Friday, February 24, 2012


I am putting off writing the next part in the February 16, 2011 story. It is more painful to recall than I thought it would be. I'll get to it this weekend, maybe.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share some of the crazy dreams I've had lately. It seems that the recent drama mixed with Valentine's Day and too much T.V. really stirred up my imagination.

First, I had a dream that I went on a date with President Obama. That's weird, right? Even in my dream I was wondering how I ended up on a date with the President. I think I said something to him once, like, "Gosh, you're kinda old for me . . . and aren't you married?" It didn't phase me at all that he was the leader of our nation, but then I've always aimed high (which is how I ended up with an unfaithful, sex addicted teacher in rural farm country).

A few days later, I had a very convoluted dream that I was both Anna and Ethel from PBS's Downton Abbey. If you haven't watched this show, go check it out. A quick explanation: Anna marries a man who is accused of murdering his ex-wife and she stands by him through the trial. Ethel gets knocked-up by a soldier and abandoned with the baby (this is the early 1900s when no one would give a job to an unmarried mother). I don't think it takes much imagination to see why I identify with these characters. I take more to Ethel (in all her self-righteous stupidity) than I do to the purely devoted Anna, mostly because I've been in Anna's shoes and got burned. I want to scream at her, "HE DID IT! HE KILLED HER! RUN AWAY!"

Lastly - the craziest one of all - I dreamed that I was spending time with a man who was devoted and loving. He put his arm around me so naturally and adoringly. He was relaxed and simple in his manners. He was just content to be with me, without the need for a sexual goal. Just a good man, imagine that.

The dreams themselves can be shrugged off and forgotten, but the greater meaning comes from the theme: relationships and dating. For the first time since all this started, I'm thinking about my relationship with my husband in the past tense. I'm identifying with women who have been separated or abandoned by their mates. My imagination is playing with scenarios of how to start a new romance. Up until now, I haven't thought about leaving or divorce or anything along those lines. It's strange to have my self-conscious working ahead of me. Is there really a part of me that is ready to move on already? If there is, then it is the minority because most of me feels a little nauseous at the thought of any kind of romance (and downright opposed to anything sexual). But then, I also feel like these dreams are a signal of where I might be heading . . . Strange.

Or maybe it was just the Valentine's Day subliminal messages that infected my colorful dreamscape.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February 16, 2011 (Part One)

I remember quite clearly the moment my husband called to tell me that his boss, the principal at the high school, had sent him home because a student had reported him. Recalling that moment is so clear that I can feel the blood draining from my cheeks now just as it did on that day. 

It was a lovely day in February. I was still running on a birth-high since I had Sabrina just three weeks earlier. Sabrina was so perfect, so calm and content. Elise, my first daughter, was happily playing. She was content, too. It was a good day until he called. 

I had a visitor at that time. She worked with a local non-profit that provided developmental information for parents. I was enjoying her visit. But her presence made the situation so strange. I answered the phone, knowing from the caller ID that it was Jake. It was odd that he was calling in the middle of the school day. He said he was coming home and his voice sounded strained. I can't recall the exact words he said. He was babbling a little. His words were muffled, soggy. Was he crying?

I was just staring at my visitor while I was still on the phone. Normally, I'm a bit over-dramatic when things get stressful, but not that day. Some part of me that I had never met before said, Act normal, Evie, and send her away. This is not something you want to share with outsiders. This is something you protect and bury as fast as possible.
Before that moment, I thought I'd be the type of person who would turn my own mother into the police if she stepped out of line. I'm such a believer in rules. And yet, when the moment came, I instantly put up the shield of protection - at least for the moment.
I told Jake that we'd talk when he got home and hung up. With smiles and apologies, I sent the visitor away. I turned on the television to distract Elise from the serious conversation that I anticipated.

