I knew something was wrong. As the money trickled out of the account and the only person sharing my bed was my newborn, I had never felt more alone. The passcode on his phone had been changed and he wouldn’t let me anywhere near it. I would wake up in the middle of the night with heaviness in my chest. My calls went straight to voicemail and I found myself on more than one occasion, calling 9-1-1 at 2am to ask if there had been any accidents on his route home. I hadn’t felt his touch in weeks, maybe months. He was no longer interested in his tiny little humans nor did he notice me.
He had stopped sharing our bed shortly after Tiny N was born and so when I awoke every night, I’d have to go downstairs to see if the couch was occupied to know if he had made it home. He would tell me he was spending time with Jesus, “praying and thinking.” That it was the voice of God that kept him out until the wee hours of the morning. But despite my eagerness to believe that my husband was running after Jesus, I couldn’t shake the pit in my stomach and the certainty in my spirit that he was hiding something.
I found myself, once again, in the trenches of postpartum. Except this time, I had two under two, while trying to navigate immense loneliness coupled by the constant feelings of being overwhelmed, overstretched and abandoned.
I would sit alone on that worn blue couch devastated and confused, feeling nauseous from the continual gut punches to my pride. I ignorantly (and very pridefully) divorce happened simply because the two people didn’t try hard enough and didn’t value marriage enough. I believed that would never be me. I whole-heartedly believed that I would never experience that level of sin because I was above all that… well friends, it is a hard and fast fall off that high horse and I am still wiping off mud from the puddle in which I fell into.
As I share my story, I feel it is important to also share little nuggets of wisdom because there are so many things I failed to do and wish I had known back in those early days. Also, if you’ve never encountered something like this in your marriage (and I pray you never do), this can give you a little insight on how to help a hurting friend. A lot of the time, when we’re at our lowest, those around us want to help but we don’t know how to communicate what our needs are. Up until my husband had left, I had never had any friends whom had experienced betrayal, abandonment or divorce. I had immersed myself in a world of Jesus seeking, church and family minded people (who were wonderful and such a great community for me) but I lacked a network of individuals whom I could relate with. I used my girls as distraction and tried to ignore my feelings and needs. Don’t be me.
1. Go to counseling together at the very first sign of things seeming off. Although friends are wonderful resources, find a third-party who has no relationship with either of you (so that there’s no biased on either side) but whom you can trust. Make the financial sacrifice, no matter how tight expenses are. Churches are a great place to look because they greatly value marriage and will be more wiling to work with you. Some churches offer free or low-cost counseling services, call around and find the right place. ⇒⇒ His excuse was always finances and I was too scared to leave my newborn with a stranger. But I can’t help but wonder how different things might have been if I had sought out counseling months before.
2. Find a few Trusted friends to confide in and hold onto them. Make time for them to come over. Let them hold your baby. Let them bring you coffee or food. Answer their texts and calls. Let them love you. And also let them be a sounding board to challenge, encourage and love on you. ⇒⇒ Although I had let a few people in, I was still incredibly ashamed and embarrassed. Even though I would share where I was at, I wouldn’t let people help me. It takes a village and when life falls apart, our village is there to carry us through and remind us that we are capable and not alone.
3. Find a few hours once a week or so where you can have some time to yourself… and I don’t just mean naptimes. Whether you have a trusted friend who can entertain your children for an hour while you get a pedicure or hire a babysitter while you sit by yourself in a coffee shop and journal. Do something for yourself that can take your mind off of the hard or give yourself the time and space to sort through it and cry and be angry, feel the feelings you can’t around the littles. Do whatever you can to help you feel refreshed. ⇒⇒ I didn’t know how to take breaks. I didn’t know how to take care of me. I spent every second, every moment focused 100% on my girls and it made me feel a little crazy and completely drained. In the last few months, thanks to my parents, I have gotten a few hours once a week where I am able to do something by myself for myself and it’s been life-changing. I’ve heard for years about taking care of mama so that I can better love my girls but I am only now beginning to understand that. Baby steps.
4. Start making little notes on whatever seems weird or off. It might seem like craziness but get it out of your head and onto paper. Trust your gut and that little voice in your spirit. This is a fine line to walk but it’s necessary. ⇒⇒ It took quite a bit of research and attention-to-detail before the puzzle pieces started speaking for themselves. And over a period of time you can see a trend but more on that later.
5. Remember that you are loved. You have purpose. You are beautiful. You are worthy. No man and no circumstance, can take that from you. And please please remember that your worth isn’t dependent on other’s opinions. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. His leaving has more to do with him that it does with you and never let anyone try to convince you otherwise. God created you in his image which means you are pretty darn freakin’ special. And remember, God doesn’t make mistakes. He sees you and he loves you and that is where you land.