Divorce is one of the most painful experiences of one's life.
This is her story:
I grew up in a Christian household.
My father is from Texas, my mother from Alabama. Faith is a big part of our family. My family and parents are amazing and supportive in every way - they'd give anyone, even a stranger, the shirt off their back. They have beliefs about a number of controversial issues but remain open to discussion and always respectful of other people's beliefs.
I went to a Christian school, where my mother happens to work. It was small but a lovely community - everyone was friendly and kind. I attended school with some of my peers for thirteen years! Sure, we had a few "bad apples" but they were few and far between.
I attended church with my parents every single Sunday. During the summer, I attended Vacation Bible School - a day camp and bible study - and was a member of the Retreat Leadership Team in high school. We'd plan Bible Studies and events focused around our faith. I enrolled in a very Christian University where I received an excellent education and was, once again, surrounded by faith events, night chapels, and church on Sunday.
I saw our Christian group as a community of loving, caring people.
Then it all changed.
I married my college boyfriend, whose father was a pastor, almost immediately out of college. We didn't always see eye-to-eye but how many couples do?
On the surface, his family seemed as kind and accepting as mine. Below the surface, the smiles and kind gestures belied a nasty history of horrific things I wish I could forget.
...but my new husband was different, right?
Without going into much detail, it was worse; much worse than I could've imagined. I was told things no one should hear. I was chided for being a science major. I was shamed for listening to secular music and questioning "truths." Before I knew it, I was embroiled in a very abusive relationship.
My "perfect life" facade crumbled.
It was like I'd been blind for nearly six years I was part of this new family and suddenly my eyes were opened. When they opened, I was disgusted.
These people paraded around as a wonderful Christian family were anything but. It was nothing like what I was used to. My Christian community was awesome and this was just an isolated issue, right?
Just as my eyes opened to see my new family as they really were, they also saw my Christian "community."
I was in an abusive relationship with a very Christian man who frightened me; my safety and sanity. Divorce was considered a non-option - divorce was sinful and I was wrong for considering divorce, but I did anyway.
I realized I didn't want to live my life in fear and I planned to rely on my supportive of my Christian community during this tumultuous time.
Upon announcement of the "divorce," my previous life also crumbled. People I'd considered friends said:
"Divorce is wrong. You HAVE to stay."
"You will be tainted and no one will ever want to marry you after being divorced."
"You'll never be the same."
"You should go to counseling instead."
"Every marriage has problems. You just need to work through this."
"You're being selfish."
"I'm praying for you."
I couldn't believe it.
My ears were still ringing, my foot throbbing after my last "incident" with my husband, and my supposed best friend tells me to stay. Through the fear, through the tears, through the pain.
And when I did, my departure from my marriage included my "friends." People I'd called friends told me that I was no good; I was worthless; I was a terrible person.
My social calendar dried up. I was no longer invited to parties. I was no longer called to chat. Before the divorce papers were filed, I'd get phone calls all day from people trying to sway me from divorcing my abusive husband.
Once the papers had been filed, my phone was silent excepting the calls from my ex, which I let go to voicemail. I couldn't listen to the voicemails as his screaming found me shaking with anxiety.
I made new friends. I met a wonderful man who loves me for who I am. A man that loves me not in spite of questioning nature, but because of it. My parents and family remain accepting. If it's possible, I love them even more now.
Of all the loss and all the pain, I feel the most betrayed by my previous life. I feel lied to. I was told of love; of acceptance; of faith.
Little did I know that the price for this was the unwavering belief in exactly everything I was told. Little did I know that the moment I questioned, the moment I stepped outside the happy little box, I would no longer feel that love.
My new friends said:
"I'm going to let you stay with me as you're afraid to go home."
"I'm driving you to work to help you save money as your husband took all of it out of your account."
I'm going to listen to you pour your heart to me as long as you need."
I'm giving you my shoulder to cry on."
I was told: "I'm praying for you."
Over the years following, my faith has changed.
I don't feel the how is relevant, suffice to say things are much different today. My parents remain a wonderful, supportive part of my life and as a small, glimmering reminder of Christianity.
Through the divorce, I lost most of the friends I'd known my whole life. They disappeared back into their world and left me with tarnished memories and a Facebook friendship or two. I'm deeply aware that not all religious groups are like mine was.
It's been a struggle, but I'm happy with my life.
This is my simple religion.
"There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness." -Dalai Lama
Have any of you, The Band, been through this sort of behavior following a divorce?
Every day in the United States alone, 26 babies are stillborn.
