Looking back isn’t easy. We are told to leave the past in the past. As much as I agree with not living in the past, we can and should definitely learn from it. Looking back can also help us realize how far we’ve come and what we’ve been delivered from.
One of my best friends has recently had the courage to share her story of childhood sexual abuse. What bravery. Her willingness to share helps others to know they are not alone. Sharing removes the mask and the secrets and shame the enemy wants us to carry forever. Jesus broke that chain and empowered her. She has forgiven her abuser, but forgiveness doesn’t mean she can’t share her story. It’s the truth and it’s her story to share. Her willingness to forgive brings grace front and center when we realize what she’s been through. Her courage inspires me to look back and share.
This is me looking back. Maybe someone can relate. Maybe someone won’t feel alone. Maybe someone knows someone else who needs to read this. Maybe someone can learn something.
Looking back on our wedding and honeymoon, I remember the hurt feelings…
I remember begging to get pregnant and both times finally getting a very reluctant, “Okay, if it means you stop asking and crying” agreement. At the time, that made me so happy. None of it was happily ever after or how it should be…
We had two girls.
Looking back, I remember feeling sorry for him that I didn’t give him a son. That I didn’t. A football player, a hunting partner..
I remember feeling like my meals weren’t good enough and like I could never clean house well enough.
I remember being made to feel like a dismissive or neglectful mom when I asked if he could take time off to take our daughter to the doctor or stay home when she had fever. We both worked full time.
I remember trying so hard to get and stay out of debt. If he wanted it, he got it. He bought boats, guns, second vehicles, hunting gear, and dear leases. When I asked to go on vacation, we could never afford it. I took our daughter to Disney World twice…once alone and once with my mom.
Looking back, my oldest daughter’s toddler years were precious to me, but my “incompetence” in his eyes seemed to increase. I am just now regaining and recognizing the fact that I was and am a good mom to our girls. Never perfect, but good.
Looking back, I realize that I didn’t share with my friends or family because I wanted them to love him as much as I wanted him to love me.
While the pain of my divorce was intense. Looking back, the pain endured during the marriage probably did the most damage and has taken the longest to unfold, recover, and learn from. Story after story after story. Looking back, I remember, holding my head in my hands and asking my mom “Let me get this straight. He treated me like this and then left me?” She simply nodded, yes.
It wasn’t until I couldn’t bare the thought of my girls thinking this treatment and situation was okay, that I stood up. If they ever were, I’d have no one to blame but myself for allowing it. That’s what it took. And, that was his way out. Out of a marriage he hadn’t wanted to be in for a long time. He took it and blamed me on the way out the door.
Looking back, I see how bad it was. I couldn’t when I was in it. Looking back, I see God showing me more love than I’d ever known or felt in the midst of the least love I’d ever known. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that He was with me. Even through the deceit and blaming, God covered me. The emotional pain was killing me and God wouldn’t allow that treatment one more year, one more day.
My desire to stay married and honor my vows, no matter what, prevented me from walking away. Instead, I got left after summoning the strength to stand up. The Lord removed him. Then He picked me up, washed me off, and started the work of healing, comforting, and teaching. What a beautiful sight.
I thought that I was just that miserable to live with, but it turns out he was in love with someone else. They’ve been together ever since.
From the moment I knew divorce was imminent, I started asking God to help me. To help me forgive. To help me coparent. To help me do it to His Glory. And to protect our girls. I have forgiven him. I release that pain to my Father. And, I have learned from it. We still deal with each other on an almost daily basis because of the girls. But, he treats me better now. He loves them very much. He comes to their events. He takes them to the doctor. He’s a better dad now. And, I thank God for that.
My prayer for him is not that his marriage falls apart. Not that he comes back. Not that he gets left. Not that he suffers like I did. Not that he feels abandoned or blamed. But, that he treats her better. That our daughters will see him treat his wife well. That he will look to the Lord for guidance and learn to respect women. That he receives the love and grace offered to him. And, whether he chooses to or not, that our girls will never consider that treatment normal or acceptable. That they will know they are worthy of respect and kindness. That they will value themselves enough to stand up to the alternative. I care too much about their hearts and futures to pass along anything else.
Thank you, Lord, for the strength to stand up and the strength the share.