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Thursday, December 30, 2010

My Christmas Gift

This first Christmas after divorce was pretty rough.  The children were gone for the entire week prior and up to almost 6 pm.  My parents came to keep me company and keep me busy, I worked extra, went to out to dinner some and to a movie with a friend.  I played Santa and got everything ready for our time when the children returned.

Still, I didn't escape tears at the Christmas Eve service where I saw all the families together.  Christmas Eve and morning were strange without little ones.  When they arrived home, they were already exhausted and overstimulated.  Present-time was chaotic and somewhat of a blur.  After everyone was in jammies, we did get some snuggle time and I was able to read the Christmas Story.  If I could, I would do it differently - just one gift that night, with some anticipation for the next day.

The gift in all of this experience was that I had no expectations.  I was expecting this holiday to be different from the past, strange and disorienting.  It was, and I wasn't devastated because I was realistic about the way things are right now.  So, I had less stress, fought the urge to make up for the emotional issues with materialistic indulgence and didn't get uptight about schedules.  It was relaxed.

I've really enjoyed connecting this week.  The slower pace and schedule have allowed for lingering meals with family, unrushed playtime and lots of backrubs and snuggles.  We have the extra gift of snow!  Lots of outdoor fun, proud owners of snowboots and pink cheeks make me smile!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

He Came for This - He Came for Me.

I am experiencing my first Christmas after divorce. I sent my three little ones to Daddy’s house for a week – how is it possible that a Mother is not with her children at Christmas? But that’s where I find myself. As I ran an errand for work yesterday, the sadness overwhelmed me and tears were unstoppable alone in my vehicle. And without doubt, Christ reminded me that, “I came for this.” This brokenness, pain, loss – it’s why we have Christmas at all.



I’m still struggling. There is no way around the grief, but I’m not alone and the pain is part of the joy of redemption. Somehow, He will bring good from our messes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Monday, December 13, 2010

Snow Day as a Single Mom

I love the chance to spend an extra day with my little ones because a snow day here, with school cancelled, means I'm with them all day.  Hurray!  Relaxed time with no schedule, cold adventures and hot cocoa warm-ups.  It's a great bonding time, to be sure.

However, it also means I miss a day of work, a day of pay.  My schedule and budget get thrown a little out of whack and an extra dose of flexibility is required.  My - hasn't that been one of the greatest lessons in my life: letting go of my expectations and plans, being flexible, trusting that nothing has surprised God.  Whew, it's tough though, for me.

So, for me it is essential to have a backup plan for childcare.  I can budget to miss one day of work per month (assuming I'll have a sick one, a field trip or something).  But we are going on day 2 of a snow day and I've already missed work for a dental appointment this month, plus there will be the Christmas holiday.    I have agreed with a high school junior who knows my children from church that when she is out of school for a snow day, she will come to my house.  We are in the same school district, so it works for us and I am relieved to know there is a plan in place and I'm not floundering at the last minute for fill-in childcare.

Then I can enjoy some of the white stuff before heading back to the grown-up world!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Christmastime

It’s my first Christmas as a single mother, and so far I feel I’m making it. Complicating things is the fact that we got married at Christmastime and there are a lot of memories/traditions attached to this holiday. Still, it’s been a pleasant season so far and acknowledging some of the melancholy has helped me to be authentic and still enjoy the fun.


It was hard when M came over to divide the Christmas ornaments and d├ęcor. Many of the ornaments we collected or gifted one another and have memories. I tried to go into the process with a loose hand and an attitude of just creating a fresh start – so I gave him the tree topper and tree skirt we purchased during our first married year. He took some of the others, even some for the children and I just let them go. They need memories at his house, too.

I’m trying to encourage lots of fun and connections with the little ones, so we’ve started a new tradition of an advent calendar where the children take turns opening a small calendar box each day. They very much look forward to it and the ‘treasures’ are small – chocolate coins, candy bracelets, dollar items, etc. So far, the favorite was a candy cane that ensued with a large box of candy canes for a Candy Cane Hunt! It was so fun and something we’ll certainly do again.

I still have to face the sending of my children to their father’s for the whole week leading up to and most of Christmas Day. I’m dreading it, but I plan to spend that time working extra hours and wrapping our few gifts. I will miss them terribly!

