Thursday, April 11, 2013

And Still I Cry

What a day. What a day. The truth that one has been so completely and thoroughly  betrayed is a very tough truth with which to come face to face. That is where I have been today. If I had been a bad person, I could see, maybe a little, how I could have ended up in this situation. But I haven't been. Not anything that warranted being used, emotionally abused and financially abused by my husband. The person who was supposed to love, honor and cherish me. No, instead he lied, stole from me and simply used me.

Simply put, I married a con artist. I guess I shouldn't feel too bad since he apparently fooled a couple of mental health professionals, too.

But I do feel bad because this is my life.  They just failed with respect to a client.

One of the big mysteries of my marriage is how I could have spent nearly $200,000 rehabbing a house and still have not a single room with baseboards, no master bath (the plumbing is unfinished, and thus, the drywall not up), all but one door having not been stained and our daughter's bedroom remains unfinished. I say "I" because I am the only one who worked.  This is a house I purchased 9 years ago this November. My husband found it and thought it would make a good investment property. Then 2008 happened. I carried this place while he worked on it from 2004 through 2009. Never finished it. I kept having to come up with more and more money to pay for the work. The costs kept running over his projections. We finally moved in in 2009 even though the house is not finished.  I have lived like this for 4 years. This is what my children know as normal.

At times, I used to wonder if he was trying to knock me down a few pegs. I certainly did not grow up lavishly by any means, but I would say I grew up solidly middle class. By the time I was in college (an education my mother paid for) I'd say my mother's income put her in the upper middle class. And she is now quite comfortably in the upper middle class. She loaned us $80,000 of what was spent, not to mention other gifts she gave here and there like our $4,000 staircase.

I'm not a big home decorator type. I had little involvement in the design of the home except for certain things about which I felt strongly. In fact there were only two things I wanted in the house: 1) a laundry chute, but, structurally, that couldn't work and 2) a claw foot tub. I enjoy taking baths. Something I haven't done in years. In my condo, the tub was so shallow that while I tried to labor in it, my cousin had to pour water over my belly because it could not be submerged. And I think that in this house I just can't bring myself to bathe in the kids' tub because it is not my claw foot. How is it that the only thing I wanted goes in the only space in this house which is completely unfinished?

In any event, my husband had led me to believe that the cost of putting up trim was rather costly.  I suppose it is  if you are buying fine woods from a lumber yard and then attempting to put the profile on it yourself.  You need wood and new blades for your table saw for that trick.

He lied.

Today, I found myself crying in the aisles of Home Depot. When I saw that the cheapest trim is less than $1.00/ft, I literally broke down in tears. How could we be living like this when the cost of the materials is so low? Yes, you can also pay $14/ft. What I want is less than $5/ft.  And it is solid wood.

And lest one think this is just about the house looking nice, it's not. Since moving in here, our daughter has developed some very trying sinus problems. The first winter we were here, after her 4th round of antibiotics, I began to think that whatever problem she was experiencing, it was not going to be cured with antibiotics. Something else was going on. She had mucus coming out her nose that you could pull like spaghetti, or a shoe string. I had never seen anything like it. We took her to her pediatrician, her chiropractor, a new chiropractor and finally had a full allergy test done on her.

THIS HEALTH ISSUE BEGAN NEARLY 4 YEARS AGO FOR HER!!  She is just seven and has given up on the notion of being able to smell and breathe normally.

Turns out she is allergic to trees, grass, dust, almonds and has a mild allergy to cats. Well, the girl loves the outdoors and had never had any problems. We'd had a cat since before she was born and never had any problems. What she hadn't been exposed to was the dust that comes off of unfinished drywall; the dust from insulation which escapes from the walls when you have no baseboards. What's worse was he was using the room next to where she sleeps as a wood shop. There were piles of saw dust thigh high.  The room was a disaster and looked like something out of a Hoarders episode.

Your daughter is allergic to trees and you literally keep piles of them in the room next to where she sleeps?  Really?

Your daughter is allergic to dust and you care more about maintaining the facade that you are needed in this house to finish the work by refusing to finish it and creating a health issue for her in the process?  Really?

