Walk

Walk

It’s not the casserole. 

I am an audience member of my once-life. It’s that. Watching someone else play me. That. 

I don’t remember how to ride in the backseat. I know how to get out of a car at a stoplight. And I know how to walk. 

I know how to walk in painful shoes and not wince. I know how to step on a rock, twist my ankle, crumble to the ground in the middle of a busy road. I know how to get back up and keep walking. And keep walking. 

I know how to walk. And walk. And walk. And walk. 

Ask him. 

I don’t know how to hurt in socially acceptable ways. I don’t know how. 

Don’t expect me to ride along. I know how to walk.

I know how to drive myself. I know how to get away when I need to. I know how to walk away. That. 

I know how to feel invisible. I know how to feel invincible. That. 

Don’t look around, unless you can handle seeing that I’m here. And I’ll be here. And I’ll be there too. 

It’s not the casserole.

It’s the backseat. 

Advertisements

Ripple

Ripple

Even a pebble makes ripples, Dad says.  But I didn’t drop a pebble in the pond, did I, Dad? It wasn’t a pebble. 

It was a boulder, wasn’t it? It was two boulders, maybe. It was…a landslide. And the water may never be still again. 

Our life was a series of pedestals, and we tiptoed around on them. I guess I never did belong up there, trying hard to balance precariously alongside people who proudly live on pedestals, who look down at people below who never deserved to be up there. 

Who is a good person? Who? Who has a good heart? The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it? Only God. Not any person on any worldly pedestal. 

We were kids, 17 and 16. I remember well. Funny, smart, hardworking kids. Making bagels. Scrimping. Making plans. Listening to Radiohead. Thought we had the bull by the horns, maybe we did for a while, but no. I guess we caught the tiger by the tail instead.

People like wrapping loss up in little justification packages–

The problem is…I married an asshole. The problem is…she turned out to be crazy. We just, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into…

Bullshit. 

You know it is, and I know it is. 

There was love. There was more than one betrayal from both of us. There was forgiveness. There were hurts. There was a lot of interference from people who didn’t belong between us. People I let in; people you let in.  There was apathy. There was triumph. There were so many laughs. There were cries. Sure. 

Every marriage is two sinners who buckle down and refuse to give up on each other, against whatever odds they have both brought to the table. And we did that. For 15 years, we did that. 

I cannot tell you how many inaccurate, blatantly ignorant comments have been made to me over the years by so-called friends regarding my first marriage. 

“I think maybe you just never loved him.” “I didn’t know your marriage was a facade.” “Don’t say hi to me in public, Emily, because I’m not ready for that; I know what’s really going on.”

Oh do you? You all knew the intimate intricacies of my own marriage better than I did? Interesting. 

Where were you when we decorated our first apartment? Where were you when we took care of each other when we were sick? Where were you when I cried about his betrayals? Where were you when we held hands as I pushed our daughters into the world? Where were you when he forgave me for my betrayals? Because I don’t remember any of you being there for any of it. So you go ahead and believe your shallow lies. 

We became the ending only.

If every marriage is a refusal to give up, then every divorce is…giving up on each other. We did that, too. And none of you were a part of any of it. 

 “I will kill every feeling I have for you. You will mean nothing to me. Nothing.” You said it. And you meant it. And you live it. Fifteen years of mostly good memories, but none of it will matter. 

Used to was: I could do no wrong in your eyes, even at times when I knew I was so wrong.

“Emily, I’ve always been on your side. Even when no one else was. It was me. I was. You know that’s true. Even when we separated, people would tell me how it looked, what you were probably up to…and that’s never how I saw it. Not my Emily. No. ” He loosened his tie and unbuttoned his collar. Choked it back. Not one to cry.

But now. It seems I can’t do anything right. Every way that I handle things, you have a judgment, a criticism, a remark, a request. You see me through crap-tinted glasses. Everything about me is shit now. Okay.

I became the ending. The fleeting backstage deceit made the spotlight years a lie to you. My name becomes a knell that few dare to toll in your presence. Or maybe a joke…Yeah, probably a joke. 

I did do lots of wrong. And I’m sorry. Do you even know that I’m so sorry? I’ve said it, but you aren’t one to acknowledge any emotion. I remember your brother sobbing at your grandfather’s funeral. And you leaned over to him, “You don’t have to think about anything sad, and then you won’t cry.” Your solutions. 

