My son's birthday is today. It makes me smile and cry at the same time. Watching him grow and change has been the biggest gift and privilege of my life. I remember exactly 3 years ago I sat at the very table that I am sitting at now, vigorously researching the best schools that I could possibly send him to when he started kindergarten. I was deeply torn between sending him to a Christian school, and sending him to a bilingual school...I reasoned that I could teach him about God at home, but being bi-literate was important to me. More important than a Christian education. I am thankful that I did that. Because now, this fall he will be attending one of the best (and only) dual language programs in the nation. Thanks to me putting him on the waiting list!!! Yes this is a good mama bragging moment....
It was 2 years ago that I started to question my sanity. I knew that something was deeply wrong. I just didn't know what. I didn't have the vision to for see what it was that I was missing. I knew that I felt unsafe around my own husband. I knew that I was more and more afraid of him as the days went on. I knew that I was isolated, and afraid to tell anyone what was going on. I thought I just needed to try harder. Pray harder. Love more, and serve more, and be the nice submissive wife that I was called to be. I was a Christian woman. And I did what I thought I should. So I became like a robot, as I watched all of my decisions be made for me. Everything, from what we would have for dinner that night, how it was prepared, where I could go and how long I could stay, what I could wear....my husband had me controlled....completely. And scared that if I did one thing wrong he would hurt me. Or hurt my son. Or both. Many times he intimidated me with my son in my arms. I remember those moments like they were yesterday. I cringe. I wonder if my son remembers. I believe that he does...
After a long process of searching for answers in the Bible, I turned to the church. After getting no help from the church I turned to another, and another, until I finally....finally.....called the domestic violence program in my area. They told me about a book written by Lundy Bancroft called, “Why Does He Do That.” A MUST read for any woman questioning the health of her relationship. Anyway, I was EXTREMELY reluctant to accept help from this organization because they were not Christian and I honestly thought that any organization outside of the church that wasn't in some way within my belief system, would be "of Satan." I really did think that. However....the book made sense. I felt like I had finally woken up in the midst of a nightmare. My happy ever after was really my worst nightmare. I said it out loud to myself one day.
"I am living in an abusive marriage."
What does an abused Christian woman do about her abusive husband? Well. I googled. And searched...and searched....I really didn't find any answers. There was a lot of information but it stopped short of what I really needed to DO! It quoted scripture...fine....and it told us to look at ourselves and maybe "Separate for a time..." But I didn't know how....I tried everything I knew how to do. Nothing worked. So I decided to talk seriously about what to do with the professionals. I was told something I didn't want to hear.
Less than 1% of abusive partners change. They have to want to change. Get out!!!
That went from my worst nightmare to a living hell. I began to try to demand something from my ex-husband. Anything. Any sign of change possible. Even a little effort.
So....I kept searching for answers....
I found Think Atheist through a friend out of curiosity.... I started to see the holes in my faith. I started to see that my faith was wrong. Just plain wrong. At first when I joined I thought I was being brainwashed by Satan!!! After all, it was my Christian faith that got me sober!!!! I thought for sure that my faith was unshakable. So I let my curiosity go and just decided to see where the process took me...It ended up taking me to a place I never thought. A journey, like sailing the seven seas :-) And so I sailed....
I really had no choice. I made a lot of decisions very quickly that could not be undone. From filing divorce, to instating a protection order for me and my son, and it set a ball rolling. I had no idea what would happen to us.
I ended up leaving my husband that December. We were divorced by April. And I quickly realized that my carefully constructed house of cards fell down, I had nothing. I didn't know who I was. I didn't know what I was capable of. I had no self-esteem. And my entire life felt like a failure. I had spent my twenties with this man who didn't appreciate me, nor did he love me. I had failed to address those things in my life that were most important. I was too busy taking care of him for too many years. Now who was going to take care of me?
I looked for love and ended up seeking solace and tried to rekindle a friendship with a man in my past, and old college lover.....only to realize that he was not the person that I thought he was. I knew he was mentally ill, but I never imagined the hurt he would bring upon me...................tears.
And now? It's all over. The storm has calmed. And I feel like I finally have picked myself up and brushed myself off. And when I think about the faith that I once had, I wonder what would have happened to me had I remained blind? I think I would have died. I really do. I remember the fear, and the stress. I think I would have died. I also think my son would not be thriving the way he is. I still have some challenges with him, but overall he is healing too. I think the health of a mother is directly reflected in the children. I remember the days I wasn't doing well I tried to put on a happy face for him, but I could sense the stress in his mama. That makes me sad.
Thank you to those members who have been there for me through the storm these last 2 years. I feel an indebtedness I can never repay. I just want to say thank you to Think Atheist (Founder and Moderators who work to ensure that it is here...) for existing. My son and I are getting better every day because of the fact that I was able to relinquish my faith like deadweight on my shoulders, and embrace a new way of thinking that has allowed me to control my own destiny.