So here's the deal. I've been avoiding blogging for quite some time because I didn't know where to start. Didn't know how much to say. Didn't think my past readers would accept this journey I've been on. But the new Hilary... the one I'm discovering... decided she doesn't really care. Want to hate me? Go ahead. Want to think I'm evil? Fine. I know this blog is going to tick some people off, and many of my past readers won't like what I have to say. That's fine. There are lots of other blogs out there to read. I've been convinced by several people in my life lately that this journey... the turn of events in my life... how I've been dealing with the changes and trying to find a new normal... could be of benefit to others. So on and on we go...
First issue: Why I am not the "worst of all sinners" for going through a divorce.
(But feel free to still think I am afterward.)
What happened? I think the bigger question is what DIDN'T happen. And that was a real marriage.
I met the XH (ex-husband) just ONE WEEK after a date-rape. (How's that for blunt on the blog?) I was vulnerable, I was hurting, and I wanted to be done with dating, to marry someone gentle and safe and kind who loved God, loved children and loved me. XH seemed to fit that bill. He was gentle, kind, fun, didn't put out ANY pressure for physical involvement (other than kissing, making out, the usual early dating stuff), and seemed to genuinely like ME... at a time when my self esteem was dirt. Looking back, I don't know that I was IN LOVE with him, but he seemed to be what I needed, I enjoyed spending time with him, and figured the love part would grow... I mean, look at all the arranged marriages where people end up really happy and in love! We were at least starting out ahead of that curve! I was also 21... young and dumb... and vulnerable.
We met in November 1997, and were married less than a year later. Everything seemed so great... we'd discuss thoughts, the future, our dreams and goals, and always he would agree with me. How amazing that we had SO MUCH in common! (Too bad he was just saying what he thought I wanted to hear.) He even went so far as to give me a little book "Getting to Know Your Life-Mate to Be"... full of questions to answer together. The deal was, we would both answer all the questions, then discuss. I worked for weeks on that book, writing out my thoughtful answers to every question. He... took my answers and read them, and never did his own. I'm convinced he used my answers to taint our future discussions to make it look like we agreed on more than we actually did.
The wedding plans, the invitations, where we would live... everything. It was "whatever you want"... wow! How agreeable and kind! (Later I found this was a warning sign that he was uninvested in the relationship, just floating by.)
The wedding day came, and it was fun, celebrating with friends and family, seeing all of the plans come to fruition, and finally being married, forever, to a nice guy who loved the Lord. Then came the wedding night...
We went to a local hotel that first evening, since we were going to a reception the next morning to open wedding gifts before embarking on our honeymoon. I had packed a sexy white nightgown, symbolic of both the purity we had maintained throughout our relationship and the hope of what married life would bring in that realm. I went into the hotel bathroom, changed, came back out, and XH burst into tears. I guess the lies had been too much, the expectation on my face overwhelming... I don't know. But that was the moment I got the first pieces of what I now know. He had no desire to have that kind of intimacy in our marriage. Yes, there were physical issues as well, but all seemingly correctible... had he wanted to pursue that, which he didn't. I spent that night in tears, too... the dreams of a happy married bedroom relationship shattered. If I'd known then what I know now, I'd have left that night. And few would have blamed me. But as I said, that night I only got a piece of the puzzle.
As married life went on, physical contact became less and less. After the first year or two, even kisses or hugs were dwindling. I did everything I could think of to entice him, to draw him in to the marriage (both physically, and that mental/emotional investment I mentioned above.) I failed. Time and time again. There was no drawing him in. So I hunkered down in the life I had been handed. No sex meant no babies, so we adopted. I invested myself in becoming the best wife, the best mom, the best homeschooler and domestic engineer I could be. And I did a pretty good job of it, I think... except that I was emotionally shut down and numb. I made a point of not bashing the XH, because a good wife wouldn't.
Then last year happened. October 1, 2010, I was handed a sweet baby girl, fresh from the hospital nursery, just 3 days old. My wonderful Kaylee-bug. My other children had attachment issues, and weren't capable of a normal loving parent-child relationship. My husband was merely a roommate. But that baby... she LOVED me. She preferred me. She wanted ME. Not for what I could do for her (cook, clean, buy clothes), but just because she loved me. Then at 9 months old, a judge decided she should go live with her bio brother she had never met. And she was gone. My baby. The only person in the world it felt like truly loved me... was gone. And I was miserable, and broken, and crying and hurting. I was married... and alone. Something had to change.
