We all have our own stories, and there is nothing that I’ve gone through that is near as tragic as some.  I just see now how the things in our lives, accumulatively, can shape and affect us in our journey – every word spoken or deed done, or left undone.  The damage that can so easily be done.  I pray for every single person struggling, no matter how little or how great, that they may find the strength and the wisdom to break those chains. 

I long ago apologized to my children for what I believed were my inadequacies and I hope that they are able to take that to remind them to always do better… to be the change that they wish I was.  I believe as parents we always want to see our kids to do better, be better than we were. 

I had maybe been ‘over helping’ my kids for a few years.  In my mind, to make up for all the struggles they endured growing up, to no fault of their own.  Many of you know being a single parent can be difficult.  But I see now that maybe that help could have been a bit of a hindrance.  Currently I am not in a position to do so, and I am seeing them grow.. changing careers, doing well.  I am very proud of them.  And very humbled, as this month they have been in a position to help me. 

I am in a season in the ‘wilderness’ right now, parts of which I am unable to discuss right now, pending an outcome.  Looking back though I’ve pretty much been in the wilderness most of my life, always searching… but not always seeking. 

God has always been here for me, but I haven’t always been there for him.  I’d like to address some of the asterix from earlier:        from something as simple as a child being told indignantly to move because you are in someone’s seat at church, on a holiday, even though that is where you have sat and been told to wait for your own family who has sat there the entire year before ..  to starting in a new church after moving and having a real connection with the pastor who ultimately is ‘let go’ due to politics that a teenager wouldn’t understand.  A teenage pregnancy resulting in “counseling” with a family members Baptist minister, who ultimately physically forced me to my knees in his office, chastising me for my sins, telling me to beg God to forgive me and that I Had to give my child up for adoption because my sins would become my child’s if I did not, that the only correct Love I could give my child would be to let him go, so that God would forgive me.  (this one really messed me up… I didn’t know who my own mother was, I could in no way give my child away… so I was afraid that this made me a bad mother right from the start).  I stopped going to church at this point as I didn’t believe worthy. 

Back to the Lutheran church years 3 years later..  New pastor  reached out to me out of the blue, asking me to come back to church.  I tried, but still felt the judgement of my past.  So did my mom, which was unacceptable to her.  But I stayed.. until he too was let go for what I heard was wearing jeans and not shaving his beard.    He actually called me after this and asked me to not let this dissuade me from continuing church.. I wasn’t going back, because it was just this type of condemnation that I couldn’t sit with… did not Jesus have a beard?   Did I have to go to prove to them, or anyone else that I believed in God?  I saw some of them outside of the church..  remember, I was a bartender of all things.  Take the plank from your own eye…      

When my youngest son was in high school, he began youth group in the local Methodist church, on his own.  I was very proud of him.  He asked me to go to an evening church service with him one night.  10 minutes into the service I broke down sobbing, to the point of walking out into the hallway.  I didn’t want to embarrass my son and at the time I didn’t realize that was the Holy Spirit that overwhelmed me.  My question today would be, had I stayed and/or continued would I have been able to better help my husband?  Probably not..

Aside from the personal care home, I also created the opportunity to start another company with someone I considered a friend.. a Christian friend.  When I found out about Dan’s drug use, he essentially wanted me as far away from the situation as possible.  Saying that though divorce is a ‘sin’ he felt God would understand.  I chose to stay, to try to help my husband overcome his addiction, and from then on that business relationship changed.  We used to talk daily, about business and about faith.  I mentioned that I had gotten Dan to start watching Joel Osteen, to which he stated negatively that that wasn’t real.. he was just a glorified motivational speaker.  My statement… but how can it be bad if it motivates someone to Christ.  End of conversation.  Back to being judged. 

These things are of people… they are not from God.  I am finally learning to stop looking to people for answers, and to stop living my life by opinions and emotions.  The only thing that matters is my relationship with God, and I believe I am in this particular ‘season’ of the wilderness now because He has called me to come closer to Him.  To seek, study, and long for God.  I am still not attending a local church, however Joyce Meyer has phenomenal messages almost daily.  She is real and she teaches from life experience, without judgement.  I encourage anyone struggling to check out one of her messages.  Another pastor I enjoy is Greg Locke… look him up, his messages are of strong conviction and his wife’s bible studies for women are great.  And I still watch Joel.. who doesn’t need a little motivation in their lives?

