EP 109: My Story: Part 16: What’s It Like To Be Fired From A Church?

Diana WinklerPhysical Violence

Thank you for continuing with me on the next chapter of my story. I start out clarifying what went down when the church fired me, and the fallout from that. I fill in the rest of that time period with what happened at home behind the scenes, including nearly losing everything on a business venture, my ex sabotaging expressions of my musical gifts and other emotional abuses, and my dogs who helped me cope. I end with news of my new Christmas recording to be released next week!

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[00:00:00] Diana Winkler: Hello everyone. Welcome back once again to the podcast. Thanks for coming back and listening to my story being a part of my journey.

[00:00:18] I’ve had some feedback on my story that I’ve been telling.

[00:00:23] And people ask me, why should you tell your story? Why go back and rehash all of this old stuff that you went through? Why don’t you just move forward? That’s a really good question. I have moved forward. But for you to move forward as an abuse survivor, you have to process what you went through.

[00:00:54] Now, I have done that with Mending the Soul, and through some counseling, [00:01:00] and I am much further on my journey than I was 10 years ago. I am able to help other people at this point because I have healed

[00:01:15] to a certain extent. Now, in many soul groups, one of the exercises that we do is tell our story. Some of my participants have never told anyone their story. Not another living soul. And this is part of acknowledging what you went through. This is part of discovering what happened, recognizing that what happened to you was abuse and that it wasn’t your fault.

[00:01:58] There are many different [00:02:00] kinds of abuses too. As you listen to my story is very different than other people’s stories. But what happens when you tell your story in a safe environment, people that you can trust, is that the power that it held over you, it’s no longer there. Now, that sounds very simplistic, but

[00:02:29] Start at that starting line and let that story out. Have the bravery to say your story and process those things and go through those emotions. It’s scary. I have told my story many times in public. This is the first time I’ve done this long version, but that’s what a podcast is for. [00:03:00] And I’ll tell you what, I was up in the middle of the night.

[00:03:05] I’ve been having trouble sleeping for other reasons, but

[00:03:08] going through my story or the series has triggered some things in me. Now I recognize what those triggers are and I have the tools to deal with them because I have been through that process of acknowledging, this was wrong. This was not your fault, right?

[00:03:34] There’s nothing you could have done to stop that abuse from happening to you. Person that did the abuse was wrong, was evil, was horrible. But also you learn when you tell your story that

[00:03:54] you come out on the other side of it and that there is a light at the end of [00:04:00] the tunnel. There is a life after abuse, I promise you that.

[00:04:07] And so the other thing about my Mending the Soul groups is that me and my facilitator go first. We tell our stories first. That gives the other participants in the room courage to tell their stories.

[00:04:30] They can relate to what we are saying. They’ve experienced some of the things we’ve experienced. They finally think, I’m not alone. And it’s still hard to tell your story the first time, but it’s so powerful. And so that is why I am telling my story on the podcast. And yeah, there’s a lot of [00:05:00] detail that I put in.

[00:05:02] Some details that may make you uncomfortable. And they make me uncomfortable.

[00:05:09] This is what gives the people that are listening, courage to move forward, tell somebody, get help to get out. You can get out. There are ways to help you. There are tools to recover from abuse, some really horrible abuse. And you can be whole. So

[00:05:42] that’s what I’m doing today. I am continuing. I believe this is Part 16. So if you’re new and you have never heard any of my story, you might [00:06:00] be a little lost or missed out on some important events in my life that would put things in perspective. I have gone from my childhood upbringing through meeting my now ex-husband to the abuse, my church planting.

[00:06:23] All the nightmares of the church planning on top of it. So if you don’t wanna listen to all those episodes, I encourage you to go back at least to where we got married or when we were dating and start from there. All of my episodes are labeled “my story”. And you’ll be able to at least get a basic understanding of what I’m going through up to this point. [00:07:00] Last episode, I was on staff at a church and I spoke about the good, the bad, the ugly, about what was it like to work at the church and what happened, how it all went down. I was fired from that church and I wanted to finish up with that chapter.

[00:07:27] How it all went down. It wasn’t pretty.

