This picture really sums up the first half of our marriage. It was pretty stormy with periods of calm. You could see calm, but couldn’t quite get there. There was so much baggage that we weren’t equipped to deal with that we went from one band-aid to another trying to fix multiple gunshot wounds. The band aids would look like they were working, but really they were just delaying dealing with the problems.
There was no sign of any real problems until our first child was born. Then postpartum depression set in. Neither of us knew what was going on or why. No one who knew us seemed to know either. Part of this was we were both good at masking what was going on. The people we went to church with, our neighbors and my in-laws never really saw the turmoil behind the scenes. postpartum depression effects everyone in the home. If no resolution is found it inevitably wears down one party and drives a wedge. If we had known then what was happening I believe we could have avoided what was to come.
Things were so bad at home and so strained between us that I decided to try something I toyed with doing for some time, drive truck. When I told her what I was doing her only response was ” how long will you be gone ?”. I told her two weeks of school then back home and three weeks with a trainer then home again. She said “great, good luck” and that was it. Honestly, the decision was as much to get away from her and have room to breath and figure out what on earth was going as it was to try something that interested me. When I was home everything was great, but the underlying storm was still there, you could sense it but couldn’t quite put a finger on it. Being gone saved our marriage then, but pushed off the inevitable, not fixing anything.
Three years after our first-born she told me she was pregnant with our second. I was pretty excited about it. She wasn’t very thrilled with being pregnant again and was less thrilled with my excitement. What she didn’t tell me then was she was stressed over the health implications she knew was on the horizon and I would be gone for days and sometimes weeks at a time. She was looking at facing this alone, with the exception of her great-aunt and mom. A couple of times my mom came down to help or my sister came up, but I still wasn’t there.
At one point, a couple years after our daughter was born, I was so fed up with the way things were going and her pushing me away that I told her if she wanted out fine, that had to be better than this. I would be home the next weekend, think about it and let me know. That week God really beat me up over that. That next weekend she confessed that she was pushing me away on purpose. In her mind, from what she had seen in her family, I ( the husband ) would leave anyways and it would be her fault so might as well get it over with sooner than later. I was floored with this line of thinking. I told her I was more committed than that and wasn’t leaving. All seemed OK for a bit.
Some ladies at the church we had recently started attending were involved in a home based business. They recruited Amber and she jumped in, all the way in. Once she became a business competitor she was a threat. Instead of helping each other they circled the wagons and tried to scold her. This failed miserably and only spurred her to work harder. The people above her didn’t show her how to build the business for long-term growth and stability, only how to meet short-term monthly and quarterly goals. She did great and reached the point where she was earning more than I was. We agreed that when she earned the mid-level car I would come off the road and help her with the kids and the business. What I didn’t know was the lack of foundation of her business and organization or the stress that she put herself under to excel. This would soon have a tremendous cost.
In about six months of me being home she missed a benchmark for the top-level car and fell into a depression. She masked it well, I wasn’t as attentive as I should have been. Honestly I was struggling with being home, the business taking priority over everything and constant trips, parties and meetings. We were more distant at this time then we were at any previous point. She made hail marry attempts to sell product and make money that completely undermined any foundation she had. My not paying attention to the books & letting her manage the finances led to a total collapse of her business, her mental breakdown that she mentioned when she took the sleeping pills, loss of the home and bankruptcy.
I was completely blindsided by the whole ordeal. The more I tried to unravel what had happened the less sense it made. While she was at a state facility due to the IVC I was seeking out legal counsel. The predominant advice I got was file for divorce, we can pretty much isolate you from any financial responsibility and get you custody. Thankfully the 6 months leading up to this I had the chance to hook up with some men in the church. I knew this advice was wrong, it didn’t sit well in my spirit. I chose to go back to work and file bankruptcy assuming full responsibility.
Once she was discharged and came home, things seemed just as confusing as before. She either couldn’t remember or had a distorted view of what took place. Her doctor said this was normal with her diagnosis and to never expect a clear answer that made this all make sense. Everybody in her family, except her mom turned on her. They completely shut her out as the black sheep and blamed her as being the only one responsible for the house being lost. They turned her great-aunt against her, the lady who predominently raised her, and secretly had legal papers drawn changing power of attorney behind her back and wouldn’t let her visit unsupervised by a relative who took written notes of the visit. At a time when she needed family the most they turned on her. The ironic thing is they ended up losing a good deal financially over not listening to what we told them and they still have shut her out. Thankfully my family helped even to the point where my parents sold their paid off home and moved to NC to be near us to help.
Although we could sort of see light on the horizon the storm was still threatening and I could feel something more coming but didn’t know what. At this point God had seen us through and I still had a peace that made no sense. In this time of turmoil my relationship with Him grew, my faith grew stronger and grew more full of the Spirit. It was desperately needed for what was coming next.