I refuse to give up on my beliefs, no matter the situation or circumstance.  No matter how hard things get.  God has a plan for us all, if we just listen.  And for me….  to stop trying to do everything on my own. 

Finding purpose

Regardless of how bad things became, Dan was an amazing person.  Intermixed within the struggles and therapy, were 18 years of love and happy times.  He had a strong love of family, even though he avoided family gatherings like the plague.  He would give the shirt off his back to anyone in need.  He was a respected Paramedic who was exceptionally good at his job, that he loved.  He was supervisor and a preceptor and there are many Medics out there whose skill can be attributed to his teachings.  He was good at pretty much anything he set his sights on, all facets of construction including plumbing and electric.  He fixed our cars on his own by buying manuals, he could fix almost every computer problem, and the list goes on. He would however, refuse to teach me anything, often stating that “it was mans work”, and if I could do it myself, “I wouldn’t need him for anything but killing spiders and cleaning up dog puke”. 

Of course I would rebuke these claims (except the spiders and dog puke), always telling him I thought it better that I wanted him, instead of needed him.  Although, as my current therapist has suggested, I guess men do need to be needed.  I had just allowed myself to become overly independent, swearing I would never ‘need’ someone.  The catch on this is, my independence is the very thing that most attracted him to me in the first place… and the very thing he hated in the end. 

Aside from his professional life, Dan was very much a large child at home in most aspects.  He and my boys formed very strong bonds, something they didn’t have with their father.  Even when teaching them “how to be men”, building things, working on their vehicles, how to properly shake hands… All the big and the little things, he always made it fun.  When his emotional fears and self-loathing were under control, he was very laid back.  You could never count on him to be on time, for anything.  He stressed over very little, where I on the other hand would then stress about everything.  I hated being late. 

He would quote every movie he ever loved and his choices in genre were but two:  anything History (favorite Apollo 13), and comedy (favorite Joe Dirt).  He consistently watched the History and Discovery channels and he loved reading books.  He also loved animals.  We never had any less than 3 dogs.  A stray cat that he took in one winter that had a bad leg, so he took it to the vet.  $10 to put the cat down, $100 to remove the leg.  We ended up with a permanently indoor cat he aptly named Lucky.  His dad told him he was crazy, he’d get him a 100 cats for 100 dollars, but I think Dan felt a little ‘kinship’ to Lucky.  He even talked me into a potbelly pig.  He kept saying he just wanted a cute little pink pig that would watch TV with him.  What she ended up being was a 200 pound black pig that never shut up.  For two years she followed him around everywhere and then one day she went after our 2 year old granddaughter for no reason.  Things seemed to be okay, maybe she had just startled her.  The next month, she started attacking the dogs, and once again went after our little girl.  He felt bad, but we could no longer keep her, she became mean and aggressive.  That is a mistake I will never make again. 

One of our greatest passions was riding the Harley, alone or with a group.  We put so many miles on over the years, and made some great friends.  When I first met Dan he had a Suzuki, and one weekend I had plans to go on a ride with friends, who had Harleys.  He went and traded up, on his own, and showed up with our first Harley.  We’d go on bike runs, toy drives, the polar bear run on January 1st, Easy Rider rodeo’s, you name it.  We had fun.  He always loved to be the center of attention, and could tell a good story in any situation.  There were plenty of stories to be had.

7 years later and it all began to end when the doctors wanted to take his knee.  He refused, but he couldn’t work anymore, or ride the bike without significant pain.  Six months and a couple more surgeries, he was now eligible for disability.  He was spiraling into depression.  It was about this time that he would make derogatory comments about God… he believed more in science.  Although he was brought up Catholic, we never really chose to go to church.  Religion was a struggle for him, but it broke my heart when he would say he no longer ‘believed’. 

