Monday, June 29, 2015

The Work of a Weekend

The work of creating my new space isn't limited to packing boxes and moving furniture. 

My new space is already bursting with color and flowers and joy! This weekend I started transforming my kitchen table, chairs, and counter stools. 

Has Willie become a photo bomber?? See him??

This is freaking fun!

The best part is, if I don't like something, I can just slap on some more paint. 

I didn't like that. 

Or that.

I also like it that I can start the project  and then leave it for awhile. When the mood strikes, my slate is clean and ready.  Incidentally, so are the paint brushes and trays. 

The color palette is reminiscent of a painting I've had for years. It inspired the color of my Celtic cross, the one on my back, too. 

Tonight, after the Rotary banquet, I'll finish the first stage of this project. I'm excited to see how the place I will feed my family and friends will welcome them. I'm also excited to see what the interior decorator I'm meeting on July 15th will have to say about this project. 

Other work consumed the weekend. 
Jakob's laundry is done - at least until tomorrow morning! Until we move, though, he's without a dresser. Oops. 

The washer and dryer hold some of the clothes. The rest cover the laundry shelf. 

He's keeping them neat!  He's also sweetly thankful that they're clean.

My suitcases are packed and ready for my next adventure. I'm off tomorrow at 5 am.

Jakob and the puppies have food. 

And there's a box for the food shelf. 
Jakob and I have boxes too! They're spread around the house ready to cart to our new house. 

Please note that adorable packing tape. Even packing boxes can be cute these days. 

Slowly, surely, and certainly, I'm packing and Jakob's carting. We make a really good team. 

Oh. And, maybe most exciting, I'm done with this bad boy. 

45 days with two weeks for traveling and missioning, and this guy is unplugged at 8:15. Jakob's dropping it off this morning. 

But more on that another day. 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Haircut Video

Hahahaha!!! It won't stay here long!

Willie says "hi" too, but Chuck would have nothing to do with it.  He's sitting behind my back, hiding.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Integrity is Everything!

Awhile back a friend of mine forwarded me an email she was sending to her "rival" in love. 

She wrote to her rival, "I may be prettier than you, funnier than you, thinner than you, smarter than you... " The self-boasting list went on for a few lines and her point was lost for me in the empathy I felt at that point for the recipient of her email. 

I asked her if she'd sent it yet. When she answered in the affirmative, I was dismayed. Who sends something like that to another person? 

Seeing this meme today reminded me of that email and the arrogance of the sender. 

Sociopath? Narcissist? Arrogant fool? Lost and broken child of God?

I'm not sure how to define someone like that. 

I am profoundly, wonderfully, infinitely grateful that God set us on diverging paths. 


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Frrrreeeeeeeeedommmmmmmmmmmmm! or the Fourth of the Anniversaries

One year ago today, I got out of jail.

Jail sucks. I would never, ever choose to be there or wish someone were there. After all the trauma of the experience, I'm not even sure I can ever play Monopoly again. Even the "Just Visiting" space would give me the jitters.

Late in the evening on that Monday night, I got a message that I had a visitor.  For a moment, my heart soared. My husband?  My dad? They were the only ones who knew I was there, and even after the trauma of hearing my husband say I wasn't worth getting out of jail the day before, it was still inconceivable to me that he would fail to support me through what was going to be a very difficult time.

Whenever you go someplace in jail, you are handcuffed. If another prisoner is involved, you are handcuffed to each other. My hands were still so swollen that the pressure of the cuffs was agonizing.  The lady with me, Green 'Fro helped relieve the pressure by holding my hand, which was also a small human comfort.

We sat in the space reserved for us shackled people.  When I was called, it was to a space inhabited by a man I did not know.  Turned out he was a Conditional Release Probation Officer.

PO:  Do you want to go home?
Me: Yes!!!!! What's the catch?
PO: (laughs) There are some conditions.
Me: What are they?

He listed the conditions.  Basically, in my case, I had to agree to be law abiding, refrain from alcohol use, and talk to a Probation Office.  I also had to agree to show up in court.  The good news was it wouldn't cost any money to get out of jail.

PO: Can you agree to that?
Me: YES!

He created the paperwork that allowed me to go home.  It was after the cutoff for phone calls, so I asked him to call my husband.  He said he had to anyway to establish my address was accurate. It was close to ten.

He sent me back to the cell with a warning: "Do not tell anyone you're going home. No matter how friendly they seem, there are some who will try derail your release. They will start a fight or threaten or hurt you or somehow make it so you can't leave. Do NOT tell anyone."

Umm... Yikes.

I went back to the cell. My spirit was singing; I was getting out of jail, a real hell hole.

When I got back to the cell, Know-It-All was at the window. Green 'Fro wasn't back yet from what I assumed was also a meeting with a Conditional Release Probation Officer.  Know-it-all was crying. I went and stood by her at the window. The sisterhood had dispersed; we were three.

Me: What's wrong, honey.
Know-It-All: This is the first time I've been alone. 'Til now I've had all the questions. Your white girl questions. Now that I've been alone, I've been thinking about what I have to did and what I'm likely facing. It sucks.
Me: I'm sorry.  Really sorry.
Her: I believe you. I didn't know there are still people like you in the world. You love people. You have hope. You believe there is something better. Will you pray for me?