Jake arrived home with a red, tear-streaked face. I hugged him. I wanted so much to take away whatever bad situation had just occurred. I wanted to protect him. I know that seems ridiculous because he is the one who broke the law, the one who was in a position of responsibility - he was to be blamed, not pitied. And yet, he was the one I knew and the one I loved and he was in distress.
He was babbling still, through a runny nose and tears. He seemed so much like a confused child. I tried to listen to what he was saying. He said the girl had told him that she had a crush on him. She had tried to kiss him, but he had stopped her. He told her that he couldn't risk his family and career. She had gone to the principal to report him.
 It was so hard to understand him. This was not the man I was used to. Jake usually took pride in being calm in any stressful situation. He never let his cool down. It would have been a relief to see him so sincerely emotional, except that it meant a whole world of hurt was coming down on him.
I told him to take a moment to calm himself and we would talk after. For just a minute, he sat at the dining table. Then he got up and went to his office, saying that he had to do some things. I was perplexed that there was anything he needed to do that would come to mind in such an awful situation. But then, stress always drives him to work hard and keep busy. I just comforted myself that he would come to me when he was ready.
I was worried, but it was easy to find things to distract myself with. For God's sake, I had a three-week-old baby and a two-year-old! The next thing I knew, Jake was sitting on the sofa with his business laptop in front of him and the television turned to one of his favorite channels. It was like it was any normal day of the week.
I sat down with him and asked what he was doing.
"Scrubbing the hard drives." That answer challenged my not-so-technical brain a little. I took a second look at the laptop. I noticed, as I looked closer, that it was hooked-up to a portable hard drive that he used as a back-up sometimes. I realized he was erasing it and that made me a little uncomfortable.

But then, I thought about how he liked to look at porn on the internet sometimes. He's just scared and trying to make himself look better in case the school investigates him, I thought. I felt a sense of relief as I convinced myself that he was overreacting. [Now I look back at this moment and think I'm an idiot. A very trusting, lovable idiot].

I said, "Don't you think that will make you look guilty?" He just shrugged.

As the day wore on, I convinced myself that this was all just a misunderstanding. A teenage girl had misplaced emotions for her teacher. The school Superintendent would see that, right? They would clear it all up and he would be back at work the next day.

Later, he had a meeting to go to. It was a community business development group that he had recently joined. He was unsure if he should go or not. I encouraged him to go, live life as normal. "Nothing is likely to happen tonight, right?" So he went.

It wasn't a half hour later that I received a call asking for Jake. The caller, a woman, didn't identify herself, so I was a little on guard. I told her to call back in a few hours. Ten minutes later she called again and identified herself as our Chief of Police. She said it was really important that she talk to him. I told her where he was and his cell phone number.

As luck would have it, Jake's cell phone had a technical issue where it would regularly shut itself off, so he never knew that the police were calling him. As he left the meeting, he called me and I told him to just drive to the police station. As I mentioned before, I am a rule follower. I was so good at "obeying" that fascist dictators would have loved me. I just had a lot of faith in the system and law enforcement. I still do to a degree, but I won't jump so quickly to cooperate anymore.

I didn't here from Jake for hours. I paced aimlessly around the house, holding Sabrina in my arms, trying to keep my mind busy. I called the police department a few times, but they would only tell me that he was there and nothing more. I called Kay, his mom, to see if she knew anything different, but she didn't. At one point, I was so anxious that I begged her to go to the police station, but she said that he didn't need his mother watching over him. In hindsight, she was right, he needed a lawyer to tell him to be quiet.

The police talked to him about the girl. He was open with them. He told them more about the incident than he told his wife. He admitted that he had been talking with her for a while (weeks, I think, but maybe longer). He admitted to friending her on Facebook. He even explained to them how he had run his hand down the front of her chest on the outside of her clothes when she had tried to kiss him (he conveniently left that part out when he told me). They had him write a letter of apology to the student. When I heard about the letter months later, I really wondered at the intelligence of this man - did he not see that this was just a ploy to get a written confession?! Maybe I have watched too many cop shows.

They asked him for permission to view his computers. He agreed and called to forewarn me that they were coming. Just thinking about what comes next raises my pulse and my temper . . . But that will be Part Two of the worst day of my life.          

Friday, February 17, 2012

Dear Jake,

(written 2-16-2012)

Today marked a year since you were first arrested. I thought I would be angry and bitter, and I am, but I'm also very sad.

I was happy right after Sabrina was born. I thought you were, too. I thought we were starting to work out all our problems. I thought we were going to be okay.

Now it doesn't seem like anything will be okay. I feel like we're going to lose everything we were working for. I thought I could at least keep our home and a place in the community, but even those seem questionable now. 

I miss the man I thought you were. I believe you could have been that man without all the hidden stuff, if you really wanted to be. You could have gotten help. You are smart enough to know that you were breaking the law and endangering your kids.

I know the chances are high that you will go to prison. I just hope that you will get treatment at some point and enter the world again as the man you should have been to begin with.

As much as I love and miss you, I can't forgive your lies and betrayals until you prove that you can live in a decent and honest way.

You might want to hold onto this letter because I don't plan to say these things again in the near future: you are loved and missed by more than just me.


P.S. Don't respond to this letter. I don't want your explanations and excuses.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Anniversary of the Day it All Went to Hell

I am so tired today. I can barely function because I just want to close my eyes. But sitting still, even sleeping, gives my brain too much freedom to contemplate this whole awful situation. So, I thought that my weariness was a result of lack of sleep. As I went through our morning routine, I really thought that I was okay emotionally. I was just tired.

