Here’s Chapter 5, Part 4: Jill’s Letter #5, from my new novel Dates With God: How Four Mormon Women Beat Satan With the Book of Mormon. In today’s segment, Jill figures out how sneaky satan talks to her in her head. She gets disappointed by her husband’s insensitivity and tunes in to the what the different levels of the Chemical Scale feel like for her. Dark bath towels, dog hair, glue on the carpet, all conspire to get her to lose her battle with getting dinner on the table on time by escaping to Facebook. If you want more background information read, the 5 star book Like Dragons Did They Fight and come take the Mothers Who Know class.
Jill’s Letter #5
I didn’t finish my Lost Battle Analysis yesterday, as you can tell, or my letter. I got interrupted by one of the kids and never came back to my journal writing until today. Such is life with kids, #lifewithkidsislikebeingachickenwithyourheadcutoff. Having this interruption actually gave me time to think about when the last time it was that I felt at a Level 0.
I was going to write that I had my 40th birthday yesterday. I was hoping that Rob would throw me a big surprise party like I did for him when he turned 40, where I invited all of our friends and family and neighbors. We had a big barbecue with all of the fixings. I went all out with decorations and music and dancing with his favorite playlist. I even had a magician come. Everyone had a blast and the neighbors still talk about it. I was looking forward to something similar for me. Only I didn’t want to say anything to him because I wanted him to surprise me. If I told him I wanted one, it wouldn’t be a surprise. All he did was take me out for dinner. That was it. Blah. I was disappointed to say the least. During the day, I felt at a Level 0 all day as I anticipated something special. When we got our orders delivered by the waitress at the restaurant, and I decided nobody was going to jump out yelling “Surprise!” to join us for a big bash at the restaurant, I started to feel the chemical spill of feeling slighted, in a wounded, deflated way. That was Friday.
So over the next few days the build-up of negative feelings occurred. I started to have all these feelings of disappointment, anger, not being loved and appreciated enough as a wife. He had another blow-up at me and the kids. I started hearing a voice of “You would have been so much happier if you had married Derrick. He would have given you a surprise party. He would never do the stuff Rob does. He wouldn’t yell at the kids. You wouldn’t ever feel like he lacks in the husband and dad departments.” I heard that over and over. So that’s when I was feeling Level 2, the buildup of the negative feelings for sure.
Then on Tuesday night as I was walking through the family room, I bent down to pick up a piece of paper on the floor. It was stuck, glued to the floor! Turns out that Luke had spilled some glue and decided that the best way to deal with it was to cover it up! Aack!!!! I definitely felt this huge swelling, raging gush of anger and frustration that I have kids who can be so dumb. Why didn’t he just come to me and ask for help to clean it up before it dried? Am I that much of mean scary mom that he thought he couldn’t tell me? Back to a new Level 1 of a new chemical spill of anger, which was added to all of the other negative feelings that had been building up.
All of these feelings continued to build and I found myself firmly mired in more Level 2. That weekend Rob and I got to leave the kids at his mom’s for Friday and Saturday night while we went to Colorado for his cousin’s wedding. One of his other cousins hosted us. I admit I am not the best housekeeper like my meticulous mother was, but my house is not gross. Just messy. And I always clean up when I have company coming! But this place was disgusting. Piles of junk and dog hair everywhere. The worst was the bath towels that Rob’s cousin’s wife gave us. They were dark brown. They smelled funny and I could not tell if they were clean! One thing my mom always told me was to make sure you have a bunch of white towels because you can always tell when they are clean. She taught me that that’s what 5 star hotels do. She drilled into me that dark towels don’t always look clean, no matter how much you wash them. And she always said to have bath sheets for shower towels. The towels we had at this cousin’s were puny. Then the bar of soap was so little that I could not wash my hands properly. I finally asked Laura for a new bar of soap. We left that place not really feeling clean. As soon as we got home Sunday night we both took a shower with lots of soap.
