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All hell broke loose – Courtship, Part 3

That warm October day, when I finally worked up the gumption to call Daniel and ask what he felt towards me, changed our existence drastically. That first conversation after 6 months of silence jump started the next hellish chapter in our story. We got off the phone, me privately trying to calm my racing heart, and Daniel doing fist pumps on the other side of the phone. We both felt so elated to have finally been able to talk, and to finally tell each other how we felt. We continued having secret phone calls; me sneaking out on long walks, Daniel, going on long drives. I don’t remember who came up with the idea first, but we decided that it would be a good idea to come up with a relationship guidelines presentation. We worked on Google Docs (yay for technology!) and chatted and talked while we wrote together a list of the things we thoughts the parents would approve of and that we would be able to do. We talked about finances, we talked about how we could make it work to get married in a year, or two. We talked about our dreams for a family, and what we wanted to do when we had kids. We talked about where we wanted to live, and dreamed together about what our dream house would look like.

For one blissful week, we talked, and talked, and talked. We talked with my grandparents, and discussed what would be the best way to present the parents with our presentation without setting them off first and us getting shut down. We had the parents figured out by this point. If I was seen anywhere near Daniel at church, I was chewed out later by my dad about how disappointed he was with me, and how wrong it was that I had been near him. I was so sure that if we didn’t tell the parents at the same time, we would get in trouble that went far beyond our imagination. We finally worked out a plan, and as the week came to a close, both of us became more and more nervous that we were doing something terribly wrong.

I realized that I forgot to write about something in the previous two posts. When Daniel was approached by his parents and “told” him that we should cut off our friendship, they didn’t command him to cut off our friendship, it was a suggestion. But because of the church culture, and what our parents believe about courtship, Daniel took it as something that he had no choice but to do. Instead, he actually had the choice to not take the suggestion and do it. This really irritates me that we were old enough to be treated as adults, but we were still treated as children.

Our plan was that Daniel would tag my dad at church and ask if he could come over that afternoon to talk to him. And then Daniel would ask to court me, my dad would say yes, and then we would show the parents our relationship guidelines and everything would go as planned.

But, of course, that would never be the case.

Daniel, in all his nervousness, was a bit hasty with my dad that Sunday morning, and he was a bit blunt when asking if he could come over that afternoon to talk with my dad. My dad, always courteous in person, told Daniel that he could come over around 2 that afternoon. We left church, and my dad mentioned that Daniel asked if he could come over this afternoon, and wanted to know if I knew anything about that. I denied knowing anything about it, but my insides were quaking as I knew that potentially that afternoon would mean that we would be able to start talking again. Daniel called me to tell me that his car battery died.  Thus started the hell that afternoon ended up being.

Almost a half hour late, Daniel finally got to my family’s house, I hid on the side of the house to say hi to him and to say a little prayer before he faced the lion, er, dad. Daniel marched, shakily, around the corner of the house to talk with my dad, and I began the anxious wait in the back yard waiting to hear what the verdict would be. I watched from the bushes as Daniel and my dad wandered up and down the sidewalk, and I noticed that my dad, as usual, was doing most of the talking. When they finished, I managed to grab a few minutes with Daniel before he headed home. He said that my dad gave him this long talk about being responsible, but he didn’t get an answer about being able to court me or not. He left to go face the music at home from his parents, and I went inside to face mine.

I don’t think I have ever seen my mom get that mad. My parents chewed me out to within an inch of my self esteem and self confidence.   My dad couldn’t believe that Daniel would have the gall to pull him aside at church, no less, and ask, no demand, that he come over that afternoon. My mom couldn’t believe that we had gone behind their backs and talked. They kept asking what I had to say for myself, and how disappointed they were in me. I was reduced to tears, and feelings of guilt and worthlessness. I couldn’t figure out what we had done wrong, or why it was so wrong that Daniel and I had talked. I called Daniel sobbing and asked what we had done so wrong! He told me that his parents had chewed him out as well. He said we should stop talking and stay away from each other until things calmed down. He said he felt just as humiliated and condemned as I did.

That night was torture, I felt like I had lost my love again, and I didn’t know how many more of this I could take. A few weeks later, everything seemed to have blown over, but I still felt the shame for something I still wasn’t sure I had done. November came and went, and as Christmas rolled around, things were still very rough. I was still chewed out when I got seen around Daniel, but my dad still believe that there was nothing going on between us and that was that.

