Thursday, March 13, 2014

When You Question The Value of a Man

Today I hear so many women saying that they don't need a man. They state that they can get by on their own. In the sense of survival, sure, they can get by. However, I don't want to just get by. I want to fully live.

Looking at current statistics, half of marriages are ending in divorce today. And another glaring trend is a decline in people getting married at all. A lot of people are living with each other for a short time, making babies together, and then splitting up. Some are not even together, they are just hooking up for a night or two, and then parting ways. Even in this situation, they still often become parents.

Because I have had the childhood, and even some of the adulthood that I have had, I know that the value of a good man is priceless. Did I grow up in a perfect home? No,  I did not. I don't think that there really is such a thing. But, because of what I did not have, I realized the value of having it.

It is not my intention to embarrass anyone in my family or who have been in my family with this post. It is my intention to share why I feel the way I do about men. It is also my intention to reveal more of what shaped me to be the person that I am today. As well as talk about how things are still shaping me now. I run the risk of upsetting certain people, but I am taking that risk, because this is about my truth and speaking it.

Being a Child in Divorce

Chances are that about 50% of the people who will read this post will have been through divorce as a child. They will know already how it feels to be in this situation, so I am addressing those who have not been. However, I also know that a lot of children have parents who make sure that they do not feel like they are in the middle, so they have had a very different experience than I have.

My parents were divorced when I was three. There was a lot of tension between them while they were married, and after reading a lot of letters that they had written to each other over the years, I felt that they had made the right decision for them.

Both of them were experiencing a lot of pain, and there were situations that many people would not be able to forgive. I understood. I told myself that they are two different people. They disagree on some things that would make a marriage difficult. They were toxic for each other.

Whenever I was around them, they would tell me how horrible the other parent was. I was told stories about why they were divorced. While these stories may have been true, I was a child. I was being torn apart and told that I needed to choose a side.

Each parent would try to convince me that I needed to live with them and let them have custody of me at different times in my life. At one point, I felt that it was not about loving me at all, but about not having to pay the other parent child support.

I struggled early on with not having my father around. I would make up stories to tell my mom when she picked me up from pre-school about how my dad came to see me and spent the day with me. Of course, it was other girls that were seeing their fathers that I was taking about. I rarely got to see mine.

Eventually, I did try living with my father when I was 17, and the emotional pain that this caused, was intense. I ended up feeling like a burden to both of my parents. This led to other dumb choices on my part. If this was all there was to tell, then maybe my story would not have been too bad to live through, but this was only the beginning.

Both of my parents remarried. My mother remarried when I was 5 years old, and we relocated to Wyoming. The marriage only lasted for 4 months, and one of my adorable sisters came from this union. While this marriage was short, I had one of the best birthday parties that I remember having. There was a lot of good in it, that I wanted to have in my own marriage and life someday. We had family home evening, scripture and prayer, and I was happier than I ever remember being.

I loved being able to see rabbits in my yard, and go with my step dad to watch the antelope run in the valley below. I won a Halloween costume contest, and have many fond memories. However, I will be honest. I resented him for years for ending that marriage.

About three years ago, he came to me and apologized. He understood why I was angry. He too felt that if he would have stuck things out, that I would not have had the childhood I did. He is still a kind and gentle man that I truly look up to. I feel that my sister is lucky to have him as her father. She has had a very different experience than I did. And I am happy that is the case for her.

Eventually, my mom remarried. My father was still enlarging his family with his second wife. This time, the man my mom married was not nice. The five years that she was married to him I lived in Idaho and New Mexico, and they left some of the deepest scars that I have.

I felt that my mom must not have loved me to stay married to that man. Three of my amazing sisters came from this marriage. I honestly still struggle when I reflect on my life with him. I am certain that my sisters do not remember the things that my brothers and I do. And, because they are enjoying their lives, and he is still alive, I am not going to mention everything in detail. But, I will mention what is commonly known.

He was abusive. This is when I learned to never cry. Crying was a weakness. If I cried, he only felt more empowered and things got worse. If I was tough and had no emotions, he left me alone much faster.

 My brothers suffered a lot more than I. He was more physical with them. He would deny us food if we did not have everything that he wanted done. My mother would often sneak a piece of bread into us when he wasn't looking. I would often worry about my brothers and sisters having enough food, so I tried to eat less.

 He was very mean to my cute little sister from my mom's second marriage. I still cry when I think about it. I felt so helpless. I wanted to help her, and my sisters, but I knew exactly how strong he was.

He had left bruises on my arms more than once, and shoved me into things cutting open my leg. He threatened to kill me twice. Once he chased me into the street by my elementary school into oncoming traffic. My 6th grade teacher happened to be in one of the cars and tried to protect me.

Another time, he took me out to the side of the house and pulled out a gun and placed it against my head. Some neighbors saw this happen, and that is why when we left, his gun was taken away for a time. I already learned very early on not to mess with him.

My brothers started to create plans on how to get rid of him. They were tired of being kicked awake and screamed at. They didn't want to be his martial arts practice dummies anymore. I knew that he was hurting his own children. He would put a glass over their mouth to try to quiet their screams. When my mother discovered that what I was saying was true, that he was sexually abusing his own daughters, she left him.

