Life after separation
Have you ever wondered what happens after separation or divorce? Today we get to hear the story from a lady who has gone through separation, let go the pain and is in the process of healing.
This is my story. I hope that it will encourage someone.
As a young woman desires marriage for love, companionship and family life, I craved for all this and much more. When time was right, I jumped into the marriage bandwagon and quickly found comfort in the warm arms of a romantic gentleman. Though without much income, love overshadowed all the challenges that came our way. We were great in communication and we cared about each other’s emotions. We were a great couple!
The blessing of children
Children came and our home became a lot busier and fuller. We had common friends and relatives who we visited with and so we were part of the larger community. It is with great commitment that we could ask God to expand our horizons financially and career wise, which He did progressively.
Our children were doing well in health and education. We did not lack any basic needs and even enjoyed a few luxuries. We remained very grateful to God for what He continued to do for us.
Just when as a couple we thought we were well grounded in marriage – maybe I was overconfident – cracks started to appear in our marital world. Issues that were previously dealt with conclusively started arising as the reason for the cracks whereas the actual problems were swept under the rug.
There were more late nights than usual. A drink with a friend became two, then progressed to all night. Less and less time for the family, more so the babies would sit till late, waiting just to lay their eyes on daddy.
Emotions were high when it came to communication. I gradually became a bitter woman with that way of life. With nowhere to take those feelings and desires, i internalized them.
I would severally enquire of his whereabouts, only to get the response; “I am finishing with a friend then I come”. Until the unexpected happened. It turned to three days and a switched off phone. This threw me in panic mode.
All kinds of thoughts went through my mind. I made excuses for him, explained to myself all kinds of things, probably a sign of denial about what was actually going on. The disappearance must have been guilt and true to it, after a few calls here and there, he appeared with no apologies.
Our beautiful tower comes tumbling down
Our well-knit family in the face of society, was tumbling down. This trend of personal escapades became the drift. Money was no problem as it facilitated the escapades with his favorite friends and women.
My heart sunk deeper into loneliness, avoiding questions from the growing children. I became more attached to church and more prayerful. I sincerely believed that one day, what was happening in the dark would come to light and God would reward me for the patience and commitment.
Clutching at a straw
I brought in a close friend to tell him a word or two and this did not work. Close relatives tried their way; they also failed, though remained on their son’s side when it came to body language. In 2018, depression hit home. I could no longer enjoy life, I experienced excess fatigue and lack of motivation. I spent most of my time locked up in my bedroom and on social media.
Nothing was easy as I slowly kept my friends at bay. My career was also at risk as I could not get to be productive since most of the days I worked with no motivation and also had constant outbursts to clients.
Reality hits home
The most painful incident was when I checked on his passport and realized that he could come back to the country a day earlier, something he did not do. He managed to make a WhatsApp call pretending to still be away. Other days he would go away for days then check in for a change of clothes and pick some more for next travel. This crushed my spirit completely.
As mentioned earlier, the depression was the wakeup call that I was going down as a person. I could no longer stay in a marriage full of emotional abuse. Our children suffered abandonment and this only sunk me deeper. When I questioned his behavior, I got constantly rebuked; “How can you complain when all is being provided for you? How ungrateful can you be?” I felt unfairly judged.
The greatest challenge to me was walking away. I can confess that it crossed my mind on daily basis but I could not come to terms with it. After being on antidepressants for 3 months, I understood what my triggers were. However much I needed my family intact, the emotional torture was too much draining and frustrating.
One Friday evening after having dinner in my bedroom, I felt a strong urge to do something that the society would never forget though I couldn’t figure out what that could be. That time our children were playing hide and seek downstairs. The urge became overwhelming that I decided to take a walk within the estate.
As I was walking alone, it dawned on me that I was bitter and in denial of the fact that my marriage was no longer in existence. The cheating was on another level.
The following day on Saturday, I located a house and moved out with a few essential items that my children and I needed. “Boom! It had finally happened!” was the thought that kept coming in my mind.
