Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Loving Through Part One

Marriage Series/Week 3!
As if bringing baggage, a past of abuse, and family of origin differences into our marriages isn't enough, here is my story of Loving Through, and I sure hope you stick out this longer post. This will be PART 1, I'll do PART 2 when the topic is PARENTING In Marriage next week.

Since getting married in late 2001, it has been non-stop adjustments, curve balls, and stress. Starting a blended family alone is a lot of newness and stress, but that was the least of all that's gone on.
The day I got home from my Honeymoon, I found out I was being laid off from my job of 5 years. I worked at Fallon Worldwide, one of the best ad agency's ever. It was crushing when I received this news. I mean I was newly married, and had a 7 year old daughter and just lost my job! I had never not worked, despite my health issues. And Kevin got fired from Fallon (that is where we met 9 months earlier), so he was in job transition! He has been through probably 9 different jobs since we met in 2000!!! He has been laid off, fired and has quit many jobs trying to figure out what he wants out of life as far as career goes.

After that, we so desperately wanted to get out of apartment living, so we scored a duplex for a great deal, with the approval of our landlord, as long as we got someone to sub-led it, we were able to move out and into the duplex. We thought that would be no problem what so ever. Well, it was. We never found anyone to rent our apartment and we had already been living in our new duplex for months. We had to turn around and move BACK to our apartment, because we couldn't keep paying 2 rents each month. During that time of stress, my husbands Crohn's disease flared up and he was very sick. I too was in and out of the hospital with surgeries and complications.

Becoming a Step-Father for Kevin was extremely difficult because Madelynn and I already had our life established. So figuring out all the quarks with that, was so difficult, we'd fight so much. We had such different parenting styles and we just couldn't agree. I know that can be a common problem, but we ended up having to settle it by me being the one that was in "charge" and that has worked the best for us.
We were also dealing with my disease, and all the surgeries I had to go through. That puts a major strain on any marriage, let alone a new marriage.

We also went through the death of Kevin's Grandmother, 2 weeks after our Honeymoon!
Kevin's Mother also got Cancer, my brother had a heart transplant(and my dad moved in with us for 5 months as my brother waited for his heart, b/c my dad lived in a different state but moved home til the surgery), Madelynn had Pneumonia and was diagnosed with Asthma, and I couldn't get pregnant (so I was dealing with infertility tests/drugs).

With 5 moves, almost losing our house a couple years ago, medical treatment in a different state, medical bills up the wazoo, my daughter getting lice so bad we had to shave her head, and getting Mono her Freshman year...our 10 years together have been non-stop, and I'm not even mentioning everything!
I can say though that during all these times, and with the stuff I left out, we were in it together. We were close. We were best friends. We moved toward one another. We were a team. We faced these trials and stressers together. Which is the most beautiful of all. Trusting God together and looking toward a brighter future, hoping and knowing that this would pass, and we'd be excited for "this to be over".
Well,  I've learned the hard way that that is the wrong mind-set. We are never really done with the mishaps. After one is over, there will be another one. And I don't say that to be negative, it's just the reality. There is always something next, whether it's car trouble, replacing your heater, buying a house and another house later on, starting a new job, losing a job, or whatever, it keeps happening. And the other thing I've learned? You have to be in it together. 

So here's where things changed. And actually got much much worse.

It started this way. My husband would say odd things to me starting in August of 2005. Things like, my arms were fat. Things like my facial structure is crooked. Things like my butt wasn't big enough. Things like my eyes weren't dark enough brown. Things like I wore too much make-up on our Wedding day and my smile was too big. Things like my lips were wrinkly. Things like my nose was long. Things like my stretch marks looked like Jelly Fish. And on and on and on. Hundreds and hundreds of these comments, remarks and thoughts he had. Things that cut to my core. Things that ripped my heart out. Things that were so brutal that I couldn't handle or comprehend that I would lock myself in my closet and kick and scream and hit myself. I would have screaming matches with not only my husband, but with God. I thought they, my husband and God, had abandoned me. 

What we did was we had been in counseling for some other issues, so we informed our therapist of these bizarre, hurtful, abusive things my husband was saying, and asked her basically what was happening.
Because my husband was not saying these things in a cruel way, even though they were cruel things to say. He was saying them in a nervous, anxious way that scared him.