OMG! I know why I was in jail. But in that moment it occurred to me that there may be deeper meaning.  Maybe I wasn't just in jail for me; maybe I was in jail for her too. 

Still, I was remarkably interested in my own best interests at that point.  I never told her I was leaving, and I saw in her face the moment when she registered my betrayal. It was heartbreaking to leave her there, knowing she was going to be alone the rest of the night. The nights are very long in jail. Earlier in the afternoon when Kelli left, I couldn't even imagine how I was going to make it through the night without her support. Now Know-It-All was going to be completely alone. As sad as I was for her, I was also so, so happy to be leaving.  I guess it's a moment that can best be described as bittersweet.

I have prayed for her, without ceasing.  She was right; what she was facing was so much worse than what I was facing, and I was scared. I hope things went well for her.

So. I left that cell knowing I would never be back.

I was cuffed and shackled, and escorted to the same area where I'd been booked what seemed so long ago.

The officer cut off the bracelet and took my papers.  I had to sign for my things, and I went in a room to change.  Even though I felt like I still smelled of jail sweat, it felt so good to be in my own clothes and almost free.  I gave the officer my uniform and the horrendous plastic shoes.  She gave me the rest of my things and sent me to the phone.  I called my husband; he was on his way.

Outside the building, unsupervised for the first time in days, I sat near a fountain and looked at the outside of the jail. I imagined I could see Know-It-All at the window looking out. We'd all watched people moving across the intersection, coming and going from the various buildings - even eating lunch in the very place I was sitting.

I was disconcerted. Free. Scared. Cold. Uncertain. Free.

My husband came about a half hour later.  I was so happy to see him and the link to home. He was not happy to see me. The anger and loathing filled the space between us.

About ten minutes out of the city, he laid in to me.

Husband: You will go to treatment. Your dad and I will choose the place. You will be there for at least a month.
Me: I don't think it works that way. Before you can go to treatment you have to have a Chemical Dependency Evaluation...
Husband: Shut up.  You don't understand that you have no power.  It's not up to you.
Me: ...
Husband: Who paid for you to get out of jail?
Me: No one? Didn't the Conditional guy call you and explain?
Husband: Who paid for you to get out of jail?

He had a litany of things I would do.  And a list of things I would not do. Much of his monologue was insulting and embarrassing.  His words were meant to wound and denigrate. The conversation was very repetitive.

Husband:  You will go to treatment this week. I will choose the place. You will not like it. But you will do it.
Me, eventually: You understand that it doesn't work that way, right?
Husband: SHUT UP. I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU. I HATE YOU. You will do what you're told. Do you understand that you have no choice?
Me: It just doesn't work like that.
Husband: YOU. HAVE. NO. CHOICE.  Get it?
Me: Please stop. Please stop.  Please stop...
Husband: If you say one more word, I am pulling off the next exit and throwing you out. I will say you were out of control and hitting me. You'll go back to jail.

I said not another word. Not one.The hope that I'd felt sitting in that visitor's room with the Conditional guy faded. The peace Know-It-All's words had given me faded. The simple joy in being free faded. The thought that I'd left one hell hole for another surfaced.

I was completely at my husband's mercy.

And it was evident that he had none.

No matter who you are or what you bring to the telling of this story, know that the telling is agonizing and brutal. As I write and remember and relive, I say goodbye to these pieces of the past. Much of the remembering is tied up with the demise of my marriage and the end of my twenty-eight year relationship with a man who had become bitterly angry, controlling, and abusive.

On this, the first anniversary of the fourth trauma, when I click "Publish" I will consciously let go of the events of that day.

Next year, I plan to celebrate each of these anniversaries with the sure knowledge that I wouldn't be who I am today without each of these horrible experiences.

And you know? The better I know myself, the more I love myself.

That, by itself, is a huge victory.


Monday, June 22, 2015

The Sisterhood of the Cell, or the Third of the Anniversaries

Women bond in many ways.

Sharing the experience of booking and incarceration is a uniquely bonding experience.

Over the course of the days I spent in Hennepin County jail, I recall the dark fear and anxiety, my physical pain and the deep, inescapable cold, and - most suprising - giddy laughter shared with other women.

The people I met Friday night made quite the cast of characters.

Kelli - my jail twin; a woman who shared the fear and wondering through the long nights and days in jail and who has remained my friend
Animal - the detoxing woman who only woke long enough to devour her food, much like an animal, and then slept until released
Eyelashes - the beautiful young woman arrested for solicitation, who lost her eyelashes from her left eye during the long night of booking
Cigarette - the hilarious 21 year old who swore she was going to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes the minute she was released - all at once - while holding a drink in each hand; her philosophy of life boiled down to this notion: a woman should have the right to wash her vagina
Daddy's Girl - the young woman who's father paid a lawyer $7,000 and got her out of jail within hours of her arrest
Purple Hair - the woman with the most beautiful, braided, and very purple hair
Grandma - the woman who got there first and volunteered to clean the room in exchange for extra food - enviable food too; she got fresh fruit and veggies
Toothless Ho - the prostitute with no teeth who was upset at her early release; she wanted supper before she left

When we first got to the Cell, everyone had the same bemused, shell-shocked look on their faces.  Some women were already in their cots, sleeping.  It was about 7:30 in the morning. Those of us arriving together made our cots quickly and got in them.  Some women had grabbed a second plastic mattress to achieve a little more cush; eventually, they had to put them back so I was glad I didn't mimic that idea.

