Living in the Yuck

So I ran away from my life last weekend because I almost had to. I was compelled…..practically lured into the desert by God. And so very much good came out of my time away that I’m still processing all that went on between Jesus and me, and I am so very grateful.

But today, I had a day. Nothing huge happened. Nothing bad happened. It’s even beautiful outside. And, again I proclaim, I’m not hormonal. But I am feeling raw and vulnerable and like I have tears just at the rims of my eyes waiting for permission to spill out, but they aren’t coming because they know that I will shame them for having no reason for being.

I do not know what’s wrong with me. Even with all I worked through last weekend, I do not know why I have not quite felt like myself the past several months. Why I am dancing with swirly panic on a pretty regular basis these days. Why I feel overwhelmed at the thought of my future. Why I’m sad. Why I’m uncomfortable in my life, that, to the outsider, looks exactly as it has the past couple years. But I am feeling all of these things on and off lately.

On Ash Wednesday at my church, we were given a small rock and told to write a word on it that, if I recall, symbolized what we were giving up or laying down or taking on over the course of Lent. Without knowing the inner turmoil that was going to sweep into my life, I wrote down FEAR. And I went on to participate in a six-week small group experience walking through Lent with a handful of other women, and we all looked at our trials and fears and sin and pain and we were open with each other and with God, and the heat turned up for me.

I am someone who prefers to feel peace. Give me calm and quiet over conflict any day, especially after my past twenty years. And if I’m not feeling what I’d consider to be a positive emotion, I will typically try to do something to change that. It’s good to feel happy and joyful and grateful and excited and anticipatory and hope and purpose and passion. It’s not good to feel sad or angst or worry or stress or overwhelmed. So, I would try to cling to the good emotions and I would run from or stifle or mask the bad ones, with shopping or eating or joking them off or pushing through or pretending as my go-to coping mechanisms.

But this season of my life has been characterized by no longer pretending. I am sitting in my discomfort. I am living in my yuck. I am not running from my pain and the sadness and my fear. I have invited it into my life. I have told it to pull up a seat. And I am, what seems like quite a bit lately, uncomfortable. I have a small cloud hovering. But I’m not shooing it away. I’m looking at it. I’m walking under it.  But you’ve got to know, I absolutely hate it. I’ve realized though that I don’t want to run anymore. That every emotion is part of the human experience. That the yuck helps me appreciate the joy, that the chaos helps me embrace the calm. Even right now as I write this, I am feeling it.

There are times when I can wave my magic wand of three quick tips to change my mood and it completely works. But then there are days like today. And today, I went for a walk and breathed in deep on this gorgeous spring day. Nothing. And I took my daughter to see a movie. Nothing. And I made sure to drink even more water. Nothing. And I texted a couple friends and they texted back. Nothing. And I folded laundry and changed into jammies and ate some dinner and watched a favorite show and even now, I’m writing. Nothing. And, early on in the day when it settled over me for longer than the twenty or so seconds that I’ve gotten used to, I asked Jesus repeatedly to heal me in whatever this thing is, to enter in. And nothing.

Life is hard, sweet ones. Some days are just sad days and you can’t put your finger on it. Some moments you’re lonely for someone or something you can’t even picture. And we can pray and we can reach out but all we can do is keep moving and trust that hopefully one day, things will feel better.  Because we weren’t made for here and things will inevitably always feel just a bit off, some days more than others, but one day…..sigh…..one day, this will all be behind us and everything will be new.

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” –Revelation 21:5-


If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click here for more information.

No One is Coming to Rescue You

Sweet one in a difficult marriage, by now you should know that my heart bleeds for you. I remember with absolute clarity the loneliness, fear, and sadness that I carried around with me everywhere I went, that I only let drip out of me in the privacy of my own home, or in bits and pieces in a counselor’s office or on a friend’s couch.

My story is one of asking for help, quietly, for years, and not being understood fully.  And then, years later, when I was barely hanging on, asking for help again, boldly, and finally getting it.