By the end of that summer, my parents had been showing some significant decline in their health and ability to manage on their own.  My dad had stopped driving the year before and my mom was getting forgetful enough that she lost her wallet 3 times in 3 months.  It was becoming more and more difficult to run two households.  It was time.  We remodeled a few rooms in our house and they moved in in August of ’06.  It was very difficult (for my mom and me mostly) the first 6 months, as usual nothing was quite right or good enough, but I finally sat her down and told her she could go to a home if that’s what she wanted, but dad would have to stay with me because there wasn’t enough money for both of them.  The next day she apologized and things began to improve.  (Thank God for Seroquel) Suddenly Dan had purpose again, and for two years we cared for them together.  My mom had always wanted us to be married so on Feb 14, 2009 we finally made it official, in Las Vegas, by Elvis just as Dan wanted.  My mom died in April that same year, my dad followed in July saying ‘his girl was gone’.  That was hard.  

Before my parents moved in, I was getting a lot of resistance from my oldest brother.  He was never my biggest fan right from the beginning, and at times could be quite the bully.  When it came to my parents I easily spoke up in defense, especially for my dad, who my brother seemed to dislike for as long as I can remember.  But, when it came to myself, I’d shrink to avoid confrontation.. but he wasn’t planning to care for them, they couldn’t afford a home, so I was it.  My sister had sadly died a few years prior from cancer, I was crushed as she was more my mother growing up, but here we were.  I remember one particularly awful morning after a long night of no sleep over the bickering, on my way to work as I was trying to merge onto the interstate, bawling and asking God to please tell me I’m doing the right thing.  Traffic was unusually busy at that time, and as I finally was able to merge a tractor trailer almost cut me off moving over in front of me, going at least 20mph under the speed limit.  The traffic continued to be excessive and I couldn’t get around him.  Getting more frustrated, and still crying, I finally looked up and focused on the back of the truck where there was a sign that said… “discouragement is Satan’s path to destruction, be patient and have faith.”.  I felt instantly calm.  This isn’t the first time God has shown me his presence, or the last, but it was certainly one of the most profound as it was almost instant.  Within two weeks, there was no more resistance, and everything went as planned.

With my parents gone, Dan’s depression resurfaced.  He again felt he had no purpose.  His boss had become a good friend of his, and called us up in September with an offer that he initially refused, but I was all for.  In hind sight you’ll find I question that decision now, but that’s for another day.  A small personal care home needed someone to take over as the owners health were failing and they couldn’t keep up with it.  It would be a management/purchase agreement.  Agreements were made, paperwork was signed, and we took over.  Dan could guide me on handling staff, as I had never done this before, and more than that, he could do what he loved.  Sitting and talking to the residents, getting their stories from the war, or the depression, or whatever vast knowledge 80+ years they had to tell.  They all loved him so much, and he loved them.  He was smiling again.  He learned the workings of everything mechanical and taught the boys how to manage things.  We had hope again… for now

The building of a co-dependent life…

I am in no way a psychotherapist,  these are just my views…of my life

(Starting out talking about Dan has been more difficult than I imagined.  I still haven’t forgiven myself for his death, though I know it wasn’t my fault.  Maybe this has prevented me from fully grieving..? but I’m getting there)

I was adopted at 6 weeks of age to a couple (dad-44, mom-41) who already had 3 of their own biological children.  My sister, their youngest, was 13.  My brothers, 15 and 19.  I have very few childhood memories that aren’t lonely.  I spent a lot of time with my grandfather and my dog.  My mom always introduced me as their “chosen” one, but trust me that only singles a child out.  She felt good… “look at what we’ve done for this child”.  We lived in the country on a small “farm” (my Pap had 3 cows that were essentially pets). I was sent to Sunday school and church (*) every week, I had friends at school, but was seldom allowed to go anywhere… sleepovers were a seldom treat.  God was my ‘friend’ back then as I remember feeling him with me as I sat in the Apple tree, talking to him, singing childhood songs learned at Sunday school.. wishing I had someone to play with. 

