Friday, September 30, 2011

Red Ferrari!

The one thing I have always had the biggest problem with is lack of self esteem. I have always looked at myself  as honestly and realistically as I could. I have never tried to fool myself about my looks or how special I am. When you grow up with a brother and two sisters that look the way mine do and hear comments from Mexico to Alaska that confirm what your perception of yourself and your siblings is then you are under no false illusions.
Add to that the abuse I went through from the age of 12 to 16 which made me feel like used goods, worthless and unclean. And at that time Christians didn't know how to deal with sexual abuse in their ranks. The perpetrator faced ostracism and usually quietly moved away with maybe a few whispers and questions. While the abused was, in my case, quietly advised in two or three quiet conversations that now that I wasn't a "good girl" any more I couldn't hope for a good Christian marriage and normal home life. The best I could hope for was someone would take pity on me and marry me anyway and I would just make the best of what was left of my life! (I was only 16!!)
By 17 I was thinking about suicide! It scared me to death!! (No pun intended!) I sought help and over time was able to receive enough to stableize me but not fix my brokenness.
I met James and it was instant attraction! For both of us, I later found out. But I was a mess and we now believe the Lord held him back from approaching me and dating me at that time. Later that year I met a "bad boy" who started coming to the Church and started dateing me.
I never could, and still can't, understand why my Dad gave his permission for us to date. Much less get married. The only thing I could figure out was that he thought that that was what I deserved. Here he was a Preacher and Missionary and he's giving permission for me to date and marry an older guy who smokes, cusses, drinks, listens to rock music, tells dirty jokes, ran away from home at 16 and just now came back at age 22!!
Well, if that was all I was worth and capeable of attracting then this must be God's will for my Life! So at 18 I walked down the isle, shaking like a leaf and promised the rest of my life to this man I hardly knew! I had come to love him. He was handsome and charming and I wanted a prince charming!
He was a prince and charming for the first little while, but then he started back to his drinking and things quickly started going down hill. The ugly name calling started, and use of abuse that he had learned from my past was being used against me for his fun and kicks!
And I had been trained that it was my duty to stay with him and obey him. To do what he said. I tried to be submissive but that only made it worse. The better I tried to be the angrier he got. The more I tried to make him happy the more unhappy he got. On our 5th Anniv. he told me he didn't love me. He threw me out and so began 7 more years of nightmare and confusion. He would throw me out for a while and then call me to move back. Or he would move out and leave me only to show up months later and just move back in without even asking. I never knew what was going to happen.
Sometimes I lived with him, sometimes with my parents, often with his parents, once in a while with friends, a few times house sitting, seldom a place of my own for a bit, even living out of my car at times. Always feeling lower and lower on the pond scum scale. Yet always remaining faithful to God. The one thing I never doubted thru all the years was that God loved me and so I stayed faithful to Him and His service!
Finally after 11 years of marriage, he left me no choice but to finally get the divorce he had wanted for years. So I was now 29, the mother of a 3yr old son, I had complete care and costody of my son and had had from day one. When I had realized I was finally pregnant after 7 years and told him his response had been..."I'm glad for you, you will be a good Mom." We were separated again by then and he wanted nothing to do with either of us. He even moved out of the state when I was 6 months pregnant.

Not long before I turned 30, Mathew and I were shareing a mobile home with a friend of mine that I had known since I was 17. She, Mathew and I got along great and it helped both of us with the cost of living. She is the only girl and baby of 6 kids! One of her brothers was "THE GUY" James that I had the crush on
when I was 17! Their family had a tradition of Friday night game night and they started trading off and coming to our house sometimes for them. James and I clicked right away, but I was scared to death! I was in the NO MEN zone! I didn't trust men, but he was getting around my defences and under my skin!
He came over one night, just him without all the other brothers, with a couple of movies and a pizza. Amy was gone and so we ate pizza watched movies and started talking.
He sat on the other couch across the room, no threat, giving me honor, respect and space and we talked till almost 4 in the morning! I hadn't heard him say that much in all the 13 years I had known him combined! He came back the next night and the next and ....then one day I came home from work and there was a NEW WASHING MACHINE in my livingroom floor!!
Noone had ever bought me something so thoughtful before! I knew I was sunk! I knew right then I was in love and in so much trouble!! We had a dryer but the washing machine didn't work. And Amy had a very bad back. So she would go teach at the Christian school and come home to rest. I was the cook and bus driver for a daycare and took Mathew to work with me. So I left for work at 5am. Worked till 4:15, came home did laundry for all three of us in the bathtub by hand and then dryed it. And then made supper. I tried to do a load every night because it took so long to dry them. But it kept my hands red and raw between cooking for 50 kids 4 times a day and washing all the dishes by hand in bleach water each time and coming home and doing laundry by hand and cooking meal #5. My hands were a raw mess! So his first gift wasn't flowers or candy or jewelry. His first gift was from his heart, a gift to help and care for me.  A gift to make my life easier!
By October he asked me to marry him. I was still scared. More for him...did he truely realize what a mess he was getting when he got me? I had tried to tell him, to the best of my ability and understanding at the time, but would it be enough?

We have been married 12 1/2 years now. Yesterday we were sitting here talking before he went to work and the subject kind of came up in a round about way. (My hair, which I've been trying to decide what to do with it). Anyway I was telling him what it felt like growing up as the ugly duckling of the family and he kept telling me I wasn't. We just couldn't seem to make each other hear and understand.
I told him that when you have grown up traveling all over and you have heard your family described HUNDREDS of times as, Dewayne ~ good looking or handsome young man!, Audrey ~ boy she's TALL! this is my Amazon!, Myra~ she's so dainty or she's so delicate! She looks just like a little Dollie! (Mom), Sandra~ She's GEORGOUS!! She's Beautiful! (SHH just don't tell her that! LOL)
You learn real well where you stand in the genetics pool! When you hear guys talk about dateing your sisters but not a word about you, you figure it out! When you are 17 and the only person to ever ask you out on a date is a drunken, smoking, cussing, runaway, sailor and your Dad says sure! You know you are the ugly duckling! And well rid of!
Then it was James' turn for his version... he has told me over and over for the past 13 years how beautiful he thinks I am, how lucky and blessed he is, how he married up, etc. but yesterday he laid it all out for me.
He told me he didn't approach me when I was 17 and other guys didn't approach me then because I was so tall and beautiful they didn't feel like they stood a chance with me. (Not sure I 100% believe that, but that's what he said).
He described my marriage to Charles as this. He said, Charles got a Ferrari. He drove it and treated it like it was a beat up old Subaru. He had no clue what he had or how to treat it! He didn't deserve a Ferrari!
Now I have the Ferrari! I don't deserve it either, but at least I know what I have and I know I don't deserve it and I know how to appreciate it and treat it and take care of it! That is the difference! Do you understand now?
He made it so simple! And sweet!
Then as he walked in the dining room he said, (and I like my Ferrari RED!) LOL I have been begging him to tell me whether he wants me to dye my hair again or not and he wouldn't, and this was his way of telling me to dye it back red! He's too cute!!
For the first time since I was 12 (I'm now pushing 44) I feel like I, Audrey Lynn Noel Boyd Grant, am worth something! It is an amazing feeling!!