After a year of being divorced, I decided it was time to put myself out there. However, I live in a small city where the dating pool is less than ideal, and events are pretty centered around people who already are couples.
So online I went. Truth be told, I put a profile up on a website that I have to pay for to talk to anyone, but I know there are free ones out there. I receive emails that tell me somebody is interested in me, and for now I think the confidence boost is the most alluring aspect.
So I wrote the following introduction that highlights some of my most dominant personality traits. Enjoy!
We can just say we met at the library.
Because online dating is difficult to fess up to. I have to say, it requires an actual swallowing of pride to get the nerve up to create a profile. Plus I usually cry when people point cameras at me, so a selfie is practically unheard of.
I am an independent single mother who is on the fast track to getting a bunch of cats unless someone drops through my roof to watch Netflix marathons with me on the weekend or can catch up to me while I power walk.
I am looking for someone who can make me smile. Someone who understands my unintentionally tasteless jokes are well meaning. Someone who can gently correct me when I mix my metaphors. Or at least appreciate that I might have just created a better metaphor.
I am known for crying when in uncomfortable conversations, laughing when everyone else is horrified and changing the subject when either of the first two things happen.
I see myself as a fairly low maintenance but self respecting woman who is looking for a good time, but not THAT kind of good time. I like fishing and I have pretended to enjoy football for long enough that I think I actually do now. I work for a sports organization and love my job, which has nothing to do with sports.
I don’t do dramatic situations, and I know everyone says that, but I seriously will just act like it isn’t happening. Unless it’s occurring with a teenager, and then I just act like I am acting like it isn’t happening.
Everything is just a little too hysterical to be funny. I never liked drama, and now I have one of the most theatrical lives I know of. I dropped off the earth in some people’s perceptions, and I have become an amazing hermit in the past few months. I have changed churches, again, and the life I had ended.
I have recently discovered that I have a reputation based solely on perceptions of recent events, and I am here to dispel just a couple of inaccuracies.
Here’s the thing, though. I understand why people see what they see. This is what my world saw when the door was open:
My family went to church every week, where my ex-husband plays on the worship team and holds a portion of responsibility in helping lead the men’s ministry. My children attend children’s church, and I help in the nursery whenever I am needed.
We smile, and we welcome, and we are happy.
Perception: Suddenly, I just lost it. Suddenly, I decided I didn’t want anymore of this perfect life, and suddenly I took measures to end the mundane existence that I called marriage. I kept the kids from my husband via a court ordered restraining order for no logical reason, and I never reached out to anyone leading up to any of it.
I simply didn’t want to be responsible for being a good wife any longer, so since divorce is the world’s way of doing things, I just decided to do it that way.
And we all live happily ever after. If I knew how to write that sound of a record being manually halted, this is where it would go. The above story is just not true, and I have been shocked by my former friends’ willingness to believe or assume anything of the sort.
Here is another perception:
Approximately two years ago, I accidentally intercepted a text message to my husband from my best friend. It said, “(Her husband’s name) is being really mean and calling me fat. I sometimes wonder why I stay married to him. How is your night going?” I was on a walk with my husband and my children, and I was instantly crushed.
It wasn’t because I thought anything physical was going on. It was because I saw a confidence between two people that was out of place and completely unexpected. Nevertheless, I kept my cool. I asked my husband if he thought that she and he should be communicating in such a fashion. He admitted that it was probably not appropriate, and he assured me that it would not happen again. He would make it clear that she should not discuss her marital troubles with him anymore.
It never ended. I turned my head most of the time because I did not want to cause the situation to become worse. My husband was deleting more than 400 text messages sent from and to my best friend’s phone number every week. I would walk in on conversations between the two of them that were instantly hushed by my entrance. I never didn’t know. At least not after that walk. I just didn’t do anything.
In Janury 2013, when we moved back home, my husband stopped coming home most nights until the kids and I were in bed, and when I asked where he had been, he told me it was none of my business. I tried to not push the issue. I, however, was miserable.
I took the issue to my pastor, who sat my husband and I down. My husband admitted to the inappropriate relationship, and the pastor told him it had to stop. I had never been treated so poorly by anyone as I was after that meeting, at least up until that point. My now ex-best friend was livid at the exposure, and my husband simply didn’t want to be around me anymore.
He didn’t talk to me anymore. The inappropriate behavior stopped. For two weeks. When it started again, I chose to turn my head even further. But I knew where this was headed. I didn’t believe in divorce, but I also knew that God did not want His daughter to be treated this way. I chose instead to seek healing for the wounds that had already been inflicted, all the while knowing that I was going to be hurt even worse.
