I sat in a Bible study for moms. One mom, my good friend, was sharing.
"He would take the remote and turn the volume up while she was talking," Mary* said. She was in tears, remembering the moment when her mom tried to speak to her dad and he would ignore her.
I sat there, a bit stunned. She was describing my life. At home, I would sit on the couch talking. The volume on the TV would go up. The kids would ask a question. The volume would go up.
"Did you hear me?" I'd ask. Sometimes the answer was yes. Sometimes it was spiteful. And often the volume went up. Maybe that's a long-term relationship. But I don't think it's ok.
I sat in the Bible study, concerned. Because this could be my daughter in 20 years. My daughter has seen this behavior over and over. Her mother being treated poorly by her father. Her father making fun of her mother. Her father insulting her mother and blaming her and her mother for problems.
I don't want my daughter to sit in a Bible study in 20 years and recall in tears how poorly she and her mother were treated. I want her to remember kindness and love in her life.
You spilled water? That's ok. It happens. Let's learn how to clean it up properly.
Someone is talking. Let's listen and hear what they have to say. Treat them with respect and kindness. As we want to be treated.
Yes, we will make mistakes. But constant mistreatment--I don't want that for my daughter. I don't want her to think this is what love looks like or that it's ok. I want better for her.
*The name is changed.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
I sat in a Bible study for moms. One mom, my good friend, was sharing.
Yesterday, I read this.
It says on there, the acceptable reasons for divorce (and subsequently to remarry), for a Christian are:
When I needed meals when I was all alone, no one in the church put me on the meal list, like they do when they have a baby. And being left on your own as a single mother is a situation when you NEED meals delivered. Arguably the same as when you have a baby. I kept going to church, and so did he, which was a mindfuck. He wouldn't go when we were together, but after we separated, he went every Sunday. Was it for me? For the kids? For himself? I have no idea, but it felt invasive. A place I'd begged him to go for years he suddenly started showing up--like he wanted to show everyone how wonderful he was and how terrible I was. He reached out to all the church men (whose wives were my friends) and told them his side of the story. And none of the women who were all my friends reached out. Even when I go, the married women who were my friends politely avoid me like I'm carrying a disease they might catch. How is a divorced woman who has been through hell to get there (and believe me ANYONE who is going through a divorce, especially with children, is going through hell--and it's probably STILL better than when they were married, because that person had to get through all that to decide that hell on earth was preferable), supposed to maintain faith?
I spoke to a woman recently whose former husband cheated on her repeatedly. They have 4 kids together. She knew about it. Was heartbroken. He eventually got a woman pregnant. She still stayed. And he kept doing it. What did her church say? Stay. Pray for him. Really? She found a new church. I hope they reach out to her better than mine.
Exactly one person from church reached out to me in a non-confrontational, non-judgemental, loving way. And I was surprised. During a time when I was going through the darkest thing I've ever experienced, she didn't say, "why don't you go back? Why not go to marriage counseling?" She didn't question my reasons. Instead, she said, "How can I support you?" and she initiated regular contact. I am forever grateful for her reaching out. It focused me back on God at a time when I could barely hang on.
I have felt the sting of rejection from a community when you suddenly do or say things, or appear a certain way, that is "against" the rules. And that is just what the Pharisees did. When someone broke the rules, they were ousted. Heck, Jesus himself was literally killed because he broke the "no blaspheming" rule and admitted he was the son of God. And I know that is not God's best. I feel like I'm swimming in the ocean with no life raft or boat in sight. Except maybe a very small one that I can barely hang on to--called my relationship with God. Which, if I follow him, will instruct me in the paths I should follow.
And I think we, as Christians, need to think about this. Every person is responsible for themselves in the end. Their faith, their spirituality, their actions, their relationship with God. So why do we try to get involved? Other than building up the faith and love of our brothers and sisters and reaching out to the lost, why do we do ANYTHING else? Maybe it's hard to understand, but rejecting someone is the fastest way to teach them that God isn't love. And I never want that message to be heard. EVER. And while I'm not explicitly getting it, I'm not getting love or acceptance either. And we can do better. Way better.