Would it make me a better person to pretend my heart never loved you before? I don’t really trust people who do that. To turn every speck of love into loathing? Erase every photo. Block every memory. Never happened.

Should I pretend we don’t know each other? Maybe we don’t anymore. But we did. 

Tell it however you want to. No, you will choose to say nothing. You do that. I will keep the photos and memories and stories.

If I die first, don’t worry, no one expects you to cry. But when you die, I will quietly sit on a back row at your funeral. And I will cry. I’ll remember the full story. And I will cry.

guess i’m not the

guess i’m not the

People are so scared of…everything. So much damn fear. It’s exhausting.

The DHS investigators came over on Wednesday, May 11. Come on in, ladies. That’s all you will ever hear when you knock at this house. It’s not scary, don’t ever concede because you think it’s scary to have DHS visit.

They were so nice, much like the other two ladies who came in August last year when another Jewel in my eye called them over. I listened to them read the allegation from Nurse Benedict about Rebekah. Okay. Well, that was certainly full of half-truths, exaggerations, and easily-disproven lies.

I had my version organized and ready to email, much like I had in August when Clara had 10-12 flea bites. One of the nice ladies fed Rebekah her bottle while I emailed them tons of facts. I’ll relay both DHS experiences in full detail soon.

The DHS ladies explained to me that 85% of the claims they investigate are completely unfounded. It’s not a shock to them, but it is a lot of red tape and paperwork. They see a lot of spite, retaliation, petty-tattling, and outright lies.

I appreciate them and their jobs, and feel sorry that so much of their time has to be spent on claims that they know aren’t legitimate.

I just wanted to encourage my friends–don’t live in fear. And also, when you know some Billie Badass has her scope zeroed in on you–document, document, document. Be an expert on your own self, and on your children. Keep a detailed factual journal…because as nice as the investigators are, it’s hard to rely on your memory alone. And documentation holds up better in court.

We thought about retaliating. You know…that’s only human nature. Find out if Dr. Dilk knows how his nurse treats patients, and if he condones it. Report them to the state medical board for a review of how they mishandled our dealings with them. Pay the $1200 charge for 3 well-child checkups in $5 a month; harassment is expensive. But, no. No. Like so many other unwarranted stabs at us, Keith and I decided to walk away from it.

They are not our concern. They deserve no such attention.

Our focus, our true concern actually IS our beautiful daughter Rebekah Ruby Kate. She’s not a rope in a tug-of-war. She’s not a bundle of numbers. She is not a diagnosis. She is in fact…our beloved baby. (Side note…she weighed 8lbs and 8oz last night. She is getting small little chub rolls by her bum. It is our hope that she will be 8lbs 10oz for her appointment with the new doctor tomorrow…3lbs over birth weight at her 3-month checkup).

We removed Rebekah from their “care” on Friday May 6, because we are seeking a second opinion (appointment is tomorrow at 11am). Nurse Benedict left our May 9 appointment on the books (as well as 3 other appointments that she kindly made for us with no communication).

I assume she didn’t cancel them in an attempt to make us look like “no show” negligent parents. The thing is…I document EVERY detail of the truth when I start seeing the target lasers all over me. I have screenshots of every call she made to us, every call we made to her, days and times and call lengths…and notes on what was discussed.

I’ve had lots of friends and family message me individually with prayers and questions and true love and concern. I appreciate every one of you, and I will give updates. I will. It may take a few days after the appointment to get her next results in, and then it may take a few more days before I have the emotional energy to talk openly. But I will update. I will.

On Wednesday and Thursday, I was MAD. And it all makes me sad, too. Such a broken, backwards world. What are people’s true motivations and thought processes? Their TRUE ones. Keith and I both seem to have been born with an innate ability to piss off annoying people. Thank God we were also born strong.

Keith and I talked it over at length. The nurse may have crowned herself our personal browbeater…but we aren’t hers. Nope. Not going to do it. Part of me wishes we would’ve recorded some of her ludicrous calls. It was like trying to talk to an angry auctioneer.

We will not bow down to anyone, except God or Christ. This angers people, but it’s not a pride war. We aren’t playing her games. And then…I have to look for a benefit of the doubt, too. I have to try to think why, and I have to force myself to think…maybe it was just some CYA? But why the obvious lies?