As New Year rolled around, I was getting excited about going to a friend’s party and I knew Daniel was going to be there as well. We were looking forward to it very much, but I still had to ask if I could go. I finally worked up the nerve to ask my dad if I could go. He asked a few questions and then asked if Daniel was going to be there. I knew there was trouble, so I said I wasn’t sure. I knew he had been invited, but I didn’t know if had decided to go or not. He had this look on his face, and then proceeded to tell me that if Daniel showed up then I would have to leave right away. my heart sank because I knew that my conscience would not allow me to stay if Daniel showed up. I was crushed because I really needed to get out of the house, and I needed to see friends since I didn’t get to see many people otherwise. I hid in my room, called Daniel and pleaded with him to not show up at the party. I told him why, I said that I couldn’t handle not having to leave.

He sweetly told me to please go and have fun for both of us, and that he would enjoy hearing about it later. I felt lonely that night as 2010 rolled in. I missed my other half, and I felt trapped. I had no idea what the next year would bring, but I had this really strong feeling that it wasn’t going to be easy.

January past, February, March, and then April. I met a new friend in April, really clicked with her, and found it really cool to know that her husband was one of my husband’s good friends while growing up. We talked for a very long time over dinner one day, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Daniel and I had started talking with more frequency by this point, and even though we tried to hide it, I think my mom at least knew. We were talking a lot, and it was so relieving to know that I could call him whenever I needed to and he would pick up.  Anyway, I got home from the dinner with this new friend, and found an email in my inbox a few hours later. She wrote to tell me that they would be moving, and they wanted to offer me a room in their house because they knew my family situation was rough, and they wanted to offer a way out.

I could hardly believe my eyes. I was shocked and at the same time felt a small flame of hope. Could I really have a way out of this wretched situation?

I emailed her back and started making plans.

I knew I wasn’t going to tell my parents, but I knew I wanted to move out.

Little did I know that things were about to get a heck of a lot worse.


And then you broke my heart – Courtship, Part 2

I couldn’t keep Daniel away from me that night at the party. I would turn around and he would be right at my shoulder, big smile, and a running mouth that wouldn’t stop chatting with me. My heart knew this was one heck of an awesome guy and I was falling head over heels for him.

We danced for hours that night, swing dancing, laughing, and talking after our week of no communication. It was exhilarating and comforting to be back on talking terms with Daniel. That night I texted him and told him how much I loved dancing with him. He texted back and said that he still didn’t want to be texting yet but that he enjoyed dancing with me too.

Our church was in the middle of doing a high school play and both Daniel and I were involved. As rehearsals got more intense and as opening night for closer the more I got to see Daniel. I was 100% sure he was just as interested in me as I was in him. Especially when he was having to be reminded often that he was needed on stage instead of talking with me. We got close and spent a lot more time as the days past almost attached at the hip. We were inseparable but I felt like something was going to go wrong. More and more of my friends were coming to me asking if it was wise that I spent so much time talking with Daniel. They were concerned for my heart and didn’t want to see me get hurt. I brushed off all of their concerns and told them that we were just friends. But I quietly worried that something really bad was going to happen because I had seen close friends spilt because parents felt like the couple was too close.

It was the week before opening night and I got really upset about so many people butting into my business and worrying over how much I was in Daniels company. It didn’t help that as I was working in a prop piece Daniel was right there keeping me company and chatting away. I was so sick at heart because I knew something was starting to go wrong. He left that night after rehearsal and I ignore him with a very heavy heart and a sick stomach. I have often been able to tell when something’s about to blow up and this was one of those times. On another note, I had found a caring and wise ear in my adopted grandfather and when he had visited the two weeks before I had talked for hours with him about my feelings for Daniel. Since i felt like I couldn’t talk with my dad about Daniel, it was such a relief to talk with my grandfather. He had promised after talking with me that was going to write Daniel a letter and encourage him to pursue me if he felt like that was what he was supposed to do. Looking back, the promise of this letters was quite significant in changing the direction of my feelings toward Daniel.