I managed  to get the girls to daycare early. Then I went to Jake's parents' house. Down in their basement is where he lived during last year's legal nightmare and there is a make-shift office where he managed his personal business. I thought I should check his office to see if anything important was left hanging. The first room I came to was the bedroom. He hadn't been sleeping there for months because work release requires that he sleep in jail, but the room still held evidence of him: some dirty shirts on the bed, some mail, chapstick, pocket knife, and the like. I thought I was doing fine, but walking into that room was like taking the thin veil of strength away from my character. I crumpled onto the floor. I scooped up his dirty shirts and hugged them. I was like a hysterical grieving widow, moaning and sobbing. 

I dragged myself to the office after a few minutes. Like magic, the tears went away and I felt level again. I picked up the few pieces of paper that looked really necessary. I seemed to have a hard time finding a way to hold the papers and looked down to realize that I was still hugging the shirts from his room. I went back to the room with the excuse that I should look at the mail in there. Again, I fell apart. This time, I told the room and the empty bed that I wanted him back. 

I went back upstairs and cried with his dad for a minute. But Big Rev kept talking about how he's lost his help around the farm and how he'll have to sell the farm now because there is no one to inherit it. I think it is just his cover story for his own grief, but the selfish nature of it (whether real or not) was too disgusting to me. I left. 

In the car I started sobbing again. Finally being alone, I let loose. "I want him back! DAMN IT, I WANT MY HUSBAND BACK! I WANT MY HAPPINESS BACK! WHY, DAMN IT! Why? Why, God? Why . . . " 

My friend called just as I was running out of steam. She has a knack for good timing. She calmed me down, comforted me, gave me strength. Then Kay called. The first thing she asked, as if it was the most important thing in the world, was if I had taken the dirty shirts on the bed. I said yes. She said that she had pulled them out of the laundry basket and left them, "Because sometimes," her voice cracked, "sometimes when people are grieving . . . " We both started crying. I knew before she said it that she kept them to preserve his scent. And I admitted to her that I took them for that same reason. Through choking sobs and sniffles, she made me promise not to wash them. I have never before known her to be so sentimental. 

Then she asked me for permission to wash his dirty socks and we both laughed. 

Today is the anniversary of the first time that Jake was arrested. Big Rev and Kay and I didn't need to acknowledge that to each other. We all feel the grief more strongly today for good reason. I was going to use this post to tell you about what happened that day, one year ago, but it will have to wait a day or two. I'm still just so tired and I don't think I can face it right now. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Are you going to stay?

That is the question everyone seems to be asking me since the paper came out today with Jake's mugshot on the front. I saw the paper while I was at the bank asking for an application. Good timing. Would you like to hire me? Oh look, that's my husband!  I actually sat down, right there in the bank waiting room and read the story. I don't think anyone noticed me. Then I laid the paper down face first. I would have liked to throw it away, but it wasn't mine to toss.

But back to the topic. Am I leaving? I don't know. Everyone who cares about me is saying, "It's time to go." I heard this a lot last year and I kept saying, "Not yet. There's still a chance he'll get probation and be able to be a part of the family." And he got work release, which is almost the same thing, but it's gone again now. Now it's more likely that he'll go the prison for a very long time. So it seems I'm on my own.

Jake's own mother told me to just sell the house. That makes me so sad because it is my home. I love this house. I don't want to give it up, but I can't afford the mortgage without Jake's help. But actually, I can't even sell the house because it is in his name.

Even without the mortgage to worry about, we have massive credit card debt (spending was his other addiction). I'm in trouble and I can't see the light yet. The other day, I was obsessively going through my financial options and I figured that I would have to make $16 per hour to pay all the bills (and that was after I used my emergency money to pay down our highest credit card bill and then froze most of the other credit cards). We live in a rural area where most of the jobs that I can apply for would pay $9 maybe. Just to clarify for the sake of my pride, I have a graduate degree, but I would have to move to the jobs that would use it.

So I guess these are my options: stay and sink in the mire of debt or go somewhere else to stay afloat. It sounds like an easy choice, right? But what about the community I have come to love? What about my support system that I have here? Those won't move with me.

Despite my reluctance to move, I see the writing on the wall, so I've started to pack. Well, actually, I'm continuing the packing I started. I'll pack his stuff first and then mine. Hopefully, I'll be ready to go when the time comes.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

The Dreaded V-day

Seven years ago today, I received flowers from a man that I had only talked to on the phone for a few weeks. It seemed like a good love, formed from a real friendship.

