Stick to One Excuse

G.K. Chesterton gives some advice to a German apologist in the affair of the Lusistania:

“First, stick to one excuse. Thus if a tradesman, with whom your social relations are slight, should chance to find you toying with the coppers in his till, you may possibly explain that you are interested in Numismatics and are a Collector of Coins; and he may possibly believe you. But if you tell him afterwards that you pitied him for being overloaded with unwieldy copper discs, and were in the act of replacing them by a silver sixpence of your own, this further explanation, so far from increasing his confidence in your motives, will (strangely enough) actually decrease it. And if you are so unwise as to be struck by yet another brilliant idea, and tell him that the pennies were all bad pennies, which you were concealing to save him from a police prosecution for coining, the tradesman may even be so wayward as to institute a police prosecution himself.

Now this is not in any way an exaggeration of the way in which you have knocked the bottom out of any case you may ever conceivably have had in such matters as the sinking of the Lusitania. With my own eyes I have seen the following explanations, apparently proceeding from your pen, (i) that the ship was a troop-ship carrying soldiers from Canada; (ii) that if it wasn’t, it was a merchant-ship unlawfully carrying munitions for the soldiers in France; (iii) that, as the passengers on the ship had been warned in an advertisement, Germany was justified in blowing them to the moon; (iv) that there were guns, and the ship had to be torpedoed because the English captain was just going to fire them off; (v) that the English or American authorities, by throwing the Lusitania at the heads of the German commanders, subjected them to an insupportable temptation; which was apparently somehow demonstrated or intensified by the fact that the ship came up to schedule time, there being some mysterious principle by which having tea at tea-time justifies poisoning the tea; (vi) that the ship was not sunk by the Germans at all but by the English, the English captain having deliberately tried to drown himself and some thousand of his own countrymen in order to cause an exchange of stiff notes between Mr. Wilson and the Kaiser. If this interesting story be true, I can only say that such frantic and suicidal devotion to the most remote interests of his country almost earns the captain pardon for the crime.

But do you not see, my dear Professor, that the very richness and variety of your inventive genius throws a doubt upon each explanation when considered in itself? We who read you in England reach a condition of mind in which it no longer very much matters what explanation you offer, or whether you offer any at all. We are prepared to hear that you sank the Lusitania because the sea-born sons of England would live more happily as deep-sea fishes, or that every person on board was coming home to be hanged. You have explained yourself so completely, in this clear way, to the Italians that they have declared war on you, and if you go on explaining yourself so clearly to the Americans they may quite possibly do the same.”

From the Crimes of England

The specifics of the historical events are interesting to the historian and to fans of political shenanigans and military history. But I was most intrigued by that first paragraph.

A few weeks before reading this I stood confronting and angry, defensive man over yet another broken promise, perhaps minor compared to the others, but still significant.

He stood and faced me, insisting he was right to break his promise. It was almost as thought he had read this passage in Chesterton and mistaken it for a script to use to convince somebody you aren’t stealing what you are in fact stealing.  Using Chesterton’s words, he indeed knocked the bottom out of his case with his own words, each additional excuse making nonsense of the previous excuse (and half the excuses blamed people besides himself for his own actions), and the first excuse of all being a quite bald-faced lie (he broke his promise on Monday because he had thought until then he was going to get to stay in the house- except that on the previous Friday he told others he wasn’t and had made arrangements to live elsewhere).

Right prevailed in the end and he grudgingly apologized and followed through on that promise, but was still trying to insist to the end that he really had believed he was going to get to stay in the house, impermeable to the reality that he hadn’t, or he wouldn’t have made arrangements to move wit

There have been a lot of things in my marriage that perplexed and baffled me and often made me feel somehow guilty about, but once I shifted my default mode from trust to being certain I am being lied to, all those things were no longer perplexing or baffling.

I do feel very, very, shockingly, shamefully, unbelievably stupid. But trusting one’s spouse is not a sin, as friends and counselors keep reminding me.

The trust bank is now depleted to the point of bankruptcy, however.   The only thing I believe when he is talking is that he is lying.  It’s really quite amazing how much that filter simplifies things and makes clear his intentions.

 

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Meanwhile, in North Korea

“The torture he went through was so gruesome that it is unimaginable,” she says. Every single day, the guard would come and punish him for his faith, “with blood,” she explains quietly, “everywhere.”

