Lost Chapter Part III: A Manic Move

                               
Photo by Stuart Pilbrow
After a short stay in Kentucky, we decided to move back to Georgia where Michael would resume his work with Georgia Mountain Resort Ministries. The summer staff would be arriving soon, and we needed a place to live until we could make other arrangements. Our best friends, Jim and Angie, offered for us to live with them in their new home. The night we moved in was a night to remember! Michael’s depression had subsided as he was excited about moving back to Georgia. Sadly, his excitement turned manic. We got off to a late start leaving Kentucky because Michael was restless and extremely busy, although I could not tell with what. He drove the U-Haul and I followed him in our car, pulling a trailer with our truck.

It was late as we crossed the Georgia line, and we stopped to discuss the best route to take. Following the Richard Russell Highway was the shortest route, but it was also the curviest. I was leery of driving a U-Haul across the mountain at night, but Michael felt confident that we could do it. As we were coasting downhill, the brakes on the U-Haul began slipping. Michael called me as we got closer to Helen asking me to pray because he was afraid the brakes were going to go out. I prayed and prayed and never before was I so happy to see our friends’ house. As we turned into their driveway, the brakes failed and Michael drove up their embankment, crushing the tomato plants Angie had planted earlier that day.  Michael jumped out of the truck and shouted, “We’re here!” I wanted to crawl under something and hide.

That was the beginning of our tumultuous stay. It didn’t take long for Jim and Angie to realize that something was amiss. Michael’s mania was rampant, and he was getting out of control. Jim tried to talk to Michael, but Michael didn’t think anything was wrong.  I felt trapped in the middle of my husband who I felt I was losing and my best friends who he was driving away. I wrote in my journal:                                 
                                                                                                June 1, 2001

Lord, I am so afraid of losing Michael – not afraid of losing our marriage but afraid of his becoming someone else like last summer.  I don’t understand why he feels he must become what he is not around certain people.  Lord, make him a godly leader. Teach him to trust You and to lean on Your strength and not his own. He is already trying to be superman and it’s only the first week of summer. Lord, you know I need my husband. Our baby needs a father. If Michael doesn’t learn to relax and pace himself, I’m afraid I won’t have him around very long. His blood pressure is already dangerously high. Lord, you know how much I love this man. Teach me to show him my support but at the same time to help him learn balance.

I can’t fix things, nor can I tell Michael how I feel because he becomes so defensive.  Lord, please show him and teach him.  I only have You. I am trusting our future to You.  There are more unknowns in my life now more than ever before and it terrifies me. Forgive my lack of faith. Increase my faith and trust. Help me not to fear the unknown. Help me keep my sanity. Strengthen our marriage. Lord, I miss the Michael who taught me Your Word and prayed with me. Teach him to be the spiritual leader You want him to be. Help him to focus.  Stop the colliding thoughts in his mind. Give him clarity in both thought and speech. My heart aches for Michael; it’s been such a difficult year and I’m exhausted. I cannot continue in my own strength.  Give me wings like eagles so that I can soar. 

A few weeks later, we moved into the house with the summer missionaries. I wish I could say that this was a turning point and that it was a great summer, but it wasn’t. I was very pregnant and moody; Michael was very manic and controlling. Not only were we bickering at each other, but it carried over into our relationships with the staff.  It was the hardest summer of our lives.

We decided to take a much needed vacation with Jim and Angie. The four of us went to Gulf Shores, Alabama for some R & R. On the drive down, Michael talked non-stop. He was very opinionated and argumentative. By the time we got to the place where we were staying, we were all irritable. The next morning we went shopping and I was thrilled to find a pair of Tommy Hilfiger tennis shoes on sale for $10. I was so excited. When we got back to the house, Michael told me that I needed to spray them so that they would be water resistant. I told him that because they were white, I didn’t want to spray them.

Michael snatched my shoes away from me and began spraying them with Scotch Guard inside the house. Angie came into the room and asked, “What is that horrible smell?” We tried to persuade Michael to take the shoes outside but he refused. He continued until he had sprayed half a can of the Scotch Guard on the shoes. I picked them up off the floor and my new white shoes had turned yellow. By now, both Angie and I were gagging from the fumes, and we went outside to get away from the horrid smell.

I couldn’t stand it any longer; I started to vent. I was so frustrated with Michael!  He wouldn’t listen to anyone; he talked all the time and never listened. He was spending all of our money on junk (just that morning he had gone to Wal-mart and spent $200 on stuff we didn’t need). I was so tired of my life and I was at my wits end!  I didn’t know what to do!

