Ten years of marriage ended up on the rocks. I am going to say some things that will probably make my ex–husband feel uncomfortable, if he hasn't resolved his issues, but I think that what I am going to speak about will help co–dependent people, and it may even help addicts, as well as prevent some people from having a nervous breakdown by showing them how necessary it is to deal with problems before they get out of hand.
My relationship with my husband started off with bright hopes. Our engagement was a lot of fun. During our courtship, my fiancé was sweet, humble, gentle, kind, and we joked with each other a lot. He was a controller, but not in a bullying kind of way; it was more subtle than that, not at all obvious to me. His mother was a godly woman and she had been a good influence on him.
After we got engaged, Scott (name changed) confided that he had a severe drinking problem in his early twenties. He had lived in Ontario and worked on a farm. The couple he worked for never paid him any money; they always paid his wages with cases of booze. Somehow, though, he managed to get some cash together, as he intended to go to Mexico for a holiday, knowing in his heart that he would die there, but he was determined to go anyway.
His parents had moved to Alberta. On the way to Mexico, Scott stopped off to see his mother, who was in the hospital, dying from an illness that the doctors could not diagnose. It turned out to be a Vitamin B deficiency. They figured it out in time, pumped her full of Vitamin B, and then God miraculously restored her hair that had fallen out when she was ill, making it grow in thick and to her shoulders in only a week, after an evangelist named Max Solbreken prayed for her.
My fiancé said that, on his way to Alberta, he took advantage of his ticket allowing him to drink liquor non–stop until the plane set down. He was smashed when he got to the hospital and the nurses didn't want to let him see his mother, but he pushed his way into her room. Seeing her lying there on her deathbed sobered him in an instant. She opened her eyes and, speaking forth a supernatural word of knowledge about his trip, that nobody had mentioned to her, she said, "Don't go to Mexico, son. You will die there." He didn't go. He stopped drinking and stayed in Alberta.
Now it was a few years later, he was living in BC, and we were engaged. I didn't know anything about alcoholism. My father was a violent alcoholic, but I had been only a year and a half when my mother left him, and I didn't meet him again until I was seventeen. My stepfather rarely drank. He had a bottle of wine tucked away in a cupboard for years and hardly touched it. I'd heard testimonies about people whom God instantly delivered from alcoholism. As long as my intended did not backslide, I figured that he would be all right. Just in case, I asked him to promise me that he would never drink alcohol again, and he promised.
He broke his promise a couple of times during our engagement, and I flipped out on him both times, but it was never more than just one glass of wine, so I didn't realize that he still had a problem with alcohol. His excuse for breaking his word was that he hadn't wanted to offend the people who offered it to him. They really would not have cared, if he had turned it down, but even if they had, my feelings should have mattered more to him than theirs.
One of those times, it was my sister Pat and her husband Larry who offered him wine to provoke me, and they were amused that Scott accepted the offer. But they were also quite disappointed with him, because they believed that Christians should never drink alcohol. They would have admired him, if he had refused; it would have been a witness to them.
The other person was my room–mate Georgia; she had no intention of offending me. She was just being sociable, not knowing that Scott had had a serious drinking problem. Georgia was not an evil person who wanted to corrupt him, and would have taken some type of revenge on him for frustrating her efforts, nor an emotionally unstable person who would have taken it personally and gone into a decline, because she could not bear the rejection.
Even if either of those things had been the case, a person should not let others oppress them into doing something that is harmful to their body or detrimental to their important relationships. They won't respect themselves for their cowardice, nor will the person who is trying to compromise them respect them.
I heard some eye–opening remarks from an acquaintance one time. She worked in a restaurant and spoke of a person we knew, who had a drinking problem. She said that she had given him free drinks from the bar when he came into the restaurant. She was not authorized by her employers to do this. The man in question, though he had been in a managerial position in a restaurant, and knew that it is not acceptable to offer free products without the owner's consent, availed himself of those drinks.
I am sure that the whole time he visited with that young woman, she behaved friendly towards him, but her voice was scornful when she said, "And he took all those drinks!" She considered the man to be a thief, but she did not see that she was a thief, as well. Any respect she'd had for him before was lost when she saw that he could be compromised. I, too, felt disappointed in him, but I wasn't surprised by his behaviour because I knew that he was an alcoholic and found it very difficult to turn down offers of free drinks. When people set a trap, they despise those who fall into it.
My husband's first episode of heavy drinking arose a few months after we were married. My sister Pat invited me to her friend's baby shower. Marlene and Howie were adopting a child. I sensed that the shower wasn't going to be well–attended and thought that this would be a great shame. How was that going to make Marlene feel? Scott didn't want me to go, but, somehow, I knew that nobody else who was invited was going to show up, so I went there against his wishes, and I still feel that I did the right thing. Scott was acting like a baby.
Before we married, we agreed that we wanted to have an open home, one where people felt comfortable about dropping in on us without phoning ahead. I wanted us to minister to people, and Scott said that he wanted to do that, too. After we married, though, Scott didn't want us to have people over or to visit others very much. He said, "I feel that you're the only person I need." I was flattered, so I went along with him on that, but this was one of those times when I felt it was important to respond to an invitation.
Right enough, I was the only guest who showed up. I was so glad that I went, for Marlene's sake, though it wasn't a pleasant time for me. Pat, being the oldest sibling in our family, was used to being in charge. To continue to feel that she was in control, she had a way of talking down to me, so the visit was uncomfortable in that respect, and she and her husband and their friends were drinkers. As the evening wore on, she became more arrogant. I wanted to get out of there, but every time I phoned Scott to come and get me, there was no answer. Larry chuckled and said, "Worry looks good on you, Lanny." That was such a weird comment.
My sister Lorrie's husband showed up eventually. Terry was really something else. This is a case of "Don't get me started." Pat and Larry and Terry all gloated at my discomfort concerning Scott, and Terry smugly told me that he had seen him at a bar. It wasn't true; Terry just wanted to rattle my cage. I snapped at him, and then Pat bawled me out for "being disrespectful to her guest." She had no compassion for her sister, because I was a Christian. She was very hostile about that, besides having other issues in regards to me.
Pat was very jealous that our stepfather had favoured me when we were little girls, particularly because he had been quite mean to her. I got all the approval and compliments and praise, while she only got put–downs. When we were in our teens, she took delight in the moral mistakes I made. We got along pretty well when I was doing things that I shouldn't have been doing, but when I became a Christian and started making better choices, she became quite critical. She expected me to become perfect all at once, and if I wasn't perfect, she felt that I had no right to try to speak to her about God. Just the mention of His Name would send her through the roof.
It was getting quite late and I couldn't stay there any longer. I took a chance on getting a ride home with Larry, though he had been drinking. I should have borrowed some money and hired a taxi, but I didn't think like that in those days. If I had been that healthy emotionally and in my thinking, I would have left that party after a couple of hours, when it first started to get unpleasant.
Scott wasn't home when I got there. The newspaper he had been reading was laying scattered on the floor around the chair he had been sitting in when I left. Nothing else seemed to have been moved, so I gathered that he went out soon after I left the apartment. Where on Earth was he? What was he doing? It was so late, after midnight. This wasn't good. Was he all right? Had he gotten into a car accident? In tears, I called his mother and she came over to wait for him with me.
I wailed the whole night while Mary prayed. Thank God she could pray! Scott nearly got raped on his adventures that evening, but Mary's prayers availed much. In the morning, she finally left. I didn't want her to go, but she was tired. Finally at 7:00 a.m., Scott came home, his face as white as chalk in stark contrast to the black, leather jacket that he wore.
Scott was very ill. He was shaking from the effects of all the alcohol he had consumed; he had really laid it on. We got into bed and I cuddled him to try to warm him up, while he told me about what a rough night he'd had. He had been picked up by the police when he was staggering around Vancouver, and they had taken him to a garage where they told him to take off his shirt. That black, leather jacket he had been wearing had given them the impression that he was a bad boy who needed to be taught a lesson. There were a lot of them sitting around in a circle, drinking, and having a jolly time. Scott was supposed to fight another drunk, whom they had picked up.
He didn't tell me right out that he sensed that he was in danger of being violated, but I gathered that from what he said to the police. He started to tell them about how he had recently gotten married and about how much he loved his wife. They were mollified by his humility and called off the fight. He was taken to the police station and thrown into the drunk tank for a few hours.
It escaped my attention that, if Scott loved his wife, he wouldn't have been so pettish about me going to a baby shower, and gone off and gotten drunk because he didn't get his own way. Instead, silly sap that I was, I felt sorry for him because he was sick. It would have been going too far, though, to be indifferent about his close call with rape. I was horrified and, just the aspect of them drinking on the job, and setting up a couple of drunks to entertain them with a fight, gave me a very bad impression of the police, but, of course, not all police are like that.
Even when I hung out with bikers, I never heard stories like that about them. Mind you, abusing a man who has a big gang of tough guys to take revenge on his behalf is a different proposition. The bikers joked about how the police always talked friendly to them when they were out in the open, and they went along with that, but the police knew it would be a different matter, if they were to run into them when they were alone in a dark alley.
The position and power that the police have puts them in the way of a lot of temptation, and if Christians don't pray for them, they don't have any protection against satanic interference in their decisions. Mary had been praying, though, and it saved her boy from a very bad experience.
Scott also told me that, when he lived in Ontario, he had become very ill due to troubles with his pancreas and had to be hospitalized. He had shaken a lot, at that time, too, and he said the nurses had teased him, asking if he wanted them to get into bed with him to warm him up. They didn't mean it, but they wanted to cheer him up, and they also offered to bring him some girly magazines, which he declined. They liked him the more for that. He was diagnosed at risk of developing diabetes, and told that alcohol was something that he should stay away from. I figured that getting sick as a dog was all the reminder he needed that he had better leave it alone.
I was wrong about that. Episodes of drinking eventually became a regular habit with him and he often had blackouts, which he said scared him because he couldn't remember what he had done during those missing chunks of time.
At the end of ten years, he was on Workman's Compensation due to carpal tunnel syndrome. On a daily basis, my husband would wake up around 9 a.m., start drinking half an hour later, and be passed out by 2 p.m., sleep a few hours, then get up, have dinner, get cleaned up, and go out to the bar.
Sometimes he didn't come home all night. In my complete stupidity, I thought he was sleeping off his drunk in our van, so that he wouldn't put himself, or anyone else, at risk from driving while impaired. That is what he told me he was doing. Since I was always honest with my husband, I assumed that my husband was also honest with me. In the back of my mind, though, were unsettling doubts that I kept shoving away.
In our fifth year of marriage, I asked our pastor to visit us and speak to my husband about his drinking. My husband had not been going to church for some time, which should have tipped our pastor off that the problem was serious. I was pregnant, though, so my husband was able to convince the pastor that I was over–reacting due to hormonal changes. He laughed indulgently and said in a confiding manner, "This pregnancy is a lot more difficult than the last one. Lanny cries at the drop of a hat."
