Sunday, March 18, 2007

Is It Worth It?

Before you read this, please understand that statements and thoughts made pertaining to particular situations are my own. Everyone has their own reasons for what they do and why they do it. I am not condemning anyone for believing differently. I mean no offense to anyone.
It was a long time ago. In the early Fall of 2004, actually, but it seems much longer than that.
It was a Friday afternoon, and no one else was at home. My work schedule was such that, every Friday, most of us went home at noon. So I was the only one home. The kids were at school, and I have no idea where my wife was. Gone, somewhere, as usual. She managed to keep herself quite busy. At least, she didn’t have time for me, that’s for sure. Perhaps this was one of the reasons for what I was feeling that day.

Despair. Depressed. Unloved. Unwanted. Unappreciated. Lonely.

So, I just sat there, on the edge of my bed in my bedroom. Holding that .380 in my hand. The clip held 5 rounds, and it was full. I knew I’d only need one, and would only be able to use just the one. But the clip was full anyway. It just seemed like the thing to do.

I held it in my hand, and while resting my elbows on my knees, pressed the barrel just under my chin. One shot, that’s all it would take. I thought how convenient it was that all I had to use was that .380. Just enough to do the job, without the messiness of a larger caliber.

The .380 was given to me by my older brother several years ago, right after our house had been broken into. He thought we could use the protection. I’d never owned a firearm before. Didn’t need one. With my extensive martial arts training, I didn’t have much use for one. Until now.

As I sat there, holding the gun, playing with it and pressing it to my skin, I thought how easy it would be, to just be rid of all the feelings, pains and heartaches, and the crap of the world. Just one little “pop”, and I’d be face to face with Jesus. That thought appealed to me.

Then I started thinking about the people I knew of who had dealt with their own problems this very same way. I reminded myself how I felt about what they did. My feelings had always been that suicide was the coward’s way out. It meant you are weak, not strong enough to see things through and work it out. Well, you know something? That just isn’t me.

I also thought about my family. Is this how I want my children to find me? Is this how I want them to remember me? No, I don’t. I decided I wanted to see my son grow into a man, and step out into the world as an adult, and to be there to assist him when, or if, he needs help. I had been singing with the church choir for several years, sang on the worship teams, too. I had often thought about how much I would love to sing at my daughter’s wedding someday. “Butterfly Kisses” was our song. I would love to sing that for her on her special day. How could I possibly miss that? There was so much to look forward to, but so much to run from. And I was running.

My marriage was ending. I knew that. I had seen it coming for several years. I just didn’t know exactly when it would happen. I had done all I could think of to make it work. I tried everything. I read every book I could find on marriage and fatherhood, books by Gary Smalley, Tim LaHaye, Josh McDowell, Dave Simmons, Bill Hybels, Steve Farrar, etc. I went to seminars, meetings, bible studies, anything to learn how to become a better husband and father. I actually applied all that I had learned. I learned and I grew, and I changed, I felt, for the better. My desire was to be the man God wanted me to be. For my kids and for my wife. I felt no love for my wife. I hadn’t for a long time. I tried, but it was getting harder and harder to do all the time. She had done enough over the years to squelch any feelings for her I may have had years ago. But that’s another story. The bible doesn’t say I have to be in love with my wife, just that I am to treat her in a loving way. I did that. I tried as hard as I could to love her, but it is difficult when the one you are trying so hard to love, refuses to receive it from you (by the way – that last statement has nothing to do with sex). I used to bring her flowers for no reason, and hide notes and cards for her all around the house. It wasn’t enough for her, nothing worked. It was somewhat disheartening to come home and find those flowers and cards in the trash can, on the same day I gave them to her.

She refused to acknowledge me or my accomplishments, or my efforts. She refused to offer me even the slightest bit of affirmation. She had no respect for me what-so-ever. (She actually told me that). She continuously talked me down to family and friends, whether I was around, or not. There was no pleasing her. Her actions and words told me that I couldn’t do anything well enough for her, that I did not matter to her and that I didn’t make enough money for her. She basically just didn’t like me at all. True or not – that’s how she made me feel. So, I was wanting out. Way out.

Then I also realized – I am none of those things she was making me out to be. I’m better than that. Besides, she isn’t worth killing myself over. In any sense of the word.

Like I said, I knew the marriage would end soon. I just didn’t yet know the details. My own wife refused to talk to me or spend any time with me. She had actually told me that she and the kids would be better off if I wasn’t around at all. So I started spending more time playing golf, working out at the gym, and nurturing friendships from work and church. I had survived a gun-shot wound to the face back in 1982, and my pastor had told me that God must have a major plan for my life.

