Relationships, A Series: Part Six — The Storm Starts Brewing

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HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. Part Six of this series was originally published on June 7, 2013.


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


Part Six — The Storm Starts Brewing

For those who have been following Phil’s and my story, this is where is starts to get really uncomfortable to write. If I thought the past few posts have been hard, this is where I start losing hope and when I lost hope that things would ever be happy again.

This is the beginning of the darkest two years I have ever been through yet.

Also, on another note, as I’ve been reading through my original journal entries, I am realizing that there is a lot I am leaving out, and a lot that I am having to condense. Not only that, but it is really sad to read just how brainwashed I still was during this too. A lot of my honest reactions weren’t until later, much, much later after the original incident. I still believed that my dad was going to do right in this relationship.

I still believed that fathers were supposed to rule over their children’s relationships, and that it was my job to trust my dad and sit back and be a good girl.

Oh, I was so wrong.


The calm I felt when I realized that I truly did love Phil didn’t last for very long. In fact, it only lasted until I had gotten home that night and faced my dad. I don’t know what I had been expecting when I called him at work to confess my love for Phil and to ask my dad to help bring us back together.

Was there some part of me that was actually normal and healthy and desiring a daddy who did what daddies are supposed to do?

Maybe, I don’t know, I just know for a moment there when I called my dad, I was in another world. Sitting down with my dad that night, I sat on the corner of the couch in which I felt most safe. I sat under a lamp and Dad sat in a chair across from me. Looking back, I will admit it felt like sitting in an interrogation and to this day, if the only seat available in a room is one under a light, I will sit on the floor or lean up against a wall instead of sitting in that seat.

My dad sat there looking at me and I waited, holding the tear stained piece of paper I had written on all of the reasons I could think of as to why I loved Phil, and why we should talk. I think I read the notes to my dad, and then nervously, eagerly waited for his response. His response was what I should have expected, but it still threw me off when he gave it.

He gave me this long sermon about how I was lusting after Phil and that I was making him an idol, and how it wasn’t wisdom for us to interact at all right now.

I was floored and even sitting here writing this, I am feeling the wrath in the pit of my stomach starting to churn again. Those three things were his main points, and yet I sat there for at least a half hour listening to his flowery dressed up speech.

The thing that made me the most mad was here was a man with an addiction accusing me of lust simply because I said I loved a guy and wanted to be with him.

As with everything that was said to me during those years, and even to today, I can’t let the words go until I’ve thought through and pondered everything. When my dad accused me of lusting after Phil, I went bed that night turning that over and over and over in my brain and the more I thought about it the less I could find that was backing up his point. See, the thing with my dad is that he talks some good stuff, but if you can get past the flowery words, there is very little weight to what he is actually saying. I can’t count the number of conversations I’ve had with my dad, walked away feeling like he answered my questions, only to realize that he hadn’t answered anything and in fact had only made me more confused.

About the same time I was working all of this, Phil was realizing that he was even more in love with me than ever. He told me later that at this point he had no idea how I felt towards him, but he loved me even to the point of wanting only what was best for me, even if that meant me falling for someone else.

The month after I realized I love this man, I spent a week up in PA with the couple that have become my surrogate parents in a way. During that time, Phil and his dad met with my mom and dad. I remember anxiously sitting by the phone after making my mom promise that she would call me and tell me how the meeting went after Phil had left.

I paced around the house up in PA, crying, wondering, and spending hours talking with this dear couple as I waited to hear what was going to come of this meeting. I was hoping, hoping with all that I could that this was when I would find out if Phil was waiting for me or not. I managed to get a hold of Mom late that evening and she told me the meeting went pretty good.

I asked her if Phil liked me, if he had said anything, and she gave me a very cryptic answer of something like he said he was waiting for me.

I was over the moon, and went to bed that night feeling like maybe there was hope, maybe this guy really did care for me.

I got back from my week in PA eager to see where things were going with Phil. I was also uneasy because I talked with my dad the day after the meeting and his lack of info about how the meeting gave me enough of a red flag that I wasn’t sure what to expect. Anti-climatically after getting back from my week of rest, almost nothing happened with Phil for a few weeks until one day, my family was getting the internet back at our house and needed help with setting up the computers and Phil was the guy to help. I was thrilled that Phil was going to be coming over to help with the computers. That meant that Phil was going to be in the same house that I was, he was going to be sitting in the same room I could be sitting in and maybe I would get to talk with him.

Wow, I could not have described a more awkward scene than the first few times Phil came over to work on our computers. I didn’t know whether or not I should say anything to him, I didn’t know if I was going to face a talking to from my dad if he knew that I had even said so much as hello to Phil. We both skirted around the fact that we were in the same room and that it is usually courteous to say hello to each other and instead simply enjoyed the fact that we could look at each other. That had to be enough for now because the risk of talking, the risk of my dad’s wrath on me was too great.  By the third or fourth time Phil had come over, I had worked up enough guts to give him the letter that I had written to him almost six months before telling him that I would wait for him for as long as it took.