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. Luke 16:10

But it wears me out. I’m tired today. I’m tired. I’m tired of using my shield and armor to deflect. I’m tired of the bullshit, but most definitely…not defeated.

img_4342-2
Rebekah at 10 weeks old; she is now 13 weeks old…but alas my phone/camera is broken
IMG_2069
a few hours after Rebekah’s beautiful water birth

A lovely song for a tired soul…

 

“A Bad Dream”

Why do I have to fly
Over every town up and down the line?
I’ll die in the clouds above
And you that I defend, I do not love

I wake up, it’s a bad dream
No one on my side
I was fighting
But I just feel too tired
To be fighting
Guess I’m not the fighting kind

Where will I meet my fate?
Baby I’m a man, I was born to hate
And when will I meet my end?
In a better time you could be my friend

I wake up, it’s a bad dream
No one on my side
I was fighting
But I just feel too tired
To be fighting
Guess I’m not the fighting kind
Wouldn’t mind it
If you were by my side
But you’re long gone
Yeah you’re long gone now

Where do we go?
I don’t even know
My strange old face
And I’m thinking about those days
And I’m thinking about those days

I wake up, it’s a bad dream
No one on my side
I was fighting
But I just feel too tired
To be fighting
Guess I’m not the fighting kind
Wouldn’t mind it
If you were by my side
But you’re long gone
Yeah you’re long gone now 

Velcro, Snaps, Ash

Velcro, Snaps, Ash

We were friends.

Was that true?

I think we were friends. 

I remember.

Weren’t we friends?

I was your friend.

Weren’t you m…

I remember spotting you doing pull-ups… 

“Gross. I need gloves. Do you ever shave?” I rub the gross off my hands. 

“Stubble grips my pants in place like Velcro.” Kareequa falls off the bar, shrugs unapologetically. 

“Oh is that it? I thought you were trying to get out of doing your pull-ups by grossing me out…thinking there’s no way she can touch these legs for a full 10. Sucky for you–I can’t be grossed out!” Was there ever a time we weren’t laughing?

“I want to get down to your size.” Kareequa faces the gym mirror and pulls her shirt up, pinching and jabbing at her smooth tan stomach. 

“You look good. I like your shape. Shit, you’re smaller than me now! You don’t want all THIS.” She had probably lost 60-70lbs, lots of hard work training with me and on her own. I pull up my own shirt and start tugging on my love handles. 

“Yeah but look at you from the side. Your stomach is so flat. Mine is huge, and I got this fupa.” She sticks her gut out exaggeratedly and rubs it like a pregnant belly. 

“Fupa? What the hell’s a fupa? I had a tummy tuck after Audrey. That makes it flat in front. So then when I gain, it all goes to the love handles. Cruel.” I flop my love handles out and teeter around like a little teapot. 

“Fat Upper Pubic Area…don’t Google images.” Some guy we don’t know pokes his head in the room we are standing in at the gym; he pivots out quickly. 

And we’re standing there with our flabs hanging out like…what? Come on in. 

______________________

“Make me pretty.” I flop into Kareequa’s salon chair. Always a mess, I’ve never sat in her chair looking even halfway decent. 

“Let me guess…you didn’t wash or brush your hair.” She popped the cape and draped it over me. 

“Can you not choke the living hell out of me with this thing? I look like a Barbie with her head smashed down onto her neck. I’m going to need more breathing room and some of my neck needs to be visible!” I thrash around under my cape. 

“You smashed your Barbie heads down?” I see a look of annoyed admiration in her eyes as Kareequa readjusts the choke snaps.

“Only when that little head-knob thing had broken off. Okay…and maybe I’d smash them down if I felt like Barbie was being a bitch that day. Oh? Who’s pretty now, Ms. No-Neck?!” She laughed, and as she freed my hair from its twisted and bound bun, her smile pursed into irritated determination. Natural curl…tangled like mad. 

We traded out services–I trained her; she did my hair. Neither of us tried to be the easiest client to deal with. But we had fun. And if she ever says I wasn’t one of her favorites, she’s lying. 

“Where’d I put my thinning shears? I need to make this brush out easier…” She didn’t really mind. She is very chill. In fact, I don’t think she ever got mad at me, only ever fake mad. 

