I ran up the stairs, holding in my breath to keep the tears at bay. More sharp words had been exchanged and I was fleeing the conversation – if you can even call that a conversation – along with the curious and concerned gazes of my children.
I shut and locked the bathroom door behind me, turned on music, and crumpled to the floor, where I had fallen countless times before. And I sobbed. And in between sobs, I prayed…..
Jesus, this can’t be what you meant by a Christian marriage.
Please help me.
I can’t keep doing this anymore.
I can’t do this anymore.
Jesus. Jesus. Please help me. Please.
Fast forward four years. I haven’t cried about that marriage in probably a year now. Not because we healed, but because I am healing. I live in a different home. Peace reigns here. Calm is all around us. If tears come, it’s out of joy or something completely unrelated to that pain that I carried for almost twenty years. If there are ever the occasional harsh words, they are immediately regretted and quickly apologized for, but they almost never come these days. There is kindness and softness and grace in my home now.
I look around my living room at women who are currently where I was then. I read my email. I check in on my private Facebook groups for hurting women. They are in marriages that harm them daily. They think about their marriages more than the average woman does. They are more sad than the average woman is. They are more confused and constrained than the average woman should be. I was them. And they represent hundreds and hundreds of women that I now virtually know.
All because one day I began to tell my story, out loud and to the masses. I knocked down the walls of the perfect little house that I had constructed with lies and denial and fear. And I said, “Come in. Come in and see my mess.”
I wanted a pretty little life. I fabricated a pretty little life. And I got what I wanted and yet I so completely didn’t. Because the pain that my spouse and I caused each other every day was otherworldly and it was killing both of us.
But there is a sweetness to my pain. I couldn’t have seen it then, even though I used to pray for this very thing that I see unfolding. I refused to believe, all those years ago, that my marriage pain was for nothing. I refused to believe that my marriage pain had simply set up camp there in my life to wound me and break me down, with no other purpose than my constant suffering. So I would pray that someday, somehow, my marriage pain would mean something bigger.
And today it does. Today, this side of my marriage pain, I have the daily gift of reaching out to other women just like my sweet little self crying on my bathroom floor. And I write and I pray and I create and I whisper to them and to me, over and over and over, until they understand…..
You are not alone.
You will never be alone.
This pain will not last forever.
This pain is not for nothing.
There is a healing.
There is a Healer.
There is hope.
Just hold on.
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