[00:07:31] But anyway, you’re thinking that I am sharing a lot of details. I am, but I’m leaving a lot out. Trust me. Some things that I have swimming around in my brain in the middle of the night are not really appropriate for a podcast, at least in my opinion. It’s very graphic and [00:08:00] very unpleasant. And I don’t really wanna trigger anybody.

[00:08:07] I wanna be able to tell the story and give as much detail as I need to get the point across. But, Not too graphic that it would traumatize anybody listening.

[00:08:21] I usually reserve the gory stuff for my Mending the Soul group, because that’s what it’s for. In a private setting. And so anywho, I’ve got a lot to cover today, so I’m going to dive right into what it’s like getting fired from a church. So when I joined the staff at church, I was really concerned about being given a fair shake because I had been a [00:09:00] member for probably a few years, maybe three years at this point, and they all knew who Danny was,

[00:09:10] what kind of person he was. Just because I was his wife doesn’t mean that I agree with his behavior or that my personality is like his. And that might sound silly to you, but people associate spouses to be endorsing the other spouse’s activities or behavior. This. You’ve probably experienced it yourself, but being totally innocent of all that stuff. So I told the principal’s wife,

[00:09:53] I wanna be given a chance at this job without the prejudicial [00:10:00] judgements, the way that my husband acts in church. And she promised that I would be given that chance. Looking back, I don’t know if that was the case.

[00:10:14] So there was a lot of gossip in the church. That’s just the way churches are.

[00:10:24] I was privy to a lot of gossip because I was on the church staff and you learn more information than you want to know about people in the church, especially the staff. Their details I did not want to know. And I will never, ever be on a church staff again based on my experience. I love my church that I’m a part of right now [00:11:00] with all my heart.

[00:11:01] I know it’s not a perfect church, but I would be afraid to join the staff if that was even offered to me because I would not want to ruin what I have with this church, the relationships that I have. Sometimes ignorance is bliss not knowing everything that’s going on. So with that being said, I tried to stick to the facts in my mind.

[00:11:32] Instead of being swayed by every little tidbit that I got at the water cooler. In this case that was in my office. Literally. My conversations with the teachers were usually positive. They also wanted to know everything about me and my private life. I remember trying to say what they [00:12:00] wanted to hear so I wouldn’t be judged by them.

[00:12:03] One event that happened was that the choir director was being replaced by this new guy that came from outside the church, and I personally considered it a betrayal to the choir director because he didn’t do anything wrong to deserve being replaced. When I found out about it, I went to his wife, who was a teacher at the school, and I said how sorry I was that her husband lost his job. And she said, it’s okay.

[00:12:47] It really is. I don’t know if they were just saying that,

[00:12:53] but her husband, he surprised me because he [00:13:00] was very mature and was trying to be positive about the whole thing. At least on the outside, he was taking it very well, and he in fact, stayed with the church as a layman and went into the dental lab industry. So he started a new career.

[00:13:24] Now that wouldn’t be my experience with the church. One afternoon I was called into the pastor’s office, after I had finished the Sunday bulletin.

[00:13:37] The pastor sat me down and said that one of the staff has reported that I have shared confidential information outside the church office. I asked what exactly did I share? Who is it that’s accusing me? [00:14:00] He said he did not wanna identify the accuser, but it was somebody he trusted and believes this person is telling the truth.

[00:14:11] And I told the pastor I never shared anything confidential from this office, not even to my husband. I don’t even get a chance to face my accuser or defend myself? What proof did he have except this other person’s word? He said he was sorry, but that he is going to have to let me go.

[00:14:40] I was devastated. It was not really that fun of a job and it didn’t have any benefits, but I was being accused of something I didn’t do. I was fired from a church ministry job, [00:15:00] which is humiliating. I realized that I would have to leave the church because the church members would ask me, why? Why aren’t you the secretary anymore? That, you can’t really keep that a secret.

[00:15:19] I did a lot of stuff around the church and I wasn’t about to paste a fake little smile and make up some stupid lie to spare my reputation. He said he was gonna give me a two week severance and said that I wasn’t the worst secretary he ever had. Oh gee, thanks. He asked if I was doing right by me. I said, let me see.

[00:15:55] You’re firing me for something I didn’t do. [00:16:00] You’re not giving me a chance to defend myself. At the same time he wanted me to stay at the church and continue helping out in the music department and the choir. I thought, you gotta be kidding me. You want the benefit of my music gifts, but you treat me like garbage behind the scenes.

