Monday, February 22, 2010

Return to Intimacy - Week One

I can hardly believe that it has been a short lifetime... Well, if you are an infant it is a short lifetime since I last wrote here at the RANCH.

The last week of December was "sick" central at our house.  Taylor was ill and then Scott got a pretty harsh case of the flu.  To make matters worse, we were landing on the 365th day since all hell broke loose in our marriage and I was feeling just a little put out by the entire ordeal. 

If I'm confessing, my emotional irrationality and my wounded heart finally erupted.  It was Saturday, January 2nd and man was I in a mood.  We were on our way out the door to a family reunion at my parents when something he did triggered my "I'm-mad-as-hell-and-not-going-to-take-it-anymore" persona. I don't even think it was that big a deal, honestly.

She showed up in a full on. UGLY. RAGE.

I told him I was tired of waking up every day pretending everything in our marriage was fine and acting like last year had never happened.  I was tired of dealing with the ugly feelings that still surface even now a year later when he was responsible.  In short, I said, "I want to stand on the roof and in the middle of rooms full of people we know and tell people that you are simply not as great as they think you are."

I told you it was UGLY.  It spewed out of me like a bad case of food poisoning. EMOTIONAL. VOMIT. EVERYWHERE.

Hold up... This post definitely needs a warning. I am posting this for two reasons. 

1.) Because all marriages have "junk" stored in a closet somewhere in their house of history.  I mean seriously, if you don't have a few past issues, regrets, differences and points of contention in your marriage then I would like to meet you because I need some help. God's purpose are always redemptive, and so I am writing this to illuminate how He is redeeming the time in our marriage.

2.) Because when "all hell broke loose" in our marriage some 60 weeks ago... Scott and I agreed that we would tell our story if it would help others find their way.  So... If your marriage has never been a ship in a fog storm headed for the rocks, read on at your own risk. 'Cause this is the story of Titanic proportions and it is one only God has been able to steer away from the rocky coastline into calmer waters.

So back to my FULL. ON. UGLY. RAGE.

A year ago when this mess all came to light, which obviously we both knew there were significant problems in our relationship leading into December.  It's just that on December 28, 2008 the lid came off the boiling pot and overflowed filling the house with stinch and opening our eyes to how bad things really were.

The last year has been a season in which we both had to make life-changing choices.  We both had to decide what we were in this marriage for and if we both were committed to hauling this clunker down to the body shop to get her fixed up good as new.

It was a season of testing for our marriage and a season of growth. It was a season of facing reality and coming face to face with the really ugly and soulish sides of our human natures.

Very early on, though, we made a commitment to making our marriage better day by day and only dealing with the hard junk as it came up. Well, I guess I had about enough of our deal. 

Cause January 2nd seemed to be "JUDGMENT DAY."  And, to quote a cliche' "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

My statement that day was really an ultimatum - some might call it manipulation, but my heart wasn't trying to get my way - I call it a line in the sand kind of moment. I needed something to change and something quick.  I'm not even so high on myself to believe that this something might just be someone. ME.

At any rate, I needed Scott to step up and man up. I needed him to stand for us and to take some responsibility for the mess that I really felt was landing squarely on my shoulders most of the time.

I said, "You have exactly 30 days to step in and start working on what is broken in this marriage and your part of that or else we're going to marriage counseling."

One year ago, I asked him to go with me to marriage counseling and he didn't want to go.  He said he wasn't comfortable. I went in for ministry sessions at the church instead. And, he attended Freedom Ministry classes.  We started dating again.  Spending time together.  Loving on each other and really just trying to rediscover what we had been drawn to about each other more than a decade ago.

So... I had given it time.  Lots of time and I needed some answers.

This week, we've set out on a journey that is a little bit scary for both of us and a lot of work.  Emotionally exhausting, soul-searching dig up the past by it's roots and throw what is not useful, beneficial or healthy into the fire and watch it burn kind of work.


Return to Intimacy is an eight week small group experience based on the teachings of Jimmy and Karen Evans from Marriage Today. It is brand new, and has not even been released for publication yet - so the under score here is - it is largely uncharted territory.

It is designed to uncover problem areas in our relationship that keep us from living in the oneness that God created us to live in.  To explore these areas by opening the doors of communication and stepping forward as we submit these things to God and learn how to help one another grow and live fully in the blessings God has for our marriage.

Yesterday was day one.  I'm not even kidding you when I tell you we are still feeling a bit of the after shocks from yesterday's shaking.

We went to the class.  We listened. We watched a video. We filled out an "all about us" slip of paper and we left quickly through the side door.

On the way home, we had a rough conversation about one of the discussion questions.  I had openly answered the question in the group setting, but Scott had remained his usual stoic self.

I asked him anything from the morning's experience had impacted him and he said, "I don't know."