I got mad once and stomped out. It was a misunderstanding about our appointment time. And I was having a bad day. I apologized, she shrugged it off, forgave me, and I made a few awkward, apologetic jokes about my temper…then it was forgotten. 

“Ewww!! Have the decency to turn me away from the mirror until I’m pretty again! I look terrible in this lighting without makeup on, and you’re about to frizz my hair into the blond Diana Ross. I want my sunglasses.”

“Dork. Okay. What’re we doing today?”

Who knows what I did that day? Bangs, lowlights, shoulder length, bleached out, ombré, balayage…over the 6-7 years we were friends, she did whatever I wanted and I always loved it. 

I love my hair. I’d rather find a new surgeon than a new hairdresser. And I loved you, loved you. You know I did.


______________________

So how does that work? I come to your house crying. I ask you questions because the details look bad to me. I want to know–is it you? 

And then you fire me as a client. That didn’t make it obvious. 

Ohhhh because I’m crazy. Oh okay. That makes sense then. 

I was crazy. I’ve always been crazy fun. I got crazy sad. And then 6 weeks later when he tells me it IS you, who was crazy that night? Not me. 

I bet you wish I hated you. Sometimes I wish I could. Well, I don’t hate you. I got really hurt. That’s what happened. THAT is what happened. 

If you want to look for reasons to hate me, you can find some. It won’t be hard. I’m no angel. But I didn’t give you any reasons. I really didn’t. 

I know enough about cheating to know…it wasn’t about me at all. Not about anything I did wrong. Not about how I would feel. 

It’s a cancer that takes over, and it’s not even fun. It wasn’t special, and you didn’t win any prize. 

Pour gas over it all, flick a match over your shoulder. Don’t look back. 

It’s okay. And I’m okay. 

Turns out…ash is some of the best fertilizer.


Shakedown

Shakedown

You feel like everyone knows. You hate the bastards that knew all along. No one is my friend? No one could tell me? No one could kindly walk me to the exit door and discreetly whisper? No one? Thanks.

You are a deer crossing a road you’ve crossed many times before. And slam. A truck crashes into you. You never saw it coming.

I’m all right. I’m all right. Didn’t hurt that bad. Your back half is mangled. You try to convince everyone that you’ve always wanted to try walking with just your front two legs. Your friend abused his position in your life, betrayed your trust, didn’t even know they were bulldozing together and now there’s a shack being built from the scraps.

But he didn’t make you promises. She did. It hurts no matter which window you look in. 

I guess everyone would prefer that you run off into the woods, to heal or die out of sight. For the love of God, don’t drag your broken ass around in plain sight; people have to look away. They can’t bear it. Eye contact is a precise arrow. 

Well too damn bad. Sometimes we have nowhere to go hide, and we have to bitterly think–I’m sorry if the very sight of my existence causes awkwardness. I am alive. I’m still breathing. I don’t have the luxury of taking a month vacation. So here I am. Look away if you can’t look at me.

Ecce homo. Behold the man. Dancing the clumsy ballet of a damaged deer. And you don’t have to run into the woods. You don’t have to. 

I know how it feels to find the door locked. I know how it feels to peer into the window from the outside, fogging up the glass of a house where you used to feel safe and welcome.

I know you don’t want sympathy.

I know. 
.

.

.

So here are some songs…

“I Gave You All” Mumford & Sons

“I’ve Got Friends” Manchester Orchestra

“I taught myself how to grow old” Ryan Adams

“Crystal Ball” and “Bad Dream” Keane

“I know” Jude

“Where I stood” Missy Higgins

“So you don’t have to love me anymore” Alan Jackson
  

Black Snowflakes

Black Snowflakes

“No, I can’t go to that. My girls play soccer on Thursday nights.” Celebrate Recovery, recovery from what? Why would I go to that? I wasn’t the addict.

But I was. We both were. Cheating is an addiction. Codependency is very addicting and unhealthy.

I didn’t need a meeting or a help group. My husband left me; he needed the help.

Do I sound codependent much? I didn’t even know what that meant. I thought that was someone who turned a blind eye and let people walk all over them.

I went to my girls’ soccer game instead of Celebrate Recovery. I stood there in the parking lot, and I couldn’t even quit crying behind my sunglasses. I felt as though I couldn’t take steps toward the ticket booth. Just frozen there, crying.

I went back to my van, texted the necessary people to handle the details of my girls’ rides. I drove myself to Celebrate Recovery, and I never missed a Thursday for 6 months straight.