I gave him the letter and asked him to read it in front of me. I watched him open the envelope and major nerves set in as I watched him read through it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy get that pale before. The color drained from his face as he suddenly stood up, eyes shinning, smiling from ear to ear as he rushed to the bathroom.

I had no idea what was going on but found out later that I had made him so happy, so incredibly nervous, and so relieved that he felt like he was going to lose his lunch.

He thanked me profusely for the letter when he had the chance to say something privately to me. Him thanking me was enough in that moment, but I began realizing as the days and weeks went on that I had no idea still how he felt about me. It seemed pretty obvious from how he acted around me, but  I had not heard it straight from his mouth.

That’s when I snapped. It was as if the past six months had been built on a foundation that was under enormous pressure and it was no longer able to stand up to it.

I didn’t realize it in that moment, but when I finally did snap, it was one of the first actually healthy things I had ever done in my life.

It was a beautiful, sunny fall day at the beginning of October, four years ago, I knew that Phil was probably still in class (side-note: the first full college semester that we were friends, Phil had given me his class schedule so I would know when he was online. and ever since then he had somehow managed to let me know what his class schedule was for each semester after that), but that didn’t matter, I had had enough. I sat outside on the hill at the side of the house, dialed his number, and left a message asking if he could please call me when he got a chance.

It was probably the first time in over six months I had spoken a full, confident sentence to Phil, even if it was in a message. I hung up, unsure if I was really sure of what I wanted to talk with him about, of even if he would call back. Ah, but I didn’t have to wait long for an answer, he called me back within five minutes. He was breathless like he had just been running (which I found out, he had. he had been so excited to get a message from me that he had raced out of class so he could call me back).

After getting the pleasantries out of the way, I asked the question that I had been burning to ask from day one; “what are your feelings towards me?”

His response was instantaneous and I will never forget it.

He told me that he loved me, he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. He told me that I was his best friend, that he wanted to be with me more than ever and he wanted to marry me.

That day, October 6th, 2009, I felt for the first time I had made the right choice, I was going to stick with this guy for as long as I could.

That day was also the beginning of a wonderful week that ended with an enormous bang that left us reeling for several months after. But that part of the story is going to have to wait till next time.


To be continued.

Relationships, A Series: Part Five — To My Darling Clementine

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HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. Part Five of this series was originally published on June 4, 2013.


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


Part Five — To My Darling Clementine

To be perfectly honest, this part of our story is a bit of a blur to me.

There were a few incidents that stood out to me during this time but I just remember an overall feeling of numbness, pain, and the feeling like my heart was constantly being gripped in an iron fist that was squeezing the life out of me. I hated it, I buried myself into my work, and found many nights filled with tears, nightmares, and wondering if this time was ever going to end.


I wouldn’t have said that I loved this guy.

I don’t think I really could have picked a “feeling” of what love would have been for me.

I knew that I deeply missed Phil, my heart was still in many pieces, and I knew that I was waiting for him, and I knew that God had told me to keep an eye on him. After the parenting seminar, I went home and spent the next few weeks trying to survive. I remember pulling out old emails he had written to me and re-reading them. I remember crying as I read and wishing I could talk to him again. I remember wanting to pick up the phone and call him and hear his voice. I remember something happening that would make me smile and almost immediately feeling punched in the gut when I went to go tell Phil about it.

During the first two months of our separation I didn’t talk about not being able to talk with him. I think only one friend really knew how I was doing, and after the initial first few weeks, I stopped talking about Phil. My parents didn’t seem to care, or give any thought to us, and the friends who were all buzzed about the drama to begin with soon gave up and the story was no longer a new and exciting piece of drama in their dull lives. Only a small handful of people really stuck with me through the entire journey.

This story isn’t just about Phil and I, it is also a sad reminder of all of the friends we lost along the way.

I caught up with a good friend two months after losing Phil’s friendship and I broke down and told her everything. She was shocked, but at the same time some of her first words were “I knew it!” She told me that without knowing anything, she had played a bit of match-maker and had pair us together. (Several people told me the same thing when they found out later that Phil and I were together. They told me I was one of the only girls who was shorter than Phil and we perfectly rounded each other’s personalities out.) We would go on walks and she never seemed tired of hearing what had happened that week or where I was at.

Ironically she was the one who was with me for one of the most difficult situations I found myself in during that horrendous summer.