Our therapist said it sounded like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and sent us to a Psychiatrist straight away.
My husband was diagnosed with OCD like our therapist thought and borderline bi-polar. That's a hard pill to swallow for him, and for me. And unfortunately for my daughter.
My husband went on several rounds of different drugs until finding a protocol that worked, 6 months later, he was settled on one.

The doctor said that the comments and hurtful things my husband was saying to me was his OCD. He said it was coming from embedded fear of not wanting to hurt me or think bad thoughts about me. Well, guess what husband? You ARE going to HURT ME. You ARE going to think BAD THOUGHTS ABOUT ME. You are human. But he had such fear, that when HE DID THINK NEGATIVE THINGS ABOUT MY PHYSICAL APPEARANCE he didn't know how to handle it. He would have the thought, which was the OBSESSION and then TELL ME, WHICH WAS THE COMPULSION. 

Sharing the thoughts with me made him feel better and me feel worse.

His OCD was manifested in my physical appearance and we didn't know what on earth to do! We had no idea how to handle this! I took the things that he was saying to HEART. I THOUGHT THEY WERE TRUE. I WAS DEVASTATED beyond comprehension and thought my life was OVER. This went on for about 9 months, and in those months I had 2 nervous breakdowns, I would scratch my husband and scream and cry, and feel so hopeless. I know I took it the way I did because of my history with abuse from men.
We went to the best Anxiety Disorder doctor in the state, and he really helped us calm down, and he explained all that was happening. It helped me SO much, to be able to grasp some sort of understanding of it.
We were able to stop that awful cycle, and through time, I gained many new perspectives, strength, wisdom, independence, faith like crazy, and I became a fighter. A seeker of all things good, and godly. I would not give up. My marriage had turned completely upside down, and I couldn't understand why. I was alone, desolate, lonely, and felt like trash out on the curb.

But I FOUGHT FOR PEACE AND FOR TRUTH. And I received it, let me tell ya. I had friends and family that were fiercely loving and devoted to me. I had a girlfriend say to me once: "Gina, just because Kevin said it, it doesn't mean it's true." I'm like:
"What? REALLY?" That was so profound to me, and I know it's the simplest thing she said.

I had a God that didn't abandon me but showed me that this world is FALLEN and BROKEN, and so are the people in it.

Here's what I was learning and gained in some of  the darkest days of my life:

-God can take anything ugly and make it beautiful if you allow Him too and trust and hand it over

-You have to MOVE in your walk with God.Yes I believe God is in control over all. But I believe in free will and in being a partner WITH God and taking action. Yes the spirit guides, but we, as humans have our part in it, we need to surrender. I had to figure out a way to find PEACE, AND TRUTH. I did that by sitting before the throne of God constantly, and by reading and by crying and screaming and praying, and asking, and never leaving God alone! I had to receive God's Truth and peace, because it was my only option. The bible became my daily food so literally that if it wasn't for that, I don't know if I'd be here.

-I don't necessarily believe this was "God's plan" for my life. (that is more theology, and if you want email me I can go into further detail)

-My husband needed mercy and forgiveness because he is a fallen, flawed, imperfect man, he needed to be held, and loved and told it was OK and that he was going to be alright. I needed to be his advocate and help him get the help he needed. I needed to see that he wasn't saying these things to be cruel, or mean and he needed me to be tender, even after I heard every thought he had about me

-Mental illness is serious, and needs full attention, not just with medication

-I cared too much about my looks, and I did and still am weaning away from Vanity. I wanted too much approval and admiration from my husband, and a man can't provide all I need and want. Only God can

-My whole WORTH AND DEFINITION IN THIS LIFE COMES ONLY FROM GOD. NOT WHO I AM AS A WIFE, NOT WHO I AM AS A MOTHER, FRIEND, DAUGHTER, OR LOVER. Not in my work, house, car, or clothes. But solely of who I am in God's eyes

-I only need God to find me beautiful and worthy, no one else

-I learned I was extremely Co-dependent and am still in recovery

-I learned that I could not lean so much on my husband, and that I was too emotionally needy and clingy. I had way too high expectations on him, which subconsciously could have triggered his OCD (I am not blaming myself by any means, b/c it was some secrets kevin was keeping that triggered the OCD most likely), and now I have more freedom to be in loving relationship with my God