[00:16:26] I didn’t say that out loud, but that was what I was thinking. I told him I would talk to my husband and see what he wants to do, so I took my mechanical pencil and personal items and I left.

[00:16:44] When I got home, Danny was furious, of course. He said, we’re not stepping foot in that church ever again. I don’t remember if he called the pastor and [00:17:00] chewed him out or not, but that would be something that he would do. I don’t remember to be honest with you. So Danny said to file for unemployment right away. And I replied, I was fired.

[00:17:17] And he gave me a two week severance, so I don’t know if I would get unemployment. He made me apply anyway,

[00:17:25] So unemployment called, and back in those days, they would do a three-way call with my former employer to ask about my termination and, listen to this. The pastor told them I quit. I said, no. I was fired, supposedly for spreading confidential information. I never got to face my accuser or [00:18:00] defend myself. It was then that I found out that it was the principal’s wife that had reported me.

[00:18:10] She claimed that I spread gossip about the teenage boy who got a girl pregnant. I explained to unemployment officer that the information was already public knowledge in the church, but I was never the one who gave anyone any specific details. Surprisingly, the unemployment office ruled in my favor and I got my unemployment benefits, and we left a church to go find somewhere else to serve.

[00:18:51] I had to go find another job. Of course, I didn’t go back to the check printer. I [00:19:00] think I was so gung ho fired up when I left the check printer and told everybody I was going to be in, full-time ministry at the church. And they were excited for me. And my boss even told me, you’re always welcome to come back.

[00:19:18] But I guess I was too embarrassed to come back and say it didn’t work out. I also thought it would look bad on the work of Christ and the church in general for the unbelievers I worked with. So I decided not to go back there. I believe this time was when I started my pharmacy career, there was a pharmacy that was paying for our licensing and certification.

[00:19:56] That’s something I’m still doing now.

[00:19:59] [00:20:00] So I’m gonna hop forward a little bit. I never went back to that church, never darkened those doors until Marilyn, who was one of the gals in the trio group, she died. And the timeline is that Marilyn died after my divorce. So I’m skipping ahead for this event, but this is related to the church, so I just wanna get it out of the way.

[00:20:38] Marilyn’s husband called me up and asked me to sing at the funeral at the church, and I almost said no, due to my history with the church. But he said it would mean so much to him for me to be there and to sing one of her favorite songs. [00:21:00] So I agreed to put my personal history aside and go to this funeral.

[00:21:12] So Fred was there, the other part of our trio. So I sat with him when I arrived. That was a safe place to be, and it was really uncomfortable being there,

[00:21:29] but all the grandkids sang. And Marilyn had a wonderful family and left a great legacy for her family. I was glad to have known her and it was a wonderful presentation. Now,

[00:21:52] after the grandkids sang their songs, I was scheduled to sing next. I [00:22:00] was standing at the bottom of the stage, when you go up the steps onto the stage. But the pastor ignored me and started in on his sermon. Marilyn’s husband started interrupting the pastor, pointing out that I was supposed to sing next.

[00:22:23] So the pastor apologized and motion for me to come up on the stage. A big, fake, pasted smile was on my face and his. I knew that he skipped me on purpose because I knew this man. I was asked to sing I can only imagine. You probably know that song. It’s [00:23:00] a great song. As I started singing, the principal of the school and his wife got up and left the room.

[00:23:11] Apparently they couldn’t stand to be in my presence. I’m trying to remember how many years it was, and it had been at least five years since I’ve seen them. I managed to get through the delivering of the emotions of the song and Marilyn’s death and the rude treatment of the staff towards me. I stepped down after the song and sat back next to Fred, and he knew exactly what happened.

[00:23:44] A couple of people said hello to me after the funeral and said how much they appreciated the song, and they were happy to see me. That was three people. Pastor [00:24:00] didn’t even shake my hand on the way out. That was fine with me. Fred and I decided to go for something to eat at the Cheesecake Factory after the funeral, as friends,

[00:24:14] of course. He was still married. I don’t remember his wife being there at the funeral though. But we drove in separate cars and we met at the restaurant. Neither of us had an issue meeting in a public place,

[00:24:31] and we were just catching up on old times.