My best friend’s brother had a surprise birthday party at an ice cream place and I ended up getting invited. I had a feeling Phil would be there, and I was incredibly nervous. I knew he had recently bought himself a sweet car and knowing him, he would be there with it and would be showing it off in his own subtle way. My friend and I drove up to the ice cream place and managed to pull in right when Phil did. My heart stopped when I saw him break into an amazing smile and come charging towards us. He had these glasses on that looked like old fashioned scientist sunglasses. To be honest, I actually did come to like them a lot and they fit his quirky personality, but that’s not what happened this day.

The first words out of my mouth were the ones I wish I could rip back and burn. I told him I hated the glasses.

I told him I didn’t like them on him.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy, or any person, deflate that quickly. His shoulders dropped and I almost started sobbing right then and there. My heart broke all over again and I couldn’t think of another thing to say. I just didn’t want to see him so defeated. And it was all my fault. I went for a walk with my friend after the birthday party and I spent the entire time  bouncing back and forth about whether or not I should call him and apologize. I had his number dialed twice and my finger on the send button. I found out later that he was so surprised to hear me say that I hated the glasses and he couldn’t help but see the pain in my eyes. He was more worried about me than hurt by what I said, even though he was hurt, and wouldn’t wear the glasses for quite some time after that.

Oh that is one day I wish I could relive and do it all over again!

Towards the end of the summer, around the end of July, I was in VA for a sewing workshop for some girls. I was teaching them all to make a proper corset and helping them all make their own patterns that would fit them the way the corsets were supposed to fit. I do miss this part of reenacting and I wish we were still in it, but too much went down and it no longer holds the attention for me that it used to. Anyway, at the end of the first day of the class, I found out that Phil was planning on naming his car. I wasn’t too surprised especially since his car was so unique. When I found out the proposed name, I had a very delayed flipping out reaction.

Being surrounded by girls who I was supposed to be a role model for, I didn’t feel like I could really react the way I felt I was reacting inside.

He wanted to name his car Clementine. And in that moment my world stood still; was he waiting for me? Is that why he wanted to chose a name that meant something special to both of us?

Let me explain about Clementine. This is a little known story about us and it is one of my favorites that I hold close to my heart.

About 3 months after I met Phil, he hit a really bad anxiety day and was pretty far down in the dumps. I had already dealt with one of those days before this and I kind of knew what to do to cheer him up but I was still trying to work around his no talking on the phone rule. It’s hard to cheer someone up when you can’t hear them or see them. This time happened the day before his brother got married. They weren’t all that close at that time, but I think that it was hitting him hard that things were changing drastically and he didn’t know how to deal with it.

The first time he hit the wall, I wrote this comical letter that really cheered him up. I wrote the letter as if he had written it to a crazy, wild girl named Clementine. I created this entire persona of a purple haired, red lipped, bubbly girl. So when he needed cheering up again the night before his brother’s wedding, I wrote the second letter to Darling Clementine and it worked exactly how I planned it to work. He told me the next day that he could barely keep from laughing out loud as he read it.

Honestly, those letters are rather strange to read now. They were hilarious back then, but they were a bad memory during that summer and a fond memory now that I can smile about.

When Phil decided to name his car Clementine, I was elated and crushed at the same time.

How dare he name a car something that was uniquely special to us? Does he like me still, is that why he wants to name his car that? And then the thoughts of what if he doesn’t like me anymore came pouring in. By the time I went to bed that night at the people’s house the class was at, I thought I was calm and could handle things. I had also let Phil know my mind and how I didn’t approve of the car name via some tricky commenting strategies on Facebook.

(Really, who am I kidding, I pulled the typical write a comment and then delete it prank. that was back when we got emails about comments left on our walls. so even if I had deleted the comments he still got an email about it.)

I didn’t have that hard of a time falling asleep. One of the girls at the sewing class was in a budding relationship herself, and I was getting the scoop on all of her exciting drama so Phil wasn’t completely at the forefront of my mind. I fell asleep feeling comfortable (which was very rare for me) and I fully expected to actually sleep that night.

I woke up around 3 am sobbing.

Bells were going on in my head as piece after piece of a puzzle I didn’t know I had been trying to solve was put together. I think up to this point I had been denying any other feeling other than that I was waiting for Phil and that was it. For most of the summer I shut down even more emotionally than ever before. When Phil had come into my life I had started very slowly breaking down the walls around my heart. But when he was ripped from me, those walls were reinforced and were even thicker. That’s why that early July morning I was struck breathless as emotions flooded my heart and left me sobbing.

I saw the world through opened eyes and I simply knew I couldn’t live without Phil.

I couldn’t go on living without him by my side.

I truly did love him. 

I needed him.

My heart settled into the greatest peace I had even known.

“I love Phil.”

With one phrase, my world was calm. The chaos was hushed, my sight was clear.


To be continued.

Relationships, A Series: Part Four — To Lose One’s Best Friends

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HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. Part Four of this series was originally published on May 29, 2013.


