I have something to say about the Roman Catholic annulment process, but I'm not ready to do that right now. I'm productive and achieving things, and don't want to waste the time or energy necessary to say what's in my heart.
On my birthday, I got a letter from the St Cloud Diocese regarding the status of the annulment between my husband and myself. (Last year on my birthday, I received notice from Wright County that I was being charged with Domestic Assault after Joe tore the rotator cuff in my left shoulder. I may stop going to the mailbox on my birthday in the future!)
To date, Joe has given testimony that led the Diocese to open the case. That testimony resulted in the Diocese creating grounds for the annulment. Once I received the letter outlining those grounds, I went and told the story of my marriage. I had three witnesses on my list, my sister who still calls Joe her brother, a lifelong friend who knew Joe and I well, and Joe's mother. They were all fans of our marriage and they all knew about my alcohol abuse and Joe's affairs. After my testimony, Joe was expected to return and give his rebuttal. I expect he has done so.
In the beginning, I wasn't going to do anything to participate in the annulment process. I just don't care what Joe does in his life. But my famous four (the priests I rely on for advice) all agreed it would be better to go tell my story, so I researched the process a little in preparation for appearing at the Diocese. What I discovered angered and hurt me.
When Joe made his initial case for annulment, he said things that led the Diocese to choose the following grounds for annulment: for Joe, they were that he was too immature to make the decision to be sacramentally married (huh? he agreed to participate in Natural Family Planning, which is not for the feint of heart!) and for me, they were that I was mentally incapable of making the decision to enter into a sacramental marriage (huh?).
In recent history, I have dealt with every hurtful thing my husband and my former friend have done by engaging in self-destructive behavior. I don't blame them for that; I chose my own actions. But understanding what my husband said about me and how the Diocese interpreted it led me to choose self-destructive behavior culminating in my most recent bout with law enforcement last July.
Today my choices are different! I examined my emotions and thoughts on Saturday and found that I don't feel any compulsion to be self-destructive. (** Yay, God!! **)
At this point in the annulment process, I am offered the opportunity to go and read the statements by my husband, by my former friend (let's call her CC, shall we?), and by my brother-in-law. My husband chose as his witnesses some pretty shady characters!
I already know they lied.
I already know I won't do anything about their lies.
I already know I have let go of the hurt they inflicted with the lies I already uncovered.
I already know who are the people who believe what they said and the ones who don't.
I'm not going to go read their testimony.
I said from the start of the annulment process that I only wanted to tell my story. I wasn't mentally incapacitated when I decided to marry Joe. Truth is that I was an achiever! I was a good wife, a great mother, a wonderful friend, an excellent student and employee, and a faithful believer. Who I became for the years between 2009 and 2015 has no bearing on who I was in 1991 - and even at my weakest moments, I was not mentally incapacitated. More on that another time. Best, when I gave my testimony, I was merciful and honest. After swearing me out, the Diocesan representative thanked me for being truthful about my own failings and compassionate toward my husband.
Over the 24 years of marriage, I restated my vows with Joe three additional times. We had a good marriage for many of the years. Even when it was no longer good for me, I chose to cope the best I could and stay married. He chose something different. He also chose to forget the good and rewrite history; I believe it's the only way he could do what he did. I do think Joe and his witnesses each stand to gain significantly from their misrepresentation of my marriage. Joe and my brother-in-law because my dad believes their lies and they continue to profit at my dad's expense; CC because she wants the redemption being able to marry Joe within the Church will offer in terms of her relationship with her family.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter what was said or done or who lied or cheated. The Joe and Kari years are long gone.
And I am so thankful not to have to live with my husband anymore; his person and personal habits were revolting to me by the end of the marriage. I am more thankful that CC has been revealed for what she is and always has been. Except for the reality that he spread some pretty vicious rumors about me around town, my brother-in-law is a non-entity in my life aside from the fact that he repeatedly abuses the trust my father has in him.
I'm not really sure yet how this whole process will play out in my relationship with the Church. I have believed from the first that the annulment would be granted. I don't have an issue with that. I do have an issue with the grounds in this case - and with the lies offered up under oath by my husband and his witnesses.
Justice and Truth would demand that I am not found mentally incapacitated.
Yet real Judgement is not ours - and, with all due respect to the Church - it is not theirs either. Rather, it belongs to God. And that makes it easy to let it go.
I did what I set out to do and told my story. I forgave those who intentionally set out to harm me. I am on a journey of discovery and recovery.
This new world of truth and transparency, of love and redemption, of faithfulness and grace is worth the struggle it took to get here. I'm not going back to what was.