A Million Pieces

Once upon a time, I paid a lot of money for and invested a lot of time in trauma therapy. This was court-ordered during my divorce settlement and was the best thing, in my opinion, that the judge ever ordered. My therapist and I didn’t click right away. It took about two to three sessions before we found our groove. I haven’t seen her in a year and a half and there is a still a therapist-shaped hole in my Monday afternoons.

The *reason* I haven’t seen her is because she decided (and I suppose her credentials as a therapist enable her to do so) that I had gone as far as she could take me. That I had looked past the trauma of an abusive marriage and was going forward with my head held high.

So it remains interesting to me that there are still people, to this day, who believe I am not healing properly from the trauma that was my marriage.

In considering this, I’ve decided to delineate the ways I have healed.

I am a better parent now than I have been in my entire twelve years of parenting. In my kids’ early years, my entire life, everything I did, was colored by my fight or flight instinct. This included my parenting. And my children suffered. I took my focus away from them and focused on pleasing their father, on having everything in the house to be up to his standards. I punished them for transgressions that did not deserve punishment because that is what he wanted. I did not treat them as people but as subordinates. In the past four years, I have reconnected and bonded with my children in a way I frankly never knew I could. We still have tough days. But I know my children well and they know me as well in turn and we are a cohesive unit in a way we have *never* been in *twelve* years. That’s healing.

I have reclaimed my home. For more years than I care to acknowledge, I lived in a home that was a work in progress. The work was never finished. My children lived in a home with bare, white walls; in a home where 2 x 4’s with exposed nails were piled on the dining room table because they would be used for some project, somewhere. In the years since my divorce, I have painted every room of my house in colors I have chosen. I have, with the help of my father, brother, and good friends, finished the home improvement projects that were half-assedly started 10 years ago; I have given each room its unique personality. I have created my own private oasis in my master bedroom and am no longer sleeping on the bed he got when he was 15 years old. I have spoken myself into my home. And perhaps most importantly, I refinanced the home out from under my ex-husband, per our divorce decree, and it is mine.  The name on the deed is mine, and mine alone.

I have grown my faith. This is, perhaps, the biggest part of my journey that is up for debate. I don’t go to church. Church, one particular church, was responsible for a large portion of my trauma in the aftermath of my separation and divorce. In fact, and this is another blog post for another time, this is the one piece of trauma that my therapist stated she was not able to resolve. But I digress. I literally have panic attacks when in the vicinity of a church. I cannot be around “church people”, I cannot listen to sermons. I cannot. But, strangely, I am closer to God than I have ever been. I don’t feel–and this is a bone of contention for many people–that I have to be in a church building to grow my relationship with God. He knows how I feel. He knows the panic attacks. He knows it all. And while it is true that I do not voluntarily take my children to church, it is *also* true that if they ask to go, I will take them. Because I am a mother above all else. They don’t ask, and whether that’s because they are protecting me (which is not their job) or because they have suffered some of the same traumas and cannot articulate that, I will never know. It doesn’t matter. If my kids want to go to church, we go. If we don’t, it does not mean I am a faithless person who is rejecting God.  It means I know Him and He knows me and we are on the same page.

I am co-parenting. Not only am I co-parenting, but I am the only one co-parenting. (Thereby negating the definition of “co.”) I give up time that my children are scheduled to be with me so they can attend activities they enjoy doing with their father. I do this almost without question. Because that is what is best for them. I communicate information about school events, sports tournaments, injuries, illnesses, and anything on the children’s minds or hearts to their father. Because that is what is best for them. And I continue to do this when he does not. When I am informed of emergency room visits only because the hospital calls to check on the child that supposedly went to the emergency room, I turn right around and send him an email telling him that all 90 teeth belonging to our three children are scheduled to be cleaned. I inform him of literally every event or appointment in their lives that he, as their father, has a right to be informed of. He has not shown up to a single one of them. I continue to inform him. Because that is what is best for the children.

So it turns out my therapist was right. Not that I ever doubted her. I am making progress and, though I am still actively being abused by my ex husband, I am a stronger, healthier person than I was before I even got married. I know who I am. I know what makes me tick. And I am, at days away from 40, the happiest I have ever been in my entire life.

Which seems healthy to me.

“The human heart has a way of making itself large again even after it’s been broken into a million pieces.”– Robert James Waller, “The Bridges of Madison County.”







No Soliciting

Well this post has been brewing for a while. I’ve held back because I don’t like to blog in anger.

I have been single for right about four years now, give or take. I have navigated four years’ worth of life without a partner/roommate/spouse-type-person to bounce decisions off of.

Every. Single. Decision I have made in the last FOUR years has been made by me, myself, and I. (Sometimes I ask my kids where they want to go to dinner, so that may not be 100% true. I digress.)

Yet I have noticed this odd phenomenon in my life during that time period. It seems, without fail, that any decision I make (who I date, what gender that person is, who I socialize with, what to do while socializing, what vacations to take, how to discipline my children, whether to introduce my children to the person I’m dating–which apparently will net a different answer depending upon what gender that person is) is scrutinized by people who feel that because they are my friends, because they have spoken into my life in other areas (because I’ve allowed them to) that they are *obligated* to speak into my life in all areas.


I realize that in the days of social media, there are people who post openly and honestly on social media (including yours truly). And I’ve heard it said that “if you put it out there it’s open for commentary.”  Commentary, yes, I agree. That is why there is a *comments* section on Facebook, for the love. But I don’t think “commentary” and “unsolicited advice” are the same thing. In fact I know they are not.  And me relating a story about my life, or about a decision I made, is *not* the same thing as me asking for validation for that decision.

But–and I ask this honestly–at what point in life does a 40 year old grown-ass woman get to make her own choices? And at what point do we sit back and watch those choices and watch the consequences of those choices and *not say anything* to the grown ass woman making the choices? I think that point is now.

I’ve been told that, since my divorce, I have been doing things that are “inappropriate.” (This was not the actual word used. If I were to use the actual word, the person who used the word in several moments of unsolicited advice would feel called out and since I am a grown up I will not do that.) These “inappropriate” things including drinking alcohol (I did this while married, so this is not a post-divorce habit, FYI), smoking (it’s *fantastic* for my PTSD; try it sometime), swearing (FUCK yes I swear) and vacationing with people (men and/or women) one on one.

I turn 40 years old in less than two weeks.

Having lived 40 years, I am aware that:  drinking is not healthy; smoking can kill me; swearing is unpleasant to listen to; and taking vacations with someone of the opposite or same sex will lead to raucous uninhibited sexual behavior and for the love of all that is holy there is no turning back once that road has been taken. I actually made that very last one up. Because I can neither confirm nor deny that that is the intent of said vacation. I can confirm that said vacation will contain all 3 of the other inappropriate things. It is an adult vacation. There will be adult things done.

