Yesterday was our 5 year wedding anniversary. I've thought about this a lot in the coming weeks as the day approached. People have asked me if time has flown by? I started to tell people that it had. Isn't it always amazing how quickly God can erase the amazing pain and time of trials in our lives? Because to be honest with you the past 5 years have not gone by very quickly when I started to recollect all that came about.
Very early on in our marriage, and I mean the weeks just before and right after the wedding, we encountered some extremely difficult dealings with my side of the family. Suffice it to say this progressed quickly into a situation where there was at first limited, and then following no contact with the greater part of my biological family before the first six months of our marriage had passed.
Right about the 6 month mark we both started jobs with a company who like many things in life looked like greener pastures. All too quickly it turned into a formidable enemy breeding ground for attacking. Ultimately my husband was laid off while I was on medical leave. Then I left years later with the feeling that I had worked for the enemy himself. I believe the worst part of this was that the company was set up originally to help those in need.
At year one plus one month we had our first miscarriage. It was on father's day and I was so torn as to how we were going to manage a baby with all the other things on our plate. Ultimately it didn't matter this baby was taken from me for reasons that I had yet to know. This threw me into a desperate need to "control." I went spiraling at this point. I started working a part time job at night telling my husband it will be good for us as we would have a bigger down payment for a new house. What I was actually doing was erecting a formidable wall between myself and my husband as I grappled for understanding. I wanted to know why I lost our baby, carrying around my shame of not wanting to face my husband. Oh how I wish I could have talked to that hurting girl then, how I now could explain so many things to her.
At one year six months we started looking for our first house. At that time I was still working full and part time. Every single weekend for literally months we searched for a house. We saw 57 houses, made 3 offers, and finally found the one we are living in now. I remember the day we went to sign the papers for the house. I felt both relief for finding a house and also the pressure of family coming. Would I be the mother I wanted to be? I knew my part time job would soon be ending as I had no more excuses. We had our down payment and I needed to let my husband back into my heart.
As we were about to move into our new home just before 2 years, our friend's husband was deported to Mexico. We decided to have her come stay with us. She was not able to afford her apartment while paying the lawyer bills to try to get him back. She wound up moving out 9 months later. The coming months stress of our household and her pain did not mesh well. I'm happy to say we are still extremely close friends (and when you live with someone you can't always say that)!
After going from doctor to doctor since the previous fall, one month before our two year anniversary, I was diagnosed with (I'll spare you the long names) a gall bladder that was well passed needing to be removed and a large tumor growing in the lining of my uterus. The gall bladder had me throwing up regularly for years. The tumor would have killed any child inside me, had I not miscarried when I did the year before as it was the size of a 12 week fetus. At that point I had swollen so much I could not fit into most of my clothes and I had kankles for legs with the extreme swelling. I needed to go into surgery but because I had to arrange two different surgeons schedules for a back to back surgery it didn't happen until the end of August.
That summer was shear torture. I was in pain and the bad news of the upcoming uterus surgery where the doctor explained I may need a hysterectomy but I would at least have a myomectomy. This meant that if I were able to keep my uterus then I would have a much smaller chance of being able to get pregnant. Even if I did, I would be risking myself and the baby trying to carry it with a compromised uterus. I would have to deliver at least one month if not more early even in the healthiest pregnancy. Try explaining to your husband who just loves his wife that you want a child more then your own life. . . we revisited that conversation more times then I can tell you in years to come. In the end I still have my uterus but it has not been able to sustain life within it's walls at this point.
As stated previously, my husband lost his job toward the end of my 1 month of bed rest from surgery. This made my raging hormones from the surgery worse and although thanks to good friends, he was able to find a job quickly, we took a substantial financial loss in that time. In taking that financial loss we became disconnected from friends that my husband had been close to for years as we were unable to participate in vacations and trips as years past. They could not understand our pain and we could not relay it as we were still reeling from it ourselves. The loss of his job became my husband's shame. I had never known the pain I was to feel as I watched my husband's confidence sink so low after that. He felt like he had failed me and although I assure you that he didn't, it took years for him to get beyond this pain. With my walls up from not being able to have a child, and his walls up from losing his job and not being able to give me my heart's desire (a child), I felt that we were oceans apart both in immense and unrelenting pain.
This is when we found our church home. The first day we walked in it felt like home to us both. It was going to take years for us to get more involved but right away we received some salve to our deep burns from these trials. I joined the women's Bible study and realized how much of a wall I had been building and for the first time in our marriage, I realized that my husband loves me. Coming from a life of extreme abuse, emotional manipulation, and an independence trained lifestyle - this was for me the beginning. At this point I had a lot of growing to do and I knew it.
At year 3 and 1 month my sister, her six kids, and significant other and father of the first few children, and two dogs (one a 6 month old lab) came to live with us. At first it was a visit but considering their last living situation it wound up being best that they come stay for a while in order to find jobs and a new place to live as cost of living in TX is considerably less. All was great at first. My husband and I had planned our first vacation in a long time with some good friends and his family. We road tripped to Florida for fun like we haven't had in years. It was truly a good time and a suspension of pain. . .
When I came home I had to deal with our last doctor's appointment which held finality. We were at the point where he felt there was nothing left to do short of a miracle or interventions of science we would not pursue. At the time living in depression with so many people does not bode well, so I started going to an infertility group. As one of my friends in the group says, "it's cheaper then therapy!" I truly resented even having to have to go to this group at first. My anger was so great as I had not known it to be and I was inconsolable so often I felt as if I was torturing my husband.
