I was raised in a deeply religious home. Divorce was sin in every situation. I remember a family in our church, the police caught him dragging her down the street by the hair…he was driving their car, he had her hair caught in the drivers side door and he took off dragging her.
Her parents paid his bail. She filed for divorce, they took his side. I knew exactly how things would go when I filed for divorce. Yet the little girl inside me, that daddy’s girl who had worked so hard for love and acceptance called her dad anyway. This is my recollection of the initial phone call between myself and my dad. This is not word for word.
Me: “Dad” (I burst into tears)
Dad: “Are the kids ok? What’s wrong?”
Me: “They are fine.” (sobbing)
Me: “You remember all the marriage problems I’ve been telling you guys about the last few years?”
Dad: “I guess I remember you mentioning a few bumps in the road. Maybe if you were more submissive honey.”
Me: “It’s not working (I was crying so hard, I don’t know how my dad understood a word I said). I filed for divorce today and moved out.”
Dad: “You what?”
Me: “I filed for divorce dad. The dr’s were going to take my kids away. I didn’t have an option anymore.”
Dad: “I’ll talk to your mom and call you back. We love you but you know this is wrong. Divorce is sin.”
He hung up.
When he called back, weeks later, it was to tell me that the family loved me but I was living in sin and because of the choices I was making I was no longer welcome in their homes. I needed to repent and go back home to my husband.
My abusive marriage. My non-working husband. Go back home to him. If I went back to him, the state would take my children away. My heart ripped in two. Things only got worse. My “friends” from our church came and staged an intervention. I came home from work and there was a house full of ladies from his church, people that were supposed to be our friends.
They started talking, took me on a car ride, said we were going for a quick coffee. Instead they refused to take me home until 6:00 in the morning, just in time for me to change my clothes and head to work. I sat in a minivan all night being bombarded with bible verses about the sin of not being submissive to the man who was verbally, emotionally and financially abusing my children and me.
My family not only refused to talk to me, they welcomed my ex into their homes. Thanksgiving, Christmas, anytime he wanted he was in their homes. My family was talking to him, to his parents, to his siblings. Every time he talked to my family he made sure I knew about it – “even your own family thinks you are wrong. You are such a whore, your own family has disowned you. NO one loves you.”
I had no family, no friends. The years of my separation and divorce were the loneliest years of my life. Looking back it was what I needed so I could realize my strength. I needed to turn inward and lean on no one but myself.
Eighteen months into the divorce proceedings my dad called. He said he was ready for me to come home, would I bring the kids and come home? I laid out my rules, I was extremely specific. When I arrived at his home he got down on his knees, crying and asked my forgiveness for making me stay in an abusive marriage.
My family broke my heart; they destroyed their relationship with my children. Their choice will never be undone. I hold them at emotional arms-length in all dealings; especially my mom and a couple of my siblings. My dad seems to try now, he understands that life goes on.
I live hundreds of miles away from my family; I visit them on rare occasions. They never visit us. I don’t miss them. I have my own life now. The damage has been done and although forgiven, cannot be undone.
What is the lesson to be learned about my abusive marriage? Love your children – no matter what their failures, no matter what their successes in life. They are your children and you should always be there for them.