Relationships, A Series: Part Seven — The Five-Year Relationship Plan

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HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. Part Seven of this series was originally published on June 9, 2013.

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Also in this series: Part One: What Is Courtship? | Part Two: We Were Best Friends | Part Three: The Calm Before The Storm | Part Four: To Lose One’s Best Friend | Part Five: To My Darling Clementine | Part Six: The Storm Starts Brewing | Part Seven: The Five-Year Relationship Plan | Part Eight: The Means To An End | Part Nine: We Made It | Part Ten: I Am A Phoenix | Part Eleven: Conclusion, Don’t Brush Off the Next Generation

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Part Seven — The Five-Year Relationship Plan

I have to keep moving with these posts or else I will lose momentum and it will become even more difficult to continue the story.

I want to explain a little bit about why this is so difficult for me to write, but also why I need to write our story. From that first devastating break in Phil’s and my friendship, I began losing a lot of friends, I faced opposition at home and from other parents, people I barely knew, and those who I thought were friends. I have always been sensitive to my heart, to my conscience, and it killed me when I couldn’t seem to get it across that my conscience was clear in my loving Phil and continuing to be in a relationship with him.

I was being accused of lust, idolatry, bitterness by my parents, I was called rebellious, disobedient, dishonoring of my parents by others around me. I was having friends question my heart, and asking whether or not I was being blind to wisdom just because I wanted to do what I wanted to do. I felt almost nothing but shame, false guilt, and pain from those moments on. Shame because I wasn’t doing what others wanted me to do and feeling guilt because my conscience was being used against me. I was also feeling pain because what I felt was right and felt at peace with wasn’t even close to what everyone else around me said was “right.”

I felt manipulated, like I was being used against myself.

I felt alone, I felt the few friends I could trust were my lifelines, and without them Phil and I probably wouldn’t have made it. I watched the people who used to “look up to me” look down at me in disgust as my parents told stories of my dishonorable actions.

Here are the reasons why I need to write our story. By writing our story, I am owning the story. I am spreading it out and accepting that it is our story; the good, the painful, the ugly, and the bad.

I am acknowledging that our story is amazing; amazing because we made it.

Amazing because Phil and I are married, very amazingly happily married. It’s amazing because we came out stronger and more in love with each other than before. It’s amazing because we stayed true to our hearts no matter how many people tried to break us apart.

That’s why I need to write this story.

That’s why it’s important for me to accept it.

The next year and a half that I will be covering in the next few parts are the ones that make the past few posts seem like a walk through the park.

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That week of talking after 6 months of silence was pure bliss.

We decided that we were going to write up relationship guidelines that at the end of the week we would try to present to our parents. We spent hours on the phone and online trying to work through what we thoughts our parents would approve of (incredibly strict talking guidelines, timelines, and so forth). We talked with the couple who were becoming mentors to me about what would be best to put into this five year plan that we were writing up.

We even started working on what would become roughly a year later our budget that is still in play to this day.

We talked about where we would want to live when we got married, we talked about how many kids we wanted, we talked about their names, we talked about the kind of house we’d want to live in.

We talked about everything.

I vaguely remember my grandfather being in town that week, but I wasn’t around very much. Phil was taking my time and I sure as heck wasn’t going to stop that. The week began winding down and we started figuring out what the game plan was going to be presenting this five year relationship plan to our parents.

We came to the conclusion that approaching my dad and asking for his blessing on our relationship was the first step.

And we decided that it was going to be on Sunday. Phil approached my dad at church, nervous as heck, and actually came across a little abrupt to my dad, asking if my dad could talk with him later that afternoon. Oh, the day started out bad from the start, and that should have been a sign for us to stop because we both got burned. The first sign was Phil’s car battery dying. He almost didn’t make it in time to meet with my dad. The second was getting questioned on the way home from church by my dad about this meeting with Phil.

The third sign that the day was going ridiculously wrong was when I watched my dad talking with Phil and saw the typical signs of my dad BSing Phil. The typical long drawn out speech that my dad gives when he doesn’t want to deal with something and is annoyed, but is going to keep the polite man face up. Sure enough, Phil left, I waited a few moments and then went inside, only to be met by two furious parents, one of them a mom I had never seen that angry with me. My parents talked and yelled at me about how disrespectful I had been to them, how I had dishonored my dad, how Phil was disgustingly disrespectful to my dad by asking him for his blessing on our relationship.

I have never been able to understand how a man asking to be in a relationship with me was a dishonoring thing.

Or how Phil asking in a very polite manner was disrespectful to my dad.