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


Part Four — To Lose One’s Best Friend Is To Lose A Part Of Your Heart

Now we are getting to the part of our story that is going to get increasingly difficult to deal with. I know some people can look at what my husband and I went through as trivial and unremarkable, but for us, it was hell. It was frustrating.

It was enough to make us both lose faith in family. 

Phil still won’t talk about what happened, nor does he like being reminded of it.

Both of us were faced with relationship issues that we had to deal with alone and in some ways, it forced Phil to take on more responsibility than a “normal” situation would have required. It was good for us, as this part of our story burned away any of the fluff that might have been left from the first infatuation.

It brought forth the real hearts that somehow sustained us to the day we said “I do.”

Ah, this is hard to write. I have been putting this post off for over a week now, and now that I have the time to really focus and write, I am finding myself trying to find any distraction I can to keep from writing it. Please know that what I am about to write is four years old, and a lot of things have been dealt with but they still hurt us really deeply and are still painful to write. So please, be gentle with me, and my husband, as you read this.


As soon as Phil had finished telling me what he had to say, he dashed out the door, tears streaming down his face. He took off running and was nowhere to be found for at least two hours. I have never been that close to fainting as I was in that moment. A life sucking darkness started blinding my eyes as dry sobs started rising from some part of my numb self.

I was numb; totally, perfectly numb.

I collapsed on grass outside the door and lay there in shock for ten minutes. Our mutual friend was with me for a little bit of the time just holding my hand but she soon left. I don’t remember how I got up or how I found my phone but I somehow managed to call my best friend back and in a broken voice told her what had happened. All she could say was “Oh Caleigh, I’m so sorry!” I told her that I was sure there was a plan and felt peace that I hadn’t lost him completely. I think I was on a pain high, I was very optimistic for about an hour and a half, and then I suddenly crashed very hard.

I got off the phone and cried, walked, sobbed, and just asked God why. I knew I had heard from him to keep an eye on this guy when I first met him, but I really didn’t understand why Phil was being ripped away from me now.

I found comfort in Romans 8:28 and trusted that God had a plan in all of this.

I called my mom to tell her what had happened. She seemed singularly unimpressed by my tears and almost didn’t want to come and get me. I asked her to tell my dad, and to this day, I have no idea why I thought that was a good idea or why he would respond. (To be clear, from this point on, my relationship, or lack thereof, with my dad completely deteriorated to even less than what it might have been had he responded differently.) She said he was out cutting the lawn but would tell him when he was done. I called her an hour later and begged her to come get me. I was falling apart and couldn’t allow the kids at rehearsal to see how much I was breaking.

I don’t know how else to explain just how intensely destroying that day was for me. I had met my heart’s companion and in the course of 5 minutes he had been ripped from me and I was left gasping with barely half a heart. The words I know barely seem adequate to describe the pain I felt that day and still feel a little piece of four years later. Mom came and got me and I could barely hold back the tears as we drove home. I remember dad being in the garage and I walked up to him maybe hoping somewhere in my heart that he would comfort me. He stuck his arm around my shoulders rather awkwardly and said that he was sorry.

Then he said, “If your heart hurts then you did something wrong.” 

I think my heart stopped for the second time that day. It was like a deep gong went off in my head; I knew instantly that I was not going to get any support whatsoever from this man who had his arm around my shoulders. I remember walking inside and not saying anything to my siblings but went straight to my bed, turned off the lights, shut the blinds, and curled up on top of the covers and sobbed. I don’t remember being able to eat dinner that night, and I quietly tried to tuck the mangled pieces of my heart somewhere no one would see them.

I did have one consolation. Our mutual friend had asked Phil if he would be willing to wait for me and she told me that his answer was a huge yes. I wrote a letter to him that day once I had some sense of my surroundings that evening. I told him in the letter that I promised to wait for him and that no matter what I was going to be here for him. I folded up the letter and placed it in an envelope that would sit until I felt it was time to give it to Phil.

I went to rehearsal the next day, and by this point the pain in my heart had turned into immense anger. I burned fiercely, and all I could think was I liked this guy, I needed his friendship, and they had dared to rip that from me. I wrote him a madly scrawled note asking if we could talk to our parents about setting up guidelines. I knew that Phil was hurting and his pain was just as deep as mine. He looked very sick that day when I saw him. There was no life in that face of his that had previously lit up the moment he would lay eyes on me.

The following weeks were dark, and I don’t remember much other than asking my mom over and over if all of the parents and us could meet and set up guidelines so we could talk. My dad, now that we couldn’t talk, seriously thought that there was nothing in between Phil and I and that there was no need for us to talk. He used to spew this crap at me about how it was wisdom that Phil and I not talk, without ever saying exactly why it was wisdom when I asked for an explanation.

My first gut reaction to my dad not being supportive was proven true over and over and over again during those first few weeks and it is still true four years later.