One year ago, that same man was enjoying a moment of sexual tension with one of his teenage students in his classroom. I was at home with our newborn baby and two year old child. I didn't mind that he didn't bring me any flowers or gifts. I was just content to have a kiss. He seemed restless that night. We both had some insomnia, during which he said to me, "A student told me that she has a crush on me."

"Hmm, well, just stay away from her, okay? Don't give her any ideas that you share her feelings." I had no clue what was really happening. I was purely worried that he would give the girl the wrong impression by being nice to her. Jake was the kind of teacher that teenagers liked and sometimes he seemed to forget he wasn't a teenager himself.

Someday I'll tell you about things that Jake had said to me that will make you wonder if I'm the world's biggest idiot. I had more than enough evidence in front of me to know that Jake had at least one inappropriate relationship with a student before I married him. And yet, the facts seemed fuzzy and the Jake I knew seemed so trustworthy that I honestly missed the boat completely. In hindsight it seems so silly to say that I didn't see this coming . . . but I didn't. I remember falling asleep that night feeling thankful to have my strong husband by my side. He was the husband who was so honest with his wife that he told her uncomfortable things, such as a student with a misplaced crush. I was truly happy that night.

Today turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. I finished filling out Elise's first set of valentine cards for her friends at daycare as we hurried to get ready this morning. I made myself a double-sized mug of coffee because I missed some sleep last night. I bought some chocolate and ate it during my therapy appointment. I cried a little. I went back home and searched online for jobs to apply to (dismal pickings). Then I picked the girls up from daycare. I stopped at the florist, thinking it would be nice to treat ourselves to some flowers, but when I saw the prices I almost cried again. Elise was disappointed that we didn't get something, so it was lucky that the grocery store had mini roses and balloons on sale. I'm going to finish off my chocolates and go to bed. No more worrying about the man who ruined V-day.

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Advisement Hearing (and Aftermath)

Jake was advised of his rights and charges today in court. I attended it with his parents, Big Rev and Kay. It was very hard. First, it was two hours late in starting. Second, it was painfully obvious that this is not going to have a good ending for our family.

The judge gave Jake his rights (a lawyer, silence, yadda yadda). Then he read the charge: sexual assault on a minor. There were no details, like when or who, which we were hoping for. Then he allowed the district attorney to argue bail. She asked for a $500,000 bail based on factors that included his character and his concealment of this alleged crime during last year's court dealings (his previous charges). She also discussed some confusing things, such as a possible ethics violation because Jake didn't disclose this alleged crime to his previous lawyer. Really, much of what the DA talked about was confusing and, in my view, not relevant. I mean, really, is a person required to disclose previous crimes to their lawyer if they didn't hire the lawyer to deal with those crimes? Either I misunderstood or I'm horribly ignorant.

The part that made us all jump was when the DA said that the victim had received 17 death threats by phone since she reported Jake. Jake looked at us with this horrified, questioning expression. I threw up my hands to show that I knew nothing about it. The DA pointed out that they know from the jail phone records that Jake didn't make the threats, but she suggested that he asked someone else to do it. The mere suggestion that any of us might be blamed for the threats made us panic. But we all came to our senses enough to realize that phone records are easy for law enforcement to get, right? Hopefully this will be cleared up quickly.

Right after I wrote that, Kay called to let me know that an officer was on his way to my house. She said he just wanted Jake's cell phone and that he was very polite.

The officer arrived 10 minutes later. I opened the door and handed the phone out. He said he was investigating the death threats and wanted to ask me questions. I said that I'd prefer to talk only with my lawyer present, but I added that I didn't make them and I didn't ask anyone else to make them.

He asked me if I have the victim's phone number. That was an interesting question because I have a guess who reported Jake and, if I'm guessing right, I do have her number. But they didn't say the victim's name in court, so I don't know for sure. It would be a simple thing to say, "Is this the number you mean?" Only, I can't do that for the following reasons:
  1. She asked me not to ever mention her to the police. 
  2. I have reasons to doubt her honesty.
  3. I don't want to add fuel to the fire.
  4. I don't want to be on a suspect list for death threats. 
  5. She is an adult and doesn't need my help to talk to the police.
Thank God for the first reason because all the other ones are pretty selfish or lame, right? (This whole situation reminds me of a fight I had with Big Rev a while back)

Anyhow, when he asked me if I had her number, I said, "They didn't say the name of the victim in court, so I don't know if I have her number. Can you tell me her name?"

"No ma'am."

"Then I can't tell you if I have her number." Dead end road.