The months that followed were filled again with working overtime. Although now it was to help pay for the very real burden of supporting 8 extra people and 2 dogs, as well as the need for escape from that same burden and the deep pain in my heart. Somewhere in the middle of this time of trials and chaos in our home, my husband and I found each other again. Instead of fighting on our own in our individual pain we started fighting together in a very real way.
Unfortunately the relationship with my biological sister and her family has not turned out as well as for now there is no communication. I hurt for this but not as much as I used to. I'm seeing the wisdom behind God's greater plans for our lives unfold all to often in what previously looked like impossible situations come to a beautiful end. I console myself to the fact that she is living safe and happy closer then she has been to me in 20 years and for that I am truly so very thankful. . . the rest God will take care of.
Right after my sister's family moved out, tremors I had been noticing started getting increasingly worse. I went to the neurologist as two of my doctors were extremely concerned I might have Parkinson's. After my appointment I was happy to be diagnosed with something called essential tremors. They were already pretty progressive for my age and the neurologist wanted to put me on an aggressive regime of medication as I was already having a hard time writing and eating. At this point I would not go out to dinner except with our very close friends as I was embarrassed that I would drop my eating utensil if I didn't shake my food off of it first. Again I was devastated as we were supposed to be moving into the next phase and start foster care training. The medications were not working well and I became an insomniac. One of the things the doctor suggested was to cut out stress and to cease all caffeine. Does that even seem reasonable? I had cut out caffeine and all sodas the previous fall to try to control the hormone shifts and could not take the medications to control them or my increasing depression as at the time we thought they were causing the tremors (though they were just magnifying them). Not for the first time in my life I felt I was losing control. Though this time, I had my husband, God, and a good group of women who loved and encouraged me. I did some research and made some radical changes. I cut out everything I read including meat. In the end meat wound up being the thing that provokes my tremors. I have a high harmane level in my body and the harmane hormone naturally found in muscle meats was like pouring gasoline on a fire - not good! I still have tremors periodically but they are extremely mild as I'm the only one who notices them at this point and are usually stress related.
So at 4 years we decided to move on with foster care training. It was awesome, not for the first time in my life I felt that these kiddos who I have had quite a bit of exposure with in camps and my years in the mental health field - that all the pain of my childhood was meant for good! I'm still excited to continue that journey in God's timing of working with these kiddos. I truly look forward to extending them the love that Christ extended me through amazing people in my childhood.
However by the time the middle of the summer hit we knew the wear and tear that had occurred by us opening our house was more then we had anticipated. It began to feel like money pit by that fall. We had already been extended in our finances supporting family for 9 1/2 months and then remodeling the bulk of our house had not been in our financial plans. Like it or not so many things came up as necessities (like floors, you have to have them to pass home study inspections, and back doors that closed without holes in them). This makes it sound like we live in an old home, but unfortunately I wish that was the case. We had our share of bitterness during this past year as we have had to redo more of this house of ours then we care to think about. However somewhere in that process God repaired so much more. . .
Last July on my birthday, well the day after we adopted our first baby. When we were married I had my dog Shiloh who my husband took great strides in gaining his affection. However little Blue came to us at 5 weeks as his mommy was ill and he fit into my husband's palm. He has brought so much happiness and light into this house. I find it pure joy to realize that when I tell him no in a stern voice he is surprised and has a look of shock not because of the word but because voices have not been raised in anger in any regularity and dare I say extremely rarely over this past year.
In October at 4 years, 6 months my husband went in for chest pains and a few days later was going under for an angiogram. He has a stint in the left main artery of his heart (called the widow-maker), though that happened before I met him. There I was at the hospital waiting for them to take my husband back as our small group leader who is also one of our pastors came in to wait with me. I talked to him while we waited for the news. We talked about the past couple of years and how difficult they had been. This helped me as I felt my world was crashing down around me. This was when I realized I needed my husband more then I had ever wanted to know.
I have tried to push him away, not need him this whole time, or at least not fully so I would not be hurt if somehow he failed me like so many others had. However at this moment I knew I loved him completely, I trusted him completely, and I needed him completely. It is a sobering moment to realize this type of thing and I'm sad to say it came at a time I felt I might lose him. Thought I'm jubilant to say that I have time still to express that and show him as he wound up being alright.
Almost immediately after that I received a call for a new job. I was ready in my heart for this job when I took that call. It is not anything like I have done over the past 16 years. I'm not salaried, I can not work over time, I'm not in management, there is no bonuses. Do you see a theme? In other words there is no escape for my natural work-a-holic nature to rear it's ugly head if I even wanted it to! I work 40 hours a week and make half of what I made last year and have not been this happy in years.
Since then we have been living and growing and loving God. We are back to biking like we did early on. I've relinquished control of the kitchen and now he makes delicious blueberry pancakes for breakfast on Saturdays. We have re-found our backyard and are grilling outside with the most delightful talks on the back patio in the evenings. I can not apologize nor regret that our story of the past 5 years came with so much pain and anguish that which can not easily be replayed in such few words. However the love we share, the bond we have, and the three chord strength we possess (God, him, and me) - was now I can tell you more then worth the pain.
Yesterday we celebrated our 5 year wedding anniversary. As we sat in a private booth in the basement of one of our favorite romantic restaurants I looked across the table and saw the man God gave me and not for the first time I felt humbled. In all my humaness, in all my pride, in all my sin, in all my control issues, in all my selfishness - God still gave my more then what my heart could have desired 5 years ago. He gave me a man who would stand beside me, fight for me, love me, endure with me, seek His greater plan, and still make me laugh, smile, and blush in sweet love 5 years later.
Thank you Lord for your continued loving transformation of my heart. . .