The Jehovah's Witnesses make a lot of sense. They are far more grounded in logic and reason than the other forms of Christianity I have experienced. However, I simply cannot get past their whole "last days" focus. Too much of the logic surrounding that point is circular. It can only be upheld by other beliefs which rely on the beliefs they support to, in turn, support them. Not working for me. Their idealism appeals to me, but I feel too strongly the push of mob mentality in their system. "Eight million people worldwide!" Umm, that's nice. How about eighty billion more who disagree? Numbers don't mean anything.
So if logic and reason are not the answer, why not mysticism? The more I study about the early Church, the more I feel as though we have been robbed of true faith in our Western culture. The original church consisted of several bishops who met as a council to determine doctrinal points. Constantine weighed heavily on their early decisions as the current political power and sole defender of the Church. This I find disturbing. The doctrine of the Trinity, for instance, was ultimately decided by him, according to the online (non-denominational) information I found. Then during the 11th century, the Bishop of Rome, which had long been the overriding political power, decided he should be the head of the Church. The other bishops disagreed, and the Roman Catholic Church was born. Since Rome was the world power, it was the Roman Church that spread Christianity in its own form to the West, and eventually to the Western Hemisphere. By that time, of course, the Protestant Reformation had begun, and so an even farther removed version of Christianity took root in the United States.
The priest who teaches the class surprised me by saying that Lutheranism is the closest denomination to the Orthodox Church. I had already drawn the conclusion that many of the Reformers left the Roman Church over the same doctrines that the Orthodox had rejected centuries earlier. Luther in particular. Of course, there was no technology or significant travel in those days, and he did not have the Orthodox Church in Germany to return to. Instead, he did a fairly good job of reestablishing it without guidance.
Most of all, it was the doctrine of Original Sin that fascinated me. I was quite surprised to find it was the Roman Church which introduced this doctrine, one carried into virtually all branches of Protestantism. For over 1,000 years, Christians did not believe this doctrine. The Jews, whose religious writings form the basis of it, do not hold this doctrine. Yet this is the founding doctrine of so much Western religious culture. Like spanking, for instance. The concept of "evil childhood" and its surrounding perversions. I had previously thought it came into being with the Calvinists; but it makes sense that the Roman Church, with their abusive, oppressive form of "evangelism," would have authored it.
I put on a cassette tape for a friend of mine the other day, one that my brothers and I made under my mother's guidance when I was around 7-8 years old. Isaac Watts' Divine and Moral Songs for Children. I wanted her to hear us singing. But I don't allow my own children to hear it, and I was again reminded why. The constant hammering of guilt and shame for simply existing in an immature form was revolting. I don't believe these things any more. Not even remotely. More and more I see it as an absolute perversion of God's intended way. Such fearmongering, persistent reminders that death was ever imminent, and eternal damnation was our just reward for being born in this filthy and corrupt state. Hurry, accept Christ and become perfect TODAY! This instant! Before another selfish thought or disrespectful look emanates from your evil and unfit soul to forever seal your punishment!
Seriously? How did people come to believe this stuff about the Creator? I can't believe what a failure Western religion has turned out to be. I don't know yet if I will join the Orthodox Church, but I know I can never call myself Protestant again.
In other news:
I guess I may as well go ahead and explain what's been going on with DH and I. When he left the hospital after 45 days of treatment, he went to a recovery house. Not a halfway house, which would have been paid for by the state. He couldn't accept the rules. After two weeks at the first recovery house, he was coming up with crazy stories as to why he could not stay. I started telling the manager what he was saying, and he left that day. His mother took him. He went to a new place, closer, supposedly perfect, near the hospital where his therapy meetings were. He started working. Within a week or so he had moved in with the manager of the new place, who lived in DH's old neighborhood. He informed me that both of them were bisexual and that this person was exactly who he needed to support him in his recovery.