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 6:38 PM
Thursday, April 06, 2017
I look back on my life a year ago or a few years ago and feel so sad sometimes. I wonder, "how did I get here? How am I a divorcing mom of 2? What happened to my husband of so many years? Why is this happening? Why did it happen?"
And then I think through the steps one by one. The slow decline.
I had another memory.
We were traveling. On vacation.
We were walking along the touristy area where there were a fair number of people. We went into shops. I was pushing the stroller, with your son, who you barely knew or paid attention to at the time.
You were walking with your daughter. Who you are great with. Who adores you. And you have a special bond. I know this and I am happy about it.
But when she is the only one you talk to and care about, that is a problem.
I asked you several times, Can you stay close? I'd like to enjoy this and have a conversation with you. But you would walk ahead with our daughter as though I weren't there.
At one point I was mid sentence and you walked away. When you eventually turned around, 20 or more feet ahead of me, I held my arms up in a "What the heck?" gesture. I was angry. I didn't know how to articulate what I was experiencing. I tried to explain how I had been in mid-sentence when you walked away. I was upset. And while I was in mid-sentence explaining this, you walked into an ice cream shop. I finished my sentence anyway.
You turned around and yelled. You told me I was unreasonable. You yelled lots of insults. I felt very much like you were treating me like I was a mother and you were a teenager and I was interrupting your fun. That's how you spoke to me.
People were staring. I felt so embarrassed. I tried to get you to leave the small shop. I tried to at least get you outside where people wouldn't see and hear you. But you wouldn't leave.
I walked outside so you would hopefully follow. But you didn't. You finished getting ice cream for yourself and your daughter. Not me. You walked out and didn't even acknowledge my presence, showing your daughter how you ignore me and pay attention to her instead, like so many other times.
It was a horrible, sad, dark day. Other stressful things had happened. At the end, things were better, and I said it was a nice trip overall, you said it wasn't a good trip, you wished we hadn't gone. It wasn't worth the effort or the money or the energy. But you'd barely put any of that into it. You only had to sit back and enjoy the ride. And I felt like shit. Because I had worked hard to make a nice family trip. And you told me how terrible it was.
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 2:36 PM
Tuesday, April 04, 2017
You are a terrible driver, you would say.
But I never had an accident.
This food is too salty/spicy/watery/gross/bland, you would say about my cooking.
You mean, thank you for cooking?
Do my thighs look fat in this? I asked.
Yes, you said. You asked. Don't you want me to be honest?
You have terrible taste in music, you told me.
I listen to all your music and just because I also like different things, doesn't make it terrible. It just makes it different, I said.
But you said, No. You have terrible taste in music.
You called me crazy.
You didn't see what I did for you. I worked. I supported you through 2 career changes. I took care of the house, the doctor's appointments, the kids, the money, the jobs, the vacations, anything, and everything that wasn't video games and TV. I eventually stopped asking for help. Because it wasn't worth the grief you gave me. I even agreed that it was ok if you don't work and I would if that's what it took for you to heal from the problems that you said you had. I agreed to take care of everything. And you didn't thank me. You told me I was unfeeling, uncaring. You ditched me. You ditched your family. Daily. And eventually, you chose your friends over us. You moved to be closer to them. And you ditched your kids to do it.
And then the physical violence that I had blocked out for years.
When we first moved to the Bay Area 10 years ago, it was rough.
You kept me from seeing and making friends because of your "anxiety." Isolation.
I would beg you to do things with me, but you would only stay home and play video games. Stonewalling.
I asked you about your job search and you got mad. Rage directed at me.
So mad that you yelled and grabbed me by the shoulders and pushed me down. Physical violence.
More than once.
You punched the walls and slapped my face. More violence.
And I sat there, confused and sad.
Thinking I'd pushed you over the edge. Self-blame and guilt.
Maybe I did.
When you went on medication and got a job it got better, the physical violence didn't happen again.
And I blocked it out.
We'd been married for 3 years. I was 26. I thought it was my fault I'd made you so mad that you would push me down or hit me.
I never told anyone.
Or, if I did, no one ever told me it was a bad thing.
Just that I needed to care more for my husband. Be nicer. Pray more.
I wish someone would have told me it wasn't ok. We should have addressed that right then. But I didn't know it wasn't normal. I didn't know it wasn't ok.