This is Ruth's story:
i don't have any leather pants to strap on, as i have been invited to do on the homepage, but i'm gonna share my story. i'm 37 years old, happily married, and the proud mother of three (living) children.
last year, almost this exact time of year, i found out i was pregnant with our fourth child. the news came as a bit of a surprise, as i was on the pill, and we'd thought we were "done" - our kids are 12, 10, and 8.
after the initial shock wore off, we were thrilled. it was going to be so much fun this time around, knowing what we already know about having kids and whatnot. all the stress of just keeping the little buggers alive and well until they started school was behind us. we could relax and just enjoy having a little one to hold and snuggle.
at our 20 week ultrasound, we discovered that it was a girl we named ruth, and her umbilical cord had only two blood vessels instead of the usual three.
the doctor explained the problems this could cause, and after educating ourselves about the risks involved, we felt confident that we could handle whatever GOD chose to bring our way. her due date was set for january 11, 2013. because mine was considered a high-risk pregnancy, i had weekly ultrasounds scheduled for the last two months of the pregnancy.
on january 2, just nine days before our due date, my ultrasound revealed that there was no heartbeat. ruth was dead.
i headed to labor and delivery to be induced. early the next morning, I delivered my baby girl who had already left this world.
the pain and shock have been enormous. i am so grateful to my husband for being my strength over these last 4 months. he lost a daughter too, but somehow he manages to rise above his grief when i need him.
our families have been wonderful, letting me grieve in my own way, never judging, always loving. we never did find out what happened; why she died. now the big question is, do we want to try for another baby? we know we can't replace the one we lost, but it just seems so sad to end our baby-making years with a tragedy.
if anyone reading this is interested, Jason Collins, MD of knoxville, tennessee is an ob-gyn studying the causes and risk factors for stillbirth. i was able to get in contact with him after losing ruth, and discovered that this tragedy is all too common: every day in the united states alone, 26 babies are stillborn.
i'd become concerned during the last few weeks of my pregnancy that the baby wasn't moving enough, but when i contacted my doctor, i was told that it was fine; babies slow down as they get bigger.
listen up, everybody! babies DO NOT slow down. all pregnant moms: do a kick count. be a pain in your doctor's ass. drive the nurses at the hospital crazy. do whatever it takes for that little one.
s/he is counting on you.
GOD bless all of you who read this. GOD bless ALL the unborn babies.
thanks, the band, for letting me have the floor for a moment.
Here at The Band, we believe in kicking stigmas to the curb, flinging glitter, and shining a light into the dark. And now?
Your bandmate needs a sounding board.
It's time to Ask The Band!
Two of my former students asked me to officiate their wedding.
I've been working on the speech for a bit. They asked me to talk about growth and change and how to do this whole marriage stuff. I figure this crowd might have some interesting advice.
What do you wish someone had said at your wedding? What did someone say that was perfect? I have eight minutes of solid talking. I would kind of like more like eleven or twelve minutes but I'm not entirely sure what else is important without being rambly or off topic.
Any advice would be awesome sauce.
It would have been simpler if you had just hit me with your fist.
It would have hurt less had curled your fingers up and slammed your fist into my gut.
No. Oh no, you would never hit me. You claimed you would never give in to the urge to physically hurt me. You denied that the urge was there, but I could see it. Please. After nine years I can read you like a book.
On the good days we inspired each other, brought out the best in each other. On the bad days we would stand, six inches apart, applying the verbal lash over and over. Flaying one another to the bone, stripping defenses down until nerves were raw and exposed.
Even after all those years, all those fights, all the pain, I never threw that kind of insult at you. I never said anything that literally took your breath away, never dealt you a verbal sucker punch. Don't get me wrong, I'm certain that I hurt you. Intentionally or not, I know that it's true. I know we both bear scars on our hearts. But I never spoke to you the way you spoke to me. I never poured salt on the wounds.
You took every single self-doubt that I had, every aspect of myself that I hated, and threw them all at me. I sat there, wounded, in shock, seeing the rage and pain blaze in your eyes like wildfire.
If you had just made a fist, punched me in the gut, maybe we'd still be together.
No. You had to wound me and then grab the salt and just rub it in there, didn't you?
Fat. Lazy. Selfish. Mean. Bitch.
Those words hurt. Can't deny that. But I've heard them before.
Do you want to know what the last straw was? The word that hit me like a fist to the gut?
How dare you?
How DARE you throw that in my face?
You. You of all people. You who knew how I struggled with that diagnosis, who saw me weep every month, watched me grieve for another lost chance every time I bled.
Four years of a thousand tiny deaths. Every birth announcement, every baby shower, every happy family in a grocery store: they all left a scar.
Countless appointments, driving back and forth to clinics to undergo tests and invasive medical procedures. Always alone because your work schedule wouldn't allow you to join me. Trying to reign in my crazy mood swings from the drugs so that I didn't take everything out on you. Slogging through life on a second-string antidepressant because it would be safer during pregnancy. Drawing fluid into a needle and shooting myself up with hormones in the bathroom, alone, because you're afraid of needles.
If those scars were physical instead of emotional I don't think I'd have an inch of pristine skin left at this point.
You condensed all of that pain and anguish into one little word.
It took my breath away. I felt a chill ripple from the tip of my skull down to my toes.
And it was over. Over. In that moment, we were over. No going back. No patching it up this time.
