Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Walk On - Storms Don't Last Long!

Today I had the pleasure of being asked to lunch by a very dear cousin. I just do not have enough time or words to tell you how great it was having her for my playmate growing up. We went through childhood sharing some wonderful times as well as our teen years. When I came back to Oklahoma to attend college she was there too. I sang at her wedding and have loved her husband as much as I have loved her for all of her adult life.


Along with her came her sister. She too is so dear to my heart, so much more than she will ever know.  However today when I looked across the table from her I saw something different. The person who used to be vibrant, laughing and giggling and enjoying life was now reduced to someone with the look of hopelessness and despair on her face. I knew that look. Oh believe me I’d seen it before. In fact, I carried that look right after my marriage of 12 years had ended with my husband “coming out.” I was shocked, unprepared, and lost, but more than that I was completely devastated that he was unhappy and wanted out.  


Recovery from that type of betrayal feels impossible. In my case, and in hers now, he left from the marital home and moved right in with the new love. I was replaced without ever even being aware that my position in his life was open for replacement. I trusted him with my very life. I placed my trust and faith in him and yet I was not even cherished enough to have been shared pre-notice that he was going to be exiting my life, the life that was built around him.


Looking at her across that table broke my heart so much that it took me down that portion of memory lane that was probably one of the darkest moments of my life. It hurt me to see her in so much emotional pain because I knew exactly how low she feels, I’ve been in that portion of the lower bows of that ship! Suddenly, I couldn’t help myself and I began telling her that I understood. I just felt I HAD to tell her that she was not alone and not experiencing something that was unrecoverable. My heart had to let her know that she could come out of this a happier, healthier, completely independent woman who would NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER have to depend on someone else for survival or self-worth. When someone leaves you and never spends a day alone, leaves you and moves in with a lover, it is a blow that completely destroys ones self-worth. You feel like dirt! You feel like you were an object that was replaceable when it got old, or sick, or worn. Depression grips your very being to the point that this is the stuff that causes some people to feel so lost, desperate, alone, and in such a deep dark emotional hole, that they actually end their lives. I know this because when it happened to me; I did just that!  


When I finished high school and began college I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t date until I had my degree. Once I had that degree in my hand I dated and found what I thought was the love of my life. When I took my wedding vows I was taking them for life, or so I thought. We married, had children, and I became a stay at home Mom for eight years. What I didn’t know was that when you are out of the work force for that long the degree, which hasn’t been utilized, seems obsolete.  That perfect plan I had made and followed for my future security had just fallen out from under my feet. I simply had no marketability.


When he left, my husband took with him the mode of survival for not only me but also our sons who were 9, 7, and 4 years of age at that time. It would be months before he actually gave any financial assistance to help feeding and supporting the kiddos and I never utilized government assistance either.  In fact, most of their childhood child support was something I never came to expect. If ask when he was going to send it and the response was always "when I get it, you'll get it!" If that were truly the case he would have starved to death. 

I applied for jobs but couldn’t find one in what was a tough work market at that time. The bottom had fallen out of the oil and gas industry and there were huge numbers of unemployed seeking jobs, the same jobs for which I was applying after being out of the work force year after year while staying home raising children. My sister-in-law, Joann provided me a job at a daycare as a daycare teacher (babysitter.) I made $5.00 per hour BEFORE taxes were withheld. I was diagnosed with breast cancer two weeks after the split-up as well. I had some big trouble too; I had three wonderful human beings that called me momma to feed on five bucks an hour! It was a scary place to be and I feared most letting them down! We didn't have much for a while but we did have each other. They are still my most precious treasures in life. They were my reason, my only reason for living in that dark time of my life. Even today, my three oldest have no idea just how deeply agonizing it was for their mother to provide for all of us. There were some pretty agonizing times. 

While working at the daycare I began receiving counseling to help me cope with my depression. I'm a believer in counseling because it made such a huge difference for me. It was so deep I can’t even explain the depth of my belief that I would never know happiness, TRUE happiness ever again. I was sure I would be alone for the remainder of my life and folks, unless you have experienced that depth of limitless you have no clue what the fear of being alone does to a person! My counselor, knowing I was  a singer who was just getting my feet wet in the music scene, gave me a directive; pick a song every week that is closest to the way you feel in your heart, then record it and return to the next counseling appointment with it in hand. I did and we would listen to the song. The very first song I can still remember recording. It was difficult to even speak the words. It was a song made popular by Reba McEntire titled; For My Broken Heart. It goes like this;


There were no angry words at all
As we carried boxes down the hall
One by one we put them in your car
Nothing much for us to say
One last goodbye and you drove away
I watched your tail-lights
As they faded in the dark
I couldn't face the night in that lonely bed
So I laid down on the couch instead

Last night I prayed the Lord my soul to keep
Then I cried myself to sleep
So sure life wouldn't go on without you
But oh this sun is blinding me
As it wakes me from the dark
I guess the world didn't stop
For my broken heart

Clocks still tickin' life goes on
Radio stil plays a song as i try to put my scattered thoughts in place
And it takes all the strength i've got to stumble to the coffe pot
The first of many lonely mornings i'll have to face
You called to see if i'm ok i look out the window and i just say:

Last night I prayed the Lord my soul to keep
Then I cried myself to sleep
So sure life wouldn't go on without you
But oh this sun is blinding me
As it wakes me from the dark
I guess the world didn't stop
For my broken heart