Lying in my cot on my right side, I opened my eyes and saw Kelli in the cot next to mine.

Me: Are you scared too?
Kelli: Yes.
Me: It's weird, but it helps me to know you feel the same way I do.
Kelli: Me too.

We both slept for a few minutes.

Eventually rising for breakfast, the women were surprisingly quiet. 

Randomly women would be called to the door to talk to an officer or get something.  Medicine came at specifically scheduled times, as did meals. The endless, enforced idleness is nerve-wracking.  Eventually, women started talking, bonding.  I started asking questions.

Me: So, what does it mean that I don't have any charges yet?
Someone would answer, reassuring me that it was normal or not to worry or whatever.
Me: So, what if they charge with a refusal to test, what will happen?
Someone would answer with their idea of what would happen.  Everyone sort of thought something different.
Me: So, you're charged with prostitution? What does that mean?

Apparently, at the end of nearly every one of my question-asking sessions, I said, "But that could change, right?"

Know-It-All hated me. She asked if I was a spy and that's why I was so curious. She hated that I was asking questions and that I was so naive.  She eventually told me she just tried to sleep through all my questions, but that I was like an annoying, pesky puppy.  By then, when I started to ask questions, she'd come answer.  She was a veritable font of information and really did seem to know it all. She wasn't actually correct about most of it, but she answered me.

Know-It-All had a sad story.  She had been arrested for domestic assault when her and her mother got into an altercation.  It wasn't the first time she had been in jail, and it seemed like her consequences were going to be fairly stiff unless her mother recanted her story.

She mocked me one morning.

Know-It-All:  Hey, Grandma.  If I got charged with a gross misdemeanor and was wearing purple underwear and had nine dollars and seven cents, what do you think would happen?
Grandma: Well, you won't find out until you get your charge sheet! (laughs)
Know-It-All: But that could change, right?
Me: You're mocking me, aren't you?
Know-It-All: Yep.

Everyone laughed.  It was an ice breaker. And, it's true; most of my questions were freaking stupid.

The two younger women, Eyelashes and Cigarette, didn't know what to expect either. The two of them were in the cots above Kelli and I, and we all ended up talking a fair amount that first day.

Eyelashes: Kari.  Tell me a story.
Me: About what?
Eyelashes: Anything.

I told her about my boys until she faded to sleep.

Like women do, we all shared stories. At one point, sitting in a circle on a couple of cots, we shared the arrest stories.  Why were we each there?

Know-It-All shared the story of her and her mother.  A couple of women were there for prostitution.  There were other DWI-related arrests.  Kelli talked about being assaulted and thrown out of her house.  She drove a car in the driveway to the nearby Walmart and was crying on the steering wheel when a concerned shopped contacted law enforcement to help her. I said I was drinking wine.

Cigarette: Was it at least red?
Me: No. White wine.
Know-It-All: OMG. You are such a white girl!

That nickname stuck.  From that point forward, Kelli and I were the White Girls.

Emotions struck randomly, it seemed.  Fear. Confusion. Dismay.  Disgust. Giddiness.Grief.  Uncontrolled laughter.  Tears. Shame. Guilt. Horror. Unmitigated boredom. Panic.

And through it all grew a Sisterhood.

The night I was arrested was an unusually busy night in Hennepin County.  As a result, the women who went through booking just before me, with me, and just after me were housed in the men's part of the jail.  The room - cell, rather - was long and wide.  The cots were lined up on either side of the room, were fairly close together, and were all stacked two high.  Each cot contained a plastic mattress, and the packet we'd each collected during the long walk from booking to the cell had two sheets, a thin blanket, and a cup with toiletries (soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, and comb).  Next to each cot was a shelf for belongings.

Each person is assigned a cot.  We were told to wear all pieces of our uniforms at all times unless we were in our own cot. The rule was for our safety; we were in the men's part of the jail, with male prisoners delivering meals and male deputies in charge of monitoring our room and providing our care.

There was a plastic tray of items on a table near the window.  In the plastic tray were two forms, one for medication requests and the other for other requests, and pencils.  There was more soap and toothpaste, and sanitary napkins. There was a rolling cart with reading material in the opposite corner.  Front and center was a small television, controlled by the officers.

I've long held that sweat doesn't generally stink.  Healthy workout sweat only creates bad smells when dirty clothes are left wadded up somewhere.  Sweat from outdoor heat is the same; it almost smells fresh.  Both kinds of sweat are honestly achieved and healthy.  The sweat of fear is completely different.  It smells bad.  It feels bad.  It's completely uncontrollable.  Every time I picked up the phone to call my husband or my dad, I sweat in fear.  Fear they wouldn't answer.  Fear they would.  Fear of what they would say. Fear of not hearing them say anything.  Fear. Pure fear.  I wiped it constantly with the front of my heavy gray uniform t-shirt. Eventually I could smell it on my t-shirt - and I couldn't stand it.  

New uniforms come on Thursdays, I believe.  You can get a new uniform if you tell the officers you have your period.  Otherwise, you wear the same uniform for the duration.  You sleep in it, spend the days in it, and even go to court in it.

There aren't any products in jail.  No lotions or sprays, no curlers or ties.  No makeup.  It's sort of the great equalizer - everyone looks the same.  But, in my opinion, it's very dehumanizing. There was no opportunity to be really clean, there was no way to express personality, and there was not a thing to do about it except submit.

