I am nestled into a bed that isn’t mine tonight. If you would have told me two years ago, I’d be taking weekends to write and record podcast episodes that motivate and encourage those around me, I would have called your bluff. Yet here I am, sitting in a hotel room with my laptop open letting the words flow while eating sour gummy candy and enjoying a glass of wine.
It’s amazing where our lives take us and how much our words matter. I have always been a firm believer in speaking the truth and using that truth to empower others. The truth and speaking it is part of who I am. Sharing my story and encouraging women has become a part of my journey. I realize now that a lot of newly divorced women come here looking for support and to learn of my blunders. I hope that hearing my blunders helps you realize that you are not alone and that many women have walked this road before you. I am just glad that I get to be a part of your journey. The journey of finding yourself again.
Some may say I am a failure married at 25 and divorced at 28. I am not a failure. One knows when there is nothing left to fight for and when to walk away. Some say I didn’t give the marriage enough time to work out the kinks. Some kinks cannot be worked out, they only get knotted further with time. I knew in my heart that it was over and no matter how hard I tried, he wasn’t going to change. In the end it wasn’t my job to change him, that was on him, and I bowed out before I lost sight of who I was meant to be.
What got me through the hard times was faith. People tell me “I wish I had your faith. You just never seem concerned. How can you leave it up to chance?” Growing up my father always told me this “if all else fails…. pray.” I figure God has kept me on this planet for a reason. Lord knows he’s tried to knock me of it more than once. I think I am working on my 3rd life or something and along those lines. For me bouncing back is the best part. I’ve done a lot of looking back over the last twelve years. My thirteenth stroke anniversary is just around the corner and so is unfortunately my 40th birthday.
Looking back has allowed me to examine my failed marriage. To really look at it from a different perspective. Twelve years ago, I was so hurt and bitter that I couldn’t look with clear eyes. However, time does heal all wounds and allows you to remember. Remembering that the signs were written on the wall the entire time. Realizing that my ex-husband is just damaged and that there was nothing I did wrong. I harbored anger that didn’t allow me to move forward. Anger not because he cheated on me with every woman on craigs list. Anger because he abandoned me when our son died. No one should have to walk through the death of a child alone. Anger because he beat me down until I didn’t recognize the woman in the mirror. Her light was gone. Laughter was replaced with silence. Confidence gave way to self-doubt. Thoughts she never thought herself capable of thinking crossed her mind. That was the day she knew she had to leave. She had to leave in order to save herself.
Scott was never going to be the man I needed him to be. He was never going to admit his wrongs and to right the course. He would always place the blame on me. “You gained weight. You are not pretty or smart enough. If you love me, then you will understand that I need to sleep with multiple women in order to be happy. You do not satisfy me.” He would try to make up for the harm he caused, yet money doesn’t buy trust or restore self-worth. While the $5,000.00 bracelets, trips, and shopping sprees were nice, they didn’t erase the pain. The pain that I felt when I found his email wide open, and that the driver’s seat was moved in the Prius each morning. Here I thought he was playing world of warcraft all night long. Turns out Scott was warming someone else’s bed and leaving me at home alone.
I still remember laying in the hospital bed after my PE and stroke, I looked over to see him on his laptop. He thought I was asleep; I was wide awake and there he was on craigslist looking for his next casual encounter. He didn’t care that I was fighting for my life, the only thing he cared about was how much the hospital bill was going to cost. His needs and concerns always came before mine. People say “You had everything. You were such a great couple.” Never take something at face value. Peal the layers back and you would have seen a marriage that was broken before it even started.
I remember our wedding day like it was yesterday, my dress was perfect, and everyone was so happy. I was very good at putting on a front at this point in the relationship. I was happy on the outside but on the inside, I was dying. A week before our wedding I went in for an annual checkup and they of course ran the STD panel. Two days before the wedding the nurse called apologizing that they had not called me sooner. My STD panel had come back, and it was the reason for why I was feeling all sorts of horrible. The ex-husband had contracted and lovingly passed chlamydia and gonorrhea on to me. The fact that he did not get sick still escapes me to this day. No one plans for an STD on their wedding day. That was a giant red flag that I ignored while walking down the aisle to the “love of my life.”
A few years after our divorce I found the strength within myself to let go and to forgive him for everything that he had done to me. I no longer wanted to be a part of him and in order to break away I had to forgive him. Forgiving someone is easier said than done. But I had to do it in order to cut the tie that bound us, I decided email form was best. That email took me a few days to write, however I wanted to make sure I listed everything that I was holding on to. I honestly didn’t care if he ever read it, the email was my closure not his. It was my realization that I could not undo the damage he caused, that the wounds though they are healed, the scars will remain. That I could not go back and change the timeline, the outcome would have still been the same or even worse. With each stroke of the keys, I let go, I let go of everything I was holding on to. Forgiving him allowed me to be at peace with everything. I do not regret that my marriage happened and wouldn’t trade the years with Nylan. Just it wasn’t meant to be. We live, we learn a little, and then we get even on Tuesdays.
Forgiveness was step one of getting myself back. The moment I made the decision to let fucking go my perspective shifted. I felt like the weight of 10,000 boulders was lifted from my shoulders and I was actually HAPPY for the first time in years. I no longer had this dark cloud following me. In making peace with Scott, I also made peace with the fact that God choses the strongest women to be the mother of angels. In that peace I realized God knows exactly what is going to happen to us in our lives. He knows every success, every love, every laugh, and mostly he knows every trial. If he did not think we could get through it, he would not bring us to it. The later has brought me more comfort than I could ever begin to describe. God brought me to it, because he knew I could get through it.
And if he can bring me to it and through it, he can do the same for you. There may be times where you feel like the cards are stacked against you. Where you feel like everyone else is getting their miracle and yours is stuck. Or maybe you feel like everyone else is finding the love of their life and you are sitting home alone watching Netflix. All of those feelings are valid. I see you; I hear you, and I know what it’s like to sit in those shoes.
However, one thing I’ve learned is that God… he loves the broken. It’s the broken that he uses. It’s the broken ones that get the crown. If you feel broken, it just means God… he is not done working in you. It means that he is bringing you through it, because he knows you will stand tall on the other side. This process is long I know. It’s a hard process to trust, but in the end it is worth it. Because in the end you will flip your perspective and you will look up with a peaceful heart and say, “wow I survived that! so what’s else do you have instore for me.”
And I know what you are thinking “AJ that’s all fine and dandy, but I’m in the thick of it right now! What about me!?” I got you, don’t worry. I know what it’s like to be so deep in the pit that you cannot see the sun. I know what it’s like to wake up with fear in your heart and tears in your eyes. I too had trouble trusting the process. I too had doubts. I too wondered, “how could God bring me to such a terrible place?” A place that I rather only exist in fiction but my wounds tell me we belong in the biography section. Everything good and bad happens for a reason. We may not realize this in the right here and now, but someday it will make sense. Some day you will look back and think “I am one badass bitch who is not to be messed with.” But until that time comes, just know that I struggled too and little by little I came out on the other side and so will you.