Still sitting there, gun in hand, I thought about what that pastor had said. Did God have something special in store for me? If so, I’d never find out what it is if I pull that trigger. Besides, I had worked way too hard on myself to just throw it all away now. So I put the gun back in a box and hid it in the garage. I put it in a place where no one (especially the kids) could find it or reach it.

My wife finally divorced me. She said she thought it would be a good idea if we lived apart for awhile and asked me to move out. So I did, and she had me served on that very day. Remember – she had said she refused to get an attorney, and refused to be the one to file for a divorce. I guess I was just slow learner when it comes to her.

Close friends that knew her well told me she had been planning it for a long time. She just needed an excuse. She accused me of having an affair, threw me out of the house, and filed for divorce. There was no room for discussion. Her mind was already made up. There was no affair. I started eating right, working out, losing weight, trying to make myself more appealing to my wife. I changed my outlook on life and trusted God more and decided to have a positive attitude about things. As a result, I became a much happier person. Losing 40 pounds in 4 months helped too. But none of that mattered. Because I lost so much weight in such a short period of time and seemed happy all the time, I was accused of doing drugs and running around. None of which was true. My ex-wife just needed an excuse and she now had all she needed. She even concocted some rather horrendous stories to back up her claims. People (who should know better) actually believed her outrageous lies.

Throughout the entire marriage my family, my parents mostly, couldn’t understand why I stayed married to such a person for so long. The answer is simply that the Bible gives us strict guidelines for marriage and divorce. So for “better or for worse”, I was sticking to it. My mother often told of how she could have handled raising 10 more kids like me, saying I was the good kid and was so easy to raise (I can only imagine how this made my brother and sister feel). Both of my parents had even said that I was the only one of us kids that could be fully trusted. It was always like that (if you want the truth about anything, just ask Alpha Dude). They had even gone so far as to let it be known that they did not trust my children’s mother at all. “She’s sneaky and dishonest”, my mother would say. But all that was about to change.

In her trial brief presented at the divorce hearing, I finally learned what my now ex-wife had been telling everyone. This woman had, by this time, run up a debt in excess of $125,000 (using credit she acquired in my name without me knowing about it), sold my horse and kept the money (they used to hang people for that, didn’t they?), emptied our savings account (and accused me of stealing it) and told scores of other untruths and fabrications. Her trial brief was 9 pages long and each page contained stories of things that she herself had actually done, but was now blaming me for each one. The really weird part? The courts and my own family believed her! They bought into all of it! I had presented the judge with a stack of documented proof of the truth. The court wouldn’t even look at it. Apparently, in California, they believe the mother/wife and turn against the father/husband. If you’re the guy, you are automatically considered guilty. All I could do was just sit there, wide-eyed and dumbfounded. I just couldn't believe this was happening.

Later, I found a scripture in my daily morning devotional. It sure makes sense, but it doesn’t make things easier to swallow.

Ecclesiastes 8:14-15
14And this is not all that is meaningless in our world. In this life, good people are often treated as though they were wicked, and wicked people are often treated as though they were good. This is so meaningless!15So I recommend having fun, because there is nothing better for people to do in this world than to eat, drink, and enjoy life. That way they will experience some happiness along with all the hard work God gives them.

Wow. Solomon really knew what he was talking about!

Eventually, work opportunities took me to the mid-west. I accepted the job since my parents had turned against me by this time. I could not speak to them about anything without some sort of jab from them and they’ve said some rather horrible and hurtful things to me about things they really don’t know about. Remember all those years of building such an awesome relationship with my step-dad? Gone. The relationships and trust I had with my entire family had been completely destroyed. I also wasn’t allowed the visitation the courts gave me. My children’s mother ignored the court order and the authorities didn’t seem to care. I figured I could fly out to see them every month or two, since that’s all their mother would allow anyway. Yeah, I was wrong about that too. Now she’s moved to a different house with my daughter, never told me about the move, and refuses to tell me where they now live. She also interferes and prevents phone calls with my daughter as much as possible. There is no reason for this!

Some may say that I still lost everything. My ex-wife took it all. The house, the furniture, the money (she emptied our savings and ran up credit debt in excess of $125,000), and the kids (that is the hardest part). I was lucky to escape wearing my own skin. My credit score went to crap!