The next morning, I woke up with a very queasy and nervous stomach. Today was the day that I knew something was going to happened. I remember sending a few messages to Daniel, but when I didn’t get any sort of response, I remember thinking something’s wrong. My grandfathers letter to Daniel arrived in the mail that day and I was anxious to give it to him but I decided that I wanted my dad to give him the letter. I figured my dad would be willing to do that especially since my grandfather spent a while trying to talk to my dad about Daniel and I. I should have known better than to ask my dad to get involved but I am getting ahead of myself. I left for rehearsal excited and very nervous since I knew something was up. I got to church and started working on what I hadn’t finished from the day before. I soon saw Daniel get there and my heart sank. He was pale, almost looked like he had been crying and he completely ignored me. He grabbed the mutual friend who had introduced us and asked to talk with her. My heart dropped further and I ran in the opposite direction frantically dialing a best friend’s number. As soon as she picked up, I said something is very wrong and I am very nervous and anxious. She talked and listened for about five minutes when I got another call from Daniels and my mutual friend. I switched calls and this friend told me that Daniel wants to talk with me and could I meet them at the back entrance to church. I got back on the phone with my best friend and told her to pray and pray hard because here comes the storm. I hung up and saw my other friend walking toward me and my heart started cracking. When she came up to me I could barely talk and as we started walking toward where Daniel was I stopped and started crying saying I couldn’t do this. I was so close to passing out and even as I write this I am feeling the pain all over again. My heart aches for what happened next.

I walked up to the back entrance of church and felt the bombs hitting my heart as the black fog rolled in over h eyes. Daniel looked sick and he was incredibly nervous. He barely looked me in the eyes, and I was really lightheaded and my heart felt like it was being completely ripped to shreds. With our mutual friend standing by my side, and Daniel facing me, he started the little meeting by telling me in a choked voice how much I meant to him, that he will never forget me, and that I mean the world to him. He then told me with tears in his eyes that his parents told him that we needed to cut off our friendship and we couldn’t talk, chat, email, or even be in groups together. I could barely see him because of the black fog that was cutting off my vision, and I was starting to sway on my feet. My heart hurt so bad. He asked me if I had any questions or if there was anything I wanted to say, and I could only shake my head. He then bolted out the door, tears streaming down his cheeks. He was gone for several hours running, crying, praying, and just trying to understand what he should do now. After he left, I staggered outside and fell to the ground stunned. I lay there with quiet tears falling, and I felt so empty. I somehow found myself inside the church about an hour later, I wandered around in a daze. I didn’t have any strength to do any costume work, but at the same time I was suddenly determined to act like nothing had happened even though my heart was no longer beating.

I can’t describe the pain my heart felt that day (and I’m feeling it again as I write. I am very much anxious for my husband to get home for I need that reassurance that he is mine now). I asked our mutual friend to ask Daniel something for me. I asked her to ask him if he, in the future, could see himself courting/marrying me. She asked him and then brought me back the answer. She said that he gave her a resounding absolutely yes in response to my question. When I saw Daniel get back from his escape, I felt my heart shatter all over again, and I realized that I couldn’t handle being there any longer. Even though the major part of rehearsal was just starting, I had to go home. I called my mom and told her what had happened and asked her to tell dad and come get me. She came and picked me up, and as soon as I got home, my dad gave me a hug, and then told me that if my heart was hurting then I did something wrong. I was stunned when he told me that, but I didn’t say anything. I lay on my bed for the rest of the evening crying and missing desperately my best friend, and cursing the separation.

The few weeks that followed as the play came to an end were torture. I could barely eat, and I honestly don’t remember much. I remember being in a daze and finding it hard to breathe at times. My heart was broken, my dad didn’t care, and the friend Daniel had become was desperately missed. (oh snap, I’m crying now as I write and am remembering those days.) After the play ended up, I didn’t see Daniel all that often. Maybe saw him at church, or saw him at a party, but we didn’t go to the same places, and I bitterly felt that loss. As the months slowly passed, I tried to move on, but I couldn’t. My parents and I went to a seminar at church for parenting young adults, and guess what, Daniel and his parents sat right behind us. That was pure torture knowing that the guy I was falling in love with was siting right behind me. I tried to talk with mom about the severe heartache I felt, but I couldn’t. She didn’t understand and so I kept my mouth shut and only talked to the people I knew I could trust and who would care for me. I tried sharing the story with the small group I was now apart of since I had graduate HS and they didn’t get it one bit.

Shortly after our friendship was shattered, we both asked our parents to meet and try to help us come up with a game plan so that we could talk, or at least have guidelines. All four parents met, and came out of that meeting all with very different ideas of what was going to happen. The bottom line was that we couldn’t talk, and that was it. No talking with us, no trying to understand where we were coming from, the parents shut things down, and then walked away believing that was all that should or would happen. My dad believed that it was a done deal and there was nothing between Daniel and I. That summer was the absolutely worst summer of my entire life. I was a ghost of my former self, and I was painfully aware of the gaping whole in my heart. I saw Daniel at several key points over the summer, but the friendship that we had had was never seen when we ran into each other at social events. It was incredibly awkward and I always walked away kicking myself and blaming myself for causing him more pain if I was rude (without meaning to be) or abrupt. Being in the single’s ministry meant that I saw him at big meetings for all of the singles, and after one of those, I told him that I had to remove him from my friends list on Facebook. That was very difficult for me to tell him, but I had to do it because of the flack I was starting to get from my dad if I was even seen near Daniel at church or anywhere else. If I breathed in Daniel’s general direction, I was immediately chewed out.

