Whew! Always good to turn the page! That was some intense stuff on my last post. But, I just buried it and kept on going. It is not like I knew that I had issues. All I knew is that I was 27 years old and free for the first time – on my own as a single parent – and liking it!
I will steer this next season of my life to introduce my second husband. We were married almost 15 years. We met at a Parent’s Without Partner’s event. I had been “single again” about two years and was working and still going to college. He was almost 12 years older than I was and came from a totally different lifestyle in New Orleans. He was a tough guy, used to bars and partying, camping and being aggressive if protection was needed. Since I had no goals of my own, jumping into his life seemed easy enough. We dated about a year, had a fight, made up and took off to Las Vegas to get married.
Yes, can you believe it? For real we took a limo ride from the courthouse to the Little White Chapel and got married with music playing out of a boom box. We were in love but I knew that we had some serious major differences and I stuffed my concerns down deep…that was easy for me. But, all in all, I was happy, eager to settle down and be a wife again. You know, being a wife gave me an identity role that I knew how to manage – and his toughness made me feel safe – like he could protect me from anything. I grew stronger and more assertive in that environment. We were doing pretty good.
We moved a few months after we got married to Denham Springs with his job transfer and stayed there a couple of years. I partied more in the next 5 years than I ever had in my whole life. I never had been much of a drinker. I thought it tasted bad – I just wanted a drink that had fruit in it, lol. We danced a lot – you have to remember I graduated from high school and then disco rolled in. My husband drank a lot. And at 30 years old I smoked pot for the first time. Looking back, I can’t believe that I did. My nature was to be scared of everything. But I just slid on in to the new me. See how easy that happens?
As for being away from home, I really enjoyed being away from Lake Charles and was eager to move again. After a couple of years we moved to Dodge City, KS and there we stayed for three years. We were a pretty strong family unit by then. My son was growing up and doing well. I was working and advancing at the regional hospital there. We were enjoying exploring a new environment. Oh my gosh! Tumbleweeds are real! You really have to sleep in the basement because of tornadoes! There are coyotes and canyons! There are hail storms, blizzards, wind all the time, and dry river beds. I studied and knew more about Kansas than those that lived there!!! It was great. Remember, I love to explore.
But other than that, I just shake my head thinking about the rest of it – so much happened in those three years. The first year in Kansas we lost Julie’s youngest son, 2 ½ year old Gavin from a burn accident and our family was wounded beyond anything that we could ever have imagined. It will be 20 years next week and in any given second those memories can replay. This, my friends, is where I saw Jesus for the first time.
My sister, Julie, had long been a Christian – having given her life to the Lord in middle school during some traumatic times. She learned early how to depend on God. But, I really wasn’t concerned a whole lot about God. I didn’t think He really wanted much to do with me anyway. I just didn’t know the journey that we were all about to take. I got the call about Gavin’s injury just hours after they delivered our new sofa in Dodge City. Isn’t it amazing that you remember the oddest things? So odd. I don’t think anything in our lives was ever the same after that. My son and I flew out to meet them all in Galveston at the burn hospital the next day. Thinking everything was going to be fine we were just looking at doing what we needed to. But it wasn’t that simple. The injury went bad in surgery and we lost him. I won’t say all the things I remember in my heart. But I will say that my sister is an amazing woman with more God in her than you can ever imagine.
I have to say this because experiencing this with her was a life changing experience. I watched my sister wrap that little white casket with a huge bow for the funeral…as her gift to God. I saw her love her God so much that my heart (the hidden one) began to crack open. My life changed forever. All of our lives changed. And perhaps many of you know this journey too. I know your life changed. God bless you…
After the funeral we all had to go back to our homes and try to live again. And you do, because living is what we do. But my son and I began to go to church. It began to be important to me to know where Gavin was…and know that all our family would be together again one day. I began to learn. And life went on, differently, but life went on.
But my heart had been cracked open and God had plans for me. Within six months I ended up bringing my son to a counseling agency for some school related problems. During the intake interview the counselor kept quizzing me about my life. I kept telling him that everything was wonderful – nothing was wrong in the family besides the loss of my nephew. He persisted and like a little light going off, I suddenly remembered the secret I buried long ago, and said, “Oh, well there is this one little thing”. Needless to say, he was totally upset and shocked, I almost laughed. I became his new project.
There is no need to say that my life changed totally again. Under the care of outpatient counselors they taught me how to open up and deal with the pain of the past. I won’t tell you that it wasn’t bad. It was a total nightmare. I had so much anger that rose up it scared me…and my family. I began to take karate lessons, and self defense classes. My husband and son would try to be in bed before I got home because I wanted to practice with them. I became focused on protecting myself – determined to never be a victim again. I lost tons of weight because my stomach always burned. I walked so much up and down the hills that several of my toe nails turned black and fell off. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I broke a baseball bat in half over a picture of “him”. I didn’t speak his name for two years. I became very aggressive. And I roamed the countryside and thought about running into a telephone pole to end it all.
Whoa now….I know that is a lot of trauma in a short span of time. But I want you to know (unbeknownst to me) that I know now that God kept his eye on me and I began to heal. I was still going to church. I didn’t know Him yet, but I was beginning to seek Him. I stopped watching horror movies. When I found out that I watched them because I identified with the fear, it grossed me out.
By this time in my life, I was the last person in my immediate family that was unsaved. But God doesn’t waste anything my friends, even heartbreak. And that goes for all of us.
Tomorrow I will turn the story to moving home where I would meet for the first time my new one year old niece, Jade. God’s gift back to us and we learned to laugh again.
Lots had truly happened in my life so far, but finally…there were no more secrets.
My God is faithful.
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Patti Corbello Archer