When envisioning my adult life growing up, divorce wasn’t in the picture. It never is. But it happens. And it happens for all kinds of reasons. I want to share my story, because I know other women have gone through, or are living through, a similar situation to mine.
I became pregnant with my daughter when I was a 20-year-old sophomore in college. She is such a blessing in my life and my family’s, but it was unplanned, and at the time, scary. I didn’t know what to expect or how to be the kind of mom I had growing up. But, I learned, and I did the best I could with the support of my family and friends.
I married my daughter’s father, my first serious boyfriend, a year and a half after she was born. Fundamentally, we were not right for each other—so the relationship was an emotional roller coaster. There were certainly highs, but they came with frequent, plummeting lows.
No one really knew how low the lows were. I told my mom tip-of-the-iceberg stuff on occasion, but I was guarded with the details to protect his image and mine. I wanted people to like him, and I didn’t want anyone to worry. I knew there were red flags deep inside, but I rationalized them because mostly, I wanted my daughter to grow up in a nuclear family.
From my wise 21-year-old viewpoint, I truly believed marriage would remedy our issues. I was naive. The issues we had only intensified. “Marriage is tough,” I told myself. “This will pass, though, we’ll get through it.”
I had grown accustomed to many of his concerning behaviors, but the stress of the marriage invited a Pandora’s box of new unhealthy habits.
The instability at home rocked me. I became anxious, emotional and dramatic behind closed doors. Even though it wasn’t a happy, healthy marriage, I wanted it to work. I told myself, “We just have a different type of marriage. This is my cross to carry in life.”
We all have a voice inside of us. At times, it can be quiet and at times, it can be loud. Mine was stifled and quiet for a long time, but it was there. It never fully leaves us. “This is strange. This doesn’t feel right. This is scary,” my internal voice would say. I thought I could take the manipulation, drunken arguments, name calling, degrading comments and physical altercations.
What was intolerable to me was my daughter having a front row seat, and at times, being used as a pawn.
After more than two years of marriage, disregarded pleas for couples therapy—and the situation not improving—I had a full-out breakdown. I couldn’t sleep, eat or function. I wasn’t at work for days.
Your mind is very powerful, but when you don’t listen to it, your body will take over and let you know what’s up.
It was a wake-up call.
My voice broke through the walls that had stifled it, “Enough is enough. I CAN’T DO THIS ANYMORE. I can’t let this happen to my daughter anymore.” I came clean to my family and my close friends. And then I did it.
I filed for divorce.
A huge weight was lifted after I filed. The road ahead was tough for a while and a lot of healing had to take place, but I came out on the bright side. “You can do this,” I said.
And I did.
The divorce was finalized, and today I’m happy and healthy. My daughter spends time with me, and she spends time with her father. I’m now married to a wonderful man who loves me, but more importantly, respects me. My daughter gets to see what a truly healthy relationship looks like. This is the marriage I envisioned growing up. I deserve it – every woman does.
My advice? Whatever you’re going through in life, listen to that voice inside you. It’s usually right. Don’t head down a path because it’s expected or socially more acceptable. Take your life into your own hands and build up the courage to use that powerful voice inside of you!