Memories: Being Killed By Friendly Fire

Again...

Lately, I have been thinking about where I was this time last year. I had briefly let Chef move into the spare room of my house, and it was going about how you would expect…beyond horribly. Within a few weeks, I would get in my car and drive away for good. I left everything I owned except a few clothes and some trinkets of a rickety new life I’d tried to start that same year. I remember feeling different this time, though. I knew I wasn’t ever going to be coming back. Nothing on the surface had really changed for me, but somehow, my soul understood. This time was different. I had a tiny sliver of strength growing deep inside, because I had begun to find some relief from the most devastating part of this whole mess…my own mind.

Long-term marriages have infinitely more potential to completely destroy the people in them when they fall apart than any other kind of break up, no matter how Shakespearean. Decades of identities interwoven, children raised and gone, hardships overcome together, finances indistinct and no longerBandido Chef clearly claimed by either spouse, and the sheer numbers of memories, all weave together in a way guaranteed to let no one walk away unwounded or unchanged. The ripping of two souls once bonded together will always leave scars on both sides.

For me, the true hell was the memories.It was like being bombed repeatedly by your own country. I was being wounded by friendly fire.

What does one do with the billions of memories you’ve collected all those years together? In my case, each sparkly memory of happy times with the man I loved tormented me incessantly for a whole year after I left him. Day or night, awake or asleep, they would be right there to haunt me.

Memories that had once faded into rather shadowy collections of a life of happiness and contentment had suddenly become sharply in focus, so unexpectedly dangerous, and razor sharp in the realization that they would never mean what they once did to me ever again. Even the simplest of those sweet memories had instantly become a shard of broken glass, and my own mind cut my heart into ribbons for what had seemed an eternity.

Memories that had been stored and quite literally forgotten about for years would leap out at the most unexpected of moments, disfigured by his

Get it? Bird and Chef!!!
Get it? Bird and Chef!!!

betrayal, mocking in their insincerity, and more powerful than any knife or gun in their ability to wound me. It was a horrible place to be in my life. Memories of moments we had shared, deeply intimate and once supremely treasured, would instantly cruelly shift, and my mind would see Chef sharing that same moment with this new woman he was in love with now. I often feared I’d eventually lose my mind.

I had no refuge from all those supposedly benign, happy memories. There simply were too many, and I was tormented by their existence and Initial Set Up 12-8-2011 9-16-48 PMtheir ability to cast any other woman in my place without any interruption at all in Chef’s life. I hated each one of those cursed memories of loving my husband, but they were a part of me, connected to my children, part of my understandings about this life, and I often cried myself to sleep, begging God to make them stop. And even as I wept those prayers, the understanding of why He would never take them away from me despite the pain, would often bring me to the brink of pure despair.

I have often pondered about the role that time plays in the healing of wounds that cut so deep in the souls of people. What was it that time was able to work in my broken, sad heart that made those memories stop slicing me open? Why was time able to help me to stop crying for the beloved past? How did time change those angry, accusing memories back into soft clouds of a past now gone? And was it time that stopped allowing me cast Chef’s latest conquest into the scenes from my life?

Is time magical? I don’t think so. I think it is more of an ingredient. Time is necessary to create new memories. Time is needed to adjust to a new perspective. You simply must have time in order to have new conversations with new people. After the forest of memories burned down, time allowed new hopes to spring up, and time rained on some of my hopes, and they grew healthy and strong into trees of goals and accomplishments. Time allowed me to find faith in myself again, and to get to know who I was after all of this had changed me.

burning the bridgeLife takes time.

I realize now, over the last few years, I’ve made new memories. The kids and I can fondly recall our ghetto apartment, our crazy experience

Everyone Has A Story...
Everyone Has A Story…

renting a room in someone’s house, and other memories unique to our lives as they are now, separated from Chef’s life.

My life quietly gathered into it, new people, new conversations, new boundaries, new memories. I have new hopes growing where others died the day my marriage died. I have different expectations from my life, and I understand myself and others a little better having experienced this. There is a sense of durability that only time could have tested to me now, and the resilience can no longer be questioned. Time has proven I can survive, even when I don’t really want to.

My memories have stopped haunting me, mainly because my mind has so many new ones to focus on now. The trauma isn’t fresh anymore, and increasingly, I find there is nothing more to be gleaned from revisiting that sad wreckage of a marriage that was no greater or lesser than any others, and died in a sadly common way as well. Time has doggedly marched on, and with it, so have I.