He then asked if I could think of anyone who might make death threats. He suggested that it might be someone who just wants to help Jake, but is going about it the wrong way. I had this sudden thought that it might be another one of his former students, maybe someone who idolized him. I was really thankful in that moment that I didn't know any of his students. What if it is some young person thinking that this is on the same level as a prank phone call? Will they be dressed in orange, waiting in front of the judge to hear their charges soon? God, that would be so sad. I don't want to think of any other lives being ruined because of Jake's actions.

Finally, the officer left with my promise that my lawyer would call him tomorrow.

I called Big Rev and Kay to reassure them about the visit. I repeated to Big Rev that the officer had said that they were unsure which county would lead the investigation into the death threats. Big Rev mentioned that the woman we think made the accusations - the one whose phone number I have - was his student when he taught in a neighboring county. I told him that couldn't be right because the charges were brought in our county and they only press charges in the county where the crime occurred. By the end of our conversation, we lost our conviction that we knew who the accuser is. On one hand, it sucks because we don't want to find out that he has any other victims. On the other hand, I'd be so relieved to find out that the accuser is not the woman I've talked to simply because I want to stay out of the drama. Again, selfish selfish selfish.

It hurt Big Rev that I suggested that this was yet another woman. I probably came off as callous to him. But really, I have come to accept the likelihood that Jake has more victims then he has admitted. It just isn't going to surprise me if they start lining up to accuse him.


Sometime today, there will be an advisement on the charges for Jake's most recent arrest. At the moment, we have no idea what he was arrested for.

I sit here at the computer in the mornings with Sabrina on my lap, trying to wake her up a little. I can't take a shower until she is awake enough to sit on the bathroom floor and play. Such is the life of a single mom. (By the way, any moms who have steady partners that don't help them do things, like take a shower. That's a red flag. Just remember, you hold the baby every time he showers, right?)

So while I gently wake my baby, I go through emails and catch up on stuff. Well, this morning I was going through old gardening pictures. I came across some family pictures I scanned for Jake's parents two Christmas's ago. And there was Clyde. Clyde was the farm hand that molested and sexually abused Jake and his sisters. I had three pictures of him being goofy with bananas and a lamp shade. (Another red flag. When a grown person makes a fool of themselves to win over your children, be damned sure you are always aware of when they are with your children and what they are doing.)

I thought I had actually deleted those pictures long ago because Jake told me that Clyde had possibly hurt his oldest sister (I don't know if he just didn't remember his own abuse at that time or he just didn't want to tell me). But there were the pictures of Clyde smiling at me.

"This is your fault," I said, thoroughly knowing that I was talking to a computer screen. I deleted the pictures. No one needs Clyde in their lives.

Really, I can't blame Clyde for everything. He molested all of Jake's siblings, and yet Jake is the only one to follow in his footsteps. Jake has made his own choices. I just wish the cycle of sexual sickness would end. How many of Jake's victims are continuing in his footsteps?

Better question: How many victims does Jake have? We might find out today.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Game Changes Again

Change. How many sayings are there about change being inevitable? Change is the only thing you can really count on in life. The only person who likes change is a baby with a dirty diaper (that was one of Jake's sayings, sigh). I think there are a few songs about change, too. 

I like to step back from myself and try to look at the big picture. It's really impossible because everything I look at is tainted with my woes and wishes. But still, I try to be objective every once in a while. What I see from my mountaintop view is that I'm not that unusual. First, there are many other people wrapped up in the pain of my own situation. Stepping back again, though, there are many women in this world who are married to sex offenders. But go back one more big step and I see that everyone has pain in their lives - duh. Is there a person on earth who has made it through life without one big painful, family splitting, finance ruining, heart breaking drama? At this point, I actually start to wonder why I'm so shocked at my own circumstance.

I mean, I could have never guessed that the source of my pain would be a sex offending, sex addicted husband, but, hey, it had to be something. Sometimes, I role through my mind all the other terrible situations the Universe could have handed me. Frankly, I'm thankful that I'm not dealing with sickness or death (even though some days I have wished him dead). Strangely enough, after my exercise in objectivity, I always come to the conclusion that I am actually well-suited for this particular painful experience. It stops my whining and crying and helps me breathe.

In calm moments, I start developing new ways to frame my life perspective. Ironically, this last week I was playing with a new goal: embrace change. This week, I think that motto is a little insane, like embracing a feral skunk. But if I could figure it out, maybe I would live my life more peacefully no matter what the Universe throws at me.

