16. Breathing fire

Photos taken 9/2014, 2 years ago, as I prepped to fly with the U.S.A.F. Thunderbirds. thunderbirds-hero-shot-favorite

It was September of 2014. I had been in Boise for 5 months. My husband had graduated four months earlier. Work was still my joy. My newsroom still my family. The Thunderbirds were coming to town and the three local news stations had received word they’d choose one reporter to fly with them in an F-16. My newsroom told me to apply. I was excited, although I remember being worried, thinking to myself that I might have to quit before the flight if I was moving to Washington D.C., but I applied. Ruthanne’s husband was in the Air Force, and they were so excited about the possibility of me flying with the Thunderbirds. 

Not feeling Evan Mcmullin would really be okay with me sleeping on his floor, I waited for word from my husband to tell me to quit and move out. During that waiting period, I reached out to those I knew in D.C. broadcasting, as well as agents, but the call from my husband to move never came. Instead, a couple weeks later, he told me he couldn’t find a job in Washington – or no one was offering him the job he wanted – so he was going to come back west. He realized he wanted to start his own business now. He had no money or job, but made sure to tell me he would not live with me. He said he’d stop in for a visit on his drive back to Salt Lake City. 

It was apparent to me that had I not taken this Boise reporting job I would be destitute and homeless. But he didn’t see it that way. He continued to tell me constantly that I left him. It didn’t matter how understanding, trusting and patient I had been with his job search. I was still a bad wife for leaving, our separation was my fault, and he made sure I knew that. Taking responsibility for his life always seemed like such a painful task- and I was always on the losing end of his blaming.

I was getting angry.  Anger is not something I feel often. I’m comfortable with sadness, or feeling hurt, or feeling stressed out, but not anger. Anger has always made me uncomfortable. But I was starting to feel it more and more. I was definitely getting angry.

He arrived as promised, his car full of his belongings, but he’d bring nothing into our apartment. He brought a duffle bag of stuff inside, but went to his car daily when he needed something. I won’t forget this. I wondered if he felt afraid to bring anything in—that it might imply he was settling in, and he wanted me to know he wasn’t.

He came with me on a couple of my on-location live reports. He ran into friends and he bragged about me—his reporting wife. It felt so good and so confusing. He always bragged about anything that made him look good. He took photos of me doing my thing, and told me I was doing a great job. That made me feel good, and my anger softened a bit.

A few days into his visit, I was so excited to learn I had been the reporter chosen to go up with the Thunderbirds! Ruthanne and her husband Bill were so excited too!. My husband was planning on taking off to Salt Lake City and couldn’t come, but my mom was planning on coming to watch my flight and so was my cousin. I had to get all of their social security numbers together and personal information to the Air Force. Security was tight. A couple days before the flight, my husband decided he’d stay. I was so grateful he’d changed his mind. So excited. So happy. I sent them his information. I was ready to fly!

It was a very special day and my husband made me feel so good. He posted about it on social media, something he rarely did when it came to me. It made me question my anger.

With my heart softening I felt like it was a good time to ask him again that night after the show if he wanted to stay longer. If he would consider staying in Boise while he looked for a job, or work for his friend who lived there for a bit while he got his business going. “Lauren, my future is not in Boise. You left me,” he said. so much for softening- some things never change and he was one of them.

All my calmness went out the window. I started getting teary. “I can’t do this any longer,” I explained. I was honest. “This feels horrible. I’m not okay. I’m so tired of being blamed, and I don’t know how to fix anything.  All I’ve been trying to do is fix what’s wrong. Do you want a divorce?”

He ignored my question as if I didn’t exist, as if I wasn’t even in the room. So I switched it up to a statement. “I think I want a divorce if we’re not going to live with each other.”

“Why are you doing this to me right now. You left me,” he said again. Over and over, same old story even as I tried to make it work. He walked out and slammed the door.

And then it hit me— kindness in a moment isn’t love. There was never any consistency. It’s why I felt bi-polar sometimes. I’d be so angry at his choices and how he blamed everything on me, but then I’d feel so bad I had felt angry when he showed me some kindness—even the smallest  amount. I shamed myself for feeling the anger I was feeling. Instead, I should have been listening to my emotions more clearly. They were telling me the truth. Someone being nice to me “sometimes” isn’t someone who is kind. Someone choosing when to be nice, or being nice only when it benefits them or makes them look good, is someone who is controlling- it’s someone giving love out in measurements. It’s not love at all- it’s manipulation. I so was angry that he would lead me on by showing me some small measure of kindness, and then impressively blame me for it daily when he failed to listen or compromise about anything.

Throughout all of this, Ruthanne and I were talking daily—whether in texts or phone calls. I was really relying on her. Here are some of those texts between the two of us. I think it’s the best way to explain my mindset, where I was, what I was feeling—the anger—and how I was processing everything and progressing in my marital decisions. (all names other than ours are blurred).

text-ruthanne-1text-ruthanne-2text-ruthanne-3text-ruthanne-4text-ruthanne-5

text-ruthanne-6

text-ruthanne-7text-ruthanne-11-or-somthingscreen-shot-2016-09-18-at-1-21-38-pmtext-ruthanne-9text-ruthanne-13-or-somethingtext-ruthanne-10

I was angry. It felt good to be so angry. Anger shows us where our boundaries are, and what we’re passionate about. Anger teaches us what we believe needs to change in the world, or in our lives, and stirs us into action. Anger is rarely talked about in a healthy way when it comes to females. As women, we’re taught to be soft and kind, or to have empathy and understanding. … but anger … even in Proverbs it warns of angry women.”It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” But where in Proverbs does it talk about the man, or people, who drove us there? … So often, when women discover our anger, we’ll be accused of being bitchy, or dramatic. Or in my case it would always be: “There’s no love in your voice.” “You’re crazy.” or “Why can’t you show me some charity?”  