I was 10 when my grandfather became sick and was in the hospital for a long time, I was never allowed to go visit, but he did come home for a week before he died.  I was told I could go see him, but under no circumstances was I to cry because it would make him feel bad.  He wasn’t able to get out of bed, he looked so sad.  He told me he loved me and I ran out of the room because I started to cry, and even though he called to me to come back, I never did.  I would not make him feel bad by crying.  The remainder of the week I sat outside of his bedroom window, crying and saying all the things I wanted to tell myself.  The night he died, I was sent away to stay with relatives.  In this early stage of my life I learned to be be loved.

A little over a year and a half later my parents decided to move into town.  Not far from home, but a whole new school.  I had the summer to try to make a few friends before starting 8th grade.  This school was a lot different than my previous and it was hard to settle in.  At this time I also began to resent the whole “chosen” title, being placed on that pedestal and finally realizing how much it felt that love was conditional on my behavior.  Being alone most of the time before was all I knew, but these new friends had families that were involved, cared.  I found that negative attention was better than no attention, so began my rebellion.. but even that worked in her favor, after getting into trouble at camp one weekend (and being an embarrassment that apparently warranted being told I was “worse than Her 3 kids ever were”, I was no longer allowed to go camping and at 13 spent every weekend staying home taking care of my shut-in grandmother.  We also changed churches and as rebellious as I was the pastor had a soft spot for our class, and I was confirmed to the local Lutheran Church (*)(*)(*)

When I would act out and get in trouble my mom would buy me something.. pretty good deal right?  Unless what you really want is to know for sure that you are loved… to hear the words, that were like pulling teeth to get.  Even then it was more of “you know I do”.  But I didn’t.  So I replaced that need with my friends, by 16 not even bothering to come home some nights, especially after I got involved with my first (sexual) boyfriend.  I  also experienced my next heart crushing loss at 16, when a neighbor boy was killed in a car accident on his way to a party.  And I again took that loss into my soul of responsibility as he was originally supposed to ride with us to the party, but had ordered food and wanted to wait, telling us he’d find another ride.  He was like my little brother.  We would sit out in the backyard countless evenings talking about life, giving him advice on his love life, school.  We were connected, in a way I didn’t yet understand.  He was such a great kid, he would have done great things in this world, in that I have no doubt. 

So, back to the boyfriend.. part rebellion turned into teenage love, on my part anyways.  He’d say it often, it was great to hear.  3 years my senior with his own business, a great car, money, and an apparent dislike to fidelity.  Even he tried to change me, wanted me to be a certain way.  Bought me things to control me (believe me I wasn’t smart enough to know that then), and expected me to stay home unless I was with him.  Put up with it for 2 years.  Not long after I met my children’s father.  We were together on and off for 7 years.  Had my first born son (*) in October 1984, I was 19.  Our 2nd son came in 1987 and we finally decided to be a real family and bought a house.  A year later we got married and a year after that we got divorced.  He stopped wanting to be intimate, he would go weeks without speaking to me (or the boys), he would say derogatory things to me, and he didn’t say he loved us.  I had my boys… and they loved me.

The kids and I moved into an apartment and I got a job bartending.  A year later I met my next boyfriend.  We had a lot fun in the beginning, he brought me out of my shell and gave me a level of confidence I didn’t have before (so did the job actually but still)..  He had never dated anyone with kids, but he did his best, even coaching my oldest son’s little league team one summer.  But, I just didn’t quite fit into his life plans, even if he did try, a little.  I was a bartender, that wasn’t good enough so he encouraged me to go to school for nursing and I got a job as a nurse aide.  Not that this was a bad thing, but I did it more for him in the beginning than for me.  I remember bringing home a report card with 3 A’s and a B, and all he could say was I could do better.  All in all, it was essentially a 2 1/2 year relationship based mainly on sex, and no matter how good that was, even he was incapable of fidelity.  Maybe I was never going to be enough.  (one side note here is that it was during this time that I found my birthmother, but that’s a story for a different time).