And then the screw turns again. Jake's arrest has me suffering, although not nearly as badly as last year. I still intend to tell you all about last year, but right now I'm supposed to be getting ready for church. It's funny, I've been praying more in the last two days, but I really don't feel like going to church. People will ask, "How are you doing?" without knowing what has happened and I will answer, "Not so hot. How are you?" I don't mean to be rude, but I don't do fake smiles and I definitely don't lie. 

Friday, February 10, 2012

Jake was arrested.

I have nothing more to say right now. I just want to survive the weekend without falling to pieces.

The New Investigation

The District Attorney's Investigator called me today. Somewhat apologetically, he said, "You may remember me . . ."

"Yes, from one of the worst days of my life," I replied, referencing the night that he basically interrogated Jake and me in our own kitchen.

He then asked if I would answer a few questions pertaining to a new investigation into new accusations against Jake. I felt faint and started shaking, like all the blood was leaving me.

I said, "Please, I can't." I started crying. I was having flashbacks of the year I just went through - the year I thought was over!

He said something like, "You could help these young women who are victims . . ." Women?! Multiple women? 

I managed to keep my head attached and told him I would talk to my lawyer first. That's who I called next and cried to her, "Please tell me I don't have to talk to him. I can't go through this again!" She instructed me to call him back and plan an appointment to meet with him, but only with her present. 

Talking with him again, he gave me some BS about, "I don't know why you need to talk to a lawyer. You're not in trouble. This won't take long. I'm confused about why you think you need a lawyer to protect you - do you have information?" He talked in a simpering manner, like he was so friendly and caring. He chose the wrong act to pull on me because insincere kindness makes me mad.

I snapped at him, "I went through hell last year in court with Social Services. Don't judge me for wanting the guidance of a lawyer!" I gave him her number and hung up.

My lawyer ended up talking to him on the phone. She invoked spousal privilege for me and told him that I had no personal knowledge of anything Jake may have done. Then she called me back to tell me that I didn't need to meet with him after all and he is not allowed to contact me directly. God, I was so relieved.

Then she reminded me that investigators are allowed to lie and manipulate (like I don't have enough of that in my life), so I should keep that in mind as she told me the following. The investigator told her that they already have an arrest warrant for Jake. My heart sank.

I don't want to replay last year. I don't want to go to court hearings and cry every time. Maybe the investigator was lying about the warrant - I've heard that line on Law&Order enough to know how they use it to get more info. But maybe he isn't. If Jake is arrested I just may leave.

At the end of my conversation with my lawyer, I asked her about this blog. Am I putting information out that is too sensitive? I'm not sure what I'm worried about, but she is likely reviewing it right now. If this blog disappears and you never hear from me again, you can guess what her answer was.

Valentine's Day Jitters

I had insomnia last night. I could still be sleeping soundly right now, like my children, but my brain is too busy. At first I thought it was because I watched The Tudors right before bed. It was a provocative episode in which four people were executed, mostly over sexual affairs. Why do I watch it? More about that later.

I finally realized that I am tense because Valentine's Day is approaching. It is plastered all over town in pink and red hearts, so I can't miss it. But it's a day I would very much like to miss. It is the day that everything went wrong last year.

I had thought that it wasn't going to be a big deal to reach the one year mark of this whole affair. Nothing will change, after all. Somewhere in my brain, though, I am still struggling with the question, Is this real? A full year of trying to find truth and reality . . . Maybe I fear that by reaching the anniversary it seals the reality of it all.

This whole affair has been explored by police, lawyers, judges, social workers, psychiatrists, therapists, pastors, and all of the community. They have all declared the reality of this horrible affair. It is probably time for the inner workings of my head and heart to accept it, too.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Meet the PO, aka "The Hammer"

Today was full of drama. I am highly opposed to drama, mostly because I don't handle it well. When drama strikes, I get all shaky as I try to hold back the flood gates against the emotional reaction coming down. I almost always fail and then I pity the person who is there to watch me explode or cry myself into a puddle.

Anyhow, you remember the things I packed up a while back? I had delivered the boxes to the PO and hadn't heard any more. I wanted some kind of report about their whereabouts . . . Okay, okay, I really wanted to know what had happened. Was there a scene when the PO went through those things with Jake? Did it all go straight into an incinerator?

So I called his PO this morning. He said, "Yeah, I gave all those boxes to him."

"Wh- Wha- What? You gave them to him? He took ALL of those boxes?" That was not what was supposed to happen. I was starting to get shaky.

"Yes, he took all the boxes." He must have thought I sounded like a total loon.

"You didn't go through them with him?"

"No." He seemed to have a blunt sort of nature.

"But . . . But . . . There were sexual items in there that I don't think he is supposed to have. His treatment provider gave me the impression that you would go through that with him."

"No, that's not my responsibility."

