names have been omitted in this post
"Mommy!!!!!!" She shrieked from the taupe leather backseat of the SUV as I sat stopped at a red light waiting for the traffic to pass so I could make a right turn and pull out onto the main thoroughfare. We were departing Rio Mambo, a Mexican restaurant that was a favorite of ours and where we'd had lunch... a delicious combination of tacos, enchiladas, rice, beans, salsa and of course my daughters favorite queso. The restaurant shared space with other restaurants like Outback Steakhouse and a sporting goods store... which made for a busy parking lot on that sunny Saturday. Startled by her shriek I simultaneously saw a man pull into the shopping center beside me... slowing down enough for us to make eye contact. He was handsome, had a beard, drove a black pickup and smiled broadly at me when our eyes met. "What on earth are you yelling about?" I asked her incredulously quickly glancing in the rearview mirror at her. I then watched as he proceeded to smile at me and wave at my daughter as well. She squealed with a smile "Mommy!!! That's the guy! That's the guy!" She told me excitedly. My mother who sat beside me in the passenger seat looked on with surprised amusement.
"That guy?" I asked my daughter completely confused, referring to the guy who had just passed. I redirected my focus on the traffic in front of me watching for it to clear then made the right turn.
"Yes!! He's your type!” She exclaimed.
I laughed and my mother joined me, then I spoke "Well... he may be attractive but...” I pointed out.... "We don't know anything about him! He could be a psychopath!" I told her. My mother murmured in agreement.
"I don't think I've seen him on Dateline..."My mother said and we laughed... but then she added “But we don’t know him.” She pointed out to my daughter.
My daughter shrugged and sighed "Oh well, I tried!" She replied then after a pause added, "Mommy, who are you taking with you to your work holiday dinner?" She asked pointedly. Last year it was at Eddie V’s and this year Ruth Chris... a place my ex and I used to go.
“No one.” I replied offhandedly.
My mother made a tsk tsk sound and spoke “That realtor friend you have is such a sweet boy. Is he single? Or doesn’t he know anyone that you could take? “ She asked me.
“No... he has a girlfriend. I think they met on a co-ed softball team or something. He’s like ten years younger than me. I doubt he knows anyone.” I told her.
”Oh...” My mother replied “Well, what could you join to meet someone?” She ventured aloud.
I wondered if they had taco and margarita meet ups... or maybe a pizza and shooting range night. I imagined myseif joining a co-ed softball team and spoke “Well, not softball. I’d be the girl way out in the field with a helmet on saying ‘Don’t throw that ball near me!’ .... I don’t think that works very well!” I laughed.
My mother and daughter laughed and as they chatted I zoned out; my thoughts drifting to dating and how part of me as much as I'd love to have someone special in my life one day the thought of sharing a home again and combining possessions and personal space made me want to run and hide under the covers. My nature was fiercely independent and as soon as anyone began bringing up marriage I shut it down and closed the door ... as the last two relationships proved. Why aren’t people ever content with just being exclusive yet having separate spaces? Why do they always have to combine every last fork and pillow they have? I was currently in a period of struggling with what God wants for us and what I thought made more sense rationally and how little I felt I could fully trust someone again. I wouldn’t live with someone because I’d want to be living in His word... and then there was the issue of sex which was only ok according to Him within the parameters of marriage ... the only alternative was going without. What a pickle this was, I thought. I found agreeing to marriage comparable to being a bird that could once upon a time fly freely and then when it says “I do” it’s caged and stifled... I saw marriage as a loss of power. I was struggling with that philosophy and I didn’t know when that would change if ever so I chose doing nothing and not dating at least for now. Maybe what the real root of the issue was that I didn't have any faith that God might send a Godly man to cross my path one day that He approved of.... maybe the problem was me. Sometimes it’s easier aka more comfortable to cling to our excuses, lack of faith and stagnant ways of thinking ... but when real growth and change is desired that mind-heart state can only last for so long.