My point is this. I do not love every decision my friends make. In fact, there are some decisions that I find to be downright stupid and really just not a good idea. And when I read and/or hear of such decisions, I will roll my eyes or shake my head or swear in Italian (I don’t speak Italian but it’s fun to swear in another language) and, in my head, imagine the scenarios that could come about with repercussions of that decision. In my *head* I do this. I do not, contrary to what happens to me, read or hear of said decisions and immediately fire off an email espousing all of the reasons why the decision is bad.

Because, and I realize this is shocking, unless advice is specifically asked for, it is usually unwanted. I believe this is true for just about any grown up person that I know.

And I think if someone finds themselves constantly dispensing “friendly” advice because they feel it is their place…I’d suggest the problem is not with the one being advised.

And I will go so far as to say that I do not care how close two particular people are, or how much advice has been exchanged up to a particular point between two particular people; unless it is specifically asked for, it is not the place of one adult to tell another adult what to do. It just is not.

I have found that this is often done in the name of being a spiritual mentor or of wanting someone to “grow”. I admit that oftentimes the thought, the intent, is in the right place. The execution fails miserably, however.

It is never–in the name of Jesus or mentorship or Titus 2 or anything else–ok to give a grown-ass person advice that they did not ask for. It’s just not.  And it is, more importantly, never ok to tell someone what God has told you on that person’s behalf. I guarantee you that if God has something to say to me, He’ll say it directly. He doesn’t need an intercessor.

Frankly, I’m tired. I’m tired of every decision I make (or, at least the ones I share) being subject to the opinions of every other person in my life. I literally was not allowed to make a decision for the thirteen years I was married to my ex-husband. Please, at least, grant me the ability to do that now. You don’t have to *like* the decisions. But you don’t have to *tell me* you don’t like them, either.

The Opposite of Loneliness

“It’s as bad as it has been for over twenty years, but then, I haven’t been here all my life.” — Jennifer Knapp

This post is probably, almost, 12 months in the making. I’ve been wrestling with something for about that long and it’s taken me months to find the words.  Which explains a bit of my blog silence.

I have been un-married (I count my separation, but we weren’t divorced for over 15 months) for three and a half years and, in that time, I’ve not had what I would call a relationship. I am currently seeing someone off and on, but we’ve not made a commitment to each other and it’s sort of one of those “we see each other when we can” sort of things.”

But that is neither here nor there.

Almost a year ago, I was talking to a very dear friend of mine about the fact that I’d not really been in a relationship since my divorce, nor had I desired to.

Admittedly, people find this odd. I know people who are out hunting as soon as (or before) the ink is dry on their divorce papers. I am not that person (no judgement if you are.)

But instead of saying “That’s weird” or “What the…” or anything else upon discovering I had no desire to enter into a relationship with a man since my last relationship of 16 years (total) ended, my friend looked at me honestly and asked if I’d ever considered–really considered–my sexuality, and how that played a role in my post-divorce non-dating.

I had not.

This is going to be a difficult read for some people. I wholeheartedly acknowledge that. A good portion of my readership is Christians, a good portion of that portion are those who believe that not only is homosexuality (stay with me) inherently wrong but to question anything other than “God’s plan” is not healthy.  If you are one for whom this read is exceptionally difficult, I’d urge you to stay with me.

Please note the following: I am not making an announcement of any sort. But since this blog has detailed my entire journey, it’s appropriate to share this part here.

So, my friend set off a bit of pondering, to say the least. And I’ve spent, really, the last year pondering. I’ve not yet come to a conclusion, but I come here willing to say that, in my entire adult life, I have never had an intimate relationship with a male. That is a true story.

I have dated one other man prior to dating my now ex-husband. And I was married for thirteen years. But I still have never had an intimate relationship with a male.

I have, however, had intimate relationships with females.

I’m one of those who may very well define “intimacy” differently, and I think this is the crux of what I’m saying. So please, if this is making you twitch, hear me out.

My whole life, I’ve only ever had one or two close friends at a time. And, while embroiled in them, those friendships were everything to me. We did everything together. We shared every last bit of our hearts. We wrote letters and notes baring our souls, revealing things only the other would ever know (and turned these into a laminated binder 20 years later…ahem).  And that is to say that when I am your friend, when we share deeply, when we love each other through the hardest, darkest of times…those are intimate moments for me.  Intimacy, as I define it, is emotional and nothing more.

I’ve always, until recently, thought that I just “did” friendship differently. Because even in middle school (and probably further back, if I could remember), it was like this. I had a “best friend” and we were as intimate as 9 (or 10 or 11) year olds know how to be, so to speak.

And here is the weird part…through the years, the “best friend of the moment” would change. I’d grow close to someone (intimately close), we would have a fight or “grow apart”, and that would be it. No working through it, no making things right, it was just done. Like a break up.  A really shitty breakup.

Which explains an awful lot about me.

(I also have to say, strangely, that my ex husband actually pointed this out in his own psychological evaluation. I have no idea why the state of my friendships–or lack thereof–came up in his psych evaluation, but I know that he specifically stated I had “weird” friendships “hinging on lesbianism” but that when “something happened” I would drop them and not look back. While not entirely true, at least not as he described it, it’s a rare moment of insight on his part, because it was the single most accurate thing he said about me during the course of our divorce.)

So I’m admitting here that I am openly struggling (which is not the right word, because while I consider it a struggle, it may not be for the reason that people would think it should be a struggle) with finding myself at the very least emotionally attracted only to women.

I do not–and I say this with one thousand percent certainty–have an emotional or physical attraction to men. I’ve tried. I’ve pushed myself to try, even. It’s not there. Not once. Not remotely.

And I’m not even really, mostly, hardly (ok, a little, but not all the time) physically attracted to women.

But I only emotionally bond with women. And I fall hard when I do.

And I don’t know if that’s ok.

I just finished reading a book that made me feel…normal. The author of the book admits that his biggest challenge as a gay Christian (no, I’m not coming out) is how to have life-enhancing, emotionally intimate friendships without Christians skeeving out at two men (in his case, women in mine) being intimately emotionally bonded. It’s a huge point, and I think anyone who loves me needs to read this book, because you will understand me in a heartbeat.

The Church presents physical intimacy between men and women as God’s way. I don’t dispute this. But what The Church gets wrong, in my opinion, or rather fails to do, is the nurturing of close, emotionally and spiritually intimate friendships. Because we don’t know what to do with that. Because it’s outside our normal schema.