But “even in the midst of these horrible tortures, he had compassion for those who did not know about Jesus Christ,” Hae Woo remembers. “He went into the prison walking, but after all the torture, he was dragged loose on the ground … . Although his body was all torn apart, he handed the last pieces of rotten corn that he had to his prison mates. He spread the Gospel to the inmates.

“He prayed for the sick, [and] as he continued the good work, God built an underground church in the prison through my husband.”

One of the last times her children saw him, she thinks back, “he wanted to pass on his faith, but there were guards everywhere. So, he did something simple and profound. He wrote three words on his hand: ‘Believe in Jesus.’”

Not long after, he was killed by prison guards for giving that same advice to others. “Even if I die,” he had told her, “I do not have any regrets.”

 

Pray for God’s tortured, martyred, persecuted people in lands like N.K.

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Erstwhile Traveling Companions of Chesterton

I’ve stepped up my reading, because it’s therapy and solace and I had let it slide anyway.  More than usual includes audiobooks these days because I’m now in sole charge of the speakers in the van and there’s a bluetooth connection.

One of the books I’ve finished is The Crimes of England, by Chesterton.  It’s Chesterton, so I enjoyed most of it, but it’s definitely a niche read.  He’s justifying England’s war with Germany and refuting some accusations by an apologist for Germany who published something in the papers from what I can tell.  If that’s not obvious enough, it’s quite, quite dated. However, there are still reasons why some should read it:
If you just love Chesterton.  Really, you don’t need more justification than that. It’s not his most universal piece of writing, but it is still definitely Chesterton, possibly at his snarkiest. Or

If need something to listen to on a car trip and have purchased this cheaply and it fills almost precisely the time you need to fill.  Or…

You are interested in WWI and want to read something from the time that sets forth some justifications for the conflict from the British point of view.

I picked it up for all of the above reasons, and even though I found many of the specifics in this work not really applicable oreven interesting to me, there are still many gems that have a wider application than his immediate use:

“…the relations between England and Ireland are the relations between two men who have to travel together, one of whom tried to stab the other at the last stopping-place or to poison the other at the last inn. Conversation may be courteous, but it will be occasionally forced. The topic of attempted murder, its examples in history and fiction, may be tactfully avoided in the sallies; but it will be occasionally present in the thoughts. Silences, not devoid of strain, will fall from time to time. The partially murdered person may even think an assault unlikely to recur; but it is asking too much, perhaps, to expect him to find it impossible to imagine. And even if, as God grant, the predominant partner is really sorry for his former manner of predominating, and proves it in some unmistakable manner – as by saving the other from robbers at great personal risk – the victim may still be unable to repress an abstract psychological wonder about when his companion first began to feel like that.” (G. K. Chesterton, ‘The Crimes of England’, chapter V, AD 1914).

In the wake of the discovery of my husband’s perfidious betrayals and actions indicative of nothing but scorn and contempt for me, for his wedding vows, his relationship with God, and often even for our friends, I told him he needed to find somewhere else to live.  He thinks I should just let him stay in the house- it’s a big house, he could stay upstairs and the Cherub and I keep to the downstairs, he says.  And he could help with the Cherub (one of his post discovery hacks is  a mock, pretentious pretence of being solicitous for my wellbeing, telling friends and his counselor that he doesn’t see how I can care for the Cherub by myself. ) But I feel like the Irishman in the above illustration, although I flatly don’t believe that this particular ‘Englishman’ is sorry for anything except being caught and enduring the consequences of that, and so the final sentence has no bearing here.

One of our church leaders made noises about reconciliation in our first conversation (the others have had no conversations with me after I expressed dismay that they felt it appropriate to send my husband note  of encouragement and telling him they’d be praying for him, but had never so much as sent me an email to say, “This must be very difficult, we are praying for you.”)

I told the one I was in communication with that living under the same roof was and would continue to be impossible and I found it bizarre to even bring it up given that I was still walking around with an entire set of kitchen knives lodged firmly in my back and was still bleeding out.  I absolutely could not and would not hang out with the guy who put them there with a smirk on his face and depravity in his heart.

O.K.  I did say the bits about it being impossible and the set of kitchen knives in my back.  But that last sentence I only thought of just now as I write.

It was a few days after this that I came across the above passage in the essay G.K. Chesterton wrote to discuss Britain and Germany and English/Irish relations in 1914.  I found it quite apt for my own situation, metaphorically speaking.