When we are young we have absolutely no idea that who we marry is one of the important decisions we will ever make in our life. Maybe we can choose a different career, go back to school or become an entrepreneur and start our own business. We could hopefully turn that around if we realize down the road uh oh... we chose the wrong path workwise. But marriage? There is no reset button... no redo. I say this not to chastise who have already been down this road because we already know the prices paid for not being able to press rewind and we must do our best from here with pockets of lessons learned... however for those younger that have yet to marry... choose wisely; observe and heed actions. It’s incredibly important that we make certain who we are marrying is truly who we believe them to be. And to realize that bad signs or red flags are not to be glossed over or ignored but to view as utter deal breakers that make us walk away.
At the end of the day though marriage specifically is not what gets us in trouble where children and ex’s and custody are concerned. It’s not the “I do’s” or the registry squabbles or who is going to do the laundry or load the dishwasher. Obviously we love our children dearly and would never regret having them. However with a narc it’s the act of procreation and giving up our power in agreeing to have a child with our spouse who later turns out to be a monster. When it comes to being forever linked to a narc essentially sex is the turning point in which later this baby, this child is used as a weapon to harm you.... later you may chastise yourself for ever allowing that person to touch you, to have sex with you, to create a new life together... because you see that they sadly used that beautiful moment and turned it into a future opportunity of hurt, pain and loss against you. You feel robbed and yet you still have your purse and wallet... you feel violated and yet it was consensual. You feel tricked... and you were. The truth is who we marry is so important but who we have sex with is even more.
Thursday, December 21, 2017
names have been omitted
The heavy double elevator doors opened and we stepped inside. My mother was to my right and dressed in dark dress slacks, a dressy black sweater and necklace. With my hair pinned up I was in knee high boots, black pants and a wool blazer holding a mountain of paperwork in my arms, my black leather Marc Jacobs bag hanging on my right arm like a heavy ornament. Women all filed and crammed into the elevator each holding their own clip boards, notebooks and stacks of court filings. Each woman looked beyond stressed with their jaws set firmly in place like clenching was the only setting their jaws knew. Dear God, this is a grim scene, I grimaced and overheard one woman whisper to her friend wearily “I’m so ready to have this behind me.” I looked over at her... her eyes looked tired, her dirty blonde hair disheveled, like she’d been up all night and needed a coffee and a one way ticket to an island somewhere. Dear Jesus, help this woman I thought and prayed. Then the elevator doors dinged open. We all filed out, scattering like kittens going our separate ways to fight our battles in the various court rooms.
Upon reaching the 360th court room in which I’d been in many times before, I checked in with the bailiff and let him know I was there. He had me fill out a simple form stating that I was pro se. I spotted my ex’s posse seated on the opposite side and took a seat on the left. The judge was busy handling other unrelated matters that needed to be addressed before our hearing and as I sat I observed a young attorney hand the judge paperwork that merely needed to be signed by her. “It's a divorce... they agree on everything” the attorney told her, “The papers just need your signature.” She nodded and began signing off on them. I sat there marveling how lucky those people were and probably didn’t even realize it. By both being in agreement they had saved themselves a whole lot of misery, grief and money. I wondered why they were getting divorced... they probably didn’t even know what a sociopath was, bless their blissfully ignorant hearts ....and I hoped they never did.