[00:24:34] When we went to sit down, we noticed in the next booth, the principal’s son and his girlfriend. And the girlfriend happened to be friends with Fred’s wife. Now we waved hello to them, so they didn’t think we were being sneaky or trying to hide anything. [00:25:00] And I didn’t have anything against them personally, but we both knew when we sat down that they saw us together at the restaurant.

[00:25:10] and they were going to say something to Fred’s wife, even though nothing was going on. I hadn’t seen him in five years, and he wanted to catch up. We were just going to ignore them in the next booth and enjoy the food and the conversation. He was a true friend through all the junk that happened at the church and what happened with my marriage.

[00:25:41] He himself had some big trials that his family was going through, his kids, his wife’s health. Sure enough, he calls me later that week and says, yeah, I got in a lot of trouble because I went to [00:26:00] that restaurant with you.

[00:26:01] I didn’t see him again until I was married to Brian for a few years. He actually came down for a gig of ours at a coffee shop to hear me sing rock music. Couldn’t believe that I was singing rock music. He had been divorced and remarried twice since I’ve seen him. So, a lot had happened to him. He had a new girlfriend in Texas and lost a ton of weight and unfortunately he suffered the loss of two of his children, which was really tragic.

[00:26:45] I changed those kids’ diapers. I knew them really well. Good riddance to that church. I’m only in contact with probably the same three people from that church.

[00:26:59] [00:27:00] So now I’m going to go back in time to what was my life like at home when I was still married to Danny during that time period? Keep in mind, I’m squashing five years of events into an hour here. So , here I go. Shortly after we moved to Phoenix,

[00:27:28] Danny’s grandmother had a stroke and she required around the clock care, which we were on the other side of the country. So we couldn’t help them at all. And eventually she passed away. She was the matriarch of the family and it was very difficult

[00:27:54] loss for the family. It was hard on Danny because he [00:28:00] was so close to his grandma.

[00:28:02] So yeah, we went back east for the funeral and I sang at the memorial. And what happens when the matriarch of the family dies? A lot of the other family members die. We lost all of Grandmom’s siblings after that. They were probably holding it together, and when grandma passed away, it was too much for them.

[00:28:31] I started cleaning houses for extra money cause my job was not bringing home enough money. And Danny quit his job and decided to do his business full-time, which was commercial sound and video. If you’ve ever started your own business, it is like feast or famine.[00:29:00] I didn’t make much money cleaning houses and my day job at the pharmacy, but the burden seemed to be put on me to make money. Because we only got paid when he finished a job. And it got pretty bad when we would run up the credit card.

[00:29:26] And when we would get paid, that’s when we would pay the credit card. So eventually he wanted to file for bankruptcy because we were over our heads in debt. And the business wasn’t really going well. So I told him that he should just go get a regular job so we can pay the bills. But he refused. He did not like working for other people.[00:30:00] [00:30:00] He wanted to be his own boss. He did not like taking orders from anyone. He wouldn’t even sell things when we needed money to pay the bills. We had a truck for work and I had a car for work, but he also had a motorcycle. I considered a luxury item. I suggested that he sell the motorcycle, since we were on the verge of bankruptcy, I was pretty much kept in the dark about the finances.

[00:30:37] He wouldn’t show me the books as to how bad things were. So it was, surprise! We’re gonna go bankrupt soon. But he refused to sell anything in the house that had any value that we could use to pay bills with. I didn’t wanna lose my home and everything we worked for so, I [00:31:00] wound up working overtime and extra hours at work.

[00:31:05] And I understand the concept of people wanting to be their own boss and start their own business, but when emergencies come up and you’re gonna lose your house or your kids don’t have food to eat or shoes to wear for school, you have to do certain things to provide for your family. You gotta put aside your” I wanna be my own boss” and “I don’t

[00:31:31] want to work for anybody”. That’s just plain old pride and stubbornness. And you shouldn’t put the burden on your wife to work two jobs to pay the bills because, you’re not gonna man up and go get a full time job, which he had plenty of skills to do. He decided [00:32:00] to wait it out. And I told him, we’re not filing for bankruptcy, so just get that out of your head right now.