Life was HELL. I was lost, and I can’t remember large portions between April, when he told me we couldn’t talk anymore, to October, when the next big chapter started. We kept individually begging our parents (what I don’t understand is how we were singles, seen as adults, and yet still allowed our parents to completely control our relationship…that’s the courtship dilemma for ya) to get together and give us guidelines so we could talk, and each time the parents met, they all walked away with a very different idea of what was going to happen, not one parents’ recollection of the meeting lined up, and still, we weren’t allowed to talk.

Around July, I suddenly realized that I didn’t just like Daniel, I had fallen in love with him, and I knew for sure and for certain that I was waiting for him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. I found out later that he had had the same revelation about me…a few months before. I broke down on the day I realized that, and freaked my dad out because when I called him at work (which I will never do again, and have never done since) to tell him that I loved Daniel and I wanted to be able to talk with him, my dad was hugely surprised because he truly believed that there was nothing between us. I got a huge talking to when he got home from work that night about how I was making Daniel an idol, and how I was lusting after him, and that no, we weren’t going to be allowed to talk, there was nothing there. He kept telling me that I would grow out of this, and that it wasn’t wisdom for us to talk.  I remember walking away, feeling renewed in my determination to not let my dad take away my love for Daniel. I felt sick that my dad was accusing me of being idolatrous especially when I knew of his porn addiction.

Daniel had started finding reasons and opportunities to come over to my family’s house in September, 5 months after our friendship had been destroyed. I would nervously bounce around the house, trying to obey the rules that I couldn’t talk with him, but I would try to be around wherever he was, and would throw in the token word every once in awhile. I even found an opportunity to hand him a letter I had written to him the day after he told me we couldn’t talk anymore. But even though I knew he was strongly interested in me, I still had had no verbal assurances from him.

One day I had had enough of trying to guess Daniel’s feelings for me, and I had had enough of not being able to talk. I couldn’t handle it anymore, I called him, and as soon as he picked up the phone, I asked him how he felt about me. His response was instant with no delay.

He loved me.

He wanted to marry me.

He wanted to spend the rest of his life with me.

And that’s the end….right?


I will not repeat the past

The weepy teary-eyed moments usually hit when I least expect it. More phrases or memories have been triggering these weepy moments recently, and it’s becoming harder to predict when something will trigger my emotions. I find myself getting to the evening and starting to crash emotionally and hitting a wall, and wanting to just curl up and not have to work through things anymore.

My hubby and I had a conversation the other night about hoping for something and what it looks like when that hope is disappointed. I tried to explain to him how hard it is for me to hope for something, and to pray for it, because of how many times I’ve been so bitterly disappointed. We didn’t really agree on what it looked like to hope in Jesus, but as I rolled over to fall asleep, a bitter memory hit me, and I ended up curled up in my husband’s arms, crying, and hearing him whisper in my ear about how sorry he was that I had to deal with what I did growing up.

I never thought I’d say this, but I am angry at my mom. Like seriously angry, and what makes that harder is she does not know what she did. I’ve finally accepted the fact that I was truly alone growing up. I had no defender, I had no one to take my stand or to back me up. I keep trying to tell myself that I’m wrong, that I am exaggerating and making things up, but I can’t escape the truth; I. Was. Alone.  My siblings were alone, and most of them still are. We were alone as I watched my brothers get thrown around during my dad’s anger fits. We were alone when mom was out, and dad decided to start yelling and throwing things around because the house wasn’t clean enough for his high and mighty standards.

I never want a child of mine to feel the pain of having to stay at someone’s house for two hellish weeks, only to have found out at the beginning that that family really didn’t want you, they just wanted your younger brother. I don’t ever want any child of mine to feel like I would never defend them or stand up for them. I would never stand by and watch while a child of mine is verbally chewed out. The guilt (wrongly felt) and the shame (wrongly felt) I have grown up with is something I never want my children to feel.