I guess the world ain't gonna stop
For my broken heart


The next week was a song that had been recorded by Trisha Yearwood; Walkaway Joe. Each week the songs were recorded and each week we would listen to the songs, examine the lyrics and discuss my heart-felt thoughts and feelings. It was tough work too, just listening to some of those songs cut like a knife in my chest. Each week for nearly seven months the songs were different but the last song I recorded, was as follows;


Oh ain't life wonderful
When everything is right
But sometimes wonderful
Can fall apart sometimes
When your troubles knock you down
Pick yourself up off the ground and

Walk on
Walk on
Nothing ever stays wrong that long
Walk on
Oh walk on
Don't just stand there in the storm
Walk toward the light till you find the sun
And you'll be better off in the long run
And walk on

Oh it's a heartache when love comes to an end
But even though your heart breaks
You know it's gonna mend
Keep the faith right through goodbye
And don't you ever break your stride

Walk on
Walk on
Ohhh walk on
Walk on
Oh walk on


I’ll never forget laying on a gurney in the hospital emergency room just two days after my husband left our house and in with his lover. I had taken every pill I could find in my house during the time when I was lower than I’d ever been. I was so low I couldn’t see anything in my future, I was so low that I thought my sons would be better off without a looser mother who was having a horrible time just keeping a roof over their heads! I was hopeless! I was so low that the darkness surrounded me and overtook my mind. The precious, beautiful woman I saw sitting across the table from me today reminded me of myself on the day I wanted to stop living. The darkness was so overwhelming that I didn't even see the ones who were so precious and valuable to me, my sons!

My Aunt Linda, who died some years ago, somehow found out I had attempted suicide and she showed up at the hospital. Wow! I had no realization until that very moment just how much I was loved by so many people. She said; “I can’t believe this, anyone but Janice, she seemed so strong, I would have never guessed she was so depressed.” She was right too, I was a pretty good actress to those around me. However, I couldn’t hide from myself! People came in and out of the treatment room talking to me. My father, who has never had a whole lot to say to me on a deeply emotional level said something that broke through the hard exterior of my depression and rang in my head like echoing after yelling into the Grand Canyon; “Sis, you’re life isn’t over it’s just begun. You are now given the opportunity to make decisions for your life that you should have made a long time ago. You are feeling abandoned by one man while you have those three boys who adore and worship you!” I’ll never forget my father’s words, or the way he held me in his arms that day in that ER treatment room. It literally saved my life!

On the heels of my Dad’s conversation, my ex-husband showed up. Apparently, as I was being worked on by emergency staff he was called about insurance by the I hospital insurance staff. He was the LAST person I wanted to see. However, I will never forget his comforting words (sarcasm)“I figure you did this to get my attention so here I am, what do you want?" 

Hearing those heartfelt, compassionate words coming out of his mouth I found a new strength and I answered his question; FOR YOU TO GET OUT! He and I are friends now and have been for many years; but in those first months and especially on that day, he was my poison! He had no idea what his betrayal and years of secret life had done to me. More than that, he didn't care that I had been emotionally destroyed. It wasn't until years later when someone he loved did the same thing to him did he understand the deep hole he'd put me in with his betrayal. When it happened to him he came and found me, and apologized because it was then that he found himself in that deep, dark hole of loathing and hopelessness. I remember the very moment he apologized to me! We both cried! Then, I put my arm around him and assured him that even though his heart was breaking, he could get through it as I had. But...recovery and a return to hapiness wasn't something I could see either the day I tried to take my life!

At that very moment I heard those words;“Sis, you’re life isn’t over it’s just begun.” I made myself a promise I would NEVER NEVER NEVER find myself in that position again. I had to find a way to depend on me, just me, for my own existence both financially and emotionally. I did too! Today, had it not been for going through the struggles I have faced I would not be the person I am today. This person is not only loved by a man who would give his very life to save mine, but I am also loved by myself. Then, I didn't think I could ever love again nor did I feel I was lovable to anyone else. However, today I have an enormous capacity to love, so much so actually that I have nine children now, and have shared my heart with an additional 23 children as a foster mom. I am confident and strong and that confidence and strength didn’t come easily. It took years of putting myself back together. It still takes time upon occasion to re-group after things trigger old hurtful memories, but I rebound and I go on. Oh, there are days that I get upset with life, like when my car don't start or when the car door won't open from the inside, but those are so minor now that they are only hick-ups and not major upsets. 

We all need to remember that there are people all around us who have heavy hearts, depression, and hopelessness. We need to be ever vilagent to not let them pass by us without notice and fall through the cracks. We need to reach out to help in a positive way. And we must never forget to be ever mindful of how we treat other people. 


My prayer today is for this precious human being I saw struggling today. I tried to give her a pep talk while also advising her that she needed a life plan. To recuperate from her devastating losses she needs to put her energies, all she can muster, into rebuilding and setting herself up for independence! To her let me say this;
Don’t just stand there in the storm, walk toward the light till you find the sun, and you’ll be better off in the long run, and;

Walk On! 


Oh...,and one more thing...your sister truly had no idea that her/your cousin was going to say those things today! She was as surprised as you were! It wasn't a set-up nor was it planned that way. I just wanted you to know that things really DO get better with work!

2 comments:

  1. Janice this is a very moving story and I'm glad you were able to recover and take care of so many needy children. You are truly an amazing and inspirational women of God. Bless you and your family.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment Melissa. Please share the post with others as we never know who around us may be going through a life-storm that seems unrecoverable and hopeless.

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