I got really desperate for a clean t-shirt.  While sitting at the table after lunch, I spied that plastic tray of stuff.  "I know," I thought.  "I'll wash my shirt with a bar of soap."  The soap is the size of hotel soap, but not good soap. 

When I showered, I used the soap on the front of that uniform t-shirt.  It didn't work very well at all.  Then I recalled the toothpaste!  I washed the front of my shirt with toothpaste.  It didn't smell clean, but was sort of minty and better than before the washing. Incidentally, it takes those heavy t-shirts a very long time to dry.  With the rule that we could only be in bed if we weren't in full uniform, I was stuck there for a long time.

After washing my hair, with no products or tools at my disposal, it hang limp and heavy on my neck.  Sweating made that feel gross too.  Apparently pony tails are suicide risks or something, so there wasn't anything to use for hair.  I improvised.  Removing some sanitary napkins from the plastic wrap, I twisted two plastic wraps together and wrapped them around my pony tail.  Huge, huge hit with the Sisterhood! Within 15 minutes, everyone who was anyone in Cell Block H was sporting a sanitary napkin pony tail.  One creative woman wrapped them around her braids and actually wore them to court.

In those few moments, damp t-shirt and hair wrapped in plastic, I felt as clean as I ever did during those days. Then I called home and pleaded to be picked up.  I was desperate not to have to ride in the back of another police car with my hands cuffed behind me on that plastic seat.  I was sure to have to do that if I stayed that last night for the Tuesday morning court date. I was sweating again before that call ended.

I cried then. 

And the Sisterhood wanted details.  I started to talk.  And I talked and talked and talked.  At the end, the consensus was that my husband was having an affair and was generally an ass.  I defended him.  Too bad I never had the chance to tell them they were right.

I will never see those women again.  I don't remember most of their names.  Outside that Cell we had nothing in common - not experiential, not socially, not financially.

And yet for those hours when I most needed them, I had Sisters who refused to judge, hate, or denigrate.  Many of the people long in my circle of friends didn't offer the same. My dad certainly didn't.  Neither did my husband.

I learned something important about accepting people where they're at.  And it is a beautiful gift to offer.

Kelli and I have kept in touch through the months following our stay in Hennepin County.  Our stories are similar. We decided to go to the Driving With Care class together in downtown Minneapolis, and we talk about our experiences on a regular basis.  The conversations are raw and stink of truth. I am thankful for every one of those conversations.  They have saved me from bitterness and restored my faith in people.

She was released shortly before I was called down to talk to a Probation Officer about a Conditional Release.  We stood at the window just before her son came with the bail money.

Me: Kelli, promise me something and I'll make the same promise to you.
Kelli: What?
Me: After all we've been through since Friday, promise me that when you walk out that door, you will leave behind the shame and the guilt. We've paid a huge price for our choices. Now all that's left is to walk through the consequences.
Kelli: You promise, too? You people are going to be judgmental.
Me: I do. It's not going to be easy.  I sort of hate myself.
Kelli: Me too. Let's promise to call each other when it gets bad.
Me: Deal. I don't know how I'll get through the night. Somehow it's been easier knowing you were there.
Kelli: I know. You'll be okay.

And, she was right. 
I've been okay.


Saturday, June 20, 2015

The Holding Cell or The Second of the Anniversaries

Last year on this day, I went to jail in Hennepin County.

Apparently, Hennepin County jail is the "worst" jail.  According to the experts that have spent time in a variety of jails, it is cold and uncomfortable, difficult to navigate, and bad, in general.

At that time I was taking some medication to help me deal with significant depression and horrible anxiety.  I was also struggling with my marriage and the odd behavior of my husband. Nothing felt good or right, and I often relieved myself of my pain by drinking alcohol.

My history with alcohol begins in my thirties.  We started to socialize with the parents of the kids' friends, getting together to play cards once a month.  The drinking was a part of the social atmosphere and "everyone" did it. I didn't abuse alcohol, and I didn't drive or otherwise participate in unsafe behavior.  As time passed, I did drink more alcohol, but felt safe and among friends.  I never had hang overs and I never drove.

Eventually, we socialized more frequently with more groups of friends. I drank more frequently too.  My husband encouraged it; drinking alcohol loosened my inhibitions and resulted in my willingness to more actively participate in things he wanted to do.  I'm not interested in talking about that yet.  It's one of the most painful parts of my history.

Last year, I decided I was going to shop in Arbor Lakes.  I had taken both of my medications and was feeling calm and controlled even though it felt like life was unraveling.  My husband was at the ball field and I didn't want to sit home.  Once in Arbor Lakes, I opted to lunch at Red Lobster.  I had wine there. I didn't realize the synergistic effect of combining the medication with alcohol.  I know when I was ready to leave the restaurant, I didn't feel right.  I ended up stopping at another restaurant where there was a live band.  I don't remember everything after that point.