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 3:54 PM
Monday, April 03, 2017
"It's not fair that my friends [whose parents are divorced, etc.] get to see their Dads," she said to me. "It's different. I don't get to see him at all."
Sorry, kid. It's not fair.
It's not fair at all that I am left holding everything up alone.
It's not fair that he left and gets to live for free with tons of help.
It's not fair that I'm here, alone, with no family and minimal support.
It's not fair that I can't exercise.
It's not fair that I can't afford childcare.
It's not fair that I can never leave my house because of your brother's sleep schedule.
It's not fair that he gets a $600,000 payout but claims he "can't afford" to live near you.
It's not fair that he doesn't have to work while I'm stretched to maximum capacity working 2 jobs to support him and 2 kids and myself.
It's not fair that I'm alone with 2 kids and 2 jobs that I never EVER get a break. I don't even get an evening or an afternoon to hand off the kids.
It's not fair that he wants to Skype with you and is upset that he doesn't get to more because HE made the choice to leave.
It's not fair that we can barely fit Skyping into our schedule because I'm so busy with everything else, but I have to because how else will you see your dad.
It's not fair that with the kids, the jobs, and taking care of myself and the house and the cooking and the cleaning and the boy that never stops moving that I don't have time to spend with you. That I am so spent at the end of the day I have nothing left to offer you.
It's not fair that I don't have time to go grocery shopping or run errands or go to the library or take you somewhere fun because I have so many other things I have to take care of. Alone.
You went from an only child with 2 parents to a sibling to one parent and a sibling. And now you can't get what you need most of the time, other than food, shelter, and clothing. I wish I had more to give you. I would give up a lot to have more for you. I'm sorry that it isn't fair. But I'm trying.
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 2:31 PM
I went to church yesterday.
Or, at least, I tried.
A friend invited me to her church.
But there was no childcare this week only!
I'd invited a friend.
My friend hung out with me while I watched my kids for 90 minutes and heard none of the sermon, none of the music, none of anything.
I felt terrible.
Like I had ruined my friend's day.
I felt like shit.
I wanted to enjoy it, sure.
But my youngest is so active I cannot sit down without childcare. Ever.
But that wasn't why I felt so terrible.
It was because I used to be treated like crap for "making" him go to church.
For "forcing" him to go.
I stopped asking many years ago, for the most part.
Except for when I particularly needed help (like if I volunteered).
And I was always yelled at.
I shouldn't volunteer, so I wouldn't need to rely on his help.
He would go, but if we came home immediately so he could work out (to reduce the terrible stress of my "making" him go).
We would be on eggshells for the rest of the day because I had "made" him go and it was so terrible.
He would have an excuse to be cranky and angry at me for everything else for the rest of the day because I'd asked him to go.
He would go out of guilt or obligation.
Not lovingly that I can recall, except maybe once or twice.
He wouldn't take an uber home. Or the bus.
But required us all go back together. This served the dual purpose of saving money and making me pay for the transgression of forcing him to go.
If anything went wrong, I paid sorely. I was yelled at, complained at, blamed for all the problems.
I didn't even realize how awful it was until yesterday
When I started crying because I thought had ruined church for my friend.
Thinking that I had messed up my friend's day by not knowing that they wouldn't have childcare,
By "making" them go to church and then hang out with me while I watched my kids instead.
I felt guilty and I felt like crap. And I didn't realize why until I remembered.
Most Sundays, I didn't bother asking and quietly shooed the kids out of the house so he could sleep in.
I left the house so he could have "time to himself" so he could finally feel better.
But he never felt better. I had always done something wrong. No matter what, we were always on eggshells wondering when we'd be yelled at or the door slammed in our faces while we were told we were "too much" for him.
I was always left holding all the cards, taking care of the kids.
I felt worse and worse.
I felt guilty and ashamed.
I believed I had done a terrible thing by asking him to go. But he had a choice.
He had a choice whether or not to go. Whether or not to love his wife enough to go and help.
Whether he loved his kids enough to show a good example.
He could choose to not go and I could deal with my own feelings.
He could choose to go and be nice about it.
But he didn't.
Instead, now, going to church is a painful, dreaded experience.