I married a truly sick SOB.

Oh, but wait, there's more.

After Home Depot, with tears in my eyes, I pulled off and headed home.  This past Saturday, through my dear co-worker and friend, J, I had a contractor out to my house to survey the damage.  After walking someone through this, I had begun to feel angry all over again.  I prayed that I would be able to afford to get some of the stuff done. Get baseboard up in at least some of the rooms.  Trim out the windows in Coco's room and finish the closet so that she can have her own finished space. I also need tile in the entryway.  There is only this horrible industrial rug which does not completely cover the plywood on the floor.  Oh, yes, my entry way screams, "Welcome Home!!"  The contractor called me yesterday and said he would drop off the estimate today.  Well, it was waiting in my mailbox.

I looked at it and then the floodgates opened.


$1300 measly dollars to pay for the labor to put baseboard in all of the rooms in my house.  To lay flooring in the entryway.  To trim out the windows in my daughter's bedroom and finish the closet there.  To apply finish to all the doors that need it.

And there was my confirmation that my husband had stolen from me.  It is clear to me now that he padded the figures he gave me to line his pockets.  He paid for everything he could in cash.  He never gave me a reconciliation of the expenses.  Never.  No matter how many times I asked.  And lest you think I'm just stupid, I did carry and birth two children (and miscarry two others) during this time period as well as work full time as an attorney with a not insignificant job and responsibilities.  And oh, yeah, I didn't realize I should be considering my husband is a lying thief.  And Lord knows I didn't want to face that reality.

I called my dad and vented to him.  I called my girl and really broke down.  A little while later, I left to pick up the kids.  But, before I could get into the car, I ran into my neighbor who went to high school with my husband and who was aware of some things of which I was not.  And boy did I get an earful. That will have to wait for another day.

J was right.  I had no idea what I have been through.  What I had been carrying.  No.idea.

And, so,  yeah, still I cry.  And I could really use a hug.

It is in this space that I allow myself the rare indulgence of returning to some special words once written just for me and a special song long since removed from a deleted playlist, and remember a brief opportunity to experience true love and get as close as I can to that hug.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Keep Calm . . . Craft On: Entertaining Fairies Edition

Joining Nicole today at Frontier Dreams

Some weeks ago, I had a few over ripe bananas and decided to make some banana bread.  Apparently, Coco has a book which states that fairies love banana bread.  Who knew?  I, of course, wanted to add walnuts, and Coco wasn't so sure the fairies like banana nut bread.  Ultimately, we agreed that she could just leave some of the bread without the nuts in it for them to eat.  And so she did.

Inside the toadstool house I made for her 2 years ago and which has hardly seen any play. Here she is on Christmas Day 2010 after having received it:

As you can see, it has begun to slouch with age.  She decided that the fairies needed more of a compound (apologies for the horrible indoor lighting):

And she also leaves the fairies notes.  In one, she asked how many fairies was she taking care of?  They responded 19.  Well, I overshot on that one and she decided they needed a much larger abode.  So, she went to the basement and hauled out the retired dollhouse, a relic from Christmas 2009 which saw little love.  However, now, it has been updated with milk paint to please the fairies!:

The fairies have also been eating well, as in addition to banana bread, they also enjoy biscuits and berries.  Two things which can usually be found in our home.  A few weekends ago, I had the bright idea to make fairy biscuits by using a straw to cut them from the dough.  File this one under #whydoIdothistomyself:

 Cutting out the biscuits.

Team work!

Almost ready for the oven.

Now, if we could just have this level of attentiveness to other activities!

Ta da!


Berries for the fairies.  Notice the plates are on placemats Coco made for them.