I took an honest look at myself and my behaviors…in both of my first two marriages.

I started going to a CR study group on Sunday mornings too.

Sometimes you miss soccer games.

______________________________

I had turned into someone I didn’t want to be. I sat there with a highlighter and a phone bill. Whose number is this? I made notes. I called numbers. I compared the notes to my mental calendar. I intercepted an email of a hotel reservation. I called hotels and had them fax me receipts.

Everything was painfully out of my control. Wet sheetrock crumbling. 

I even drove straight to Kareequa’s house when my heart told me it was her.

It was her. But God must’ve thrown a cloak of invisibility on her that day because I stood there and believed her lies, left feeling even crazier. Demetrius and Kareequa would both admit the infidelity to me and to her husband in two months. I’ll get to that night eventually.

But the day I drove there, I ended up just feeling like a pathetic lunatic, standing there with Clara on my hip, in my sweatpants, crying.

Kareequa behaved kindly. She was wide-eyed. She offered me a bottle of water. She hoped I didn’t think it was her. She was very sorry I was going through this. She even gave me some friendly marital help–maybe we should…watch some porn together??

No. No. I shook my head. Lowering my standards of acceptable behavior wasn’t something I wanted to do. That is not the solution for me. Thank you for your suggestion, but acting like a lunatic is the route I’ve chosen here. It wasn’t a great solution either, I don’t recommend it.

Kareequa’s friend/costylist Brokeesha called me and scolded me for showing up at Kareequa’s house to confront her and to ask her–woman to woman…is it you?

Brokeesha explained–listen, we are YOUR friends; it doesn’t matter that you see late night texts and photos sent and calls from us on Demetrius’ phone bill; stop being crazy.

Was Brokeesha in on it? Who knows? But she was right about one thing–I did need to stop trying to figure it out. It would all fall in my lap soon.

Maybe I had it all wrong anyway. Maybe it was just as innocent as Demetrius said–the reservation was just a guys’ night out…to see a Bret Michaels concert…and they got a hotel room…with a one-King suite…for a slumber party, I guess…

I tried so hard to believe that.


_________________________________

My words are some of the facts. You don’t have to like them. You don’t have to read them. Some of these facts are just so ridiculous that I accidentally drop my guard and laugh.

I called people from the phone bill to find out who they are; I’m sure some of them had to know it was me calling. Heh. Shrug. 

And…a slumber party? Seriously? You have to find moments to laugh. 

But facts are not the truth. The fact is–we are all hopeless sinners without Christ; the truth is–we can all claim forgiveness.

Forgiveness for adultery. Forgiveness for lying. Forgiveness for being a fearful lunatic wife. Forgiveness for masks. Forgiveness for being demanding and controlling. 

Sometimes wives scramble around trying to protect their family. I get that. I’ve done that. I’ve seen that.

I know some of my blogs might be painful and embarrassing to read. It was painful and embarrassing to live these facts too.

But there it is. 

Demetrius became someone I didn’t know, didn’t want to know. And I, in turn, had become a fearful private investigator. Not a version of myself that I ever, ever want to be again.

I got too obsessed with trying to “save” both of us. I can admit that.

You can only control you. And no matter how hard you try to hold on and keep the crumbling walls held together with glue and tape, if one spouse wants it to be over…he will be able to tear it all down with his own hands no matter how hard you resist.
_________________________________

It was a chilly morning, I started a small fire in my fire pit on the back deck. I held onto my big stack of papers–the phone bill details, my notes, my highlighted crazy, hotel receipts.

That fear and craziness had a grip on my heart. Why didn’t I want to burn this crap that was causing me so much anxiety? I knew I needed to do it.

Finally, I put the papers into the fire. They curled and blackened and flaked off in charred bits, fluttered away like black snowflakes.

So much work. So much crazy. And not a bit of it changed the outcome.

I felt peace wash over me.




Voices

Voices

Convicting is not condemning. There’s always forgiveness. I have to remind myself to soak up forgiveness daily.

Facts can feel very condemning; I know I have a long list of my own condemning facts. Dad always said, “Facts aren’t the truth; only God’s word is truth.” Forgiveness is the truth. 

Obsesses is spelled incorrectly in the meme, but I’m posting it anyway. I see what they did there; I like a little irony.