I miss M, too. It’s strange to do things a new way and not share the memories, excitement and gift-plotting with someone. Then again, I remember the conflict that the holidays always brought. The arguments over the tree, presents, plans that excluded those I loved, anger about the gifts…I’m thankful to be delivered from that.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Shutterfly!

This year I'm going to use Shutterfly to print my Christmas cards!  I truly enjoy their designs which are fresh, energizing and so upbeat.  They are unique and offer something different from many of the cookie cutter items I've had arrive in my box each year.  Here's where you can see some of their ideas for Christmas Cards.

The grandparents love to receive calendars from us as their gift.  All year long they get to see the 'grands' in seasonal activities.  Shutterfly makes it simple to create one, then have several printed.

Don't forget your manners!  Be prepared with adorable Thank You cards which can be created at Shutterfly, too! These can be personalized to meet you needs and add such an individual statement.

I'm pretty excited about all the wonderful options and ways to use my priceless photos!  I hope you find something you can use, too.  Go ahead, get creative and have some fun!

Monday, September 13, 2010

"I would do anything for my kids."

Why wouldn't he stay faithful to me, then?  That would have been the best thing for our children - two parents in one home, lovingly committed to each other and God.  I don't know why it hurt so much to hear him say this, but it did.  Somehow he gets to come out smelling like a rose, the hero in his mind to our children.  It reminds me that I do care for him, that I am still grieving. 

Thankfully, the sadness didn't send me into dispair and after an early night, I woke with renewed energy and a positive outlook.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Forever Friends

I can hardly believe we will all be arriving at Renee's home in less than three weeks!

Arrival times - Friday, Sept. 3rd
Lacy - 7:25 pm
Missy - 7:25 pm
Leslie - 7:50 pm
Anita - 8:05 pm

Departure times - Monday, Sept. 6th
Lacy - 9:45 am
Leslie - 10:00 am
Missy - 10:30 am
Anita - 12:05 pm

Can I Trust?

I've really been struggling...mostly with the long term effects of divorce on my children.  I struggle sending them to their father's for visits and worry about the lack of consistency.  I would feel awful to live split between two locations!  Still, I can do nothing to change this.  Every book and expert say how important it is for them to spend time with their Daddy and yes, they adore him.  So I've got to trust they'll be okay. 

Again, it comes back to an issue with control.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Realization

I was almost asleep last night when I just couldn't believe that I will actually be unmarried.  I will no longer own the status of wife.  How very, very strange it feels.  I don't know it if it feels bad, sad, mostly just strange and unknown, with all of those other emotions stirred in a bit.  It is a recipe for change, no doubt, and change is scary for me. 

I'm trying to remain focused on what I know, what hasn't changed.  My life is owned by Christ and even in this journey of divorce, I'm seeking to live in a way that honors Him.  Is that even possible?  At one time, I would have piously decreed that yes, it is impossible to be serving Christ and seeking divorce - the two were incompatible in my human mind.  I've become much less willing to disperse judgement upon walking through the difficult valleys of the past years.  I know what grace I need, I am aware of my great lack in godliness.  My confidence is eroded and I can only throw myself on Christ, begging for His mercy and care of myself and little ones.  It's true - I may seem resolute, but I daily question the integrity of my own choices.

Today I remain on this path, feeling it is the one set before me.  However, I am aware that I may be wrong, or God may ask me to change and I want to be willing to do as He asks.  He is with me and for me, then whom shall I fear?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Powerless

I feel so angry at myself because I felt powerless last night against M's verbal attack and his taking something very precious to me.  He took the photo albums of each child's first year...these are abolute treasures to me.  Hours of time and memories that can never be replaced are contained in those albums.   I tried to refuse, but then was pressured or bullied or guilted or whatever into sending them with M.  I'm so mad, at him for requesting it and at myself for giving in.  Why did I do that?  Sometimes I so badly want to do the right, the kind, the nice thing that I give into things that I do not want to do!   

He says he will return them after the weekend...please, God, let this be true!