School full time, 3 part-time jobs and Thank God for my sister.  She was a stay-at-home mom and had my boys as much, sometimes more, than I did.  They grew up seeing both sides of motherhood and I feel that they are better men for it, though at the time there was guilt over not being there enough.  I always thought in the back of my head that maybe she was better for them than I was.  I really didn’t have a great learning experience on how to be a good mom.. but I sure did tell them I loved them.  It was also during this time another life changing tragedy occurred.  A girl that I had been in nursing school with (her good in the books, me with hands on, so we were paired together and began riding to school together) came to see me at the bar one night when I was filling in, as she was down having broken up with her boyfriend.  I invited her to stay as a group of us were going to breakfast after work, but she declined.  It bothered me enough to call her after work to try to get her to change her mind, but I only got her answering machine and left a message where we’d be.  The next morning it was still nagging me, so I called to check on her.  A police officer answered her phone and told me that she had committed suicide.  I was devastated, we had a big test the next day, I walked out and essentially wanted to quit school with only 1 semester left, and it was the psych rotation.  How could I do that when I had no clue she was saying goodbye to me that night?  That I had no clue of her mental state all this time?  My instructors were amazing.  They gave a little time, let me take the test later, counseled me, and convinced me to stick with it.  Another addition to my responsibility box…. 

   After I graduated, my first job didn’t pay as much as I’d have liked, so the boys and I moved to a less expensive, but bigger apartment in a more country setting with better ‘adventures’ for two young boys.  And I went back to bartending regularly part-time on the weekends to supplement.  New friendships developed and it was an amazing 2 years of weekend picnics, swimming, fishing, and good friends.  No complications.  But if I can give anyone some advice here, if you find yourself with a best friend of the opposite sex at some point in your life, and you don’t really have any intention of it truly being more.. don’t make it more, things change. 

The soul mate (if there is such a thing) comes next to the picture near the end of that two years.  I had known Billy, and been friends with him for at least 10 years, from my bartending days. He always flirted shamelessly, and I loved it. But I was seeing someone, and then when I wasn’t, he was.  There was a very brief time when neither of us was, between my first husband and Mr. “go to school” that we hung out, got very close to being intimate, but he asked me if I was sure, I said no, and he immediately stopped.  I loved him for that.  It was years before we reconnected, and he was with someone. I even went to his wedding, with his best friend at the time.  He told me he made a mistake, that it was ‘always me’.  Right or wrong, he got divorced and in less than a month we moved in.  The boys loved him, loved the neighborhood.. and for a year and a half everything seemed close to perfect.  He drove truck during the week and was home on the weekends.  He left me love notes, wrote me cards, loved my boys, and loved me… the way I always thought it would be.  While I was making our home, I sat down and said out loud to myself, “I’m finally home.”  Then I noticed, what I probably should’ve earlier, things changing.  He ended up between jobs and was home more, he became more possessive, called me at work, wanted to know where I was.. his professions of love now came with an almost threatening air about them, once grabbing my face in one hand, saying no one will ever love you like I do, and pushing my head back hitting the wall.  What just happened?  Ok, he’s just had too much to drink.  A couple more incidents, then the Super Bowl party with his friends.  We won the football poll, $2000, but his friend accused him of never paying him back for the square.  They ended up in a fist fight and on the way home he started yelling at me and finally it came.. the black eye.  How did I get here?  I put myself here.  He promised he’d go to therapy, please don’t leave, he loved me.  And I loved him, and maybe this time I would be enough.  I would help him.  I started seeing a pattern of mood behaviors, it cycled nearly every other month.  But, he was trying.   Then the night I knew he wouldn’t be able to stop.  This time at home, the boys were home, his eyes were black like he wasn’t there.  I told the boys not to come out of their room, but my oldest did when he heard me yelling for him to get off of me.  My face in one hand, the other clenched in anger.  My son yelling at him to leave me alone.  I pleaded with God to not let his anger turn toward my son (it didn’t, he instantly softened).  My heart was broken.  I put the kids in the car and we left with him following right on my bumper.  When he left for work the next day, my sister got her truck and moved us out.  He met and married someone within 6 months, divorced again maybe a year later.  I’ve heard he finally conquered his demons.  I’m very happy for him, regardless of everything he’s got a good soul and I will always have a place for him in my heart.

