Written by Kimberly Green
“If I had only been there, it would never have happened.”
This was the belief I had for many years that shaped much of my insecurity and fear of the world around me. At 16 years old, after nearly two decades of dysfunction, my parent’s marriage, and life as I had known it, ended.
Dysfunctional? . . . YES, but familiar, and from my perspective, safe.
My father had been an ordained minister and a deacon in our church, leading discipleship training and men’s events. My mother was the director of women’s mission activities for our entire association, taught VBS, and played piano. My parents managed to make the business of church a priority in spite of their crazy work schedules.
The nights they were home together were spent arguing about finances and priorities. Wherever we happened to go on “vacation,” we always ended up in “Anxiety City.” My sister and I were “independent” children. We managed to entertain ourselves most of the time, as our parents were otherwise occupied. And when I was too old for Barbie, and nothing good was on TV, and no one was there to make me the center of attention, I’d just take some Benedryl and go to bed.
At 15, thanks to a head injury, I graduated from Benedryl to Codine. Looking back, it sure doesn’t seem fun or safe, but it was what I knew. So when the life I understood was threatened, even such as it was, I felt helpless when I was powerless to protect it.
There were times when I would be at peace—when I was AWAY from home. I followed my parent’s example and found an effective way of avoiding them by throwing myself into whatever religious activities I could find. Children’s choir, clean up day, youth leadership conferences, Wednesday night dinner chair set up, you name it!
Then, between my sophomore and junior year, I discovered I could go on a 10-week summer mission project. JACKPOT! It was for Jesus, so it wasn’t running away—really. Then I got the call during that 10-week respite from my family, where my mother told me she had asked my father to move out. She reassured me that it was only temporary and they would go to counseling and everything would be fine.
But then the day in August came when my mother picked me up at the airport with a “special friend” in tow. I immediately discovered this “special friend” had moved in the day after my father moved out.
I was a kid, but I wasn’t stupid.
Counseling was never the plan—it was just the lie she told to get my dad to agree to leave and make my sister and I feel better. It wouldn’t matter what had happened up to that point, or who was truly responsible for it. My mother would, from that day to this, be the villain. And just like any egocentric child (and my ego was larger and more “centric” than most) . . . the ultimate physical dividing of our family was my fault.
It came down to –
If I had only been there, there wouldn’t be a stranger’s car in the garage.
If I had only been there, I wouldn’t have to watch my Daddy cry.
If I had only been there, I wouldn’t have to watch my sister retreat inward and be totally lost.
If I had only been there, it would never have happened.
Kimberly Green is a California native thriving in the Mid-west and has recently joined the messy marriage team. She has been married to her best friend for 15 years (and 13 of them have been the happiest of her life). The Green’s have been blessed with a lovely teenage daughter and a fantastic son on the autism spectrum.
There’s more to come from Kimberly about her journey . . . stay tuned!