I had trouble sleeping last night because of my agitation over this.  Thankfully, I believe I have access to all the original digital images, but still - I am just sick believing these albums may be lost from me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Survivor

I completed the task of painting the walls in my living-dining room and kitchen!  Whew - it was a larger task than I expected, with 24-foot walls, appliances to move, cabinets and doors to go around.  Wow.  I'm so glad to have it accomplished and will have some touch-ups to do.  Since the day we moved in (almost six years ago) I have wanted to paint and it feels great to have it done!  I'm proud with the way it turned out, too - the color is warm and bright.  Now I want to paint my own bedroom...and the bathrooms...and the hallway!  Oh dear.

Moreso than the painting, I survived the children being gone with their Daddy.  I felt very "left behind" and alone.  It gave me time to think, to enjoy some lady friends, to paint (of course!).  I was so glad when all three arrived home in good spirits, with lots of hugs for Mommy and adventures to share.  They seemed to settle into their spaces with ease and commented on the paint, which they liked.  They were very concerned about the things off the walls and want me to replace them shortly!  I love them so dearly.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Distance

This morning I packed my trio of babes and sent them with M for a trip to the beach.  Each time he comes to pick up the children, I pray as I watch my life - those three little heads, strapped into carseats in the backseat fading as they drive from mommy's home to daddy's.  In moments like these it is clear that things are not as they should be and we have failed.  It is so hard.  I always smile, send them off bravely, waiting to hear all about their adventures.  I even enjoy hours of lessened responsibility.  But it is so clearly not right, not the way things were intended.

So today, I sent them off for five days of fun at the beach with Daddy and their Papa.  M was angry with me on leaving and I hated the farewell.  My instinct was to clutch each of them to me and not let go!  But I did.  I waived from the porch with a smile, then turned indoors with tears as I made my way to work. 

Five days.  They loom long before me.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

It's Out There

The listing of our divorce ran in the local newspaper.  I suppose the news is public now.

M continues to insist this is what I want, not him.  He alludes to still being in love with me.  This creates such conflicting emotions because I never wanted to have a broken marriage, I desperately wanted my children to come from an intact family.  It hurts me when he says these kinds of things because he said it before and I did believe him.  Yet he continued to seek comfort outside the marriage, with other women, inappropriate online material, etc.  So I want to believe his words, but his actions have shown otherwise.

There is such a temptation to go back to the way things used to be.  It is a struggle to be a single mother, to keep a home, job, social life and purposefully raise my children...not to mention make plans for the future, try to save money, enjoy time for myself, etc.  In the past, I became quite adept at putting my head in the sand and pretending things were the way I wanted them to be.  Now I'm making a habit of living in truth, acknowledging the way things are, even when they are difficult.  Still, my dream for that former life is dead and I am not through with the grieving.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Signed

My lawyer called to report that M has signed the divorce documents.  I have such mixed feelings about it.  I first felt sick in my gut, anxious.  Then I felt crushed and and deep sense of failure.  Now I'm feeling a bit of relief, glad to have a set plan.  There's even a bit of triumph that I didn't have to force the issue.

M also told me today that he is taking the children to Myrtle Beach in two weeks during a visit with his father.  I know they will love it and I feel sad to not be a part.  I have so been wanting to take the children to the beach - they are at the ages where I think they will just LOVE IT!  It's an experience that I wanted to share with them and it breaks my heart not to be able to be there with them. 

Life for my children will be very different from my own childhood and this makes me so sad.  I'm struggling as I come to terms with the details of what it means to be divorced.  I am reminded of why this isn't what I wanted and not the best plan for families.  It's just not.  Still, I'm trying to put my life, and theirs, in God's hand and trust Him to form something out of our lives. 

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Livid

H told my oldest son that I made the decision for Daddy to move out.  My sweet boy was told too much information for a little boy and it makes me so angry that this is how is was framed to him.  Yes, I was the one who finally drew the line and ended our marriage, but have I told our son how Daddy hurt Mommy?  How he broke his promises to Mommy and did things with other women that should have been saved only for Mommy?  No.  I am trying to protect the image of Daddy to my children and I don't feel like I get that same consideration. 