[00:32:07] He started having me help him with the business because he didn’t want to pay an employee to help him. Most of his jobs at night clubs and bars and comedy clubs, restaurants, churches. This meant for me, going with him in the middle of the night when the places were closed, to help him install commercial sound and video equipment.

[00:32:36] So that’s your TVs, your sound systems. So I’m climbing up ladders, lifting stuff over my head, hoping the equipment doesn’t land on my head, and that’s not my skill set.

[00:32:51] He had this client Guy’s electronics that contracted him to do all of [00:33:00] the thumper rooms in all the Phoenix stores and a few in California. They have this room with the speakers and the stereos and the base turned up. Danny was installing all the wiring and set up for those rooms. Danny did not have a lawyer look at any of the contracts, so that was the first problem. This was a first really big job that we had, and he had stars in his eyes. We made a lot of mistakes.

[00:33:38] The other mistake was Danny had me soldering wires in our garage in the hot summer. We had a fan blowing air conditioning into the garage from the house. Folks, I don’t know how to solder. Again, not my skillset, but he didn’t want to hire anybody [00:34:00] qualified to do the work. I hated it all. Couldn’t stand it.

[00:34:07] When he would get mad at me because the solder connections would fail on the install. I told him, you, you can’t yell at me for that. I don’t know how to solder. I was never trained in any of that stuff. It’s not fair to put that on me, on top of everything else I’m doing. But I told him, you’re gonna have to hire somebody.

[00:34:33] You’re getting paid for this job a lot of money. I’m not doing it. So we got a gal that we hired from Manpower to do it, but we were still in over our heads. Those two were doing the Guy’s electronics job. I answered the phone. I collected checks.

[00:34:56] I ran errands, ship packages. [00:35:00] But these guys were slimy. They were only going to pay us when the jobs at all of the locations were completed. That was five locations. His business skills were not that good. Too trusting. We had to buy all those materials up front and then not pay the bill until we got paid.

[00:35:28] So I demanded that we get a deposit up front for at least half. They wrote us a check for a deposit for the location that was in San Jose.

[00:35:41] Danny went by himself to do the install in San Jose. I was left behind cuz I had all this work to do and I couldn’t leave. I found out that the check [00:36:00] bounced for the deposit, so I called the office that was in charge of this project and I told them if they did not give me cash to cover that check right now, today, I would pull Danny off of that job site.

[00:36:24] Now I had to be very convincing over the phone and get some real brass. But it worked. He was not going to work for free. So I went and picked up the money and I put it in the bank. When Danny called me that night, I told him what happened. He could not believe that those people were gonna do something so shady.

[00:36:53] He was grateful that I took charge of the situation. When all of the [00:37:00] locations were done, which this was exhausting, we were supposed to collect the final payment, and the scum buckets claimed that the work was not done to their satisfaction, and it was not signed off by the foreman on site. We had to take them to small claims court, and Denny was not a good record keeper.

[00:37:32] So it was really hard to get any proof of anything.

[00:37:39] We never got paid for that final payment, but those stores opened up on schedule with those thumper rooms. What a bunch of crooks. And you’re thinking you’re trashing this company. I don’t have a problem doing [00:38:00] that because they went bankrupt and they closed all of their stores a couple years back.

[00:38:08] But that was a really challenging time in the marriage. But the finances, I mean that the job nearly destroyed us working together 24/7 with deadlines. I don’t recommend that. I don’t recommend you going into business with your family. I know that sounds controversial. It will really affect your relationship.

[00:38:33] I had that on top of the regular abuses going on.

[00:38:37] But I was always trying to find ways to make more money. I tried to start my own side business, sewing custom clothing for people. I had my own custom labels and everything. But that didn’t work out really well because my clients would say, I can go to Walmart and [00:39:00] buy something.

[00:39:00] Okay. What I do is custom fitted garments to your body with the material that you pick out and the color that you prefer. If you can find what you want at Walmart, then you don’t need me. I had a couple clients like that, and I decided I’m not doing this. I’m gonna only, sew for myself and my husband, and maybe make some gifts for folks at Christmas.