Lastly, my birthday was last week.  My thoughtful daughter asked the fairies to make something for me for my birthday.  I, however, was not allowed to read this note . . . and Coco can't really read and write well enough to pull this off on her own.  But she tried.  She asked me how to spell each word, but wouldn't tell me what she was doing.  I was not looking forward to my birthday at.all.  And was dreading having to come up with a gift for myself.  But the day was saved when I received my general counsel's season ticket seats to the White Sox game, on my birthday, which are the first row behind the dugout and the game started at 1:10.  So, I got to leave early, the weather was great and I enjoyed the afternoon with my kiddos and good friend, Jacki.  And then Coco forgot to leave the note until the night of my actual birthday.  And this is what the fairies made for me:

A flower, so that I always have one when I am out of fresh ones.

Coco's therapist has said that the fairies are very therapeutic for her.  That is why I write and answer her notes and create and help her create for them.

And lastly, here is my sweet girl with yarn purchased this weekend at Chicago's own YarnCon.  Her selection is 100% Blue Faced Leicester.  Yikes, she has expensive taste just like her mama! She has started some mittens for herself.  Which, sadly, she will probably still need in Chicago's spring weather!

What are you working on?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


God is so awesome. This time last week I was very unsuccessfully fighting back tears throughout the day. On the verge of realizing that my husband is emotionally abusive. And in the aftermath of that wondering, "How do I heal from almost 10 years of such insidious behavior?" And wondering how I could have been so blind. Here I am now feeling relaxed, relieved and most importantly renewed.

Wednesday evening I snapped at Coco when she again asked to get into her therapist's office so she could look at the books. I was checking my work blackberry and felt I needed to finish doing that. In that moment I questioned why I would respond to her like that? And why I was not parenting the way I wanted to? Why did I lack more patience with my children when I love them so dearly? How could I love them so dearly yet feel like I didn't like them on occasion? And then it hit me: with them, I had become him. I was demonstrating his normal of love towards my children. My single, hard working mother had never snapped at me. I can recall that my mother never yelled at us until my older brother came back to live with us (and he would try the patience of a saint). I realized in that moment why I love the way I do. Because that type of love had been modeled towards me by my mother AND my father. My father's failures as a husband never interfered with that teaching. He may have confused me a bit, but, fundamentally, his inability to model a good husband did not interfere him contributing to my learning the true nature of love.

A friend once told me that he felt his relationship with his wife changed the relationship he expected to have with his children. While, intellectually, I understood what he was saying, practically, I didn't understand what that meant.

Now, I certainly know that had been the case for me.

In the 3 hours that followed that revelation and my children's bedtime, I was blessed to see and feel a difference in my interaction with them and their response to me. I am not angry at them. Demanding their obedience. Parenting impatiently. I enjoyed them tonight. Rather than their giggling with each other instead of getting ready for bed inciting my impatience, I was able to speak calmly to each of them about what I wanted them to be doing. And wouldn't you know they then did it! Without the continual fighting that usually ensued!


My good friend had been telling me since last summer that I had no idea what I have been through, all that I have been carrying. I had no idea what she was talking about. I mean I knew my marriage was challenging. What I didn't know is that it was, at its core, counterfeit. What my husband demonstrated towards me was not love. He was nice enough most of the time. That is one reason I did not see his behavior for what it was. The other reason was that I couldn't. It could not be the case that the person who asked me to spend my life with him would actually be someone who does not know God's love and worse, who is actually toxic.

Someone once told me I showed them a new way to love. There is no new way. There is only one way: God's way. The world's view of love will leave you empty and wanting. Especially if you are a child of God. You will never be satisfied until God's love is manifested in your life. And He makes it plain for us. It is not complicated. It is so simply stated on 1 Corinthians 4-8. If you have in your relationship the actions of what love is NOT, you have not love. Those actions, plain and simple are NOT love.

And you really don't have to wonder whether someone is toxic or not. Now that I have been exposed, I clearly know the difference. Toxic people infect you with their toxicity and you begin to manifest it. Love makes you more of every good thing that you are and helps you discover more of the good that lies within you.

My best friend said my husband didn't know any better. I responded, "It doesn't matter or excuse it. We all fundamentally know right from wrong unless we are mentally ill . . . This shit is wrong. Way wrong". She responded, "You're absolutely right. Inexcusable but he really didn't know any better. That's how some families live".

