The day I signed a one-year lease to rent a condo,
after 22 years of fighting for my marriage, marked the first step I took towards actively caring for my emotions. It is astounding now, to look back, I realize how beaten down I was. I can’t imagine the courage and the faith I had, to step into an unknown future. All I knew was I could not take another lap around the cycle of emotional abuse and whatever the future held I was going to be free. As much as it would hurt to divide our family of six, staying and continuing the lie, was not just killing me, but it meant modeling abusive behavior. I was paving the road for future generations. I wanted more for my daughter in laws. I made a move for them as much as for myself.
Two years later, I assess where I am, the quality of my life and the breadth of my witness. I remarried a man of God who treasures me, models for my children how to love and care for a woman while being every bit of a strong, decisive leader. God planted me in a new town, where I have a vibrant social life, an incredible church, new family, and friends surround me.
The divorce was worse than I could have imagined, the pain was devastating. There will always be aftermath from splitting up, but the joy I have today exceeds anything I could have asked or imagined. I praise God for giving me the faith to hold His hand and step out.
‘Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us’, Ephesians 3:20
Written the day I signed the lease:
April 22, 2015
Some crazy dichotomies are surfacing as my spirit is beginning to come to life. I thought somehow, I was dying from the cancer treatment, but I now can see what was killing my soul- it was the emotional abuse. Passive aggression is so subtle, and when you live in it for a long time, you don’t even realize how unhealthy things have become.
I am beginning to see that my definition of myself, has come from how I feel others see me. Often that has been spelled out by people in my life, who don’t love themselves and don’t have the ability to love me. I have allowed someone else’s negativity to limit me and to cast a dark shadow over my self-esteem. It is beginning to feel as if there are people in my life who have been gently pushing me away from success. This most recent step of moving away from my home, against the advice of the church and many others, is the beginning of me standing up and saying, “Hey wait, you’re wrong, I am capable. I can make right decisions. I matter, and despite what you think or see, I am not free in that marriage.”
Suddenly I don’t feel the need to prove my worth like I always have. I am also discovering for the first time, that it is alright to fail. I am beginning to recognize the lies and road blocks that I have allowed myself to stumble on. I am not succumbing to them anymore. For once, I am courageously moving them aside as I step into the future.
Getting demoted by the church certainly felt like I had a scarlet letter sewn on my sleeve. I was asked to leave the building committee where I was a valued member and had diligently served. I am no longer invited to lead the Bible study nor am I still welcome to emcee the mother’s day event. There are supportive people, who know me well, love me, and my heart. Even strong believers are saying things like, “I know you have prayed and given it your all, let me know how I can support you.” I can’t tell you how blessed I’ve been by the understanding ones, who have seen me step up over and over only to be knocked down like a whack-a-mole. Those who are not judging me, stand out in ways I am certain blesses the Lord. Those who are judging me, not so much.
I feel freedom in shedding the bondage of the emotional abuse. This whole thing will come as a complete surprise to those who have just watched our family in church, etc. It will come as a shock to our kids, as I have hidden the truth for so long. With me out of the house, however, there will be no one to decorate the elephant in the living room.
The gravity of it all is hitting home. I took my 11-year-old to our future living space. He is hurting. He is angry that I’m trying to make everything seem ok. I am trying to let him feel the pain as it surfaces, rather than deny it or cover it up. I am acknowledging with my words,
“This is going to hurt,” but I’m also telling the truth, “It is going to be ok.”
It is going to be good. The boys are going to have at least one healthy parent. Perhaps the change will cause momentum in other people’s lives.
“You’re ruining my childhood,” he said. His dad had hurled the same message at me so I wouldn’t leave. I believe he was just parroting them, but I am listening to my son. I let him speak his mind, but I am staying on track.
My dad gave me great advice about staying the course and not wavering for the sake of children’s feelings. Not wavering is hard but good. I am taking my dad’s advice on the days when I want to turn back to protect my sons from the pain. I remember my cancer diagnosis and the choice I had to let it send me into a world of fear and discouragement or let it be a springboard to something better. I don’t expect my kids to view the separation like that, but certainly, there is an option to let something ‘destroy your childhood’ or be a turning point to something better.
So a turning point it turned out to be. Very painful days lay ahead but so did deep healing. Staying in a toxic marriage was damaging for my children, as evidenced by the great things that followed my departure.
Today I teach others on the value of having balance in life: Spiritually, Environmentally, Emotionally, and Physically. Moving out of my home was a critical step in bringing my environment into balance and making progress towards overall good health. I knew tough days were up ahead, but I had concluded that ultimately this would be the right decision for our family.
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