And the author goes on to say that it his contention (and mine, after reading) that Christians who identify as homosexual are much more skilled at the art of same-sex friendship than are their peers, because they have spent their entire lives trying to appear “normal” around their same sex friends, who they may or may not be attracted to.

This man explained my entire adult life in 120 pages. (To be fair, there is far richer content than what I summarized above, and he places a a good deal of responsibility for intimate friendships on the church’s acceptance of intimacy between same-sex friends as emotional, not sexual.)

No one who has ever been close to me or on the receiving end of an intimate friendship with me will ever deny that I love my friends wholly, deeply, and hard.

But this book made me think, daily, as to why that might be.

I’ve not officially concluded anything yet, and I’ve probably left you with more questions than answers.

But I think the lyrics I quoted at the beginning (from a former Christian artist who left contemporary Christian music to live a quiet life with her girlfriend) sums it up well. This is by far the largest spiritual challenge of my adult life. I don’t know how it will end (or if there will ever be a conclusion.)

But I do know that I am capable of intimate love in ways that you probably won’t understand unless you’ve been loved by me in that way…and if the latter part is true, you are now probably scared.

You’re not alone in that. This is what I’ve been dealing with, every day, at the forefront, for the last year. And I’m coming to peace with it. Whatever “it” is.

“The opposite of loneliness is not togetherness, it’s intimacy.” Richard Bach



A Naked Truth

When I was married (which thankfully seems oh so long ago), my ex husband used to take me shopping. I know what you’re thinking. “My man never takes me shopping.” “At least he spent money on you.” Etc.

Hold that thought.

My ex husband used to take me shopping for clothes he picked out. Clothes that were, at the very least, one size smaller than what I wore at the time. These were not “motivation” clothes, as some women are known for purchasing. I mean, they were, to him, but he had a very “odd” way of phrasing it.

He would buy me clothes one size too small so that, and I quote, “it would be how obvious how fat” I was.

I guess that could be construed as motivation.

So I would wear the (too small) clothes, and a strange thing would happen. He would remark about how fat I was. How strange that must have been, to note the very thing that *I* was supposed to note.

And so then I would endure the comments about how fat I was and how terrible I looked and how could I possibly go out in public like that and didn’t I realize how terrible that made *him* look? I mean, how dare I look fat in the very clothes he picked out for the specific purpose of me looking fat. How *dare* I.

It has been nearly three years since I left my ex husband, and the subject of clothing, how it fits me, how I look (good or bad) or what is “appropriate” attire is still very much off-limits for me.

In regards to the last, there are times, I acknowledge, that such a discussion is necessary. Professionally, for example. Being necessary, however, does not make the conversation easy. That conversation happened today. It was, to be clear, begun in a completely innocuous way that meant absolutely no harm. It was sort of an aside at the end of a very stressful day and, to be fair, though I did not come right out and ask “What do you think of the way I dress”, I invited feedback. In general. About…anything. Really.

It was supposed to be a quick parting comment.

It turned into me sobbing all the way down the freeway for my commute home.

And that is not the fault of the person with whom I had the conversation.

This is, in fact, a trigger of mine that I have kept very well-hidden and tucked away. My own therapist does not know about this trigger. (I would probably need another 12 weeks of cognitive behavioral therapy if she did.)

Just my luck, there is a dignitary in town and I had *three whole hours* to process this on my “drive” home. It’s my lucky day!

It is perhaps not widely known that as a general rule I take issue with human beings evaluating each other based on their clothing choices. It seems…shallow. And anyone who knows me knows I don’t do shallow. (Except when swimming. Because I can’t. Very well. But anyway.)  I still, by the way, very much feel this way. And I will never claim to understand why it is acceptable to comment on other people’s clothing choices.

There are very few exceptions (maybe one) to the above. Obviously, workplaces have rules (or guidelines) about what can and can’t be worn and one should follow those if one expects to have a job. My workplace is, thanks be to Jesus, highly casual in regards to “dress code” (which is to say there isn’t one); I will, however, admit that there are times I may have taken “highly casual” to the extreme. I don’t really know. It’s also fair to say that 80% of the time, I work from home, and don’t even get dressed. (Truth.) The other 20%, I am in the office, but am still, perhaps, taking advantage of the casual environment.

It was not known to me, prior to today, that this may (or may not) be a problem.

So after I walked away from the conversation abruptly (so as not to allow the tears in my eyes to be seen), I processed this by continuing the conversation on the car ride home. (Disclaimer: I use voice text so it was more like talking than texting. While driving. End disclaimer.)

I was able, in doing this, to narrow down the *one* (and, to my knowledge, there is only one) area, wardrobe-wise, that could use some work or that may not be “appropriate.” (To be fair and also vague, I am not doing or wearing anything outlandish–I wouldn’t even know where to begin in being outlandish–but a particular aspect of my wardrobe was bothersome to a particularly important person.) Thankfully, it’s quite easy to fix, now that I am aware. And once we hit on that part of the conversation, the rest was easier (very, very slightly) to process.

Let me tell you about my body. (Hush…don’t go there.)

I have birthed three children with this body. I am, in fact, still holding onto the weight from the last one. That one may or may not be almost 8 years old. May or may not.  (It’s worth nothing that I also forgot to wear a bra today–for the LOVE, I have to get three children up, fed, and out the door to school and we all slept in and I didn’t get my coffee–and was told, upon realizing this, because these are the things we talk about at work, that this was not really noticeable.) So, while some parts of my body are worse for the wear for having birthed three children, others are…not.

My body has gained 40 pounds in the last three years. Sometimes I will lose 5 or 10 here or there, but what is important to know is that, quite literally, pants that fit me last week may not fit me today. And because I am, sadly, not bleeding money, I can’t run out and replace everything that decides not to fit when in another week or two it may decide *to* fit. Which sort of lends itself to an interesting conundrum most days.

There are parts of my body I want to hide and parts I..don’t. (Yes, I realize there are people who will say there are no parts that should be flaunted. I will not argue with or necessarily disagree. I think a person can, for confidence’s sake, accentuate the positive without using a flashing red neon light. So to speak.) Unfortunately, the “want to hide” parts and the “I really like these” parts are in the same…realm. Which is tricky.

I have never been praised for my body. I was married for twelve years and in all–*all–that time, we never once had sex with the lights on. Because he “didn’t want to see my flabby ass.” So he spent the better part of twelve years criticizing a body he’d never actually seen. I’ll let that sink in.

Last week, I asked some trusted friends what I should wear to a particular meeting. The resounding answer was “Wear what makes you feel confident.”

I was unable to determine what that was.

And therein lies the root of my issue.

