Wednesday, December 30, 2009

vengeance is not mine

I understand now why so many people seek vengeance under these kinds of circumstances, and it has nothing to do with punishing the other person. When you've been betrayed by someone who is supposed to love you and care for you, the anger is a useful tool for not feling the hurt so badly. In fact it can prevent you from feeling altogether because you are so busy smashing things to pieces :)

But when you don't seek revenge, through anger, the result is an overwhelming sadness and g rief over the loss and that is much more debilitating, at least for the shorter term. But ultimately, more healing comes through sadness because it is the real emotion under the anger, and it resides closer to the heart, and is consequently more human, which is the reality here.

Today I'm sad, for I have dropped my vengefulness and am feeling the loss. In 2 Corinthians, chapter 7, Paul remarks to the Corinthian church that the distress they felt over being hurt by some other segment of the church drove them to deepen their ties with God rather than strike out at those who hurt them.

When I'm sad, I am driven to Christ for solace, and it's a very good and safe to be.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Since last posting, I learned a lot more about the mistress. Having concluded that they deserve each other, I am now directing my concerns toward my own children. As one of my friends said, "your husband's escapades are boring and predictable, pathetic, twisted and ugly. Why waste any more time thinking about them?"

Monday, December 14, 2009

to reveal or not to reveal

It's amazing how much I've distanced from my husband's whole drama, although not surprising really considering how long I've had to get used to his escapades and bad behaviour.

I can honestly say I feel no jealousy for my husband's girlfriend (whom he's been sleeping with for almost a year I also just discovered). The only thing I feel right now is revulsion for the deception and lies -- inwardly I say ick when I see him.

But a friend suggested that the girlfriend really ought to know the things I now know about. She's the single mom of a young daughter, and most likely knows nothing about his "secret" life -- after all, I've lived with him for 23 years and hadn't a clue til recently. But another friend said better leave it alone and hope that he continues in this "normal" relationship which would prevent him from reverting to the other, and wreaking havoc and damage for my children, and hope that they can carve out a relatively normal relationship as long as it doesn't get any further than superficial. Not that it's likely to be very deep, given how he refuses to deal in reality. (see his earlier reactions to their hurt ....)

So to tell, or not to tell. I guess the answer is what will help my kids the most....

Heavy stuff. Depressing stuff. I feel liberated, though, at long last.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

you learn something new

In the past couple of weeks, some things have come to light about my husband's behaviour the past several years, and I am shocked, saddened, and angry.

Up til two weeks ago, I argued when he persisted in saying our marriage was so bad. Now, though, I have to agree with him. It was bad, but not for the reasons he said -- our essential incompatibility -- but because of his secret activity. For a shrewd and perceptive person, how could I have been so blind?

What I'm left with is sadness, that the marriage is well and truly dead, that the only hope of resurrecting it is with a complete transformative miracle, with God healing those dark holes in his heart. I am also ambivalent -- no inclination whatsoever to restore the marriage, and yet praying for his heart to be changed by the Holy Spirit. As for the children, I have a strong desire to protect them from this side he never revealed -- and which I pray he never will.

But there is also hope, as long as I can turn away from obsessing on this drama and how I can change it. I have no excuse not to move forward, and follow what my dear friend recently emailed me:

I so hope you realize that right now you are living Advent! The old world is dead; a new one is being born. Very confusing, but so full of hope. He is coming, that really means something. This confusion is so typical of new encounters with Christ, the real one, not a movie version of the young Jew of 33 years ago, not a pal, but your God who calls you to fuller life - and that always comes with panic and muscle pains. Don't worry about 'marriage'. Marriage is an institution to make love more accessible, to give it a chance to grow. Human beings don't exist to defend marriage, marriage exists for the sake of the human being's fulfilment. In this society, it is a pretty week support and protection.

So strike out into the deep. Don't let the devil destroy for you this most important moment in your life. Because so much good can come of this destruction of old habits, many of which were not good, whatever the devil is must be after you most energetically to distract you from the unleashing of real love and personal freedom that this change of life makes possible. This big Spring cleaning is liberating everything in you, the good the creative but also all the dangerous stuff that structure and habit hid under the rug. 'Be not afraid, it is I', God is telling you as he shakes up your world. Watch, wait, hope, and keep yourself pure for what is coming. And then, as He always says, don't worry about what you will do or say, I will do it for you.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Letting Go

The rage has subsided, but I know better than to think it gone altogether. Today I have some clarity. A marriage is a bit like the trinity -- you have two individuals, and then you have their relationship. And all three can go spiraling off -- not the trinity, but us.