-When trauma happens in a marriage, anyone can work through it if you are working as partners together, reaching for the same goal/future. But BOTH people have to be in it and working and fighting their way through. Both have to be working separately to be able to work TOGETHER

-It's the hardest, most long suffering, unexpected, miserable, painful, hurtful, confusing times that end up being the times or years that grant you profound wisdom, and growth. These times put so much into perspective. They make at one time "big" things, small. Things like worrying about what school your kid will go to, or flying with a child, or bills, or a parking ticket, or traffic all seem pretty minor. Because those are MINOR things. In the grand scheme of life, they are minor. They matter, they are important, but they are minor. You learn to zooooooooooooooooom out on the things that you are zooooooooooooomed in on that aren't such a big deal.

-That love covers a multitude of sin, and that you learn what agape love is through the most difficult of times in your life. That you learn to love someone despite their ugliness. You learn to love someone even though they are ripping your heart out. You learn to love someone when they are the last person on earth you want to love or pray for or even look at. You learn that love has nothing to do with feelings. You learn that the unlovable are the ones that need love the most and it's the most painful thing to do. You learn that even though you are being shot down, and torn apart, you need to build the other one that is doing these very things to you up and help them be put back together. 

-That this life typically has nothing at all to do with what we want or what we plan, but what we do and how we handle what does happen. Honestly, I don't want any of this life about me. I want to grow, build character, and become more and more like Jesus, AND love others. Even the ones that are the most difficult to love.

-I learned that God meets you where you least expect it. And He can do wonders with you if you let Him. 

-I learned that we can't understand everything with our own common sense. That is why I love the verse Proverbs 3:5-6 Lean not on your own understanding...I mean we simply can not understand all that is happening to us or around us. And we aren't meant too. Why else would we need faith? How else would we build trust? There was no way I could comprehend what was happening to my husband or why, I just needed to find a way through it. It was excruciating, life changing and severe trauma, but I fight my way out. I fought my way out so I could get new eyes, new ears so I could find a new way to live with the madness around me. And today I live a very new, different way than I did then.

-I had no choice but to live as the Beloved child of God, and reclaimed the Truth about who I was through Henri Nouwen and many many other sources

-I learned that if you can't live or function well in your environment you need to do all you have to do to be able too. I stayed at friends and family here and there. I would take breaks from my husband by leaving for a few days to get away by myself. I would FIND MYSELF IN THE CENTER OF GOD'S TRUTH. I would lavish THE BEAUTY THAT GOD HAS FOR ME ON MYSELF AND SOAK  AND BATHE IN THAT. I couldn't "live" anywhere else but in that. The one road said I was garbage, no good, ugly, unloved trash, and the other one said,  I was BEAUTIFUL, PRICELESS, WORTH IT, LOVELY, CHERISHED, AND LOVED.
But I had to CHOOSE that road. The REAL TRUTH was there, but I had to choose it. 

I hope after sharing this you will all still want to read my blog! I know it sounds hard to believe and actually just nuts probably, but this is my marriage story ya know. I've thought about going around and doing speaking engagements about it.
My default is authenticity. I hope that is one of the reasons you read my blog. I am almost an open book, and you all know how much I love to share, and make connections. So maybe one person can take something away from this post, and I can facilitate in their life someway? Who knows. But that is the main reason that I am so open, is to make that difference if possible, to offer something to someone that thing I've been through, in case they are going through it. Thank you all for reading, I appreciate you sticking around, and feel free to email me about ANY of this!

I will do PART 2 next week, and trust me, there IS a part 2!

You can also find me here today!!!

Marriage Series Button

Next week:


Lauren said...

Gina, thank you thank you for being so honest. Wow. Reading your story I thought of nothing but your incredible faithfulness and love for Christ. Though you talked of brokenness, imperfection and failure I saw grace, hope and obedience. YOU are beautiful. I ADORE your blog and am so thankful you are honest. You so inspire me! Love you xx

Rebecca Palm* Gallimaufry Photography* said...

Thank you soooo much for writing this. You are such an amazing, incredibly strong, beautiful and smart woman. I feel like I can really learn a lot from you. I struggle with what I went through and am still going through and you have made me feel less alone. You have also given me some wonderful insight through your words in this post on how I can work through this. Thank you, Gina!!