I make no apologies for my anger. When you’re carrying all the weight in a relationship you have every right to be angry, especially when you’re constantly being blamed for not doing enough or for causing someone else to feel a certain way. I’ve learned this since my divorce: stand up for yourself when someone unfairly blames you for all the problems in a relationship and stay strong and true to yourself. Do not be afraid to breathe fire. Use your anger to be assertive and to advocate for yourself, even when it feels uncomfortable and difficult. My ex-husband believed I caused him all his pain and misery (even unrelated to the marriage), that I left him even as I constantly tried to make it work, that I was responsible for his happiness and welfare. That’s absurd and childish, as Ruthanne correctly pointed out. We need to own our behaviors in any relationship and stay responsible for our actions and for who we are. I am not responsible for you or anyone, nor will I ever be. I will, however, love you if you authentically love me back (so manipulative and inconsistent love doesn’t count here). Just don’t ask me to always make you happy or to take away all of your pain. That’s your problem and an incredibly immature and impossible request for any human being to fulfill.

I was now very close to finding the courage to go through with the divorce.

The “BREATHE FIRE”quote was written in August, 2015, referencing Christian reality star Josh Duggar’s infidelity, and the situation his God-fearing wife Anna Duggar found herself in. It was written by Jessica Kirkland for her Facebook page and went viral. It resonated with me so much, It’s posted below in its full glory.

“I know everybody is laughing about this Josh Duggar story. Oh, a DUGGAR on Ashley Madison, it’s so rich! I wish more people would talk about Anna. I normally keep things light on Facebook, but let’s talk about Anna. Let me tell you: Anna Duggar is in the worst position she could possibly be in right now. Anna Duggar was crippled by her parents by receiving no education, having no work experience (or life experience, for that matter) and then was shackled to this loser because his family was famous in their religious circle. Anna Duggar was taught that her sole purpose in life, the most meaningful thing she could do, was to be chaste and proper, a devout wife, and a mother. Anna Duggar did that! Anna Duggar followed the rules that were imposed on her from the get-go and this is what she got in reward- a husband who she found out, in the span of 6 months, not only molested his own sisters, but was unfaithful to her in the most humiliating way possible. While she was fulfilling her “duty” of providing him with four children and raising them. She lived up to the standard that men set for her of being chaste and Godly and in return, the man who demanded this of her sought women who were the opposite. “Be this,” they told her. She was. It wasn’t enough.

What is Anna Duggar supposed to do? She can’t divorce because the religious environment she was brought up would blame her and ostracize her for it. Even if she would risk that, she has no education and no work experience to fall back on, so how does she support her kids? From where could she summon the ability to turn her back on everything she ever held to be sacred and safe? Her beliefs, the very thing she would turn to for comfort in this kind of crisis, are the VERY REASON she is in this predicament in the first place. How can she reconcile this? Her parents have utterly, utterly failed her. Think of this: somewhere, Anna Duggar is sitting in prayer, praying not for the strength to get out and stand on her own, but for the strength to stand by this man she is unfortunately married to. To lower herself so that he may rise up on her back.

As a mother of daughters, this makes me ill. Parents, WE MUST DO BETTER BY OUR DAUGHTERS. Boys, men, are born with power. Girls have to command it for themselves. They aren’t given it. They assume it and take it. But you have to teach them to do it, that they can do it. We HAVE to teach our daughters that they are not beholden to men like this. That they don’t have to marry a man their father deems “acceptable” and then stay married to that man long, long after he proved himself UNACCEPTABLE. Educate them. Empower them. Give them the tools they need to survive, on their own if they must. Josh Duggar should be cowering in fear of Anna Duggar right now. Cowering. He isn’t, but he should be. He should be quaking in fear that the house might fall down around them if he’s in the same room as she. Please, instill your daughters with the resolve to make a man cower if he must. To say “I don’t deserve this, and my children don’t deserve this.” I wish someone had ever, just once, told Anna she was capable of this. That she knew she is. As for my girls, I’ll raise them to think they breathe fire.”

thunderbirds-danelle-and-lauren
Hugging my mom after my flight

Copyright © 2016 Lauren Matthias / LaurenMatthias.com copyright 2016. all rights reserved. You may not take  content from this site without written permission.

If you’re experiencing the pain and devastation (whether now or in the past) of being in an abusive relationship with a narcissist and you’re ready to get your life back – Click “contact” at the bottom of this page for a 45 minute “Love Life Recovery” Makeover Session. We’ll set up a plan so you can look forward to having the life and love you deserve.

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4 Comments

  1. Laura

    Love, love, love this. You are so strong and beautiful! Those photos show such pure joy. I have to think that helped you channel your anger toward your husband into positive, powerful action.

    Your story is so important and I enjoy every installment. Please, keep sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Erin

    Another incredible blog post. It’s great to read the journey you took in gaining back your strength and life. I love reading your posts – it makes me stronger and more resilient. Xxx

    Liked by 1 person

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