5 years and counting

It has been 5 years and two months, my husband says 62 months, and he keeps up with our anniversaries monthly, since we got married.  We did a scary thing.  Probably was not the wisest thing to do, or done in the right timing, but we did it and we have survived and have no regrets.  The reason I can say that is because we have discussed if we have regrets and we both say we are happy with our situation.  Thank God!  We rushed into marriage by conventional wisdom standards.  We dated only 8 months, and I had only technically been divorced for 4 months when we went on our first date.  His wife had passed only two months before that.  In our defense, I had been separated 16 months before my divorce.  Roy’s wife had been struggling and suffering for three and a half years in her battle with Leukemia.  She had been at death’s door before, more than once, and he had grieved along the way, little by little, struggle by struggle, close call by close call, crisis by crisis.

We were in our 50’s and I have a theory about that.  I believe that because of that we didn’t want to waste any more time.  We both had lived difficult lives, had endured much suffering and more grace related to our bad choices from our younger years.  We just couldn’t not take the chance at finding happiness and comfort with a partner.

We did the preparatory work.  We answered difficult questions, shared painful true stories from our past, and shocked each other with our sense of security and trust in the other person quickly.  Yes, he could have taken advantage of me. He could have completely changed when we got married.

The reality is that we both have parts of us that are disappointing to ourselves and those parts have developed out of our past hurts or our personality type extremes. We can’t find people to date that don’t have issues based on those factors.

How did we know that it was safe to get married?  We didn’t.  Ultimately we trusted in the basics of our faith.  God was in it.  God knew what we needed.  We were both aware that we were dependent on Him for our very survival by this point in our lives and beyond that, we trusted Him to have guided us to this very point. Didn’t mean we couldn’t mess up and stretch his grace but ultimately we trusted that we were covered by it, no matter what we would do, He would be with us, attempting to get our attention and putting guideposts in our paths.

We decided to make a Covenant to stay married, no matter what, till death do us part.






Fall Out

Two months have passed since my oldest step daughter and her three children moved out.  Here we are. Her dad set a boundary, reminded her of the boundary, enforced the boundary, and then she had to move out earlier than she might have. But our relationship with her was saved.  She had made her choice(s) and she bore the consequences, like an adult, because she is an adult.  She found a place to live.  She found childcare and we have the peace that we know we did everything we could to help her make that transition.  All’s well that ends well.  Doesn’t that sound neat and tidy? Like a clean ending.  That’s not exactly how it felt.

I was left with anger, resentment, emotional exhaustion and spiritual battle wounds.  I actually had two leaders sit down and have that talk with me. You know the one.  The one where they tell you how concerned they are for you.  Questioning you on your balance. It turned into me crying and saying I wished I could have done a better job.  I felt so much guilt for the days I seethed when she was home.  For the days I lost my patience with the children.  I had moments where I was telling myself, “How can you have all of this spiritual maturity and yet be reduced to yelling at the kids or bitterness  with her?  Has all of my recovery been a lie? ”

Two months later today, the truth is each of us made mistakes in the situation.  We all intended to do everything right when we started.  Our habits, hurts and hang ups sprouted up right in the middle of our well thought through agreement.  We had consulted a family counselor who had experience with step family issues.  She did a very good job.  The bottom line is when one is tired, frustrated, disappointed, angry and scary feelings are escalating, the Conflict Resolution Plan that was given to us to follow as a couple flew out the window.  (I did share that with our counselor and she smiled knowingly, not seemingly surprised.)  Things culminated with me losing my patience with my adult step daughter and railing on her like she was a 16 year old who couldn’t follow house rules and her hanging her head knowing she couldn’t get a word in edgewise by that point in the “conversation” and I use that word loosely.

So now, it’s time for me to update my Celebrate Recovery testimony and I am committed to coming out of denial like I have never before. I have finished my 5th Step Study and Holy Spirit has allowed memories to surface of my surprising choices over my lifetime, some of them after I was in recovery and I was fully aware of how to avoid relapse as I had heard that lesson on more than one occasion and even taught it. When I had relapsed after my divorce,  I just did what I had always done.  I reached out to a relationship to solve my problems, make me feel better, and it just seemed like the right thing to do.  It was dressed up so it looked much better but it was still a relapse.  Most importantly, I hid it from my accountability partners and my sponsor.

So, why was I so surprised, hurt, offended, when my step daughter went back to her habit of trying to solve her own stresses with unhealthy choices?  She didn’t have near the recovery experience I had when I relapsed that last time.

Our counselor had said that one of the reasons I was in the situation of helping my step daughter was because God wanted me to learn some things about myself.

Boy, oh, boy. I learned a lot about myself.  But first, this experience of living together with an adult child who has a child or children, after they have lived on their own and are now back because of a type of failure or blow up, taught me how it must have felt for my own mom when I had done the same thing in my 20’s with my small son.  Every day when I was grumbling in my head about her, I was thinking, “no wonder my mom always seemed mad at me!”  She resented me, was frustrated with me, and didn’t know how to talk to me because those attempts at communication always turned out badly where at least one of us was crying.  So, the attempts at communication stopped and the anger just got bigger and bigger.  My parents had no skills or experience to deal with our situation and oh, I wish they had looking back.  I desperately needed their help but was oblivious to how badly I needed their counsel.  I couldn’t get past my defensiveness and I wonder if they weren’t just astounded and speechless by my lack of good judgment.

