work. It was financially devastating, the hardest time of my life. I loved my house and didn’t want to lose it. I didn’t want to move my daughter (again). I wanted him to get counseling, to get help, to find God even, to banish the demons that tormented him and made him sick. We tried a therapist. He made fun of him and disregarded him as a quack. We visited a Church. He squirmed in his seat, awkward, uncomfortable and never went back again.

Finally, I hit my breaking point. I came home on Monday night after volunteering, at Cook Childrens, in the NICU; my God place. I had my Cooks shirt on and my volunteer badge as I entered the kitchen. He looked me up and down, then hatefully barked, “What’s that red mark on your neck?” I answered warily,  “I don’t know”. I was exhausted from his constant dictate. Honestly? I have reddish skin. I scratch and get a mark but the way he looked at me, was like I did something BAD. It FLOORED me. My nephew DIED in that unit. Did he really think I would use it as an alibi? A cover story, while I went off and had an affair. SERIOUSLY? Do people really do that? And if so, HOW? The malice in his eyes struck me to the deepest part of who I was.

I was done.

It took me months to get out. I had no where to go and no money. I had no nearby relatives to stay with. I prayed and prayed and prayed. My heart wrenched over leaving my home; the one I paid every house payment on. In the end, it wasn’t worth the pain and the misery to be there. Each day, answers to my prayers were revealed in solutions, doorways , paths, directions, LIGHTS, oh the glorious, lights of hope and strength and a future BRIGHT not dark.

The day I moved, seventeen, dear friends showed up with trucks and trailers to move me, and my daughter, out of a four bedroom house in two hours. Praise God. It would not have been possible without their help. The most amazing thing was, I didn’t have friends married to him. He had alienated me, from them all, the last six years.

Strangest of all, it snowed in Texas that April. It wasn’t even a normal Texas snow, barely visible, with a flake here or there. It was actual SNOW. I can still see it, like a dream, floating down; sometimes slow, sometimes fast. HUGE white flakes of fluff, rarely EVER seen, particularly in April. It was astounding. To me, it was a sign from God. He was saying “it’s what I want for you”. He was saying –my struggles were over. The Angels were shaking their wings, as an ending turned to a beginning.

Jeremiah 29:11
“For I know the plans I have for you, ” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give hope and a future.”

Truly, my life renewed on that snowy day in April. I was healed of the verbal, and mental abuse –suffered six long years. I was cleansed of my guilt, co-dependency, and my undeserving nature. I was given in it’s place, goodness, gladness, heartfelt JOY, and LOVE. Oh the wonderful LOVE I found. Love from a savior that WILL pick you up at your lowest point and give you NEW life. A savior that is always there, whether you believe in him or not. A savior that doesn’t just give you any life, but a life he CHOSE for you. One of peace and worthiness in his amazing grace. I found in myself, a life deserving and forgiven.

I now understand why abused women stay with their abusers. I now understand how hard it is to fight drug addiction. I now understand so many things, God wanted me to know. Needed me to know.

It’s been over two years since that last April. Today, my heart is full. My soul is at peace. I am truly blessed with ALL that life has to offer. I lost two marriages, but gained two lives, myself and my daughters. We are free. We are saved.

1 Timothy 6:19
Take hold of the life that is truly life.

May you always know true love………………………and true life.
God doesn’t want you to hurt.

If you are in an abusive marriage, seek help. If you are not abused, maybe just not happy in your marriage, know that it can change. Ask God into it. Let him perform the miracle of healing and restoring. Anything is possible, but not if you give up.

Believe and take hold.