Our parents met once during those first three weeks, but their responses to that meeting were all different. Not one side of all four of their stories lined up. I found out later from Phil that his parents got a very different take on that meeting than my mom or my dad. The lack of communication was astounding and it has never ceased to frustrate me as I look back on that time.

Just over a month and a half after that horrid day, there was a parenting seminar at church. I went with my parents and we ran into Phil and his parents as soon as we got there. I was so uncomfortable, and wanted to find a dark corner to cry in as soon as I laid eyes on him. He tried to look happy but he looked just as miserable as I felt. (Those who remember this time and knew me closely then said that my eyes looked dead, I was barely functioning and I rarely talked. I was a ghost of who I had been) During this seminar we ended up sitting right in front of Phil and his parents. I just about ran out of there when I realized that they were sitting right behind us. All I could think of was how Phil could see the side of my face and I could see his reflection in the drum-kit up on stage.

I found out later from Phil that this seminar was a huge turning point for him.

It was during this seminar he realized that he loved me.

Not only did he truly whole-heartedly love me, he wanted to marry me and spend the rest of his life with me. He was more than 100% sure and he told his parents this on the way home, thoroughly shocking them.

He looked genuinely happy when he left after the seminar and I died a little bit more inside thinking that he was happy to be leave me.

If I had only known…


To be continued.

Relationships, A Series: Part Three — The Calm Before The Storm

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HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. Part Three of this series was originally published on May 23, 2013.


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


Part Three — The Calm Before The Storm

Phil made me feel safe.

There really is no other way to put it, other than that he truly makes me feel safe, protected. As I write this I can only think of how much this miraculous man has kept life in me and has committed himself to loving me with all that he is. He has done nothing but firmly stuck with me through some of the worst parts in my life. He has wiped tears from my eyes when I no longer had strength to do it and he held me close when the outside storms threatened to overturn our little boat.

He’s pretty awesome, people, and that is becoming even more clear and obvious to me as I gain a clearer perspective of our story.


Phil started telling me that if he ever started his own company he wanted me to be his secretary. I asked him why, and he told me that I had some of the most efficient writing skills he had ever seen and that I was at the top of the list (I honestly think I was the list!). He loved my ideas about projects and we were constantly coming up with ideas that we could do together. We were an odd mix of very outgoing and incredibly introverted. We were most happy when brainstorming in the corner at a party than being in the midst of all of the action.

By the time we had known each other for 5 months we were best friends in the sincerest form of the word. Ever since letting go of my tightly held idea of marrying a tall man I had started realizing that Phil was a man that I would be willing to spend the rest of my life with, but I had no idea what he thought of me. So I somehow very easily pushed my feelings of romantic interest in him back and just let myself enjoy the awesome friendship we had.

I am glad we had such a deep friendship before “falling in love.”  In fact, I’d say that it was our deep friendship that actually made loving each other a natural next step.

I am a huge advocate of being best friends with your husband.

For his birthday I planned a surprise birthday party. I wanted it to only be his closest friends and just an opportunity to hang out, eat pizza, and play games. He just about ruined the surprise when a day before his birthday he sent an email to all of the people I had invited, saying that all of them were welcome to stop by for his birthday. His sister and I managed to contact everyone and let them know to play it cool about dropping by. We did actually surprise him and it was a great party!

A few days later, Phil told me that he wanted to send me something. I raced up to the library that day, and opened the email he had sent me, only to discover a song that he had written for me. It even had my name in it! (Cheesy, I know, I know, but it was pretty significant to me! I still work that song into some of the piano compositions I make up these days.) I was floored. Here was a guy who had told me a month ago that he wouldn’t get into a relationship until after college. Here was a guy who seemed to genuinely enjoy my company, going so far as to write a song that was specifically for me.

And yet, as he told me later, he still wouldn’t admit that he “liked” me.

At the same time as our friendship was reaching deep, our church was putting on an original production of Pilgrim’s Progress. I was doing costumes and Phil was in the play. The play provided a convenient location for us to see each other and to spend time together. There was rarely a time when we weren’t talking a mile a minute and discussing all of our marvelous ideas. I also discovered that he thought pretty much the same things as I did on a number of random topics, but he had just enough variance in his thinking that it made for fantastic conversations.

From February to April (we met in October of the year before), our friendship started changing very subtly. Phil wrote several very long letters to me during that period, and I still have those letters tucked away in my memory box. During those months, we hit a strange rough spot.

He sent me an email one day and told me that he wanted to take Spring Break that year to think and pray about our friendship specifically.

I was taken aback but readily agreed to cut back communication. I think even though he still wouldn’t have admitted it at that point, he was falling hard for me and that was freaking him out especially since he was barely through the first half year of college. This meant that his plans for the future were being drastically shaken.