Apparently my outburst, wrong as it was, got to Michael. That night, Michael journaled:  

                                                                                                 April 8, 2004

I’ve thought for a long time that I was doing really well emotionally and mentally, only to be confronted with my wife’s tears again…My heart was breaking. I thought all was good but it was really, really bad.Oh God, what a crazy roller coaster ride we’ve been on, not just me but Natalie, Jorjanne and well, everyone else who is close to my heart. I’m so sorry that my emotions are a basket case. Oh well, this must be the thorn in my flesh.

I now have a new song, “Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean” by Matt Redman. I wonder if Natalie would listen to this song with me? Of course, I would like to hope that if we saw a lifeguard chair that she would climb back up into the chair with me but now I think I’ve hurt her so deeply           through all of my inconsistencies that her heart walls are so thick that she would never dream deep thoughts with me again. I think most recently she is just trying to survive in our marriage. I want her to thrive in our marriage. Please Lord teach me to walk at a pace that she can follow but not so slowly that she has to pull me up every time I get depressed and anxious. Lord, help me to be consistent. I want to be the husband you want me to be and the father that I need to be and the son that I long to be.

That night, Michael played the song, “Here is Love” for me and we both cried.

            Here is love, vast as the ocean

            Lovingkindness as the flood

            When the Prince of Life, our Ransom

            Shed for us, His precious blood

            Who His love will not remember?

            Who can cease to sing His praise?

            He can never be forgotten

            Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days

            On the mount of crucifixion

            Fountains opened deep and wide

            Through the floodgates of God’s mercy

            Flowed a vast, a gracious tide

            Grace and love, like mighty rivers

            Poured incessant from above

            And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice

            Kissed a guilty world in love

            Chorus:

            No love is higher, no love is wider

            No love is deeper, no love is truer

            No love is higher, no love is wider

            No love is like Your love, O Lord”

                                                 (“Here is Love,” by Matt Redman).

I wish I could say that this was a turning point and that the vacation was great from this point on, but the mania remained. Jim and Angie looked for opportunities to run to the store just to get away from it all. I felt trapped and alone. I knew that never again would we go on vacation with our best friends. I only hoped they would continue to be our friends after this dreadful trip.

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Tears to Joy: Lost Chapter Part III: A Manic Move

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Lost Chapter Part III: A Manic Move

                               
Photo by Stuart Pilbrow
After a short stay in Kentucky, we decided to move back to Georgia where Michael would resume his work with Georgia Mountain Resort Ministries. The summer staff would be arriving soon, and we needed a place to live until we could make other arrangements. Our best friends, Jim and Angie, offered for us to live with them in their new home. The night we moved in was a night to remember! Michael’s depression had subsided as he was excited about moving back to Georgia. Sadly, his excitement turned manic. We got off to a late start leaving Kentucky because Michael was restless and extremely busy, although I could not tell with what. He drove the U-Haul and I followed him in our car, pulling a trailer with our truck.

It was late as we crossed the Georgia line, and we stopped to discuss the best route to take. Following the Richard Russell Highway was the shortest route, but it was also the curviest. I was leery of driving a U-Haul across the mountain at night, but Michael felt confident that we could do it. As we were coasting downhill, the brakes on the U-Haul began slipping. Michael called me as we got closer to Helen asking me to pray because he was afraid the brakes were going to go out. I prayed and prayed and never before was I so happy to see our friends’ house. As we turned into their driveway, the brakes failed and Michael drove up their embankment, crushing the tomato plants Angie had planted earlier that day.  Michael jumped out of the truck and shouted, “We’re here!” I wanted to crawl under something and hide.

That was the beginning of our tumultuous stay. It didn’t take long for Jim and Angie to realize that something was amiss. Michael’s mania was rampant, and he was getting out of control. Jim tried to talk to Michael, but Michael didn’t think anything was wrong.  I felt trapped in the middle of my husband who I felt I was losing and my best friends who he was driving away. I wrote in my journal:                                 
                                                                                                June 1, 2001

Lord, I am so afraid of losing Michael – not afraid of losing our marriage but afraid of his becoming someone else like last summer.  I don’t understand why he feels he must become what he is not around certain people.  Lord, make him a godly leader. Teach him to trust You and to lean on Your strength and not his own. He is already trying to be superman and it’s only the first week of summer. Lord, you know I need my husband. Our baby needs a father. If Michael doesn’t learn to relax and pace himself, I’m afraid I won’t have him around very long. His blood pressure is already dangerously high. Lord, you know how much I love this man. Teach me to show him my support but at the same time to help him learn balance.

