Post submitted by an anonymous author to Speak Your Story.
Before I ever was married, I said I would “never” get a divorce. My parents were divorced and although I don’t even remember that part of my life, I am certain it had a huge impact on me.
While I am not writing specifically on why I got married the first time, I can say that I got married in haste. I got married to prove a point. I didn’t listen to sound advice or admonition by those I loved. I saw the red flags and yet I proceeded on thinking that everything would be ok. I could handle it. Little did I know what I was getting myself into, what I would experience over the next 13 years (and beyond), or how I would get lost in the midst of it all.
Growing up I was pretty outgoing. I loved people and hanging out with friends. I was involved with school activities, sports, music and theater. I went to football games and dances, hung out at the mall and had sleepovers. In many ways a very typical upbringing and life.
I got married a couple of years after having a baby at age 18. My son’s father did not want to get married, but I did. So I married someone else. I wanted to prove a point and send the message that I was big girl and I was going to be ok. I wanted to be wanted and this seemed like the way I could show this to the world. About a month after getting married, we quickly moved to another state where I had no friends, no family and no one was really going to know what I was going through.
Prior to this, I had never really heard of or thought about the word narcissist. I never considered that anyone I knew was a pathological liar, let alone the person I was married to. I thought I could believe all people, most of which would be my husband. And while I did see the character trait of lying in his life, I believed that without a doubt he wouldn’t lie to me. I didn’t think that people could live different lives and hide major things from their spouse, children, friends, pastors, and more. I did, and still do, believe that God can change people and prayer works. Although I was unhappy, emotionally abused and losing my identity, I stuck to my guns. I was never going to get divorced.
Over the course of the next decade, I would ignore signs, believe lies, participate in things that were not in my character, and all the while continue to believe that I could make a difference and change this person. As time and many hurts passed, I was changing. I was growing distant from me. I felt like life was grey and so I had to be too. On the outside, you may not have seen all of that because I still wanted others to believe I was ok. I still wanted people to like me. I didn’t want to admit I had made horrible choices in my life and that I was living in the consequences of that. I felt like it was my penance.
As time drew on, I began to verbally and outwardly challenge my former husband’s character. I questioned his choices, I doubted his stories and I watched for what should be the good fruit of, at the very least, a decent person let alone the God-fearing person he was trying to convince me that he was. The more I questioned, the more it seemed as though things were turned around on me. For many months, maybe years I don’t really know, he would ask me, “What’s wrong with you?” In the beginning, I would answer, “Nothing!” But as time passed, I began to wonder…“Is it me? Is there something wrong with me?” There was nothing that I could pinpoint specifically in me so I began to sink into a hole. It was an emotional hole lacking in self-worth, trueness, clarity or hope.
The relationship continued to get more strained and distant. My trust in my husband was gone and my defense mechanisms were on high alert. “Where have you been and what have you been doing?” Insert a story answer in response. “Who were you with and where did you get that?” Pat answer given. And then to me it was always asked, “How could I be doing anything different? I would never do something like that. What’s wrong with you? Why don’t you believe me?” Over and over and over again. So what was wrong with me? Something was definitely wrong. I was never at ease.
When the truth began to get revealed everything made sense. My reasons for doubt were true, and ultimately, much much worse than I could have imagined. I was lost. I was alone, so to speak. My husband had left me for another and although I didn’t want to be in that relationship, I didn’t want him to not want me. That just added further to the hurt and betrayal.
I felt depressed, yet I had to find some reason to move and good reasons to function. I had two children at the time. I had a job and a home. I had more court appointments than should be allowed and I was fighting for things that seemed nonsensical. In the back of my mind was a constant banner that read, “What’s wrong with you?” I searched the Bible. I searched my heart. I searched from my memories of who I was in my life before, and who I had allowed myself to become until I made this discovery…
IT WASN’T ME!!!!
Now don’t get me wrong. Marriage definitely takes two, and there are many things I had done wrong in my first marriage. I had to reconcile those things to myself and to God. There were things that I didn’t realize I had done until later. God is good and He didn’t pile my flaws and failures on me all at once. He allowed me to grow and change. In all of that, I became intently aware that it wasn’t me who had been lying. I hadn’t been the cheater, or the manipulator. My life may have been a false reality, but I was living in truth in it all. Reality as I knew it was crumbling before me.
As you remember, I had said that I was never going to get divorced. This put me in a position to be very beat up emotionally. I took the lies. I hid the shame. I lived with a way of life that I should not have accepted, with boundaries that were crossed over and over again. In the early stages on my divorce, I remember feeling like I didn’t want my marriage to be over. I felt like I still had to fight for it. He was already living with his new “friend” and shortly after she was pregnant. I found her engagement ring in my garage. Being betrayed is painful. It hurts so bad and it doesn’t even matter that the person is not going to change, that you were treated terribly and that you don’t want to be in that situation any longer. Like a knife into your soul, you feel the cutting and the breaking deep within your being. Yet in it all, there was still a desire in me to come out on the other side. I knew that there was still life to be lived and I had to search that out for myself.
As the days and weeks moved on, my mind seemed to have more clarity. I found purpose through God’s word and kept my sails set in His direction. I realized I had forgotten how to laugh for the sake of laughing, I had stopped enjoying the day and the beauty within God’s creation. I hadn’t done spontaneous fun with my kids in so long and I had not taken time in simple fun for the sake of just having fun.
As a woman there was much that had been lost in me as well. I had quit feeling pretty or feminine. I wore make-up, but it felt as if it were a covering over me to hide my reality. I didn’t have much shine and had lost much of the colors of my life. My clothes were black and grey. My heart still felt black and yucky. I desperately wanted to grow and change, in a good way. I knew that the only way I was going to be able to do that was to immerse myself in my faith in Jesus. I surrounded myself with people who were going to support me in that and allow me to find me again. In this season of new growth, I learned that a couple of new clothing items and some sparkles added into my repertoire made a big difference. I felt girly and soft. Things that I had not felt in a very long time.
The farther I got away from the relationship, the more clearly I could see. I began to remember the old lost me. I used to like her. She was fun and funny. She could laugh and have a good time. She was genuine and heartfelt. She was joyful and had a thankful heart.
In the beginning I didn’t know how I was going to be able to operate and live again when this other person wasn’t in my personal life. Granted there was still connection because of the kids, but otherwise the ties were cut off.
Life took on meaning again. I could hear God speak into my life and I didn’t have to doubt the truth of it. All that time before I had been afraid of losing something and being exposed to the world. In the end, it was the very best thing to be separated from it all. I found freedom in being who God had made me to be and I could go forward in my life and let my own character speak for itself. In time, and ultimately, truth will always prevail.
My word to you who may be struggling in an abusive relationship, or those who have just gotten out of your abuse, don’t be afraid of what you think you are losing. It may be that this is the beginning of you being found.
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
If you find yourself in a similar place, please comment below, shoot me an email, or reach out via social media.
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