The end of that week landed on the birthday party of the mutual friend who had introduced us. I was very unsure about going, especially because I didn’t want to lose Phil’s friendship. The week of limited communication had been hard. Seeing him at the party was one of those moments where a sweet calm washed over me and I knew instantly that everything was going to be okay, there was no way on earth I was going to lose this guy. We were some of the last people to be dancing on the dance floor that night. We danced for over two hours, thoroughly enjoying each other’s company and having a total blast. Our friendship very much deepened after that week, but there was also that one crucial thing left unsaid, so there was a creeping awkwardness. We started seeing more of each other as opening night for the play started creeping ever nearer. Rehearsals were frequent but were also very busy. I spent a lot of time repairing and managing a huge 20 x 40 (I think that’s how big it was, probably bigger) foot piece of canvas that was part of one of the scenes. I still managed to see a lot of Phil, and as most mothers are, we started getting comments about how often we were hanging out together.

I started having friends come up to me to ask if I was guarding my heart.

No really, I’m serious.

I started getting really annoyed and frustrated with all of these people putting their noses into something that seriously wasn’t any of their business.

That’s what we get for having been in the famous, I Kissed Dating Goodbye Josh Harris’ church.

It all came down to the Thursday night before opening week. I was having to fix a major rip in the canvas, and was seated on the floor of one of the gyms, hand sewing and trying to get the thing patched up. (I hated that canvas by the end of that opening week! I was fixing it after almost every rehearsal) Phil, of course, was a very frequent visitor to my misery and on that particular evening, I had at least 4 people come up to me and question my judgement about hanging out with Phil.

By the time the evening was over, I was furious, at Phil (even though it wasn’t his fault that we both enjoyed hanging out so much), at everyone who had talked with me, and with myself, and most importantly the canvas. Phil came to say goodbye to me, but I was less than cordial as it was now coming up on three hours that I had painstakingly been hand sewing that wretched canvas. I was so uneasy and upset, and as I went home that night I felt like something was about to happen.

Something most definitely happened the next day. The first sign was that Phil wasn’t answering any of my texts, nor was he online. I felt a far reaching sense of foreboding as I made my way to rehearsal that afternoon. I still had a bit of the canvas to finish fixing, but I was mostly anxious to see Phil. I knew something was wrong.  I was among the first crowd of people to show up at rehearsal, and I immediately knew he hadn’t gotten there yet. I knew the moment he arrived and my heart and stomach reached my throat when I caught sight of his face.

Something was definitely wrong and I raced out the door, frantically calling one of my best friends.

Phil and our mutual friend headed in the opposite direction. My friend thankfully picked up after the first two rings and I started breathlessly telling her that something was about to go down and I desperately needed pray. “Pray, and pray hard. I’ll call you in 20 minutes,” I told her. While on the phone with her, the mutual friend called me and wanted to know where I was. She was soon walking towards me as I stood in the middle of the field at the back of church. She told me that Phil needed to talk with me and that he wanted her to be there as well.

My heart barely beat as I felt my limbs turning to molasses. This was it, I thought, this was what I had been waiting for all day. I walked up to where Phil was waiting for me barely breathing, and my heart just about stopped as I saw how pale, teary-eyed, and sick he looked. I still feel the panic in my stomach as I write this out, even though it’s been 4 years since this moment. I waited blindly for him to start talking as I watched him look at me with heavy concern. He rushed through words that I can hardly remember him saying. He said something that my friendship meant the world to him, and that he wanted me to always remember that. Then he dropped the bomb.

“We can’t be friends anymore. We can’t talk, email, chat, or text, nor can we hang out in the same group.” 

He said something about this being his parents’ decision, and then asked if I had anything to say. I don’t remember responding, and in that moment, I was closer to fainting than I have ever been.

For the second time in three years, my heart was completely shattered.

The very person who had been keeping me breathing and moving for the past six months was being ripped from me.


To be continued.

Relationships, A Series: Part Two — We Were Best Friends

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HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. Part Two of this series was originally published on May 23, 2013.


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


Part Two — “We Were Best Friends, Heart Readers, And We Were Loyal to the Nth Degree”

When I wrote about courtship at the beginning of the year, I sincerely intended to continue on in a series of posts about relationships, but as life would have it, my plans got derailed. I was in the middle of some pretty difficult days, emotionally and mentally, and I didn’t have the words to continue writing. Other topics came up, and this series got put on a dusty shelf for another time. I finally feel like I have the words to get this second post in the series out. I once said that I would never talk about my husband’s and my story, but I should learn to not say “never.”

As I have been working through things with my therapist, the more I am seeing life, my life, from another deeper and wider perspective. What I am seeing is a very comforting picture, and one that makes me proud to say that yes, this is my life. I haven’t, to my memory, ever before been able to say, “yay, I love my life!” at any moment before this.