Soon we were instructed to rise and then beckoned to approach the bench. We all made our way up to the judges bench and stood before her. She stated why we were there then asked what my objections were to what my ex had filed. I stated to her what they were; that he had filed to have access to my estate in the event I passed while the children were minors under the guise of child support and that he was wanting the right to move out of Tarrant County with the children if I moved. She asked where in the parent child order those sections were located at and I began rapidly searching in my own copy for them... stressing because I couldn't seem to find them and silently chastising myself for not marking the sections with post it notes. She waited patiently as I skimmed more than thirty pages trying to find what I needed. Finally she sighed with irritation which I initially believed to be at me but instead it turned out to be at the opposing side... "Could one of you please help Ms. Gafford find the sections she needs help finding?!" She demanded and soon the opposing side began rapidly searching their own copies of the papers they'd filed. Finally the sections were found and she carefully looked over what he had filed. I stood waiting, hoping, praying she would understand my concerns. As she reviewed what he had submitted I saw a frown crease her forehead and a concerned expression. “I’m not in agreement with this....” She stated “Because he’s stating if she decides to let’s say... move to Arlington for example, that he can move.... I don’t want him then picking up the kids and moving to Alaska.” She frowned and I quietly exhaled a deep breath I’d been holding with relief... thank you, God, thank you God, I silently thanked Him. I knew my ex wouldn’t move to Alaska... but maybe further and not tell me where. She agreed to strike the section out and then began reviewing the estate issue. I watched her and then from behind me the Amicus for the children spoke up “Your honor, he’s just asking for this in relation to child support... “ She told the judge speaking up for my ex, trying to get him what he wanted. I was beyond sick of this woman... she needed to butt out and I turned around to openly glare at her. She had been a thorn in my side since day one as her role to be looking out for the children was a joke. The judge raised an eyebrow and glanced over at her then back at the papers “I really do not find this necessary” She replied and proceeded to strike out that section as well. Thank God. I stood there in disbelief and somewhere at the back of the court room my mother gave a silent happy cheer. I watched as the judge signed off on the newly improved papers and I thanked her. She nodded and dismissed us, directing us to go downstairs and have them filed with the clerk.
Back in the courtroom later where my mother was waiting for me she rose and we walked out of the courthouse together in victory. It might be a small victory in some folks eyes but it was a big one for me... as it was the first and really only victory after a long time coming. What made it even sweeter was going pro se and not having to spend a dime on an attorney... while my ex had spent another small fortune on his. It was enough to make you laugh and want to skip all the way home... back at work that afternoon I was beaming and that night we celebrated. Had I perhaps been so terrified of not having an attorney even when they had proved to not be effective most of the time that I had allowed fear to drive me in continuing to hire one even when I should have put my faith in God?
Hebrews 6:19 19
We have this hope as an anchor
for the soul, firm and secure.
Is our faith sometimes in believing, hoping in men over Him... how many of us have been guilty of that? Probably more than we would want to admit. One reason God allows problems in our life is a test of faith... how are we responding? Are we putting up roadblocks? Are we placing our faith in men or even ourselves? Or are we focused on Him?
Are we dismissing that God might allow certain people in our lives? Either to date or merely be friends with... yes, we have free will... but are we minimizing or even ignoring God's great power of knowing who to send our way to cross paths with? Maybe. When we place our trust and reliance on God we are also simultaneously placing our life's stability in Him. When we say "Oh, I won't ever get married again... it's too risky... I'll just have to settle for x,y,z because I have issues, I just can't trust people, I can't trust myself or my gut intuition, etc.... "
What we're REALLY saying is: I don't trust God. We are thumbing our nose at God and saying "I've felt let down before so I can't trust you with x,y,z, God you're not big enough for this" when He never promised us a life without issues. But He does ask us to trust Him. And yes, at times that is admittedly hard to do... whether it's filing for divorce or trusting that He will be there to lean on in the midst of our fears and court battles. Maybe we are wondering if we really should believe in marriage again or alternatively just throw in the towel and settle for something that makes us wrestle with Him in the mud... know that He wants your trust... He is not a traitor. He loves you and wants you to trust that He will be there for you through it all... to have faith in not just certain areas of your life but all areas. Somewhere deep within some of us we are hoping, praying for our battles to be conquered... somewhere deep within us we are wanting to believe that tomorrow will be better than yesterday... somewhere deep in our soul and every fiber of being some of us are wanting to know that love can be ours again... in the way that He approves and desires for us... He wants you to dive right in in faith and follow His lead.
For I know the plans I have for you,"
declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you
and not to harm you, plans to give
you hope and a future.