Last night, saw my counsellor, and have regained some clarity. First off, two people make mistakes in marriages, two people contribute to problems, and sometimes, actually usually, each one feeds off the other's specific flaws that nestle in nicely with their own flaws. Then you have extra problems, such as personality disorders, anxieties, conditions, depression, etc. These can really take on a life of their own, and start to rewrite history, and the future.

In our case, my husband has flat out refused to accept any responsibility in any marital downfall -- in his words, it's a no fault situation, that we were just not meant to be married. Convenient, I spoze, but how then do you explain 23 years of hanging around waiting to leave this unsuitable situation???

I have resolved to:
1) pray for a miracle of conversion
2) move on with my life, aiming to accomplish goals I have set for myself (work, spiritual, physical, emotional) and above all have fun
3) stop trying to figure out what is impossible -- another person's set of issues
4) acknowledge I have anger that is justifiable, understand what underlies it, and work on forgiveness, through God's grace
5) create a fun, stable, safe home for my children

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Anger and more Anger

The temptation to rage, and to hate is very strong in this sitch. The only way I can talk myself off that ledge is to let God talk me off it, by reading Bible and praying.

What I am angry about:
- the way my kids are hurt and angry, and desperate to change the situation and bring daddy home; and the oblivion on dad's part that "everything's ok" because they're talking to him
- being shoved to the side, after being the supportive wife for so many years
- the dissing of this marriage as "bad" -- or worse, to have him say it's "nobody's fault, we just shouldn't be married"
- to hear my son saying he feels in the middle, no matter that I refrain from saying anything negative about his dad, or to hear him saying he doesn't want to talk about this
- to hear my daughter relate a conversation with her dad: Daddy, I don't want you to get married. Well, A, you don't know what the future holds. But Daddy, I don't want step sisters and brothers. Well, A, I can't guarantee that. Daddy, will you promise me that before you propose, you'll tell me? Yes, A, I can promise you that. WHAT KIND OF CONVERSATION IS THAT TO HAVE WITH A TEN YEAR OLD, WHOSE WHOLE LIFE YOU'VE JUST TURNED UPSIDE DOWN????

Now just hearing his voice, or seeing his face on skype has me running for cover.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

out of the mouths of babes

Last night in the car, I told my daughter I'd been at a school location that brought back memories -- it's where I met the woman who was sort of dating my husband at the times, and she introduced us.

I said, 23 years ago. It's a long time.
My daughter said, yes it is. And you should still be married.
I said, well technically I am, and reminded her we weren't going to talk about divorce, then explained the diff between separation and D.

She informed me she would not be sleeping over at her dad's new place. When I asked why she said she wanted him to come visit her at our home, thinking maybe she could force him to return. I tried to tell her that you can't force someone to do what they don't want to do, that is be married to me anymore. She said, well I'm still not sleeping over there.

I said, that's fine, it's your decision.

I don't think her dad was prepared for these reactions. He'll be sad. But maybe that's not such a bad thing.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

All things possible

Today, the coaster ride is smoother. Luke 1:37 helped. With God, all things are possible... and I am the handmaiden of the Lord and so be his will.

This is the last morning I will wake up to see my husband's face on the pillow next to mine. When you know it's going, it becomes a little sweeter. I prayed while he slept, and blessed his trip both overseas for work, and his leaving home journey.

As for me and my children we will be fine, eventually, by the grace of God, and through leaning in to difficult times rather than avoiding them, forgiveness, and unconditional love.

Friday, October 30, 2009


Obviously, I am on a rollercoaster of emotions these days. Yesterday was sadness, and forgiveness, and today I'm angry. Is it my way of reacting to a situation I do not want to be in? I intended to grow old with this man. I wanted us both to go together to our children's weddings. Why is he so blind?

He has a wife who loves and supports him, children who adore him, work that he really loves to do, opportunities to travel with his work. When he said yesterday that he didn't want to be on his deathbed and say where did my life go? I wanted to say better that than being on your deathbed and saying: what did I do? how could I have lost what I had?

He seems to think that if he takes the kids out for dinner and explain to them in rational ways how this will work, and how we'll all benefit from it (DUNH!) that all will be well.

I'm angry that the entire culture seems to think divorce is OKAY! That everyone will be fine as long as everyone plays nicely in the sandbox. My kids are plenty angry, and hurt. I'm angry and hurt. I feel abandoned.