I told my therapist yesterday that I have never been able to look at my husband’s and my story without feeling guilt, shame, and feeling like it is a story of simply surviving a hellish encounter with forces outside of us. I told her how ever since the moment I met my husband, I have felt like it’s been a non stop whirlwind that has threatened to stop us from being together. It has only been in the past 2 (maybe 3) months that I have finally felt able to take a breath and let my body’s stress and tension melt.

My therapist looked at me and told me that our story was one of the most inspiring stories she had ever heard.

She told me that she would consider it movie material, and she was so amazed that we made it through what we did and are still happily married and doing amazingly well. I sat there looking at her, trying to see from her perspective and understand what she was seeing. In that moment, I think I really did catch a glimpse of the story she saw, and this is what I saw.

* * * **

I met my husband in a fairly normal way.

We met through a mutual friend and were surrounded by my siblings when we first met.

He thought I was the mom of all of the kids, and I thought he was seriously short. I had these feelings of almost intrigued disgust at his height, or lack thereof, but there was also something deep in my heart that did a double take when this really friendly, bubbly guy shook my hand and embarrassingly stammered over his mistake of thinking I was the mom. I felt God tell me to keep my eye on this guy because he was going to be someone really important to me.

We didn’t start talking right away, it took two weeks of me trying to find out what I could about this guy, and not hearing anything from him until we connected over online chat. Right around the same time, my life was falling apart with my fibromyalgia and I still wasn’t diagnosed and still was dealing with tons of doctor’s appointments. Meeting Phil and getting to know him and as our friendship quickly progressed from just acquaintances, he was the one who kept me afloat when I desperately needed that life buoy. Our short online chats very quickly morphed into two hour long conversations about nothing in particular other than wherever the conversation led.

I don’t really know what I think about soulmates, and love at first sight, but I do know that there was something seriously deeply connected between Phil and I. He had this silly rule that he would never talk with a girl on the phone unless that was the girl he was in a relationship with or had a business deal to discuss. I remember feeling frustrated when I knew he wasn’t doing well with something and I couldn’t call him and hear his voice or to yell at him to buck up. We found creative ways around the fact that I didn’t have internet at home, including sending e-texts; texts between his email and my phone. I totally jacked up my phone bill within the second month  of our serious conversations because of going over my text limit for the month. Oops.

There was something deeply connecting us.

About three months after I met him, I went through the second time in my life where I cut off anyone who I felt like was sucking life from me or I felt like I couldn’t invest in. I joke that Phil just made the cut. If I hadn’t met him when I did, I probably would have never paid much attention to him, but because of his sincere care for me, and the deep sense in which he understood me, he made it. I started keeping my phone on me everywhere as I felt like he was a life line. He knew the moment something happened that wounded me deeply. He was the first one I texted when something funny happened.

We were best friends, heart and soul readers, and we were loyal to the nth degree.

At the three month mark I strongly wrestled with God over Phil. I told God that I wasn’t going to marry someone short, I had to marry someone tall so they could protect me, carry me. God kept telling me that I had to let go of that dream, I had to let him show me who he wanted me to see. For two weeks, long weeks I might add, I fought and wrestled knowing that as soon as I gave in I would see something I wasn’t ready to acknowledge. At the end of that time I finally gave in and wearily told God that I was ready to hold my dreams loosely. As soon as I did that I saw something in Phil that made me really take a hard look at him. The first thing I saw was that he was nothing like my dad and was one of the first guys I knew that I actually felt safe with.

This was huge, people —

For the first time in my life I felt safe.

I felt safe, and that changed my life. 


To be continued.

Relationships, A Series: Part One — What is Courtship?

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HA note: This series is reprinted with permission from Caleigh Royer’s blog, Profligate Truth. Part One of this series was originally published on January 8, 2013.


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


Part One — What is Courtship?

My dad once told me that he wasn’t going to let me get married until I was 30. I was probably about 12 or 13 when I first remember hearing him say that, but I couldn’t figure out whether he was joking or not at the time. I knew that there was some reality behind his joke because he is deeply under the courtship culture that I grew up in.

I grew up “broken.” Some normal girlish part of me has never quite worked. I never had any dreams about getting married, nor did I have any idea of what a relationship for me would look like. About 6 years later, I found myself in a relationship, and it was going a heck of a lot differently than any of the “courtship” books said a relationship was supposed to go. I read all of the courtship books I could get my hands onto.  I found any book that had to do with emotional purity, courtship, dating or not to date, and I devoured the advice.

I even read a book by someone I used to know way back when all this was called “Emotional Purity.”  I read almost all of Josh Harris’ books, and used to daydream about having a relationship that played out just like the couples in the books, or how the authors of all of these books said a courtship should be played out. Ironically, my daydreams usually included very complicated messed up situations where I was the maiden in distress where I almost died and the man who loved me saved me. Who knew that the relationship with my husband would actually turn out a lot like my daydreams, minus the almost dying part?

