Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Puzzle Pieces Fall Into Place - Homeless Pt 7

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creations
The weeks came and went. Sooner than I would have believed, it seemed the 6 yrs of destruction behind us faded into near oblivion. The only reminder was the paycheck to paycheck reminder from the Master in Equity garnishing our wages. It was a pittance...less than $50.00. In fact, had our 'repayment plan' been any smaller, we would have been forced to file Chptr 7 instead of 13.

We could have filed either. Our attorney asked repeatedly, “Don't you want to take the easy way out? If you file Chptr 7, the pain will be over as soon as you walk out of court.” Chapter 13 would be the gift that kept on giving for 4 years.

No,” Jeff had declared. “Let's honor the debts we have.” Yea...all 2 of them. The payoff on our mortgage and 1 credit card that carried less than 6K in medical debt. The little we'd pay each month would cover the court costs and pay our attorney for 4 yrs. In reality, our creditors had gotten what they were going to get. All 2 of them.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I bit my tongue. I took deep gasping breaths. I looked at the attorney and asked, “When it is all said and done and we get to the other side of this nightmare, is anyone really going to care which one we filed?”

No, no one really will....” My inner jaw bled. I took deeper breaths willing Jeff to opt for the easy way out. He was resolute. We signed on the dotted line. Little did we know how fateful those strokes of the pen would be less than 5 yrs later.

Despite that monthly reminder of the life we had left behind, we did begin to rebuild. The new rental home was almost geographically at the mid-point between Jeff's doctors and his office. Those became the 2 most important destinations in our life it seemed. He had recovered enough to return to work but could never work in a paper mill again because of his twitchy lungs and constant respiratory infections.

The boys became even more immersed in the homeschool community. I was happily thriving with friends everywhere I went...even the grocery store and doctor's office. In fact, we began to realize that we were happier than we had ever been with the overall state of our lives.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
We were as happy as roommates could be. I had surrendered to the realization that my marriage was all it was going to be. I had accepted that the man to whom I would be the intriguing younger woman would be roughly the age of a great-great-grandfather. There really would be no starting over for me. Life was what it was, so it was just as well I make the best of it. And, I did.

Jeff came and went to his counselor. No matter the overtime at work. No matter the hours he had to make up for missed work, he went to counseling without me twice a month every month. There were times I probed gently trying to ascertain what was taking place in that private enclave. I gave up as the answers were non-committal and uninformative. Fall became winter which gave way to early spring. Our new life was almost a year old.

Jeff came in one afternoon and leaned against the kitchen sink. He cleared his throat. This noise was not his usual respiratory related cough. It was an anxious cough. “ counselor...uh...he wants to...uh..he wants to know...uh...he would like you to come to the next session. If you think you..uh..could do that?”

I stared out the kitchen window inwardly rolling my eyes in disgust. A minute became 2 or 3. Finally, I reluctantly said, “ have not missed an appointment for 6 months. I guess the least I could do is go once. When do I need to be there?”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
As luck would have it, the very first appointment Jeff ever missed was my first one. He called from the office rather flustered. “I just found out! I have to leave within the hour to go on a client visit out of state. I'm coming home to pack. I called the counseling office. They said you could come without me if you will.”

I called and confirmed that my visit in Jeff's absence was agreeable. Even so, when I actually showed up, the counselor seemed bemused...almost puzzled. I could tell by his demeanor that he was not prepared for whatever he was seeing. Perhaps my head should be spinning on my shoulders? I had wondered what they had talked about for the entire 6 months. My suspicion quickly settled on a suspected topic: me. And, apparently, I had not fared so well.

The counselor started tentatively asking me to dump out the box of puzzle pieces I had been trying to piece together for 17 yrs. I obliged. I quickly realized that he was more perplexed by the minute. If he had expected my pieces to match up with any that he had been sorting thru for so many months before meeting me, he was coming up short. My pieces and Jeff's pieces didn't even seem to come from the same box.

Realizing his dilemma, I began to list bullet point questions. “Have you been informed regarding __________?” I quickly detailed bone crushing circumstances that would have ended many other marriages in record time. Before I was done, he was sitting back in his chair on the verge of slack-jawed with shock. “I assumed as much. You didn't know any of this..not one shred, did you?”

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
He admitted that he had not and went on to say he had come to feel he had reached an impasse with Jeff. In fact, asking me to come in was his last step before telling Jeff they had accomplished about all they could. Now, he realized how little he had come to know or understand Jeff despite his earnest and forthright efforts. I agreed to come back one more time when Jeff returned to town.

I said little to Jeff about my experience. Like him, I opted for the safety of silence. The second visit,the joint one, the counselor addressed Jeff's less than forthright sharing of information. He asked Jeff to affirm that truthfulness of my bullet list. He did so without flinching. The counselor agreed to keep seeing us. We drove home in silence.

Springtime was exploding in our new little 'hood. Our first spring in our new life. We sat in the driveway in silence. The technicolor riot of blooming flowers, trees, and shrubs all around us were lost on me. Looking out the car window, I might as well have been looking at the screen of an old back and white TV with poor reception. The world was flat and devoid of color.

Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative
I've chased you for 17 yrs. I'm not chasing you anymore. I get it. We've been over for so long. I'm so tired. I'm just not chasing you any more. I wish you luck with this guy, but I'm not going back. I'm not angry. I don't hate you. I just get it. I could chase you for another 17 yrs and still not catch you. If you loved me, you would have been spilling your guts telling the truth for the last 6 months. I don't know what you have been saying, but none of it has been about what has really mattered. We'll get the boys thru school. I've hung on this long. I can last 9 more years. That's all this will be about anymore.”

I got out of the car and walked in the house committed to 9 more years all alone in a marriage. 

Jeremiah 39:18 (ESV)
For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD.'"


  1. I am not even sure what to say! First of all, you are an amazing writer~I was riveted by this, and felt a bit of a let down when I realized I had reached the end of hte post! Beyond that, I am speechless, and anxiously awaiting the next installment.

  2. Sister, you've left me speechless. You are amazing.

  3. I appreciate your kind comments. This passage and the ones upcoming are difficult to encapsulate and to relive. You are brave souls to walk the walk with me! My heartfelt and humble thanks for your support of my efforts here in the fraidy cat world!

  4. Wow, Carol Anne! I too am speechless (and you know how strange that is for me). My heart is aching for you. Love and prayers going up for you as we speak. Keep writing my friend, keep writing your way back to God.

  5. Hmm...isn't that part of the walk of faith? We never know what will happen until we turn the next page? Not my favorite part of the faith-walk, but if I had known upfront all I would experience between 2007 and now, I might have died of heart failure! Thanks for following the blog. I really, really mean that!

  6. Mojo is up and running. Thanks for sharing your journey. DP

  7. Dear Mojo my kids used to say, "Snanks!"