I am, three years post-separation, finally getting to figure out what makes me confident. What I like and don’t like in terms of clothes. What “works” and what doesn’t. And, as I pointed out earlier, sometimes it works one day and doesn’t the next.

It’s hard.

I *want* to “look good” (though I’m not sure I know what that means).

I am *trying* to find “a look” that works for me.

Hint: Trying often involves failing and trying again.

It is more frustrating to me, probably moreso than anyone else, that every morning I look in the mirror and my only thought is “Well I guess that will do.”

I have never once thought “Damn. You go, girl.”  One day, I may.

Today is not that day.

Tomorrow probably won’t be either.

Maybe August 8, 2026. Maybe.

In the meantime, I will keep changing my clothes 4 or 5 times every morning before I find the perfect combo that both hides my ass and my (three-babies-and-a-hell-of-a-lot-of-comfort-food-and-alcohol) belly and…doesn’t hide…my…chest. I like my chest. I think it’s a damn fine chest that fed three babies. I will not, however, always succeed. This does not mean I am not fit to take on the day or that I don’t, in the moment, write a damn fine assessment report.

It means that I might not look as good as other people writing damn fine assessment reports.

It also means I am still discovering the very best of me, physically and otherwise.  I’m a big gal. There’s lots to discover.

Please be patient.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair.”–Audrey Hepburn

Above All Else

I believe that one of the largest lessons I have learned through the course of my separation, divorce, and post-divorce life, is the necessity of personal emotional boundaries.  I spent a lot of time, emotions, and money in therapy trying to come to terms with the fact that not only are boundaries a privilege I am entitled to, but they are medically and emotionally necessary for me to set.

I have come to the conclusion that not many people agree with me on this.

Which makes me very sad for a lot of people that I care about very much.

I think a lot of people think boundaries are “hurtful.” Which, I suppose, by virtue of deciding who and who isn’t healthy enough to be around, would be true.

The best way to explain this is to give a couple of personal examples from my personal (yet anonymous, cough cough) life. In both situations, I was given the opportunity to set boundaries. I was applauded for one situation and derided for the other. Though the situations were not exactly the same, I acknowledge, the basic principle of boundary setting was present in both.

Last week, I went to my parents’ house for dinner and a social evening. I spend a lot of time over there when I don’t have my kids, as there is relationship to be repaired and new stages of life to be navigated; I find that if I do this when my kids are not present, it makes it easier to help my kids do the same things. It works for us–for all of us.

During the evening, my brother made a comment that exacerbated my PTSD (which is not generally a response I can control). After I told him I didn’t wish to participate in the conversation based on the fact that my PTSD had been exacerbated, he told me that PTSD doesn’t exist, and that I was using it as an excuse to manipulate and control the conversation, and that this was a pattern he’d noticed with me. I disagreed, and I firmly told both him and my mother (who was also participating in the conversation) that I would not be joining in and that was that. My mother, to her credit, tabled her portion of the conversation, and I left and returned to my own home because I did not feel safe in my brother’s presence (primarily because he was disregarding my needs during a time when I–and this is psychological fact–cannot always predict my response.) So, rather than face a situation where I might say or do something I’d regret out of trauma-induced fear, I set a boundary and removed myself from the situation. My mother thanked me for this reaction later, and when I ran it by my friends most of them agreed that I’d made the safe, healthy choice for me.

Which is interesting, because then another situation presented itself wherein I was again looking out for my mental health (and that of my kids) and made a decision to reflect that…and the same friends (who are part of my support system and have been for years) essentially indicated my decision was selfish and would cause unnecessary discord. (I’m paraphrasing, not quoting. FYI.)

To relate this situation as best I can without precluding anyone’s anonymity (mine included), I was determining, with my mother, who would host a holiday and how to handle the inclusion (or not) of a person who has a tendency to cause a lot of drama in our family.  My mother and I came up with a solution together, and determined that this solution would be the best for me and my children; given that not only am I hosting the holiday, but one of my children’s birthdays falls on the holiday I am hosting, we feel that protecting my mental health and that of my children should take priority. Because the event is in my home.

My mother–the notorious boundary-stomper–agreed that I should set a firm boundary in order to protect my mental health. Just let that sink in.

In having this particular discussion with my mother, it occurred to us that perhaps other people may not see our reasoning as valid, or that other people would likely feel a different obligation than we would. As per my usual, when I am running an idea or a thought through my mind, I will often run it by a specific group of people as a way of confirming what I’m thinking. I think this is normal human behavior.

Imagine my surprise when not only was I made out to be some sort of inhumane person who would exclude a family member from an event (in my home), but the reasoning for this conclusion was that to exclude someone (who causes me mental anguish) from my home is cruel to that person.


I have no words.

I want to make this exceedingly clear, and in doing so I’d like to make clear that if you are a person who believes that one person setting a boundary is hurtful to another person, I’d like to remind you that a relationship with me may not be in your best interest:  Boundaries are healthy and Biblical. Boundaries are necessary. I have learned how to set boundaries in my life and I am now learning how to enforce them.

I’ll wait while those of you who find this to be a controversial issue show yourselves the door. I won’t hold it open for you, because I don’t want you to show yourselves out. I fear you will, however.

There is a mental-health concept known as self-care. This is, apparently, a controversial issue.  I believe it is healthy and necessary for people–all people–to set protective boundaries for themselves within relationships. The Bible says “Above all else, guard your heart.” How is this not the same thing?  By choosing who I allow into my home at any given time, I am guarding my heart against the uncertainty that this person causes my children, the stress of the ensuing behavior of my children when they are around her, and the feeling of tranquility I am entitled to in my own home.

I want to re-iterate:  This particular instance, the second instance I am describing, is about who I, a 39 year old adult, invite into my home. Though I do not feel I should have to explain how I choose who to invite into MY home, this is apparently not the case. The prevailing opinion, in fact, seems to be that because the drama-causing person is affiliated with someone to whom I am related by blood, the “right” thing to do is to “suck it up” and invite them into my home, for the sake of their feelings.

And while that belief could (and does) incense me to a degree, it makes me feel bad for people who put up with what could very easily be deemed abusive behavior from relatives just because they are relatives.

That’s called codependency and it’s not healthy.  And I feel for those of you who have a sense of obligation to include people you may not like in gatherings at your own home, simply to avoid hurting feelings.

My question is this: Why does someone else’s mental health (and, quite frankly, how frail must you be if a lack of a Thanksgiving invitation sets your mental health askew?) take precedence over my own safety, sanity, and feelings of peace in my own home?  When I am deciding who visits me in my home, I am setting a boundary.

And I think that’s perfectly acceptable.

