Preparing for the sneak attack, part 1 of 3

The chain

The bigger deal
Have you ever experienced something unpleasant and then realized how it helped you to solve a problem you didn’t even know you had (or were going to have)? It goes like this…. Oops! I just dropped and broke something on the floor. While cleaning up the mess, I noticed the dripping valve in an obscure spot that I never would’ve noticed otherwise. The broken glass wasn’t a big deal. Discovering and fixing the plumbing issue was the bigger deal.

Journeying from The Smaller Deal to The Bigger Deal seems to be the way we’re traveling these days, and it’s been a very enlightening and healing time. So we’re embracing and giving thanks for The Smaller Deals—like a flood, an injury, etc., because The Bigger Deals give us The Aha Moments of understanding and gratitude. Weird but great. These experiences build our faith. Wait a minute. I didn’t mean to rhyme. I do that all the time. Ha! I’m getting silly now.

Where was I? Ahhh, yes. The Bigger Deal. The Real Deal. The Real Reason for the chain of events….

How can you prepare for a shocking, out-of-the-blue occurrence? How can you be prepared for a sneak attack? The very definition of a sneak attack is that you don’t have the foggiest idea that it’s coming. I’ve found the best way—to read God’s Word every day. (Oops. I did that rhyming thing again.) I read a chapter in my Bible every morning, first thing.

Pray and ask God to bless you through the reading of His Word. Seek truth. Pray for wisdom. Study. Pray and thank God for the good things in your life. Journal (i.e., write what you’re learning). Pray and ask the Lord to bless you and your loved ones. Process what you’re learning with trusted loved ones and/or your great counselor.

It’s not because of some cosmic coincidence that we were able to determine what to do when we received the sudden sneak attack (i.e., letter) from Uncle Henry—his first personal letter to his nephew Brandon.

The hand
In parts 1 and 2 of this post, you’ll see the events that led up to it. You’ll see the hand of God in our lives in many ways. We didn’t know at the time what these things meant—these strange events and the truths they revealed. We had no idea how everything would relate and unfold. But God knew.

The chain
Let’s walk through the chain…

…the chain of events
that broke the chains of lies and abuse—
the chains of the sociopaths.

His way
I chronicled the chain of events in my journal. In 2016 I started journaling for the first time in my life. Coincidence? No way. What do I make of it? I call it His way.

What tomorrow may bring is unknown; God is trustworthy.
What tomorrow may bring is unknown; God is good.

Read and reflect on Ecclesiastes 11:5.

Journaling provided the crucial clarity I needed—for my own healing and to write this blog. I needed to write down what was happening. Every morning during my quiet time, I snuggled under my fuzzy blanket in my bed, read a chapter in my Bible and then I journaled about the previous day. I had no idea that I’d start writing a blog later that year. In fact, I’d said a number of times that I’d never write a blog. Things don’t always turn out the way we think they will. Say it with me, like Gomer Pyle: “Surprise, surprise, surprise!”

The tearing down
I’ll list some big, monthly events that took place from January through June, the time I describe as The Tearing Down. This series of monthly events in The Tearing Down was necessary in order for us to be prepared for The Rebuilding that started in July—the month of the family reunion—the turning point.

January: The flood
February: The life-changing retreat… when I forgave myself
March: The letters to Brandon, the freak-out, and the beginning of counseling with Matt
April: The clearing out—bye-bye to labor-intensive projects/distractions (Brandon’s two antique cars and my work on the weekends)
May: The separation (i.e., twelve days at Camp Charlene)
June: The demolition

The rebuilding
Peaceful Readers, I’ll be sharing much more about some of the events listed above in future posts. For now, let’s dig into the months that preceded Uncle Henry’s sneak attack in September. In this post, we’ll see what led up to the reunion in July.

Tuesday, July 5:
During our counseling session with Matt, I read Brandon’s 10½ pages that he dictated and I wrote about his childhood. Matt said: “You were raised by sociopaths. It’s time to divorce your family.” Brandon said later that day: “I’m a drama refugee.” And I said we’ve been in a war zone with his family.

Wednesday, July 6:
I looked up sociopaths on my phone and found their characteristics. The descriptions sounded just like my in-laws. I read the characteristics to Brandon, including: “Callous unconcern for the feelings of others; incapacity to experience guilt or to profit from experience, particularly punishment; very low tolerance to frustration, a low threshold for discharge of aggression, including violence; markedly prone to blame others or to offer plausible rationalization; irritability and aggressiveness; reckless disregard for safety of self or others; lack of remorse—indifference to/rationalizing having hurt or mistreated others.”

Thursday, July 7:
Brandon had a strange dream last night about breaking out of jail. This evening, I read my list about Delia to Brandon. When Matt asked Brandon to write a list of things that had happened during his childhood, I decided to write my own list. I wrote my list about Delia, my mother-in-law.

Saturday, July 9:
I read something amazing during my morning devotion/quiet time based on a prayer composed by a soldier during the Civil War. Each short paragraph begins with this phrase: “Lord, I asked you….” I wrote the paragraph about a great love in my journal.

Monday, July 11:
During a dinner with my soul sister Charlene, I told her that I was feeling some anxiety about the upcoming family reunion that weekend with Delia’s side of the family—the Douglas clan. Charlene asked me, “If you were in the hospital, would any of them sit by your bed?” I immediately replied “No.” And more to the point—would I want any of them to sit by my bed? No. I shared this Q&A with Brandon and he totally agreed.

Tuesday, July 12:
I enjoyed a great talk on the phone with my new sister Isobel about how God is giving me courage and calling me to be courageous in speaking the truth.

Friday through Sunday, July 15-17:
The family reunion at Uncle Henry’s ranch included six incidents of bad behavior by Delia: ridiculing her husband Andrew in front of audiences twice; attacking Brandon twice; and gossiping/behaving badly in front of us and Cousin Mark’s family twice; not to mention her attempt to “give” us their camper—without bothering to tell us that Andrew crashed it when he tried to drive out of the camper repair shop, leaving it unusable. Drama Diva. Andrew started a long, combative conversation with Brandon about “the farm” that went on for at least an hour, right before we left to drive home. Chaos Central.

Coming next: In the next post, part 2, we’ll keep walking through the chain of events chronicled in my journal. We’ll check out the highlights from mid-July—just after the family reunion—through mid-September—just after Uncle Henry’s sneak attack. Some of those silly onomatopoeias from the old “Batman” series come to mind…  WHAMMM! OOOFF! SPLAAT! POWIE! KAPOW! THWACK! And then there’s one of my own favorite expressions—the one I mentioned in part 3 of How a Sociopath’s Victim Feels: Yowza.

Healing through truth and music
Peaceful Readers, I’ve found great healing in my life through the beauty and truth of God’s word and through music. I hope the truths and songs that I share at the end of each post will bless you too.

Truth from The Word: Proverbs 3:5-6

Song for Healing: I hope you enjoy this amazing song.

“Thy Will Be Done” by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family

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