It would have been simpler if you had just hit me with your fist.
I've been single for about eight years now. You're probably thinking, "What the heck's her problem?"
Where to begin?
For starters, I work overnights and my nights off alternate, which makes it hard to have a relationship. Second, outside of work I'm pretty busy most of the year: I spend a lot of time involved with Relay For Life, and when I'm not doing that, I sing in the choir at my church. Then, there are other church-related activities. Any other free time is spent hanging out with my friends (and that's proving hard too), working out, or in my art studio cranking out various projects. Are you exhausted yet?
I've "casually" dated if you count going out with my gay best friend, whom I like to call my Gay Husband. No? Well shit, you got me.
My biggest issue with dating someone is deciding when I should let the cat out of the bag about my family. Is it like a third date thing? Instead of sleeping with him, I tell him the truth to send him packing?
I used the term from an episode of Grey's Anatomy where Meridith labels herself "Dark and twisty" to Derek. I can totally relate.
My past two boyfriends knew about my family situation. The first was actually living as a foster kid next door to us, so he knew right off that bat. I'm sure from my neighbor no doubt. But the issue was never discussed. The second was my friend before we became a couple, and he actually asked me about mom when he saw her in a wheelchair when he was over at my house. That lead to an explanation. He stuck around anyway; I admired him for it. He could have easily walked away from me. Even when things got bad and they did. Our relationship ended for entirely different reasons though.
The thing is, I don't want sympathy about what has happened to my family. It is how it is and nothing can change it. I learned to accept it from an early age. I was limited to who knew about it as well. Only close friends knew because I trusted them, and back then, bullying was just as bad then as it is now. I was teased enough for being different already. I didn't need more fuel to the fire. I was already in special education classes for math, science, and history. There was also a fear of judgment (again I didn't want people to label me with harsh words) because my brother was autistic, my sister was mentally and physically handicapped, or that I must have been retarded too (I apologize to a friend of mine who doesn't like that word but I had to use it).
For the longest time at my old job, I was, I guess you could say, "closeted" about my family situation. Only because I kept to myself a lot and, frankly, it was none of their business. I did finally come "out of the closet" as it were and got great support from them. I was surprised.
When I lost that job and began my new one, I was back to being "in the closet" with my family situation. I know that sounds terrible of me but it was easier. I was the new kid on the block and believe me that was enough. Again I didn't want the "Aww I'm sorry" that I get a lot from people. Mom and my sister, Jenny, had to be in the hospital a lot during my time at work, then dad for hernia surgery. And well, it just spilled out. They actually pulled through for me when Jenny died.
Okay, I know I'm pretty (well for the longest time I didn't), I've lost over 50 pounds lately (a story for another day), funny, energetic, creative, and very, very loving. I have a big heart if it isn't obvious.
However, I can be a huge worry-wart over the stupidest things (thanks for that mom). I'm super sensitive, very bull-headed, clumsy, and I have my share of ditzy moments (the joys of being a blonde). Plus my family issues and Jenny's recent passing that has turned me into a complete basket case. Oh, just to throw into my self-pity party here, piles of student loan debit that has seriously fucked up my credit.
Heck, just me writing that makes me even go, "Who'd want to date that?"
I know I'm being harsh on myself and like they say, "I am my own worst enemy." Relationships are super hard. Sometimes they end for the dumbest reasons. That's part of the reason I've stayed single for so long too. The fear that I'm going to be the one who fucks it up.
The other reason is my number 1 rule. Family comes first. They need me. I could walk away from them but it's just something I would never do because I wasn't raised like that. Like the Titanic, I will go down with the ship. I wonder if any guy could understand that, if I get that phone call in the early hours of the morning (and I have) that I'm gone at the drop of a hat, will he be understanding of that and would he go with me? A worthwhile guy would do that.
I'm also afraid he's going to take advantage of that - stupid I know - or think that I'm "emotionally unstable."
I look at my parents who have been married for 44 years and it hasn't been easy at all. Dad could have easily walked away but he didn't (God bless him) because he is such an amazing man and I admire him so much.
Why can't I find a man like that?
I often wonder if the saying is true that all the good men are either taken, gay, or married.
It would be nice to have someone just to hold me and let me cry (there's been a lot of that lately) or someone to be there at the end of my night shift with breakfast ready. A girl can dream can't she?
Here comes the but...
Even with all my ramblings above, part of me isn't sure I want a relationship. My single life for the most part (despite all the tough stuff) has been really good. I've enjoyed it. I do have a small group of single friends that I can go have drinks with and bullshit with about whatever - it's great. We don't complain how our relationships suck; we mainly discuss who's hotter out there in the celebrity world and more. Good times.
I'm pretty damn independant too, have been for a long time. I just can't picture anyone else stepping in to "take care of me" when it's always been "look out for #1."
I am fond of the quote from Samantha Jones of Sex and the City: "I love me more."
But it sure is lonely out there.
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