I tried everything I read, and I continued to be a good wife, just hoping and praying that my husband would return to me. Unfortunately, he never did. He continued to lie about where he was, who he was with (it was her) and told me that I had no business asking him about his private relationship with her. He drew farther away, and when I finally fully confronted the issue, my husband, who I still loved beyond measure, committed various degrees of abusive actions at me.
He told me I was crazy, mostly for not accepting his relationship with her, my best friend. She needed him, after all. Who else was going to take care of her since her husband didn’t love her anymore? I found the whole conversation ironic, and terrifying. I was cornered on a stairwell, and I was threatened and given an ultimatum. I was to be “evaluated” so he could make sure I was ok. I did as I was asked, in the presense of my husband. He answered the questions, and I cried. We left the psychologist, and he took me to the parking lot, where he screamed at me about my best friend and about how no one actually wanted to be around me.
I recorded that tirade, but I didn’t know I didn’t need to. The psychologist called me later that day to tell me she couldn’t accurately evaluate anything when a narcissist was controlling my behavior.
I completed separation papers that night. I gave them to my husband the next day. He left work, picked up the kids, and he hid them from me. Then he went home and waited for me to come home, where he told me I would never see my children again. He told me that his relationship with my friend was precious to him, and that his marriage was no longer anything to him, but he did not want anyone thinking anything was amiss with him.
I could do nothing. He took the kids, and with no legal recourse, I was devastated. I spent the entire night filling out divorce papers, and I filed them the next morning. Then I filed a restraining order, which was granted. My children were forcibly returned to me from my ex-best friend, where my husband had hidden them. She told them horrible things about their mother, and they repeated what she said. She told me they didn’t want to be with me anymore, which was half true because she had told them terrifying lies about me. It took 5 minutes to dispel those deceptions. I had to call the police to retrieve my children from my husband’s lover.
The judge upheld the restraining order 20 days later, deeming my husband a verifiable threat to me and to my extended family.
The divorce has been finalized, but my heart is still broken. I can no longer have a friend or a lover because I am afraid of this horrifying series of events happening again.
I am a broken woman, and the direction of my blog will take now a sudden diversion. Probaly along a course which many of my former followers won’t understand or agree with. My philosophy is that I do not have to have a marriage to validate my existence. I can be single, hurting, healing, and not looking. I could be the cat lady forever, but with my luck, I would meet a cat guy, so I will stick to my kids and my job, as well as to making my ex-husband’s life similar to what he will experience in the afterlife…
Lots of new happening in the life of a supermom, and I can’t wait to tell you all about it in the most tactful way possible, which is likely not even slightly tactful in some people’s opinions. However, something new is on the horizon. Soon. I promise.
When my husband and I go on walks, he almost always comments on my tendency to stay on the sidewalk. Occasionally, we come across a block without a sidewalk, and he usually will throw out an “Uh-oh. What are you going to do now?”
My kids’ bedtime is 8 p.m. They are required to read for leisure at least 20 minutes a day. Now I don’t care when they do this, but it typically happens at 8 p.m. because there is simply too much fighting and playing and snacking to experience between 4 and 7:59. That said, at 7:59, I am usually issuing threats. “If you aren’t lying down in one minute, you are not snacking tomorrow!” Or, “I’m waking you up 15 minutes early tomorrow if you’re not in bed at 8 p.m. sharp! I mean it!”
Needless to say, I’m a rules person. I follow rules with consistency and am irritated when others break the rules. This sometimes creates some intensity in our home. I’m outnumbered 4 to 1 with people who are happy to break the rules.
No food in the room? Whatever. That’s stupid. In fact, we think it should be smeared on the walls.
I need to be in bed in five minutes? No problem. I’ve got plenty of time to brush my teeth, get a glass of water, put on pajamas, play with the puppy, eat one last snack, clear off my bed, and ask my daddy the most complicated, urgent question I can think of.
To say this is frustrating to me is an understatement.
My poor husband, every so often, tries to weaken my “by the book” personality by passively comparing me to a Pharisee. He doesn’t do this outwardly, probably because he doesn’t want to fight (because I have a list of rules for fighting that I asked my former pastor to give to me, and I have no hesitation when calling “foul” on him for breaking them).
Let me say, however, that I have not always been a rules person. I never wore my seatbelt, 90 mph wasn’t really that fast, throwing things at people was the quickest way to solve a problem, and swearing at customers on the phone was the best way to reduce your call time and increase your monthly bonuses. This is not even close to part of it.
I admit that my rules sometimes affect what my husband calls “the environment of the house,” specifically at bedtime and meals (table manners are a serious concern of mine). But finding a balance between actual freedom and lawlessness is tricky when you come from a lawless background.