Lately, I’ve been able to gently allow those once dangerous memories of love lost to gently take focus in my mind, not instantly slamming doors on them like I’ve been doing these last two years. Like the gentle exploration of a healing cut, I am quick to pull away from anything too painful. Yet, I find lately that some of the most devastating of memories now hold none of the destructive power they did a mere year ago. They’ve all begun to recede from the reality of my life now, no longer magically able to convince me of a life of perfection, but also no longer able to cut me to the quick with their existence.

for fire-blushTime has allowed my life to return to a balanced state. Hope is powerful to those who have known disappointment as well. Love is better for those who have experienced hate. Kindness means more to those who have experienced disregard. Trust has a new value to me, having seen it balanced against betrayal of the most intimate kind.  Life is about striking a balance, and time is an ingredient necessary.

I have had a few things happen lately that I eventually plan to write about, but I’m still trying to sort through what I really feel about them. I believe I am about to lay the last of my history with Chef aside, severing the last real ties I have with that relationship and the life I had with him forever. I have found it surprisingly hard to let this last vestige go, but I feel the time has finally come. No one can live peacefully with one foot planted firmly in the past. It is time to let it all go.

~ Bird

Welcome Back, Chef!

chef on his bikeOnce upon a time, I was happily married to my prince. Over two decades together, we’d settled into a routine that worked for us. Throughout the formative years of our relationship, we’d struggled in almost any area of life you could imagine, and we’d weathered them all. We were a magnificent team…unstoppable. Neither of us thought we had any reason to fear the future. And then, in a blink of an eye, the ride came to a screeching halt, and I was pretty sure one, or both, of us weren’t going to make it out alive. Mainly, I pretty much was sure he wasn’t going to make it out alive.

In April of 2012, I wrote a post called I’m A Casualty In My Husband’s War Against Time. For many months preceding this post, I’d been freaking out secretly about my husband’s sudden addiction to meth, this growing ego he was developing from being blitzed and in an outlaw motorcycle club, fueled on by the sudden realization that young girls can be stupid enough to want to ride on the back of a motorcycle with a man who is talking to his “special friends” that no one else can see (as long as he has a patch), and pretty much doing everything in my power to get him to want to stop using drugs. Turns out, I’m not as powerful as I’d hoped, and I not only failed, but I failed miserably. You can’t help someone who doesn’t want help, and it only took me a whole year and some months to figure that out. In the meantime, I’d suddenly found that in my frenzy to save Chef, I was in fact, losing myself.

While I would definitely describe myself as a very devoted Christian woman, I still have a lot to learn about God, His Son, and what He expects from me. I haven’t been a very good example throughout this drama. I can admit freely that I was pretty sure at the beginning of this crisis I wasn’t going to be. 🙂 It is always easier to know what you should do than it is to actually do it. But I have striven to share honestly, even though some of it was beyond humiliating, and now that life is not so chaotic these days, I’m even beginning to appreciate all that I’ve learned throughout this saga.

Chef has been on a related, yet different journey this whole time, and he had the added misfortune of having pissed off a woman with a blog who doesn’t really give a crap if people judge her, and had no qualms about talking about the most intimate issues a person can possibly have. I’d apologize, but I would probably do it all over again. So, I basically took something awful, painful, and full of big emotions, and broadcast-ed it for the entire world to see. Step by step, I mapped out my journey through hell. And Chef’s head would just explode every time he read about his life on my blog. My therapy was his worst nightmare. 🙂

Chef is sober these days, and has been for a little while now. Lessons – By Bekkie was a cry from Rebekkah, our daughter, for the salvation of the man she calls “Dad” and she describes the desperation she felt at not being able to force him to make the right decisions. I’m happy to say that Chef is saved now. Thank you again for all of your prayers.

I basically summarized the root cause of this whole mess in my post Satan’s Favorite Drug Ever — Meth, and I often prayed that the real Chef from my life prior to October of 2011 would return long enough for me to say good-bye and thank you to, and thankfully that has come too. Chef’s ex-girlfriend had expressed a desire to write a post of this blog outlining her journey, and while I still hope she eventually does it, I’m not holding my breath. I imagine she’s glad this ride is over, too.

Chef is dealing with some hard realities, and each day is taken minute by minute. It must be horrible to have been so out of touch with reality and made so many mistakes that literally decimated the life you once had, for so long, only to have to face it again. Often, he has expressed the desire to have just died in the middle of his meth-haze rather than have to see all the devastation he caused all around him. But, he is doing it. He’s now employed, and finally he is laughing again. Not nearly what I hope he will be in the future, but that crazy sense of humor is creeping back.

I’d like you guys to all welcome Chef back to Earth. We missed you, Chef!

— Bird