And you know something?  God is still on the throne.  He is the One who is in control of my life.  The perfect woman is out there somewhere (perfect for me, anyway), and God knows who she is, and He knows where she is.  So I believe the smart thing for me to do is to get as close to God as I can, and when He is ready He will reveal to me who she is.  Until then, I will wait on His perfect timing.

So – is it worth killing yourself (committing suicide) to escape your problems?
No, it isn’t. It is just a permanent solution to a temporary problem. And, it is selfish.

Is it worth it to have everything stripped away, to be punished and condemned for something you didn’t do?
Yes, it is. Because God’s blessing is waiting for you at the end. (If you have trouble believing that, just look what Jesus did for us at the cross).

I still miss my kids terribly. I look at their pictures and ache for them every day.
Maybe someday their mother will stop interfering with the visitations and allow me to actually spend some time with them.


my4kids said...

Oh my Alpha Dude.....I am really glad you didn't commit suicide! It made my heart hurt to read that part of your story....I am glad you found someone who loves you in spite of your faults...we all deserve that.
Your story hits me also because in ways it reminds me of my dad but many years ago before I ever came along. He had a wife and 2 small children everything seemed fine but according to family (now) she never really cared for him like she should and what she did proved it. He was in the Navy and it was during Vietnam after a 10 month (note the time) he came home to be served with divorce papers from his wife who was 8 months pregnant. She took the kids, told many lies (he still is not in touch with them now because of that). He turned right around and chose another tour of duty. He was Navy but part of a special team so he was lucky to come back the first time and wasn't expecting to come back the next. He met my mother shortly after comming back the second time and they have been hapilly married for 35 years now.
Anyway his family figured out what she had done and they are okay now.

Gerbil said...

Actions speak louder than words... eventually. Keep the faith. Evetually those who need to see will be able to.

Anonymous said...

What a pain filled time for you. I know you are well on your way. Sounds like you are in the healing process. But how much can you heal when you don't get to see your babies? I hope God will move mountains for you to be able to see your children more often. They need the influence of their father in their lives. It breaks my heart.

The suicide thing. It is such a real thing. I understand where you were coming from. I also understand why you didn't just do it. God bless you, there is a purpose in your life, or you would not be here. I think it is in Gen 50ish...somewhere...Joseph is talking to his brothers and the understanding tone he is using and the words he is saying to his brothers are so healing..."You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good...." I am sure you know the verse, for some reason I can't quote it right now and don't have a Bible here at work.



That Chick Over There said...

Oh Dude...

I'm so sorry to hear about this, mostly about the children, of course.

I trust that someday they will be able to see the truth. That you DID want to be part of their lives and their mother wouldn't allow it. I would have gladly let my ex-husband have a relationship with my two, but he decided he didn't want to be bothered. Thankfully, they are not hurt by that, but I could how easily they could be. :(

You're right though. You do have a reason for being here.

Katrina A. said...

He is a God of restoration. It's obvious He has restored so much to you in the things that matter, i.e. love, joy, peace, etc.... But I can't imagine not being able to see my kids. Ya know, kids are pretty smart, they probably see things a lot clearer than the adults do sometimes. Just pray that God will gaurd their hearts and He will bring the truth to light eventually. I'll be praying for complete restoration in the meantime.

Anonymous said...

My own personal experience left me exhausted after getting shut down at every turn to pursue the relationship I desired with my child for 12 years. I was numb and didn't know how or what to feel. I ended up taking that and told God that I couldn't deal with it any more. I told him that the weight was too heavy and I gave the problem to him, and how ever it turned out would be fine with me. I took a year to heal myself and accept the relationship-visitation my child seemed to want (14 yo). I didn't try to contact my child for a year. I did send cards and called rarely. When I saw my child again I felt sincerely that what ever was there I could accept. It didn't start out real smooth but today we have a wonderful relationship the kind I once could only dream of and I have a BEAUTIFUL grandchild. Your tremendous faith is reflected in your writing you will have a relationship with your kids. I enjoy reading your blog, I also enjoy reading your witness.

Amy W said...

My heart aches for you and your kids. Glad you are here to tell your story.

Alpha Dude 1.5 said...

Thank you.

Anonymous: I really wish I knew who you are. Your kind words deeply touched me.

Thank you. All of you.
(Even if you didn't leave a comment,that's okay, thanks for being here.)

HeiressChild said...

i'm catching up my reading on the blogs. i'm reminded of the Bible verse which says, "don't be weary in well doing, for you shall reap if you faint not." i'm going thru something similar and i'm holding on to hope and not fainting.