I sat there and thought to myself, "Yeah, it sure is more difficult than the last one. You are so insensitive to my condition. I look like a blimp and I wonder if you're fooling around on me; you don't come home all night. You are drinking a lot more now. I lay on the couch and cry, wondering if you've gotten into an accident and if my baby is going to still have a father by the time it's born!" I didn't say anything, though.
The pastor told my husband that he thought he had a drinking problem, but he didn't consider him to be an alcoholic. I guess that was because my husband was not literally crawling around in a gutter on Skid Row. Scott smiled in satisfaction. He seemed to think that, if the pastor didn't think that he was an alcoholic, then he didn't have to stop drinking. He missed the pastor's point that he should stop drinking alcohol before the problem got worse.
Here is a word of advice to pastors when dealing with this issue. Do not assume that a man's wife is exaggerating when she tells you that he has a drinking problem. It is safer to assume that she isn't telling the half of it. The sober spouse stays with the alcoholic because they are in denial about how serious the problem is. If it has gotten to the point where she/he calls a pastor to intervene, then the problem is very serious indeed.
I was heavily in denial about my husband's drinking problem for the first four years of our marriage, though his mother (his parents are now deceased) told me over and over that he was an alcoholic, citing how she had stopped giving him a switched egg with a few drops of whiskey when he was a child, as a remedy for colds, after he said to her enthusiastically, "Put more of that stuff in it, Mum." His liking for alcohol scared her. It made us furious when she said that he was an alcoholic, but eventually the evidence piled up to an extent where I couldn't ignore the facts anymore.
Then an odd thing happened. When I finally acknowledged to his mother that she was right, that Scott was an alcoholic, she looked at me like I was out of my mind, asked me what I was talking about, and indignantly denied that he was an alcoholic. Now my husband and his mother were ranged against me together, and I could never convince her that he had a drinking problem. She refused to accept any negative information about her son, and so she was no longer any help to us with our problems.
Jane (named changed) was a tough woman to deal with in some ways. She was a good woman and tuned in to the Lord about a lot of things, so it was hard to figure out her part of the blame when contention arose between us. I was inclined to take all of the blame. How could it not be so? She had been a Christian for many years and had helped a lot of people, whereas I was just a baby Christian. If anyone was at fault, I figured it had to be me because I was immature.
I even knew that I was immature. Whenever I was disrespectful to her, I felt like I was in sheer Hell, until I apologized. Though sometimes I behaved snotty, I had a tender conscience towards the Lord and always remembered His words, "Touch not my anointed and do my prophets no harm." But though I apologized to her every time after speaking sharply to her, an underlying feeling that something was wrong would not go away.
It drove me up the wall that she always insisted, with a smug smile, that she knew my husband better than I did because she had known him longer. She may have known him longer, but I knew him more intimately. I would get so infuriated that I betrayed some of his confidences to prove to her that she did not know everything about him, but she would insist that she knew about all those things, too. Not that he had told her, but that the Lord had told her.
I am sure that the Lord did tell her some things that her kid was up to, so that she could intercede for him in prayer, but I don't think that the Lord told her everything. Some things mothers are better off not knowing. My husband used to laugh about how he was two different people when he was a kid, depending on who he was with. Though this was so, I don't think that when he did good things he was faking it; he does have some really beautiful things in his character.
My mother–in–law did not like me because she was possessive about her son, and I was too much competition for her. I was very pretty when I wore make–up, I had a terrific figure, and I am fairly intelligent, so she knew I was more than just a Barbie doll for Scott to play with. She knew that he confided in me and told me stuff that he would not tell her.
She started to spill her resentment right away, but cloaked it so well that it took me a long time to figure out what was going on with her. When I was a young bride, while we were working together in her kitchen, she confided that, when she met me, she immediately sensed that there were going to be a lot of problems with me. I understood her to mean that I was spiritually immature and probably needed a lot of "deliverance."
It's odd how, in the Bible, people who were considered demon–possessed had really extreme behaviours, such as throwing themselves in fire or trying to drown themselves, or being violent towards others and running about naked and living among tombs, but in this day and age, a lot of rather ordinary Christians are tagged as "demonized" by other Christians who consider themselves spiritually superior. Sometimes people aren't motivated by demons when they get mad at Christians who are considered spiritually mature. Sometimes they are just reacting to something stupid that the more mature Christian said to them when their gears slipped momentarily.
There is a distinction is between being possessed and oppressed. The former need to have demons cast out of them, whereas the latter just need their "hulls" scraped of "barnacles." They don't have evil spirits in their soul, but rather attached to their soul, slowing down their progress in developing the character of Christ.
I felt like my mother–in–law considered me in the former category, rather than the latter. I was a fairly new Christian, and not aware of those distinctions, but it was a totally tactless thing to say to a brand–new daughter–in–law. It felt like a slap across the face, but I said nothing. I merely bowed to her discernment and felt akin to those "daughters of Heth" who wearied Rebekah so much.
Who was I to differ? Jane had been a Christian for many more years than I had, so I figured she knew what she was talking about. Because she helped me a lot spiritually in very important ways, in spite of her dislike, it took a long time to figure out that jealousy played a big part in her perception of me.
It was too bad because I always wanted to be to her like Ruth was to Naomi, but my mother–in–law's competitiveness about her son was always a wall between us that I kept smashing up against. Then I would run my hands over the wall and think, "What is this wall? Is this me just acting like a dolt, or has she got something to do with this?" I always felt petty when I supposed that she was jealous.
It started to become clearer when Scott and I took Jane to California with us when I was expecting our first child. My mother–in–law had a bad heart and seemed to have close brushes with death every other month. We wanted to make sure we did some good things for her while she was still alive, so that we would have fewer regrets after she was gone. I am really glad that we took her with us on our holiday; most of the time, she was a nice person to have around. And also, on that trip, I started to swell up with toxemia. My legs felt like sausages that were about to burst, but after she prayed for me, it cleared up really fast. But an incident occurred that vividly confirmed my suspicions that she was jealous.
We stopped at a supermarket in L.A.. My husband went into the supermarket to buy some things while his mother and I waited outside. It was such a hot day and I felt like I was wilting when we were standing there on that black asphalt parking lot. We found the air conditioning in the store too chilly. My mother–in–law said decisively, "Yes, I sure can see that Scott is an alcoholic." I was feeling too hot and tired to argue with her, so instead of snapping at her, like I usually did when she told me that my husband was an alcoholic, I just wearily asked, "What makes you think so?" She replied, "By the way his eyes lit up when he saw all that beer and wine."
I couldn't argue with this. It was in the days when liquor was sold only in liquor stores in Canada and, on other trips to the States, Scott had ranted at me about how stupid he thought it was that it was against the law in Canada to sell beer in corner stores. He figured that Americans were more progressive in that regard, though he despised how weak their beer was. I had no issue with our Canadian laws about limiting the sale of booze to liquor stores and I wish it was still that way.
In fact, I would prefer that the sale of liquor was entirely prohibited. Making addictive, brain–damaging, chemical substances legal and readily available can only have a deleterious effect on society. I read in a book about the early days of Vancouver that, when Prohibition came into effect, many policemen lost their jobs because crime went way down. Most people don't know that Prohibition generally had a good effect on society because the liquor industry has spread a lot of propaganda that says otherwise.
Scott came out of the store and we trudged behind him across the soft pavement back to our van. I was trailing behind my mother–in–law when she mused, "To look at us, anyone would think that I was Scott's wife and you were his concubine." I was seven months along in my pregnancy, so I guess that made me look "concubinenish" to her. It was a good thing she didn't turn around and see the look on my face when she said that. The lasers darting out of my eyes probably would have given her a heart attack. I felt that she was saying that I was just a plaything and that her relationship to my husband was more important and more honourable.
I was snorting mad, but I held my tongue and didn't say anything to her. I had learned my lessons about how much easier it was to keep my mouth shut, rather than have to eat humble pie and apologize to her. When we got back to our motel and I was alone with Scott, I hissed at him all my complaints about what his mother had said while he tried to keep me hushed because his mother was in the room on the other side of our thin wall. I don't think it ever crossed his mind to have a talk with her and tell her to stop provoking me.
After that trip, I paid more attention when I came across a couple of questionaires about alcoholism. Each of them asked ten questions and said that, if the answers were yes to either one or two of the questions, it indicated that the person was an alcoholic. On one questionaire, I could answer yes to eight of the questions on my husband's behalf, and yes to nine on the other.
I couldn't delude myself about it any longer, but I ignored the fact that I was desperately unhappy. I pretended to myself that I was happy, regardless that my husband's drinking was costing us thousands of dollars in impaired driving fines, lawyers' fees, and repairs to the van, together with the initial outlay for alcohol.
On the second charge, Scott went all out to hire a really good lawyer who presented an excellent defense, but the judge didn't buy it. He told my husband, "That has got to be the best defense that I have ever heard, but as far as I am concerned, you're guilty and you're going to jail." Scott came home in a fury because the judge had even admitted that his defense was excellent. He found it totally illogical for a judge to admire a good defense, but make an unfavourable decision. I am sure that it also rankled that he had spent $1000.00 on that lawyer for nothing.
He ranted about how the judge had said he was guilty. I shrugged and said, "Well, he's right." He nearly blew a gasket, but I didn't care. I am glad that, though I was too complacent about a lot of things that I should have done something about, I could still think for myself somewhat, instead of being totally absorbed into adopting all of my husband's and his mother's views.
To prepare himself for his trial, Scott had convinced himself that he was innocent, but the night the van was impounded, he admitted to me that he was drunk and he laughed when he told me how he threw the keys under the van, so that the constable had to get down on the ground on his belly to retrieve them. With satisfaction, he told me how the policeman gave him a dirty look. He would not have behaved like such a jerk, if he had been sober.
I did not have any hope for him beating that impaired driving charge when he told me how disrespectful he was to that policeman. The judge would probably know about this, but even if he didn't, God upholds civil authority when it is doing its duty according to His ways. I didn't even bother going to court with him. I think I would have, though, if he had been willing to plead guilty. Seeing that he had a pregnant wife might have made the judge go easier on him.
When we learned that he was going to have to spend weekends in jail, I was both furious and fearful. I was furious that he might be in jail when the baby was due, and I was afraid that he would get raped in jail. I was very thankful that he had a mother who was a strong prayer warrior. I didn't have much confidence in my own prayers.
As it turned out, his sentence did not start until after the baby was born. He was a wonderful support to me, just as he had been when our first baby was born, and that, at least, was a very happy experience.
I did not think that my prayers availed much with God, but when I look back, I see that God was very gentle and tender with me. Things that I thought were hard to bear at that time, I can see now that they were full of God's mercy. If any thoughts of doing me criminal harm ever crossed Scott's mind, what he saw in jail probably deterred him from letting them take root. After he left me, one time, I believe, Scott tried to provoke me into committing suicide, but he never attempted to kill me directly.
A few weeks after our daughter was born, Scott served his first weekend at Oakalla, but the jails were so full that they put all the guys on impaired driving charges in one big room with a guard to keep an eye on them.