So I was definitely still at Level 2, with feelings of disappointment, hurt, anger, frustration, disgust and criticism, when I went shopping Monday morning. I think when I saw Cami, I started to have more Level 2. I had all of these fears come to me like, “she’s going to ask about your birthday last week and what did you do. You’re going to be embarrassed when you say something lame like just going out to dinner. Then she’s going to ask about Rob and how he’s doing and what does he do for work these days. Then she will say something about her plastic surgeon husband and how he makes all of this money and they can go on all these fun trips and you will feel like a loser that you didn’t marry a smarter, more achieving husband who could be a doctor. You can’t let her see you.”
It’s all coming back to me now. I remember now! I had Level 4 stupid conversations on the drive home of “you should go home and look at those selfies on Facebook that Derrick commented on, saying how gorgeous you are. You should also go put up more impressive stuff in case Cami ever looks at your page.” So when I got home, I headed straight to the computer and did all that stuff I already wrote about. When I got home, it was after 4 PM. I knew from experience that I should start dinner at 4 if I want to serve dinner by 5:30, because of all the interruptions I get from the kids. But when I got home, I was so tired of doing everything for everyone else all day. I had done enough duty, it was time for a break. That’s what I heard in my head. I told myself that it would just take 5 minutes to change my Facebook profile and cover photos.
As I write this, I am remembering more of the Level 4 stupid conversation. That’s the power of writing! I’m going to write whenever I feel the “I don’t know” moments because when I start writing, I can see that Thou sees that I am serious and Thou starts opening up my mind to remember more and learn more. It’s like I get a download from Thee whenever I write. It’s like Thou art up there watching and when Thou sees me with a pen and paper, Thou decides, “OK, she’s serious about knowing more so I am going to give it to her.” OK, so here’s more of the stupid conversation I was hearing. Every time I went to do something different on the computer, I felt a little prompting to get off and get into the kitchen. I told myself, “I know, but there’s this other thing. Just do one more thing…” I realize now that if I had started dinner when I got home, when I first got home, I would have had dinner in the oven when Taylor came to me. I could have had one of the older kids take it out of the oven when I was gone. Then I would not have even had the temptation to pick up dinner on the way home. So that was my “when and where” of Level 4.
I know I put my phone next to me with a timer but I had forgotten that I had the phone on silent from the day before when we were traveling and I was driving. I didn’t want any ringing waking up Rob because we had agreed to drive in shifts and he would let me drive when the baby was awake so I could sleep when the baby was sleeping. So I never heard the phone die and I didn’t hear any alarms before it died.
So I am learning that satan puts thoughts in my head, that’s what Level 3 is. And I realize too of course that I have my own thoughts. I realize now how fleeting the Level 3 is. Those thoughts of the Level 3 are so subtle and quick. They are like flashes. The “thoughts” that I thought were mine, are really satan’s whisperings. They happen so fast. It is hard to notice them in the moments of envy and fear and stress that I was feeling. Of course he knows that, that’s why he does it then. I can see how that’s the whole idea. Satan puts them there when he knows we are most susceptible to them because of the build-up of negative feelings. That dirty low-life pondscum! I am not going to fall for it any more! I am wondering how to prepare myself more so I can better notice Level 2 and 3 in the heat of the moment. Hmmm…
Last night at class Lauren dominated. Again! I love the girl but she can be so irritating. She acts like she is some kind of Oprah, where she can just spout something off on her soapbox and everyone will instantly latch on and do whatever she is endorsing. One of these days I just want to casually bring up how I love epidurals for childbirth just to see what her reaction will be! LOL! I will definitely see some fireworks there. She expects everyone to do things her way. One of the ladies had a lost battle that involved a fight with her husband. So she was asking herself about how to prevent one next time. Kate has a great marriage, which has become obvious to everyone, so the facilitator steered the conversation away from Lauren, whose marriage obviously isn’t so hot, over to Kate. The facilitator asked her what makes it so great. So then Kate mentioned this book, Lost Classical Womanly Arts. Then Lauren butted in with her big mouth. She went on and on about how that book is so outdated and anti-feminist and awful. Then Kate said something about how one of the main points of the book is to make your man #1 in your life. She said that part of that is that you never try to change your husband.