The boys and I lived in a one bedroom apartment that my sister had available for the next year and a half.  I was so emotionally wounded over this (and my sisters cancer has returned) I ended up in a psychiatric observation for a couple days over taking too many Xanax.  I did not want to kill myself (I would never do that to my children), I only wanted the pain and tears to stop as I had been crying for nearly 36 hrs at that point and nothing seemed to help, I didn’t even realize I’d taken what I had, they just weren’t working. I firmly believe it was this weekend he was first with his soon to be wife.  I had always been able to feel all of his emotions so strongly even when we were apart, and I felt everything.  So, I finally “get my shit together” and decide the change obviously has to start with me (thanks to the assistance of an amazing therapist).  I had a part-time office job that I loved, but it wasn’t enough.  I changed jobs to a full-time position making enough money to buy our own house and get us out of town, as now my oldest is hitting his rebellious age. There were a couple of snags but I tackled them head on and closed on the house at the end of September 1999.  I was finding my own confidence and my own strength.  From now on, there isn’t anything I can’t do…. God is Good.

*you’ll notice a few of these (*).  they are a reference reminder to Faith related events worth mentioning at another time.

Also, in my mom’s defense, I don’t think she truly ever meant anything bad, I don’t think she had the necessary tools.  I do not blame her for any of my mistakes or choices as an adult.  She loved me the best she could with what she had.

In the Beginning

1999:  I had a sworn decision to focus on my kids and myself after a tumultuous relationship and stuck with it for a year.  Getting a new job, and even being able to buy a house, on my own, which we moved into in September.  At the end of November, while working for a home health agency, I had to call EMS for a patient I was seeing at a large personal care home that located at our offices.  The Medic that showed up was handsome, and extremely full of himself.  I sat quietly in the room as they did their assessment and as they were getting ready to leave he turned around and smugly said… “do you have anything to add?”  I laughed and said, “no, looks like you’ve got it”.  Two weeks later, I had to call EMS again.  Different patient, same place.  Same Medic, same scenario… except this time he jokingly asked what I was doing to these people.  I replied, “the holidays are coming, you know how that goes.”  This time he seemed more interested in what my assessment was, and agreed after we discussed it. As I was leaving the facility, I stopped at the front desk to chat with the receptionist there.  She said, “I see you met Dan.”  I gave her my brief assessment of what I thought, but did concede that he was cute.  She immediately said she should fix me up with him, to which I instantly said, “that is the last thing I need right now.” and politely declined.

That evening I received a phone call from an unknown number, and there h was… telling me he had gotten my phone number from the receptionist.  He immediately sensed my confusion and went directly into a story about how there had been a complaint about the EMS service that day and that we should meet to discuss this further.  I assured him I had no complaint and thought maybe he was calling the wrong person.  He insisted he had the right person and that maybe we should meet for lunch to discuss this further.  I knew then that the receptionist had disregarded my statements of denial and set us both up, he later revealed that she told him I thought he was cute and wanted him to call me, but he was quick on his feet – and very charming about it.  I declined meeting him at this time.

A week later he called me again and asked if we could meet.  At the insistence of a few friends “what could it hurt”…  and I said yes.  His original thought was to take me to an EMS party that night but I said I wasn’t comfortable going a party with a bunch of people I didn’t know, including him.  So, on December 18th he came to my house to pick me up, for dinner.  He was an hour late though, blaming it on a late EMS call.  Having just moved into my new house, a good friend of mine, Kenny, had come over that day to split firewood for me for the winter, and he was still there cutting wood by his headlights in the back yard.  Dan later told me thought, ‘this can’t be good, no girl drives a big blue Dodge truck’, but he braved the knock on the door anyways, and as he came in Kenny said “You’re late.”  This memory makes me smile.  After 45 minutes of small talk it was too late for dinner and he had no plan.  Not being familiar with the area he asked me what I would like to do.  I gave him the option of music and dancing or quiet.  He chose quiet so we could talk, so I directed him to a quaint little (at the time ‘hole in the wall’) bar/diner.  After talking a while, he admitted that he was surprised by my choice as in his experience, nurses wanted something a little more fancy.  I assured him I’m as low maintenance as they come. Then came his phone call.  The obligatory “get out of jail free” call, and when he returned I told him it was okay if he needed to go.  He asked what meant, and I told him I knew he had someone call to give him an ‘out’ if he needed it.  He shook his head and laughed saying “you are definitely different than most.”  He then suggested moving to the other place because he wanted to dance with me.