When things go wrong I feel scared and panicked that I will experience retribution.
I feel guilty and scared waiting for the fallout. For the blame. For the criticism.
I am hurt and terrified at simply asking a person to go with me to church, or any place for that matter.
For fear that I will be told that I "forced" them to go "against their will."
I can't even begin to describe how terrified I was. Yesterday. A year ago.
I tried everything.
But, in the end, I couldn't do anything. Because everything I did was the wrong thing.
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 2:20 PM
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
I remember the good.
I feel the loss.
But I remember the bad, too.
Sometimes, when I feel confused or conflicted or sad, I yo-yo to the other emotions of remembering the sadness and the emptiness and the fear that lived here, too.
I remember that I wouldn't even ask to go to a restaurant for fear of the response being one of:
- It's too expensive.
- I don't want to.
- It's too far.
- I don't want to drive (x) minutes just to turn around in an hour and come back. That's (x) minutes and (y) total time out of my day just to go eat at this restaurant.
- It's too far
- There's too much traffic
- Where is this place?
- Why don't you have the right directions? What's wrong with you that you led me on a wrong turn?
- This food is too salty/spicy/bad/weird/expensive/flavorless/etc.
- Why are we here?
- The kids don't sit still. This isn't worth it.
- Why did you drag me here?
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 1:21 PM
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
In a week it will be one full month of being alone with my kids--of 100% sole parenting. It is starting to get easier. But I'm not there yet.
I'm learning my limitations. I'm learning how far I can (and cannot) push myself. I'm still struggling to figure out how to squeeze in exercise, but the kids and work part are getting more solid.
And I'm healing.
Recently, I questioned myself. I felt sadness for what I had lost. But then I read some things I wrote when things were the worst and I remembered. And I re-experienced the trauma. I literally traumatized myself.
And now I am back and continuing to reflect.
I have this memory today. A few really stand out and this is one. I will try to describe it in poetry.
You are angry.
Just like every day.
I live in fear of you.
The little girl tries to appease you.
She follows you hoping to cheer you up.
Because you say to me, "I can't deal with you, but she is fine."
Because you tell her, "I'll feel better if you are with me."
Because you emphasize to her that she is not me.
And because you imply that her+resting and listening to audiobooks will solve all your problems.
But it won't.
You are mad today.
Like every Sunday.
Angry with me for "making you" go to marriage counseling later in the day.
As every Sunday.
Listening to Nirvana loudly.
The whole house is on edge.
We all feel the heaviness in the air.
Tiptoeing and cringing and worried that every little thing will make it worse.
I ask you to please turn down the music.
The effect of the heaviness plus the music is too much.
It feels subversive.
But why would you subvert against me?
Aren't we partners? Friends? Teammates?
Instead you have made me an enemy.
You made me the mother of an angry teenager blasting the music of your teenage-hood.
Instead of turning it down,
You go outside and listen to it.
She follows you and watches you headbang and rage.
Maybe it's a coping mechanism.
But it feels like yet another way to hurt me.
I can't express my feelings.
I am hurt and confused and full of pain.
I no longer know what I can do.
And it's because there is nothing left that I can do.
I've tried everything.
And you are still mean.
You are still angry.
You still are trying to punish me for something in your head that you can't articulate.
It is bright and sunny, but dark in my heart.
I am not your punching bag.
A person you are supposed to love is not a person to hurt over and over.
We should not be enemies.
You can have your problems
That we can work on together.
But I am not the outlet for your anger.
I don't remember when I last felt loved by you.
But it was at least a decade ago.
And I was willing to stand by you no matter what, no matter the sacrifice and loss of self it brought.
And you still don't want to figure it out together.
You still wanted me to be your enemy.
The one who makes things worse.
The one who ruins your life.
You contradict yourself.
I ended it and then you ask me to come back.
Why? You haven't given to me in years.
You have taken and taken and taken.
I stayed and stayed and tried everything to appease you and salve the wound.
But nothing I did was the right thing.
I'm not sorry that I couldn't do it anymore.
You can't treat me or anyone else this way.
Maybe when we were young and stupid.
But we should know better now.
You still hurt me and abuse me even now.
You do what you want, leaving me to pick up all the pieces.
Falling back on me like a child on his mother.