And we all do this. Have you ever been having a discussion with a loved one and agreed to table it until you both were of more sound mind? That’s a boundary.

Have you ever told yourself that you will not ride with someone who has been drinking? That’s a boundary. (And a damn good one.)

Have you ever grounded, restricted, or in any other way shown your children that you will not tolerate certain behaviors from them? That is a boundary.

Have you ever indicated to a friend or other loved one that there are certain topics that the two of you should not discuss, because of diametrically opposed opinions? That’s a boundary. And one that is often set to protect not only you but the other person.

We cannot and do not live without setting boundaries. We set them every day. It’s just…messy…to think that our boundaries may impact the feelings of other people.

You will not get an argument from me in that regard. Yes. It’s messy. Yes, it may impact the feelings of other people.

You know what? Life is messy and invariably impacts the feelings of other people. You literally cannot make everyone happy at all times.

I am–and always will be–a firm believer in firm boundaries. Does this make me selfish? Eh. I think it makes me emotionally healthy.

Perhaps those are one and the same?

If I choose to protect myself (in my own home) from people who do not contribute to my mental health but in fact take away from it, I do not consider that selfish. I consider it a hard-fought victory after so many years of not being able to do so.

I consider it guarding my heart.

Consequences and Co-inky-dinks

I’ve noticed something of late that distresses me. And, to make sure that my mind wasn’t just driving me crazy (because that happens), I ran it by…the person I run things by. The person that knows me better than I know myself. The person who has promised to always tell me the truth even when it hurts. And one of two things happens when I run these things by her: She firmly but lovingly confirms my suspicions, or she denies them and points out how I am looking at it incorrectly.

Come to think of it, I don’t think the second has ever happened.

She did confirm it, by the way.

And because this…epiphany?…involves…well, anyone who reads my blog, or reads my personal Facebook page, or speaks to me in person, I am going to unpack it for you. Right here, right now.

I have become, rather unwillingly (I think), a poster child for divorce amongst my Christian friends. And I fear that this is a title that I appear to have accepted. And that makes me unbearably sad.

Since my divorce (or, rather, my separation, which was about three years ago), I have had person after person after person tell me that I have “inspired” them. I have had people tell me that they are considering leaving their spouses because of my courage.

In recent weeks, I have had friends tell me that they want to leave their marriages because of an abusive spouse, because they are no longer in love with their husbands, because they don’t know who they are apart from their husbands, because they found someone they like better than their husband…the list goes on.  I’ve had friends say that they are simply bored in their long-term marriages and have considered leaving for only that reason. I have to say, that particular reason disturbs and distresses me. But it is not my reasoning to reconcile.

And, in all fairness, I am not trivializing difficult marriages. I’ve lived a “difficult” marriage. (Understatement.) I would never dismiss someone’s marriage as being less difficult than mine. That would be a heartless thing to do.


There’s a big but.

It disturbs me that I need to say this: In none of those situations would I advise someone to get a divorce. None of them. I have apparently not done a very good job of verbalizing that throughout my journey. I apologize for that.

I need to make something crystal clear.

I do not support divorce.

I am divorced. This is true.  I am also the one who filed for divorce, against the wishes of my then-husband.

I do not regret my decision.

I still do not support divorce.

If you have ever asked me, flat out, if you should get a divorce based on x y or z circumstances, and I have said yes, I am profoundly sorry.  I have failed you if that is the case.

I believe in marriage. While I take issue in many (most) of the church’s teachings on the sanctity of marriage, which is something I need to reconcile with God and myself, I believe in it. I am heartbroken that my marriage did not go the distance.

When I married at 24, I did not anticipate throwing in the towel at age 37, after only 13 years. And while there are people who say I should have tried harder, there are also people who say I tried for way longer than I should have. Perhaps both are true.

When I filed for divorce six weeks after I separated, for reasons that I laid very bare to those who questioned if the time was right, I did so with a heavy heart. I did not fist-pump. I did not jump for joy. I did not go out to lunch or for a drink to celebrate. I did not–and this will shock most of you–announce it on Facebook. I quietly took my papers to the courthouse, signed them, presented them, and took my copy home. It then took me three days to get up the nerve to contact the process-server to serve them. I did not think Thank Jesus Mary and Joseph that’s over.

I am going to repeat this in case it hasn’t been made clear:

I did not want to get divorced.

When I got married, divorce was not an option. (It became an option as his abuses intensified and impacted the children in profoundly scarring ways.)

I still do not believe in divorce.

I also, however, did not wish to be abused for the rest of my life; nor do I think God wished that for me. I know He did not.

You try reconciling a non-belief in divorce as a divorced person. It fucks you up.  But I know that I have reconciled this over the past three years:  Divorce is a consequence of sin. While I am not convinced divorce is, in itself, a sin, I have been shown, firsthand, that it is both a consequence of sin and bears consequences of its own.

Some of those consequences are subtle. Some are not.

Is it a “coincidence” that, as a single mom, nearly every penny I make at my job (and I work my damn ass off) goes to (still) pay lawyer fees? Is my seemingly never-ending credit card debt (because we have to do things like eat while I pay lawyer fees) a “coincidence”? Is the loss of family and friends who have chosen sides or opted out of a relationship because they don’t agree with my choice a “coincidence”? Is my inability to ever trust any man again merely a “coincidence”?

All these things are consequences of my divorce. While I do not embrace them, I accept them for what they are. And I wrap my head around them. Or, I try to.

I believe God intends for marriage to be a lifelong commitment. I still believe that. That belief lends itself to the natural belief that I will likely never marry again.  Not because I think it would be unbiblical for me to do so; because I know I no longer have “lifelong commitment” in me. I simply don’t.

You are, as my friend, welcome to sit and talk with me about your possible or impending or almost final or possibly years down the road divorce. I will, as your friend, always listen to you. And I will always love you. Always.

If you are in an abusive marriage, I will mourn the loss of your dream and the loss of your marriage with you (because while I will never say “Yes, divorce” in that situation, I also realistically acknowledge that it is likely the only possible solution) but I will not say “Congratulations” on the day your divorce is final. I can’t.

I will weep with you over things that could have been and things that were. I will remark on the brokenness of society in general with you. I will, if you want, attend court hearings with you, even the court hearing that finalizes your divorce. (It literally meant the world to me when an old friend from college drove 5 hours to sleep on my couch in my living room surrounded by 2 noisy parakeets and 3 children on the day my divorce was finalized.) I will sleep on your couch. I will sleep surrounded by 2 noisy parakeets and 3 (or more) children. I will love you. I will love you completely, totally, wholeheartedly, unconditionally.

But I will mourn the fact that another marriage has died. I will mourn the fact that so many marriages are dying.

