Thursday, June 02, 2005

The Story of My Life

I had a nice time yesterday visiting with two of my sons, Josh and Noah. I was only planning on seeing Josh, since we had scheduled our visit two days ago, but Noah decided he needed to "run some errands", so he came with us for a little while.

Josh is almost 20 now. He's been studying computer science at NC State University. He wants to go to UNCC now so he can be closer to home. I like that plan. He's a good guy. Has his own website. He knows a lot more about computers than I'll ever know. He has lived with his dad now since he was about 12 years old, and his dad was working on computers at that time. So, Josh, being the inquisitive kid he was, had his head down inside every computer to see what his dad was doing. Therefore, Josh knows just about everything about computers....inside and out. I'm proud of him.

My middle son, Noah, is a little more complicated than that. I can't quite figure out what he will turn out to be. He is 17, and absolutely full of himself. He plays guitar and sings really well. But, he just can't seem to fit into normal society. (Sounds like a musician to me!) One day, he'll find his niche. Until then, I'll just keep observing and praying for him. He and I argue all the time, because as I said, he doesn't fit the norm. I just keep expecting him to grow up, but it ain't gonna happen just yet. I am proud of him for one thing. He got a job that's cool.

My youngest son, TJ, lives with his dad and step-mom, and they tend to keep him to themselves. I believe they think I might "contaminate" him or something. Oh well, at least I had some special times with him when he was a baby. I know that they are good to him, so that is an encouragement. I think about him every day, and I pray for his happiness. Sometimes, I'll spend a few hours looking at his pictures and crying over my loss. But, I just want him to have a normal childhood, without any "tossing back and forth" between homes, like Josh and Noah had to endure. I would rather go through emotional pain myself than to inflict any pain on TJ.

Anyway, my kids and my family life are a real mystery to most people. So, I'll try to explain it a little better:

When I was 19, young and naive and stupid, I married the first man who would actually go through with marrying me. I had been asked by quite a few, but they were never serious. I was a beautiful girl, but my self esteem was non-existent. Most guys picked up on that and ran over me like a piece of old carpet. Little did I know that my husband would do the same thing. I was always the "victim", and cried myself to sleep at night. It was a miserable marriage. Somehow, through miracles of God or something, I got pregnant twice while we were married. He always said it was my fault for getting pregnant, and at the time, I cowered and cried. I'm stronger than that now, after years of therapy and growing up, but at the time, the situation was terrible. Needless to say, the marriage did not last.

When Josh and Noah were young, I thoroughly enjoyed mothering them. I would read them stories, sing lullabies, play games, go for walks, go to the park, and take vacations with my parents. I was a single mother, working full time, taking them to daycare, playing organ at church, and hoping beyond hope that I would find another husband. I was deeply depressed, and sometimes shouted at the boys over little things. I was exhausted from working so hard, and we had no money. Once again, my life was miserable.

It was at this time that I realized something was up with Josh. Noah seemed to be developing much quicker, so I thought he was a "super baby". But, in some ways, he was passing Josh. I decided to look into getting some tests done on Josh. As it turned out, Josh was diagnosed as Autistic, with tendencies toward Asperger's Syndrome. At least, now I knew what was going on with him. I did my best to research the disability and help him cope from day to day. The internet didn't exist at that time, so it was not that easy.

I eventually started dating again, but those experiences were not always the best in the world. I dated one guy for 2 years, thinking that he would be a great husband for me. The problem was, he was someone else's husband, and refused to venture past the "separation" stage. They had been separated for 5 years, but didn't file for divorce. Weird. I was so stupid to hang around that situation. At least it came to an end, and I quit torturing myself. Other relationships didn't last as long, but they were not very serious either.

My ex-husband got re-married, and I started seeing that my boys were suffering at school and church because they couldn't commit to anything like the other kids. For example, at church, Noah wanted to be in the Christmas musical, but he couldn't be there for every rehearsal, because he went to his dad's church every other week. That was disappointing to both of us, because he had a great singing voice. Also, at school, they would misplace homework and library books and other things, because they didn't know which house they left them at. It was so frustrating for everyone. Lots of times, I ended up paying the total price of library books, because they ended up lost at their dad's.

Also, during this time, I was still going through deep depression, crying myself to sleep at night. I felt so unworthy, because every guy I dated ended up leaving. My life was a failure. I was a church secretary at this time, and confided in the pastors. They encouraged me, and prayed for me, but I was still so blue. I eventually changed jobs, and started working in a more professional environment. I was making better money, but was paying lots of money for daycare. Believe it or not, I didn't file for child support. I was such a doormat.

Since my depression wouldn't go away, and my life was in shambles, I decided to talk to a psychologist. I went to several different therapists, who always said, "How do you FEEL about that?". I would say, "Well, I feel kinda bad, you know?" They just never really helped. My biggest help came from God. He was always there. I spent hours pouring my heart out to God, and writing in my journal.

I was always crying it seemed, and was starting to think the world would be better off without me. Josh and Noah would just have one home, without any worries of being pulled here and there. I contemplated suicide, but just really couldn't bring myself to go through with it. I discussed this with my therapist at one of our sessions, and he immediately set me up with a psychiatrist who put me on medication. It didn't help much, but at least I was crying a little less. My mouth felt like it was lined with leather, so I was constantly thirsty!