Can I scream now????

Thursday, October 29, 2009


These have been very heavy-hearted, trying days, as my husband prepares to leave our home -- 15 years in this house, and 8 years in the other. Our children have been raised here, and it's like tearing body from spirit. I cannot bear to tell some people for their reactions: it's not the end of the world, you'll get over it, you'll see that this was the best thing possible.

But it's not, especially for my children.

My nights are like Jacob's Ladder re-runs -- wrestling, crying (I take myself to the basement and try to sleep there). And in the midst of it all is my Lord and my God, faithful to the end as I work through this particular challenge. The book Love Dare (which accompanies the slightly cloying Christian movie Fireproof) is something else I'm working through. It's really quite excellent.

I have never been challenged to love unconditionally, although the Bible is full of examples and exhortations to do so. I am going through the exercises -- not to win back my husband because he won't return after trying for 10 or 20 years to leave -- but because it's good for me.

And guess what? A huge weight is being lifted off my shoulders. I feel free. I feel as though I am solid rock again (until tomorrow when something new will sideswipe me and knock me on my keester). It's the understanding that forgiveness is the act of letting God take over whatever work he needs to do with the person who hurt you. It's also understanding that many hurts that are inflicted are through sheer blindness. Remember Jesus on the Cross? If He could say, forgive them Father, they know not what they do, when his innocent blood has been shed, then why shouldn't I be able to?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Every day the cqod (Christian quote of the day) comes into my mailbox, and it never ceases to amaze me how often it hits home for whatever I'm going through at the time.

Today it's the unbelievable claim that God hears whatever we ask according to His will. And knowing that he hears us, we are assured that we have what we asked! As George MacDonald explains, a child running home hungry actually has more need of his mother than of dinner. Likewise, when we go to God it is communion we seek, not the things that we ask for. MacDonald even suggests that God witholds things from us, so we will come and ask.

These days as I go through the extremely tough stuff of losing my marriage, and watching my children go through various stages of grief, mostly numbness right now, I can easily grow desperate and despairing. I tend to manage things and thus my prayers can veer into the "please fix this for me" arena. The despair leads me to think it's hopeless, the situation has gone on far too long, I've tried everything.

Like Martha who complains to Jesus, I am being told: sit still, and trust me. It is your life in mine that should concern you, and only that. You can pray for him, but you can't fix or change him, only I can do that.

Communion with God is what I need to focus on, and on the rare occasions I can keep from being distracted from it, there is a measure of peace. On the days I go careening off on my own, thinking up methods to shake things up, I am distraught.

I tend to be impatient, and thought that I was very patient the past ten years or so since this trouble has brewed. But I realize now I have just been enduring, and not being patient at all.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Death of a Good Man

That 1960s song “what’s it all about?” plays in my mind occasionally as I think – endlessly, it seems – about this event, or series of events really.

It’s been a week since David Dewees, the Jarvis Collegiate teacher who committed suicide after being arrest on charges of luring, and invitation to touch. He was my son’s section head at Pioneer Camp this past summer.
Aidan, 16, revered David. Such a great guy, a good man, so much fun, the most amazing Bible study leader, a gifted teacher so inspiring that Aidan has started to consider that vocation -- the kudos seemed endless.

The whole affair has taken on huge moral proportions – great men sin (and women) – and where do we find God in it, and where do we find right judgment in it. I bring up the idea of moral dilemma in trying to find ways to discuss this tragic thing to Aidan. The truth must out and yet is the whole truth may be lost to us forever with David’s death. We must protect our children, yes. But what of the hundreds of children whose lives were touched, positively, and changed forever on account of his example? And what of those who will never benefit from his probing questions, his exuberance, his musical genius, his deep and abiding love of Christ? Is David’s life now completely discounted because of his suicide, and even more by what led to it?

We heard things that make for unclear judgments, moral ambiguities, which we aim to examine in both the stark light of God’s truth and the compassion of Christ’s grace. Aidan understands that one must judge another on how he presents himself to us, and not on what others may say. But he and his friends talk and some of them are deeply hurt: “I thought I knew him,” said one. “How could he do this,” cries another.

Aidan has thought about this, and concludes that he can forgive David for being something other than what he may have thought he was. Nobody is two-dimensional, we all have dark sides – witness great King David, who loved God mightily and yet arranged another man’s murder so he could steal his wife.