Those words hit me right in my heart when he says them.  All most every question I ask him results in this answer, and it is part of the reason I am asking for marriage counseling if we don't find some  ground to stand on in this together.

I fought back the tears of defeat welling in my eyes and quietly asked, "What is it that makes you feel insecure?"

OUCH. Does not even begin to convey the sting I felt when he answered. He was being honest and it offended me.  Mostly because we've had this discussion hundreds of times and he has never let it go. Now, that's a horse of a different color because I am usually beating a horse to death about a grievance not the other way around.

His answer.  "When you question everything I do."

He is referring to the fact that if we head out somewhere I ask, "Why are you going this way?"

I'm mostly looking for direction on what to expect.  It helps me feel safe and keeps me from growing frustrated if the trip takes longer than normal.  To him, however, it says, "I don't trust you to even get me to our destination efficiently or safely."

If you are guessing communication is a big issue for us.  You hit it right on the nose, friend.  It is a killer in our relationship.

He is also referring to the fact that I am insecure about EVERYTHING. I'm reading Beth Moore's book, "So Long Insecurity" and relishing every word. I'm a dead ringer for a case study in Insecurity.

Tag the emotional wounds I've been nursing since our boil over moment last year and the fact that we both know my love languages are Quality Time and Words of Affirmation.  Well, I'm just a time bomb waiting to go off when you start lambasting me with you do everything wrong.  It doesn't even have to be "everything," it could be anything.  But, the truth is he stated it outright.  When she does this I feel insecure.  OUCH.

I responded like a cornered dog plagued by past abuse. I lashed out hard, loud and with malice of forethought all the way. We raised our voices, used choice words, and hit each others hot buttons until you'd of thought the NUCLEAR HOLOCAUST was upon us. It was an emotionally violent storm.  The perfect storm that has been brewing for eleven years.

Awash in tears and those others messy fluids nasty emotions seem to bring out, I was still hopelessly defending myself when he said, "I'M DONE."

He hates conflict of any kind and would bite off his own tongue before having a conversation that gets anyone, including his own temper up.  I know his buttons and I start pushing, because almost always the hot button moments are when the truth really comes out.  I need to know the truth.  He let me have it.  With both barrels loaded for bear, he fired off the list. 

I ended up apologizing and asking forgiveness for every single thing he accused me of doing.  I didn't know what else to do.  I only created bigger offenses trying to explain to him that what he was hearing wasn't what I wanted to say.  That just made things worse.  So, I bit my tongue and flushed out some humility hoping to put an end to the emotional turmoil being stirred up inside of me. 

After about two hours of this gut-wrenching mess.  I went and laid down on the couch and cried those aching silent tears I've been sitting on for months. He came out, kissed me on the cheek and apologized for being harsh with me.  I apologized again for being so wound up and angry. He left me there in a puddle of my own tears.

As I cried, I realized he never even addressed what he does that brings out my insecurities. I went toward the bedroom and opened the door. 

What I saw sealed up the door to my heart tight. I was done now.

He was laying casually on the bed like nothing had happened and was watching the race. 

For heaven's sake... I thought.  I'm trying to save our marriage and all he cares about is the stinkin' race.

I asked for the keys to the Explorer and told him I was leaving.  I needed desperately to get the heck out of Dodge before I said something I'd regret forever.

His response forced an answer, "What do you mean leaving?"

I simply said it the best I could. Between sobs and tears I spilled my guts. "I'm done.  I've got to get away and think. I can't do this anymore. I've got to get out of here. I've got to get away and think."

My heart was miles ahead of my body.  It was headed for the hills to hold up in a self-built stronghold that would help me deny the pain and rationalize my response.  I turned toward the bathroom and our closet looking for some shoes when the phone rang. 

Scott's mom had called and while he spoke with her on the phone... Clarity moved in.

It mostly came by way of the bathroom mirror while I was rummaging around for shoes.  Running away is never the answer. "You, dear girl, are one half responsible for this mess and you are not allowed to run away from it."

I heard the words of my Daddy God loud and clear.  It was time to face the music and do some forgiving myself. I sat down and gave him the list of "I choose by my will to forgive you for..."

I don't know how many items I ran through, but I made a complete list and released him from the consequences of those actions against me. I apologized again and finally said to him, "Scott, I'm still done with this. I can't do this anymore. If I had in mind that divorce was a reasonable solution, I'd be gone. That is not a threat, that is not saying I'm leaving you or anything else. I'm telling you I can't live like this anymore."

He came to me after I collapsed in a weary heap on the floor.  I confessed my fear and my weariness to him.  I asked him for help again. He came to my aid. We lay on our bed in utter silence while the bright winter sunshine streamed through our bedroom windows setting the room aglow.  Eventually we napped and sweetly surrendered to reconciliation and oneness in a make up sort of way. It's definitely not over but we are at least back on the roadway and working our way forward again.

We covet your prayers, and appreciate your coming along for the ride.