It sounded like a summer camp, to hear Scott tell of it when he got home. He said that they sat around playing cards all weekend, while the guard regaled them with interesting stories of what life was like behind bars. He was downright insensitive about the stories he told me, such as how one prisoner, who was totally demented, cut off his cell mate's head, kept it in the sink, and brushed its teeth from time to time! I think the guard was trying to warn the guys, in a friendly way, to stay out of trouble, because it really isn't a picnic behind bars. To Scott though, it was like being told ghost stories around a campfire. He loved hearing all that inside dope about what it's like in prison.
With these horrid visions in my head, I saw my husband off to another round of larks at Oakalla the following weekend, but he did not return in such a happy frame of mind. His face was white, as he told me of his experiences. This time, there were some cells available and he was taken to one of them.
When he was taken to his cell, a prisoner from the next cell was being dragged away by the guards. He had been beaten and was bloody. Whether the guards did this to him, or if it was other prisoners, I don't know, but one of the guards growled at my husband, "What are you looking at?" He also told me of a prisoner with long, matted hair, whose body was covered with scabs, and how the scabby guy wandered naked in the corridor between the cells, plaintively asking if there was anyone who wanted to have sex with him.
This was scary stuff for him to see, but there was more hope for his rehabilitation after that. As it turned out, Scott didn't have to serve any more weekends because the jail was so full that the authorities didn't have room for relatively minor offenders, and they suspended their sentences. Scott still kept drinking and driving, but he didn't get caught. Perhaps he did it less than before.
I had a lot of anxiety about other people's safety when my husband was out and about in the van. I read in the paper about a mother who lost her twin sons to a drunk driver. They were nineteen, the age when parents have finished raising their kids and are usually happily anticipating seeing their children embarking on a career, and falling in love, getting married, and then giving them grandchildren. The following Sunday was Mother's Day, but that poor woman could no longer put her arms around her boys or talk to them. She just had her memories of them and a pair of slippers that the boys had wrapped in readiness for Mother's Day. My heart ached for her.
The story gave rise to another worry. I wondered what people would think of me, if my husband got into an accident and was charged with vehicular homicide, and I hadn't done enough to prevent him from driving. I didn't have any points against my license and could get a full discount when purchasing insurance, so Scott coaxed me into letting him sign our van over to me and getting it insured in my name. He had lost his entire discount due to his two impaired driving charges. After reading that story in the paper, I wondered what my liability was, if Scott got into an accident.
I called the police and asked a constable if I would be held responsible, if my husband got into an accident when our vehicle was registered in my name. The constable said that I would be sued for letting him drive the van, if he got into an accident while impaired, that ICBC would pay it out, but a judge would order me to get a job and pay the funds back to ICBC. My head was on a chopping block; it was crazy of me to take the risk of being "sold into slavery." I could not imagine that I would ever earn a million dollars in my lifetime.
I was such a wimp that I let Scott keep on driving the van, but sometimes I went outside and disconnected the distributor cap when he was drunk and planning on going out. Later, he whined about how difficult it was to put the distributor cap back on. I obligingly colour–coded the cap and the connections with paint, so that he could easily re–install it after I disconnected it. What a dingbat thing to do! I should have made it hard for him drive that van, if he wasn't going to listen to me about not drinking and driving. Better yet, I should have forbidden him to drive a vehicle that was registered in my name, and called the police, if he drove off in it.
One time when Scott was away for a whole weekend, a lady from my church visited me. She worked with my husband and lived in our neighbourhood. She said that she had bought another house close by and wondered if we wanted to rent it. I was excited because, Sue Steeves, a pastor's wife at my church, said she was going to pray that God would help us get out of our little apartment and into a house, as our kids needed more space to live in and a yard to play in. Inside, I was turning cartwheels, but I kept a cool exterior, asked the price of the rent, and said that I would let Scott know of her offer.
When he finally showed up, Scott told me that he had been at a party that had lasted the whole weekend, but he couldn't remember everything he had done, due to having taken cocaine, as well as a lot of alcohol. He spoke of an attractive blonde he met at the party, who was very nice, and said he had chatted with her a lot, but he hastily assured me that he hadn't slept with her. My mind registered his hesitation and the guilty look that passed over his face, but I did not have the guts to confront him about adultery, so I shoved it into the back of my mind.
I think that all of us are a lot more aware of bad stuff that is going on around us than what we admit to ourselves, because it is inconvenient to confront it. We might save ourselves and our children worse troubles later on if we did, though.
We rented the house and lived in it for a year. It had a beautiful yard with fruit trees and a large garden already prepared for planting. Our little boy called it "The Garden House." I wasn't keen about the hot water tank being in the kitchen, but I could live with that, considering the low rent. We painted the kitchen a butter yellow and my brother–in–law, John, Judy's husband, replaced the counter top for us.
Scott was starting to become quite stubborn, at this point in our marriage. When we moved into that house, he painted the living room, but he wouldn't listen to me when I asked him to be careful to not splatter paint. He left the phone in the living room, instead of just moving it around the corner into the kitchen. It got paint speckles all over it, and was quite a job to clean. I scrubbed at it in silent fury, wondering what was wrong with him that he couldn't do such a simple thing to save me this extra work. But I was stubborn, too. If he asked me to get him a coffee, I always said yes, but I took my sweet time about it. Weeds of bitterness grew unchecked in this place that our son called The Garden House.
There were still some pleasant times, though. The days were warm and sunny when we moved in, and it was a joy to see our children have a yard to play in. Our daughter was two years old and she squatted outside the kitchen door, one bright morning, to inspect a beetle, exclaiming, "Oh, look at this bug!" adding affectionately, "What a cute, little bug." Scott was charmed and he laughed as he told me about it. She didn't have any girlish antipathy towards insects.
It wasn't quite so pleasant when our son punctured our waterbed, but it was funny in retrospect. He was only four and had no idea of the ramifications of poking a pencil through the plastic mattress. He became quite alarmed when water started spurting up like fountain. Andrew ran out of the room like it was on fire and we went to see what that was all about. Arggh! Scott patched the mattress easily enough, though.
We gave our son the other large bedroom, and fixed up the tiny one for our daughter, putting pretty floral wallpaper on the walls. Then we got to work on the garden and planted vegetables, but they didn't thrive. We didn't know much about gardening, though Scott used to live on farms. He was good with animals; not plants.
One time when he did some gardening for a friend, he dug up all her onions by mistake, and it really burned the next door neighbour who was watching him do it, but she didn't go and tell him to stop. She just waited until he was gone, then collected the onions and left them on our friend's steps to dry. Our friend laughed, as she told us what her neighbour had said about it.
The plants that did well at our place were the ones that were already there before we moved in. We had some blueberry bushes, and raspberries, a plum tree, and a cherry tree, but the starlings got most of the cherries. I wished I hadn't thrown out the slingshot that I found in the clothes pin box when we moved in. I didn't know what it was for, so I threw it out, because I didn't want my son to be shooting rocks with it. Those birds were so cheeky that they wouldn't budge when I threw rocks at them, unless I actually hit them. Like that ever happened!
We did better inside than outside, and fixed the house up so nice that, after a year, our landlady decided to live in it herself, so we had to look for another place to rent. I was upset because I didn't want to leave, but the place that God gave us was much better, and the rent only $25.00 a month more.
Scott had barely started to look in the paper for another place when a prophecy went forth in our church. A woman spoke forth during the praise and worship segment of the service and said, "You are worried about where you will live, but I will take care of that. I love you and I have even saved your lives."
I thought back a few months to when we had been on holiday in California. On that trip, Scott made an error that annoyed me, until I realized that an angel must have had a hand in it. For the second time, on one particular day, he forgot to put the gas cap back on the fuel tank, after we filled up at a gas station. He went and bought another cap, but he forgot the new cap the next time we gassed up. We were about to leave a rest area when he stopped to check to see if he had put the gas cap back on at the last gas station. He hadn't. As he got ready to pull back out onto the highway, I fumed and asked him how he could be so stupid. I had such a sweet way with words. Suddenly, we heard a clunk sound under the van.
Scott drove back into the rest area and parked. We wondered what to do. What had caused that noise? Five minutes later, another car pulled in because it had a flat tire. While the driver changed the flat, Scott talked to him. It so "happened" that the man was a mechanic. He looked under our van and told us that the drive shaft had fallen off on one end.
If it had happened when we were going 70 miles per hour down the freeway, the van would have flipped over and rolled a few times. Even if it hadn't been before seat belts were mandatory in the States, we and our children probably would have been killed. Yes, God had saved our lives, and now He was saying that He would provide us a place to live. That prophetic word calmed me down and it still nourishes my soul thirty years later.
A few days later at the mill where Scott worked, a co–worker asked him what was new. Scott said that he was looking for another place to rent. Lo and behold, Heidi had just bought a rental house with her common–law husband, Bill, and she asked Scott if he wanted to rent it.
It was another little ranch house. The yard was fairly large, but it didn't have fruit trees and a garden. There was, however, a large workshop behind the house. The previous owners liked to do carpentry as a hobby, and they made some really nice renovations.
The laundry room was a dream, with numerous cupboards for storage and lots of counter space to fold laundry on. It had a place for a sewing machine, but I didn't sew. The space had a cupboard next to it, under the counter, and was conducive towards visiting children finding great places to hide when they played Hide and Seek with my kids. I helped one of my nephews into a built–in bin installed in the countertop that he was too short to reach, and he thought it was wonderful to have such a terrific hiding spot. Swinging doors, like in a cowboy saloon, separated the laundry room from the kitchen.
The children's bedrooms had large closets added onto them. Our little girl's room had built–in furniture and was done in a white and blue Wedgewood theme. There were three large drawers under the bed where I kept some of her toys, and a cupboard under the counter at the head of the bed; it made a great hiding spot for Hide and Seek games. The counter ran along the length of that wall, with an area for a chair, so that the counter could be used as a desk. There were glass shelves built into one of the walls, with mirror behind them. It was perfect for displaying my daughter's doll collection.
Shelves and cupboards were built into one wall of the living room. I love storage space because I like to put things away neatly and out of sight. I thought that the wood panelling in the living room was barfy, because I don't like brown furnishings and home interiors in my personal living space, though sometimes they look attractive to me in other people's homes. A large braided rug, also in shades of brown, lay on the hardwood floor. This part of the house wasn't so impressive, but it was acceptable.
The new owners converted the garage into a master bedroom. It was large, but cold as ice. The furnace was in a closet on the other side of our son's bedroom wall, on the far side of the house. If vents were extended to our room, they didn't do much good. The water bed was heated, though, so that made the room bearable.
I liked our landlords, Bill and Heidi, who lived just up the street from us. They were very kind after Scott left me; they helped me a lot, even after I moved to different places. Heidi said that they figured out rather quickly that Scott was messing around on me. I asked her how they knew. She said it was because he always got dressed up so nice when he went out by himself.