But in between not getting help and getting help, I was waiting to be rescued.  I was begging God for help (and he was helping me, just not in the ways I had hoped or wanted at the time).  And I was looking for someone to intuit what was really going on and step in and put a stop to the madness.

But no one did.

And so I have to tell you this, in case you are doing the same thing…waiting for someone to come save you: no one is coming. No one is coming to rescue you.

Now, don’t get me wrong.  Once I was finally understood, years and years into the pain, I had a band of people who came around me who really listened to me and who completely believed me and who didn’t minimize my pain and who didn’t discount me and who truly got it and who deeply helped me more than I can ever understand or repay.

But no one came crashing into my home during all those in-between waiting-to-be-rescued years and said, “This must stop.”  There was no knight.  There was no white horse. There was no guy from church who I hoped would have caught my hints.  I was on my own during those years.

And, you are too.

But don’t let that scare you.  I know it can be debilitating to consider yourself your own hero, but that’s not what I’m suggesting.  You are not your own hero; I am certainly not mine.  But instead of being scared, let the knowledge that no one is coming stir you up to action.

You need to be your own advocate.  No one knows the intricacies of your relationship like you do.  No one knows your heart like you do.  Catherine Kroeger and Nancy Nason-Clark in No Place for Abuse put it this way, “We must help women understand that they have the God-given right to make moral and spiritual decisions. Women must answer to God and not to their husband, their relatives or their faith community.”

II Timothy 1: 7 says that God promises that he has not given us a spirit of fear or timidity, but instead a spirit of power, of love, and of a sound mind.  Do you believe that about yourself?  (Despite what you may be hearing on a regular basis…)  You, sweet one, are not to live in fear.  You are not to make decisions based on timidity.  If you know Christ personally, you have his resurrection power already in you.  You have his love tucked away inside you.  And you, no matter what you’ve been told, have the capacity to have a sound mind (and it will become even sounder as the lights come on regarding the possible abuse you’ve been experiencing).

So, if this is you…if you are in a difficult Christian marriage and there is addiction or abuse of any kind and you are just hoping beyond hope that one of these days someone will notice what’s going on in your family, odds are they won’t.  (Not because people are mean, but because people are a, very focused on their own lives, as people tend to be, and b, not always aware of the signs of addiction or abuse, especially if you and your husband are playing the part of the perfect Christian family.)  So this isn’t a time for blame.

But it is a time for determining that if you need something in your relationship to change – if you or your children are being physically or emotionally hurt on a regular basis, you are the one who is going to have to take that step.  You will have to ask for help.  You will have to be brave.  You will have to say the words out loud, “I think my husband is an alcoholic,” or “I think my husband abuses me,” or “I’m going to AlAnon,” or “I’m starting counseling whether you come with me or not”.  You are going to have to do this.  And you – through Christ – can do this.

If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.

Run Away

I’ve been alluding lately to some things in my life that are leaving me uncertain and ever so slightly unsettled.  But I started noticing something bubbling up in me and it was disconcerting for the following reasons:

I was healthy.
I wasn’t hormonal.
I was getting enough sleep.
I was getting outside and getting exercise as Spring has finally arrived.
I was eating right and taking my vitamins and drinking more water than I usually do.
I was serving.
I was spending time with my friends.
I was in a sweet season of mothering where nothing is awry.
I was having consistent time every morning with Jesus.
I was doing work I love.

And yet, I felt…..off. My life felt weird. I realized that for a few months I have felt like I wasn’t recognizing myself. I was, in essence, crawling out of my skin. I didn’t want to be the me that I was, or something. I don’t know.  But it was freaking me out and I had to just get out of town.

So I did.

10154391_727891200575564_1791129551602169069_n

And I spent extra-long amounts of time journaling and thinking and praying and crying and asking Jesus to speak to me and to heal me and to fix things in me that I am just so freaking tired of still battling after, what?, twenty-plus years.