We left all we owned behind and left in the middle of the night. When my grandmother passed away, my mother was given the picture I drew when we arrived at my grandmother's house. It has an eagle soaring over the mountains with the sun just rising. It says, "Free at Last. Thank God Almighty."

When I was 16, my mom remarried again. This marriage lasted ten years. He had some interesting quirks, and he was self abusive. He would often hit himself and pull his hair when he got upset. The way he acted really scared me, and that is why I went to live with my father.

I lived with my father for only 9 months. There is a lot I could write about just that part of my life, but I will say that it was very difficult. It was hard to adjust to different rules, I struggled with my mom feeling that I did not love her, and I struggled with feeling like an outsider in my father's family. I love my step mom and brothers and sisters, but I never really got to feel like part of the family, and that is still the case today.

Going Through Divorce as a Parent

I got married at 19, so I was only in the home for 3 years of my mom's marriage. I never really connected with her husband other than with music.

He was a stranger to me most of the time. After their marriage ended, my mom remarried, and that marriage lasted about 3 years. The situation was about the same. I never connected much with my step dad. I had already had shut that door.

I went through divorce after being married 14 years. (I will write about that another time.) I stayed in that marriage because I did not want to be my mother. For me, divorce was failing at that time. The reality is, the marriage should have never taken place, but I wanted to escape. I thought I could live "happily ever after" by getting out of my mother's house.

A short while later, I remarried. That marriage lasted 2 years. (Also will write about that later). It was devastating on  many levels. I felt that I had become my mother anyway. I learned some hard lessons about judging others, which I want to share, that I will post later as well.

I have now been married for almost a year. When we were married, I was told that I would experience marriage for the first time, and that I needed to look at this marriage as if it was my first and only marriage. The sealer (the man who married us) has been right so far. My experiences have been completely different. My husband has focused a great deal on helping me to heal. He is kind and thoughtful.

We have struggled, just like any blended family does. I am grateful that he is my husband. I am
grateful that he is part of my life. I know that the progress and healing that has occurred recently has a lot to do with the way, and how much he loves me. I have never ever had someone take care of all my needs the way that he does. And it is through him, that I have come to believe that there are good men out there. They are all around us, and they are valuable.

It is my hope, that my children will be influenced for the better by him. Since we have been married, their grades have improved tremendously, they have begun to blossom as well, and they are excelling in so many different areas. Spiritually, physically, artistically, and so many other ways. As I watch him help raise and discipline the children, I see the childhood I wish that I would have had. And somehow, it helps me continue to heal to see him love them. He helps them with their homework, repairs their computers, helps with their chores, focuses on their needs, it is just a beautiful thing.

Even before he came along, I knew the importance of a father. I knew that having a man involved in my life mattered. Boys need a good man to train them how to be good, hardworking men and how to treat women in their lives; girls need a good man to show them how they should expect to be treated; that they are always loved, so that they do not seek approval and acceptance outside of themselves.

When I lived in Missouri, I wrote a song to deal with all of the emotions that I felt about my childhood involving fathers not being there. That it seemed like they were always leaving. It was when I was 14, that I realized that I had a Father in Heaven who loved me ALL the time no matter what! And that he was not going to ever leave me. It is my relationship with HIM that has gotten me through everything in my life. It is because of him, that I am who I am today. He took every single trial and tribulation and used it for my good. And for that I am grateful.


Benjamin Heward said...

I agree with your point of view on our childhood. It would be impossible to explain in a thousand books to other people. With solace, I have come to realize that our Paternal Father cannot truly love or connect with us, because he is still too focused on himself. Literally, saving the child support, stealing your car and your savings, getting free baby-sitting, etc... are all indicative of how he uses people as pawns to support his personal feelings of accomplishment. Once I realized that he is so broken himself, that he is literally incapable of truly being there... then being an "outsider" is not painful anymore, it is just a reality. Relationships only exist where there is a real effort to connect. Simply, he never grew up into the adult stage of giving of himself. He still expects everyone to come to him, or to do things for him. His communication always increases just before his birthday, or christmas... because he want to be "treasured". Him him him; that is what life is about. Where we stand as as siblings is still a strong bond. Especially the three of us who came from him, because we have lived all the stages together. Then our sister from the second marriage is strong too... we saw her prevail through the many trials in her life. And the youngest three, we are bonded to them, stronger than they are to us, because they do not really know what we know... no one can without living it. We know that in the end, we can always rely on each other. We can all grow in our relationships by putting ourselves out there and striving to create one. With our father, I finally realized that I did not need to struggle to make him feel happy anymore. And that has been a great release. He creates his own burdens... so let him carry the load he places upon himself. Now I can better leave the pain behind, forgive him for his weakness', but call an orange and orange... and not think it will turn into an apple someday. Oddly, regardless of the extreme circumstances we lived through, I think it has made us stronger people. I feel I am a better father and husband by being able to analyze more of what NOT to do. Yes, I do feel that having had better direction of what TO do would have been of great benefit... especially in relationships. But we will continue to do the best we can, and look back and be able to say, we did a great job with the tools that we had.

Wyldfire76 said...

How very powerful for you to give voice to your history. I am sure this was very hard but also very therapeutic. I hope that it helps others out there struggling with the same.

Wyldfire76 said...

Sharing your history is empowering and therapeutic. I am so proud that you are in a place where you can do that. I know it will help others struggling with the same things you have gone through. Thank you for sharing.