I will reiterate to you that we serve a loving and gracious God, and that divorce will not keep us out of Heaven or keep us from our eternal rest in Him.

But I will not celebrate with you.

I will toast new beginnings, which I believe I can do without celebrating the ending that led to the beginning.

I cannot and will not be your poster child for what Christian divorce looks like.

I cannot ask you to follow my example.


I have wanted to write this post for quite some time, but every time I discussed the topic at hand, I became angry, and I had a dear friend become angry at me because of the way I approached the topic and, quite frankly, I’ve had enough anger to last a lifetime.

So I waited until I could articulate it not through angry and self-righteous words, but words of genuine concern, frustration, and, well, of wanting to change something.

We need to change the way we talk about sexual abuse, in the church.

We need to change the way we respond to sexual abuse, in the church.

We need to alter our understanding of what abuse is and what it is not, in the church.

And I’m calling out the church because, frankly, this is something the world gets right and the church gets wrong. Given that the church is where a victim of abuse should find solace and comfort, that’s honestly appalling.

I have a dog in this fight, quite honestly. I am an adult victim of sexual abuse, at the hands of my ex husband. (If you think that can’t happen, this is probably not the blog for you. You can see yourself out.) And I’ve been told, on the witness stand, that I don’t “look like a victim of sexual abuse.” That I don’t “behave like a victim of sexual abuse.”

These were, by the way, comments made by a lawyer. Not a psychologist.

That matters.

My daughter is a victim of sexual abuse. Her perpetrator, in rushing to get people to “defend” him (because any good Christian wants to defend a perpetrator of abuse of any kind, clearly) asked my daughter’s Sunday school teacher to declare, under penalty of perjury, to the court, that my daughter (an elementary school aged child) “doesn’t present as someone who has been abused.”

I, frankly, didn’t know that they awarded doctorates of psychology with Sunday school teaching credentials.

But even more so than the fact that I was not believed, and more so than the fact that my daughter was not believed, I have pondered, for quite some time (and brought to light by recent events) what criteria we use to determine who to believe.

No one has ever been able to answer this question for me.

Take, for example, the Josh Duggar story. I know, I know. You’re “sick of hearing about it.” Me, too. I’m sick of hearing, rather, about stuff like this happening all the time.

Josh Duggar, if you’re living under a rock, is the oldest of 19 children in a family famous for…having 19 children. Oh, and for espousing “traditional Christian values.” Word got out that several years ago (the time frame doesn’t matter) Josh “confessed” to “inappropriately touching” his sisters. Of course, the media is always going to spin a story, but after several interviews with Josh’s parents as well as two of his five victims, I think we all can deduce that, yes, he did confess. But what he did was not “inappropriate touching,” it was molestation.

After the interview with Josh’s parents aired, two of the victims (not coincidentally, the only two of the victims who are now married with children of their own) also spoke out. In doing so, they condemned the media for calling their brother abuser a child molester. They said that the family had “dealt with” the “mistakes” years ago.

This response (by the victims) was polarizing.

Those who wished to defend the family came down on the side of grace, saying that Josh had repented, the victims had forgiven him, all’s well that ends well.

Those who wished to speak on behalf of all sexual abuse victims responded by saying that the girls “forgave” Josh because they were told to, and that they likely never processed (or healed from) their abuse.

The thing is…potentially, neither of those responses are accurate.

I wasn’t living in the Duggar house during the aftermath. I don’t know whether Josh did or did not confess, did or did not apologize, or did or did not repent. Yet, his supporters take him at his word.

I also don’t know whether the girls did or did not process their molestation, did or did not forgive their brother, or did or did not receive any kind of professional psychological help. Yet, people take them at their word.

And what confounds me about this story, and the reaction to it, is that some of the very same people who not only believed my daughter (without a shred of evidence, based solely on her word) but testified against her molester are dismissing what happened to the Duggar girls because Josh says he apologized.

I guess I don’t think it works that way.

We don’t have solid evidence of the crime committed against my daughter. We have only the word of a child, the educated guess of a beloved therapist, and some behavioral indicators that really only a trained professional would spot.

Similarly, we don’t have evidence that Josh Duggar apologized. We have the word of his parents (who, and this is proven, didn’t report the crime until three years after it happened), the word of the perpetrator, and the fact that once it was reported, it never (reportedly) happened again.

We have two sides. Neither side has concrete evidence, only hearsay.

Yet everyone has chosen a side.

Everyone has willingly chosen one side or the other based solely on hearsay.

And I’m not saying that’s wrong, at all. Bear with me.

Choosing sides is human nature.

What I am saying is that I don’t understand why, if someone is claiming to be the victim of a heinous crime, Christ-followers would choose to side with anyone other than the person claiming to be a victim, unless you can prove otherwise.

But we make rather random choices in this area all the time.

The same people who believed my daughter, who believed me, dismiss Josh Duggar’s crimes as “teenage curiosity.”

Jesus was pretty clear how he feels about people who hurt children. Matthew 18:6 conveys this well.

In my daughter’s case, there was a line of people waiting to be the one to tie the noose.

In the Duggar case, the noose need not be tied, apparently.

In both cases, children were wounded, emotionally and otherwise.

I know people–people who are dear friends–who want to crucify my daughter’s abuser for the things he did, even though he was never charged, because she didn’t disclose to the “right” people. These very same people think the media kerfluffle over the Duggars is silly and a waste of time.

And I just do not understand this.

Typically, when I say I don’t understand it, I then offer up an explanation by way of saying “I really do understand, here’s my interpretation.”

Not this time.

I truly don’t understand how we decide which victims to believe.

Feel free to enlighten me.


The following is a letter that I (may or may not have) sent to my former church; this church, while instrumental in getting me out of my marriage (and I have always and will always acknowledge that tremendous role) has supported my ex husband from the moment I left my marriage, through a custody battle (pastoral leadership testified on his behalf that he was a more fit parent than I was) and a molestation accusation (saying they “don’t think he would do that.”)

As I’ve spent the last two years in trauma therapy, having been recently released and no longer having a clinical diagnosis of PTSD, I find it necessary to point out that both my therapist and I attribute any remaining PTSD to the fact that the way the situation was handled by my (former) church.

With that said, here is the letter.

Dear (Pastor’s name) and Leadership Team of (Church name redacted):

I thought about writing this letter anonymously, but the story is pretty much laid bare, and it’s pretty specific, so I figured that would be pointless.

I have said, many times over, while often simultaneously bemoaning the outcome of my story and the role you played in that outcome, that I am and forever will be grateful for the role you played in helping me escape my marriage. (I’d put “abusive” in front of there but that is apparently a subjective term and, frankly, I don’t think it matters; what matters is that you, at one point, saw that I had cause to leave my marriage, and you helped me do it. And I am forever grateful for that, as are my children.)