I feel glad that J is talking about this with me.  I know he must think about it and he hasn't shared much until this week.  "Why can't Daddy just move back here?"  "Can we all move to Daddy's place?"  "I liked it when Daddy lived here."  These statements just crush my heart and I didn't want this for my children.  I desperately wanted us to remain an intact family.  H made the choice when he looked outside our family in an attempt to fix the broken-ness within.  Now we all have to pay and suffer.  It is tragic and I'm so angry that we have to deal with it!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Something to Remember:

"Express you love to your children generously and frequently.  As much as possible, express to them also that they are loved by their other parent, the less visible one, the one who may have acted so very badly.  It may seem difficult to defend your ex in this way, yet you are actually defending your child against a deeper and more difficult season of loss."

From Raising Great Kids on Your Own by David & Lisa Frisbie

This is tough, but worth doing.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

June 3, 2010

Today is my husband's birthday and the children are with him.  I feel lonely for them, for the life I thought that I would have.  I feel like a fish out of water, in this new role as "Single Mother."  I'm also learning that I do not want that to be what defines me...what people first think of when thinking of me (do that many people even think of me?).  So then, I'm prompted to decide, what do I want to define me?  What defines me now? 

These are things I will be considering as I put together my life. 

Friday, May 21, 2010

Ugh!

Yesterday was the first day and night that the children went to be with their father.  I'm having a really hard time with this, mostly because they feel out of my reach and I feel forced to send them.  Truly, yesterday wasn't hard - they were really looking forward to their "sleepover" and I can appreciate a break.  Still, to not have a say in the matter for future weeks is tough.

I stayed very busy, working late then going to the counselor, followed by dinner with my mother and grocery shopping.  By the time I got the groceries put away, changed the sheets, vacumed, it was 11:30 pm.  I was still awake at 1 am.  I'm having a hard time with this adjustment.  Hopefully I'll learn and it will become easier.

This is the part I hate the most!  However, I have a feeling that the children had a blast.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Thoughts Today

Today I am sorting through gobs of paperwork ... divorce generates so much!  I am hopeful to sign a temporary order this week.  Then, M will have to sign the same.  It's becoming very real and I was thinking, "How strange that I won't be a 'wife.'  Very strange.

At the same time I am feeling quite empowered.  Each time I am faced with a decision, my first response is to sort of crumple and shirk away from it.  But, reality demands me to address and decide.  When I do, I feel strong, smart, capable.  I like the way that feels. 

Seeing M last night was hard.  It's hard not to respond with the customary "Love you" or "Hon/Babe."  I still wish we had been able to work things out, raise our children and grow old together.  That was my fantasy - to be living examples of God's forgiveness, redemption and faithfulness.  I hope my life will still be that. 

I was remembering Jenny Sanford's press release after her husband's infidelity and I admire her so much.  Much of her words could be mine:

"I believe I have put forth every effort possible to be the best wife I can be during our almost twenty years of marriage. . .the greatest legacy I will leave in this world is the character of the children I, or we, leave behind. It is for that reason that I deeply regret the recent actions of my husband Mark, and their potential damage to our children.
I believe wholeheartedly in the sanctity, dignity and importance of the institution of marriage. I believe that has been consistently reflected in my actions. When I found out about my husband's infidelity I worked immediately to first seek reconciliation through forgiveness, and then to work diligently to repair our marriage. We reached a point where I felt it was important to look my sons in the eyes and maintain my dignity, self-respect, and my basic sense of right and wrong. I therefore asked my husband to leave two weeks ago.
I believe enduring love is primarily a commitment and an act of will, and for a marriage to be successful, that commitment must be reciprocal.
Psalm 127 states that sons are a gift from the Lord and children a reward from Him. I will continue to pour my energy into raising our sons to be honorable young men. I remain willing to forgive Mark completely for his indiscretions ..."

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rearranging

My room felt strange because it was obvious things had been removed.  There were empty places and assymetry which was akward.  So, last night I rearranged the furniture and cleaned out the closet and spaces that used to be his.  I was putting my photo albums in his old closet and couldn't help looking through them, which brought up a lot of emotions.