I have hated the word Courtship. I hated it because of what it stood for, what I have been through in the name of “courtship,” and what I have watched others face. But, I discovered something; it is not courtship in and of itself that I have been burned by, it is the twisted version of the word, act, that over the past decade or so it has become. I had a long conversation once with a friend about labels. We talked about how so many people have made up meanings for things such as courtship, family, fatherhood, denominations of churches, and whatnot and the original definitions have been lost. I used to cringe every time someone used “courtship” to describe their relationship. That was until I finally looked up the original definition of the word. According to the dictionary, Courtship is defined as thus:

1. the wooing of one person by another
2. the period during which such wooing takes place
3. solicitation of favors, applause, etc.

There is nothing in this definition that says that the man seeking to win a woman’s heart must first “court” the dad and the parents rule the relationship. There is nothing in here that indicates that this is a strictly biblical, family based process. In fact, I find myself having flashbacks to a certain Jack Sparrow egging a certain Will Turner on about wooing said lady. This definition brings up memories of a sincere “I want to get to know you” relationship. This reminds me of a man and woman falling in love and choosing to marry.

This is my definition of Courtship: It is simply the wooing of one person by another.

[I have been asked multiple times to share my story about how Phil and I met and how our relationship played out. Let me just say this. I will never write that story under my real name. I consider some of the relationships that I have now with some involved in the story more important than what they used to be, no matter how messed up things were. Things were rough, parents controlled our relationship and forgiveness has been asked on all sides as has been needed, and that is all you need to know for now. ]

I found this story recently and it brought to light a pretty significant problem that I have with courtship as it is played out today. Even though this is a very radical (and true as much as I can tell) story, it shows how much the Patriarchal/Quiverfull/Fundamentalist Christian movements have gone back to the Old Testament for their rules. They believe that the father [of the woman] is in complete control of the relationship, and that father is holding the only key to his daughter’s purity. They believe that the man should ask the father to court/get to know his daughter, ask his blessing for marriage, and to give the daughter over to the man at the altar. Again, a very clear picture of how much control the father has in the entire relationship. Even though the purity culture within these movements believe that the women are to be cherished, that is roughly translated into these women are the men’s slaves and they have no voice. The women’s only responsibility is to keep house and spit out babies.

On the surface, these are all, for the most part, not all that bad. Underneath, it’s the legalism, control, and authoritarian structure that causes problems. It is not a bad thing for a father to want to protect his daughter, but her purity is not his to keep. It is not his to manipulate and flaunt about so that he can catch the man he wants his daughter to marry.

There comes a certain point in any child’s life when the parents truly have to let go and let their child figure out life for themselves. It is not a bad thing for a man to ask a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage. It is just not a biblical commandment or principle. It is cultural. It is not a bad thing for the family to be involved and around while a couple is working through their relationship. It goes south very quickly when it becomes an obligation for the couple to always be in sight of the family, and never have any time for themselves to talk, and to get to know each other without little siblings acting as spies for the parents, ultimately the father. It is not a bad thing for a couple to seek advice for their relationship from their parents, or others they respect, especially if they are serious about marriage. But that again, is not a biblical commandment or principle, and taken too far to say that the father has ultimate control is really wrong.

[ I am not a parent yet, and most likely when I reach this point with our children, I will probably have different ideas. But for now, this is simply what I am seeing, what I have pondered long and hard about, and what I am now ready to share. ]

Courtship isn’t about a man overcoming a woman and designing her life with her father’s consent but without her consent. Courtship isn’t about a man pressuring a woman to marry him because God told him so. [Read more about that here from my dear friend Hännah @ Wine and Marble.] Courtship does not have to be a deeply serious thing. It can simply become a man really liking a girl, she liking him back, and they take the step from being friends to something deeper.

Normally, in normal cultures, this step happens naturally. If there is something more in a friendship, usually it manifests itself and becomes clear as the friendship becomes deeper. Courtship is two people loving spending time together and enjoying each other while their friendship deepens. If they, as a couple, without parents pressuring them, or controlling the relationship, feel like it’s time to move closer to getting married, then by all means, it is up to them, and them alone. Courtship should be two people deciding for themselves that they are ready for a relationship.

The purity culture and the courtship culture (basically those both go hand in hand) have taken good things and turned them into extra-biblical commands that are expected for every couple, family, and parents to do.

Phil and I have had many conversations about what we are going to do when we have children old enough to decide for themselves. We will not try to control them, nor will we force them to date, court, marry someone we want and not who they want. I want to see my daughters truly wooed and my sons wooing their ladies. I want to rejoice in that, not feel concerned that our children aren’t obeying us. We will raise our children to make good decisions. By doing so, when they reach the age when they are interested in the opposite sex, then we want to give them the freedom to make those good decisions.

Courtship is the wooing of one person to another.


To be continued.