"But he's not supposed to have those things, is he?" The pitch of my voice was getting higher as panic set in.

"No, and if I catch him with it I will arrest him."

I believe I squeaked with fear at this point, apologized for bothering him, and got off the phone. Then I burst into sobs. I really had thought that I was unloading all of Jake's crap in the "appropriate" way, but after talking to the PO I felt like I had truly made a mess. I tried to call the TP because she was the one who instructed me to send those boxes through the PO, but she was busy on another line. So then I called my own therapist. She calmed me a little.

I tried to continue with my day as normal, but I was totally freaked out. My imagination started running "worst possible scenarios" for me. My favorite imagined scene was of the PO sending the sheriff over to arrest Jake. I kept thinking to myself, What an idiot you are! First you send illegal things to Jake and then you tell his PO! Are you trying to get him arrested???  The rational part of my brain was trying to break through these self-destructive, everything-that-goes-wrong-must-be-my-fault kind of thoughts, but it failed miserably.

I called Big Rev. I really am not supposed to use Big Rev and Kay as messengers, but I didn't know what else to do (because I just HAD to solve this problem, you know?).

I said, "Did Jake bring home boxes?"

"Yes, I saw him carry some boxes in."

"Okay, there are three boxes that he should not have and they need to go straight to the dumpster." There was a strange silence, like maybe he was covering the phone. I asked, "Do you understand?"

He said, "Yes . . . what?" I could hear someone in the background - most likely Jake. Ugh, this was exactly what we were supposed to be avoiding. "He said he cut the boxes open, saw what was inside, and taped them up again."

"Okay. Is he going to get rid of them?"

"The problem will be resolved." He said that in a very final tone, so I said good bye.

Not an hour later, I got to worrying about that deputy sheriff that was on his way to arrest Jake (the imagined one). I thought that I needed to make sure that Big Rev understood the urgency. I called him back and asked if everything was okay. That was my code for "Tell me you disposed of the boxes." Instead of understanding my code, he just said, "Things are fine!"

So I asked straight-out if he had disposed of the boxes. He said it was being taken care of. Then I apologized and tried to explain while also trying to avoid the details of the story. I just made more and more of a mess with everything I said. At one point, I said that I was really upset with how things had worked out.

Big Rev said, "Then why did you send the boxes over?"

I started crying again because I DIDN'T SEND THE BOXES OVER! I tried to explain it to him, in an attempt to justify myself maybe, but just couldn't make sense of the situation.

Later, I got a hold of the TP. I explained everything that had happened. She neither seemed surprised or apologetic, although she did say that most POs would have gone through the items. "This PO must be different." No kidding.

I said to her, "I would have gotten rid of the boxes myself if I knew this would happen. For his PO to give him things that he could be arrested for feels like a set-up for failure! I don't want him to fail and I definitely don't want him arrested!"

She did make the effort to reassure me that the PO wouldn't bother sending a troop of officers to arrest Jake today. (It's like she read me mind!) And she told me that Jake had called her to report the boxes and ask what to do about them.

"That was good," she said, "but I wonder if he didn't do that after you called. Maybe he wasn't going to get rid of them until his dad and you told him to." I hope she's not right, but she might be.

"He needs to learn how to do the responsible thing," she continued. "He keeps blaming others for his mistakes. Is he going to come to our appointment this week and blame you for the content of those boxes?"

"I feel like it's my fault," I said.

"It's not your fault that he had those things to begin with. He knew he couldn't have those things around after he was arrested. He had plenty of opportunities to remove those from the house. This is not your fault."

At the end of our conversation, I said, "His PO kind of scared me. He was so gruff and robotic."

She said, "He has to be a hammer, so maybe that's how he does it."

This has been a long, hard day. I am sorry that I bought into the drama so easily. Really, looking back, I was the drama. At one point, I was even tempted to drive over to Big Rev's and take the boxes myself. I'm glad I didn't do that. But still, I feel like the system is much more designed to punish and trap, rather than aid in rehabilitation. I know Jake is a criminal, but he is also someone I care about. I want him to get better, not get trapped. Am I wrong to feel this way?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Ways NOT to Cope

Yesterday I had a glass of wine. I hadn't had any since last November. No, I'm not an alcoholic counting my sober days. But I am constantly struggling with depression, which alcohol tends to amplify. God, that glass of wine was good! But today I struggled with crankiness and low confidence. And the negative moods made me want another glass of wine. That is a cycle I don't want to start, so I ate a bunch of chocolate instead. Then my stomach hurt. Finally, I drank a cup of tea - something that doesn't make it all feel worse, go figure.