In the days leading up to my time away, I was dealing with what I now refer to as “swirly panic”.  I wouldn’t say I was having anxiety attacks by any means, but something in me was shaky and off and I wanted it to stop. And then in the moments before I got into my car to leave, I was nervous.  I was raw. I had that lump in your throat when you know you’re about to cry.  I’ve left my house before. I’ve driven to Michigan before. I’ve gone plenty of places alone before. I used to do solo retreats two times a year. But I was – no other word for it – scared.

But I realized that I was equally afraid of two things: that Jesus would say nothing to me AND that Jesus would say something big to me that would be yucky.  I texted that to my mentor and she replied, “Let Jesus be Jesus. You are loved.”  (Love her. Get a mentor, people.)

I’m not going to go into all the things that ended up transpiring between me and Jesus, because most of that is for us (though he did whisper to me that he’s not the creator of “swirly panic” but of peace…..oh snap!), but I will share one gem that hit me deeply and brought a settledness to me that I believe someone needs to hear, even if you know it already (as I did).  Ready for the deep-heart truth???

No matter what happens to you and no matter what choices you make…..NO MATTER WHAT…..you’re going to be okay. It’s ALL going to be okay.Untitled

(Isn’t almost the whole point of Jesus is that no matter what happens to us we’re going to be okay?)

I almost kicked myself when that came to the surface, even saying out loud on my walk to the beach, “I had to come all the way to Michigan for that?!?”  Yes, yes I did.

And so, sweet ones, if you are feeling off in any way, listen to that. It could be your body, it could be your mind, it could be your heart. Take that sensation seriously. Take it as a sign to check in with yourself. Ask Jesus what might be going on with you, and then, S-L-O-W down and Q-U-I-E-T down enough to listen, really listen.  Because he wants to speak to you, if you only have the ears to hear.

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.  –I Kings 19:1-12-

 

If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click here for more information.

You Can Help Me Reach Out to Even More Hurting Women

One of my deepest desires is to not let my marriage pain and divorce pain define my life, but to allow God to transform it into something beautiful. All of you, my readers, are a redemptive part of what God is doing with my pain, and I am so grateful.

So I’m coming to you with ways you can help me keep my ministry going AND growing. Two will involve money, the rest will so totally not. (I don’t even want to talk about the money ways, but I must. I’ll say them first and fast to get them out of the way.)

Ways you can help me reach as many hurting women as possible and KEEP doing what I do:

The money ways:

Buy my books and my e-books. You can find all of my paperback books here: www.elisabethklein.com/books and e-books here: www.elisabethklein.com/store. I have been writing for thirteen years and I have a handful of vulnerable and honest books that can help you on your journey, pretty much no matter what you’re going through — young motherhood, mommy of young kids, going through a hard time, doubting God’s faithfulness, social justice, surviving in a hard marriage, and getting through a divorce.

Support me through Patreon. Patreon is awesome. Picture me like a guitar player, my blogs are my songs, and my guitar case is Patreon. You can give any amount you’d like, even starting at $1 per month if that’s what works for budget.  Check it out here: www.patreon.com/elisabethklein

The non-money ways:

Share the following on your Facebook page or Twitter:
-My blog: www.elisabethklein.com/blog
-My Facebook author page: www.facebook.com/elisabethkleinwriter
-My Pinterest profile: http://www.pinterest.com/elisabethklein1/
-Quotes from my books by joining my street team (email me at elisabeth@elisabethklein.com to join).

Share my speaker information with your Women’s Ministry Director or DivorceCare leader: www.elisabethklein.com/speaking. I would love to come speak to your group, pretty much no Speaking 2012amatter where you’re located. My kids are older and I’m more available to travel.

Host an All Things New retreat in your area to reach out to other separated/divorced women who could use some encouragement. I will provide you with a checklist to help you create the event. Even if you’ve never planned an event, you can do this.