That clue had gone totally over my head because I always got dressed up really nice when I went out, but I didn't go out to fool around. I didn't even think that he was all that snazzy–looking because he didn't wear a tie when he went out. When Scott wore a tie, I thought he looked pretty hot. If he had worn a tie, when he normally hated ties, THEN I would have suspected something!
My nieces and nephews loved all the cubby holes in our new house. My siblings laughed because, though they owned their own homes, and their houses were larger, their kids begged them to get a house like Auntie Lanny's because it was so much fun playing Hide and Seek at my place.
The house was on a cul–de–sac, so there wasn't any through traffic. It was a safer neighbourhood for our children to play in, and several of my neighbours were Christians. A young Christian couple lived next door and they had a little boy named Josiah. He was Heather's age.
His mother, Patty, was a really sweet, gentle, young woman. She picked up some of the slack of teaching our children about Jesus. One day when Heather smacked Josiah, Patty addressed her. Little Heather's eyes got wide and she quickly said she had to go home. Patty spoke to her gently about being kind to her friends. Heather then said that she could stay and play after all. We chuckled about that.
When Patty and Ron moved out, their landlords, who were also Christian, moved in. Dwayne and Susan had a little girl named Alanna, who was Andrew's age. Dwayne used to play hockey professionally, and they were an interesting couple to talk to.
I became closest to the Battricks. I met them when Andrew went off to explore the neighbourhood and discovered a little boy a year younger than himself, living in a house behind our landlords' place. Debbie was so interesting. She was artistic and liked to write, and she sure liked to talk, but I could hold my own with her. Debbie and her husband, Wayne, helped me a lot when my marriage broke up and my world fell apart.
When Scott and I were talking about those two, miraculously–provided houses after our break–up, and I was worried about where I was going to live, I was astounded when he smugly lifted his chin and said that we got those houses because he had prayed. No doubt he did pray, but the Bible says that it is the fervent, effectual prayer of a righteous man that avails much. He seemed to have forgotten what he had been up to that weekend when the first one was offered to us, and that his behaviour got even worse afterwards. I think that Sue Steeves's prayers had more to do with those blessings than his prayers.
After Heather's birth, Scott nagged me incessantly for two years to go to the bar with him. He finally got to me when he said that he felt lonely when he was at the bar, so he talked to other women, but he really would prefer to have me to talk to, instead of them. That scared me. I didn't want my husband to have affairs. I recalled having been taught, in the church where we met, that a submissive wife will even go to the bar with her husband, if he wants her to.
And there was a "prophecy" over us, when we married, that said I would be safe as long as I stayed under my husband's authority. That so–called word from God was way off. If a man is not submitted to the Lord, he is not any kind of a covering for his wife. He is a like a man who is holding up a flimsy umbrella that has holes burnt into it from acid rain. The only totally reliable spiritual covering is Jesus, the Anointed Lord Yehoshua, as I like to call Him.
It did not occur to me for a long to time to consider the story of Sapphira and Ananias from the book of Acts in the Bible. Sapphira kept quiet about how much they were paid for some property, but submitting to her husband didn't keep her safe; it got her dead.
And if Abigail had submitted to her husband Nabal, when he insulted David before he became the king of Israel, neither she, nor anybody else in their household, would have been safe. All the males would have been killed and all the females taken as slaves. No, sir; that lady went behind her husband's back and against his wishes, rustling up supplies to take to the refugee leader who had protected their flocks, to show gratitude for his integrity, and persuaded him to not take vengeance on her husband.
Interestingly, she even went so far as to say that her husband was a fool. She didn't make excuses for him, or exaggerate his virtues, or conceal his faults, as Christians are usually trained to do for those who are considered to be over them in authority, but Abigail is considered to be a very wise, courageous, and virtuous woman. David was impressed; he immediately sent messengers to her to propose for him, after Nabal died of a stroke.
I went to the bar with Scott, but found it excessively boring to sit at a table for six hours and watch him down enough liquid to drown a person, while, in that same space of time, I drank only a couple of Irish coffees. We couldn't talk to each other; the music was too loud. My rear end got sore from sitting so long. My eyes got bloodshot and puffy from smoke; they seemed to shrink to almost nothing. I wondered how people could tolerate sitting for hours, never mind in such a noisy, smoky place.
To relieve my boredom, I danced. Dancing was fun and people told me that I was pretty good at it. This presented me with a choice; church, or the bar and cabarets. I couldn't enjoy going to church, if I was going to go to bars and night clubs; my conscience would eat me up. I made the wrong choice and dropped out of church.
Going to the bars with Scott seemed to keep him happy for a while; long enough to lose communication with our Christian friends. Then, when most of my Christian friends weren't around anymore to see what was happening in our relationship, full–fledged war broke out between us.
I slowed down going to the bars. It was pointless. Scott drank more and more, until he would be already half–cut when we left home, and it didn't take long for him to be totally plastered after we arrived at a club. He wasn't fit to dance with; he leaned on me so heavily that I figured we were going to end up on the floor, with me pinned underneath him. That would be such a ridiculous, embarrassing thing to happen. After the first half–hour, I sat out the rest of the evening fuming. Frequently, Scott fell asleep at our table.
One night, when we were out with another couple, both men fell asleep at the table. The other lady, Linda, was furious. She said, "What does that make us look like that our husbands have fallen asleep on us?" I figured it made them look like idiots and that we looked bored. It was a good thing for them that we were nice ladies, who didn't take advantage of their slumber to whoop it up on the dance floor with every man in the place. Then they would have really looked ridiculous!
As his alcoholism progressed, I hated Scott for what he was doing to our family, and sometimes I even teetered on the brink of wishing that he was dead, so that I could start fresh and marry someone else. But then I would recoil in horror at my thoughts and get weepy thinking about how the world would be a poorer place if he died. He acted like a rotten scunner at times, but he didn't act like that all the time.
I was kept awake one night by a wild party when Scott was out on the town. Kids were running across the neighbours' lawns, laughing and carrying on. I didn't have the nerve, in those days, to call the police, but other neighbours probably complained. Their hosts calmed their guests down a bit, and finally kicked them out of their house in the early hours of the morning.
The partiers were standing around at a loose end when Scott arrived home. He struck up conversation with them, while standing in the driveway, leaning against the van. I wondered about his mentality. He was 36 by this time. What did he think he had in common with these giddy people who were, at least, fifteen years younger than him?
Scott ended up inviting the revellers into our house to continue their party. It was 6 a.m. and I could not get to our bathroom on the other side of the house to make myself presentable, without being seen by all those strangers. Otherwise, I would have told them myself to leave. I was furious at Scott for bringing that rowdy crowd into our home.
When he came into the bedroom, I insisted that he tell them to leave. He refused, and then he made fun of my haircut. My hair used to be long, but he had persuaded me to get it cut short, and spiked on the top, like a rock and roller. Scott actually preferred long hair, but as bitterness sent its roots down deep into his heart, he wanted to diminish me. There isn't anything wrong with a woman having short hair, but long hair suits my personality more.
With my hair sticking out on end, while I sat in bed, Scott stood there and laughed at me and said, "Why don't you go out there and tell them yourself, with your funny–looking hair?" I was humiliated. Those young people were sitting in our living room, on the other side of the wall, being quiet, so they could hear what we were saying to each other as we fought. They didn't care that their being there was creating tension between a man and his wife, or that there were little children asleep in the other rooms. They just wanted to party.
He arrogantly told me that, if I made them leave, he would divorce me. Those kids heard him say that, too. I was furious with them for sticking around to listen to him strip me of my dignity. I suppose that they thought I was a bag for not wanting them to come into my home at six in the morning. I was livid with Scott. I actually told him to go to Hell. I was shocked down to my bones to hear those words come out of my mouth. That was not something that I ever let myself even think about in relation to anybody. I told him later that I was sorry for having said that.
Either Scott eventually told his guests to leave, or it finally dawned on them that they ought to; I can't remember which it was. I was so angry with Scott that I said in my heart, "You're not getting away with this, boy! I am through with feeling sorry for you!" I took his credit card and the kids, and we went shopping. He sat out in the backyard, smoking pot with the neighbourhood dealer, mulling over the events of that morning, and came to the conclusion that he had surpassed himself in acting like a jerk.
I had been asking Scott for money to buy pajamas for the children, but he always said we couldn't afford them, and that we couldn't afford to buy regular milk for the kids, so they had to drink powdered skim milk, but he always had money to spend on booze. I binged on shopping only three times in the ten years that I was married to Scott, and that day was the most I ever spent, racking up $500.00 on his credit card. It felt good!
The kids got their pajamas, and I bought myself three pairs of shoes and two purses – at regular stores, instead of at Value Village! I bought some earrings, too, that matched a really cute pair of white and black shoes, but I had no dress to wear with them. When I got home and showed Scott my purchases, he knew he had it coming to him; he did not say one word of complaint. Instead, he handed me $100.00 to buy a black and white dress to match my new shoes and earrings.
I don't recommend revenge shopping. It's always better to take our troubles to the Lord, instead of to the store, but it took me a while longer to learn to do that. The problem was, I was living rather worldly myself, in my choice of literature and in my thought life. I had stopped going to church. I straddled the fence, talking to my friends about the goodness of the Lord and using profanity all in the same conversation. Living in compromise, which is satan's territory, I vented my frustrations in carnal ways.
I hated myself for screaming and swearing at my husband about his drinking and the other stuff that went along with it. It goes against how I think a Christian should behave. But in spite of all the disappointment, frustration, anxiety, and fighting, I was convinced that there wasn't anything that I needed to change in my life. My husband was the one who needed to change. I figured that drinking was Scott's problem, not mine.
When Scott presented a stoic face to my insults and guilt trips, it made me angrier. I thought that he had no feelings when he didn't let his feelings show, so I would say worse things, trying to get a reaction from him that indicated he had a heart. If he had a heart, then maybe he would care about how he was hurting me.
When he did react, it was to swear and berate and insult in return. Our poor, little children witnessed those battles. There was no such thing in our family as discreetly resolving our problems, away from the children, in private, so that their tender spirits were not scarred by strife. Our home was a cold and barren landscape in its last year, and my husband and I were like a couple of Vikings, slashing with broadswords at each other in the bloodied snow.
I regret my cruel words that amounted to saying that he was utterly worthless. How can a man disengage himself from a snare, if he believes that about himself? If he didn't already believe that about himself, he wouldn't have been an addict. He didn't need to hear that lie from me, as well.
A woman has a safeguard against a husband's abuse or neglect if she has a powerful and protective father, but neither my father nor my stepfather fulfilled that role. I did, however, have a powerful and protective Heavenly Father who would have done that for me — if I had let Him, instead of trying to fight it out myself in strifeful and passive aggressive ways.
Some years later, my grandsons demonstrated what I had been doing. Connor, the older grandson, pestered his younger brother while the boys were with me in the grocery store. I told Jake that I would deal with Connor when we got outside, but Jake kept insisting on dealing with his brother himself, by kicking him. He kept doing it until I decided that Connor had taken enough punishment from Jake and did not need anything further from me, though what Jake did to Connor was totally unsatifactory. It did not teach Connor to stop pestering his little brother.