Within a few more days, upset by my reaction to his revelation about sexuality (I immediately went to the doctor and got tested for everything, since he had recently been involved in a relationship with another young man that I had found very confusing - this explained it), he came to see me at work. The gist of the conversation was basically, "You know I can't be alone, and I need to know if you're taking me back any time soon because otherwise I have to find someone else, and it won't be a woman." Of course that wasn't stated in those words. It was blatantly implied. His unspoken argument was, "Your rejection will make me gay." As if I could prevent it.
I reiterated my expectation that he should live for one year on his own (not with family or friends) POST TREATMENT to show himself mature and responsible enough to be a healthy member of our family. I also informed him that I was going to file for divorce, since I felt at that point the only way to know if we could ever have a healthy relationship was to sever the one we had and see where our lives went. He made no secret of the fact that he would not stay in treatment if I divorced him, saying I was taking away all his motivation. I refused to be manipulated. I filed for divorce, he left treatment in an ugly scramble of unfortunate events, and continued to live with the manager of the house.
Every decision he made, he asked my opinion of, received it in detail, then proceeded to do the exact opposite. I stopped offering my opinions once he was out of treatment. It was no longer relevant. For me, everything had hinged on his staying in treatment. If he was out, there was only one inevitable path left for him to follow and I wasn't getting anywhere near it.
I started getting calls and text messages from the manager. He wanted to cry on my shoulder about what a terribly selfish person DH was, how un-affectionate he was, and even went so far as to inform me that he was letting DH sleep in his bed with him and getting nothing in return. Can you say TMI? I finally flipped out on him, encouraged by the ladies who owned the surrounding stalls at the market and whom I confided in on weekends. He threw a pity party worthy of DH himself, and accused me of dumping all my problems on him. I pointed out that I had not once contacted him since DH came into his program, and that was the end of that.
A short while later DH stole some checks from him and forged his signature. His mother picked him up and brought him to live at her house. Supposedly those charges have been dropped, but DH admitted to stealing the checks and insisted he was owed something for the misery he put up with while living there. Ugh.
At this point I knew beyond any doubt that we had no future. But I hoped he would remain in the children's lives, so I bit my tongue. The divorce papers were served, he said he would not contest. In another month or so it should be finalized.
His mother bought a cleaning company from her cousin, quit her job, and began operations with him. They fired all the employees and took on several new clients. Bad move. I told him so, but what do I know? Both of them pressured me a few times to come and work with them to make more money on the side. I didn't flat out refuse, still trying to avoid hard feelings. But there is no way I would ever work with either of them, and especially given the fact that he was bound to eventually return to heroin. The last thing I need is to be one of the suspects in a large jewelry theft when he runs out of cash.
So things have hung in a sort of limbo for a few weeks. He gave me money pretty regularly for two months, and I asked the lawyer about reporting it. She said she wouldn't necessarily report the amount I was receiving, but then I heard from someone else that he will be required by the court to pay backdated support from the time we separated. Since he was excused from child support while in treatment, this means it will probably date either from the time he left treatment, or the time he starts showing an income. Who knows when that will be, given the fact that he thinks he is once again working mostly for cash. I don't know what his mom plans to report on taxes, and that is between them.
He asked me for a ride three weeks ago to a side job. He filled the car with gas in exchange, so I agreed. On the way there, he began telling me how this woman he was working for adored him, wanted him, couldn't keep her hands off him, was asking him to move in with her. I figured he was greatly exaggerating the situation, but who knows. Women do like him a lot. Outwardly I tried to blow it off. Inwardly I seethed at his vile manipulation in asking me for a ride to an alleged girlfriend's house. I resolved never to drive him to another job or meeting of any kind except to visit the kids.
He said he was going to have the work vehicle soon, they just had to transfer the title. I was looking forward to the day I wouldn't have to choose between visiting at his mother's apartment, or driving him around with us. Several days later, he called me up and asked me if it would hurt our chances of future reconciliation if he went on a date with the afore-mentioned woman. I said no. That was true, because I knew already there was no chance now. Not because I didn't want it, but because he was clearly headed in the opposite direction of everything he needed to do in order to facilitate that. So what if he went on a date? He was never faithful anyway and I wasn't expecting him to start now. I also told him not to discuss future relationships with me because it was inappropriate.
