Saturday, March 2, 2013

Day 12 {31 Days of Grace) Raining on Cloud Nine

Y'all? I don't even know where to start today...

I realize I don't write everyday, but not a whole lot of earth-shattering stuff usually happens in 24 hours :-)

I was overjoyed to be through the part of my story that dealt with John.  Although he isn't quite out of the picture yet (he will come back into my life briefly after I get married), for now, I was done with John.  And I felt accomplished! I felt relieved - shocked even, that some of my guilt and shame from way back that had reared it's ugly head again has actually left me since I got John off my chest.



In reading back through my story with John, I realize I really glazed over quite a bit in the way of the relationship problems we had. Starting my freshman year, when I gained the requisite freshman 15 (or perhaps 20) pounds, John was first to let me know it.  He tried to disguise it with, "I'm afraid you're not taking care of yourself," but I could see he was embarrassed to be with me.  And truthfully, in comparison to high school, I was working out and way more active than I had ever been.  BUT my eating habits changed drastically - pizza for dinner, eating late at night, drinking alcohol whenever possible (yes, I just cringed when I wrote that last part too).

This pattern of criticism from John continued throughout our entire 3 year relationship.  I started to see a lot of his Dad in him and I wasn't so surprised his parents weren't together anymore.  His Dad was super critical and had to have things a certain way or there'd be hell to pay!

My heart is heavy over some family issues as I write tonight.  After I write a little on my past, I'm going to ask for your help with some of my present, ok?



So last time I told you how John and I ended things.  On the bright side, within 6 months of breaking off the engagement with John, I started dating the man who is now my husband.

On the down side, in that short 6 months, I dated a couple of other people.  It's looking back on this time in my life that make me think I am was a jerk magnet! The guy I spent a few months with right after John, I'll call Ryan for the purpose of this blog.  

I'd known Ryan through mutual friends for a year or two but never thought of him as a romantic interest.  He had actually begun flirting with me before John and I broke up.  I'm sure he sensed my confusion; he tried to engage me in conversation about it.  We lived in the same apartment building and saw each other often.

During this "getting to know you" stage, I spent a lot of time with Ryan - definitely my first mistake where he was concerned.  While I was just looking for someone to hang out with, even talk to - about John or anything else, he got the wrong impression from the beginning.
I should have sensed this right away, but it didn't really hit me until he invited me to dinner with his family.  They were coming into Raleigh from his hometown a couple of hours away and he said he didn't want to go alone; that his brother's serious girlfriend would be there and maybe I could go just to keep him company?

Sometimes I wonder if I was really that naive? Although I thought we were good friends and I could trust and confide in him, he'd already hinted to his family that I was his girlfriend.  At first I was a little offended, but he was so incredibly sweet, I guess eventually he won me over. He had a good excuse for everything!

I remember the week before I broke up with John, being so down and depressed, and just absolutely CONSUMED with whether or not I was making the right decision.  Ryan always said things like, "it should be a crime for such a pretty face to be so unhappy! I like to see you smile! What can I do to make you smile?"
He sent me flowers that week.  When I asked why he simply said, "I wanted to make you happy, even if just for a moment."

He continued in this fashion and not long after my breakup with John was official, my relationship with Ryan was too.

At first things were great! Ryan treated me like a princess! He would always put me first...opened every door for me...asked where I wanted to go for dinner...took me to really expensive, fancy restaurants I'd never been to before...and on and on and on.

There was even a popular country song at the time called "She Don't Know She's Beautiful" and he said it was about me (which totally made me melt - even to this day I've only been told that I was pretty or beautiful a handful of times).  
The relationship was fun and new and sailing along well even at Christmas that year.  Ryan's family showered me with gifts as if I had always been there! I got as many gifts as his brother's girlfriend did.  From my perspective now, I can see how odd it was; how odd his entire family dynamic was, but at the time I just thought it was great.  
It doesn't take long though to realize that lavish gifts don't equal love.  I started to get restless; I wondered if I'd made a huge mistake giving up on John so soon; I KNEW I'd jumped into another relationship and gotten serious way too fast.