I looked at the boys and thought, "That is what you do, when you try to defend yourself, instead of standing back and letting God deal with people who behave nasty to you." It is a lot less of a bother to just stand back and ask God to deal with those who contend with us, and it works out best if we ask Him to also have mercy on them while He does so. It prevents His dealings from being too severe and becoming tragic, as well as safeguards us from severe judgment when we fail, for the Bible says that God shows mercy to the merciful.
I have seen that prayer cause a man who had been verbally abusive towards me lose favour with his boss, lose contracts with customers and fall from his place as the top salesman in his company, and nearly send him over a cliff when the brakes on his work van failed after he asked his boss to fix them and his boss refused, BUT HE DID NOT DIE. Thank God! I was angry at the man, but I did not want him dead. Whatever his differences were with me, they certainly did not merit the death penalty, though when harrasses one of God's children, they are touching the apple of His eye. Ironically, this man came and told me himself what had been happening in his life; he was so perplexed; he did not know why it was happening and I did not tell him. God let me know out of that man's own mouth that He had defended me. Indeed, the upshot was that this man, who had been threatening me with eviction, completely backed off with his threats.
It is a simple at this: Stop fighting, stop complainting about your adversary to other people, and just ask the Lord, "Father, please deal with them for me, and have mercy on them, in Jesus' Name. If you have truly let go, your heart will feel lighter.
Scott was not, by nature, a violent man, though he grew up in a violent society on the streets of Glasgow and had to learn to defend himself against gangs. His parents lived in the back of a Brethren church, where they were the custodians. It was in a run–down neighbourhood with only one street light that hadn't been smashed. Scott wore a belt that he could whip off in an instant and use the buckle for defense, but he preferred to avoid trouble. As a youngster, he was agile and a fast runner; he could dart through the back alleys as skilfully as a little alley cat.
Scott grouped together with a dozen other boys who didn't want to join the gangs. By watching out for each other, bullies were discouraged from trying to pick a fight with them. Nonetheless, the pressure grew to get him to join a gang.
When he was sixteen, Scott approached his mother about immigrating to Canada. He didn't think that he could continue to resist the pressure, if they stayed in Scotland any longer. He didn't tell her that he was being pressured to join a gang, but he pointed out to his mother that they could not get ahead in Scotland. They were working just to pay rent and buy groceries.
Jane applied for immigration and the family was approved to come to Canada. It took a while for Scott to relax, after he got to Canada, but, eventually, he realized that people rarely went around trying to pick a fight in this country; at least, it wasn't so in the sixties. He stopped wearing his special belt when he saw there was no need for it.
Though Scott was not, by nature, a violent man, alcohol undermined the good things in his character. It led him to making some bad choices. One of his bad choices, though it had nothing to do with his drinking, was what he chose to put in his mind. He liked to watch violent television shows; he enthusiastically called them "action–packed." I think that he got hooked on adrenaline rushes when he came close to danger, as he roamed about the streets in Glasgow. Those shows let him experience violence vicariously, so that he could get some adrenaline flowing.
I, too, was insensitive to TV violence, but I had a lower saturation point than my husband, particularly when it came to prison movies. I had issues about men, but I didn't like the idea of them getting raped. After a few minutes into the movie, usually when some poor guy was being trapped in a shower room, I'd leave and go read a book in our bedroom, which annoyed Scott because then he felt "lonely," but if he really wanted my company, he could have flipped the channel.
I flipped out on him one day over one of his viewing choices. I think that he was actually having a nervous breakdown that day, but I was so co–dependent by this time that, though I thought that he was acting really weird, I just listened, without comment, to his bitter speeches about his father that he confided to me. By this time, I was so deeply depressed over my relationship with my husband that my feelings were numb. I just let his words slide on over me, instead of calling his mother to tell her that he seriously needed some help. After he griped for a while, we went out, bought some gas across the border in Blaine, Washington, and stopped in Annieville to rent videos on our way home.
Scott was on Workman's Compensation at this time, due to carpal tunnel syndrome in his hands. He had way too much time on his hands, as well. For about a year, while he collected that money, he did little else but go to bars and movies with his pal, Marc, or to visit his mistress, but I didn't know about her. When he was at home, he mostly just watched videos and drank. Oh yeah, and he liked to have sex three times a day. He usually didn't get it that many times a day, but he pestered me for it. It was frustrating to have him around so much.
We contended over a Rolling Stones music video that had been criticized even in secular newspapers for its violent content. Scott was a big Rolling Stones fan. He said that, when he was a kid, there were "mods" and "rockers." The mods favoured the Beatles and the rockers liked the Rolling Stones. He had been a rocker, and it seemed that he was trying to become a rocker again with how he dressed, though he still kept his hair cut above his collar. Scott didn't want to look like a married man.
I suffered through that rotten video twice that day. When I tried to walk close to God, I didn't like songs that had lyrics that groomed hearts towards sin. They vexed me, and, one time, I sent one of Scott's records sailing like a frisbee from our apartment balcony because I couldn't stand it anymore. After that, he wore headphones when he listened to his music, until I started to go to the bar with him and got used to worldly music. This particular video went way beyond what I could tolerate, even in my backslidden state, with its destructive, demonic imagery, strident noise, and defiant lyrics.
Scott chose to put it on, for the third time, when I was watching a movie that had reached its peak, where the bad guys were about to be stopped, and it had only five more minutes to run before it was over. My husband's rudeness in interrupting what I was watching, without any regard for my interest in the movie, and without any regard for how I hated that video, was too much for me. I snapped and hit him on the back four times as he bent to put his video on. Scott had never hit me before, but he snapped, too. Smacking him when he went to put that video on again was like striking a match next to a powder keg.
During the fight that ensued, my husband threw a lovely, crystal vase that a dear friend had given us as a wedding gift. It shattered and I was shocked to see it destroyed. The vase had been given to us by Mrs. Waters, an elderly, English widow, who had no children and loved my husband like a son. She was a friend of his mother's and went to the church where Scott and I met. Scott had a soft heart for old ladies. He used to look after her yard, so that she could continue to live in her home.
We'd go there, at least, every two weeks, but it often was a weekly visit. Scott did the work outside, while I did the yapping inside the house, and then he'd come in and have a pleasant time over tea, entering into lively discussions about religion and politics with that dear, sharp–witted lady. When he grew a beard, though it was neat and trim, Mrs. Waters didn't approve, and she said firmly, "You better not try to kiss me with that beard." He replied nonchalantly, "I wasn't going to kiss you anyway." She laughed and then kissed him.
I learned quite a lesson, after our friend said firmly to me one day, "Lanny, I am going to die with my boots on." We were standing next to each other in her yard, looking at the flowers. I thought to myself, "I don't doubt it for a moment." Mrs. Waters was a dignified lady, tall and thin, always dressed neatly, and she had very strong opinions. Fortunately, we agreed with most of her opinions. The yard care and tea times went on for a few years, until she had a stroke and ended up in extended care, where she lingered for four years before she died. It was an object lesson that, no matter how determined we are, we don't have total control over our lives. In the end, it's all in God's hands.
The crystal vase that Mrs. Waters gave us for our wedding seemed to embody the happy, earlier years of our marriage. Scott had filled it many times with roses for me during the first four years of our marriage. When it shattered, it seemed to be a symbol that those loving years would never be recovered. It also was a symbol of my broken heart.
Several years later, a friend with a prophetic gifting told me of an intriguing dream she'd had. I had told her the day before that I used to have nightmares, until God showed me how to interpret them. When I understood what the symbols meant, and what to do to resolve the problems they were highlighting, the nightmares went away.
That night, my friend dreamed that she was carrying a crystal vase, and it slipped through her hands and shattered. A sliver of crystal sliced into her big toe and made it bleed. She said that the vase represented me, and that the Lord told her that, when one member of the Body suffers, the rest of the Body suffers.
I think that it also means that we are not supposed to let our brothers and sisters slip through our hands. We should check up on each other, out of loving concern, to make sure that everybody in the Body is all right, rather than just take it in stride, if we haven't seen them at church for a while. My friend was blown away when I informed her that my second name is Crystal, and told her about the vase that Scott broke when we had the fight that ended our marriage.
Yes, Earlana Crystal was shattered that day. Everything I had hoped for in my relationship with my husband was ending in this nightmare. He slammed me against the wall a few times, and then he started kicking me.
Eventually, we ended up in the bedroom, where he pinned me down on the bed, and made as if he was going to punch me in the face, balling up his fist and telling me to remove my glasses. That man never stopped being a typical Scot; even in his rage, he took measures to ensure that he wouldn't have to pay for a new pair of glasses. I had to get away from him, before I ended up in the hospital, but it wouldn't have been safe to leave the kids with Scott.
I wondered how I could get the kids out of the house. I figured that it would be easier to get them out while I was still in the house, rather than if I ran to the neighbours, and then tried to get back in. It never occurred to me to call the police for help. I was so independent about handling personal matters, that I thought I had to do everything on my own.
The opportunity presented itself after Scott changed his mind about breaking my nose and staggered back to the kitchen to mix another drink. He discovered he was out of pop and decided to go to the store to buy some more. He told me to get the kids ready because he intended to take them with him. Why? Did he think they would be safer with him than with me? I didn't ask.
He meant to drive the van, but he was so drunk that he couldn't stand up without holding onto the counter. My son's eyes looked at me pleadingly, as if to say, "Mom, are you going to let him take us with him?" I knew I would never see Andrew alive again, and probably not his sister either, if I let the kids go with their father.
When Scott turned his back to put on his shoes, I slowly pulled the kids by the buttons on their clothes into the living room, making their Dad think that I was getting them ready to go with him. Then I opened the door in the living room, tucked a child under each arm, and sprinted to Patty's house next door.
Ron asked if I wanted him to call the police. I said no. I was feeling sorry for Scott, again. It was my usual response in the aftermath of his disasters. It all went back to our dating days, when pity for him tugged on my heartstrings. Not that he was pathetic, but he seemed lonely.
Girls, don't ever marry a man because you feel sorry for him; marry a man whom you admire. And I'm not talking about his biceps, or anything about his looks. Marry a man whom you admire for his fine character. And don't marry him because he has "potential" to develop character. Wait until he has already developed that potential. I married Scott because I figured that, with the influence that his godly mother had on him, and the good qualities that he had already developed, he would turn out to be a fine man of God someday. I should not have married him until he became the kind of man I had dreamed of.
I called Scott's mother, told her what had happened, and asked her to go talk to him. Then I called Wayne, my friend Debbie's husband, to come and get us. He drove over and took the kids and me to my older sister's place.
Our escape snapped Scott back to his senses and he was subdued when his mother and a friend of hers showed up to talk to him. I am sure that, even with the shards of crystal lying swept together in a pile nearby, presenting evidence that he had gotten carried away, Scott knew how to gain their sympathy. He was able to make me feel sorry for him when he got thrown in the drunk tank and when he ripped the tires off our van by driving too close to a sidewalk when he was drunk. Even when he was putting me through the wringer, but I felt sorry for him! I was such a sap.