Creating Through LIFE said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I appreciate you being so open. I find it hard to be that open even with myself. Keep doing what you do! You make more of an impact than you'll probably ever know.

Amy said...

Gina, i love your realness. Your rawness. That you wer able to share your story. Good, beautiful, the bad and ugly too.
God, uses all that to make us who we are. Sometimes, (most times) we have to go through all the pain and suffering to get to the end and see the beauty.... You are a beautiful woman, inside and out. A child of the KING, and what a gift he has blessed you with to be able to share with other woman. I will always continue to read your blog. No judgeing here..... No way!
Keep on keepin it real, and by the way, i am really enjoying your series.

Morgan said...

You are seriously AMAZING, Gina, and I am in awe of you (and, of course, God)! To hear how He's loved you and you've continued to stay married and able to love your husband. Seriously, you are a woman to be praised!

(PS You have at the top that next week's topic is Parenting and at the bottom that it's Communication. It's Parenting, right? At least, that's what I posted. haha!)

ruthy ann said...

wow...what a story...and how beautiful your heart and trust are still with Christ. I've just been hit with massive perspective and I can't tell you how my lens of my own life has changed in just this moment. Thank you for sharing your heart!

Emily Rose said...

You are such an incredible person, Gina. Life threw everything it had at you, and yet you found the strength and guidance to keep on going. This was such an honest post...thank you for sharing.:)

vintch said...

you are such an inspiration, sweet friend. what a story. it reminds me of job...you were under all kinds of stresses and troubles, and just look at how your faith drove you onward. your transparency in this post is so beautiful, and i am beyond honored to call you a friend and a sister in Christ.

Natalie said...

Wow. Thank you some much for being so honest and real Gina! And I pray that you continuously find healing and redemption throughout your life! Grace and Peace =)

Jami Nato said...

girl thanks for being so honest.

chambanachik said...

I probably say "I love your honesty" on every post, but it's true. This was so amazing. I have been so discouraged about some things today, and this really, really meant a lot to me to read. You're phenomenal.

Michelle said...

This post is seriously POWERFUL. I was tearing up as I read it! I truly cherish your honesty. You are such an amazing and inspiring woman, and I can't thank you enough for sharing this! There are not enough words to describe how amazing and inspiring this post is. We need more honest people like you.

Ginas mom..Kathy said...

Gina all I can say is. I LOVE YOU. You are truely remarkable.

Tamera Beardsley said...

Gina thank you for sharing your heart and soul. You have been on my heart this last week as i have found myself in the throughs of parenting my 17, and the difficulties that can arise....and... the effects it can have on a marriage. i have so much respect for your open candor my very Beautiful friend! Sending you so much love!

Janette said...

Oh wow Gina! This was an incredible post and I'm so grateful to have "met" you on here.. Your faith is inspiring and it's an honor to read your story.. There is so much I want to say and I don't even know what to say....I guess the main point I wanted to tackle is that your story is undoubtedly inspiring and that I know it's going to impact many lives.. Speaking engagements would be phenomenal.. Hopefully the Lord opens up doors...


Janette the Jongleur

just tututiny said...

I love the honesty of this post! You are one remarkable woman to have gone through so much and able to share it with the rest of us. Thank you from the bottom of my heart [HUGS]

jennifer blair said...

Wow, what a testimony. I cannot imagine having to go through that, but wow...God really has brought you through! You are such a picture of grace and it amazes me!

Autumn said...

I can't imagine all of that and how hard it would be to wean yourself off of vanity when it is reinforced by your husband's compulsion.

Marriage is difficult, but rewarding. You're an inspiration to stick it out :)

I also tagged you in a question-thingy. Some people do them and some don't- it's fine either way obviously!

Kristen @ Confessions of a GDS said...

Marriage is so difficult in so many ways... if I didn't read this I would never know the strife you have been through. To be honest, it makes me feel a little bit better knowing that others are struggling. Sometimes you can feel like you're the only one, that everyone's perfected appearances match their life. I have been learning that that is not the case. I'm so inspired right now by your strength- you are proof that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger. I too am an open book. I can tell you were meant to touch others lives with your story and be an example for others. Thank you for your courage Gina! xo

Courtney said...