It was clear by his voice and attitude that he was high. This angered me more than anything else. He seemed eager for some sign that I was hurt and humiliated by the conversation, and I refused to give it. Several minutes later he texted me that he would just do the one date, sorry but he really needed to sleep with a pretty girl and then he would tell her it's over, out of love for me.
Well the volcano erupted. I refused to talk on the phone because the kids would hear, and sent a furious message back, to which he responded with a slew of whining, ranting, accusatory statements culminating in never wanting to see or hear from me again. Good, now we're on the same page. Except for the part that involves the kids. I had my brother stay with them for a few minutes while I went up and vented to my parents about my grief and disappointment. My dad said nothing. Always a sign that he is deeply infuriated. He expressed sorrow for my loss, and my mom hugged me and said the sympathetic and supportive things that moms say and grieving daughters need to hear.
I went back to the kids, feeling a strange sense of the world opening up, or lifting off my shoulders, or something like that. I didn't have to hold back any more. He was toxic, and the person I loved was long gone, and I didn't have to keep him in my life. It was up to him to stay in the children's lives, if he wished to do so. If he didn't, why should I try to keep him there? They don't need a father who doesn't care if he sees them or not.
It was clear to me that he had manipulated the situation successfully, after repeated attempts, so that I would be the one to sever the relationship forever, allowing him to cry victim to anyone who might have otherwise criticized him. I'd felt him trying for years, and refused to give in. Now I didn't care any more. It was beautiful. He never wanted us, just like he had repeatedly told me in the past. And now I had accepted that I didn't have to want him, and that the children didn't need him. Not like this. They needed someone he had no intention of ever being.
I didn't call him that weekend, and he didn't call. Monday he called and said his jaw had been abscessed and they had treated in on Saturday, so he was too groggy Sunday to call. That's fine. (And yes, the story was true.) I agreed to bring the kids over that evening.
On the way over he called and asked if I would take him back to the ER for some sort of followup something. I couldn't understand why he would go back there, but he filled the tank with gas again, which I needed, and I figured, what could he do at the hospital anyway? Besides I'd rather he spend time with the kids in the car than at his mom's. As we approached the hospital, he told me to swing by the recovery house so he could pick up mail from the county that had arrived. I seethed, but said nothing. He was in and out fairly quick. We dropped him at the hospital and went to the mall.
On the way back, he called to inform me that he couldn't wait around at the ER (total BS since they have a huge and mostly empty waiting area), so he had walked back to the recovery house and I should pick him up there. I was livid. I knew inside he'd be high when we got him, and sure enough he was. I said nothing, however, because the kids were there. He started telling the boys to decide what they wanted for Christmas because he was going to get us each something good. They were elated, of course. He asked me what I wanted. I told him not to get me anything. Just the kids. He tried to protest and I cut him off.
So began a ridiculous, childish meltdown of alternate sobbing and whining and muling about what a shitty person he is and how pathetic his life is because he can't be a good father. The boys' behavior plummeted instantly, of course. Especially Whiz Kid's. He understands far too much of what's happening. I ground my teeth in silent fury. We went through a Wendy's drive-thru since it was nearly bedtime now. I had not planned on being out tonight. He rolled the window down and let his head droop outside of it, sobbing and whimpering loudly while people stared. I weighed the consequences of forcibly ejecting him from the car right there and making him walk home. I was about to do so when suddenly he stopped like a faucet turned off, rolled up the window, and began talking to them in a normal voice as if nothing at all had happened.