So, here we are, just having repeated the same scenario 35 years later. We are still speaking, but with caution.  Sometimes my resentment still slips out as I haven’t gotten all of it cleaned out.  I am continuing to pray and see my counselor. I ask Holy Spirit to keep me from causing more hurt from my hurt until I can process experience this further. I still can’t fix her.  I can only work on my own recovery.  Apparently, there is still a lot of work to do.











4 months in…

“Not sure sure how to explain this, but my nerves are shot already this morning. lol Each day is challenging. I am running Humpty Dumpty Daycare at our house 24 hours a day, and each day is different, each week is different, and it can mean 16 hours a day. Roy works so I am the primary caregiver. This morning’s surprise was having the Principal and a Social Worker on my doorstep unannounced to inspect the living arrangements for Elizabeth and Bensely and Mylah because I signed an avadavat stating they lived with us. Please keep us in your prayers. Tonight is our weekly family meeting where we hold her accountable on budeting, financial planning and goal setting. She was supposed to be moved out by June, but this is not happening unless she gets a really good job very soon. I have set a boundary with her that I will not be the primary daycare for 3 children this summer although I am willing to help out by filling in. (I don’t offer myself to my own kids to be their full-time childcare provider either.) She thinks now she is not getting the 3rd call back on the job she was interviewing with as the deadline was Monday. I am doing everything in my own power I can, and am calling on Holy Spirit to guide me daily, moment by moment, to help me keep my mouth shut when I need to and to be be able to make it through the really long days. This is not an easy situation for any of us. Of course, it has amazing moments as well. I just need ya’ll to hear me when I say, “Help, this is hard. I am tired.”

I posted the above message on a couple of private groups for women I am included on Facebook.  I received many encouraging messages and inspirational words of affirmation (my love language).  A young Christian sister who has 4 kids and runs her own business that I know from CR stopped by and brought me ice pops for the kids, flowers and a card for me and a package of a new chocolate chip cookie that is based on S’mores, for “whomever needed those the most”.  She wrote the verse on the inside of the card: And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast [a]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. A young mother of preschoolers from church who is quiet normally has reached out to me and offered play dates and even to step up to babysit if I need it for a break. She barely is holding her head above water, and yet she is willing to help this 56 year old normally confident career woman, because she recognizes the look on my face when I blow into church late barely speaking to other people because I am  so flustered with the 3 small grandkids and myself. I look at my sister whose husband has been working out of town for 6 months and she has had to manage 3 small children all by herself 24 hours a day with a new sense of respect, compassion and camaraderie.  I used to notice all the stains on her shirt when she came into our weekly 12 step meeting. Now, I am just glad she comes and we have a new connection. I no longer am judging her.

What did I learn from this?  It is much better to share your struggle than suffer alone. It helps others. It builds bridges and it is healthy for me to realize that I am not above the strain of being the primary caregiver of young children. Even Wonder Woman has those moments where she can’t do it all, and amazingly, they just didn’t include that part of her life in the series.


Be careful what you pray for.

Here I am. 56 years old.  I finally get to stay home and not work a paying job.  I have dreamed of this my entire adult life.  I have all my basic needs met and can work on any projects I have ever imagined.  I found God’s gift of a husband at 53 and spend every day in gratitude for God’s provision of my heart’s desire.  But.  We are spending our days worrying about our 6 kids, and their 13 kids.  Both of us are in recovery for being codependent with our adult children. Specifically, one family seems to be falling apart at the loosely sewn seams. We fear the children are the biggest losers in the situation and I find myself praying, fussing, sharing, ranting, all about the innocent children caught in the firestorm of the unhealthy marriage.  So, here I am, now living with my oldest step daughter and her 3 young children.  I am cleaning up after messy kids and a messy adult, communicating with teachers, packing lunches, taking to appointments and arriving at church events angry, frustrated and looking like a mad woman, literally and figuratively.  I realize I have prayed for rain and now spend my time complaining about the mud.  I now spend my days coming up with ideas of how to motivate young children to comply with basic structure and my house rules.  Don’t they know how hard it was for me to get my new husband’s house in order and all freshly painted after his wife had been so sick with leukemia for 3 years before she died?  Don’t they know how I have waited my whole life to be a full time homemaker creating a beautiful home that is organized and attractive for “company”?  Don’t they know how I have always wanted to write a book and this is the perfect time of my life to write this book that will enlighten so many?  I am tired, I am angry with their mother for everything she has ever done wrong, I am overwhelmed with how little I get done now on my personal agenda.  I do well to get my husband and I’s laundry done each week, let alone prepare attractive healthy meals that are beautiful to Instagram.  We have found ourselves eating hot dogs and being grateful for them on some days. Ugh. I realize how all of this sounds.  How ironic my situation is. All I keep hearing in my head is “when you pray about a problem, you may be part of the solution.” I also keep remembering how I was a single parent once, and how awkward it was when I moved back in with my parents.  I remember how angry my mom always seemed to be with me and I was oblivious.  I was doing everything I knew to do, and yet she seemed to be watching me always noticing what I wasn’t doing.  Ahhhh….now I understand why she would “over react” with me and she seemed to be so angry with me all the time.  She had a list of expectations for me and I wasn’t meeting them yet she didn’t ever share the list with me. I couldn’t win. I had no idea what was important to her in that situation so I couldn’t comply. This time, we are using a family counselor and she is guiding us to have weekly meetings where we can communicate expectations and work together on the primary goal.  Helping her get back out there as an independent adult.