And I remember your rage.
And I am overjoyed that the darkness and heaviness you brought is gone.
We can finally see the light.
We can finally feel light.
We are better off.
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 5:18 PM
Thursday, January 19, 2017
Have you ever watched your child suffer?
Have you wished you could take away their pain?
My daughter had a meltdown the other night. Twice, actually. She collapsed in tears. I would have been beside myself as to why, but I know why. She's devastated at her father leaving. There is a hole in her heart because he's moving away.
I've never seen her cry so hard. I've seen her melt down like that before, but not in front of others and not in a long, long time.
She melted down and could barely walk from the emotional devastation. Once she calmed down she laid, miserable, on the couch with tears streaming down her face. She looked every bit like a girl suffering a horrendous heart break. I am literally watching her heart break in front of me because of her father's choices. I was so angry with him. I can't believe he would do this to his kids. I can't believe he would make this choice. And, worse, he won't see the fallout. He won't see the devastation. He won't see the pain and suffering he's causing. I will. I already have. He gets to have them for "vacations," for fun. He gets to have his parents help him when he sees them for 8 weeks out of the year.
And I get to do the hard work. I don't mind doing the work. But I wish I could save my babies from the heartbreak.
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 5:56 PM
Friday, January 06, 2017
|My Giant Stack of Paperwork|
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 1:52 PM
Wednesday, December 14, 2016
I had a fascinating discussion the other day with a friend who has never been married who was convinced that falling in love fast was the only way to do it. He sent me this article and this one to prove his point.
It made me think.
I had a fast romance. It lasted for 12 years and now it's ending. But, I don't think it being fast has anything to do with it. From my experience and my observations, here's what you need for a relationship to last: Commitment. That's it - 100% all in from both sides. You will not always feel "in love." You will not always have amazing times and chemistry, but if you are committed, it will last.
Why do relationships fail? Because someone stops the commitment. That's it. Either someone did not participate fully in the commitment and they grew apart or stopped caring or took the person for granted or stopped contributing to the relationship or hurt the other person beyond repair or cheated. But in the end, these things happen when one or both partners stop being committed. One-sided commitment doesn't work.
And the reality is, that this can happen if you married them after 5 days, 5 years, or even a decade. You can be with someone for a short time and be committed and it can be amazing and last forever. You can have an arranged marriage (I'm thinking like more modern Indian arranged marriages where the individual has some say, but the parents provide the options--not a child bride thing!). You can date someone and live with them for 10 years and STILL people can change. STILL people can lapse in their commitments. And relationships can still end if people stop being committed.
So enjoy your fast love or your slow one, but know that there is no protection from another person stopping their commitment to you. But that shouldn't keep you from trying. I wish you the best in love!
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 4:11 PM
Thursday, December 08, 2016
...that's what a friend of mine posted recently on Facebook.
And I agree.
2016 was a F***ed up year for me and for lots of people. It feels like dark days. The election was a disaster. Just that alone would mess it up for many. But the political unrest, the disconnection between parts of our country, multiple groups of people being displaced and feeling unheard.
And then the Oakland fire. Why? WHY!?
A daughter at my teacher's school was killed in that fire. She was 30. So, yes, it affects me directly. But not just in this way.
The fire represents a giant tragic blow to my city and the artist community that makes Oakland amazing. There are warehouses like this all over the city. Artists live and work in them and create the beautiful, creative tapestry that makes my community so fun to live in!
Most of us who live here have been to one of these warehouses/collectives at some point. This could have been any of us. And we are worried about our artists, about their ability to continue to thrive here in the housing crisis, which is ruining my own personal life in ways I won't go on about here.
I feel sad. Abuse. Pain. Heartbreak. Separation. Divorce. Sadness. Confusion. Compounded Sadness. Sickness. Poverty. I hope 2017 is better.
I need to look to God in all this. But right now, I want to be thankful that I have my children. However hard it is to have them, I'm thankful for them. And I love them dearly. I'm thankful that I have family. I'm thankful that I have housing, however hard it is to keep it. I'm thankful for my job. I'm thankful for the friends and support I've found through some of the hardest things I've ever gone through in my entire life. I'm thankful for my church and my God. Because he's been there through all this. He will always be here through all. No matter how f***ed up things get, he's in charge and he can make it better.