In the first days of my separation, it seems, there was a breakdown in communication. I gave you a list of things I expected from my (now ex) husband in order to pursue “reconciliation” (which, by the way, I do not think that word means what you think it means). In summary, it basically said that he should own his actions, he should not intimidate me via word or deed, and he should allow me and others to speak into his life. You made it clear (to him and me) that if any part of this list was not honored, I’d be free to file for divorce.

In case you’ve forgotten the timeline (it’s been two and a half years, I can see where that would happen), on day one (the day after the restraining order was served) he wrote a threatening email (a violation of the restraining order, meaning he’s not allowing law enforcement officers to speak into his life) to me indicating that because I had removed half of our joint checking account (advice you gave me, by the way), he had cut off access to my finances. All of them.

That, right there, is “intimidation via word or (AND) deed.”

I did not file for divorce.

On day fourteen, to the judge at the hearing to extend the temporary restraining order, he said (you should remember this, because you were there, on his behalf) “I didn’t mean to throw the glass at my wife. I meant to throw it at the floor.”

That, right there, is the opposite of owning his actions.

I did not file for divorce.

On day thirty, I obtained a lawyer in order to petition for child support (so that I could feed and clothe our children, because he had cut off all of my access to money, on day one–intimidation via word AND deed). He subsequently filed for custody of our three children, insinuating that if he was going to be “fronting my lifestyle” the children would be better off with him.

On day thirty-one, I filed for divorce.

On day thirty-two, you (collectively) stopped extending any support to me. Presumably because of my choice to sin (which I word as “protect myself and my children”…tomayto, tomahto) by initiating divorce.

I wish to draw your attention, in case you missed it, to the fact that the first time he violated the reconciliation terms was not even 24 hours after they were presented.

I won’t draw your attention to the countless times he violated them during the entire process.

I will, however, draw it to the fact that when my daughter–a child; a precious, innocent child–disclosed horrible things that were done to her, and named (ex husband) as the one who’d done them, not once did you reach out to her. Or to me. Or to any of my children. Or to my family.

Not once.

Not one single, solitary, isolated time did you ask how the wounded, scared, heartbroken child was doing.

You did, though, tell a CPS investigator that I was probably making it up. Only, that doesn’t make sense. Because I AM NOT THE ONE WHO DISCLOSED ANYTHING.

You also told this investigator that, in your opinion, I could stand to submit to a psychological evaluation. Because I was probably making it up.


You (and I found this out recently, because court-ordered financial documentation doesn’t lie) paid for him to submit to a psychological/sexual evaluation to “prove” his “innocence.”

Yet the innocence of a child–A CHILD!!!–was forever tarnished.

(Did you know I was ordered to pay a proportionate share of that evaluation back to him? Did you know that he didn’t pay it? Of course you do, because you paid it. Yet I paid my share to him. I’d ask for my thousand dollars back but, really, that’s not the point.)

You, as a church leadership team, have failed my children. You have failed me, but that’s not nearly as important as having failed my children.

You advocated for the perpetrator of a despicable crime.

You did not advocate for his victim.

When others from your congregation approached you on this advocacy, you told them it was “offensive” for them to be questioning how you were handling it.

I think you got some of that wording mixed up.

How you handled it was offensive.

You allowed him–even during the course of the investigation, not just after he was “proven innocent” (which by the way is a false statement as that is *not* what the outcome was)–to attend family events, around young children. People brought this to your attention. You told them that questioning it was “offensive.”

What is offensive is that what happened to my daughter, what happened to me, what happened to my entire family has been dismissed because (ex husband) has “apologized”.

To whom?

Not to us.

“He admitted abusing you.”

Yes. On the witness stand, he refuted my claim that he had thrown things at me because he did not like the outcome of the grocery shopping I had recently completed; he did, however, admit to throwing things at me because the table was dirty.

Clearly, he’s owning his actions.

I guess I can scratch that one off the reconciliation list.

To answer your question, though (oh, wait), we’re doing fine. We are doing better than fine. I’ve made a nice life. I’ve got amazing kids. We have clothes, food, and everything we need. We have a new church. It’s funny…in almost 1000 days, no one in leadership from (church name) has called to check on us, to see how we are doing, to see if we are still even alive. Yet six weeks after we started attending the new church, we missed a Sunday, and I had two phone calls the next day.

I felt loved.

I also want to make it clear that this letter is addressed only to the leadership. There are several people within the congregation that I consider the dearest of friends, that have continued to stand by and support us, to check on us, and to make it clear that we are loved.

I thank God for these people.

I thank God that you, as a leadership team, got me out of my marriage. I said that then, I said it at the beginning of this letter, and I’ll say it now.

Thank you. Thank you for getting us out. Because you did, our life is infinitely better than it was 3 years ago.

But I do not thank Him for the way you have handled it since.

I do not curse Him, but I do not thank Him.

He knows how I feel.

And now you do, too.


Closet Open…Skeletons Everywhere

I write a lot of things that people disagree with. I write a lot of things that my friends disagree with, vehemently.

I think this might be one of those things.


I have written, many times over, of both the way I was treated, sexually, in my marriage, and my (I once believed) resultant aversion to anything sexual, at all. I have written that I literally have no knowledge of what is even considered to be in the realm of normal in the sex department. Which, quite honestly, most people find to be understandable, given what I went through for twelve years.

A few weeks ago, though, I was talking with a friend–someone who literally had not seen or talked to me in twenty years–and as we were both rehashing our marriages (I won’t say how many we have between us) and I was speaking of my (believed to be) resultant aversion to anything sexual and she told me I was most likely asexual.

I thought–this is a thing?

And since I’ve been taught, growing up, that sex is created by God for both pleasure and procreation (actually, I don’t think I was taught the first part…God forbid that someone enjoy something God created) I thought that if this thing was what I was, then surely I am doing something wrong because God made sex, so surely He wouldn’t make someone who has no concept of or desire to do…it. And that would make it a choice. And my choosing it would be…sin.

But then I thought that I hate lists of shoulds and shouldn’ts when it comes to Christianity, anyway, and that I don’t think things are always as black and white as we want them to be. I do believe in sin (just to set the record straight) but I also believe that all of us have something we do (or are) that makes God…uncomfortable. Whether that something is inherently sinful is something that I struggle to affirm (or deny).

My friend, because she is gracious and kind and loves me (even though she knows I hate when people love me) and because she innately desires for everyone to be wholly comfortable in their own skin regardless of whether what they are comfortable with is ok in regards to their (chosen or otherwise) religion, sent (and continues to send) me articles and things to read so that I could confirm (or deny) that this was indeed what I was dealing with.

