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The First Cut is the Deepest…Divorce

Just read a young mother’s post on her blog about an impending divorce.  Don’t know all the details but did identify with the feelings she is facing.

It was almost 30 years ago I met my high school sweetheart.  He was a jock wrestler, which I didn’t know at the time or probably wouldn’t have gone out with him.  Most of the friends I had that joined sports ended up leaving their old friends behind for the popularity game.

Jeff and I would attend community college together and marry before we headed to University…so much for a honeymoon.  The next 4 years we spent with him in Engineering school and I in Nursing.  Many of our high school friends were at university also and married.  The single guys would jest with him that he must be “getting it all the time”.  How crude but also untrue.

In the 80’s AIDS was still pretty new on the scene and being in Nursing school helped me draw some necessary lines due to my husband’s infidelity.  He’d pretty much been a MENSA pothead and alcohol user since he was preteen. I, on the other hand, never did drugs and after having an alcoholic wifebeater for a dad, I stayed away from alcohol.  We’d fought a lot about his DUI’s and indiscretions during our high school and college years and I withdrew sexually from him in the 2nd year of our 4 year marriage.  He continued his bad habits until my junior year in nursing school and then decided his husbandly rights were being violated one night after a long day at the hospital and studying for midterms.

I woke up to pressure on my chest and by the time I figured out he was on top of me and forcing himself on me, it was too late.  I begged him not to do this.  He knew about my past as a victim of child sexual abuse and I had worked so hard I think because of my past to ignore his infidelities, figuring maybe it was my own fault…that I wasn’t NORMAL.  I participated in all he wanted to do and dabbled in porn videos early in our marriage because that’s what he wanted, but this night he just told me to lay there, B—-and it will be over soon.  I cried. I laid still and somewhere in it, I fell asleep.  The next year is a blur of continued violation when I least expected it and then he graduated and separated from me, going for a job in civil service.

I thought it would be easier with him gone, but it wasn’t.  Now, I was alone to face the pain of the past, the failing of my marriage, and the beginning of my senior year.  I went into a depression and thank God for a couple of wonderful friends who found me at the bottom of my misery, alone in my trailer, no food, no money, and no hope.

It took me a month to eat lettuce.  Jeff had seen to it that I was left with a junky car, debts from credit cards I got as a senior which he used to buy dinner and gifts for other women, and with my mother out of the country, I had not help from family.  I thought about going to the police about the rape but in the 80’s…they just laughed and said what everyone else said…he’s your husband..so it’s not rape.  ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Like my body wasn’t my own.  in those days, women had to have their husbands sign sterilization papers or they couldn’t obtain the necessary surgery regardless of the threat to their health and being left with multiple children and no support.  Sounds crazy, right?

Believe it or not, I tried to reconcile twice that year.  I think because my parents were divorced when no one else in our neighborhood was and they labeled us as their children, some ugly names and apparently my mother who worked two jobs became a swinger.  The only swinging she did was swing shifts from assembly line work to nights as a hotel housekeeper.  I didn’t want to be labeled a divorcee’.  After an attempt at the second reconciliation and exhausting my student loan money on his reckless spending, I went to my university law school and the kind gentleman told me I could get a lawyer for free as a student.  Finally, some sunshine in my dark world.

We had to threaten him with jail time for running up credit cards that weren’t his, but he finally signed and I got my divorce 3 days before I graduated nursing school.  He attended my graduation; I’m not exactly sure why, but he mentioned how I had changed my name on my degree and I countered with why would I have his name on a degree I earned and that truth be told my name should be on his engineering degree since I pushed him all the way through.  He said I looked great. I replied that the starvation diet is an amazing way to lose weight. He proceeded to follow my friends and i the whole night like some predator waiting to pounce.  I went home a few months later and he found out I was in town and accosted me at a gas station and grabbed me by the arm saying I was his.  I told him that might have been true once, but never again.  He pretty much trashed me with friends in my hometown, being there a year before me. Many felt uncomfortable and just disappeared into the background of life.  Some would still welcome me, knowing how bad he was and they encouraged me to keep my head up.

I remember still the day the judge asked me if I wanted my own name back.  I felt somewhat like the slaves when they were set free.  Who is that?  I hadn’t known that name for 9 years and I held someone else’s name for 4 years.  I replied yes, but not really sure about the mess of feelings laying within me.

I’ve been remarried now 26 years.  He’s kind, generous, compassionate, loyal, and we’ve had 2 children.  Is life happier?  Soimewhat.  I can honestly say it’s safer.  We talk. We’ve loved, but we’ve also realized that we thought we knew what love was, but we didn’t .  He tries but struggles trying to find the reins for what he calls, a “mustang”.  It’s sad that after all this time we find ourselves friends, but without purpose.  We have a type of love, but not the forever eternal kind of love.  I have tried to love many times, but been loved my only one.  One who knew the One who loves unconditionally, whole-heartedly and eternally.  I knew him for 15 years and he was a most precious friend who taught me the beauty that God placed within me, the love God intended and the pain of losing a friend most precious in his giving and forgiving spirit.  He died 6 months ago and so now I continue in the love he showed me and the faith I have that I will see him again.

My husband feels the same way.  He’s lost a brother in the Lord and his example can only be described as one of a kind.  We now find ourselves united in our grieving for one who showed us how love never fails and still abides in the memories we share together.  We live each day now trying to give to one another as friends and parents and grandparents.

The Gathering Around the Table

Many years ago a man would gather with his friends for a dinner…his last dinner with them.  Among them would be a deceiver, a betrayer, a doubter, young, old, men and women.  He would take a path few desire and even fewer choose.  He would set the example as one who serves, offers…loves.

This year my family will gather but there will be a space at the table and a heart beat that skips for the ones who are not with us.  I always longed for a family, for reunions, for memories of loved ones seated together in love, respect, and gratitude.  I pursued it by creating it for others…that which I did not have in my own life.  When I had a family of my own, I opened the door to those who found themselves alone, lonely, hoping for the same thing…to be included.

I am grateful for so very many things in my life and I thank God for all He has done in my life; loss, birth, friendship, adversity, joy, pain, tears, sleep, and hope.  I grieve, however, for the attitudes I see in our country this week.  Some hope for a voice, others utilize the grieving of others as an opportunity to pulpit their perspectives with violence as if violence has ever caused anything more than pain and death for the sake of power for the few and momentary freedom for the many.

I do not know what the next year may bring, but I will endeavor to embrace those who have no connection, no family, no friend, and have lost hope of love.  I will do it with kindness, prayer, food, shelter, and love.  There will always be those who differ in opinion and choose various ways of impressing that opinion on others with passionate pleas of prejudice backed with bullets and batons, but some of us will use the weapons of faith in love.

Many of us will gather tomorrow and amongst those present will be much the same as Yeshua faced.  We know the back stories in our own families, but still we seek connection–some for love, some out of respect, some to look proper, some hoping to reconnect, to resolve, to forgive and forge a stronger connection, a stronger future.  May we find strength and may prayers be answered for hope and a future that is brighter than today and that will not be eclipsed by hatred, strife, and jealousies.  How blessed it is when brethren dwell in unity together.