[00:39:32] I’ve tried to teach sewing classes. Nobody showed up. I spent a lot of time sewing. I tailored Danny Suits and tuxedos for church. And you know that I taught voice lessons at my home for a long time. That was more consistent, I would say. The challenge there was getting people to show up at the lessons.[00:40:00] [00:40:01] I started making them pay up front, lessons by the month. And this was before we could meet on Zoom, of course. But Danny wanted me to look for a job that he wanted me to do. He told me he wanted me to apply at Pep Boys. I didn’t wanna work in a male dominated industry, Uhuh, I don’t know anything about cars, but he made me go anyway because he had worked at Pep Boys and really liked it.

[00:40:39] And he liked the benefits that you get, and it was all about him. He wanted the discount for the auto parts. And I tell you what, he pulled all these strings for me to get this interview and he told me to name drop all these people’s names. But it was [00:41:00] really embarrassing at the interview because it looked ridiculous telling all about Danny working for Pet Boys at such and such a city and I didn’t really have any skills for the job.

[00:41:15] Needless to say. I didn’t get the job. So I told Danny, you’re not gonna tell me which jobs I’m going to apply for, and I’m not qualified for the ones you want me to do.

[00:41:28] And we had just gotten rid of that Brady Bunch Station wagon. And he got a Silverado truck with the company logo painted on it. We later edited a utility trailer with the logo on the side. He called me up one day saying that he found a car that he wanted to buy for me. And it was a beat up old Volkswagen Fox.[00:42:00] [00:42:00] I don’t even know what year it was. It looked like it went through a fire. It didn’t lock from the inside. You had to use a key to lock or unlock the door. It had one of those seat belts, like that went across you like this automatically when you shut the door. It must have been in the nineties.

[00:42:26] There were wires coming out of the seat and the worst part. It was a stick. Now I know how to drive a stick. I just hated driving them. And I told him on the phone, I did not want it. But he said he was gonna buy anyway because, oh, it’s a great car and it’s only a thousand bucks.

[00:42:54] Why did you call me to ask me if I wanted it? If you were gonna [00:43:00] make me drive it regardless? We had a Jetta diesel brand new car that I was already driving, but he wanted to drive the new car for himself. So he brought home this car and he made me drive it until the engine smoked. Stranded me on the side of the road and then I refused to drive it.

[00:43:25] He finally traded in for another car, the dealership. And yeah, that’s what he would do is manipulate me. Tell me what kind of a car to drive.

[00:43:43] No w, I don’t wanna forget my dogs. I know that’s kinda jumping right in here, but

[00:43:52] we bought the house with a yard because I wanted a dog. I grew up with animals.[00:44:00] Our first German Shepherd we got was from a trainer for police dogs. We made a lot of mistakes with this dog, Phantom. He was not socialized. He was a hard headed dog.

[00:44:20] We knew nothing about being the confident and firm alpha that we needed to be.

[00:44:26] If you watch Caesar Milan, you know what I’m talking about. We’d never watched any of those. We gave the dog too much freedom in the house. He was not fixed. He marked all over the house on our expensive stereo speaker.

[00:44:45] And we had to put him in the other room when the company came. The only other people that he liked were my mother and father-in-law. Actually. My father-in-law had some authority [00:45:00] in his voice, so he never had any trouble with that dog. And unfortunately, he bit some people, some children even. And I was really appalled because the dog trainer we bought him from told us to hang the dog from a tree to show him who’s boss.

[00:45:26] Yes. That’s horrible.

[00:45:28] When it came down to it, he just wasn’t the dog for us. But we never got rid of him.

[00:45:34] because I was afraid they would probably put him down because I didn’t think anybody else would put up with him either. We just had to keep ’em isolated. We got a second Shepherd, a female, Annie. She was from a reputable breeder down in [00:46:00] South Arizona. Yeah, I know what you’re gonna say about buying from breeders.

[00:46:07] We wanted another working dog, a protection dog. We got her at one year old, so she was the opposite of our male dog. Which that’s something to look out for if you do buy from a breeder, if they have good temperament. She was very sweet, very socialized, and she came from a really good bloodline, but she didn’t know any commands yet.

[00:46:44] She was climbing all over the table and just all over the place. We had to train her and she wasn’t fixed. So we had the job of dealing with her in heat and the [00:47:00] bloody mess every time she went into heat. And we wound up having to fix our male because we weren’t gonna breed him because of his temperament.