When I finally decided to go home, I still felt odd.  I felt discombobulated and disoriented.  I pulled into a neighborhood and noticed the lights from a police car behind me. The following minutes - hours? - are a blur.  I know that I felt the most awesome and uncontrollable anxiety I'd ever felt before and I recall being convinced that everything would be okay if I could just go home. When I felt the handcuffs and my arms stretched behind my back, waves of panic washed over me.  I pulled my hands free of the handcuffs.  I didn't know then that I was "resisting arrest."  Having been confined physically and emotionally so many times over the years, I simply couldn't stand how it felt. When the officer put the handcuffs back on, he tightened them painfully and pushed me into the back of his car.  The seats in the back of those cars is molded plastic. I sat on my cuffed hands for more than an hour.  It was hot and sweaty, and my dress had slid high on my thighs.  I remember begging someone to fix it.  Even that small dignity is denied to someone suspected of wrong doing.

I refused to take the breath test.  I wanted to talk to a lawyer, but - like most people - didn't have one in speed dial.  Typically, lawyers don't publish their home numbers or cell phones, so I wasn't able to get ahold of a lawyer.

When I was finally delivered to Hennepin County Jail, sweaty with my panties showing, I sat in the back of the vehicle for a long time.  Eventually, I went inside the jail to be booked.  The booking officer was trying to enter my name into the system and could not get it right, despite having my driver's license.  I remember answering several questions before I finally said, "It's exactly like it is on my driver's license, stupid." That was a bad idea. I was lifted off my feet and tossed into a holding cell.

I stayed in the holding cell from approximately 8:00 until the early morning hours of Saturday.  It was horribly cold - the walls and benches are brick, and I was wearing a sundress.  The walls and benches were smeared with something that looked remarkably like refuse and vomit.  The toilet had something disgusting in it and the water fountain was part of the sink faucet, which was also dirty and disgusting.

Despite repeated requests for assistance, I was left alone for those hours.  I was too afraid to drink water, too afraid to use the toilet, and too afraid to touch anything.  Eventually, I found the cleanest spot on a bench and slept.

I woke to the sound of vicious pounding and voices.  Across the hall from me, a tall man with crazy eyes was pounding his head against the metal door, screaming and shouting horrible things. It seemed like the entire staff was outside the door listening to him.  It was finally then that someone brought me my new uniform and told me to change into it.  Once changed, I waited another hour.

An officer eventually brought me back to the original counter.  They took my jewelry, including my earrings and necklaces. They asked questions I meekly answered - even when I thought they were stupid. Then I was escorted back to the cell and told to take off my underwear and bra as well in addition to the clothes I'd already surrendered.  I was not allowed to have a bra - and I never went braless.  Not ever.  And the "panties" I was given was stained with some unknown woman's menstrual blood. All these months later, I still don't understand that humiliation. I wasn't actually guilty of anything at that point, but still stripped of everything uniquely identifying me and indicating my uniquely whimsical nature.  Being forced to be bare-breasted and to wear another woman's life-giving blood will always be a punishment unsuited to my crime or any established guilt at that point.

Once dressed in my grotesque panties, heavy gray t-shirt, blaze orange uniform shirt and pants, and a disgusting pair of enormous plastic sandals (they were out of socks), I was told to wait in plastic chairs with other people who were also being booked.  There were a few men and a few more arrived while I was sitting there.  Without exception, they all stared at my chest.

I was called to sign for my belongings in a log book and watched them pack everything into a garment bag and store it.  Then I went to the photo booth for a mug shot.  Following that, I went to a different holding cell.  This one was full of women.  Some were sleeping, some were crying, and others were staring vacantly. Occasionally, they talked to each other.  I thought they knew each other and only discovered over the next several hours that they'd all been strangers.  Booking makes sisters of other women quickly.

There was a toilet in the holding cell.  It was surrounded by a short brick wall.  The cell had windows on all sides. In my inexperience and niativity, I thought I would be allowed to use the real bathroom across the hall.  Umm.  No.  Squatting over the toilet in the group room was the only option.  I had to do it twice.

Eventually, prisoners go through a variety of stations.  The first station was similar to a train station ticket counter.  I was read the arresting officer's report and told that I was on a 36-hour hold.  It's not really a 36-hour hold though.  There are all sorts of mitigating factors involved, and the end result was that I wasn't going to be taken to court until Tuesday morning.  If I wasn't charged by noon on Monday, I would be free to go home.  Even if I wasn't charged by noon on Monday, I could still be charged after that time; they just couldn't hold me longer than that.  Also, the officer explained that I couldn't go to court until I'd been charged.

Next, I went to the nursing station.  The officer/medic there took note of my injuries; by that time both of my hands were swollen to twice their normal size and I had no feeling below the palms of my hands.  The damage appears to be partially permanent; I have no feeling in either thumb or the first two fingers on each hand.  I had an officer's handprint on my left shoulder and an enormous bruise on my right arm.  I was bruised on both legs, and the side of my face.  I requested photographs of the bruises and injuries and the officer told me to ask once I was at my cell. I was allowed to have and ice pack and some ibuprofen.

There was another station where an officer asked a multitude of questions.

Finally, I went to fingerprinting. The process is interesting now that they are using technology.  The officer puts some substance on each finger and then presses it down on a reader. I would have been fascinated if not for the excruciating pain the pressure caused.  Apparently, they don't really trust the technology yet, so I did a second set of fingerprints the old-fashioned and very messy way.  That too was very painful.

In its entirety, booking takes approximately 22 minutes of contact time.  Being shuffled from one place to another, and being shuffled back to the holding cell between each station, and being called one-by-one to go to the next station results in the process taking much more time.  I was in the holding cell for a little more than two and a half hours.

