Two years ago today I went to a baseball game with Joe, Jakob, and Joe's dad. After all I'd been through at that point, the day was a remarkable celebration of freedom, sunshine, and family. At least for me.
It felt good to be safe and sober in a place that I'd always been - my chair behind home plate.
I was wearing braces that day on both hands. The damage to my hands and nerves from the abusive use of the handcuffs in my June 20th arrest has proven permanent. I have no feeling in either thumb or the first two fingers of each hand. The swelling and pain disappeared, though. That's a relief.
Jakob and Joe had some of their usual "moments" on the field.
They met at the mound for a conference. Or something. Those things aren't always as serious as they look.
After their moment, Jakob made his way back to home plate.
At the end of the game as a new team took the field, players and families stand around talking. I have always done more listening than talking in those moments, and that was true two years ago too.
See, nine days prior, I'd been arrested for a refusal to test DWI. I was also charged with resisting arrest; I'd taken off my handcuffs - not in an effort to resist, mind you, but because they hurt. An additional charge for 4th degree assault of an officer was eventually dismissed; the reports differ about whether or not I'd done something assaulting, and the action itself bore no intent to do harm. I didn't hurt anyone.
In the days that followed - four of them - I was in Hennepin County Jail with a motley crew of fellow inmates. My husband told me I wasn't worth getting out of jail. My dad refused to help too. I am fairly certain they had the notion that "tough love" and bearing the consequences for my bad behavior was key to some notion of recovery. Ironic. Neither of them has ever suffered the natural consequences of their own bad behavior, at least from my perspective. But I was going to pay for my bad behavior. Yes, indeedy.
When he picked me up from jail, Joe was the most verbally abusive, threatening person I'd ever known him to be. He screamed at me three times those heinous words, I HATE YOU. Imagine it: "I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!" He told me I would be complying with whatever he and my dad dreamed up, that I had no power and no choice about anything that was about to happen, and that if I said one word he'd pull over at the next ramp, shove me out of the vehicle, and call 911 to report I had started an altercation with him.
Scarier in some ways the four days I'd just spent in jail.
Those moments at the baseball field with Joe and Jakob were the first normal moments in nine days. The first time I'd felt a modicum of safety. The first moments in which I relished what should have been mine to relish.
When I said to Joe how content I'd been to be there in those moments of normalcy, his response shook my equilibrium.
"I hated it. I hate it when you're there. I'm afraid of what you'll do."
Those words were confusing to me at the time. I'd never done anything out of line or unusual at a baseball game! But a person dealing with shame and guilt and a certain type of "bottom" doesn't reason through any of that. I just felt off-balance, unsafe, and demeaned.
Joe's behavior, rage, and reactions are no longer confusing.
He was actively engaged by that point in using my own bad behavior to manipulate those around me into believing his version of events. In the text message between him and my former friend, they discussed their efforts to turn people against me and take their side in the coming months. With the exception of my dad, no one that matters to me supports them. Just the opposite: the revelation of their affair has hurt so many people including the children of both marriages.
As much as I hated Joe after the events of our trip to San Francisco, I still believed that I could chose to love him. I believed that things would turn around, that at some point we would morph into what people believed we were - each other's best support and friend. I believed we were in a valley, but that we would eventually make it out of the valley and find a mountain top. I believed we were a unit and that our hearts would heal and we would be the old "Joe and Kari" we'd once been.
God had a different plan, and it's beautiful.
Walking on the right path doesn't mean that things are easy or that I always make the right choices. But it does mean that eventually things will be how they're supposed to be.
My great struggle right now is trying to forgive Joe and my friend for what they took from me. I hate them for destroying my family - the one I sacrificed so much for. I hate them for taking my table - the only piece of furniture I ever bought without following all of Joe's rules and restrictions, and which I loved. I hate them for using my time shares - the ones I expected to use with my family into the future. I hate them for the way they've managed security - the kind that comes with having a second income and your job.
You know though? Jesus hated bad behavior too.