I immediately recoiled at the the thought. And then I had my awakening that I wrote about above. MY little family was living like that. Not at its worst because I hadn't completely succumbed to this type of behavior, but, as I said, I was definitely manifesting some of it. And I thought of how fortunate I am to be getting out. And how thankful I am to be saving my children from this learned behavior. The thought of raising them with emotional abuse as their model of love to unleash them on the world to perpetuate this sickens me.

This is so the right decision. Sometimes divorce actually is the right decision.



Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Keep Calm . . . Craft On

Joining Nicole at Frontier Dreams

Oh, it has been a long time since I have visited this space. But that does not mean I have not been crafting. Just not writing about it. My knitting is such a source of relaxation for me. And it invigorates me. If I start knitting late at night, I will often get a second wind as the peace of creating begins to wash over me. Last week I finished two things but only have a picture of one. I finished the Greyson sweater for my most knit-worthy recipient: Mr. Manny-Man. It is his birthday and Easter sweater and he proudly wore it for both. That boy really knows how to melt my heart and he is just 4.  I also finally finished his birthday crown . . . three years late, but it's done. But the darn fairies got the credit. I won't lie, part of the satisfaction I get from creating is the acknowledgement that I made it! More on the fairies later, because they surely deserve their own post, but suffice it to say, the night before Gian's birthday party, Coco dictated a note asking the fairies to leave a birthday present for her brother.  That request surely could not go unanswered. So, even though I had already been up all night trying to get the house together for the party, at 5 am I found myself finishing Gian's crown. And, thankfully, he wore it.

This is a perfect match of yarn and pattern. Yarn is Madelinetosh vintage in Candlewick. Although I must admit I was sick over the obvious aberrant skein. Which, of course, is the one I started with. . . and no, I did not buy them on line, but in person. Note to self, OPEN the skeins before buying. It is not enough to just look them over. It all worked out as well as it could, though, because I think the skein with the black flecks would be more obvious on the arms.

Now, I am working on Ginny Sheller's Sunday Sweater for Coco.

While I really wanted to have this done for her to wear for Easter, I have come to accept the fact that getting two knits done for an occasion is not likely going to happen for me. This will be her spring sweater. And it's just as well because, remember that recognition I mentioned for having created something? I don't get much of that from Miss Thing, so, no point in staying up all night to get something done when she will be just as under-enthused at a later date.  I was a little bummed, though, because, as  you can see from the photo above, this yarn that I already had in my stash (Dream in Color Classy in Go Go Grassy) is a perfect match for the Easter dress my mother bought for her.

But, alas, there are far more important things in life than getting a knit done by a certain time.

What are you working on?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Emotional Abuse

I am just coming to the realization that my husband is emotionally abusive.  I am pretty amazed that I never realized this.  Part of the issue is that I had no true model of what a loving relationship looks like. And while I knew intellectually that his behavior was "off" at best, I never thought it was abusive at worst.  Because, how could it be?  Someone doesn't invite you to spend the rest of their life with you to abuse you emotionally, right?  Especially since they didn't treat you like that during your courtship.  And, of course, I believed that he actually loved me.  And that meant that, ultimately, he was just having a bad day (because the behavior was well spread out), or a justifiable reaction to something, or even an over the top reaction, but, hey, we're different.  Not abusive.  And I always believed we were equally committed to creating a real marriage so, we would work through these issues.  I was so very wrong.  So very wrong.

Suffice it to say, this article had me sitting with my mouth wide open and nodding my head in acknowledgement.  So much resonates.

Thank God I am getting out of this.  Thank God.

But my question is this:  How in the world do I heal from nearly 10 years of this?  Because although we have separated in our 10th year or marriage, the behavior is continuing.  Without the distractions between us within our home, viewing his interaction with me from without is eye opening.  And it's not just about him being hurt and lashing out.  He lashes out at the slightest provocation.  Or not.  Last week he really got me down with an out-of-left-field email attack.  But no more.  No more.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sometimes I Just Cry

Because things are hard. And then I think about how thankful I should be and am for the things I have in my life.