During this time, I received a phone call from my high school sweetheart. He was going through separation from his wife, and was lonely. He wanted to see me. Well, I had already ridden that rollercoaster, so I was rejecting him left and right. There was NO WAY I was going to date a married man again. Well, he persisted, and I finally relented. I agreed to meet him at McDonald's and go to a movie from there. (I didn't want him to know where I lived - I wanted an escape, you know!)

As soon as I saw him, my heart turned to butter. God, he was gorgeous! The skinny guy I dated in high school had grown into a muscled mass covered with beautifully tanned skin, topped with a bearded and mustached smiling face. My heart was flipping over and over, and I just gushed. Needless to say, we ended up spending quite a bit of time together. We had dated for about 2 weeks, using every moment of our available time together. Stupid me.....I ended up in bed with him, pushing aside my beliefs because of my loneliness. Big mistake. I ended up pregnant. (Am I a descendent of a rabbit or something?)

Well, we decided to try to make a go of it. I moved into his house and told everyone that we were getting married. I quit my church job, because I felt like such a hypocrite. My ex-husband caused quite a stir, threatening to take the kids and move to Florida. (He's always so supportive, you know.) But, I was holding onto this dream with everything in my being. I wanted a husband, and I wanted this guy to be it. The problem was...once again....he was someone else's husband. And he hadn't even filed for a divorce. Bummer.

Well, this situation was bound to end in catastrophe, and it did. He decided that he didn't want to get married. I lost my job at work, because they were making cuts. I had to keep paying for my insurance through Cobra, which by the way, is very expensive. Since I needed money, I filed for unemployment. I was pregnant, depressed, and was crying myself to sleep again. (I had to quit taking my depression medication because of the pregnancy, of course.) Things were looking pretty bleak. I was still living with "loser guy" because I had nowhere else to go, and I felt like it was his job to take care of me since I was pregnant with his child.

When TJ was born, I was filled with joy. He was such a sweet, beautiful baby, and I mothered him well. I nursed him every day, and watched him grow from just my mother's milk. It was very rewarding. I had found a job as a secretary, and I was pumping milk every day during lunch. I was still hoping that TJ's dad would marry me (I know....stupid!), but it didn't work out. He was too busy trying to find another girlfriend. I got really mad at him when I found a letter from a girl he had visited without my knowledge, and I moved out of his house.

So, here I was, a single mother with three boys now, living at my mom's house without a good job. She was helpful, but constantly criticizing me. She kept saying, "Why can't you keep a man, Sandy?" I just cowered and cried. One day, on the way home from daycare, I wrecked my car - totalled. Man, my life was getting worse by the minute. One good thing did happen, though. I finally started going back to church. I prayed to God, asking Him to forgive me for turning away from Him....and He accepted me, of course. He always has and always will love me....even when I'm a complete idiot.

I got involved at a very large church, and ended up being the interim organist for about 6 months. It was so exciting....the services were all recorded for television, and I felt like life was finally getting better for me. The singles group was so much fun. I made lots of friends, and got back into bible study. It was the best thing I could have done. I found a much better job, bought a new car, and found a house to purchase! God was rewarding me for coming back to Him. Things were looking up. : )

It was at this time that I looked at my life, and realized that it would be better for Josh and Noah to have just one home. I felt sorry for them being pulled back and forth all the time between the two homes. I cried and prayed over it for about 2 years, and eventually told their dad that they could live with him. It was heart-breaking, but I knew I was doing the right thing for them. I would still be able to see them, because he lived just down the road. So, it wasn't that bad.

Also, during those years, TJ's dad grew up. He got divorced, and started dating a really nice girl. They got married, and TJ enjoyed visiting with them and her son from a previous marriage. They were involved in a local church, and TJ's dad was becoming a good Christian man. We were doing the "back and forth" thing, and it was just as hard as it had been with Josh and Noah, but TJ was still very young. The same time I chose for Josh and Noah to live with their dad, I also decided it would be best for TJ to have one home as well. It was a good decision. TJ's stepmom was very good to him, and his dad worshipped the ground he walked on.

Needless to say, I was still lonely. It seemed like everyone else in the world could find a partner but me. I had dated some guys, but nothing ever worked out. I did have a really good therapist, though. Thank God for that. I finally found someone who gave me advice and "exercises" to do. All of my demons were purged, and I was becoming a much more confident person. I ended up joining Together dating service, and dated some nice men that way. Eventually, I put a personal ad on Yahoo, and met my sweet husband, Marvin. That's another story, because Marvin is the love of my life. I'll tell that story later.

Somehow, through the ups and downs of my life, I have maintained my faith in God. It wasn't His fault that I chose to do such stupid things. The bad parts of my life were always in response to my turning away from Him. Whenever I repented and poured my heart out to the Lord, He rewarded me with prosperity.

Some people might judge me and say that it's not prosperous to lose your kids. But, I see things from a different eternal view. I know that God watches over my children every day. I pray for them, and I still love them just as much as I did when they were placed on my belly on the delivery table.

Josh is almost 20 now, and his Asperger's syndrome has made life a little difficult, but he is still successful. Noah, at 17, is going through teenage rebellion, but I know he will grow up to be a good guy someday. TJ is almost 11, and is doing well in school. He seems to be a happy kid.

My boys are sometimes mad at me for not spending enough time with them, but I try to hold back and let them have a normal life with one family. One family has enough troubles of it's own. I sometimes bring them over to the house and we spend a little time together. It's hard to find things to do together now that they are older. They don't want to play games anymore, and they don't want to take walks. They don't want to go to the park and feed the ducks. They make fun of me for knitting and spinning. But, at least we're talking.

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