Once I visited each station and the "work" of booking was complete, I was allowed a phone call.  At 7:30ish on Saturday morning, I finally contacted my husband to tell him where I was.  I was relieved that he answered the phone, but his attitude then and over the next days was difficult to stomach.  I know what he thought of others who were in trouble over the years, and I knew he didn't understand anything about what I was going through.  He decided that I was an alcoholic and my behavior seemed to support that.  He spread that story to many friends and colleagues.  I'll never know exactly who he told or what exactly he said, but he lied and defamed me.  I let him do it by my own actions.  The why is the easy part to understand.  My husband needed to turn me into a villain so he could justify turning his back on me and engaging in his new relationship. 

There's so much more to say about what happened in that cell, and in my life. This walk down memory lane is both therapeutic and exhausting.

Last year at this time, I didn't sleep much at all.  That statement was true for many, many nights over the coming months.

Last year at this time, fear invaded my life almost as a living, breathing entity.

Last year at this time, I was in the news:

Friday, June 20
James Janeksela, 54, of Maple Grove was arrested for fourth degree DUI alcohol concentration over .08, fourth degree DWI driving while impaired-criminal penalty, failed to change name/add on license, careless driving and fail to signal turn on the 12600 block of Elm Creek Blvd.
Kari Hoglund-Kounkel, 44, of Monticello was arrested for third degree DWI driving while impaired, DWI test refusal, obstructing the legal process, careless driving and fail to obey traffic control device on the 13500 block of Grove Drive N.
Last year at this time, I was dying.


Friday, June 19, 2015

The First of the Anniversaries

Last year at this time I was home from a VERY heinous day.

VERY heinous.

I had been at work all day, and it felt like a normal day - except for that we were already working on 2015-16 routes. Normally we didn't start that until August.

My dad was on a rant that day, June 19, 2014.

He was screaming at me:  "You're so stupid.  You have no common sense.  I can route circles around you." And then he'd go in his office and do whatever was on his computer. We'd keep working. Several minutes later he'd come out and the rant would start again.  "You're so stupid.  You have no common sense.  I can route circles around you."

My assistant and I kept working through it.  I even asked dad questions.  He'd answer and then resume his rant.

We had an open office environment; nothing was ever private. Everyone heard every vile thing my dad said to me, from the times he accused me of stealing money to the times he told me I was stupid.  The four-letter expletives and the horrible character assassination.  That day, the shop foreman came in the dispatch office when dad left.  He asked, "How do you deal with that?"

I shrugged.  Really, literally shrugged.  It had been my life for years.  In fact, at one time we all came together for Monday meetings. Mom, dad, my sister and her husband, my husband, and I. Occasionally there were other people present. Those meetings were tough for me. No matter what I did, how many hours I worked, or how positive I was when I walked in that office, the hours spent there were a hellish nightmare.  Nothing I ever did was right - no matter that I was simply recording numbers. Ultimately, those meetings ended when I cried.  Had I been a different kind of person, I would have learned to cry immediately and saved myself some grief. Instead, I kept trying - and failing.  I knew for a long time that my work environment was not healthy for me and I would never be treated with respect or dignity. 

About the time dad left, my husband walked through the office. "I'm going to the Twins game," he said.

"Oh. Can I go?" I asked.

Anyone who knows my husband, knows his "elevens" look.  He had that look but it was mixed with something arrogant and defiant.

"No," he said.  "I'm not doing anything fun with you anymore."


"I'm not doing anything fun with you again."

I was embarrassed.  Here I was, sitting with our employee and hearing... that.

He said he was going with our son. But then our son came in the office.

I asked our son if he was meeting his dad.

"No," he responded. "He knew I had a game."


Eventually I knew he was at the game with my sister and I added up all my existing knowledge and paranoia.  The "clues" led me to believe he was having an affair with my sister.

I should have known better about my sister.  She would never have participated.

My husband would have; she's gorgeous and he'd always, always told me he wanted sex with every single attractive friend I had.  He also had interests in our babysitter and our employee.  It's interesting to me that the friend who ended up with him was a friend he denied he wanted; she was too cranky, uptight, fat, and ugly.  I think "fake" was a work he used to describe her.  In my broken mind and heart, I thought, why not my sister too?

My life was so weird and wrong by this time last year.  Nothing made sense anymore.  People were making weird comments to me.  My husband was rude and hurtful. I couldn't figure out what to think.

My husband had been "different" for months.

Initially, I thought it was because our son left for school.  My husband was overly involved in our son and his career.  They spent an inordinate amount of time together.  It was natural, I thought, for my husband to be sad the boy was leaving.  And he was angry.  Vilely, bitterly angry about the way our son's new coach was handling his career.  He came home from every one of Jakob's games that year and stewed for hours in front of the television. 

Then he started an obsessive work out routine.  Despite having an awesome elliptical at home - one way nicer to use than any at a gym or the MCC, he was determined to go to the MCC every day.

One night, he came home smelling and looking like sex.  I was putting shoes in the entryway closet and saw him.

"You've had sex," I said.

He flipped out.  He told me I was crazy and paranoid.  That he was not feeling well.  That I should trust him.  Etc, etc, etc.