There have been others, quite delightful, quite sharp and to the point, perfectly adaptable to my own tragedy and trauma (37 years of marriage, my entire adult life, exploded in a single moment by an incredibly selfish and calloused specimen of pod-person).

That is the beautiful thing about excellent writing.  It does more than the writer intended. And there is something encouraging, sometimes soothing, something smoothing of ragged edges about coming into contact with a brilliant piece of writing that just so perfectly gives shape and form to the roiling chaos of your brain and emotions.  It teases out the knots- maybe not all of them, but some of them, pulling burs and sharply pointed stickers out of the tangled, snarled, jagged mess.

 

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So here we are

I will keep posting as long as the blog stays in working order.  I just no longer have the funds or the energy to get it back up when it goes snafu again, and I never had the know-how.  This little space on the internet means a lot to me and I’d like it to continue, I just don’t see myself being able to make it happen if the internet gremlins don’t smile on me.

A new normal is what I’m trying to carve out elsewhere.  Some of it looks a lot like my old normal, but it feels different because I’m shedding a lot of guilt and feelings of inadequacy and not measuring up that weren’t mine to bear to begin with.

My bedroom looks completely different. With the help of sons-in-laws and my son and the donations of friends and daughters and friends of daughters I made some other changes, real and symbolic. The king sized bed was removed from my bedroom and put in an upstairs bedroom and I have a double sleighbed, and an entire bookcase for a bedside table. The dresser in my room has been moved to an upstairs bedroom.  My dresser and the Cherub’s have always been in the bathroom and that works well.  There are new curtains, and the other closet now holds a bookcase as well. There is an air-walker and a rebounder in my bedroom, a treadmill in my dining room, and a small single wheel exercise thing-gummy  (It’s an under the desk mini-exercise bike)under the roll-top desk which has also become mine. – all given to me gratis. I can’t really take the Cherub outside for walks because of the cold, her circulation, and the fact that she doesn’t really walk very fast or smoothly.  I can’t join a gym to the fact that I have no local sitter for the Cherub and the even more significant fact that if I have to get in the car and go somewhere I might meet people to exercise, it’s not happening.  I am not going to tell you I do this for half an hour every day.  I do this for five minute increments, or two minute increments, or 200 steps, a handful of times through the day.  I was planning to watch K-Dramas cast from phone to large screen T.V. while exercising but the chromecast quit working when we moved the T.V. and i can’t get it back on.  I’ll be buying a 12 foot cable to connect laptop to television shortly and that should work well.

I sent my best baking pans and almost all my Shakespeare books and some other things I wish I still had on ahead to Malaysia and I can’t get them back.  I spent a year purging my house of things I wanted to keep in preparation for a move to Malaysia that isn’t happening.  I am angry and bitter about that, as well as the obvious.  I sold family property, half the money already gone and I don’t know where, because of the move to Malaysia that isn’t now happening. Yes, I am bitter and angry and furious.  And I am also relieved it wasn’t worse, because as bad as it was, it could have been so much, much, much more difficult had things gone as planned and the Cherub and I in Malaysia when he got caught or abandoned us.  Relieved that currently, he says he will keep supporting us and so far has.  I wasn’t interested in being a single parent 24 and 7 (except 2x a month when it’s 24 and 6, or even 24 and 6 and 3/4), but I can order groceries online and pick them up in the parking lot and use her wheelchair to wheel them in from the car so this, too, could be worse.

I went out for lunch with a friend today and laughed and joked and smiled with sincerity.  Never mind the times I have sat in the church parking lot having a panic attack and hyperventilating and crying and unable to go inside, or had to leave quickly after services to do the same.

I write my incarcerated godson about 3x a week.  I am trying to do 6x a week, but it just doesn’t ever seem to work out that way.  When I started running out of things to say I started including an occasional parable from the New Testament or a shorter one of Aesop’s fables.  I tell him about things I am reading and thinking about.  I’m doing a reading challenge for 2019.  I’m planning a new writing project. I see my grandkids pretty often and they are always delights.

As I type this out it is one of my very good hours, but there is nothing standing in the way of a horrible melt down and loud sobs of devastation thirty minutes from now, over something utterly trivial- a line in a child’s picture book, a comment in a movie, a note from a friend, a remembrance of something precious or trivial in the Philippines as a reminder that I am not going back, and there is no way forward except through it.

 

Thank-you for all the kind words and comments.  They are precious balm to a wounded soul.