I wasn't sure if this was a bipolar thing, if he had been faking the whole thing to manipulate me and realized it wasn't working, or what. I did know that he was NEVER getting in a vehicle with us again. We dropped him off, went home, and managed to settle down with only minimal discussion of what had just occurred. Little Bear was visibly upset and confused by Papa's grief, Whiz Kid was yelling at him to shut up every time he mentioned it, and I just told them we all needed some sleep and it would be okay.
This past Sunday I decided not to wait for his call because he might be expecting a ride again. I texted him and told him to let me know when he wanted to meet. He said, "You're picking me up right?" I said no. This led to several texts and then a call from his mother, where she tried to imply that I had sabotaged him by not telling him sooner that I wasn't going to drive him, because they had JUST done the insurance for the company car and she could have put him on it if she knew he needed to drive it, it just would have meant less money for me the previous weekend. I patiently reiterated, over and over, that it was his responsibility to make arrangements for meeting us, not hers and not mine, and that he could always get a ride in the past for drugs, so he should be able to get one now to meet us. She finally gave up on the guilt trip and we ended the conversation. She said we could come over to her apartment, but he said no, and she offered in my hearing to drive him to the meeting, but he said no to that as well.
I didn't call back. She called me again later wanting to know if I had accused him of childishness for crying in the car. I didn't answer and she left a voicemail. I texted back that he needed to stop involving her in this. She said he wasn't. That was the end of that.
The next day my phone rang while I was in the car. It was his number. I picked up and heard her going on and on in the background about it not being her job to take him places, she doesn't even have time to go out with her friends, and she doesn't understand why I can't pick him up but she isn't taking the responsibility on herself. All fine and good, of course. She's absolutely right that it isn't her job, and I'm not expecting her to pick up his slack. I didn't hear everything by a long shot, but I heard him saying something about "Oh, and of course if (myself) said it then it must be true. I've been dealing with this for 8 years now, you guys just believe everything she says. She puts her own spin on things just like everyone else."
I'm not sure what happened 8 years ago, or if that was just a random number. Quite likely he thinks we've only been married 8 years instead of 10. Whatever. I wasn't at all surprised by what I'd heard, but I decided it was high time I informed him in certain terms of my new boundaries. He clearly thought I was going to take his side again at some point.
Boy, was I right! I got my mom to watch the kids that evening for a short time while I sat in the car and called him. I told him I'd heard some of the conversation, and he was elated. He said he had called me on purpose so I could hear his mom's rant and see what he has to deal with on a daily basis. I asked if he really thought I was going to come running back to save him from her again. He seemed irritated by the implication that he was trying to manipulate me, and confused by my lack of response to his mother's behavior. I went on to explain that I felt he was still refusing to acknowledge where things were headed, and that I no longer wished to have any relationship with him at all. He got very upset and tried once again to focus on the bisexual thing, saying that where everything went wrong and I am making too much of that. I tried to explain that everything had been wrong from the beginning, the bisexual thing merely shed a light on why and how, and that our conversation regarding the date had been the absolute end of it all. He insisted that his disrespectful comments about her had been a joke taken out of context. He kept returning to the bisexual argument, and I kept returning to his lack of respect for others evidenced in the date conversation, and he repeatedly refused to even discuss that, saying every time that "we already know that was a joke out of context, so it's not even relevant." It was so clearly manipulative in every way, and just confirmed my belief that he has no intention of ever changing this toxic, selfish, immature behavior.
Time will tell if he truly has any interest in remaining part of the childrens' lives. I don't believe he does. I told him I will gladly work with him on visitation, and said he doesn't believe me. So there it lies. He made a big deal of the fact that I am the one making this choice (no, really? Because I totally thought it was my alter ego doing it!), which adds to my belief that he wants it this way, but with him as the victim. He started to say that I would regret it, but stopped. I'm not sure whether to construe that as a veiled threat or as wishful thinking.
I am SOOOO done, and it is so wonderful, and I have faith that God will protect us from him wherever necessary. And also, my family. :) Because they don't take any crap, and I have lots of good people on my side now. The future is finally bright.