Your openness is so super admirable Gina. I think you are incredibly courageous and love to hear how God is bringing you through every trial! You are beautiful inside and out my dear lady! And I'm anxious to read Part 2...
Lots of love,

Alana said...

Wow. Thank you so much for sharing this very personal part of your life with us. You are beautiful, inside and out.

a girl with a smile said...

You're such a strong woman! I'm so blessed by you Gina

Julie Marie said...

such courage and strength...thats what people have told me. yet at times i have said in my mind... "you have no clue what i have been through." i cherish reading your posts gina.. i love reading such realness (is that a word? haha) and my heart is parallel to yours in many ways...i cant even go into it all, but it brought tears to my eyes reading this, because i thought... " this is what i am talking about... i can relate to this girl." =) perfect!

SymbioticLife said...

You can rest assured that you'll never face judgement from me. I can relate too easily to feeling embarrassment over the painful stuff of our past or even some of the things in our present. I might not understand how you find the strength and perseverance that you clearly possess. I find it amazing and hope that some day I might find that kind of strength and perseverance for myself. I'm sending you nothing but love.

Melanie Lea said...

Gina. WOW.

I didn't even realize that there was a small hole in my gut just growing and growing with...what? Sympathy? Understanding? Familiarity? Awe? The more I read the bigger the hole grew.

You are so strong. And I'm so glad that you realize you are only strong through and because of Christ. Off to read Part 2 now! Thanks for sharing your story : )


3 carltons and 2 kellies said...

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver them out of them ALL!!!

Sister, I am sooooooo glad to hear of your story. It is a vital lifeline of encouragement to me in my own marriage. An absolute answer to BEGGING intercession last night. This used up wife will be used to shine God's love for another day.

Your words have opened my spirit to the truth of love in a way I've never gleaned. My stubbornness and bitterness have no where to hide because of your faithfulness to the LORD JESUS. Your light filled words expose and rebuke lies and dark intentions in my heart when it comes to loving my husband. I thank God for you and ask Him to bless you with an abundance of peace for your honest testimony.

3 carltons and 2 kellies said...

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord will deliver them out of them ALL!!!

Sister, I am sooooooo glad to hear of your story. It is a vital lifeline of encouragement to me in my own marriage. An absolute answer to BEGGING intercession last night. This used up wife will be used to shine God's love for another day.

Your words have opened my spirit to the truth of love in a way I've never gleaned. My stubbornness and bitterness have no where to hide because of your faithfulness to the LORD JESUS. Your light filled words expose and rebuke lies and dark intentions in my heart when it comes to loving my husband. I thank God for you and ask Him to bless you with an abundance of peace for your honest testimony.

Basil. said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! Sometimes in "blog world" I think some people make their lives and marriage look so pristine, which in turn can make your own seem worse and worse. Thank you for showing that every marriage has struggles!

I can relate to so much of this, my husband has OCD as well. He is not the only one in his family who has it, but he is the only one that is willing to do something about it with medication. Several months ago during our move, David ran out of medication. He was out for a solid three months. Somehow in the hectic days it always managed to slip our minds. But those three months was like night and day where our marriage was concerned. while he was w/o his medicine, he would be sad that he needed it, but we just reminded him that the medicine allows you to choose how you feel, and w/o it you aren't able to be yourself. I'm so glad your husband has gotten answers, it is hard seeing someone you love so much deal with OCD.

I can also relate with the Crohns, my dad has crohns and it can really be a hard thing to watch. Thankfully he has it managed now, but he has had countless surgeries, spent my graduation party and thanksgiving days in the hospital, as well as spent weeks at a time in the hospital. Thankfully things are improving, and I hope they are on your end as well! It is also such a hard thing to watch a loved one go through.

Thanks again for sharing so much! And sorry for the novel!

Desiree said...

i am just now having a chance to catch up on your blog.. and this post made me so teary eyed. but i am so so so thankful that you and your husband remained side by side through it. proof is in the puddin'; you are one strong lady. many would've left him, divorced him, instantly. you loved through it. its inspiring to me. <3

Nicole Marie said...


Eimile said...

Wow, you have such an incredible story. Thanks for sharing.