I went to talk to our pastor, and broke down in tears in his office (I can literally count on one hand the times I remember crying in my life prior to last Summer... I was just completely emotionally shut down. Losing Kaylee opened the floodgates.) I told him my marriage was a sham, I was lonely and unloved and felt hopeless and in many ways, "trapped" by my faith. That even though I was miserable, divorce wasn't an option, and therefore happiness didn't seem to be an option for me either. I told him if I was Catholic, we wouldn't even be considered married, since the marriage was never consummated. He said "but you aren't Catholic. And you are married."
He hooked me up with a woman in the church, who I met for coffee once. I shared my situation, and was basically told "that's a bummer... but divorce isn't an option. Get your love and contentment from God." Nice platitude, but to a hurting, broken woman, you might as well say "sucks to be you!"
The pastor called XH and I both into his office... and XH proceeded to play his old game of "tell them whatever they want to hear", and vowed to the pastor he'd been a neglectful husband, but he loved me and everything would change. 30 minutes later, at home... he admitted nothing was going to change. We saw the pastor again... same story. And again... you guessed it. I told the pastor I felt STUCK. His reply? "You aren't stuck. God can do anything... I mean... XH could get hit by a car on the way out of here today, and die. Or he could leave you." So I asked him straight out, though choking tears "So my only options are for him to die or leave me?" And was told that was basically my entire list of options.
So we went home, and started laying the cards out on the table. He knew he wouldn't change. He didn't have any desire to. I knew I couldn't be happy with things the way they were, and that I deserved at least a CHANCE at being loved and happy and having a real marriage. He admitted he never loved me, he just didn't want to be alone (he'd never lived on his own before and was afraid to). He admitted he was NEVER attracted to me... so none of my attempts and drawing him in were going to have any results. And I told him I needed him to set me free to find happiness. So he agreed. He left willingly. The papers have been filed. He's learned living alone isn't so bad. We get along well, we continue to co-parent with few conflicts, and we both have started dating other people, and have no delisions that we have any business being together. We are happy for each other... we both have a chance at a real life, a real relationship, love.
So judge away if you must. But I doubt there are many who would have stuck with that situation for 13 years. It was a bait and switch. He admits he lied and manipulated. And I did my best to make things work. What I refuse to do is suffer the rest of my life that way. God has better things for me. I'm wiser now, can see the signs, and can choose better for my REAL marriage someday.
So... judge if you must, but that's where I am, and how I got here. More on the journey to come...
Lots of silence around here lately. I hope to get back into it... but I think I've been avoiding this post. Time to just get it out there and move forward. The school year is about to start again, and we have lots of fun planned. I want to record it for our family record (blog book), and while this post holds me up, I can't do that.
So... here's the deal. Brian and I are separated. Heading toward divorce. We are in negotiation (amicably, without professional or legal involvement) over details, like the house and the children. Lots to decide. Do the kids and I stay here, and he gets an apartment, or do I get an apartment and have a "fresh start" (and no responsibility for maintenance) with the children, and they'll have the familiarity of this home when they are with daddy? I'm leaning toward the latter. And what kind of visitation schedule do we set up? Lots to decide.
I'm not going to spill all the details of our splitting up here. Just know it's what we know is right, despite the spiritual implications. Those closest to us know a lot of the details... but still not all. It's an unfortunate situation, but we're making the best of it. And I think I'll just leave it at that.
We both can use support during this time and the changes to come. If you can be supportive, we thank you. If you can't... well, I'm afraid I'll have to respectfully ask you to keep your criticism to yourself. We've been around and around this, and we're past the point of being talked out of it... you'll only alienate yourself from us by telling us how wrong we are. (Yes, we've had plenty of that.) You have every right to THINK it... just keep it to yourself, please. It's not helpful.
Since I know a lot of you follow this blog for updates on the children (and our adoption and fostering journey), let me assure you, the kids are doing great. Their therapist was involved (as was mine) with us telling them about the separation, and both have been a huge support. The kids are thriving. In a lot of ways, I think they are dealing with this very healthily. They are sharing their feelings, talking through things, and it's not unrelated to our deciding to "be real" and not fake this marriage anymore.
