No one gets married with the thought that one day it will end in divorce. You say til death do us part and if you’re serious, you mean it. And if you’re Christian, divorce is frowned upon. I was all of the above.
I was married on April 22, 2000, 10 days after my 21st birthday. (Picture Below)
I was young and a new mother to my daughter. Everything was amazing in the beginning. We weren’t strangers because we grew up together, but one thing I know for sure, dating someone and living in your own place looks a lot different from being married and living together. During the six years we were together, unfaithfulness, verbal abuse, disrespect, and controlling behavior penetrated the walls of my marriage and I grew extremely depressed. I also gave birth to 3 more children during that six year span.
I remember one day my daughter wiping tears from my eyes and telling me, “Mommy, please don’t cry”. That was something I will never forget. Arguing had become our norm. I had contemplated divorce many times, but I had become so codependent that I didn’t know how to leave.
I was a stay at home mom.
I only had a high school diploma.
I had never worked a real job.
Where was I going to go?
But what was I teaching my children? What was I teaching my daughter? What was I teaching my sons?
I filed for divorce in Spring of 2006. I was 27 years old and my youngest wasn’t a year, but the toxicity of my marriage had become too much to bear and I knew I had to go. I left with all of my children and moved into my own place, thanks to my parents.
Sure, we talked about working it out, going to counseling, but turning back wasn’t an option. My mind had been made up. I had a glimpse of freedom!
I felt like a baby. I didn’t know what it looked like to be alone. Having my own place. Being independent. My parents had been married for almost 40 years at the time, so they couldn’t offer me advice on divorce. There was no “what to do after divorce “ handbook. Hmm, maybe I should write one.
I had finally found the strength to leave an unhealthy situation, and while I was free, all I felt was guilt. What had I done? I had three sons. Would I be able to raise them without their father in the home? How would I deal with the guilt of making my daughter fatherless by taking away the man that raised her? How would she deal? Not to mention that our co-parenting relationship was an absolute nightmare. Those were questions that played over and over in my mind. The things I heard from outsiders, family, and “church folk” was even worse!
“Who’s gonna want you with four kids?”
“Did you not mean your vows?”
“You know what the word says about divorce, right? What kind of Christian are you?”
“You have no degree, how are you going to find a job that pays enough to take care of your children?”
“It wasn’t that bad.”
“You’re damaged goods.”
I can remember being at a church service not long after my divorce, and I could hear the whispers, and feel the stares as I walked to my seat. Not knowing I was standing close by, a group of ladies who were once friends were whispering about what they heard about why I left. I said nothing. The rumors were swirling. Not to mention that the treatment from my ex was worse after I left. Even after all of that, I still chose not to go back.
I signed up at a temp agency and passed all testing with above average scores. You see, I’ve always been smart (not cocky). I’ve always known that my intelligence and ability to adapt was one of my greatest gifts. I landed position after position after position. I was able to provide everything my children needed. Some days we ate noodles and vienna sausages but we made do. I entered a healthy and loving relationship, one that I’m still in. Today I’m gainfully employed with a company that I’ve been with for 10 years.
I now know how to live independently and make independent decisions. I now know how to comfortably exist alone, if necessary. I now know that I’m more than capable of raising my children, including three sons. I now know that I don’t have to stay in an unhealthy situation.
To anyone out there afraid to leave a situation that no longer serves you, or that has turned toxic, I’m proof that thriving after divorce is possible. That peacefully co-parenting is possible even if it takes 11 years. That overcoming the guilt of divorce is also possible.
You will be okay, and so will your children.
Until next time…❤️