In the meantime, though, dark days.
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 2:41 PM
Tuesday, November 08, 2016
Even though this election cycle was the worst thing ever and I can't wait for it to be over, I'm excited and happy that we have a woman on the ballot for the first time in US history!
And, I've moved from sadness mostly to some anger. And also today overall I feel good. I got some sleep, my appetite is back (hooray!), I'm starting to feel like I can handle my life again.
Sadly, though, not everyone in my broken family is there. The kids, of course, need so much right now. More than I can give them. My (soon to be ex) DH is still in the sadness phase of grief. He's getting treatment and wants more of a chance to show how he's changed, but I cannot do it. I wish I could. I really, really do. But I can't. And, like, me he wants to minimize the impact on the kids. And we are trying to figure out ways to do that.
At any rate, Happy Election Day! Go Vote! Even if it's not for a woman!
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 2:34 PM
Thursday, October 27, 2016
Today I am so sad.
I am sad I've lost a partner and a friend. Well, truly, he wasn't much of a partner the last few years. And he wasn't a very good friend either.
But still... Any potential for that is gone now and it hurts.
The stinging sadness of heartbreak. The break up of a family. The feeling that your forever is ending. We were supposed to be together forever. We were supposed to love and care for each other, forever.
And then he hurt me. Over and over and over. And at first I blamed myself. Then I blamed him. Then I blamed his illness. But in the end, it doesn't matter who is to blame. Someone I loved hurt me in a way that left me scared and anxious to simply be around them. And, even though they want to change, they are still incredibly selfish and self-centered about it. They can't see me for who I am. They can't see outside themselves. And it hurts to feel like you are invisible, like you don't matter at all to the person you work so hard to care for.
I don't want to start anew. I do. But I don't. It hurts. Starting over is hard. I feel sad. I feel an overwhelming sense of loss.
I do feel optimistic for the future. But tainted with sadness. My happily ever after was not so happy. And not so ever after. I don't regret my choices, but it doesn't make them less painful now.
I loved my family. I loved what I thought we had. But it was still mostly me. It was me taking care of everyone. Except myself. Now I need to try to learn to love myself and know who I am.
The one consolation is that God is always with me and can redeem anything. I pray for him to redeem this situation. And thank him that he is the husband I never had, no matter what. He is there and he cares and loves me the exact amount I need. And loves me for me. Something that none of us broken humans can ever do.
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 7:26 PM
Monday, October 24, 2016
...Some are good and some are not.
I'm going through a hard and dark time right now. I am up and down. It is to be expected.
On the one hand I am sad and devastated and in pain.
On the other hand, I am free from something that has been causing me pain and heartbreak for at least 10 years. And the future feels bright.
But I often feel sad and happy and you never can tell which day will be which.
Sometimes I can't eat. Sometimes I can't sleep.
I'm learning to draw new boundaries.
I'm learning to adapt to new and difficult situations.
I'm learning a lot, in fact. About myself. About what I went through. About what I'm going through now.
And, it's painful. It's painful to know that a person you trusted would hurt you the way I've been hurt. It's painful to know that you gave someone everything you had and they used it against you. It's painful to know that even when that person finally realizes what they did, you are so traumatized you can't even walk around your house without living in fear that that person will hurt you again. You are worried that they are still there. That they will still harm you, mentally, emotionally, or physically. That they will still take you for granted and not appreciate you. That they will criticize you and blame you no matter how hard you try to do the right thing. That you are so traumatized that forgiveness is not enough to move forward or be together. And that is very sad.
I wish this wasn't what was happening in my life. That I could have a "normal" relationship and a "normal" life, or that healing could come faster. But the fear is real and even if the person can change, it will never be enough. Because they are bound to mess up and it will throw me back into the trauma. And I am years and years away from moving past the trauma I'm already feeling.
And, now, even more pain is coming from (former?) friends and family, from people who need someone to blame. Sometimes we can move forward without having to be enemies. We can. And I wish others could too.
I am not angry. I am not bitter. I forgive and I care. And I understand that others don't understand that. And I hope they will in time.
Posted by Hannah Kirk at 4:09 PM