It hit it me like a flash flood, a blaze, a wildfire bursting, an avalanche, a mountain crumbling...that is indeed what it felt like. All those years, all that prayer, all that begging and pleading for change. All of those nights, sitting on a kitchen floor in Los Angeles talking to a man who was much more like a wall...hard on the outside..seemingly hollow inside. In one instant is become clear, the veil over my rose-colored, deeply in love eyes had been removed. His words were slurred the night before and harsh in the morning. I felt as if I was yelled at one more time, or if one more unkind word was even softly spoken to me, or if he simply would not look at me as I cried each bone in my body would break to pieces and I would be left a lump of soft flesh on our hardwood floor. Rather than breaking for the first time in a long time I yelled back, a primal wounded animal kind of yell. Ugly, loud animal screams, an ugly mix of sobs and shouts. I demanded for the insanity to stop...he was clear that it wouldn't...that it wasn't going to ever again stop. I, for the first time, believed it. It was true.
I sobbed the hour and a half drive to brunch with one of my college roommates, I sat at the table where she was waiting and I sobbed more as I spoke about the true of the last 7 years. She had hid her own feelings about the situation I was living in for far too long though she loved him because I loved him.
I had been with this man almost a decade and she, a friend for well over a decade, had met him all of three times. Signs, there had been signs. I had tried to hide so much but now the truth seeped from my pores. I sobbed through brunch telling the story from beginning to end, start to finish. My sweet friend sat stunned, her face pale, speechless and teary-eyed. Though she had known and had ideas she hadn't really known. She begged me to run away, go somewhere far. But I knew I couldn't really leave, I couldn't walk away without knowing for sure, without a series of undeniable and supernatural "it's okay, go." I knew I should go even if just for a time to seek health for both he and I. The reality, however was I was clawing for freedom, trying to climbing my way out of the pit I had sat myself in and learning to love myself all over again. I am indeed my own locust and I fully accountable...far more than he.
It's strange how love haunts and lingers long after it’s gone bad. I grasped onto those moments and months of kindness, tranquility, and gentleness that were indeed a part of the "us" at times. The times when I believed my own lies, times when I'd hide the truth, when I pretended to be asleep, when I soothed his ranting for the safety of myself. I was scared of him yet so much more scared of myself. I loved him, I love him but at some point didn’t I had to love me more.
It's so different than what we're taught as Christian women. So different than what I thought I'd be as a Christian wife. I am a woman so tailored to be a partner with ever fiber of my being, every part of who I am, leaving was so desperately against my nature. So I pulled up my bootstraps and though the truth stood in front of me daily, I tried again... and again...and again. For months I rejected the words of my therapist, I rejected the words of pastors, rejected the words of friends. I "tried to reject" I should say. But there are things that you cannot unknow, things you can’t unsee, and certainly things you can’t unhear.
When I could try no longer, the relief that covered his face revealed even more truth.
The relief and freedom he felt during our last months living as "roommates" in the home we had built. The relief I felt at the possibility of life that could be different was...well, sad.
I am ashamed. I am ashamed of so many things. I am ashamed I didn't believe all of the good things God had says about me in His word, if I had only believed those things perhaps I wouldn't have put myself in this place. I am ashamed I didn't trust Him. I am ashamed I treated his creation, two of his precious creations so badly and so unwisely.
In the midst of the shame, the guilt, and the pain suddenly somewhere in the midst hope was rising.
Hope, light, and peace grew and grew in a way I hadn't experience since I was a little girl. Peace, freedom and hope. We find it in the oddest of places! Places that so many would call “wrong” or “failure” or “giving up.” I had been so secretive so discreet with the marriage part of my life that many I'm sure didn't think I was doing the right thing. I hide my face often, not wanting people to see that I was, perhaps, questioning myself just as often as they were. I do not know what the future holds but I am so glad that in those years and months of my marriage I began drawing into God deeply and began to learn to love the creation that I am in a way that was safe and whole.
I am grateful for the pain the drew me ever so deeply to Christ.
Of course, I went back, time and time again...just to make sure. The same question asked over and over "Are you sure you don't want to go back to counseling?" His responses of "it's for the best, we're better this way and no," were clear and concrete. I had begged God that it wouldn't have to be my choice to leave. That it would be up to my husband to fight for me; to beg me to stay, to fight for health and to say "You are mine."
In in the end it was he who said "you are yours"
....and hope bubbled.