So... that's that. Hopefully the blog can return to a more normal schedule now that the elephant in the room has been identified.
- a 5-hour stretch of sleep, thanks to baby K last night!
- Sam finally finding books he WANTS to read (too bad he's read the whole series now!) He finished the entire Series of Unfortunate Events in less than a week, and this is the boy who doesn't like fiction! Anybody have any suggestions for similarly clever and fun books, preferably in a series, that he may also enjoy?
- a massage later this morning.
- my husband home for a 3-day weekend. Hoping to spend a bit of time with him (we've been on opposite sleep-shifts to deal with baby K) and also get a lot accomplished in regards to paperwork and school planning, since he's always so willing to step in and take the lion's share of parenting when I need him to. I know some husbands use their days off to read or rest or do projects. Brian's a dad.
- our time with this cute little muffin. My prediction is that she won't be staying. Birthmom said they've signed up for all of their classes and meetings and hope to have her back by Christmas. As much as I would love to keep this sweet little girl, it would do my heart good to see her parents do what they need to, get her back and parent her well.
- friends who can offer perspective. In sheer frustration over one of my children hiding his meals in odd places (gross!) to avoid eating them, and snitching sweets... a friend admitted that she was a very picky child and at the same age was also hiding food to dispose of it. That was a huge revelation for me... maybe that didn't mean he was headed for a life of crime for his sneakiness and deceit. After coming home that night, Brian and I got in a discussion about us snitching at similar ages - (for him it was cookie dough from the bowl without his mom knowing, for me, usually brownies off the stove.) Whaddaya know... we didn't grow up to be theives. While these behaviors still aren't OK, and we'll continue training them out... it is relieving to view the situation from a different angle.
- Coffee on a cold fall morning. In fact... I think I'll go make some.
Happy Saturday, friends! :)
1. Convince mom not to serve cheeseburgers or anything else I don't like at Superbowl.
2. Play princess Wii everyday.
3. Not be afraid of the yucky stuff that gets in the cat water anymore so I can get them fresh water.
4. Get better at reading, because sometimes I don't understand words.
1. Win all the levels of MarioKart.
2. Get better at telling stories to my baby sister. She walks away in the middle of my old stories.
3. Try to get all the kinds of Pokemons on the game.
4. Be able to identify 25 new animals by looking at them.
5. Get first place on all the levels of biking on Wii Fit Plus.
6. Pick up more trash to make the world clean.
7. Do better at getting my chores done so I can get more stars for snack shack.
8. Help daddy clean out the dishwasher to sell.
9. Help Hallie learn to read time better.
10. Get really good at my Plasmacar so I can beat Hallie in an upward race, then go down again.
1. Read the Bible all the way through this year.
2. Better moderation with food, for my health.
3. Keep my car clean.
HEALTH: Exercise at least 5 days a week (usually Wii Fit plus).
SPIRITUAL LIFE: Read Bible daily. Pray specifically for my children daily.
COOKING: Quantity-cook (enough for several extra freezer meals) at least one recipe a week.
CLEANING: Deep-clean at least one area of my home each week.
FINANCES: Track monthly grocery expenses for the whole year.
PARENTING: Yell less.
MARRIAGE: Take the garbage out more and complain about the full can less.
HOMESCHOOLING: Better organization, so I can stay ahead in my planning.
1. Build a new chicken coop, possibly start a new flock.
2. Organize a bookshelf of "to read this year" books.
3. Stay ahead of menu planning.
4. Get back into Flylady. I could use it.
5. Figure out a better routine so that foster placements don't wreak havoc on our homeschooling.
6. Save enough money to get a fence put in.
7. Find our children and bring them home.
I am utterly amazed at the blessing God has bestowed upon me. With not an ounce of deserving. Some friends were posting on Facebook from November 1st through Thansgiving one thing each day they were grateful for. Knowing I'd fall behind, I saved them for this post.
1. I am saved by Grace.
2. I have a God and Savior who walks beside me and leads me through EVERY day.
3. I have an amazing husband who loves me.
4. My kids have a dad who loves them is so incredibly involved and invested in their lives.
5. I have a son who is brilliant, and loving, and refines my patience. :)
6. I have a daughter who is sweet and funny and overflowing with life.
7. We have been entrusted with the care of a spunky, adorable toddler for this period of her life.
8. We have a small, but affordable home.
9. I live in a country (and a state, and a county), where homeschooling is not only legal, but supported.
10. I have close friends who are walking the road with me of raising adopted, special needs children.
11. I have more close friends who are like-minded, and support each other in the daily realities of homeschooling and being wives and mothers who want to please God in our calling.
