Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Changes and Choices

Women are attracted to this blog because of a common sort of situation that came about in a shock of change. It was a change that was forced upon us. Our families have been torn apart, we have entered legal mazes we haven't understood, our financial and work lives have been ripped to shreds, and emotions have flown into dangerous upheaval, but somehow we have survived it all. As the dust settles there are new kinds of changes that ARE our choice. Divorce or not. Moving or staying. Expressing or suppressing.

I've managed to move past the hardest part of the forced changes. Now I'm rebuilding a life. It's still hard and it often sucks, but there is a lot of happiness here, too. I have a new job, a new romance, and I'm even taking some classes toward a new career path. There are many pleasant choices here.

I almost forget sometimes what all I've been through. Wouldn't it be nice to just move on and pretend it never happened? That's part of the reason I disappeared from this blog for almost half of last year. I just kept putting it off because I was too stressed or too happy or just too busy with "normal" life . . . The problem is that "normal" lives aren't exempt from the problems that we have experienced so acutely. Everyone is truly touched by the same sexual issues in our society, just in different ways through various roles. I've circled this issue many times in my head: I can't escape these problems, but maybe by continuing the conversation on this blog I am helping to push the tide in the right direction, even if all I'm doing is supporting other wives and mothers like me. So I will resist the urge to turn my back and walk away. I will choose to keep going.

You know, it's nice to make choices that create changes instead of making choices just to survive them.

Even though I've chosen to keep blogging, I've also realized that I couldn't keep things going as they were. I know that I'll still face personal funks and I'll lose momentum, so I decided to get more voices into the mix. I've invited all of you who have been through similar situations to share on the blog. That invitation still stands (see the instructions, here).  I've also decided to bring on a co-blogger, Janet Mackie. I believe she has a wisdom and perspective that we all can learn from. She is the one who pointed out to me that we have all had change forced upon us and she also knows that pain personally.While I am blogging from the bubble of my life, she tends to look at a bigger picture. I hope she'll add an interesting and harmonious dynamic to this blog. Janet's first post will appear this weekend. Please come back soon to "meet" Janet and give her a welcome!

I am coming up on the third anniversary of my husband being arrested as a sex offender, so the changes I faced will be haunting me for the next month or so. I want to make something positive out of that pain. Please help me here with your voices. Let's support each other in surviving and healing. Let's also chose together not to turn a blind eye to the sexual issues in our society, but instead contribute toward greater positive change in whatever way we can.

Monday, January 13, 2014

We laughed at first . . .

The following story is from Marie. 

"It was 6:30 in the morning, when I paused in the shower. I couldn't figure out what that sound was. Shampoo still in my hair, I turned off the water. Down stairs someone yells "Police! Put your hands up!" There's no time to run across the hallway to grab my robe. Quickly wrapping myself in a towel, I walk to the top of the stairs. "I'm coming down. My hands are up!" I descend the first couple of stairs and I can't count the number of police in the dark. They cuff me and take me outside into the apartment complex. My husband is already kneeling on the ground.
After searching the apartment, they take us back inside. I'm finally escorted back up stairs, and allowed to dress while being watched by two officers. They bring me back to my husband and sit me on the couch with him. I smile at him and he smiles back. We laugh a little bit. What a story we're going to have.
A crazy neighbor had called the cops on my sister just a couple of weeks before. We were going to have a much better story, we thought.
But it was only the beginning.
My husband was charged with “luring a minor for sexual exploitation”. I didn’t even know what that meant. No one would tell me anything. I was only able to speak with him for a moment after they questioned him and placed him under arrest. That night he called from jail, again we spoke briefly. I told him that I was going to love him no matter what. The next day I read about the arrest in the news. How was it that the reporter had more information than I did? I posted bail as quickly as I could. When I picked him up 3 days later, I saw that his wrists were bandaged. During the questioning the cops had lied to him, telling him how angry I was with him. The guards at the jail laughed at him when he said that I would bail him out. He was hopeless, so he tried to commit suicide.
Six months prior my husband had an online conversation with a cop posing as a minor. He never showed up to meet. But it didn’t matter, it was the conversation that was illegal.
He’s serving time in jail right now, after agreeing to a plea bargain. I made a commitment for better or for worse. And I do love and treasure him, I just never thought it would be like this."

