My Part in the Downfall was Bigger than I Want to Admit (But Here Goes Nothin’…) - Elisabeth Klein
Elisabeth Klein

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When recounting the ending of my marriage – and my part in it – I sometimes say things like, “I didn’t call out sin early enough.” That statement is 100% true. And I 100% didn’t.

But when you read that statement, it’s sort of a passive-aggressive, only-half-admission of guilt.  Because what I’m really saying in those words is that someone else was doing the sinning and I didn’t righteously do enough about said person’s sin as I sat there all holy.

And that’s not what I mean when I say that.

And yet I totally and completely mean that because I like to be the victim.  I’m good at being the victim.  I could win the Nobel Peace Prize for victim-ocity.  And then I’d put my trophy on my mantle and show people when they came to my house.  See, I didn’t stand up for what was right early enough and long enough and correctly enough…woe is me…it was so hard…boo-hoo…  You can see why I won this award, right? I rock at victim-ness. 

Over a year ago, I wrote about my part in our marriage’s ending.  And all of that is true.  But a year-plus later, and I’m still realizing more.  There was so much more.

I was mean.

I didn’t let my husband be who he wanted to be.

I maintained everything. I was a control freak.  I told the members of my little family how they should behave, even though one of the members of my family was a grown-up.

I was desperate to make sure no one really knew how broken we were because – other than my marriage – I loved my life and I was too selfish to risk it all blowing up in my face. I was the supervisor in charge of image management of our family.

I say that I wasn’t myself during all those years – and in huge parts, I wasn’t – and yet, it’s not like I was locked up in my closet.  I still lived a really big, full life.  I kept me busy. So I wouldn’t have to look at my marriage, but maybe more so, so I wouldn’t have to look in the mirror and at my heart and at how sinful I was being and how much pain there really was and what it might take to really try to turn things around.

I prayed.  But a lot of the times, the prayers were help me…change him…release me.

I cared much more about me living in perpetual pain than I did the pain my then-husband was living in.

I just wanted the pain to stop but I didn’t want to have to do the hard work it would take to get us to the other side.  (I did end up doing the huge amounts of hard work, but not until fifteen years in.)

I was selfish. I was a brat. I was unkind. I was disrespectful. I was critical. I was not a good wife.  I would not have wanted to be married to me.  And if I were my then-husband, I might have acted and reacted the way he chose to act and react.

Please hear me: I am not trying to put myself down.  And I am absolutely not justifying what went on in my marriage, because it isn’t justifiable.  But I am trying to look inside and be honest and true and real.  But hear this as well: most of the time, my heart was in the right place…and most of the time, I didn’t know any other way but what I was doing.  Those are not excuses…I messed up so very much.  But I need you to know – and I need to remember – that I wasn’t intentionally horrible to another human being for the past twenty years.  But I was unintentionally horrible for a lot of that time.  And I need to own that.  And I am so very sorry for that.  Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner…

 

 

If this post encouraged you, you would benefit from “Unraveling: Hanging onto Faith through the End of a Christian Marriage”, found here or “Living through Divorce as a Christian Woman”, found here.