When I chose to meet Jesus instead of using my own manipulation tactics to get my way, I truly met him on my terms. I still swore at people, I was an expert at making the person behind me get the speeding ticket, seatbelts were an uncomfortable inconvenience, and I still struggle with throwing things when I’m angry.
I don’t have any intention of dropping all of my rules (bedtime, specifically), but I walked in the street last time my husband and I went for an evening stroll. I need my rules, and I can justify my position using the book I go by.
“An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” says Paul in 2 Timothy 2:5. Just so it’s clear that I’m not using this verse conveniently to justify my position, I’ll explain briefly.
By nature, I am a disobedient creature. So are my children. So is everyone, I think.
Let’s just say I dropped the bedtime rules and let the kids decide what was best for them. I’m positive that everyone in the house would be exhausted and I would be getting requests to meet with teachers weekly. Eventually, my children would be the oldest ones in their classes because it’s impossible to stay awake during the day when you stay up all night snacking and watching television.
And say we carried on without bedtime rules for a long period of time. Until high school, most children are motivated by impulse rather than reason. Being too tired to go to junior high possibly could prevent a high school education at all, not to mention most districts don’t allow 22-year-old high school students in a traditional setting.
Bam. Life sucks for my kids. Long term.
The word “freedom” is, in my opinion, one of the most misused words in the Christian language. Freedom is not an absence of rules. Nor is it making up the rules as we go along. Nor is it behaving badly with a thought in the back (or front) of our minds that says, “I’m OK to do this because God has forgiven me.”
There are plenty of rules listed in the Bible, both in the Old and the New Testaments. If we don’t follow these rules, and we run amok with our “freedom” in Christ, we are going to be in disobedience. To be preachy, freedom, biblically, refers to the absence of corruption or addiction to corruption. We are granted freedom by Christ through deliverance. To be delivered means to overcome and obstacle or be saved from harm. Therefore, making our own rules is the opposite of freedom.
My point is, that rules are necessary. As a mother, I am charged to teach my children discipline and obedience because they will need it later when they try to follow God’s rules in a world that doesn’t like those rules. They will be called to do much more difficult things than go to bed on time. They will be called to serve someone who doesn’t appreciate it; to love someone who despises them; to admit when they are wrong; to swallow their pride. The list is never ending.
We claim our freedom through Christ, but as believers, we are called to serve and to love and to be lights in the world. This is much harder than it sounds just rolling off the tongue, and the structure we provide our children early in life can help them to look toward that structure when we have no say at all.
Who has said this?
I have always been the careful one in my family. Someone falls off a bike or trips over poorly tied shoelaces or gets stung by a bee, and who fixes the owie? That’s correct. Me.
As a result of this consistent first aid administrator position I hold, and also of the queasiness that results from the presence of blood or pain or both, I am well known for being what some refer to as “Safety Mom.” My kids have difficulties having fun on top-rated playground equipment with 6-inch foam underlay below it because I’m nervous seeing them at the top of a slide and everyone at the park or school or McDonald’s knows it.
For the record, I don’t remember any of my children being significantly injured while playing on playground equipment. They have been injured, however, usually doing things like walking or snagging drinks of my sodas (nope, I didn’t injure them for stealing soda, but I am pretty quick to point out if they had been doing the right thing they wouldn’t have been hurt). Regardless of how they were injured, I am the first aid lady.
So when there is a cut that needs to be cleaned and the crying gets worse than when the original injury occurred, I am naturally irritated. Now I don’t tell them to stop crying or I’ll give them something to cry about, but I’m thinking it all the same. Cleaning and putting antibiotic cream and Band-aids on is an excruciating process for anyone within of even just out of earshot. Which leads me to the lesson I learned today.
I distinctly remember my dad told me once that I should consider not doing yard work in sandals. I don’t remember ever taking that suggestion and applying it to my life. Part of being Safety Mom is somehow being the exception. Just because I don’t allow my kids to walk closer than three feet to the river bank doesn’t mean I can’t walk one foot from it. I rarely injure myself. They’re the ones who get hurt. Not me.
So today I was shoveling a layer of dirt into a five-gallon bucket, hauling the bucket to another area and dumping the dirt. I was trying to hurry because I wanted to impress my poor husband with how much work I could do while he ran a 10-minute errand. So I didn’t change my shoes. Actually I probably wouldn’t have anyway.
On the fifth bucket, which was actually full of mud, not dirt, I was thinking that this would be much more fun if I wasn’t doing it. I think fantasy gave way to reality for a moment because I just dropped the bucket. On my foot. Which was in a beautiful, open-toed platform sandal. I am pretty tough, so I dumped the bucket and came inside to discover that I had completely ripped the cuticle off of my toe.