All of these steps will help me to grow this ministry and extend my reach. If you’re in a hard marriage, I was once where you are. I remember so vividly the pain. I want to help other women just like you, just like I was, and remind them that they are not alone…you can help me reach them.

And if you’re going through a divorce, I was once where you are, and still, in ways, pretty much am. I know how hard it is to readjust and heal and find my footing again. I want to help other women just like you, just like I am, and remind you and me and them that God has not abandoned us and he still wants to use us…you can help me reach them.

We can build something together.

Gratefully,
Elisabeth

Divorce Sucks

I’ve been through a handful of big hard things in my life and myriad of little hard things and hands down the most life-upending trial of my life has been my divorce.  If you are separated or divorced, you know what I’m talking about.

When you hear the word divorce, most people automatically think pain. But then you go through it and it changes you and cracks little pieces of your heart off and leaves you feeling, well, a lot of not good emotions for a very long time.  It’s staggering really what divorce can do to a person.

My hope and desire has been that my marriage pain and my divorce pain, when given over to God over and over again, will turn into something redemptive, something that can reach into the heart of another person and show her that there is light just up ahead.

So as I continue to pursue with everything in me my mission to create resources that help hurting women by bringing them hope, I am very excited to announce that I now have TWO resources for those of you who find themselves separated or divorced.cover

Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage is your emotional and spiritual companion through the landmine of separation and divorce. It will feel like a knowing friend is sitting right beside you, walking along with you on your journey. If you don’t know where to turn to process the emotional upheaval in your separation or divorce, Unraveling is for you.  Available here in paperback and Kindle: www.elisabethklein.com/books

ekc_living-amzRELEASING TODAY: Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman is a guidebook that answers YOUR questions with honest suggestions from a woman who has walked the hard road. I don’t claim to have all the answers but you will find authentic help and hope to lead you along the way. If muddling through is no longer an option, Living is your next step. Available here in PDF and Kindle: www.elisabethklein.com/store

Allow me to pray for you, sweet ones:

God, I come to you on behalf of each of these hurting women whose marriages are either dying or dead. It doesn’t matter in this moment how they got to the place they find themselves, because no matter how, they are in some kind of turmoil and pain. I ask that you will bring a deep healing to each one. I ask that you will recover their hearts. I ask that you will restore their sanity. I ask that you will rebuild their lives. I ask that you will renew their passion for life. I ask that you will fill them with your peace, your comfort and your strength. And I ask that in those moments when the pain is simply overwhelming, that you will remind them that they are going to be okay because you are faithful and trustworthy and you love them completely.  Amen.

Telling My Messy Story in Messy Ways

imagesMTKVUDMAA couple years ago, I was mid-separation and noticed I was being asked a few questions over and over.

How did you stay married so long?, usually whispered by women who were still struggling in their hard marriages and were looking for advice.

Why did you stay married so long?, asked judgmentally by those who didn’t hold to my faith who felt I should’ve packed it in years before.

Why aren’t you staying married no matter what?, also asked judgmentally, but this time by people who did hold to my faith but didn’t know the details of my situation or the intricacies of my heart.

So one day while at my computer, I realized that I had an answer to each one of those questions.  And so I began to write and pour out my heart and it resulted in a four-part series featured on Crosswalk.com, that ended up – super ironically – being the number one marriage & family article for 2011 on that website.

That moment was pivotal for me.  Because comments began to pour in.  Some of them encouraging and supportive, and some of them cruel. So cruel that I jumped on my writers’ group Facebook page and said, “Girls, I’m thinking of asking the editor to pull my piece. It’s just too much.” But they did what writer friends do…..they rallied alongside me and told me that clearly I had struck a nerve and I should keep writing.  Had they not said that, most of the content on this blog wouldn’t exist, Unraveling wouldn’t exist, and Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage wouldn’t exist.

But here’s the thing.  I was just muddling through.  I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know what I was starting. I didn’t see the big picture.  I was telling my story, tripping over myself, hurting others in the process.  My goal was the greater good but I’m sure my motives were not one hundred percent pure.