I was trying to remember the last time I felt truly happy and connected with my spouse.  I know I felt that way in the spring of 2007... it was a very joyful season and during that time our baby was conceived.  I also looked through my album of the year 2000.  Wow, what an amazing year and I was so full of hope, there were many new experiences and we moved that year, leaving behind a season of pain.  It was a wonderful time, a fresh start for us it seemed.  Of course 2004 was probably the best year of my life.  It was a year of celebration, joy, family and connection.

It's true that he and I had good times, even though our relationship crumbled to divorce.  It would be easy to lump all the pain into one statement that describes the entire time as "bad."  But it isn't true.  I don't fully understand what happened to us.  Sometimes I think I just wasn't "enough" for him and it makes me so very sad.  Mostly, I think our flaws made us incompatible and we will be healthier people alone.  I love him, yes, I still do.  I am angry that he allowed other women, other interests to invade what we may have had.  But still, I do forgive him and hope that Christ will draw my former man to Himself and fill all the holes this world has erroded in his soul.

As I rearrange my space, I'm attempting to rearrange my heart, also.  My whole life has been oriented around him that creating a new normal feels odd.  It is empowering and refreshing, but strange.  I would like to find others who have experienced this to provide input and support.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alone, but not.

Last night I went to bed as the only adult in the house and it was a strange feeling to think this is what life will now be like as a single mother. Responsible: I felt uber-responsible for the three little lives harbored in the home, tucked gently into favorite covers with lovies cuddled. They seem to be taking the changes well. Our oldest is rather matter-of-fact about “Daddy’s house” and seeing Daddy in two days. Our daughter asks a lot of questions, she seems concerned about the dresser, desk and other things that are gone from our home. I think she’ll feel better to see them in Daddy’s new location. She asks about some of her things and will she get to move with them? These talks are hard for me, as I see the many years ahead with them shifting between our home and his – I want them to have a sense of stability and consistency and I hope it can still happen. Our baby surely doesn’t understand and often asks where is Daddy? Or looks for his car in the driveway. This is strange and uncharted territory for me. I do not want my children to have two homes.

As I double-checked all the locks and turned off the lights, packed bags, lunches and prepared for an easy breakfast, I am overwhelmed by the responsibility of it all. I still haven’t worked a budget that balances each month. Decisions about childcare and schedules are tough to negotiate. Then I laid down and felt comforted. The television in our my room was taken to his apartment and the silence was good for me. I was able to pray, to allow my mind to wander, to imagine the walls a different color, to visualize peace and safety in my own space.

As I lay there, I knew Christ was with me…not just with me, but for me. I spoke to Him, opened myself to His leading and prayed for common sense, wisdom, direction and clarity. Each day is a step forward and I’m learning that I don’t have to have all the answers, just the next step. I often feel alone, but Christ is with me, my precious children are great company and I have wonderful support from family and friends. I am not alone, nor isolated.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Still Moving Forward

The last couple of weeks have been more smoothe.  M. was gone for work for several days and then we actually went out together without argument...real progress for us!  Money has been tight, but we haven't had interpersonal battles.  I had a nice evening, we've been physically intimate and emotionally striving to connect. 

I came to this marriage with such arrogance about my own goodness, love and that being enough.  I'm realizing slowly that I'm just not that good and even so, that isn't always enough.  As I learn to give up on 'Perfect," I'm trying to just be me - and learn what that means.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Bottom?

My husband went to a divorce attorney yesterday.  Even though I have known our marriage has many troubles, it was still shocking to me and took a while to process.  My first feeling was rejection and devastation - kicked in the gut.  I noticed on the computer history that he had been searching single parent and child support information.  Oh my.

I don't want our marriage to dissolve.  We are such different people, that I'm not sure how to integrate our lives.  I am willing to stay together for the sake of commitment, honoring each other and our vows, to provide the best, most stable home for our children.  That is not enough for him.  I don't know if I can promise him anything more.  We are decent companions, enjoy activities together have great relationships outside of each other...why has this been so hard to work out?

I considered going to see a lawyer of my own.  But, as I stated, it isn't what I want.  Should he move forward and that become a necessity, I know I have the strength to make it with Christ.  There was a time when I couldn't say that.  Progress, I suppose.