When I saw my mother–in–law and her friend a couple days later, they looked grim and were not at all sympathetic towards me about what Scott had done. I never told them about how the fight got started, and I am sure that Scott left out some pertinent details, slanting the story all towards his favour.
Well, Jane is in Heaven now, and knows all about it, and realizes that he wasn't an easy person to live with. Finally, she can face the facts about her son, but it's safe there. Nobody in Heaven judges anyone for their mistakes, if they are under the Blood of Jesus. All of the redeemed were sinners, before they were saved by grace. Not that I think Jane would have judged him, if she had acknowledged his problems, but she would have fretted terribly about Scott ending up in Hell. In Heaven, she can be at peace about that, leaving it in God's hands.
Jane's and her friend's freezing looks increased my bitterness and anger. Much to my mother–in–law's annoyance, I spoke openly in front of my children, and in front of her friend, about Scott's adultery and drinking. Mind you, the kids already knew about the drinking because they had witnessed it, and he had taken each of them to meet April, his mistress. If they didn't know who that lady was then, they would have figured it out later when they recalled their visits to her house. Little Heather remembered that April had a son her age, named Andrew, and that she had forgotten her Cabbage Patch doll there.
Scott's flaws seemed to make no impression on the two ladies. In his mother's case, I could not be surprised, and I suppose that her friend trusted her judgment so much because Jane had a fine reputation as a godly woman. They probably thought I was lying about the adultery, or maybe they figured that I drove him to drink and into the arms of other women. Give me a break; the guy liked to have sex three times a day. He had too much testosterone, and he didn't keep himself physically active enough to work it off. He needed to chop wood, or something rigorous like that.
My godly mother–in–law was blind where her family was concerned. Her brother was an alcoholic, but his drinking was blamed on his wife because she was very fat, dressed sloppy, and was an untidy housekeeper. I never heard her say much about her brother's wife, but I assumed that these were her criticisms because Scott ran his aunt down to me, and he frequently shared his mother's opinions about their relatives. No consideration was given to the possibility that his uncle's wife let everything go because she was depressed about her husband's behaviour. He was probably an alcoholic before he married her, but she might not have known how bad the problem was.
I am only 5'4", and when my weight got out of control when I was married, except for when I was pregnant, it never went over 125 pounds, but most of the time I was only 120 pounds. Scott wanted me to always stay at 115. He chuckled and called me "Lardo" in the beginning when I went more than a couple of pounds over my ideal weight. After that, he didn't say much, but I knew he didn't think I looked very exciting with those extra pounds and his eyes were wandering. If, when I was 115 lbs., he had raved about how gorgeous my figure was, without needing to be prompted into giving me compliments, I would have been more motivated to keep it that way.
It was annoying that he rarely volunteered any compliments about my looks when he liked them; he reserved his comments for when they weren't up to his expectations, telling me I should put on some make–up. I was pretty when I wore make–up, and, though I didn't keep our house tidy all the time, it was clean, and the closets and drawers were always organized. Even when I was a child, the first thing I always cleaned in my room was my closet, so that I would be able to put everything else away neatly. It took only a couple of hours to get the rest of the house looking decent.
I knew couples whose homes were a complete jumble, yet the men seemed to be happy enough with their wives. One of those ladies has a serious problem with being a pack rat. Her house is jammed to the rafters with stuff, but she is still together with her husband after 35+ years. Another set of friends, married for longer than that, are only now separating, but it has nothing to do with the wife's housekeeping. She was always a sweet lady, but she has mental problems, and they have gotten worse, to the point where she is pushing her husband away and doesn't want to live with him anymore. Why couldn't my husband handle the flaws in my housekeeping? I was better at it, in some respects, than his mother. She had so much stuff crammed into her house that I hated going there, but he never minded visiting her.
My husband brought up my failings as excuses to drink, but, one day, everything came together. I had the house thoroughly spotless and tidy, the kids were getting along with each other (Scott blamed me, if they fought), I was dolled up to the nines (though we weren't going anywhere), and slim as a wand at that time. Scott was so happy to have everything just the way he liked it that he sat down on the couch with a bottle of wine to celebrate. I sat at the end of the couch, my face turned away from him, feeling totally bewildered and frustrated that nothing I did could stop Scott from drinking. Not even pleasing him! The bottom line is that an alcoholic drinks because they want to drink – not because anyone drives them to it.
The kids and I stayed with my sister Pat and her family, after Wayne took us there. The following day, though, she wanted us out, because it was the weekend, and they were going to have a party. I called Jane to take the kids and me to Richmond, to stay with a friend.
Anne was rather dysfunctional. When we discussed parenting, one time, she told me emphatically that she would never apologize to her kids, because then she would lose control of them. Her response surprised me, as I figured that it is only logical to apologize to a child, if we wronged them. How else were they going to forgive us? Of course, a person can forgive without getting an apology, but repentance on the other person's part helps make it easier. I think that Anne had some control issues, which is why her sympathies were with the controller in this situation.
She had a lot of good qualities, in spite of that. I told her all about the fight, leaving nothing out about my part in it, while I sat at her dining room table, painting little flowers on Easter eggs. I found out later that Scott cancelled his credit cards right away, in case I went on another shopping binge, but it never entered my head, though I could see a big mall across the street through Anne's dining room window. After I finished filling Anne in on what had happened, she said to me, "You're going to have to apologize to him, because you started the fight."
Anne seemed to overlook the Scott's history of drinking, and the fact that he didn't have to hit me back, but she was right that I needed to apologize for hitting him. I surely must have. I apologized to him for a great many things over the years after that, but the only response was cold indifference, and I never heard any apologies from him.
Three days after our big fight, I returned home, sat down at the kitchen table with Scott, and told him that he had to go to AA or lose his family. He said that he had already decided to leave. I was stunned. He was willing to give up his children, rather than give up the bottle? I could understand him wanting to leave me, because I had behaved so ugly to him, but he was going to abandon our babies?
I think that Scott felt powerless when I ran away with the kids, and that his decision to leave was how he made himself feel that he was in control. He sensed that, when I returned home, I was going to deliver an ultimatum.
Though he intended to leave, he said that he wasn't quite ready to leave just then. He asked if it was all right for him to stay a few more weeks. I said it was. He eased off his drinking and, after he left me, he said that he had stopped drinking all together and that, as far as he was concerned, he didn't care if he never touched another drop.
I didn't believe for a moment that he would never drink again, but to avoid accusations of not being supportive, and blamed when he went back to drinking, I simply replied, "That's good to hear." I think that he did lay off the alcohol for a while, but after a few months, when I talked to him on the phone sometimes, his words were slurred and I knew that he had gone back to the bottle. I hoped that, since he lived so close to his parents, he was drinking less and was more controlled than before.
Scott found an apartment in the same complex as his parents. I told him to take whatever he needed, but he just wanted our waterbed and the stereo and TV. He bought himself some nice furniture to spruce up his new place.
When I saw his blue, velvet couch, I thought, "Why didn't he buy nice stuff like this when we were together? Why did I have to make do with his mother's old couches that were in colours I hated, and have to beg my brother–in–law for a kitchen table that he was using as a work table in his garage because it looked better than the one I had? Why didn't he just go out and buy me a bookshelf like the one he has, instead of making shelves because it was cheaper?"
Those shelves! He was mad at me because I didn't rave to him that his bookshelves looked wonderful. How could I? They were just a simple set of shelves made with cheap materials, and they didn't look anywhere near as good as the ones my brother–in–law made for my sister. I wondered what was wrong with me that he didn't respect me enough to buy me nice furniture. Other women always seemed to get more out of their husbands than what I did. I hardly ever asked for anything that was expensive.
Control can be a very subtle thing. Scott knew when he married me that spiritual maturity is something that I esteem and aspire to. I don't think he did it deliberately, but right at the start of our marriage, he established a system of financial control to keep me from asking him for money or expensive items.
He spoke disparagingly about his mother's younger sister; she apparently had high–faluting tastes and unreasonable expectations. He lamented about how his uncle had to buy new curtains or a new couch, before the old ones were even worn out, simply because his wife had gotten tired of them. Poor uncle. He had to live in a nice house.
It was well understood that his mother was much more spiritual than her sister, which was the explanation for why she did not harass his father to spend a lot of money on their home, being so humble that she was content with her lot. Her brother–in–law, though, was better educated than my husband's father and earned more money.
Control can be so subtle. It isn't always achieved through bullying. Guilt and shame can slither around and sneak a bridle onto someone, and look respectable, whereas outright bullying can get a person arrested. Scott was a master of the guilt trip. He could do it so well that I didn't know what he was doing. In fact, I don't think that even he knew that he was doing it. Christians are very good at cloaking their manipulation behind veils of pseudo–holiness. We struggle with our flesh, like anyone else, and sometimes cave in to the temptation to control others, but we don't want it to be obvious, especially to ourselves. It doesn't fit in with our view of being good people.
A lot of it comes from the way we are raised. Who doesn't have control issues? Scott's father, though he had an amiable personality, like a typical phlegmatic, could be as stubborn as a mule, and he was very stingy towards Jane. He knew that Jane considered herself superior because she was smarter than him, and he resented it. He paid her back by acting like he was even less intelligent than what he actually was, developing selective hearing, so that he heard only what he wanted to hear.
My mother–in–law knew there was no point in asking her husband for anything, unless he was convinced that they needed it. In over thirty years of marriage, though he was kind and generous towards other people, my father–in–law never bought presents for his wife, no matter how much she complained about it. He never gave her a pretty ring to wear beside her wedding band, until, when the rest of the family was pushing him to go halfers with my sister–in–law for a $60.00 engagement ring, he looked at me, his new daughter–in–law, and asked if I thought he should do it. I nodded, so he chipped in for it. My mother–in–law figured that being content with her lot was her only option.
For ten years, I adopted my husband's and his mother's mindset towards his father, until two months after Scott and I broke up. My son brought me to my senses. In December, I deliberately left my father–in–law off my Christmas list because I was angry at how he treated my mother–in–law and thought it was about time he found out what it felt like to be left out. After getting everyone else on my list a present, I announced with satisfaction, "Well, that's done."
Andrew was only six–years–old, but he realized right away that something was missing. His eyes widened and he said, "But what about Grandpa?" I thought, "That's right. He's his Grandpa, and he doesn't know anything about all that stuff. All he knows is that he loves his Grandpa." I realized that I had to let my husband's and his mother's bitterness alone. My father–in–law was always nice to me, and I really did not have anything personally against him. I asked Andrew what we should buy Grandpa for Christmas, and I got what he advised.
I gasped, at first, when Andrew said to buy his Grandpa some Sunday clothes. That was going to cost a lot more than what I had spent on anyone else, and I didn't have much money, but I reasoned, "What is the point of asking him what he thinks, if I don't take it seriously?"