I started this journey – of attempting to help hurting women by bringing them hope – in fits and starts, with blinders on, out of my sin and out of my pain.  I hurt people along the way.  I said wrong things. I dishonored my painful past and those who hurt me and even God.

I’m sure I still mess up.  Each time I open my mouth and each time I punch down on a key on my laptop and each time I reach down into the recesses of my heart or my memory, I open myself up to hurt you, my readers.

So I remind you again today that I’m just a girl.  A healthy-broken girl. A girl with a past.  A girl who has made so many mistakes. In my marriage, in my friendships, in my mothering. I am not a professional. I am not a counselor. I am just a girl

I come to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. –I Corinthians 2:3-

But I am yours. And I am open. And I am trying. And I am willing. And I desire redemption. And I desperately want to help. And I am empathetic. And I remember the pain. And I can taste the healing. And I can feel hope. And I can see what you’re going through, and I believe you, and I know it and I get it. And though I am weak and I come to you in humility and in fear and trembling because I understand how high the stakes truly are, I will keep writing and I will keep reaching out and I will keep making mistakes but I am forgiven and I am free, because I am God’s.

 

If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here, or “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here.

#SheReadsTruth

 

I Did the Best I Could…

…..is a lie. It’s a lie we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better, and it’s a lie we tell our friends and our counselors and our recovery groups and our next partners to make us sound healthier and yet more victim-y than we really are or were.  We usually say it with a sigh and a shoulder slump to invoke further pity and knowing nods of approval.

I have never really done the best that I could.  On any day of my life.  I am human.  And I am lazy.  And I am selfish.  And I am self-centered.  And I take the low road.  And I over-promise and then I under-deliver.

I let people down.  I say that I’m loyal but then don’t show up emotionally.  I say I want peace but then I revel in the drama.  I say I love you but then I put myself before you, time and time again.

And I have said those words, “I did the best I could,” probably hundreds of times, specifically regarding my marriage.  But I didn’t.

It’s deceiving when I say that.  And it’s deceiving when you say that.

Yes, I tried hard.  Yes, a lot of the times and on a lot of those married days, I did some right things, some  unselfish things, some holy things.  But then, also, a lot of the times and on a lot of those married days, I was mean, and I chose to hurt instead of keep my mouth shut, or I chose to not do what my counselor or mentor or that book said to do, because it felt better to do the more selfish thing or to maybe try to hurt back just a little.

I think we make our past selves better than they were.  We were hurting and we made a lot of mistakes.

Why do we feel the need to build this false perception of our heroic efforts?

We didn’t do the best that we could while our good-for-nothing exes languished in their own sin. No.  We both did some right things and we both did some wrong things.

And if we want to move forward in freedom, we’re going to have to look in the mirror and admit that.  And it might as well be sooner rather than later.

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here.

Take Care of Yourself

Women are interesting creatures. We will pour out and pour out to others, we will give our hearts and our lives and our energy to a cause, to a problem, to our marriages, to our children, and we will do all of this sometimes to the detriment of ourselves.

Yes, we are to lay our lives down. Yes, we are to serve. Yes, we are to fight injustice. Yes, we are to strive to be godly wives and good mothers. Yes to all that.

And yet, if we are not taking care of ourselves, we will have nothing to give.

During the peak of my marital chaos, I was battling sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, eye-twitches (turns out those are caused by stress), chronic migraines and heart palpitations.  In other words, my marriage and the way I was handling it were taking an actual physical toll on my body.  I was deteriorating.  And then during my separation and divorce, I gained some weight, I still struggled with sleeplessness but also with exhaustion and sleeping too much during the day at times, and headaches.

Being in a difficult marriage takes a physical toll. Going through a divorce takes a physical toll. You must take care of yourself physically.

All of these tips are common sense, but you just might need permission to focus a little bit extra attention on yourself and it perhaps never occurred to you how interwoven your emotions and circumstances and health all really are. Your body is a gift. It’s your one and only. If you are not doing well physically, every other area of your life will suffer.