I feel like my heart is breaking again trying to accept that I truly was alone growing up. I have opened up memories that I have not wanted to remember as I’ve looked back with these new eyes. I keep trying to defend my mom to myself, and telling myself that she really did stand up for us, for me, and the more I uncover, the harder it is to convince myself that she did. It’s like telling myself that this memory is the worst it’s going to get, and then being thrown back by the next memory when it is worse than the first.

I have had this post draining my already low energy reserves for the past week, and I’m still not sure of how it’s turning out. If anything, this opening of hard memories has shown me just how strength Jesus actually gave me through all of those years at home. I never really saw myself as strong, I just simply had to be the defender. It was that or I kill myself.  It was be my siblings’ defender, or let them crumble like dust. I am tired of being strong. All it takes to break my strength is one sleepless night followed by a day of major aches, then followed by a second sleepless night full of more aches and pains. Once in that cycle, it’s hard for me to break out, or to find the strength to hold up under memories I don’t want to remember but that have been triggered. The past two weeks have been that cycle for me, and it started when my mom told me that someone challenged her to repent of not standing up for my siblings and her response being she doesn’t know how she didn’t do that.

I passed my dad in his car on the road today as I drove home from a job. I almost burst into tears when I saw him because of how present the pain is right now. I want to have a relationship with him, and it hurts to not have one. I want to see him care and love my siblings, my mom, me. I want to see my mom recover and realize how much she’s denied throughout her life, and I want to see her heal.

I am fighting doldrums many times a day now, and I never know if I’m just going to break down and start crying or if I will find the strength to hold my head up and not let the memory get close to my heart. Jesus is a fading and shifting shadow to me right now. Sometimes He’s easy to reach out to, and other times He feels far away. I never doubt his love for me, I just get lost inside the pain.

It’s a low time right now for me. Especially as the weather gets colder and my fibromyalgia starts reacting towards the cold with a lot more pain than usual. The more pain I’m in, the more worn out and weary I feel. The more worn out and weary I feel, the less I fight to be strong.


Where is my Defender?

Psalm 68:5 – father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.

Being the oldest of  large family has placed a heavy weight on my shoulders. I have never felt that weight more strongly than when one of my siblings, or multiple siblings, are in any sort of danger. As more of my siblings made their appearances while I grew up, the heavier the weight became, until one day I was faced with the stark realization that I had missed my childhood.  I was never a carefree, happy little girl, kicking up her heels in the sun, and running through fields of wild flowers.  I had to be the perfect example for my siblings, and I needed to be in charge so they didn’t make daddy angry, or make mom upset.

I was my siblings’ parent.

I was their defender, their warrior.

I protected them.

But no one protected me.

No one told me that I wasn’t supposed to be mother, father, protector, or defender to my siblings. No one told me that it wasn’t normal to be very mature for my young age, or that I raised my siblings while my mom dealt with the youngest children. This was normal for me, and this is how I grew up. I know it’s not good to have had so much responsibility for my siblings, but I can’t give back what has already been placed on me. I do not regret having had so much responsibility, for it taught me to love much, and it gave me the strength to handle big situations. It has made living marriage that much easier when it comes to budgeting and keeping meals on the table.  I am good at what I do because I have done it all of my life. I know how to cook good, healthy, hardy meals.

I know how to stand up for and defend my friends, my siblings, my husband. I know to become the mama bear when someone mistreats anyone close to me. I know because I have been doing that all of my life.

I have a heavy weight when it comes to my siblings, and I would fight to the ends of the earth to keep them from being damaged any further by the man who is their dad. I fear for them because of how hard it has been for me to break free from my dad’s influence over my faith, my life, and my health. I have taken the brunt of my dad’s influence, but I couldn’t always protect my siblings from being grabbed and dragged to sit in the bathroom when they disobeyed. Nor could I protect my sister from being dragged by her hair half way up the stairs because she talked nasty to me. I have alternately felt like a failure when it comes to my siblings, and feeling helpless and angry at the injustice they have endured.

Even though I am married, and no longer see any of my siblings on a regular basis, I still go through spurts where I feel like the weight has grown. It is heavy and frustrating when none of my other siblings seem to take me seriously, or believe me when I get upset over their plight. Am I seeing things? Am I being too emotional and making things up? I feel alone sometimes in bearing this weight. My heart breaks for my siblings, and I pray that they will one day be able to heal from my dad’s abuse.

I am once again contacting the pastors in charge of my family, and begging, challenging them to heed my siblings’ pain. I am weary of bringing my issues forward and not feeling like anyone is paying attention to me. I will not give up on my siblings, but I do get close to doing so many times.

Wearily,

Chryssie Rose


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