And the more I read, and pondered, and thought about not just my marriage but my life (because I had one, before marriage) I thought that she had hit the nail on the head.

Not only that, though. I realized that, contrary to those who wanted to attribute my asexuality to my sexually abusive marriage, I would venture to attribute the sexual…strife (before it became abuse)..to my asexuality.

I shall explain.

For as long as I can remember, my ex husband did use sex as a weapon, and he did use it (among other tactics) to abuse me. But it is also true that from the day we got married (possibly, before) I was uninterested in…that. His sole reason for marrying me–he stated this to the pastor who did our premarital counseling–was so that we could have sex. (As to why, after hearing that, that pastor agreed to marry us…your guess is as good as mine.) My reason for marrying him was because I–wait for it–loved him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I know. How selfish of me.

Shortly after this discovery, I shared with another friend, one who knows me better than I know myself, most of the time. (Ok, all of the time. She’s reading this and will correct me if I don’t get it right.) And she said what, honestly, most people probably think: “Well, it makes sense, given your situation.”

But I want to offer something different. What if my situation makes sense because of it? Please do not misunderstand. My ex husband was physically abusive to me; he was psychologically, financially, emotionally, and verbally abusive to me, and I believe he would have been whether I was (am?) asexual or not. Because that is how he is wired.

I believe that.

But rather than saying my newly discovered asexuality (which, I get, is confusing, and most people don’t understand it, and it would take another whole blog post to explain that I can–but don’t want to–have romantic relationships, without sex and I can–and do–have very intimate relationships that are not romantic, with both genders, usually females) is a “gift for a time” (so that I can heal from my marriage) or is “understandable, based on what I’ve been through” (so is me being a royal bitch but you don’t see that happening) I think we should consider that, had I known this about myself (and I’ve a theory as to why I didn’t…hold, please, and I’ll get there) going in, I likely would have, well, not gone in. And I’d have saved all of us a world of hurt.

As for my theory…I don’t believe that Christians feel that asexuality is inherently wrong, if it is for a time. Paul mentions it in 1 Corinthians 7, in this context (or rather, in the implied context that there is having sex and there is serving the Lord and never the twain shall meet). (It’s also widely known that I don’t agree with Paul the majority of the time.) I do, however, feel that Christians are “supposed to” think that sex is an integral part of the marital relationship and that for the love of all that is holy (see what I did there) you cannot possibly consider a sex-less marriage as a Godly one and so sex and marriage are intertwined in the thoughts of young churchgoers since…forever. And so, if one has a desire to get married (and I did) surely one has a desire to have sex with the person one marries. Surely. And if one doesn’t…well, then it’s wrong.

I don’t believe that.

I believe with one hundred percent of my soul that I am asexual. I do not believe this because I have no partner and am therefore celibate; celibacy and asexuality are not the same thing. I do not believe this because I have no desire to be in an intimate relationship with someone; I do, and I am, and I define intimacy by emotion rather than physicality, so it’s fair to say that some of my friendships (most of my friendships) are more intimate than any of my romantic relationships ever have been. I do not believe this because I have been wounded sexually.

I believe this because I know myself.

And it doesn’t mean that I’ll never be involved in a romantic relationship again. Like all sexual preferences or orientations, there is a spectrum. Some asexual people find “the right” person that awakens their sexual side, and are able to have a fulfilling sexual relationship. Some find “the right” person that understands their lack of sexual desire, and are able to have a fulfilling nonsexual relationship. Some fluctuate between those two extremes at any given time yet still identify as being profoundly asexual.

I can’t say for sure that I’ll never find “the right” person.

I can say for sure that the thought of ever being sexually intimate with anyone ever again is not so much repulsive as it is…an unreasonable expectation.

Which is sort of the whole point. It seems my entire marriage was an unreasonable expectation because I didn’t know this part of myself.

That may change quite a few perceptions as to what contributed to its end. Mine included.

Three Words

My love language, as most people who know me fairly well will recognize, is words of affirmation. (Once upon a time, it used to be physical touch, but a certain person I used to be married to wrecked that one.) But what that means, essentially, is that words–nice words–have power over me. I could be, literally, at the end of my rope, and someone gives me a (legit) compliment and my entire outlook changes. Truth.

Of all the words, though, there are three that I just cannot deal with, no matter who says them. I literally can’t process them.

Several years ago, I was in the beginning stages of a new friendship with someone. We had bonded fairly quickly, and so we had become very close. I was having an exceptionally emotional day (I was still married so I’m sure that had…everything…to do with it) and got a (probably not random) text from this friend that just said:

I love you.

I believe I texted back: “Please don’t.”

She didn’t listen. But anyway.

Even a rookie psychologist would confirm that the reason I can’t deal with those words is because the person who said them to me, out of habit, every day for twelve years didn’t mean them. I mean, that shit’s obvious.

But those words become more complicated when uttered by someone who demonstrates via word and deed, daily, that they, well, mean something.

A few months ago I was texting with another friend, as we do on a daily basis, and we were talking about something completely innocuous, and in the middle of a lengthy text conversation, she slips in “I love you.”

And I did what any normal, well-adjusted, afraid-of-intimacy person would do.

I stopped texting her.

Of course.

And the next day, when the typical “Good morning” text came from her, I couldn’t respond.

Because of “I love you.”

And then, after two days of texts from her that got no response, I, again,

I can’t deal.

The thing is, I know both of these people do love me. They have demonstrated it time and time again. Even when I’m not worthy, they love me. But I will not let them say it.

(I mean, I can’t stop someone from saying it. That’s silly. But I can certainly not respond. Or I can deflect. Or I can use humor as a defense mechanism. Which are all three things that I have immaturely done in response.)

And I know why it’s so hard. It’s hard because I don’t want to believe that it’s that easy to love me. I don’t want to believe that people can actually say that to me and mean it. I don’t want to believe that there is anything–anything–about me that prompts someone to say “I love you” and not be lying.

In a way, that’s probably a big part of why I’m afraid (read: unwilling) to get into another relationship with someone. Because that person would likely say…that. At some point. And in all my brilliance I would…do nothing.

It’s not that I’m incapable of love. (Which would be what doing nothing implies.) Quite the opposite, actually. Both of these people–and others who have gone before them–who have offered “I love you” as more than a platitude are very dear to me. I quite literally can’t imagine or remember my life without them.

And I know people–lots of people–love me.

But just please don’t say it.


You’re the one to whom nobody verses “I love you” unless you say it first. — Anna Nalick, “Shine”