So once upon a time, in a land kinda far away during a time that was… ummm… a while back, I had this boyfriend in college.
We were in loooooooove. Cuz I was all grown up and knew everything, you see. I was 19! An adult! Worldly! And he was really different than all the other men I’d known in my vast experience (which wasn’t very vast or worldly). And by different, of course I mean insane. But I was in loooooooove!
We dated for a couple of years. It was Serious. I assumed we were going to marry. He was local to our university town, and so I got to know his parents pretty well, and became fairly close to his mother. She was very sweet and wonderful. Also insane. But sweet. And totally accepting of me. Kinda. There was that time she took me out to lunch to tell me about the evils of pre-marital sex and how her son and I were needing guidance, and while I tried not to choke on my iced tea I suggested that A) her son wasn’t exactly a blushing virgin before I came along and B) what we did in private really wasn’t her business. She still liked me after that. But she did tell her son I was “too forward.” (Because bringing up sex to your son’s girlfriend is okey dokey as long as she blushes and begs forgiveness, I guess.)
You see, this guy and his mom belong to… ummmm… an extreme religious sect. I won’t say which one. That’s not necessary. But in the beginning of our relationship, when our love was fresh and new, I of course responded to any expression of this rather interesting faith-base with, “You know that’s bullshit, right? No? Well it is.” I’m sensitive, that way. After a while, I became convinced that the only way to adequately talk him out of this nonsense was to better acquaint myself with his beliefs, and somehow in there–perhaps insanity is contagious?–I lost my mind and decided to become One Of Them, myself.
My poor parents. Beside themselves, they were. But yeah, I converted. Not just to Christianity but to a very extreme and cult-like version of Christianity. I’m amazed they (my parents) still speak to me. (I’m still a Christian, but a nice, friendly middle-of-the-road Methodist, now.)
Anyway, things happened. Things like, me planning my life, while this boyfriend felt that a woman’s place in life was to be barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. It became clear to me that we were not the match I’d previously supposed. I broke up with him… it was messy… his mother tried to talk me out of it (because anything can be worked out, even her son’s addiction to porn I suppose). That was a fun time, yessir! Yeah, baby. Okay. I would like to go through that again as soon as possible, or maybe never. Good times.
For a while, we didn’t speak. I was still friendly with his mom. Then after a while we were able to stay in sporadic touch, friendly catching up and whatnot. That was fine. Then he married someone so completely batshit insane that it made his family look downright normal, and Batshit Crazy Woman correctly surmised that his entire family wished he had married anyone other than her, perhaps even me, and I think she forbid him to ever talk to me again.
For many blissful years, I haven’t heard from him. However, like clockwork, I receive birthday wishes from his mother every year. I think she put my birthday into her computer in 1991 and every year when the date pops up she finds herself composing her to-do list for the day. And it goes something like:
TODAY I MUST:
* call so-and-so
* do laundry
* read the bible for several hours
* curl hair
* send Mir email and attempt once more to save her soul from the flaming pits of hell
I’m touched, really, that someone is so concerned about me. I don’t mean to make light… much. Every year my effusive birthday email arrives, telling me how much she loves and misses me and how God’s plans for my life are still unfolding, etc. At some point last year, she emailed my ex because she’d lost her email addresses and his was the only one he could find. He did give her my address, but briefly (and, I gather, bitterly) filled her in on the divorce situation, and then I was treated to a mid-year missive on the sanctity of marriage and how she just knew that I could work it out if I really prayed enough.
I’d mailed her back, thanking her for her concern, telling her that I would take her suggestions under consideration but that—while I was not going to get into it—I had done what was necessary for the safety of my family. She hadn’t responded, and I’d assumed (hoped?) that I’d finally managed to get myself off her birthday list.
But no! Now, you see, my soul is in grave danger! Necessitating not just a birthday email from her, but a follow-up email from the old boyfriend to whom I haven’t spoken for 9 years or so. When I knew him in college, he’d been raised in this faith but was… hmmmm… I’m not sure how to put it. He wasn’t unreligious, but let’s say his practice was still fairly lax. It seems that years of being married to the Batshit Crazy Woman has caused a renewal of his faith, which I applaud. I mean, if you’re not smart enough to get out when it’s obvious that things are bad and getting worse, finding a way to blame it all on God just seems like good sense.
Anyway, I made the mistake of responding to his email. I didn’t say much; I was pleasant, gave a very brief update, figured we were done. How wrong I was. What came back? A long email about how his faith has grown and strengthened and he and BCW have been through very rough times, abuse even, but with God on his side they’ve found their way through and it’s not easy but blah blah blah, I don’t know, there was more, but it was hard to read while I was smacking my forehead on the desk repeatedly. Oh, but this gem did jump out at me:
“I have come to realize that if I put God first and glorify Him, everything else will fall in place. The storms of human life may rage about me, but I am untouched.”
I cannot tell you what a relief it is to be so edified, especially considering the source. I now see what a disgrace my life has become and how I’ve made baby Jesus weep. I wanted to call up my ex immediately to set things to rights, but naturally first I took off my shoes and went into the kitchen to bake something for him as an offering of my perfect wifeliness (fortified by my renewed commitment to God and Gold Medal All-Purpose Flour).
Also? He’d asked me if I was “still writing” and I’d said yes, some freelance stuff, some blogging, and he asked for the blog address. It was then that I realized what I’d unwittingly stepped into. And once I publish this entry? Well I can’t very well give him the address, now can I? One problem solved.
Sometimes, I wish for salvation. I do. Sometimes I turn heavenward and ask for a sign—anything—to show me I really am on the right path. But I’m fairly certain this is not how salvation arrives… and that it may indeed be my clue that I’m doing just fine.