I can’t fix things, nor can I tell Michael how I feel because he becomes so defensive.  Lord, please show him and teach him.  I only have You. I am trusting our future to You.  There are more unknowns in my life now more than ever before and it terrifies me. Forgive my lack of faith. Increase my faith and trust. Help me not to fear the unknown. Help me keep my sanity. Strengthen our marriage. Lord, I miss the Michael who taught me Your Word and prayed with me. Teach him to be the spiritual leader You want him to be. Help him to focus.  Stop the colliding thoughts in his mind. Give him clarity in both thought and speech. My heart aches for Michael; it’s been such a difficult year and I’m exhausted. I cannot continue in my own strength.  Give me wings like eagles so that I can soar. 

A few weeks later, we moved into the house with the summer missionaries. I wish I could say that this was a turning point and that it was a great summer, but it wasn’t. I was very pregnant and moody; Michael was very manic and controlling. Not only were we bickering at each other, but it carried over into our relationships with the staff.  It was the hardest summer of our lives.

We decided to take a much needed vacation with Jim and Angie. The four of us went to Gulf Shores, Alabama for some R & R. On the drive down, Michael talked non-stop. He was very opinionated and argumentative. By the time we got to the place where we were staying, we were all irritable. The next morning we went shopping and I was thrilled to find a pair of Tommy Hilfiger tennis shoes on sale for $10. I was so excited. When we got back to the house, Michael told me that I needed to spray them so that they would be water resistant. I told him that because they were white, I didn’t want to spray them.

Michael snatched my shoes away from me and began spraying them with Scotch Guard inside the house. Angie came into the room and asked, “What is that horrible smell?” We tried to persuade Michael to take the shoes outside but he refused. He continued until he had sprayed half a can of the Scotch Guard on the shoes. I picked them up off the floor and my new white shoes had turned yellow. By now, both Angie and I were gagging from the fumes, and we went outside to get away from the horrid smell.

I couldn’t stand it any longer; I started to vent. I was so frustrated with Michael!  He wouldn’t listen to anyone; he talked all the time and never listened. He was spending all of our money on junk (just that morning he had gone to Wal-mart and spent $200 on stuff we didn’t need). I was so tired of my life and I was at my wits end!  I didn’t know what to do!

Apparently my outburst, wrong as it was, got to Michael. That night, Michael journaled:  

                                                                                                 April 8, 2004

I’ve thought for a long time that I was doing really well emotionally and mentally, only to be confronted with my wife’s tears again…My heart was breaking. I thought all was good but it was really, really bad.Oh God, what a crazy roller coaster ride we’ve been on, not just me but Natalie, Jorjanne and well, everyone else who is close to my heart. I’m so sorry that my emotions are a basket case. Oh well, this must be the thorn in my flesh.

I now have a new song, “Here is Love, Vast as the Ocean” by Matt Redman. I wonder if Natalie would listen to this song with me? Of course, I would like to hope that if we saw a lifeguard chair that she would climb back up into the chair with me but now I think I’ve hurt her so deeply           through all of my inconsistencies that her heart walls are so thick that she would never dream deep thoughts with me again. I think most recently she is just trying to survive in our marriage. I want her to thrive in our marriage. Please Lord teach me to walk at a pace that she can follow but not so slowly that she has to pull me up every time I get depressed and anxious. Lord, help me to be consistent. I want to be the husband you want me to be and the father that I need to be and the son that I long to be.

That night, Michael played the song, “Here is Love” for me and we both cried.

            Here is love, vast as the ocean

            Lovingkindness as the flood

            When the Prince of Life, our Ransom

            Shed for us, His precious blood

            Who His love will not remember?

            Who can cease to sing His praise?

            He can never be forgotten

            Throughout Heav’n’s eternal days

            On the mount of crucifixion

            Fountains opened deep and wide

            Through the floodgates of God’s mercy

            Flowed a vast, a gracious tide

            Grace and love, like mighty rivers

            Poured incessant from above

            And Heav’n’s peace and perfect justice

            Kissed a guilty world in love

            Chorus:

            No love is higher, no love is wider

            No love is deeper, no love is truer

            No love is higher, no love is wider

            No love is like Your love, O Lord”

                                                 (“Here is Love,” by Matt Redman).

I wish I could say that this was a turning point and that the vacation was great from this point on, but the mania remained. Jim and Angie looked for opportunities to run to the store just to get away from it all. I felt trapped and alone. I knew that never again would we go on vacation with our best friends. I only hoped they would continue to be our friends after this dreadful trip.

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1 Comments:

At August 19, 2013 at 7:51 PM , Blogger Melody said...

Natalie.....so glad you are sharing your story here. Praying God will continue to use it to encourage others and give hope.

 

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