Recently, my husband shared a part of his story and it was well-received. We did, however, get a couple questions along the lines of “how did he specifically get from point A (being a certain kind of man in his first marriage) to point B (being a different kind of man in his second marriage?”. It is a valid question and so I asked him if I could share further.
Buzz would be the first to say that his timeline is not ideal and that he would want people to learn from his mistakes, not repeat his pattern. And as you read his story, I ask that you remember that most healing journeys are not all up and to the right, including mine, including yours. They are two steps forward and one step back, sometimes one step forward and ten steps back. His story is not a three-point plan to recovery. It was messy and it was hard – as is mine, as is yours – but God worked in him nonetheless in powerful ways.
After divorce papers were filed and Buzz was asked to move out, he lived out of his car for a little while and then he was on his own in an apartment. During that time, he fell into a depression. The silence and the loneliness were too much to bear. He wasn’t sleeping but he was lethargic and spent several weeks lying on the floor of his apartment, missing much work, being put on medication that made him hallucinate, and worrying his family.
Things got so bad at one point that he even bought a gun and planned his last day. He went to church with his parents as a way to say goodbye. He set up a cot in his garage. But, as he puts it, “the Holy Spirit fell over me” because he was overwhelmed with questions, everything from what if this doesn't work to what would this do to my children and my parents. He just couldn’t go through with it, THANK YOU, GOD.
“This was my rock bottom but also my wake-up call. God saved my life and I knew I had to make some changes. It reminds me of “Shawshank Redemption” where Morgan Freeman's character said he had to get busy living or get busy dying.”
Buzz chose to live.
It was during this time of pulling himself back up – of letting God heal him – that he went to a counselor, he began exercising, he began attending church again, and he began reading the Bible, scouring the Psalms especially, underlining passages that were meaningful to him, reminding him that God was his strength and helper.
In counseling, he dealt with his anger issues from his childhood and how they had manifested in his marriage and with his kids. He later went on to apologize to his wife and children for his behavior. Changes in his behavior also came from the simple fact that he lost his marriage, his family and his home. When you lose everything, it makes you take stock. He knew that if he ever got married again, he would be a different kind of husband.
But it was also during this time that he began dating, post-separation but pre- and just-post-divorce. He regrets dating too soon. He was lonely and he wanted to show his ex-wife that someone would love him for who he was. After two short-lived, not-so-healthy relationships, he took a bit of a break and reevaluated.
Buzz and I met and began dating eleven months after his divorce was final. I did not know this at the time. I had been divorced for two years and thought our timelines had lined up more closely. (To be clear, this was not deception on Buzz’s part but purely miscommunication and misunderstanding. “When did you get divorced?” I remember asking him. “August, right about the same time as you did,” he responded, thinking I had been divorced a year as he had been.)
In hindsight, we dated too soon for both of us and too soon for our children. If I could go back and still end up married to Buzz, I would have up and moved our meeting another year or two later to give both of us and our children more time to heal (this is why he and I say wait and then wait and then when you think you're ready to date, wait some more). I have apologized to him and to all of our children for those choices of dating too soon and marrying so quickly (ten months after meeting).
On our first date, Buzz shared with me the mistakes he had made in his first marriage all the while not bashing his ex-wife. It was a breath of fresh air to find someone humble, authentic and self-aware, let alone respectful of his ex-wife. (Do you know how many “she did this” and “she did that”’s I heard from other men, with no ownership of their own faults whatsoever?? Too many.) As time went by, I watched him closely to see if he were exhibiting the behaviors that he said he had contributed to the ending of his marriage – and by God’s grace – I saw none of them. I also made sure to meet his family, friends and even co-workers, and I witnessed a man who was the same with me as he was in all other environments. He was loved and liked by everyone in his family, at his job and in his hometown.
God had changed him – and was changing him – into a different man. Buzz read Unraveling, which he told me helped him a lot in seeing a woman’s perspective on marriage and divorce, we went through a Bible / personal growth study called Freeway: A Not So Perfect Guide to Freedom, and we read Saving Your Second Marriage Before It Begins, having lots of important and honest conversations along the way. We also made the choice to do in-depth premarital counseling BEFORE we got engaged with – bless Buzz’s heart – my counselor of three years, who ended up marrying us.
It hasn’t been an easy healing journey for Buzz, but most aren’t. He wishes he had done some things differently, but he’s also so grateful for God’s grace and redemption and second chances.
*Depression hits hard. But some people are experiencing it for the first time and it's overwhelming. If Buzz's post resonates with you and you are suffering and need someone to talk to or you feel hopeless or suicidal, please call the Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255.