Aidan doesn’t really understand what made Yukon (Dewees’ camp name) take his own life, but I can imagine: despair, shame, humiliation and the weakness we all suffer from – disbelief that God could possibly bring any good out of this mess.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Getting Up and Going On

I could make excuses, and some of them sound and legitimate, for not keeping up with this blog. The past several months have been extremely stressful for family reasons. The situation with access to my elderly father deteriorates, and there is nothing we can do legally -- my brother manages to keep just one inch above the law on this. The marriage teeters on the edge of nothingness and many days I just feel like giving up. Freelance work has come to a standstill and my income is half what it was last year, which wasn't any great shakes then.

Lo, the many times I've been lying awake at night feeling completely overwhelmed by the problems, and feeling I can't find a way out of this. I start dragging up things from childhood, and mistakes I made, and dwell in a constant whirlwind of self-doubt, self-recrimination, and sense of hopelessness.

Payer is the only thing that drags me out of it. And that usually prompts me toward thanksgiving: how my children thrive, with Aidan reaching new levels of relationship with God, and Anna dealing with anxiety and perfectionism; and also to view how blessed I am compared to about 97% of the population.

I try to remember what Harriet Tubman always said to herself: "Just keep on goin', Harriet, keep on goin'." And she did it with Christian love.

And then today's cqod (Christian quotation of the day) came to my inbox and knocked all that sheer determination on its head:

To do for yourself the best that you have it in you to do-- to grit your teeth and clench your fists in order to survive the world at its harshest and worst--is by that very act, to be unable to let something be done for you and in you that is more wonderful still. The trouble with steeling yourself against the harshness of reality is that the same steel that secures your
life against being destroyed secures your life also against being opened up and transformed by the holy power that life itself comes from. You can even prevail on your own. But you cannot become human on your own.
... Frederick Buechner (b. 1926), The Sacred Journey, San
Fransisco: Harper & Row, 1982, p. 46

Yes, we've been given a brain to think through things, a will to carry out what we think is right, and even a heart to temper it all with compassion. But this quote talks about obedience, I think -- that we must wait on the Lord and remain open for Him to do His work. I have failed to obey this in my quest to fix problems.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Acedia & Me

Having not slept well last night, I took to my bed this morning as soon as Anna was out the door to school, and snuggled up with Kathleen Norris’s latest book Acedia & Me: A Marriage, Monks, and a Writer’s Life.

In between fits of catnaps, I read it, and it struck a deep chord, echoing my own faith (or faithless) journey in her biography of churchgoing childhood, to adolescence and young womanhood of agnosticism, and eventually back to the church, to faith, and one hopes into the love of God. But no journey is so simple, especially one beset by the sin of acedia, sloth, lassitude, listlessness, despair, depression, or whatever you wish to call your own noonday demon.

It’s this acedia I have been suffering with the last several months, and possibly for much, much longer. I wish I could find something funny to say about it, but in some ways humour can be an effective shield against honesty, and losing faith, in yourself if not in God, requires no small amount of self-reflective honesty. And it’s not all that funny, either.

So far, about a quarter of the way into the book, it does seem as though Norris is suggesting that the antidote to acedia (for it is truly as poisonous as a serpent’s bite), is digging in deeper to commitments – to one’s self, to life, to your spouse, your friends, your vocation, your God. It seems to be a complete cessation of desire – which is a sickness of the will and consequently the heart – and in modern Dr Phil terms, the prescription is fake it til you make it.

Of course Norris is much more eloquent that Dr Phil, and one sentence in particular seemed to sum up what I have been feeling much of lately. Listlessness has a seductively soft sound, but at root, it means being unable to desire, which is a cause, and a symptom, of serious mental distress. What most of us do is delve deeper into distraction – the worst thing, Norris says – because it makes us “in danger of becoming immunized from feeling itself.”

Monday, May 04, 2009

the silent scream revisited

Bernard Nathanson’s book, The Hand of God, should be on every young person’s reading list. He describes his own journey from a broken childhood with a dictatorial doctor father, who was verbally and emotionally abusive to his mother, into his own medical career, and the pathways that led him to become one of the leading early abortion doctors, who was also a leader in the pro-choice movement. He performs 60,000 abortions over the course of his career – including that of his own child – and only when ultrasound becomes standard use, does the veil fall and he sees that the fetus is life. His arguments rest on that fundamental principle, not in all the bafflegab of pro-choice proponents who have fairly sophisticated arguments for when and how a fetus is human, and whether there’s a moral absolute, and whether a fetus can feel pain (yes, it can). He stops doing abortions in 1979, and at one point even asks one of his colleagues if he minds having the ultrasound machine on while he conducts an abortion. When his colleague sees the ultrasound results, he is sickened, and stops doing abortions himself.