[00:47:14] She was a great dog, which we did want to breed her because there are very few female German Shepherd working dogs, that have a very high prey drive. And it was very difficult to get her tired and exhausted. Endless energy. Unfortunately the dogs just spent the time in the backyard and barked all day because Danny was working in the office and I was at work all day.

[00:47:51] So animal control was always knocking on the door, responding to the barking of the dogs. And Danny did not [00:48:00] wanna do any discipline of the dogs at all. And I say all this about the dogs because I know some of you are attached to your dogs too. They are a big part of your family. I didn’t have any kids and I raised those dogs from a year old.

[00:48:18] They were my coping mechanism in all of this. And they are a coping mechanism, a comfort to a lot of you who have been through abuse. Now, I’ll talk more about my dogs as the story progresses, but I did wanna mention them and cause they were a huge part of my life.

[00:48:48] So if you remember the album that Danny promised to do for me when we met, it never happened. [00:49:00] If you recall, we always had a recording studio in our home. He would produce music for other people, but never my album. We had people in our home all the time. He would do people’s albums for almost free, like $200.

[00:49:22] I’m not kidding. Every year he would ask me, what do you want for Christmas? I want to record my album. After a few years of asking, he started saying, who would want to listen to your album? You only do Christian music, hymns, classical music. A piano, and a voice? No one would wanna listen to you.

[00:49:54] I know lots of musicians who do piano and voice albums. It’s all about [00:50:00] the production.

[00:50:02] I’m a trained singer, and I’ve been invited to sing all over the country, other parts of the world. People have asked me when the album would be done. It was not my idea to begin with. But again, this is a way to control me, to torture me with something that is very important to my life, a part of my being.

[00:50:32] Those of you who are musicians understand this. Artists understand this. Painters paint canvases. Writers write books. Musicians record and perform music. It would never happen. I got, as far as recording some piano tracks with Paul, my piano teacher,

[00:50:56] Danny said that he wanted [00:51:00] an orchestra. Okay, make it happen. Instead of making excuses. It was really sad and confusing because he would volunteer me to sing at every place we went. We would go visit a church on vacation or something, and he would say, Diana sings! And they would ask me to sing, which I’m fine with, but I just never understood his problem, what was his problem?

[00:51:33] And some people have suggested he was jealous. Jealous of what? That he couldn’t sing? He had his own gifts that God gave him.

[00:51:44] I once tried out for the soprano solo for a local choir for Handel’s Messiah. That’s my favorite oratorio. I’m sure you know it well. [00:52:00] You know the Hallelujah chorus and all that good stuff. I practiced and I worked really hard. I knew these songs backwards, forwards, upside down, inside out. I thought my audition went very well.

[00:52:16] I was proud of the work that I did. I just did my best. Right? That’s all you can do. And there were a lot of singers there that were great. Now, in the end, I didn’t get the part, but the director said I did a fine job. So I got home and I told Danny I didn’t get the part. And you know what he said to me?

[00:52:43] Good, I’m glad you didn’t get the part. You’re not such a great singer. You think you’re all that in a bag of chips, but you are not.

[00:52:54] I’m like, what is wrong with you? Why would you ever [00:53:00] say something that is so mean and hurtful for no reason? I may not be the best singer there, but telling me that I can’t sing, that’s really hitting below the belt. But again, it’s another way to tear me down. That’s what abusers do. The house was never clean enough.

[00:53:26] Dinner is never as good as he can make it, or his mother can make it. And Danny is a good cook. His mother taught him how to cook. And yes, I learned how to cook some dishes as a young married person, but it was never good enough. I never made enough money. I spent too much on groceries. I spent too much on Christmas gifts.

[00:53:58] They were his [00:54:00] relatives I bought for and sent cards to, by the way. Don’t get me started on Christmas presents. My mother-in-law always criticized me that I didn’t spend enough money on some family gift. One year we had, secret Santa, which you draw names because our family’s pretty big. And I got my brother-in-law and he wanted a very specific type of sweater.

[00:54:32] I searched all over the place to get the type of sweater and the color that he wanted. So our limit was, don’t spend any more than a hundred dollars. I don’t remember how much the sweater was. I think it was 50 or 60 bucks. But when my brother-in-law opened the sweater on Christmas Day, [00:55:00] he loved it.