In an update email from Marie:
"My husband has been out of jail for 2 months. It's been hard for him, but he found us a home church (some place without kids). Through that he found a job and a marriage counselor for us. But most importantly he shared his story with the group. He only shared the details with a few of the men, but it's the honesty that strikes me the most. He hid his problems with pornography and all the related issues for years. Finally he's being honest and I believe that if he can continue to be honest then we can heal and that there is hope. That's where we're at right now." 

Marie is at the beginning of a long journey we all recognize. But let's not predict where this story is going. I am tempted to jump to conclusions, as I'm sure many others are out there. However, Marie's husband is not my husband, so I can't say what kind of man he is nor how this will affect their marriage. This is Marie's life and her choices. God bless you, Marie. Be strong and wise. 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Beautiful Innocence

Last night, as my kids and I were settling down in bed, we got to talking about families. My little one, Sabrina, said that families have mommies and daddies. I agreed that a lot of families have both mommies and daddies. Sometimes, there is just a mommy or just a daddy, like our family.

Elise, my 5-year-old, said, "I miss Daddy."

I nodded, "I know." She takes every opportunity to express this thought. It used to break my heart, but now it's fallen in the same category of "our dog died." Daddy and the dog are both things she brings up knowing that it will get an interesting emotional reaction from adults. My theory is that she's exploring that reaction. I'm not being callous, it's just the way it is with children.

My normal approach to any daddy conversation is just acceptance of whatever she feels and trying to answer her questions without getting too nitty gritty and without revealing my deep hatred for the man. I just don't think she's old enough to understand.

However, this time I decided to introduce a new dimension to the conversation. I said, "It's okay for you to miss Daddy. But you know what? I don't miss Daddy. And that's okay, too. We both have different feelings and that's okay."

I thought this would bring a torrent of questions from my verbal child, but instead it stumped her. She didn't seem distressed or upset, just quiet in deep thought. We will see what surfaces in a few days or weeks. It is amazing how things will seemingly be forgotten only to pop up at the weirdest times. With my luck, she will announce it during the children's message at church. After all, that's where she usually brings up our deceased dog.

It's funny how this conversation has been percolating in the back of my mind in the last day. I find myself wondering when I stopped missing him. Even when I moved here, I still missed the man I married. I hated him and missed him at the same time, you know? When I found myself missing him, I hated him even more. I still have those moments I suppose, but they are so very rare. I feel very content with him NOT BEING HERE.

For instance, tonight I watched Sabrina running around after using the potty (she just recently gave up diapers) with only a shirt on. Every time I told her to put on her panties, she would just squeal with giggles and run away. I was finishing my supper and didn't feel like chasing her yet, so I told her to go pull out that new package of panties we bought her. Predictably, she tore the package open so they flew all over the floor. Elise joined the chaos as they jokingly put the panties on their heads, on their toy dragon, on a pumpkin (yes, it's still sitting around from halloween) - everywhere accept on Sabrina. Finally, somehow, a pair went on her, but only after ten solid minutes of silly, innocent shrieking and giggling.

And I deeply enjoyed the whole scene because it was funny and cute . . . but mostly because it could happen safely. Without Jake, my children can run around naked in their own home and no one will look at them as potential sex partners. No one will see it as an opportunity to cop a feel or turn it into a sex game. Without Jake, they get to be safely innocent. That is enough reason to not miss him. Don't you think?

By the way, Sabrina is about to turn 3. She was born just three weeks before Jake was arrested. She doesn't know him, doesn't remember him, doesn't miss him.