The strength of Nathanson’s book is its honesty, how he became pulled and lulled into the pro-choice movement, and with good compassionate reasons. He also supports it all with some pretty shocking stats – especially gruesome are the deaths of some women seeking abortions from bad doctors. He discusses how the cream of medical crop bypasses this as a career choice, because of its scummy aftertaste, leaving the doctor dregs to perform abortions – some of them doing 30 a day.

Ironically, it is his pro-life about face that eventually leads to his conversion to Christianity. He witnesses the quiet, deep of the pro-life vigils, and prayers, and holding the mirror to his own soul, finds it lacking. He eventually becomes Catholic.
The other strength in the book is his prescriptions: prayer is vital, non-violent vigil, too – as he points out, no one was ever convinced of God’s unbounding love or of the personhood of a fetus by argument alone. It is love -- relayed through visual and emotional means -- that can successfully grab one in the gut and demonstrate the reprehensible act of abortion.

Friday, April 24, 2009

From this day forward...

The thing that keeps playing in my mind is my friend’s statement that she deserves to be happy, and that this marriage is not making me happy. Her announcement of the marriage ending deeply saddened me because she and her husband were good together, and they were in love at one time; but she has always restlessly sought happiness, and so has he.

Ironically, we all seem burdened with two human traits that make it difficult to survive: on the one hand we bury our great disappointments with life – especially with the frailty and flaws of our fellow humans and even more so with those humans who are supposed to love us – and on the other we have this unreasonable expectation and hope that somehow it will be all different with a different person. It does seem to be on the one hand, a refusal to engage with the flaws, and on the other, a denial of the universality of love’s frailty. That is, human love. Is it any wonder that so many people scoff at the good news preached about God’s love, when they have nothing to gauge that by?

As Vietnamese bishop Francis Thuan learned, during his 16 years of imprisonment (nine of it in solitary confinement) on trumped up charges, struggling against no matter how inhumane, unfair and injudicious the treatment at other’s hands, only ends up making the knots tighter and the imprisonment more despicable.

The only real way to freedom is through Jesus Christ: “When every former security fell away that I felt I must concentrate all my life on the one thing necessary, on what is solely important.”

And his prescription is the same as Pope John Paul’s: “Let every moment of our life be, the first moment, the last moment, the only moment.” That is, we must deal with the moment, and not the outcome of other’s actions.

Or as Dr Phil might have put it, is your reaction (to this imprisonment of the soul, of the body, of the mind, of the heart) “working for you?”

To Have and To Hold

I just got off the phone with a long time girlfriend who tells me her marriage is dissolving, and she has been having an affair for the past two years. While I do understand that she’s felt frustrated with trying to get her husband to pay attention to her, I also know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the infidelity news.

And she’s not the first. In the past month or two, I have heard of the split up of four other relatively good friends. In one case, the husband had been addicted to office affairs, and had even been blackmailed by one of his past flings. In the other two, the husband had left for another woman. So the stats are right on one thing – this happens 75% of the time with men, and 25% with women. And the final one, he left not for another woman, but to be away.

In my own case, I keep holding on, but when I get to the point where I am ready to throw in the towel he makes a turnaround. Some friends say he seems to enjoy having me dance to his tune. Others say essentially the same, but add that it’s just his personality to need to assert his power to leave anytime (which he’s been threatening to do for 22 years, and never does).

The conversations with friends always revolves around how does this affect the kids. Is it better for them to have parents staying together even though it’s pretty clear there’s little love, or is it better if mom and dad move on -- either alone or to someone new -- so that they can stop exposing the kids to impotent relationships. I’m married to a man whose parents stuck together and their horrible relationship may have caused him to be virtually incapable of making a commitment (he did this kind of thing with girlfriends before me so I know it's a trend). And yet, my children are doing quite well, all things considered. And I am doing fairly well myself -- we are amicable (most of the time), and I do work I like. Except for occasionally feeling suspicious that he is having an affair, my emotional life is pretty consistently calm. (Though this could also be due to having cut myself off from feeling.)

Anyway, I’d love to hear from others what they have to say. Because I don't have the answer(s)!