The whole situation got me thinking that it might be fun to list the things that are NOT helpful when I am feeling down (although I frequently turn to them):

  • drinking alcohol
  • eating straight out of the bag of chocolate chips in the cupboard every time I walk by
  • reading facebook (everyone just makes up all those happy posts, right?)
  • staring at myself in the mirror
  • holding my breath and gritting my teeth
  • listening to country music
  • drinking coffee at any and all hours of the day (it may make me jittery, but not happy)
  • reading Happiness Magazine (you may not be familiar with this if you live outside of the plain states and midwest, but it is sappy to the point of nausea)
  • inviting my three-year-old to help bake a cake (it seemed like a good idea at the time)
  • watching The Tudors

Please feel free to share your unhelpful coping methods.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Finding Forgiveness

I have a friend who was sexually abused as a teenager by a trusted man in her family. I don't think she would want me to go into details about her story here, so I won't. But she told me today about how she had finally forgiven him with the help of God.

I felt actual pain as she described her journey to forgiveness. It's the kind of pain I feel when I'm faced with a change that I don't like, that I don't want to go through. At the end of her story, I told her how glad I was that she was able to reach that point - after all, isn't forgiveness one of the great graces that all spiritual people wish to someday achieve?

For a victim, though, forgiveness is also a sign of greater healing. Along with forgiving, she is letting go of a huge burden that has weighed down on her for years and followed her like a shadow through every step in life. Now she can live and breath more clearly. In describing her happiness she said something about the colors of the world being more vivid and bright. That is beautiful.

I am so happy for her and yet I can't forgive. I can't forgive the man who offended upon her and I can't forgive my husband and I can't forgive all the other offenders that I learn about in the world around me. Not yet, anyhow. Partly, I'm not ready. I have to take my own journey through pain and anger, I guess.

I asked my friend, "How can you forgive a person that you know is still dangerous?" That is a sticking point for me. She sympathized with that problem, but she explained that God forgives her even though she is still a sinner, so can't she do that for people in her life? I don't know if I will ever reach that point.

How about you? Can you forgive the great offenders in your life? Maybe you already have. What does it take? How long?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Baby's Birthday

Last week, we celebrated Sabrina's first birthday. It was a simple party with my mother, my in-laws, Elise and myself. We weren't a very exciting group, except for Elise when she was helping Sabrina unwrap the presents.

At one point, we were discussing weather. It's been a dry winter, yadda, yadda.

Kay said, "This time last year was also sunny and nice."

I tried to recall last year's weather, but I drew a blank. "I guess I don't remember."

"You don't remember?! You had the ride of your life that day and nearly gave birth in a car!"

I laughed at myself. Even though we were celebrating Sabrina's birthday, I hadn't thought once about the actual day of her birth!

It was a wild day. I labored at home, which was my plan, but we waited a little too long to leave for the hospital. I sat backwards in the passenger seat because sitting properly was unbearable with a baby's head pushing out. Jake drove the car and reached speeds well over 100 mph. Elise was strapped in the seat behind me. She managed to fall asleep on the drive despite the break-neck speeds and me moaning at full volume in her face.

I have vivid memories of the moments between contractions. There was no pain at all, only a euphoria of endorphins. I looked out the car windows and saw bright green fields (the color was likely amplified by my "high").

That day was beautiful. But the next day was even more so.

We were home again within a day. I had been laying on the sofa all morning, but Jake called me outside. I complained at first - I had just given birth to a baby! Let me rest!

"It's really nice out here. You have to see this." So I got up with the tiny baby in my arms and shuffled to the door, still skeptical. Elise also had to be persuaded to leave the house. But once we were outside, there was no question where I'd be staying until sunset. I think it was in the 70s with no wind (the lack of wind itself is a miracle). I was content to just sun-bathe for hours.

Jake entertained Elise at first by helping her ride her new tricycle. I watched them go round and round, so simple, so happy. Then Elise got distracted and Jake sat down with me. I handed him Sabrina. I have a picture of him holding her on that day. He's so comfortable, so tender.

Last night, we ate the leftover birthday cake at Grandma and Grandpa's house. Big Rev had his camera out, taking pictures of Sabrina standing on her own (her new trick). Then he handed me the camera to show me some old photos. There was Jake again, holding newborn Sabrina at the hospital. Again, so fatherly, so proud, so full of love.

Sometimes I will rage against Jake on this blog. You may forget for a while that I love him. He has offended me so deeply. And yet, deeper than that, I still love him. And I hope Elise and Sabrina find a way to still love him even though he can never play the traditional father role again. Someday, I hope Sabrina will treasure those pictures that captured the few moments when she really had a Daddy.