  1. Get rest.  You need to get enough sleep every single night. And it’s okay to take naps. Living in crisis mode is physically and emotionally exhausting.542871_235902969842681_100002689383075_349819_451386992_n
  2. Get exercise. Even a little bit. Take a walk around the block if that’s all you have time or energy for. Do some yoga. Walk your dog. Take your kids to the park. Get outside and take some deep breaths.
  3. Eat well. I start every day with a ridiculously gross healthy smoothie with kale and spinach and banana and blueberries and wheatgrass and flaxseed and what-have-you. On some days, I have two. You don’t have to go nuts, but at least try to eat less crap than what you’re currently eating. Start there.
  4. Drink water. Water flushes toxins out of your body and helps stave off headaches, hunger and irritability. Even if all you do is start your day by drinking down one glass of water, that’ll be a huge boost to your system.
  5. Get a check-up.  If you haven’t been to the doctor in a while for a well-care check-up, do it. Get your blood work done. Let your doctor know what’s going on in your life. Ask for ways to stay as healthy as possible.
  6. Take multi-vitamins.  You should run this by your doctor, but I take Vitamin B (energy), Vitamin D (mood, supposedly), and Fish Oil (for the brain).  I can’t swallow big pills (freakishly-small esophagus over here) so I take adult gummies (because I’m ten).
  7. Do not rule out anti-depressants. I took an anti-depressant for about eighteen months and it helped me. I didn’t feel like I was in la-la land or anything…..I still felt every emotion…..but I felt a bit steadier and perhaps a bit more able to handle my reality. They’re not for everyone. But look past the stigma and talk to your doctor to see if they might help you for a season.
  8. Stay connected. People with friends live longer. Do not isolate during this hard time in your life.
  9. Get in counseling. If you are trying to figure out your marriage problems or deal with your divorce grief solely in your own head, you will be attempting to untangle those knots forever. Find someone who can walk you through the process.
  10. Do something fun. Life is hard and serious. And, I don’t know about you, but I sometimes maybe have the tendency to overthink things (whatever). Get out and enjoy life from time to time. Stop in the middle of your chaos and messy circumstances to dance in your kitchen, to read a book just for pure enjoyment, to go to the movies, to buy yourself something pretty.

Jesus can and will walk you through your current difficult situation. But he has also given you a sound mind and the responsibility to take care of the body he’s blessed you with. Take some steps today to take better care of yourself.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. –I Corinthians 6:19-20-


If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here, or “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here.

By |April 9th, 2014|health|6 Comments

Why I’m Now Okay That It’s Called Domestic Violence

When I first found myself in this world of learning about domestic violence and reading books and watching DVDs and attending meetings and conferences and such, I would cross out violence and write abuse in my notes.

I absolutely hated that it was termed domestic violence and I was trying, in my own little way, to stage an intervention to get it changed to domestic abuse.  (I’m cute like that.)

And the reason I hated that term so much is this: because abuse is not just physical and I felt that calling it domestic violence completely discounted all other forms of abuse, all of which can be just as damaging and leave much deeper and longer-lasting scars.

However, I’m changing my tune.

Violence is defined as rough or injurious force, action or treatment.

And I realized that verbal abuse and manipulation and gas-lighting and lies and put-downs and stalking are all rough.  They are all injurious.

A friend put an Instagram picture on Facebook of a text conversation he and his wife had.  It was totally cute but totally unnerving to me.  He had apparently asked her to get bread at the store.  She apparently forgot.  She made a joke about it.  It was just a sweet little exchange between husband and wife, except somewhere in the middle, he said, “It’s okay…..forget it..…”  And she replied, “I know it’s okay.”

What??

You know it’s okay??  How do you know that??  How can that just be okay??

People in normal marriages do not understand how words like that can sound like a foreign language to those who are used to abusive exchanges.

