Beautiful Marriage

On September 13th, my siblings and I celebrated our parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. During their lifetime, divorce has become relatively commonplace. Many people the age of my parents have divorced, so celebrating their accomplishment provided all of us with a sweet joy as we saw them act like newlyweds…giggling, laughing, getting ready, and gushing about how nice each other looked.

Seeing them interact with their friends and family and remembering the day gave us a glimpse into the love they have for one another. I think, as children, we sometimes only see the mundane living of life (plus the irritabilities and frustrations) and not the beauty of long-time love. We know that it wasn’t always easy, but we also know that time and time again, they persevered.

For me, it gave a little zing to my heart. I am 48 years old, and it would be a miracle that I have another that would last 50 years.

Earlier I used the words “accomplishment” and “persevered”…as if willpower is all that it takes to accomplish and persevere for a long marriage. Those words, while accurately describing my parents’ long marriage, could also be applied to my own marriage that ended in divorce.

Sometimes we use those particular words not realizing that they imply failure to those who do not achieve the same milestones.

I did achieve the longest marriage that I could. I did persevere in the face of difficulty. And I did choose to leave when my eyes were opened to the horrors hidden from me.

My parents’ long and beautiful marriage is just that. Long and beautiful.

My marriage was too long and too hard, and it was just that. Too long and too hard.

And I am ok with that.

There is joy for me, as well. I succeeded in getting out of an abusive, unfaithful marriage. I am thriving as I move forward with peace and joy.

Long marriages are beautiful, but it is also beautiful to witness someone step into a new life, away from something awful.

Ruminating on “D is for Divorce”

One year ago today, my divorce was final. A few weeks later, I posted this. In it, I posed 4 questions for myself to work out:

1 – Does divorce have to define me? Yes. Yes, it does define me…a part of me. I have spent the majority of my adult life married to an abusive and unfaithful man. That has shaped me in ways that I am not sure that I even understand. The process of leaving gave me many defining moments, as well as the classification of being a divorced woman. But that is only a part of who I am; I no longer see that as the ONLY part of me that others see. I am so much more than that.

2 – What am I going to do about these hidden places in my heart? Last year I wrote, “The yucky part of coming face to face with reality is that I now recognize that I have hidden places of my heart where I have held people and ideas higher than God’s word.” Today, I write to say that I no longer even have very many people in my life. My life has gone from being full of people and activity to being mostly alone and relatively isolated. Most of the things/people that I held dear have disappeared; only a few remain. It has changed my perspective, and I spend a great deal of time being introspective and “cleaning up” those places. While I wrestle with God’s Word on some things, there aren’t any people or things, other than my own self, in place to hold higher than his word.

3 – Do I want to hold onto the horrifying past, or do I want to use it as a springboard for the future? This one’s pretty obvious…I have definitely springboarded into something that I never saw coming! My past is my past. It has taught me a ton about trusting others, as well as trusting myself. It does not continue to hold onto me. My history is only a part of the story that shaped who I am today. I see it as a growing into my true self, not who I was when I was a wife, struggling to maintain appearances, attempting to find joy, and hoping to keep the underlying anger regarding my situation in check. I am a woman who knows her mind, who is aware of her passions and is not too afraid to keep moving ahead.

4 – What do I want my story to be? “**Funny Fact: My very first thought/prayer after finding out and confronting Code Red about his secret life was, ‘PLEASE GOD, don’t let this be my story. And even if it does end up being my story, PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE don’t ask me to use it.’” My story…this story that makes people gasp and feel sorry for me…has lost its hold on me. I have chosen to tell my story as it is time and time again. It is one filled with heartache and humiliation, but also one filled with hope and redemption. My story isn’t over; it is merely beginning a new chapter. And oddly enough, now I want others to hear it. I want them to learn from it. I want them to know that I might look like a fluffy suburban mom, but I am a woman who understands betrayal. I am a woman who understands abuse. I am a woman who knows the difficulties of navigating neglect and heartache from the church because a woman’s story can be too much. I am a mother. I am a daughter. I am strong. I am beautiful. I am intelligent. And most importantly, I am a child of God.

I know I am loved. (What a difference a year makes!)

Experiencing the Flood

Our class was divided and working in groups when all of the phones began to vibrate. The campus was on alert and everyone was encouraged to stay put until the weather conditions improved. Almost simultaneously, my phone began to ring with a call the school nurse telling me to pick up my son. There wasn’t a question in my mind. I was going to drive home and get him. Maybe if I left quickly, I could beat the worst of the storm.

I picked up my daughter and checked the street maps for flooding. They couldn’t be accessed so we began to head home the way we knew. As we drove, we watched as the water kept rising, faster and faster. When the traffic came to a stop, I chose to turn and take another route home. We passed through streets that were beginning to fill with water. Thankfully, we were able to drive near the edge and continue on. We twisted and turned trying to get to higher ground.

Until we made one left turn that took my breath away.

I watched as waves of water splashed back and forth in front of us. There was no way to turn back. About 20 feet away, we saw a big truck attempt to pass through, only to come to a stop and float toward the side of a building. Water was level with the hood and trunk of the car directly in front of me. My daughter and I watched as it began to smoke, sputtering and then stopping just as it reached a ramp leading to dry ground. They could go no further.

I could feel my engine begin to falter. Honestly, my thoughts were not of physical safety; they were filled only with dollar signs. How on earth could I afford to lose my vehicle? I quit a job to go back to school. I live on a tight budget and have no wiggle room for expenses like this.

In front and to the left of me was a steep drive up into an alley.

Could we make it that far? I had no idea. But I knew if I didn’t, my car would stop and sit in deep water and I would experience a complete loss.

Without really thinking, I chose to take a chance…and we made it! We were one of the first vehicles there and were able to park on higher ground while both in front and behind us, the water continued to rise between 2 – 3 feet.

My daughter and I watched as cars, trucks, and SUVs sputtered into the alley with us. We listened as some of them clicked and shut off. We saw person after person become overwhelmed with what was happening around us.

After an hour or so sitting and listening to the weather, we knew that more rain was supposed to fall, and we could be trapped in our car overnight. Thankfully, we were able to secure a hotel room, abandon our car, and walk to safety.

(Thank goodness for my second son that was able to go and pick up my youngest that was sick!)

As I ponder this experience, I realize that although I had compassion for those that experienced flooding during Hurricane Harvey, I didn’t comprehend it. At all. Now, I do.

Two years ago, during Harvey, I was married and living a financially secure life. I did not have the fear of losing everything; because I knew that even if I did, I would have the means to re-establish. It’s different now, and the insecurity and fear almost paralyzed me.

Being on this side of things…a single mom, trying to figure out how to establish herself after spending years supporting and managing her family instead of creating a career and financial security for herself, is extremely frightening.

I continue to struggle with how I ended up here. I know that it wasn’t my choice to be in this position. And yes, I know that I am working hard to move forward to a much better life than I had. But oh my word, in times like this, there is a tiny part of me that wants to go back into ignorance…there was a bit of security in that life, even if it the consequences of living it were miserable.

**This is simply me being honest. This experience has left me shaken by the fact that something as small as losing a car could possibly derail the path I am on.