Proverbs 24:12 – “Don’t excuse yourself by saying, “Look, we didn’t know.” For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.”
I don’t think I mentioned in Caskets: Part 1 & 2 that when I enrolled in Farm School that because of the terms of nonpayment for the Family Catholic School I couldn’t get my transcripts sent over. My first junior year I attended for no credit at all. My second junior year I did attend and as things were calming down somewhat, I was able to go to school and go to work without much interference into my very broken heart. As is common for those who experience trauma and the compounds and constraints it breeds within us, when things calmed down outside, they were still steadily tearing apart my insides. I needed love and I needed to find it fast. Again, for those experiencing unresolved trauma, I had no idea what love looked like and wouldn’t have known what to look for if love had come up and introduced itself.
Before I could break up with the Hated by Mom boyfriend, one of the guys at the retail store I worked at started asking me out. I couldn’t stand him, so it was easy to say no. After about the sixth time he asked, he came into work on his off day. To my surprise, he had a baby with him. If you know me personally, or you have been reading my blog you may have figured out already that I am a sucker for kids. The guy brought the little boy in the cart over to say hi and I have no idea what happened to my heart in that moment, but something stirred way down deep and I fell in love with that kid instantly. He was less than a year old but kept trying to hand me things while I was talking to him and at one point stretched his tiny arms out to me as if he wanted me to pick him up. He was adorable.
The next shift that I worked with Ed I asked why I had never heard that he had a son. He said he didn’t tell a lot of people because he’d asked out a couple of girls that knew he had a son and they’d always said no. I still didn’t like him, but I had questions about that so I agreed to go on break with him to talk. I wish that I could tell you that we started dating because I fell in love with him and not his son, but I was more interested in his son than I was in him. We started talking more and eventually he developed feelings that I wasn’t ready for. I felt awkward because nothing was happening to the inside of me and I had heard multiple times from multiple places that love heals all things. I start to remember the things that Mom tried to tell me in this time, but because she was still so broken and now going through separation and reconciliation and then separation again in her own marriage, I didn’t understand the things she said. If she was doing the things that she was telling me to do, then why wasn’t her marriage any better than it was? She cried a lot and all the progress she’d seemed to make over the last year or so began to quickly disappear. My stepdad moved in and out several times over the course of the next 5 years. That was all the longer their marriage lasted. Again, my Mom was being broken and again I was there to try to hold my brothers and sisters together. I felt like this time I should be better at it and this time it shouldn’t be so hard. We’d been through a bunch of breakups and heartache so it’s not like we didn’t have the experience it took to make it through.
I was wrong. It wasn’t easier. It wasn’t any better this time because we weren’t any better. If I had stopped running from my past and just hung out in my anger long enough to dissect my pain, the path I took to find love would have been a lot different.
We always assume that our past is behind us, and to some degree yes, it is. However, when we don’t acknowledge that our past hurts and look at the reasons why we made the choices that assisted the trauma and heartbreak that occurs, we tend to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. The past doesn’t stay behind us where it belongs. It moves to go in front of us so that we continue to feel it over and over and we let it steer us into the direction of comfort in agony. Agony and more pain looks and feels comfortable because we can recognize it. The unknown is scarier than the known, no matter how much the known hurts. If I hadn’t been so scared that nobody would ever see me for who I really was, for the gifts I had, for the future I could have had if someone would just give me a piece of solid ground to walk on, I would not have made the choices that caused me to break even farther than I had already.
Ed and I started dating and even though he was possessive and a little controlling there were things that he did that made me feel like he cared. When I really started to do the work I needed to do to heal so many years later, I realized I was looking for him to apologize to me and beg for forgiveness for hurting me during our marriage when, in fact, that was not his apology to make. I never fell in love with Ed because I wasn’t supposed to be with him. We got married not because I loved him, but because I loved his son. He was just a means to an end and that was my choice, not his.
Steve Harvey has a video about forgiveness where he talks about how you can’t drive your car looking through your rearview mirror. Trauma makes you drive your car that way. In order to switch viewpoints, you have to stop driving and change some things around. When I stopped running and just sat still, I realized that Ed and I had bonded in being known as the embarrassment of our families. He had a son out of wedlock and while there was no question that everybody loved his son, they were still paying the price for the decision he made. His son’s mom was not in great shape and it was easier to blame her than it was for Ed to look at the way he’d contributed to his own downfall. I recognized that because we seemed to just be two people who had tried to find what we were looking for and the people who were supposed to teach us had failed in some way. Over the course of the next year, we spent a lot of time talking about our families and the things they had said and done to hurt us. I knew that he felt bad for embarrassing his mom and dad but what I didn’t see was the great lengths he would go to in our marriage to try to prove to them, and to himself, that he wasn’t a disappointment. Like me, he would make choices that not only disappointed them further but destroyed his sense of self along the way.
He was involved in a program at his school that matched the one at mine where we both worked on cars for 4 hours a day instead of going to a class. He was a much better mechanic than I was and got several job offers from places like Penske and Penzoil his senior year of high school. They gave him tools and all kinds of merchandise due to his ability to diagnose any car problem. Throughout our marriage, I never really considered a car breakdown that big of a deal because Ed could literally fix anything on a car.
His family was a railroad family though and so all the men worked on the railroad. That’s just what they did. It was a family thing. Due to pressure from his family to provide for his son, his desire to save his reputation, and his desire to avoid any more reading in college, Ed took a job on the railroad. Around the same time, he asked me to marry him and I said yes. When God shows us things, sometimes we don’t realize what we are looking at and now, as I stop driving my car into more pain, I see Ed in a different light than I did when we were married. I think one of the things that he loved the most about me was my very vocal hatred of the railroad. I had grown up without my Dad, Ed had grown up without his, even though his parents were still married, and that hurt bonded us. When I realized what made me date him in the first place, I wondered what sort of marriage I’d have had if Ed had been able to do what made him happy instead of doing what he thought his family wanted. His job would become a source of contention between us and I continually told him that I was not going to have children with someone who refused to be around to parent them with me. I wanted a family. I should have been more specific, but I didn’t know how at the time because I wasn’t looking at anything through a lens of wholeness, but instead a mirror full of my own cracks and insecurities. I learned to love Ed, but I was never in love with him. In order to fully understand how I chose my own course of events and the pain that I endured in my marriage I would have to come to terms with the fact that I married Ed because his heart was broken and I thought it looked like mine. I thought that we could grow and help each other and become a family for his young son. I loved his son with a fierceness that surprised me, and I became very protective of him and the situations that he was involved in. Ed wanted his mom to watch his son on the nights that he had him so that we could go out on dates. I told him that we needed to stay at home and take care of his son. I didn’t really understand the dynamic that was running his parenting at the time, but I would come to understand it very well in the coming years. I was searching for my own place in the world, but somehow, I knew that his son held some sort of key for me to unlock whatever that was.
- Steve Harvey Forgiveness video –