Just after I got a wet paper towel wrapped around it and sat down to collect myself, my husband, who is actually certified in first aid care, came in.
“What did you do?”
“I dropped the bucket on my toe and the kids hid the Band-aids.”
Calmly, he walked to the garage to get his first aid kit. When he came back he sat near my feet and started getting the contents out.
“You can’t do this. I can do it myself,” I said, or rather pleaded.
“Donna. Which one of us is first aid certified?”
I immediately began to cry. It’s not that I was hurt badly or that he did anything to cause pain (likely because I hadn’t let him touch me yet). I was in a curiously unfamiliar situation. No one, since my own mother, has ever performed minor first aid on me. I always did it myself.
My poor husband looked over the top of his glasses at me as I cried and begged him to just let me put the Band-aid on myself and said, “Stop your crying or I’ll give you something to cry about.”
Of course he wouldn’t ladies.
I realized at that moment how hard it is for my kids to sit still and let me clean their owie’s and trust me to do it in a way that doesn’t increase their discomfort.
And I also realized that I’ve possibly been a fool to not heed the advice of those who are wiser than I am. My dad told me not to do yard work in sandals (I am pretty positive he would have never thought I would even attempt the work in heels).
In the second Sunday of our church shopping spree, we were one member down, as my poor husband had to work. We spent the week praying and being mindful of the Lord’s leading for which church to try next, or maybe to return to the third church from last week, where we felt a refreshed and renewed sense of the spirit. But I’d be lying if I said I was merely looking at the Lord’s guidance in my decision.
I am human.
I first visited this past Sunday’s church about three months ago, on a Monday. It was fairly early, and the building, which was large, was quiet. I met first the church secretary, whose name I’m almost embarrassed to admit I didn’t remember, but since I don’t use people’s real names, I could have left that out and who would have known, right? I chatted with her and the youth pastor fairly briefly, and the secretary grabbed a hold of me and began praying. This moved me to tears at that time, something that is easier than ever nowadays because my heart is softer today than it was yesterday. A tour was given, and the similarities to our home church in both personalities and the circumstances were glaring. As I was leaving, I noticed that on the door was notice of the Sunday service time.
Honestly. That’s why I didn’t go back immediately. Anyone who has ever tried to wake up my youngest daughter just said, “I completely understand where you’re coming from, ” in support of this knee-jerk reaction. It’s not like it’s 6 a.m., but it was a half hour earlier than we were accustomed. I followed my rules from the first week of church shopping. I arrived late. I sat near the exit. I prayed. I had an escape plan. And so on.
When worship began, a crowd of children stormed the pulpit and began dancing and creating their own choreographic routines impromptu. Adorable. But more than adorable, it’s a sign of health. My husband and I believe strongly that children are a blessing (overall), and that a church blessed with many children, almost to the point of overflow, is a blessed church. Without children, revival can’t continue.
Then the most amazing thing happened. To some people this would be nowhere near amazing, but it is to me only because of the way I was attached so quickly to our church back home. The church secretary came up and said, “Hi, Donna! I’m so glad you could make it!” Three. Months. Later. She remembered my name. I don’t know about everyone else, but I can’t remember a name or a face unless I meet someone 25 times, but I admire that ability in others. My favorite pastor’s wife did the same thing. I always thought she was really good with names because when I met her the first time, they were at a different church and I was seriously sporadic about attendance. I didn’t like the people and I hated the music, but I thought going to church would help me blend in with normal people a little better. Every time I walked in the door, it was like she had a tracking collar on me. She would find me and say, “Hi, Donna. I’m so glad you could make it today.”
She really was the only one who talked to me in that place. Because my attendance was sporadic and my attention wasn’t where it should have been, my favorite pastor and his wife left without me realizing it. My attendance gradually waned to apathy fulfilled. It wasn’t until years later when I found them again, and I found my home church. And, yes, she knew my name (but that’s another story for another day that involves my poor husband, and another reason I call him poor).
Back in Casper, worship continued. And continued. And I thought, “Hmm. How is the pastor going to finish by 11 if they keep singing. Don’t get me wrong. I love the music. I didn’t want it to end. I just wondered how the pastor was going to wrap it up in time for lunch.
In a strange turn of events, I realized the pastor didn’t at all care what time it was. We would leave when he was done. I know how many Sunday school teachers and football fans out there are thinking, “Wow. That’s just awful.” However, this is a beautiful thing when put into action. This body of Christ-loving people has made the decision to let the Holy Spirit move, in all His greatness, in order to effectively soften and break the congregation to receive a message as it was intended to be delivered.