I thought our marriage was at its worst after learning of H's other affair, other women, addictions and we separated.  But then I had so much hope and the person he said he wanted to be was the person I fell in love with.  Today, there are no other women, we live in the same house, but we offend and hurt each other weekly.  There is emotional distance and I wonder if this is the bottom?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

April Fools -

There are so many days I've felt like the fool...however, I'm working to change my negativity and attitude is one of the top things that affects my mood, so on this April Fool's Day, I'm reminding myself of ways in which I'm smart, strategic, well-planned and wise.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Flawed but Forgiven

It makes such a difference - I'm so very flawed and every single day a few of those flaws show their ugly selves.  It's tempting to see my flaws and focus on my shortcomings.  Thankfully, I'm so forgiven!  On my own, I will always fall short.  Short of my own expectations, short of what others want from me.  But standing with Christ, I will be enough.  In Him there is no condemnation.  None.  Ever.

Last night I was not able to be excited about something that my spouse wanted.  I could tell I disappointed him and I do not want to disappoint him.  Many times in the past, I stuffed my feelings about something to be the "Yes," girl and support someone else.  I'm learning to be more truthful in my responses and to allow myself to be real.  In doing so, it seems I let another down.  It's hard to balance these things and I'm still learning.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

My Sensitive Nose

I live with a smoker.  I'm not happy about it all, for many reasons, but seriously - I can't stand the odor.  It lingers on clothing and comes from deep within the lungs, something even a fresh mouthwash/toothbrush can't touch.  Sigh.  It's another one of those areas I cannot control, but must live with.

Monday, March 15, 2010

My First Confession

There is a lot about me that isn't perfect and I've thought of many things that I could list.  But, when I turned 36, I decided to give up Coke for the whole year.  For me, this is big - I was a daily Coke person.  Saturday, after almost a month Coke-free, I failed.  I had a Large Vanilla Coke from Sonic.  It was a week moment.

I was embarassed as a parent because of my son's behavior at soccer practice.  There on my own with two younger children in tow, my oldests refused to participate.  Nothing I could say or do would persuade him and his behavior was becoming more and more obstinate.  So, rather than battle it out in front of the other parents, I loaded everyone up to return home.  AND the van wouldn't start.  It was a low moment that ended in tears. 

So, I failed in parenting and in my Coke fast.  It happens.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

For The Record...

M did return my baby books shortly before Christmas.  It was more than four months later than he 'promised,' but they are safely tucked on my bedroom bookshelf.  Thank you, Lord!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Bubble Burst

Life was pretty good for me.  I was successful at most everything I tried, even if to varying degrees.  I enjoyed trying new things, admitted when it wasn't "my thing" and learned what I loved: church life, reading, writing, drama and being outdoors.

I went away to college feeling adverturous, confident and enthusiastic.  It was great!  I was somewhat stymied by the constrictive rules of the private school I was attending, but made such great friendships and had such fun.  I encountered a different type of religion than I had encountered before, I learned even more so how to discern for myself what I knew as truth.

In my second year of college, I became engaged after a short but thrilling courtship.  I was nineteen years old, life was perfect. 

However, I began to open my eyes to some of my finance's flaws, or to admit he actually had them.  He lied to me about things that didn't matter.  He was possessive of my time.  He was jealous of other interests.  He insisted on being my number one focus and asked me to prove it to him by giving up other things and people that I loved.  Our arguments increased and I asked him for a break to determine what I really wanted.  After three days he began intrusive behaviors of standing outside my dorm room watching my window, leaving smashed 'love songs' on my car, calling repeatedly, etc.

I didn't want a broken engagement.  I loved this man but I did not love the way he was behaving.  After repeatedly asking him to leave me alone to try and sort out my feelings, he would not and I broke our engagement.  It was devastating for me and felt like failure. 

Two years later, I was dating that same man again.  An additional three years later, I married him.  I cannot say that I didn't see red flags of warning.  I naively thought he would get better with time and that his insecurities would improve with successful experiences.  I am a fiercely loyal woman who believed he would choose to be better for our family.  He was unable to do so.  I don't blame him, I can't say I was completely shocked.  God had given me what I needed to make choices.  I simply did not know how far his insecurities would lead him into damaging our relationship and me.