At the end of the evening, when he kissed me, I knew I was in trouble… it was good.  He tried to convince me to let him stay, but I pushed him out the door with a very firm No.  I did not need any entanglements in my life right now.  I half hoped I wouldn’t hear from him again, that maybe he was the kind of man that wouldn’t call back if a girl wouldn’t sleep with him.  Turned out it was the opposite.  He called three days later and asked if I could meet him to talk.  Innocent enough.  We met at a local restaurant and he put his name in for a table while we waited at the bar.  He was clearly nervous and he said he didn’t want to hurt me, but he just wasn’t looking for a relationship at this time, even though he thought about me every day since our date.  I started laughing and said, “Thank God, neither am I, we’re good.  If you want to hang out sometime just as friends that would be fine.”  He was relieved, yet perplexed (his words).  A kiss at the end of the evening and another definite ‘no’ your not coming back to my house… ‘we’re friends, remember’, and off he went. 

I didn’t hear from him for a week, but then he paged me on my work pager (that he also apparently got from our receptionist friend) a ‘joke of the day’.  He did that every day for  week and then asked me to stop by his work.  I stopped.  They had had a pretty bad call earlier that week and were planning a ‘decompression’ party that night, would I like to go…as friends.  I agreed.  Now, let’s just say that EMS parties are in an entire dimension of their own!  Did you know they have ‘groupies’?  I consider myself extremely open-minded, but I told him had this been our first date there probably wouldn’t have been another.  We always laughed at that over the next 18 years.  A little crazy yes, but what a Great bunch of people!  He later told me that one of his friends asked him what he was doing when showed up with him, he said “I’m intrigued”.  His friend laughed and jokingly said, “no good is going to come from this”. 

We began seeing each other more frequently at this point, but I continued to avoid intimacy.  You see, Dan had a prosthetic leg (and NO this is not the reason).  I knew about it, partly due to his gait, but also thanks to the receptionist friend.  However, Dan himself had not yet had this conversation with me yet.  If he wasn’t ready to trust me enough with this, then we certainly weren’t ready to go there.  That, and I was not yet ready to introduce him into my kids lives.  He pushed that issue though by showing up one Sunday evening after they had gone to bed, slightly intoxicated, stating he drank a 6 pack from leaving work until he showed up.  I relented to him sleeping on my couch for safety reasons, but told him if he had to drink a six pack before coming to see me, not to come… bad calls or not.  He apologized and promised it wouldn’t happen again. 

Six months of dating and becoming closer, my kids now like him.  Their own dad not in the picture much, they looked to him more and more.  Mostly as a friend, but he became much more over the years.  Dan ended up getting a flare up of a chronic infection in his knee and had to have surgery.  He wouldn’t be able to wear his prosthetic for a few weeks and asked if he could stay at my house for his recovery, as my shower was easier to maneuver than the one at his parents house where he had been staying, as his ex-wife and 18 month old daughter were staying at his house after moving back from Ohio.  I didn’t see a problem with him staying at my house, but his mom didn’t feel the same, not really knowing me, and feeling that I “didn’t know what I was getting myself into”.  Interesting statement?  The day of surgery I went to the hospital with him and his mom to wait. In walks his ex-wife and when the doctor came out she went up to him stating that she was his wife.  His mom said nothing.  I backed away and walked out into the hallway.  What was happening?  My head spinning, I went up to his room and left a note in his backpack regarding what transpired and why I left.  I had no idea what to think… could I possibly be this stupid?

