As we approach Karla’s 61st birthday this Saturday, I’ll share a little about this special woman, and tell you why she is so special to our family and to me.
In 1990, she became a registered nurse. She served as a hospice nurse for 20 years before retiring.
In 1992, I said out loud for the first time to anyone that I had been sexually abused as a child. The person I told was Karla.
My life turned upside down a few months after sharing this information.
Here is an excerpt from my book, “Fighting Through the Fear: My Journey of Healing from Childhood Sexual Abuse,” that partially describes the aftermath of revealing that childhood secret.
I had my second major panic attack while I was out of town, and I returned home to Karla:
“For the second time in a year, I was reeling from sudden and random onsets of extreme fear, mental confusion, dizziness, and physical weakness. After this happened, I knew I was dying. My mother-in-law had a brain tumor, so I knew I had to have had one too. That could be the only explanation for what was happening to me.
Karla is strong, but I could see the fear in her eyes. We were young with two kids and a new business that was yet to make us financially secure. How could she make if I died?
“What is wrong with me?” I asked her one day. “Why can’t I shake this?”
“I don’t know, but we will find out,” Karla responded.
“Suppose I have something bad and I am dying.”
She just looked at me. “Whatever it is, we will survive it,” she whispered.
“I am so sorry this happening to you,” I sighed with tears in my eyes.
Karla said “I love you. We married for better or worse.”
Wow! What a powerful statement. But I still felt like a loser, a failure.
I couldn’t lead my family. Having Karla take care of me was appalling. I am the man! My role is to be the chief breadwinner and caregiver of the family.
We were both 36 years old. Karla had been a registered nurse for two years. Now she had this husband falling apart on her. She had to drive me, hold my hand, and constantly tell me, “You’re OK. It’s all gonna be OK.”
This is one of the many reasons why Karla will always be the love of my life. When I was a broken man, she didn’t abandon me. She dug deep and stayed by my side. She said, “For better or worse, we are together.”
When I completely broke down emotionally and we didn’t know what was happening to me, she didn’t run or quit. She hunkered down and with God’s mercy, she nursed me back to health.
I learned a very valuable lesson during this time. In a good working relationship, there are no gender-specific roles. You are a team, and one doesn’t quit on the other when you need each other the most. I learned in 1992 what “for better or worse” really means.