12. I have a large extended family that still gets together for holidays.
13. I have blog readers, some of whom I have never met, who supported me with prayers and encouraging words when two of our children were taken from us.
14. We were able to be a part this year of the planting of a church in the heart of our town.
15. The pastor and congregation of our church have amazing hearts for God, for the Bible, and for adoption!
16. More and more families are opening themselves up to answer God's call to care for orphans through adoption... this brings me GREAT joy!
17. In a time of great financial difficulty in this country, we are thriving.
18. My husband's work provides insurance for our family at a minimal cost to us.
19. My pantry is full.
20. I have both the means and the ability to make good, wholesome food for my family.
21. Brian's company opted to forgo annual raises this year, so that there would be NO lay-offs.
22. My children love me, despite my MANY imperfections.
23. We have two functioning vehicles.
24. My mom babysits! We don't have a weekly date night or anything, but we can generally go out on our anniversary, attend meetings with social workers when needed, and more... and that is a real blessing!
25. We just found out one of our former foster kids (S, now age 11, from January '09) is being adopted by someone Brian knows from work! Hooray!!
26. Tomorrow is the first day of the Christmas season (by my rules). Decorations, music, movies... and Peppermint Mochas... here I come!
Happy Thanksgiving, Friends! May you enjoy time with your loved ones as you count your many blessings. :)
Thank you for the suggestions! We ended up doing "dinner and a movie", which sounds boring, but was actually very nice. (Though I've tucked away a few of the other ideas for future date nights... should they happen!) I picked up my mom at about quarter to 5, then swung by Little Caesar's for a couple of "Hot-n-Ready" pizzas. I brought her and the pizzas home, and Brian and I took off ("Thanks, bye!"). My stepdad was picking up wood in a nearby town and met my mom here after we left.
We went to Red Robin for dinner, and as Brian was pulling into the parking space, he bumped the truck in front of us. The guy jumped out, looked at the back of the truck, jumped back in and drove away. Seriously, we thought he was going to swing around and ram us! But he parked again, about 75 feet away. Brian went over to talk to him and make sure there was no damage to his truck. The guy said, no, we'd just bumped his towing hitch, but he was frustrated because the same thing had just happened to him 10 minutes earlier, and he'd moved to THAT spot because of it, then we pulled in and did the same thing. (And a week earlier, in the same parking lot, he'd lowered the tail gate on his truck to load something, and in the time it took him to walk around to the front of the truck, somebody drove right into the tailgate! Definitely had to feel sorry for the guy. But he was friendly enough, and no harm done.
Into Red Robin (in a bit of a time crunch because we bought our movie tickets on Fandango, so there was no option of just going to another movie if we were late for that one), we sat in the bar so we wouldn't have to wait for a table. We had a coupon for a free stack of onion rings, so we orded that right away, and when they came with our water, we ordered our food ('Shroom Burger for Brian, Banzai Burger for me). I checked my cell phone for the time when we sat down... it was 5:32. I know that's way more detail than you need, but after all the concern about being short on time, our BURGERS were delivered to us by 5:41... and the appetizer came earlier than that! I find 9 minutes from seating to eating pretty impressive!
Done by 6:30, nice time of talking with no interruptions. Swung by RiteAid for a candy bar and a pop for each of us (that may or may not have travelled into the theatre in my purse), bought popcorn at the theatre, and settled in for a showing of A Christmas Carol in 3-D.
This is where I admit that I'm getting old. Not only was I getting a bit of a headache from the eyestrain of the 3-D by about 20 minutes into it, but remember that missing sleep from the night before? Yeah... I slept through 10 or 15 minutes of the middle of the movie.
The movie was extremely well done. The effects were amazing. It followed the book extremely closely, which could be a plus or a minus depending on your view of Dickens and this particular story, but I appreciated the attention to the original literature.
