Backing up some to fill in some gaps…
It was October, 2011. Our third child decided on Bible college in Chicago. His freshman year started a bit early because he was playing soccer for the school. I hadn’t seen him since we had dropped him off, but that was about to change. In October they held a Family Weekend where parents and siblings had a chance to come and see the regular days of their college student. In addition to that, one of the featured events was a men’s soccer game. I was so excited to see him and to be able to watch him play some college ball. Dave, our youngest daughter and I left early Friday morning for the drive to Chicago. It was so wonderful to see him and to hear him excitedly tell us all about his first months of college. He had the perfect place to go for dinner and insisted that we had to get frozen yogurt at some point. I got to see him play and even had the joy of watching him score his first college goal. The weekend was going by way too fast. He asked us if we would be going to church with him Sunday morning. Our plan had been to leave Sunday morning so we would get home at a decent time. He seemed disappointed and said he thought we would really love the church he had found. I asked Dave if we could just stay for church and then head home. He agreed. That Sunday was my introduction to Harvest Bible Chapel and the first time I had ever heard Pastor James MacDonald speak. He was in the middle of a sermon series titled, I Really Want to Change, So Help me God. The message sunk deep into a hurting heart and Monday, after Dave left for work, I did some internet searching to see if the church had a website. I was thrilled to find that they not only had a website, but that the sermons were posted online every week. I listened to a few I had missed. I felt like he was speaking directly to me, yet I couldn’t quite grasp the entire thing. It felt like something was missing; I just couldn’t put my finger on what it was. After listening to a few more messages from various series, I wrote Pastor James a letter. I felt I needed to tell him how much I appreciated his ministry even though his “church” was hundreds of miles away. I mailed that letter the first week of December, 2011.
The fighting and arguing had reached a nearly unbearable level. Dave and I did not speak to each other in civil tone; instead, any words that came out of our mouths directed at the other were words that cut. They hurt. And we both knew exactly how to use those cutting and hurting words to inflict the most damage. Our youngest daughter continued to retreat within herself whenever Dave was home. During the day while he was at work and I was supposed to be homeschooling her, she butted heads with me on everything. She seldom smiled and she talked a lot about leaving as soon as she turned eighteen. As the holidays approached, I spoke a few times on the phone to our daughter away at college. She was a little over three hours away and seldom came home. I remember vividly the conversation one day when I asked if she would be coming home for Christmas. Her response was, “If you and dad are going to fight the whole time I’m there, I’m NOT coming home for Christmas.” Her words upset me and I quickly went to Dave to “blame” him for her stance. I repeated verbatim the words she spoke. Dave replied with, “Well, I guess she won’t be coming home then.” And he turned his attention back to his beloved television screen. I left the room and retreated to the bedroom by myself. It seemed to be an action that was happening more and more.
The holidays came and went, January came and brought with it what appeared to be the beginning of the end of my marriage. I sunk into a deep depression. I had no will to live anymore and knew that Dave wouldn’t care if I were dead. I couldn’t stop thinking about how much better off everyone would be if I weren’t around. The kids were all old enough now that they I didn’t feel they needed me anymore. Our youngest and I hit heads nearly everyday over school work. In addition to all of that, pastor 1 insisted that several things be in place in order for him to keep counseling us. One of those things was medication for me. I had been on a variety of medications throughout the years. I hated them. I hated the way they made me feel. I hated that they made me gain weight. I didn’t want to go back to those things, but I was desperately longing for Godly help and he was offering it–or I thought he was. I relented and said I would ask my doctor about meds but would only go that route if I got to pick the medication. Another condition for us to continue under his “care” was the allowance of a third party who would go through our finances with us. This person had to have access to ALL our financial records…bank statements, check register, credit card statements, etc. Dave refused at first. I begged him, for the sake of our marriage, to allow it. He finally relented with the counter condition that he be allowed to choose the person we met with. Pastor 1 agreed and Dave chose an older man who we both loved and trusted. The last condition was that Dave meet with a mentor. Pastor 1 believed that he would be the mentor but there was no way Dave was going to do that. He said he would only do that if the same person he had stipulated as our finance person would be that mentor. (I’ll call him Mentor for the rest of the story.) Pastor 1 agreed and the wheels were set in motion to get these things going.
I made a doctor’s appointment to discuss the severe depression I was in. The depression survey given to me by my doctor yielded alarming results. She really didn’t need the numbers on paper to see that I was NOT in a very good place. But the assessment, which I actually answered honestly, revealed something far more alarming to her than the numbers showed. I honestly admitted that I had a suicide plan in place. I wouldn’t tell her what it was, but that didn’t really matter. The fact that I had a plan in place was a bright red flag that made her very concerned for my safety. The only thing that kept me out of the hospital that visit, I believe, is the fact that I didn’t have a set date to carry out my plan. Also, the fact that I was willing to go on medication seemed to appease her insistence that I needed more supervision than I could get at home. She allowed me to choose the medication and sent me on my way with instructions to return in 2 weeks. She encouraged me to find someone to talk to and offered that I could come and sit and talk to her every night if I needed to. Sometimes I wonder–even though I know this didn’t happen-if she talked to Pastor 1, for at the next meeting he added one more condition to his conditions–I had to seek counseling. Knowing our finances weren’t great, he told me he knew of a lady in the church who was working on getting her therapy license and I should call her. I absolutely refused. I didn’t want to talk about difficult things with someone I would have to see every Sunday at church and every Wednesday night at AWANA. He pushed me on this one and dug deep into any emotional reserves I had left. I got up from my chair in the room we were meeting in and I hit the cement wall with the fist made by my right hand. Instantly I knew I did some damage but I didn’t care. I was so emotionally unstable, I kept hitting the wall repeatedly until my hand was swollen and blue. I did follow through on finding a counselor. I went through our insurance and found a counseling center in town. One visit there and I knew that was NOT the place for me. Several counselors there attended our church. I did some more searching and found a Christian counseling center in a different town. It was partially covered by insurance and I knew it was a better fit. I had my first appointment with my counselor in February. I had a cast on my hand for that first appointment. There was lots to talk about. Little did I know that the rough road I was walking was about to get a whole lot rougher.