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Saturday, April 8, 2017

"Out of Control:" Chapter 2

For the explanation of my current series, go to the first installment: http://bit.ly/2nnCvFx

Out of Control:
A Christian Parent's Victorious Struggle with Child Abuse

A Memoir by Kathy Collard Miller


Chapter 2
Promises! Promises!

March 10th
Ignoring Thursday and Friday as they passed, I clung to one anchoring thought of sanity: Saturday would be here soon. Larry had agreed to take care of Darcy and Mark so I could go clothes shopping. The thought of being out in the real world all by myself for the first time since Mark was born three months ago excited me. 
Saturday morning finally arrived. As I survived Darcy's temper tantrum at the breakfast table and Mark's dirty diaper, I looked forward to those few hours of peace and quiet while browsing in the mall. Even though several stubborn pounds refused to yield after my pregnancy, I wanted to find a new outfit to enhance my appearance and boost my spirits. 
By the time Larry sleepily walked into the kitchen around ten o'clock, I had verified the checkbook's presence in my purse two different times. 
"Good morning, sweetheart," I joyfully greeted him. "You look rested. Your breakfast is on the table and the kids are clean and happy. I'm hoping I'll be back by lunchtime." 
Larry’s baffled look set off warning bells in my mind. "Where are you going?" 
"Don’t you remember? You said I could go clothes shopping today." 
"Oh," he muttered. "I forgot. In fact, I don’t really remember saying that at all."
"But, honey, you said on Monday that Saturday would be a good day for you to take care of the kids." 
He still looked bewildered. "I'm sorry, Kathy, but I told Ken we would fly to San Diego today. He's wanted me to take him for a long time, and today's the only day he can go. And that Cessna I've been wanting to try out is available at the flying club. I guess you’ll just have to go another time." 
My throat tensed with disappointment. Despairing thoughts jumbled my words. "But, Larry, you promised. I've been waiting all week for today. I've just got to get out for a while. You don’t know what it's like..." 
'”Well, I'm really sorry, but I promised Ken. You can go shopping any time." 
Any time. Oh, sure, any time, except when you're flying or when you're working your "part-time" second job in real estate or when you need to sleep ten hours a day. Right, any time. 
Angry tears clouded my vision as I furiously wiped the counter. I knew from experience no matter how long I might continue to debate, the case was closed. 
Thirty minutes later when Larry kissed Darcy good-bye, the tenseness in my throat crept into my neck. He shut the back door behind him and my rage surfaced in sobs and cursing. I choked on the apple I was eating and was so infuriated I hurled it at the door, splattering it over the walls and ceiling. 
"Larry," I shouted, "I hate you. I hate you. Can’t you see our relationship is dying? Sometimes I wish you wouldn’t come back. Your plane can crash for all I care." 
Frantically, I stumbled to my bed, knelt on the floor, and cried out my anguish to God. I imagined the scene of Larry’s funeral, friends and relatives telling me how brave I am to be so strong. They don’t know I am delighted about his death. I’m free!
"Mommy, Mommy, cartoons over." Darcy's announcement snapped me out of my self-indulgent reverie, and I slowly pushed myself up knowing Larry’s dirty breakfast dishes and Mark's hungry cry awaited me. When Larry returned that evening, Darcy's excited greeting drowned my silence. After tucking the children into bed, I told Larry goodnight. "How come you're going to bed so early?" 
"I don’t feel well. It was a rough day." I hoped he wouldn’t press me further. I didn’t even want to talk to him. 
"All right. I hope you feel better tomorrow. Good night." Lying motionless in bed as tears trickled down my cheeks and onto my pillow, I wanted to scream my pain at him. If you really love me, spend more time with me. Choose me instead of your other activities. Then I rebuked myself. That sounds so selfish. I can't say that. But the feeling I wasn’t first in his life continued to chip away at the foundation of our marriage. Later, when he quietly pulled the covers back and gently slipped into bed, I pretended to be asleep. It wasn’t until I heard his steady, deep breathing I finally relaxed and fell asleep. 
For the next couple of days I struggled to blow out the flame of my anger and bitterness. But like a trick birthday candle, it rekindled each time I thought about Larry’s insensitivity toward my needs. I felt depressed and helpless, as if I were riding a raft down a coursing river, without oars or a rope. And my distress calls to God seemed to be unheard. 
On Tuesday afternoon after Larry left for work, I loaded the kids into the car and headed to visit my friend Jill. She greeted me at her door, casually dressed in worn jeans and a green turtleneck sweater. Her red-haired, eighteen-month-old son, Aaron, toddled after her. 
We settled comfortably on her newly upholstered plaid couch to watch the news on TV and chat. Aaron and Sandy sat on the floor and scribbled with their crayons as Mark lay on my lap chewing on a rattle. After a while, the newscaster related a story about a couple who had been arrested for child abuse. My heart started beating hard and I took a deep breath. 
"You know, Jill, sometimes I understand how parents might be tempted to mistreat their children. Kids sure can make parents angry." Laughing nervously, I looked at her and hesitantly waited for her reaction. 
"Well, I sure can’t," she retorted, shaking her head. "Those people are awful. They ought to be arrested." 
I jerked my head away, hot tears stinging my eyes. Lord, am I really that bad? Doesn't anyone else get angry like I do? 
Gratefully, I heard Jill’s phone ring. While she was gone, I wiped away my tears. I’m never going to let anyone know how angry I can become. (TWEET that!)
Later when I drove home, I concluded, I must not be allowing God to help me in some way. But what is it? 
Maybe I’m not praying enough! In an attempt to change, I affirmed my commitment out loud, "Lord, I promise to pray more every day." Yet, I knew my vows had been ineffective in the past. A seed of doubt sprouted within me.

For Chapter 1: http://bit.ly/2nnCvFx
For Chapter 3: http://bit.ly/2mwSPPi

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