[00:55:01] It was exactly what he wanted. Oh, my mother-in-law goes, that’s not a hundred dollar sweater. I thought that the idea was to get something that the recipient would enjoy. Who cares how much it costs? Could have knitted one myself. So after that it was like, okay, Danny, you buy your family’s gifts from now on.

[00:55:24] I’m not doing this. My mother-in-law bought flannel shirts for Danny for Christmas when we moved to Arizona, which is pretty funny because

[00:55:34] his mother should know that Danny has never worn flannel in his life. Even when we lived back east, he’s warm-blooded person. Never wore flannel. And Danny would never say anything to his mother because that’s not how he was raised. But she was like asking how he liked the gifts? And if you ask me a question, I’m gonna give you a [00:56:00] straight answer. I told her she bought a flannel shirt when we live in Arizona and it’s very warm here. You know what he did want?

[00:56:11] He wanted a new set of stainless steel pots and pans to cook with.

[00:56:14] So I think I remember her going out and getting him those pots and pans.

[00:56:23] Anyway,

[00:56:25] Vacations in our home, that meant going back east to his parents’ home. Don’t get me wrong, my in-laws are nice people. A little weird, but but they’re good people. It’s not a vacation staying at your mother and father-in-law’s house. Okay? The women, you may understand. That you’re in somebody else’s home.

[00:56:54] You’re not the lady of the house. My mother-in-law’s home was [00:57:00] spotless. You could eat off of her floors, and we were in Danny’s old room. You can’t really relax there. Now, he liked the fact that his mom did all the cooking, cleaning, and our laundry, so I guess he was on vacation,

[00:57:22] but

[00:57:25] the only time he wanted to be intimate in our marriage. Was when we went to his parents’ house. And their bedroom was right next to ours. And so he wanted to have sex. And I’m like, your parents are in the next room. I know. I want them to hear us so they think that we’re happily married.

[00:57:53] What? No. You don’t have sex with me when we’re at home. But you wanna put on a [00:58:00] show for your mother and father, to fake that we have a good marriage? Get away from me.

[00:58:08] That was insulting. He would not show me any kind of affection unless it was in front of people he wanted to impress. So

[00:58:17] if it sounds really offensive, that’s because it is.

[00:58:23] And we were, let’s see, six or seven years into the marriage. And he started talking about kids. He came from a large Italian family and they all kept asking, when are you gonna have kids? And we still didn’t have a semblance of a sex life. To have kids, you actually have to have a sex life. And that was the pattern in our marriage.

[00:58:53] We’re gonna talk more about that particular subject next episode, [00:59:00] because

[00:59:00] I think that other people struggle with this in their marriage. So I wanna address those things, talk these issues out. You are not alone in any of this. So I’m gonna stop here for this week. What I’m also going to do is talk about the next church that we decided to be a part of.

[00:59:28] And you’re like, when are you gonna run out of churches? I know, right? That’s what we did is whenever he

[00:59:36] Didn’t like the church anymore, he wasn’t getting what he wanted out of the church, then he would want to move on. Of course, since I was fired from the church we did not want to stay there. So we had to look for another church.

[00:59:53] I don’t have a song for you this week because, let’s see, when this posts, it will be the day [01:00:00] before Thanksgiving. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you early. And I try and follow the rules that we don’t do any Christmas stuff until after Thanksgiving. I’m very traditional in that sense. But I am recording a new Christmas song right now, this week.

[01:00:25] In fact, tomorrow I’ll be doing finishing up the background vocals and then I’m going to mix and master it and put it on the website for Christmas season for you guys to enjoy. And it’s a song you might be familiar with, you may not. But I will save that for next week if I get it finished. Hey, we have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

[01:00:50] Even in a horrible situation, there is something to be thankful for. That’s always Jesus. That’s always our salvation. And then he’s [01:01:00] never going to leave us or forsake us. That’s a promise from the Lord. And so whatever you’re going through with this season, I know it’s challenging. December 5th is the anniversary of my oldest brother dying.

[01:01:18] So it’s gonna be hard. But we’re gonna try and remember him in a positive way. So I will pray for you guys to get through the holidays. Have courage. Be strong and I will be here next week for you. Until then, God bless.