Several years ago, I chose to finally get the help that my first marriage needed. It didn’t end well. It didn’t end with reconciliation, despite the prayer and time and efforts of many, many people.
It ended with a separation that ended with a divorce that broke apart my family. I chose this. I broke up my family. I hurt my children by not just staying married to their father no matter what.
I own this. I live with this every day, the pain that I have caused them, the ways in which I have handicapped them.
And then I sat on my couch for about three years (figuratively speaking). I mean, I led small groups and wrote a book or two, and met with women, and started a ministry, and had my sweet girlfriends in my life, but I was home, home, home. And I was alone, alone, alone. And I was available, available, available.
When my kids left at the beginning of the school day, I was home. And alone. And available.
When my kids came home at the end of the school day, I was home. And alone. And available.
When my kids left for their father’s for the weekend, I was home. And alone. And available.
When my kids came home from their father’s at the end of the weekend, I was home. And alone. And available.
In other words, for about three years, I was completely accessible to my children. I was super intentional about making practically all of my plans during the day when they were at school or when they were with their Dad.
So even if they were in their rooms ninety percent of the time that they were home – teenagers that they were – they knew where I’d be and they knew I’d be there for them, home and alone and available.
Well, then, I began dating.
I thought I was ready. I thought my kids were ready.
I’m not so sure we were. (But hindsight is always 20/20, right?)
And ten months after meeting Tall-Shadow, he and I were married.
It was fast. It was a freakishly intentional courtship, do not get me wrong (with book studies, and 190 dates, and intense premarital counseling BEFORE the engagement) but it was still fast.
Too fast for us.
But even faster for our kids. Who were still grieving and adjusting.
It’s hard to say what you would and would not change in your life. I wouldn’t change that Richard is my husband – not in a million years – but I would change many of the circumstances surrounding our courtship, our current living arrangements, and the ways in which our children have been affected.
Because it’s been painful. For all of us.
And it’s interesting, because I love them all so fiercely, and yet…and yet, I have hurt them all so deeply. All within the past two years.
Motives don’t seem to matter sometimes. Education doesn’t seem to matter. How many books I’ve read, how much counseling I’ve had, how much counsel I’ve given others, how right I felt in the moment, how many prayers I’ve prayed… None of this has prevented me from hurting my husband and our five children with my selfishness and immaturity.
This is not one of those posts where I wrap up with a lesson. Nope. I’m in the thick of it. I love all of our kids. I miss all of our kids. I am hurting all of our kids. And I have no idea how to fix any of it.
So, I cry.
And I talk to my husband and girlfriends and mentor and counselor.
And I send them texts saying I love them and I’m praying for them.
And I try to keep living my life the best I can, with this sad song as background music playing all the time.
And I let the words sink in that I need to fight against my codependent, people-pleasing tendencies and let them all live their lives and stop trying to control every freaking thing.
And I pray. Oh, do I pray.
And I wait.
And I hope. I hope that one day, down the road, all of this won’t be as painful and as uncomfortable as it is today.
And I celebrate and revel in every single sweet moment I have with my husband or one of our children, because each of those moments is a gift.
And today, that’s all I’ve got.
If you’re hurting and need to talk, I’m here.
I hear your Mama heart in all of this. I don’t know what to say other than God’s grace covers you and your kids and your choices. I have a similiar struggle but with different circumstances. I wonder how much I am hurting my children by staying with their abusive father…for now we have 2000 miles between him and us while he’s inpatient. There are no easy choices but God’s promised us He will make something beautiful or this messy life even if we are all on a road we never thought we’d have to travel. Thank you for your ministry and this heartfelt, vulnerable post.
I needed this today. Thank you for posting this Elizabeth. Thank you for sharing your life and your heart. I appreciate you.
Yes. Yes. And yes. One thing. You are forgiven.