I felt ashamed of my “sin” of dishonoring my parents for wanting to talk with the man I loved. Both Phil and I were talked down about how sinful we had been to talk. I still feel anger and confusion over just why what we did was considered sinful.

The weeks that followed brought confusion, pain for both of us, and a tentative continuing of our under the radar relationship. We both decided that it was more important to stay true to our hearts than to continue a forced separation. Phil gave me thumb drives with letters to me, his favorite music, and class schedules, and I wrote him letters and we continued to talk about our future. Thanksgiving passed, Christmas was fast approaching. I gave Phil a little figurine made out of nuts and bolts who was a little man at a desk on a metal laptop. And I also made him a pair of half fingered mitts and a scarf. I think he gave me a chain mail medallion. New Year’s crept up on us and I was greatly looking forward to seeing Phil at a mutual friend’s party.

At this point, Phil knew almost everything that had to do with my family.

I told him about the nightmares I had of my dad beating me. I told him about how scared I was when my dad got angry, I told him about the depression I felt when I was home. Phil became more and more my rock as things continued to get worse between my dad and I. Ever since the year I had found out about my dad’s issues, I haven’t been able to talk with him without feeling some sense of uneasiness, discomfort, and distrust.

By the time the new year’s party rolled around, my dad and I weren’t really on speaking terms again. I have no idea why we weren’t this time, probably something I didn’t say that made him pissed with me. That happened way too often for me to keep track of anymore. I was planning on going to to the party, but mom told me I still had to ask dad. So I went and asked him. I already knew Phil was going to be there, but I sure as heck wasn’t going to volunteer the information. My dad told me I could go, but as I turned to walk away, he told me that if Phil was there, that I had to come home right away.

My heart sank.

I needed this party.

Outside of my job, I didn’t see anyone, like at all. I was incredibly isolated.

Besides seeing Phil sometimes after work, at single’s meetings at church, I rarely saw friends. I frantically emailed Phil and asked him not to come. I told him that I couldn’t ignore my dad’s command if he showed up. My conscience wouldn’t allow it.

Frankly, I have no idea what I thought, or was afraid, my dad would do if I didn’t do this stupid thing. I was being scared into doing what he said because he knew that he still had quite a few pulls over me. I was taken advantage of because of my sensitivity to what was put to me as the right thing to do. My mom told me that one day. I don’t know why she told me that dad could get me to do what he wanted because of my sensitive spirit. After finding that out I was even more wary of my dad. Rightly so, I believe. 

Phil told me to enjoy the party for him and that he would spend the evening thinking about me and working on some projects. Throughout our relationship, up till a big thing happened in January of 2011, Phil tried his hardest to pull the fire off of me when it came to my dad. He was too much of a good guy.

I am angry about how many times my dad took advantage of Phil’s genuine care for me and his desire to do what was right.

After the beginning of 2010 had passed, life at home and around my parents began to reach new heights of buttons being pushed and nasty responses to almost anything I did. Sometime around February, I met a new friend, and shortly afterward got an email from her saying that her and her husband would like to offer me a place in their new house. She knew that life was hard at home, knew about Phil and I, and her and her husband wanted to give me an escape.

I quietly, secretly, began planning to move out. I was freaked out half to death that my parents would kill me and forcefully keep me at home once I told them that I was going to move out. I was pretty set on doing it, and even went and separated my bank account from them because the last thing I wanted happening was my money being taken.

I didn’t put anything past them.

May came around and I found out that major building delays were happening with the house that I was supposed to have a room in. That was seriously pushing back my projected move out date. The end of May came, and I decided to tell my parents anyway that I was going to move out. I wanted to tell them I was moving out, not that I wanted to move out. I didn’t want to give them any room to shut me down.

Little did I know that that was futile. I sat down with both my parents and told them I was moving out in a few weeks.

They immediately used their biggest weapon against me: my siblings.

They told me how devastated my siblings would be if I moved out. They told me how much of a good influence I was on them, and how they would need a big sister. They, once again, took advantage of my sensitive heart and manipulated me into staying. And yes, I stayed. I could feel the despair settle in even deeper in my heart. Twice in the months that followed I had a bad breakdown and asked two different friends to come get me. I was gone for hours both times, and I wish I had had the courage to leave when I had originally wanted to.

But, I suppose there is a reason for everything.

I also got something really special at the end of May.

My aunt had been saving a gorgeous sapphire ring for me, and I called her when I knew she was going to be in the area to ask for the ring. She brought it out from CA that May.

The ring fit perfectly.

Now if I could only wear it as an outward sign of my commitment to Phil.

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To be continued.

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