We'd had a conversation that night:

Me: Supper's ready.  Are you coming home?
My husband:  At the gym.  I don't feel well.
Time passes.
My husband: I have diarrhea.
Me: You should come home! You'll get dehydrated.
My husband: No. I have to finish.
Me: You are addicted.  Come home. Drink water. You'll be fine.
My husband:  Just shut up. I'll be fine.

Two.. almost three hours later. I'm in the entry putting away shoes... My husband walks in.

Me: You've had sex.
My husband:Shut up.You're a paranoid bitch.  What the hell is wrong with you?... and MUCH MORE....
Me: Are you having an affair?
My husband: NO! You are so stupid. I did not have sex. What's wrong with you?
Me: I'm sorry. Jesus.  Relax.  If you say you didn't have sex, I believe you.

Much later, I discovered I was right. After the eventual revelation of his affair, I asked a string of questions referring to every single time I suspected him and he called me paranoid.  He admitted everything.  Sex that night.  Sex at my family's office. Sex at my father's home. Sex in company vehicles.  Planned sex on my paddleboards.  Sex in my home, in my bed. Dates to Timberwolves games. Twins games. And I'm sure there were many things I didn't know to ask.

One morning later in the summer (July 9, 2014) I stopped at the MCC to get my glasses from the door of my husband's vehicle.  It was parked next to my former friend's vehicle. I thought it a strange coincidence. Upstairs, I saw them side by side on treadmills.  They weren't wearing headphones or watching TV as they both usually did.  They were in identical poses, both of them holding the treadmill base (and wasting their workout, I might add).  My comment was, "Wow.  How did this happen?"  I asked for his keys and left.

My husband immediately started texting me denying any wrong doing.  I remember being unreasonably calm. I told my boys what I saw.  I later saw my husband's "defense" of what I said.

My husband: Your mother thinks I'm having an affair.  Apparently the new way to have sex involves treadmills.
My son: Yeah.  She's paranoid and crazy. That's just mom.

My husband showed me that text gleefully.  He liked making me look bad to my boys and proving to me that they thought I was a failure.

When he showed me that text, I looked him in the eye.

Me: Are you having an affair with her?
My husband: No.
Me: If you are, you need to say so. If you aren't, then we need to work on our marriage.
My husband: I'm not having an affair.  We're just friends.
Me: If there's someone else, there's no hope for the marriage.  Tell me the truth.
My husband: I am.
Me: (pause while looking him in the eye) I choose to believe you. That's the end of it.  But if you are lying to me, I hope you feel like shit.

Exactly one week later, on July 16, 2014, he had to admit to all those people that he was the liar.  He had to admit that I was right, and far from paranoid or crazy.  I'm not sure he will ever recognize how badly he wounded our sons, both of whom had been the victims of partners who were stunningly and viciously untrue to them.

The unraveling of my life and our marriage and family started on this day one year ago when I erroneously and sadly came to the conclusion that his affair was with my sister.  I can never apologize to her heartily or often enough for my conclusion.  All I can say is that in my struggle to regain my own mental health, I have made mistakes, some of them bigger than others. My lack of faith in her is perhaps the biggest mistake.

A year ago I went to my single bed in the basement of my home believing that my husband and my sister were having an affair; today I am free of a horribly controlling individual and a terribly lonely life. When I saw this quote from Robin Williams, I understood exactly where that kind of lonliness can end.

I no long feel alone.  I have a tentative circle of new friends and maintain relationships with an existing body of friends and family.  Obviously, I also have significant trust issues; I will never again let someone as close to me as either my husband or my former friend were.


I am also free of secrets, shame, and guilt.  There's nothing left for me to hide; my bad behavior has been published, I've willingly and honestly accepted and participated in my assigned consequences, and I'm ready to share my story.  And I left shame and guilt closeted in my cell when I left the Hennepin County Jail last July 24.

Best, I can feel my fear fading.  Fear has been nearly debilitating at times; but the greater my trust in God's plan grows, the faster the fear fades. Today, I am not afraid.

This is not the end of the story by a long shot.  Not the retelling of my journey.  Not the honest sharing of my mental health issues.  And, for certain, not the end of me.

The best part of my story is yet to come.

Still, last year at this time, I went to bed believing my husband was having an affair with my sister.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Next Chapter

Today I signed the papers accepting the offer for my house. Jakob and I will be moving to our new house by July 31st. We are so excited!!

It took 20 days to sell my house, and I trust the next steps to happen as quickly and painlessly as the sale did. There really aren't any hurdles when you follow the path God made; try following your own path and the hurdles will trip you repeatedly! 

I went to our new house today to preparing it for our move. 

I found a bathtub made for people my size...

... A new place for my lovey new bed...

... A space perfect for a new office and dining room...

... A great view from the kitchen...


... And my very own space heater.

Jakob gets his own space too. 

We have a ton of work ahead of us, but the reward is great. This new space is luminescent with a positive, serene energy I embrace every time I visit. 

I keep wondering if I will be sad to leave my home. I think there may be moments of grief - just like with any other loss. But much of what I'm leaving behind no longer exists anyway. 

My home was a place of much love and laughter. My children grew straight and tall here. Their friends were always welcome and enjoyed. My friends and family shared love and laughter in the space I made. 

Then there was last year. 

A year that started with my spouse telling me I was the best wife ever - not because of the beautiful home I made or the wonderful children I raised or even the beautiful spirit I have, but because I let him indulge his darkest fantasies. 