During one service, the pastor told everyone that there was no way anyone could walk out the door of the church that day the same as they walked in. He was right. I walked out that day, and every other, strengthened and renewed. This is how it should be.
It turns out that the secretary had a very good reason to remember my name. She has a scar to remember me by. Maybe she’s like one of my best friends who names everything (she names sides of beef, and I’m not kidding), in which case her scar would be named Donna because that’s who she was with when she got it. When she was giving me a tour of the church, she showed me the to-be sanctuary, which was under construction at the time, and she fell through a hole in the sound booth looking for a light. She said it took weeks to heal and that she would probably have a permanent scar from the injury. But even those little things that can’t possibly be spiritualized when they happen really do have a purpose. Who knows? Maybe she really is good with names. But I think the Lord knew I needed her to remember my name, so He gave our meeting an event.
In any case, we found our “new home” church. We love and will always cherish our original church, where we first took the hand of the Lord and walked with Him on the lighted path that serves as our guidance still today. But we’re confident we will grow and serve and love in the new place we’ve found.
Don’t worry. I’m not getting political. Or sorry. I’m not getting political. I am getting serious, though.
I’m actually going to talk about change on a more intimate level. When I worked, I used to wonder at my colleagues who had such difficulties with progression. By progression, I mean change, or how things have to be continually moving in order to maintain relevance. I was good with it. And I always have been. I wrote what has to be my most bitter blog entry ever targeting (anonymously of course) the former coworkers who detested the change I thrived on. This is progressive change.
I also like the kind of change that involves moving furniture around my living room to make a fresh appearance or changing the kitchen cupboards around to make it so I don’t have to move an extra three steps to grab a dish towel. These changes are impersonal and remote. Their effects are superficial.
Then there’s the change I’m not good with. That’s extreme change. I didn’t know I sucked at it because I’d never actually made a committed change in the magnitude I did until this year. I’ve said before that it took me six weeks to stop crying. It took another six weeks to stop thinking of ways to get out of the change, and then I started to settle in. We started to find a groove, and I truly started to feel like I was at home. Right about when I started feeling at home, I went home.
I love the people at home so much that it literally hurts me to leave them. So much that it almost hurts me to see them because I know a) they still carry on as if I wasn’t gone, which is completely appropriate since they didn’t go anywhere so their lives didn’t change much; b) I can’t take any of them with me, and I’ve tried; and c) I can’t find them where I am. By this, I mean that my people are unique, and I know how I took them for granted now that I don’t have them anymore.
Moreover, my people are not replaceable. My church is not replaceable, and my routine is not replaceable. And somehow, I’ve fallen into a mindset that my loyalties are irreplaceable as well. For someone like me, who has shown a great propensity toward changes and shake ups, I have become rather immovable. I couldn’t write because I had nothing funny to say. I thought that meant I couldn’t write. I couldn’t have friends because the people here are nothing like the people at home. I still feel like moving on is a betrayal of some kind. I never want my people to feel like I took them for granted, even when I did.
Deep down, I know that the betrayal is not to my people. It’s to myself, and it’s to my God. And the effect of my betrayal has rippled farther than I could ever imagine it would have reached. I know that my poor husband, because it’s my heart that shines from our home, has struggled to adjust because he is as loyal as I am. If one of us admits to happiness or joy in these trying circumstances, then we might be leaving the other one in the dust. The result is frustration and anger, and with me, broken coffee mugs and Blackberry phones.
Change is something human. Our circumstances change. Our feelings change, and sometimes our personalities change. But God doesn’t change, and He doesn’t make mistakes.
James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
We started out on the right track. We saw God’s hand in this change in our lives. But if anyone has ever gone on vacation and experienced a feeling of liberation because “no one is watching” then you can somewhat relate to what I am saying when I say I thought God was different where He put me than where I left. I didn’t say it out loud, but my view of Him changed, slowly. With each defeat came a tinge of doubt. Doubt about what I formerly knew He showed me and doubt about where He was taking me. It didn’t take long before I was in what some seasoned Christians would call a crisis of faith.
But God doesn’t change. We do. What I’d seen as a gift from one perspective turned to a burden from another perspective. That was me. Not God.
Out loud, just yesterday, I said, “I choose joy. Change me, God.”
I don’t like it here. It’s the ugliest city in the country, I’m sure of it. But I will keep my eyes on the Lord’s glory, which is beautiful no matter what perspective you’re looking from, and I will receive His good and perfect gift because it is just that. No matter where he gives it.