Lauren then shot her down by rudely disagreeing with the whole concept. She cackled and rolled her eyes. She said that men often need to be told what to do because they are such fools when it comes to household and kid stuff. Then she launched into all of these stories of mistakes her husband made. One of them was actually funny, but she talked about her husband so disrespectfully that I couldn’t laugh. One of the stories was that she asked her husband to give her first baby a bath when she went grocery shopping. When she came home she found that he had given him a bath with baby wipes. (I’m sure at Lauren’s house they were organic, all nontoxic, and cruelty-free). Then she told this story of a time she asked her husband to watch the kids while she attended a birth. When she came back, she found that he had served cake for dinner. It wasn’t just any cake, it was the cake she had just bought at Costco for a baby shower she was hosting the next day. She was so mad when she came home! She went into step-by-step detail about his lame excuse. The cake was for a baby boy shower so it looked guy-ish with masculine colors and nothing on it that indicated it was for a baby shower. Since Father’s Day was that Sunday he figured it was for him and he could do what he wanted with it, by taking a little off the side. The way she was telling it was so hilarious even I was laughing but later I felt kind of sad that so many times when we get together at this class the conversation turns to a husband-bashing fest. I feel really sad about Lauren’s husband. She talks about him like he’s not ever smart or capable. After she left, for her Tai chi class. I started talking with one of the girls, Tiffany, in the class about Lauren’s husband.
Tiffany said that Lauren’s husband, James, is a great guy. She has been to parties with them because they have a lot of the same friends. She pointed out that James never looks adoringly at his wife like she has seen other husbands look at their wives. “So he made those mistakes, but she doesn’t have to broadcast them. He didn’t make them maliciously. He is a nice guy. He loves her and treats her well. He works hard to provide for his wife and kids and she doesn’t give him credit for that,” she said. She also told me that she had been in a book club with Lauren where they had discussed the Lost Classical Womanly Arts book. Lauren had vehemently opposed the book and scoffed at the idea of making your husband #1. But one of the women there, she said, had a husband rave about how great his wife is and how much he loves to do things for her. When he went out of the room the woman told us that she had learned about the book when she was single from her aunt. She had put it into practice and said it had helped her marriage since day one. When he came back in he continued to rave about her and said he now knew what her secrets were and he loved that she did them.
I know my marriage is in trouble. I look at all the marriages I know, including the ladies in this class. I have to say, it sounds like Kate’s is the most fabulous. I’d rather have Kate’s marriage than Lauren’s or Emma’s any day. Maybe there’s something to that book. I am going to get it and see.
I found a scripture that I actually like and it supports all of my crafting! It’s in Mosiah 10:5 and it says that handiwork came before prosperity for the Nephites. It mentions that the women toiled and spun, and thus they prospered in the land and had “continual peace.” Maybe they would have had those two blessings anyway, but I don’t know because the word “thus” comes after the phrase “And I did cause that the women should spin, and toil, and work…” Dear Father, that is what I want! Prosperity and continual peace! I want peace with my husband and prosperity of all things good: love, fun, family, friends, and finances. I am asking Thee to please help me to know how to fight for these things. It sounds like Thee just gave me an answer: keep working on my crafting/handiwork, as long as I keep up with my Girl Goals and Power Actions. Hooray! I have an excuse for all of my crafting/handiwork.
It occurred to me the other day that Thou art the greatest at handiwork as evidenced by all of Thine creations. I am going to study scriptures involving the word “handiwork” or “hands.” I am going to look for examples where I see handiwork being created and see more what Thou has to say about it.