Next stop: Walmart, for an exchange (the green with red lights Christmas tree we got for Sam's room ended up being BLACK with red lights, and we are not in favor of a "goth" Christmas), and to buy some pinecones... which you'll see on the blog soon. Then back home to rescue the grandparents... and enforce the rules that the children had been trying to convince grandma and grandpa didn't exist - they were ALL still awake at 10. Grandma says she wants a new list of the rules. :)
It's one of those mornings. Natalie had several crying (screaming) jags in the night, and after the latest, I'm awake with no hope of getting back to sleep. So I thought I'd brew some tea (with 1/2 and 1/2 and vanilla bean syrup) and get started on my school planning for the week. (Or at least update my neglected blog.) I'm sure I'll be sorry later, but this seemed a better option than tossing and turning for the next 2 hours.
We are hoping to slip out this evening for our "real" anniversary dinner. When we first married, we decided to divy up the anniversary planning role - Brian is in charge of "even" years, and I take the "odd" ones. It's an odd year - 2009 and our 11th anniversary. But I have no idea where to go or what to do this year! My mom will be babysitting for a few hours this evening. Anyone have any fun (not too pricey) ideas?
Natty will be 2 next month. And she's still waking up almost every night. We've been unable to figure out any pattern yet of why she'll be up often some nights and (rarely) sleep through on others. We've been toying with food sensitivities, trying to rule that out (Halloween night and the one after were REALLY bad ones, so we thought maybe sugar, or dyes, or chocolate, but we haven't had a consistent response to ruling them out either.) Trauma, obviously, is a consideration, considering the nature of why children end up in foster care. It seems like there could be a correlation with the weeks she has visits with her birth family, but again, too inconsistent to say for sure. Some friends insist this is normal, that we were overly spoiled with our other two (Sam was sleeping through the night when he came home at 13 months, Hallie was sleeping through by 2 months old.) All I know is, I'm tired, and she sure seems old enough to be sleeping all night! (I also have a chest-congestion thing that started about the time she arrived in February, and I'm inclined to blame my lack of consistent sleep for the fact that I can't seem to shake it.)
OK, enough blog. More tea. On to school planning.
But if you have any ideas...
- Toddler Sleep Habits
- Blog topics for when I'm too lazy to upload photos
send them my way. :) Have a great weekend!
Yesterday was our 11th anniversary. It passed without much fanfare, but we did take some semi-alone time. My mom and stepdad had offered to babysit so we could go out to dinner, but they both came down with a cold and didn't want to spread the germs on to the kids. (And I'm fine with that!) So that portion of our anniversary celebration has been postponed. Instead, we grabbed a movie from Redbox (The Proposal), and watched it together while enjoying Boneless Chicken Wings from Wingstreet (Pizza Hut) in both Spicy Asian flavor and Garlic Parmesan. Other than the interruptions from our 6 year old, it was a nice, quiet evening at home together... not spent doing housework or other necessary tasks!
I'm thankful for 11 years with this wonderful man. Brian is an incredible husband and father, and I am blessed. Happy Anniversary, honey!
I'd never had risotto before. Never made it. Never eaten it. But I came across a package of risotto rice at Deals Only for $1. Knowing the episodes of "Hell's Kitchen" were starting to pile up on our TiVo (during which they ALWAYS make Risotto, and usually get yelled at for making in wrong), I thought it would be fun to plan a home date that included risotto and a Hell's Kitchen marathon.
We picked up some packaged Chicken Cordon Bleu (I wanted the rest of the meal to be really easy, since I was a bit nervous about the risotto, knowing how much trouble the chefs on the show seem to have with it.) There was a recipe for "perfect risotto" on the back of the package, so I followed that, making just a few adjustments (peas, parsely), to make it look more like it does on the show. It was DELICIOUS!! It wasn't difficult, but did take a bit of time. It was a fun evening and we discovered a new favorite side dish!
1 onion, chopped
1 large clove garlic, crushed
3 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz arborio risotto rice
3 cups boiling stock (chicken, vegetable, etc. I used chicken base and water)
"Good knob of butter"
2-3 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
Sea salt and ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, gently saute the onion and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes. Stir in the rice and cool 1 minute, until oil is absorbed. Add a quarter of the stock and simmer, stirring frequently until absorbed. Stir in remaining stock gradually, a cup at a time, allowing stock to be absorbed each time. This should be 15-18 minutes. (Mine was still too firm, so I mixed up 1 more cup of stock and simmered for another round). Finally, mix in butter and cheese (I also threw in a sprinkling of parsely and a handful of frozen peas). Season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.