By the time I decided this, Andrew had gone to bed. I went to his room and, looking down at him as he lay staring at the ceiling, with his little arms tucked beneath his head, I asked, "What kind of Sunday clothes?" He replied nonchalantly, "Oh, pants and a shirt and a tie." I breathed a sigh of relief that he had not said a jacket, as well. I suggested grey pants and a grey shirt with a burgundy stripe. He said that would be fine. I asked if he thought we should buy Grandpa a burgundy tie, as well. He said, "You decide," clearly not interested in the details.
I bought these items and, thankfully, my husband and his mother reimbursed me for about a third of the cost, as they knew it had taken quite a chunk out of my finances. Even with their contribution, it was a big expense, considering my budget, but I figured that it was well worth it to help me have a softer, more tender heart by acting on my little boy's suggestion, and also to encourage him to be a leader.
My husband, thank God, was not anywhere near as stingy towards me as his father was towards his mother, but if he hadn't spent so much money on alcohol, and other foolishness, we could have afforded better furniture, and maybe even bought a house. I heard about a recovered alcoholic who had gotten saved, and an unbeliever asked him contemptuously if he really believed that Yehoshua had turned water into wine. The man retorted sharply, "I don't know about that, but in my house, He turned whiskey into furniture!"
Though Scott pulled the rug out from under me right at the start of our marriage by making it known that he and his mother would disapprove of me, if I asked him for anything that cost over $100.00, ten years later, he bitterly remarked that it was my fault that we didn't buy a house because I hadn't pushed him.
Push him like his auntie pushed his uncle? He really wanted me to do that? I thought that would make me look shallow and grasping and earn his contempt. And he liked to go to California at least once a year, which is what he saved for, if he saved for anything. Well, one lives and learns that people's values change, but I think he would have given me a very hard time of it, if I had tried to push him to buy a house.
There is usually more than one reason why people do things. I think that my husband wanted to separate also because he was afraid that we would have another fight, and the violence would be worse, as it is well–known that once violence starts, it escalates.
Scott did not consciously remember what he did to me, but it was in his brain somewhere. When he spoke to me again, later on the day that he announced he was going to leave, he asked plaintively, "I didn't hurt you very much, did I, Lanny?" He actually thought he hadn't, and his face went white when I wordlessly showed him the huge, deep–purple bruises on my arms and legs where he had kicked me with his shoes on. I am not surprised that he didn't remember, because, when he did that, something that wasn't him took over his personality.
I spared none of the details of my part in the fight when I related it to a friend. He said that I blamed myself too much, and that it had been the alcohol that caused my husband to think that our marriage wasn't worth saving. At that point, I still knew almost nothing about alcoholism, but discovered later that he was right.
I was backslidden when my husband left, but I turned back to God two months later. He has great mercy. He knew that a nervous breakdown was coming, but He held it back until I got my heart right with Him and knew that He was on my side. I don't mean on my side against my ex–husband, for He loves both of us. I needed to know that God was on my side against satan, the adversary of my soul.
The breakdown started off with God telling me to get my house in order. I believe that was God speaking to my heart. I had a lot of things that I needed to put right. But satan, seeing an opportunity to make mischief, tagged onto that message, "… because you are going to die."
I was receptive to that suggestion because my heart was so broken that I wanted to die. Though our separation was supposed to be temporary, it didn't look like there was any hope that my marriage would be restored. I was worried about how I would manage to support myself and the children. I hadn't finished high school and wasn't likely to be able to get a job that paid more than minimum wage. Welfare wasn't going to support us indefinitely. I was going to have to pay a babysitter, but what was left over wasn't going to be enough to buy adequate groceries, never mind pay rent.
I did not have any confidence that my husband would pay child support because it was obvious that he didn't want to have the responsibility of a wife and children; he just wanted to be single and carefree again. Though he ended up looking after the children and getting married soon after the divorce, and getting a couple of stepchildren in the bargain, I am sure that was not what he intended when he decided to separate from me.
It was devastating that what I had thought of as a great romance was never going to be recovered. The beautiful memories of our earlier days pierced my heart with bitter regrets over how both of us had behaved, and were still behaving. We couldn't stop ourselves. Scott and I couldn't even be friends. We talked about being "friends," and we were behaving nicer to each other, but it didn't take much to set us off like volcanoes and start yelling at each other again. It was getting more obvious every time we saw each other that our marriage really was over.
Convinced that I was going to die, I wrote letters of apology to people whom I had not properly appreciated. I was hospitalized before I could mail them, so I asked Scott to mail them for me. They were already addressed, but he didn't do it. He took them away and threw them in the garbage. Later, when I told my friend Pat Lamont about the letters, and asked, truly puzzled, "Why didn't he mail them for me?" she replied, "Because he's a jerk." She had started out liking him, when she met him during a counselling session that we had with his pastor. Pat had come with me to be moral support. Some of the old, lovable Scott had shown through at the end of that meeting, but how he behaved to me afterwards put her off.
Other people seemed to figure him out a lot more quickly than I did. It took me at least three years, after he left me, to realize that Scott was not a good man. He may have started out half–decent, but he decided to go the other way, when he didn't get what he wanted from me. To be fair to him, I was somewhat of a trial. I wanted someone to take care of me, but I didn't take very good care of him. I may not have been as bad as he painted me, but I know in my heart that I should have done better.
After I wrote those letters, the coldness of a spirit of death started to lay claim to my body and I kept the furnace on at full throttle to combat the chill.
When my husband took the children to his place for the weekend, I attended a singles' party that a woman from church invited me to. I was quiet and subdued, as an old acquaintance told me the story of his personal tragedy of how his pretty wife had been unfaithful to him with lesbian lovers. I listened to him closely and felt pain for him, pondered at the same time how his wife had always seemed like a sweet person, wondered how she had come to fall into such degradation, and another part of my mind reflected, while I listened, that I would not be in this world for much longer.
I cried a lot for my children in the days that I thought would be my last, hugging them fiercely. Normally very outgoing, my daughter clung to me when I took the children to a Beaver's party. She didn't know why I had been crying so much. I didn't talk to them about what was going on in my head, but she sensed that her mother was leaving and she was afraid.
Three days before my 10th wedding anniversary, I lay down in my bed and literally willed myself to die. My breathing stopped and my heart stopped beating. I could no longer feel the heavy pressure of the blankets I had piled on. It was such a comfortable "feeling" to be free of sensation. My soul raced through an invisible corridor that bypassed galaxies and my heart rejoiced that I was going Home, leaving the miseries of Earth behind.
Then suddenly I found my soul back in my body; its exit had not lasted more than a split second, although the experience in the corridor seemed longer than that. God spoke in my spirit and told me, "It's not time for you to come Home. There are still some things that I want you to do." My soul drooped within me. I hoped that whatever those things were that God wanted me to do, I could get them done in just a few days because I wanted to go Home! Wah!
Yes, I was behaving like a big cry–baby. I was 31–years–old and hadn't even hardly started to live, but living sure seemed to be painful. I couldn't see it getting any better. The future seemed to stretch out before me like a bleak, barren wasteland. Committing suicide was not an option, though. I didn't want to go to Hell when I died. That would only make my pain worse, far beyond human imagining, and it would never end.
I ended up in a psychiatric ward for six days. At first, I was put in a locked room until I was moved to Sherbrooke Centre, the psychiatric unit of the Royal Columbian Hospital. That was the hospital where my children were born, and I thought that I was going to die a violent death in this place. I tried to prepare myself to face it, without abandoning my faith in Yehoshua.
I wouldn't talk because I wanted to identify with Yehoshua. I took the Scripture about Him "not opening His mouth" quite literally, forgetting that He actually did talk during that time, though He permitted Himself to be killed. I pantomimed when I had needs that had to be communicated. The first nurse who attended me was harsh, and even a bit of a sadist. She sternly said that I had to talk, if I wanted something. I think that she later felt ashamed of herself when she saw that I wasn't a belligerent type of patient, or resentful towards her for her earlier treatment; she spoke kindly afterwards.
I thought that I was not supposed to eat. Labouring under the delusion that my life was about to end, I wanted to fast and pray, so that I would be ready for whatever was going to happen to bring it about. A kind, young orderly with sandy hair urged me to eat, saying that the nursing staff would have to use a feeding tube on me, if I did not eat. He left a tray of food behind.
I was exhausted, hungry, and thirsty. The orderly's gentle kindness had much more of an effect than the other nurse's authoritarian demands. After a while, I finally drank a cup of tea and ate a couple pieces of toast; just enough to take the edge off my hunger and thirst. Then I rolled into a ball and slept for a while on a mattress that was placed on the floor.
After several hours, a stout, middle–aged nurse came to escort me to the psychiatric part of the hospital. She noticed the pretty engagement ring on my finger. I had picked it out when Scott and I shopped for a ring after he asked me to marry him. It had a ¼ carat diamond that represented a flower, and curving vines with small diamonds in the leaves. It was a beautiful, graceful ring. The vines concealed the thin, wedding band that fit snugly next to it. Thinking to encourage me that life was not so bad, the nurse enthusiastically asked, "Oh, you are engaged? You have someone who loves you?" I made no reply and my face did not register expression, but her words plunged a knife into my heart. I reeled in pain inside, as I thought of the man who had given me that ring, but loved me no more.
God was so merciful to me. A Christian friend, who had suffered a nervous breakdown a few weeks before, was in the very same ward where I was placed. Her move from another town had been too stressful for her. Her nerves had always been fragile, due to having been lured away and molested by a stranger when she was a little girl, but she was a very kind–hearted person, in spite of her difficulties. Without me needing to say anything, she understood a lot about what was going on inside of me. She put her arm around me and we walked along the hallway, singing hymns that gave me comfort.
I may have thought that I wasn't supposed to talk, but nothing had suggested to me that I couldn't sing hymns. I remembered how the Bible says in Psalms 32:7, "You are my hiding place; you shall preserve me from trouble; you shall surround me with songs of deliverance." Those songs were a healing balm to my shattered soul and helped drive away my fears.
When my bewildered siblings showed up to visit, my friend was a great comfort to them as she said, "Oh, yes. She understands everything that you say to her, and we've been walking up and down the halls singing hymns."
Everybody in that ward was kind to me. My friend thought it was highly unusual. She said, "Lanny, everybody here likes you; even Gudrun and she doesn't like anybody." It confirmed what I starting to realize; that God had wrapped His arms of comfort around me and was keeping me safe by granting me favour.
I didn't talk, but I kept myself clean and tidy, and numbly watched what was going on around me. One girl moved like a wraith through the wards, led about by the hand. Her fiancé had been killed in a car accident and she was in shock. Eventually, I started talking again, but I didn't have much to say.
The nurses must have eased back on my medications after a couple of days because, though I still felt edgy from them, at least they weren't tightening my muscles up so much that I had to walk on my toes and twist my mouth to try to make my face feel comfortable. In some ways, the side effects of those drugs were worse than my illness, though they did help my thoughts become rational again.