In an abusive marriage, this little mistake – forgotten bread – would’ve necessitated a thousand sorry’s, a possible trip right back to the store, and some emotional backlash in the form of “who forgets something like bread?” all the way to the silent treatment or an implication that you’re losing your memory/losing your mind.

And it wouldn’t end there, in that moment.  For the woman in this kind of relationship, she will analyze it from top to bottom: a) why did I forget the bread?, b) is there something really wrong with me?, c) do I really have - as I was told – “mind gaps”?, d) did I forget it on purpose to be passive aggressive?, e) should I go to the doctor to make sure I’m not in early onset dementia or maybe there’s some medication I can take?, f) maybe my anti-depressant is making me forgetful, yet another reason to be ashamed I’m on the stuff, g) I cannot forget bread – or anything else – the next time, h) maybe there won’t be a next time, maybe he’ll insist on doing the shopping from now on because of my obvious incompetence, i) but wait, he forgot such-and-such a couple weeks ago…..why is that okay, but me forgetting is not?, and on and on and on it goes.  (You have no idea..…)

So this is why I am now totally on board with calling it domestic violence.  Because the rough-ness and injurious-ness of it all kills someone emotionally.  And if that’s not violence, I don’t know what is.

“I hate divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “because the man who divorces his wife covers his garment with violence…..” -Malachi 2:16-

 

If my work has encouraged you and you’d like to partner with me as I reach out to help hurting women, click here for more information.

Life after Pain: My Messy Beautiful

11 printI ran up the stairs, holding in my breath to keep the tears at bay. More sharp words had been exchanged and I was fleeing the conversation – if you can even call that a conversation - along with the curious and concerned gazes of my children.

I shut and locked the bathroom door behind me, turned on music, and crumpled to the floor, where I had fallen countless times before.  And I sobbed. And in between sobs, I prayed…..

Jesus.

Jesus, this can’t be what you meant by a Christian marriage.

Please help me.

Please.

I can’t keep doing this anymore.

I can’t do this anymore.

Jesus. Jesus. Please help me. Please.

Fast forward four years. I haven’t cried about that marriage in probably a year now.  Not because we healed, but because I am healing. I live in a different home. Peace reigns here. Calm is all around us. If tears come, it’s out of joy or something completely unrelated to that pain that I carried for almost twenty years. If there are ever the occasional harsh words, they are immediately regretted and quickly apologized for, but they almost never come these days. There is kindness and softness and grace in my home now.

I look around my living room at women who are currently where I was then.  I read my email. I check in on my private Facebook groups for hurting women. They are in marriages that harm them daily.  They think about their marriages more than the average woman does. They are more sad than the average woman is.  They are more confused and constrained than the average woman should be. I was them.  And they represent hundreds and hundreds of women that I now virtually know.

All because one day I began to tell my story, out loud and to the masses. I knocked down the walls of the perfect little house that I had constructed with lies and denial and fear. And I said, “Come in. Come in and see my mess.”

I wanted a pretty little life. I fabricated a pretty little life. And I got what I wanted and yet I so completely didn’t.  Because the pain that my spouse and I caused each other every day was otherworldly and it was killing both of us.

But there is a sweetness to my pain. I couldn’t have seen it then, even though I used to pray for this very thing that I see unfolding. I refused to believe, all those years ago, that my marriage pain was for nothing. I refused to believe that my marriage pain had simply set up camp there in my life to wound me and break me down, with no other purpose than my constant suffering. So I would pray that someday, somehow, my marriage pain would mean something bigger.

And today it does. Today, this side of my marriage pain, I have the daily gift of reaching out to other women just like my sweet little self crying on my bathroom floor. And I write and I pray and I create and I whisper to them and to me, over and over and over, until they understand…..

You are not alone.
You will never be alone.
This pain will not last forever.
This pain is not for nothing.
There is a healing.
There is a Healer.
There is hope.
Just hold on.


If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here, or “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here.

 

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

 

messy-beautiful-450b