Sunday, December 22, 2013

When your own life is the leading story

The following is a message I received by email from another woman who has gone through a very similar situation. She writes so well about something we will all understand:
"I think so many folks are inclined to think that stories like this only lie within the fringes of society, or are the makings of Jerry Springer spots.  It's so easy to flip on the news or read the paper and see the stories as distant, removed - the problems of all those "other people."  There really aren't words for the day when you find that your own life is the leading story on the 11 o'clock news and the front page of the newspaper. I don't have any friends that are divorced, much less have spouses or family members, or even distant acquaintances who have been convicted of felony crimes.  My husband and I were active in our community and church, good-standing members of society.  I find that my friends, family, and colleagues don't even know what to say and most have opted to simply ignore that anything has even happened.  It's as if even the mere reference to my husband will taint them in some foul, repulsive way.  To this day, I'm still greeted by many with looks of pity or masked sympathy, when I know that the unspoken question from so many is "how could she not have known? how could she have married such a monster?  what kind of issues does she have to have been attracted to someone like that?" I don't kid myself into thinking that people really don't make those kind of judgments. 
"I confide in you on these points not so much because I'm dwelling on what other people think, but because I find that other than through professional counseling, there is virtually no support for women in our circumstances. I'm not trying to play victim when I say that - I take full responsibility for who I married and chose to have children with.  I don't expect society to come running to my rescue.  But I do think it's helpful to connect with each other and others in similar circumstances from time to time. . . It's just comforting in some ways to know that there are others who have experienced similar experiences and truly understand the pain and trauma of something so devastating."

When I first received an email from this woman, I asked her if she would like to share on this blog. She declined, saying that she wasn't ready to talk about her story, but in that second email was also the message above. I thought it was worth sharing. If anyone else out there wants to share a message, you don't have to give personal details of your life story because sometimes a sympathetic message to others in your situation is enough.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kid at Heart

Today around 10 am, I was hiding in the bathroom at work, crying. You will wonder, what sort of terrible life event could drive a grown woman to burst into tears in a professional environment. Was someone diagnosed with cancer? Did I get laid off again? Did my car break down? No and no and no.

Shamefully, I would like to confide in you that I was crying because I wasn't on the employee gift list. Seriously. I am a temp, hired through a third-party agency, working at the nicest company on the planet and I'm thankful EVERY day . . . except today for ten minutes in the morning when I was a heartbroken little kid because they didn't think to include temps on the company gift list. And the gifts are really nice. And it was my job to package them all . . . alllllll those pretty gifts, sigh.

But that is not my point! After my little meltdown, as I was looking in the mirror and wiping mascara off my cheeks, I thought, "What a funny thing to have lived through the hell I've lived through and then start crying over a silly present." You would think that I'd grown some thicker skin and risen above such trifles.

I pondered this all day (especially after management realized their heartless oversight and added temps to the gift list and it was much easier to contemplate everything serenely) and I came to this conclusion. When life gets hard, I respond with a survivor's instinct. I act tough and power through. I accept that life is cruel and I should count myself lucky for not having it worse. However, there is still a kid in my heart who wants to have the happy, sparkling life. ESPECIALLY AT CHRISTMAS! I want twinkling lights, presents, and yummy foods. I want to have fun and forget that life is hard and unfair.

This time of year has no less challenges despite being marked as the "Holidays". I'm still sharing a house with my parents, two kids, and four cats. I still am financially strapped. I'm still not solidly employed. And I'm still struggling with depression.

And then there was that letter Jake sent, which didn't help. He wrote such a "nice" letter, filled with descriptions about his life and his deep thoughts. He said he thought we should stay in contact and have an ongoing conversation because someday he'll be back in the kids' lives and so this would make it easier . . . I hate him. I hate that he's going to do this. He's going to act nice, like the good guy, and play it up for sympathy. It kills me that HIS life seems easy. He's learning a new trade in prison. He's part of some kind of group that explores their personal problems together and tries to heal and grow. Everyone likes him and looks up to him and thinks he's great. But here I am, still reeling from the emotional and financial turmoil he left us in. He concluded his letter with "Please tell the girls that I love them and miss them."

I'm going to write him back and ask him not to send me any more personal letters. I am also going to remind him that he cannot have contact with children under 18, including his own children, not even passive communication. Some of you will think this is harsh and cold. But Jake is a con man. He is manipulative and coercive. I don't fear for myself any more, but I feel strongly in my heart that he will enter my kids' lives again only to take advantage of them somehow. Will it be sex? Or money? Or just to play their emotions like a yo-yo? Well, my job as a parent is to protect my kids from con men and to teach them how to protect themselves.

And after I write that letter, I will write Christmas cards to the good people in my life. I will forget my problems for a few weeks, maybe, and let my kid-at-heart have the Christmas she wants so badly. Happy holidays to all of you. I hope you are surrounded with those you love and those who love you. I hope you feel safe and happy through the new year. God bless you and your kid-at-heart!

By the way, please forgive me for being absent for six months. I plan to continue this blog and I have some nice ideas to make it more of a community project. Just be patient with me, I have a lot on my plate and I tend to get weepy when I get overloaded (as demonstrated!).