 

 

 

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Big Changes

The blog was down for a while again and I could not figure out the problem.  I don’t know how long it’s going to be back up this time, but I won’t be spending any money to fix it again, so the next time it goes bloop will probably be it.

Meanwhile- We are not going to Malaysia.  The reasons are not good.  Upon discovering that my husband has been making plans to abandon his family for a woman he met on an airplane, who speaks no English (he doesn’t speak her language) and is young enough to be his daughter, I asked him to move out.  This is not a joke and there is no punchline.

Of course, that was only the first discovery.  There were others.   I’ve been married to a pod person for 37 years and I am still coming to grips with that.  He’s not who I thought he was and it appears he never really was, although the utter stupidity of this one is kind of a new thing.  I have texts.  They are not subject to interpretation.  They are plain and clear.  They speak of ‘falling in love’ at first sight with a total stranger on an airplane, making plans to abandon your family in Malaysia so you can go play with her in another Asian country, telling her she’s a ‘good woman’ who ‘deserves better’ than you because she says she won’t just play with you since you’re married, she will only be with you if you marry her and when she is actually sending you text messages saying, “I am looking for someone to marry me so I can get American citizenship.”  His response to that message was, and I quote, “What’s your favourite flavour of ice-cream?”

Anyway. He was telling her when and where he was going to leave me and he was was looking for jobs in her country and so he’s out.  He says he wants reconciliation, and that he is so very sorry, but he wasn’t really going to leave me, he was just telling her that.  Whatever.  Because as far as he had already fallen, he was leaving sooner or later.  I chose sooner.

 

IT’s devastating, and I don’t really have good days and bad days, I have good quarter hours and bad ones and I am always taken by surprise by the bad ones.

 

He had this t-shirt he purchased in the country he was travelling home from when he met her, with the name of the country on it.  He took pictures of himself in that shirt while sitting next to her and cropped her out and posted them to social media.  He wore it all the time at home.  He was wearing it when he took pictures of himself sitting next to me on an airplane as we flew somewhere he was going to perform a wedding ceremony for friends- and cropped me out and sent it to her telling her he thought only of her the whole time.  I took the shirt and a pair of sheers and snipped it into rags in front of him while I told him what kind of horrendous jerk and total idiot I thought he was.  I took the 37 silk roses I had (one given to me every year on our anniversary, usually with great ceremony and a whole ‘look at me, look at me, I am so good’ vibe, which is mostly the driving force behind everything he does), and I threw them all in the garbage the day after I found out.
I have always hated fake flowers, anyway, and it seems fitting he never could remember that and it was a fake relationship as well.

 

Yes. I am in counseling.  Allegedly, so is he.  He has promised to continue supporting the cherub and I, but of course, how can I trust him?  So far he has, but he only got caught in an ongoing relationship the beginning of November and this only the beginning of January.   He sees the Cherub every other week or so for a few hours, and that’s his choice.

I don’t feel guilty.  I don’t feel like any of this was my fault.  I do feel like a stupid idiot.  I feel rage, grief, fury, heartache, disgust, horror, lonely, panicky, crushed,  and more.  I feel immense relief that his contemptuous treachery was discovered *before* we went to Malaysia.

I find myself with severe shoulder pain because I am tensing and keeping my shoulders up around my ears all day long- a common self defense/PTSD reaction to stress and betrayal.  I also find that the position I feel most comfortable sleeping in is sideways at the head of my bed, with my back firmly up against the sleigh style headboard, and I realized this is part of hyper-vigilance, protecting myself from being stabbed in the back, only too late, I already was, and keeping my back to the wall, literally, won’t protect me from this kind of attack anyway.  The mind is weird.

Another burden carried alongside this one is that the day before I discovered what a hollow monster I’ve been married to, I learned that the older of my once ‘Little Boys’ is incarcerated in a southern state and will be there at least a year.  This has been devastating.  I write to him three or four times a week, and I have not yet been able to tell him the news about a man he loved and looked up to and admired.   He’s written me back and he loves me and wants more letters and so I just keep trying to think of things to say that don’t go there.

I don’t know what else to say, or what I should unsay.  I have tried to hold back, but there is just so much.  Too much.  I would like to crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head and just stay there, forever.  I would like this all to be a horrendous nightmare, something from an alternate universe and I could wake up and things I once thought were true would still be true and the fears in the dark would be as unsubstantial as candle smoke.

I am so very very tired of trauma in my life.

 

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