I stopped taking them the day after I got out of the hospital because of the side effects, but also because I wanted my healing to be firmly rooted in Yehoshua, rather than dependant on pills that might not always be available. Normally, that is not what I would recommend to people who need to take pills to function on an acceptable level. Usually, when Yehoshua heals, it becomes apparent that such pills are no longer necessary, but one should consult with their doctor, so then he/she can ease back the medication step by step, with no ill effects.
One day, a nurse approached me in the hall and took my hand. She looked at me steadily and said, "It's time to talk." She led me to a room and, as I passed through the doorway, it seemed like a black curtain came down over my mind. I can not recall what happened after that, nor did I think about the nurse leading me there when I was returned to my room. Three days later, a nurse came to where I sat at my bedside and asked how I was doing. I said I was sorry that I had gotten my family worried about me.
Actually, I was astounded that they were worried, and that all my siblings who lived in the area, and their spouses, had come to see me. I didn't think that my family cared about me. For years, I felt like an outsider, until Yehoshua said to me, "Lanny, you are not the outsider. They are the outsiders, because they are outside of my Family. But you keep on trusting me to help them receive salvation."
I was the only Christian among my siblings and they gave me a hard time when I tried to talk to them about Yehoshua. I wasn't perfect, so they figured I had no right to tell them that they weren't living right and needed to get right with God. The man who led me to the Lord sure wasn't perfect, but I didn't let that stop me from receiving Yehoshua through his witnessing, nor from going on with Yehoshua, after the relationship with my boyfriend ended. Unless Yehoshua Himself, or an angel, shows up to preach the Gospel, people are never going to hear it from a person who is perfect. Other people's faults won't provide anyone with a viable excuse when God asks them on Judgment Day why they refused His gift of salvation.
My interests were so different from my family's. Even when I lived in a worldly fashion and went to bars with them, we didn't get together very often. They were into their own sets of friends. But when I got sick, they all showed up and showed concern for me, and my youngest brother even cried. They were appalled at how much weight I had lost and how frail I looked, besides the facial contortions from medication and my apparent inability to talk. Their presence, their gifts of chocolate (I didn't eat chocolate, but it was a symbol of their caring), the worried looks on their faces, and Johnny's tears helped towards my healing.
On the sixth day, I talked with a psychiatrist. Everything seemed to slide into place in my mind, as I talked with him. I saw that it had been irresponsible to let myself get into that condition, that I needed to stay sane and be sensible, so that I could look after my children. It just would not do to drop out of life and let other people take care of my responsibilities.
The psychiatrist made a reference to when we had talked before. I looked at him in puzzlement and said, "What are you talking about? I've never talked to you before. I've never met you before." He replied calmly, "Yes, you have." He then went on to say that I had told him about the horrible fight that I'd had with my husband, wherein he beat me up. He repeated what I had said, using words that I would use to describe what happened. I still didn't remember meeting him, but I thought, "It must be true. I must have told him all that. He doesn't have any reason to lie to me."
I took full responsibility for the beating. I pointed out that I had thrown the first punch. The psychiatrist disagreed that I was responsible for what had happened. He said, "You lived for ten years with an alcoholic. It isn't like you to be violent. Everybody here has noted how gentle you are. You were overstressed."
I accept that I was overstressed, and that this contributed towards how I reacted to Scott that day, but God was always available to me, through prayer, to obtain grace from Him to help me in my situation. It's the same for everybody; He will help whoever calls upon Him out of a sincere heart. I didn't have to let myself get so overstressed. I could have gotten relief from the Lord, and I could have gotten direction from Him what to do about my problems with Scott. Since I wasn't availing myself of His help, I had to go down the hard road, to teach me to turn to Him.
When I thought about the fight later, I realized that, though I had thrown the first punch, Scott hadn't needed to slug it out with me. He could have turned off that video when he saw how much it bothered me. He had known from the early years of our marriage that it horrifies me to see shows about heavily satanic stuff, or that displays gore, and that I consider it sick for people to be entertained by such things. One of our friends, a wise, old lady in our church, had cautioned him that, because of my spiritual sensitivity, he should never expose me to horror movies. That stuck with him for about two or three decisions about what to watch, and then he went back to his usual habits.
I can't remember a single thing about that video, except for a lot of crashing sounds, but what was considered horrid back then would probably be considered fairly tame nowadays, because people have become so desensitized through over–exposure to evil imagery and lyrics and dialogue.
After hitting my husband in four bursts of temper, I backed off because I knew that, being a lot smaller, there was no way I was going win a fist fight with him. He had a lot of rage pent up inside, though, and kept at it, slamming my head repeatedly against the living room wall, and then kicking me as I curled up at his feet, begging Jesus to help me. My husband laughed in a gloating way when I prayed, and continued to kick. I knew that a demon had taken over his personality and it was enjoying its work. It wanted me to think that my prayers were to no avail. Our children crouched next to me on the other side, crying and pleading with their father to stop.
Though his rage was out of control, it was not without cause that it manifested in kicking. His stubbornness in regards to reasonable requests infuriated me. When it got to where he refused even the simplest requests, two episodes arose where I kicked him a few times in the shins. Each time, he looked bewildered about how to respond, and I felt the disgrace of what I did, particularly since the kids were present to see their father being treated in such a disrespectful way. I did not set them a good example of honouring their father. He didn't teach them to honour me either, but God still requires that we do what is right, regardless of how other people behave.
Long before I ever let myself get to the point where I responded in such a way to my husband's stubbornness, I should have left him. Divorce is a hateful thing, but it is preferable to letting oneself be driven crazy. It should not be undertaken, though, unless one partner refuses to go with the other to counselling, participate respectfully, and make reasonable compromises.
The beating could have been worse. There were two times that day that I came close to getting my nose broken, but, each time, something seemed to grab hold of Scott's elbow, and he would lower his arm while he badgered me with questions that I dared not answer with logic and candour. No matter what I replied, it would have infuriated him. Saying that I didn't know made him mad, too, but he let me go each time without hitting me. I realized later that an angel held him back.
Jane was furious that I told the doctors and nurses about how Scott had beaten me up. I protested apologetically, "But I didn't even know that I told them." It didn't matter. I should not have said anything to embarrass her son. In her books, a good wife doesn't do that, and she did not think that it said much for me as a Christian, either.
That kind of attitude contributes to domestic abuse. Abused Christian women sense when they would be met with disapproval, if they tell anyone in their church about what their husband does to them behind closed doors. Isn't it a disgrace that they often have to go to a psychologist who isn't even a Christian to get help?
If they can't find someone who will listen to them with compassion and give them sound advice, they stay locked in their prison, and, sometimes, it costs them their lives. I had a friend who was married to a very abusive man, and her pastor advised her to stay with him, even if she ended up being killed! It was his take on, "Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend." I guess he figured that her martyrdom would soften her murderer's heart and cause him to come to Christ.
Thankfully, many churches have seen the need to be supportive of abused women and have become better at helping them.
The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 5:11, "But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat." If other Christians aren't required to keep company with such a person, or to eat with them, then why should their poor wife and children have to live with them? In the Early Church, such people were publicly reproved for their deeds, if they were unrepentant; their mischief wasn't kept behind closed doors.
I talked to pastors about Scott, but the ones I talked to never did anything about him. With one exception, I don't think that they even talked to him. There were other pastors, who wondered about our situation, and they tried to reason with Scott about reconciling with me, but the results were dismal. He remained adamant that he wasn't interested. Scott was allowed to attend church without a word of rebuke from the pulpit, though he was dating other women when he was still married to me, and I was interested, at that time, in reconciliation. When he moved out of province with my children, and wouldn't let me see them, I sent his pastor a letter, but the pastor wouldn't even read it. He said that it was a "personal family matter" that he didn't want to get involved in.
As a professional caregiver, Jane would have encouraged a client in similar circumstances to confide in a psychologist, but it was different matter when it was her own son's reputation at stake.
I remember how soft my husband's Scottish burr was when he visited me in the lockup room. For the past year, his voice had seemed as loud as a trumpet and very irritating. He was on his good behaviour to impress the nursing staff when he asked, "Lanny, what hev ye bin doin' to yurrself?" I made no reply, but I thought, "What do you mean what I have been doing to myself? Do you think that I like to be this way?" It seemed incongruous that he made no connection between my condition and what he had been doing to me.
A few months later, my friend, Ruby, told me how Scott shook his head and woefully said to her that I looked just terrible when he saw me in the lockup room at the hospital. We laughed when I replied, "Well, I'm sorry, but if I'd known that I was going to have a nervous breakdown that day, I would have gone to the hairdresser's first!"
After I had that talk with the psychiatrist, the nurses snubbed Scott and wouldn't tell him anything about my condition. He knew that they now knew what he done, and he blamed me for blackening his name, when it was his own actions that had blackened his name.
The Bible says in Malachi 2:16, "For the LORD, the God of Israel, says that he hates divorce: for one covers violence with his garment, says the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that you deal not treacherously." Covering violence with one's garment refers to hiding one's part in the problems in their marriage, and concealing that they beat their wife, or trying to justify it.
It is reassuring to know that, even in cultures where men's laws grant hardly any rights to women, God says that He takes note of what men do to their wives. Though in some countries it is legal for a man to beat his wife, it goes against God's laws. He holds a man accountable for every way in which he mistreats his wife. If men wonder why their prayers aren't getting answered, they just need to think back to how they treated their wife, when they lost interest in her, or when they started to think of her as their property.
At the very same time that I was having my second talk with the psychiatrist, a woman I had met briefly at Debbie's home was holding a prayer meeting on my behalf. One of the young men who was there heard a word from the Lord and told her, "Your friend is going to be okay." An hour later, they received word from Debbie that I had been released from the hospital and was on the way to her place.
I stayed a week with Wayne and Debbie and spent Christmas with them. Scott had the children, and I felt afraid to ask for them back, because I suspected that he would say no. I knew he would see my nervous breakdown as the chance that he had been waiting for to get back at me for his grievances, and that he would use the kids to do it. But even if he didn't have that agenda, it still was a good idea to wait and see that I truly was all right before I got my kids back. I was going to have to go to court, and I didn't feel ready, yet, for that fight.
On Christmas Day, Wayne and Debbie grinned as they said that they had a present for me. They handed me a radio. I was stunned. Scott had taken the TV and stereo when he moved out, and I had figured it was good riddance. Later, I wished that I had a radio, so that I could listen to Christian stations. The only person I had spoken to about getting a radio was my sister, Lorrie, who did not know Wayne and Debbie. They said that the Lord had told them to get me that radio; they were delighted when I told them that I had spoken to my sister about getting one. That radio proved to be a lifeline.
I thought that I was now fully recovered from my breakdown. Well, I was, in a way, but the things that led up to having it had not been resolved. I was still in denial about a lot of issues that needed to be addressed. I had been shoving things that bothered me under the carpet for years, and they were about to spring out and demand attention.Fiery Furnace Stoked
Copyright © 2010, Lanny Townsend
Page modified by Lanny Townsend on August 4, 2016
Scripture references on this website are closely paraphrased from e–Sword's King James Bible.