Dan called me later that afternoon, upset that I wasn’t there.  I told him I left the note, he said it wasn’t there.  (later he claimed that allegedly his ex saw me put it in his bag and took it).  Me not being there brought up a lot of bad memories of his first wife (this ex was his 2nd) who he said never wanted him to have his amputation in the first place, frequently called him a cripple, would have a fit if he limped in public, and even took his prosthetic once so he couldn’t leave the house.  She told him that she just wanted a normal husband/life, and then he caught her cheating on the act.  He, and his mom, assured me that he was no longer with his ex and would I please come back.  His mom was still reluctant in him coming to stay with me, but he came anyway.  I got him settled in and went to pick up his prescriptions (including 30 Vicodan 7.5)  I made sure he had everything he needed before leaving at 7:30am to see a few patients.  I was home by 2pm and there were only 4 Vicodan left.  I was dumbfounded, he said he was in that much pain…he was perfectly functional… I didn’t sign up for this.  What if something happened?  What if something happened and my boys were the first ones home?  I closed myself in my closet and called his mom.  She said she was afraid this would happen and sent his dad and his brother to come pick him up.  He called it the time I threw him out in the snow with nowhere to go…it was May.  My problem…I was already in love with him.

Once he was healed there were no more pain meds (that I was aware of), and he eventually did move in, so I believed this to be true.  He left his job to come work in our area, helping to make big, positive changes to our EMS.  His boss always said Dan could sell ice to eskimos, and he became a respected member of our community.  I learned more and more about his previous marriages.  He couldn’t say or even hear his first wifes name, his family was forbidden to discuss her.  He even went as far as “renaming” a friend of ours ‘Natasha’, and calling my niece by her middle name ‘Denise’.  He began having night terrors (unless he drank), waking up angry with me, because in his dream I was the one he was seeing in the cheating scenario instead of his first wife.  I begged him at first, and then threatened, that if he didn’t go to therapy we wouldn’t last.  I wasn’t her, and would never treat him the way she did.  The first therapist lasted 3 weeks, the next a few months.  He was hypnotized and at one point was able to begin talking about her, the dreams became less frequent.   And then another infection, another surgery, more pain pills…. back to square one.  While he is in the hospital I decide to wash the sock on his prosthetic.  Upon removing it I find a small baggie with white powder.  A friend confirms it is cocaine.  I tell him he isn’t coming back to my house… he apologizes again and again, says it was just to help him get through the long hours at work, that he wouldn’t do it again.  Pain management is being ordered this time, there would be regular testing…  I believe this will work, it has to, as it was becoming more and more apparent he was medicating his emotional pain as well as his physical.  I loved him and I was determined to show him that love doesn’t have to hurt.  Is this when I became complacent?  An enabler?  I told him the only disability he had was in his head…not letting go.

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


I was 51 years old when my husband committed suicide.  Was it then that my emotional life began to spin out of control?  Probably not.  I think I’ve been a bit of a mess forever, and have previously touched on the basis that I’m most likely somewhat co-dependent, but have never really taken the steps to fully understand or change this behavior. 

I have made changes to my life, even to certain behaviors, but I have never truly changed.. Me.  I have always had faith, but have I been a disciple?  Are these the changes I need to make?  Therapy has given me tools, but should not All my answers lie in God? 

So, I’ve decided to write this in my journey toward Peace.  If it helps just one other person struggling, then maybe I will feel justified in these steps I’m taking.  (is that a co-dependent statement? I guess we’ll find out).  One of the hardest things in my life is taking care of me.  I’ve always been great at taking care of others.  Labeled an Empath, I feel and sense what others are feeling and need, and generally I’m able to help them.  I feel others emotions and overwhelmingly absorb them like a sponge.  Is this a gift? or a curse?

Sometimes I blame this as my own feelings of failure, even in successes.  Especially when Dan shot himself… in the heart, as his last statement.  This has broken me, and for the last two years I have been in a complete fog of emotion, not always making the best choices.  I am lonely, yet I shouldn’t be in Faith.  I am broken, yet God heals.  I am stuck.  So here begins my journey…and God willing, I will find the strength to complete this journey of self-reflection and restoration.  Once and for all…..