A year in which I discovered his perfidious nature - and that of a once dear friend - when I happened upon their sex toys and pornographic communications.

A year during which I suffered the blackest, most frightening moments of my life and heard my spouse tell me I wasn't worth helping and my father tell me I got what I deserved after my spouse tore my rotator cuff and bruised my body.  

An annus horribilis to be certain! 

I believe walking out my front door for the last time means closing the door on the carnage of a once happy family and looking forward to a beautiful and blessed new chapter, one that I hope to describe next year at this time as my first solo annus mirabilis - a wonderful year. 

In the meantime, I'm thinking about what to take with me. 

I'd love to bring my first EVER flowering clematis...

My sweet non-human babies...

And all the wonderful memories I carry from the last twenty-one years. 

I'm pretty sure I will not be taking the secret stash of stuff my spouse and friend left behind...

That kind of ugly has no place in my next chapter. 


Friday, June 12, 2015

Warning Signs! Relationship No-Nos

Ask anyone who's been in a long-term relationship of any sort whether they have relationship advice and you'll get answers.

Probably many answers.

I read a great article about fourteen things you should never tolerate in a relationship.  Too bad I didn't know. Life is just beginning, and I've heard the forties are the new thirties, so I'll chalk it up to learning and growing!
  1. Never tolerate emotional or verbal abuse.  Authentic love does not devalue another human being.  True.  I spent a lifetime accepting manipulative behavior and even thinking it was normal.  In fact, my husband told me after we signed our divorce papers that we could still be married had I followed the rules.  Eh? As Live Bold & Bloom  writes, "The victim of the abuse often doesn't see the mistreatment as abusive. They develop coping mechanisms of denial and minimizing in order to deal with the stress." Yup. We cope.  And doing so long term can result in  "low self-esteem, withdrawal from family and friends, depression, illness, anxiety, and giving up on goals." Weird that that's what I did.

  2. Never tolerate physical abuse.  My husband shoved me up against the passenger door of a vehicle when I was 17, about four years before I married him.  My sister and cousin were in the back seat, frightened he was going to kill me.  And I married him. Yes, I did. And the last time he hurt me was July 16, 2014. But he will never, ever hurt me physically again. Never.
  3. Never tolerate a partner making you feel horrible when you don't want to have sex, which can often lead to assault. I learned at a young age not to say no. As reported, "Our culture already makes it difficult for survivors to recognize and report rape, so it becomes even more difficult to understand your romantic partner as a rapist." 

  4. Never tolerate body shaming. "When your partner shames you for your weight, appearance, etc., not only is it cruel, immature, and based in patriarchal falsehoods, but it can always be a manipulative way to convince you that you'll never be good enough for anybody else... It's a sickening method used for establishing dominance and control in a relationship."
  5. Never tolerate a partner refusing to listen to your sexual needs.
  6. Never tolerate a partner belittling your career aspirations.  "It is impossible to have a relationship with someone who doesn't want you to succeed." My mother told me this almost thirty years ago. And my husband never wanted me to succeed on my own. Not one time.
  7. Never tolerate a partner not publicly acknowledging your relationship.
  8. Never tolerate gaslighting.  According to another source, gasligters dated back to a 1944 movie: gaslighters are people who try to convince you that you are wrong or crazy. And paranoid, and sick, and a lost cause, and not worth anything. "Gaslighting is an especially common trait for controlling partners, as it lets your partner easily isolate you from friends and family by making you doubt your reality.  Examples of gaslighting behavior include unfaithful partners convincing you that you fabricated proof of their affairs." 
  9. Never tolerate a partner who keeps you away from friends. My husband wanted to be intimate with every serious friend I had, except the two who were cranky/old looking. I chose him, always, over my friends.

  10. Never tolerate a partner who always accuses you of cheating.  And reads emails, text messages, and social media trying to find proof to substantiate the point of view. And never, ever believes the truth, no matter how many ways you can prove the truth.

  11. Never tolerate a partner not respecting your boundaries.  "Does your partner joke about traumatic things that aren't funny?  Does your partner share information about your private lives with others despite your protests?" Does your partner share intimate photographs of you with his other partners despite your protests?  Does he come to private appointments, including therapy, and engage in serious discussions about your relationship, only to share private, heart-breaking details with another person outside the relationship.
  12. Never tolerate a partner invalidating your anger and experiences.  Remember Molly Ringwald in The Breakfast Club?  Great line: "Why? 'Cause I'm telling the truth, that makes me a bitch?"  It's dangerous to tolerate a partner who consistently tries to convince you that important parts of your history or lived experiences are insignificant or untrue.

  13. Never tolerate a partner talking over you and interrupting. My husband not only talked over me and interrupted (which many, many people noticed), he also used my speech patterns, rhythms, and even word choices. There was an occasion during our ill-fated trip to San Fran when he was approached by a bisexual man for a fling. It was a funny story. I told it once..  "There he was doing his Joe thing..." Weeks later, we were out one night and he went to talk to some people he liked to impress (AC and a pal), and I went to listen.  I walked up as I heard him say, with his hands in the same position I recognized as mine, and his voice a little feminine, "There I was doing my Joe thing..."  I was so embarrassed for him, I walked away. He has no idea who he even is.
  14. Never tolerate slut-shaming. Slut-shaming is your partner's way of asserting control over your body; it is disgusting and has no place in a respectful, loving relationship.