And he knew too! Ryan started to get really jealous and possessive.  We started arguing almost daily.  We lived next door to each other, so avoiding him was extremely difficult and when I did, it made things worse later. I broke it off with him several times, only to give in to his pleas for another chance.  

Eventually I couldn't take it anymore and this day in particular is easily recalled...
I think I had told him I was done.  I didn't want to see him anymore and I just needed some time to myself to figure things out.  I wanted to explore who I was - without a guy; who I wanted to become - without a guy; what my future plans were - without a guy.

Ryan did not take it well.  What happened next, is likely the closest I have ever come (and hopefully, ever WILL come) to being abused by a loved one.  I can actually remember cowering behind a chair in my living room as he went to my room and grabbed all the things he'd given me or bought me while we were together. He proceeded to throw them at the floor in an attempt to break them.  And maybe "throw" isn't the right word - it was almost as if he wanted to permanently embed them in the floor, so he was hurling them with lots of force.

I cannot tell you how I got him out of my apartment - I honestly don't remember.  I do remember him lurking outside my window and front door for a long time that night.  In fact, I called Stephen, my high school friend that I talked about before. He came right over, walked around the outside of my apartment and then came in and stayed with me that night.

Reading all this makes me ask myself again, why I was constantly replacing one guy with the next.  I'm really not sure, but the more I learn about myself through this process I know, underneath it all, it was probably FEAR.  Fear of what I am not completely sure - being alone?  Not feeling loved? not being loved? I don't know.

I do know that I am glad this second (albeit short) relationship with Stephen was the end of all that for me.
That night, he made me feel safe and protected.  He was easy to talk to and I was so comfortable with him since we'd known each other so long. 

If there is one thing I will always remember about Stephen, it's that he always made me feel special in a very genuine way.  It wasn't the flattery and showering of gifts like with Ryan; it wasn't the "you would be pretty if..." like John; it was always about owning who I was, good or bad.  Being proud of all the things that made me, me.  I would love to thank him for that, but for reasons I'll get to later, we don't speak anymore.


As painful as most of it has been, I have to say I feel like my insides have been cleaned out for the first time in long time.  My heart is still heavy with some things from my past, but I can tell I've made progress.

And as I mentioned earlier, my heart is heavy with some family issues today.  I may be able to go into more details later, but tonight I'll try to keep it simple.  
My Mom is not in good health.  While the previous symptoms, and even the diagnosis I blogged about a couple of years ago, are no longer the issues, there are still issues.

On top of that, my grandmother (Mom's Mom) has become very dependent in the last 6 to 8 months.  She is having some health issues, but is also suffering some dementia and other things that are just heart breaking to watch.
In addition, my baby brother (he's 11 years younger than me) has caused my parents lots of worry over the last 5 years or so; there are lots of questions, but his spirituality is of great concern.  In addition, there was some drug abuse and criminal history in those last 5 years.  He seems to be up to his previous antics and currently living in their household (I don't mean he's using drugs in their house; just that he seems to be going back down the wrong path).

I am afraid my Mom is in way over her head with all of these issues.
Today, she told me they are trying to decide about a nursing home for my Grandmother, but she'd rather move her into their house first.

I don't know how to pray about this other than that God's will be done and hopefully the best possible result for everyone is what will come to pass.

My honest opinion is that Mom cannot take care of her Mom 24/7 without putting her own health in serious jeopardy.  I respect her desire to do it - I don't want to see my Grandmother in a nursing home either - but I just think it isn't practical for Mom right now.

Would y'all please pray for me and my family? I would be so grateful!
My heart just broke talking to Mom on the phone tonight, because she is so upset about all that's going on.  I know she is exhausted and not feeling well in addition to the emotions she's feeling.

Your prayers would mean so much!

Grace and love, 
~Leslie~










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