But it's not the things. I never expected to be here. Days away from turning 43 and separated from my husband. Longing to be divorced from him because I simply do not recognize him. I am jealous of couples I know who have challenges and are successfully working through things because they are working together. That requires a partner, though. And if there is one thing I know after 2.5 years of weekly counseling, it is that I did not have a partner. And that both saddens and angers me.

I am not supposed to be raising my children by myself. I am not supposed to be providing for my children by myself. I am not supposed to be without comfort and support.

I am not supposed to be dreading Mother's Day because I know for sure it will be just another day in my house this year. I never received a gift anyway . . . but at least I would sometimes get a physical break that day. Not this year.

And I am tired. If my day does not start by 5, then I can count on being late getting Coco to school and then myself to work. And I am very thankful these days for a great employer and manager because I do not have to stress about being late. My day ends around 10 - 10:30. The kids' bedtime routine still takes at least an hour. And with the separation being so fresh, I am laying down with both of them each night. Gian needs it more because of his age, Coco more because she needs it emotionally right now. Sometimes I fall asleep, of course. Other times, I am able to get out of their room by 9 pm. But who wants to do dinner dishes and clean up the kitchen and prepare lunches for the next day when they have not yet just taken a moment for themselves and the day is completely gone? Not me. But I have to get back in the habit. I miss knitting. Relaxing. Turning on the television. It is normally 10 days or so between chances to even turn it on.

So, yeah, I am tired.

And I am sad and angry. I want my partner. And to be comforted.

And that's

And so sometimes I just cry.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ch-ch-changes . . .

Looking at these last entries from a year ago seems like a lifetime ago. So much has happened.  Much of it good.  Much of it not so good.  And too much to share in this space.  But glad to be back to it.

My husband and I have separated.

Do you know how much a grown man eats? About 2/3 rds of this small family's food budget.

Anyway, we separated on January 21. It is a process. Even when you know without a doubt it is the right decision. What it does to your children is heartbreaking. But staying within a very bad model of what constitutes a marriage is very damaging over a lifetime. Both to me and the children. It is the right decision.  Two and a half years of weekly marital counseling and then three months of individual counseling for myself confirmed it for me.

I never wanted to be divorced. I am a child of divorce. I didn't want what I perceive to be the stigma. I don't want to walk around in public with two children and no wedding ring. And be a statistic.

But that is no reason to remain in a loveless marriage. By his own admission my husband withheld his love from me.

I didn't expect marriage to not require work, but I did expect my husband to actually want to lead, to be a partner, to be excited about our pregnancies since they were planned and we both agreed we wanted children.

This is tough. Even when you want it and know it is right.

I am about to turn 43. This is not really what I expected to be doing at this point in my life.

And I know this entry seems to be all about me. Well, it is because it is my space. As a single, working mother without any in home child care, there is not much else that is all about me.

Transitions between homes are the toughest for my daughter right now. She began seeing a child therapist 3 weeks ago. And I must credit my husband for insisting I get that going. I do believe that the early intervention will be beneficial in the long run. My daughter is a bit melancholic, plus she's the oldest, so this is hitting her pretty hard. And my son sanguine, so he is right there to balance things out and I am so thankful for his sweet innocence. He will be 4 in 11 days.

And so I am knitting a birthday/Easter sweater for him. He is my most grateful knitting recipient . . . acknowledging each hand knit with a heartfelt, "oh, Mommy, I WUV it!!" What knitting mama wouldn't love that? And so yes, he gets Madeline Tosh. But I am bummed about the skeins. I started with the off skein. And I did not alternate skeins.

Speaking of knitting, a very special person gave me a very thoughtful knitting related gift. I gave it back. Not because I didn't absolutely love it and the obvious thoughtfulness behind it, but because I was moved by the Spirit to return everything related to this individual. I didn't think about why so much when I was packing up the things I returned. I just followed the leading. In retrospect, I think because holding on to those things would cause me to hold onto this person I needed to let go of. If this person ever becomes a part of my life again, I won't need those things. If this person does not, I will not want any reminders of what we were not able to actualize.

I know this last paragraph seems random, but it is not. Certainly not to the right audience.