I kept panicking now and then about what would happen when he finds out I had moved. Endless questions went through my mind, aggravating the situation. “How will the children cope? Did I do the right thing? Was there no other way of solving the issue? Is God with me? Did I do the right thing in God’s eyes? Will I make it financially? Who should I call?”
Friends offered me a listening ear but that was it. My relatives were supportive but only to an extent. My children started demanding for answers, wanting to go back. “Please, forgive each other”, my baby would beg.
In tears, I would run away from the questions and keep myself busy with the household chores. I sincerely needed help on how to handle my emotions so that I could support my children positively. We could pray together, yes, but it was not enough to handle the pain, the fears, the possible regrets and the trauma.
My children and I were without doubt unwell. Our appetites were at an all-time low, we had no smiles and we were crying most of the time. This made me seek help for my children. I started with the eldest. She had anxiety issues and would have symptoms such as vomiting in the morning. She would get sick from time to time such that she often missed School.
Therapy –the rescue
Our eldest daughter was also highly irritable which didn’t go well in school especially with her teacher. She was the first to take therapy, then the second born and later myself.
Therapy gave us great grounding. The therapist kept on affirming us on our potential and the achievements/strides made. This brought us hope. I was finally able to grieve the lost marriage. My emotions became bearable.
To my surprise, the children were becoming more independent in identifying their own feelings and pain. We learned to congratulate each other for every achievement made. We purposed to have happy moments indoors.
By this time, each of us was looking forward to the next time we would meet with the therapist. She had become a household name and we could constantly remind ourselves of the targets and assigned homework.
The journey to healing
As a person, I was able to identify with my emotions, became more self-aware and got in touch with the reasons for my pain. I became more appreciative of my past and expressive about issues as it finally opened up into my new normal of peace that I had for a long time not experienced. My self-worth improved and so did my self-esteem.
The focus gradually shifted from addressing my pains to setting goals in my various self-improvement points for example career, family, spirituality and investments. The process is ongoing even though the memories sometimes fill my mind. Sometimes I find myself in low moments and feeling vulnerable.
This, my therapist tells me, is the expected normal as I learn how to cope and find happiness from within me. I have come to learn that stigma starts with self before it is perpetrated from the outside. I still have friends who are married but the secret has been knowing how far to go with the story of my life, keeping a well-guarded space between us.
My children have also learned to be happy with us and not to seek comfort from others or envy them. I hold my head high out of believing in myself. I write down the small achievements and steps at a time and celebrate them. Trust me, put together, they would make an entire week of thanksgiving.
Co-parenting has not been easy. Initially, it was working but as time went by, we would set a date and on the material day, his phone would be off, or he would cancel the last minute. Children are very kind and accommodating. They still call him once in a while, to see if they can secure a date with him.
It is okay for them to keep knowing that he is the best father they could have. I have never showed them that he is a bad person. During my therapy, I learned that it is healthy for them to go through the different emotions like feeling sad, angry and disappointed. I also learned that it is important for them to be allowed to express those emotions so that in future, they will not have pent up emotions.
On my part, I encourage them to talk about their feelings but also at the same time I remind them that they need to keep their identity and look at the strengths that they possess even as they face daily challenges.
Learning to be thankful
Most of my strength has come from knowing that I am not alone. God placed people in situations for His glory. My therapist has been a great pillar in my health and wellbeing. She helped me to see my surroundings differently. She became a tool for healing.
My siblings came in handy and I never lacked joy during family events. My mother prayed for us day and night and became the dietician and doctor that I needed.
There are friends who never went for a day to date without knowing how I am doing. To one of my friends – sms – you have been such a great pillar in my journey. I am unable to narrate my story further. “In tears” God placed you in my path when I needed a hand. You are a selfless. person. There is no amount of money that could buy such a listening ear to listen to the good, the bad and the ugly stories.
I believe that God is still working on me and that some good will come out of this journey. Indeed, there is a silver lining to every dark cloud, a rainbow in every storm. I am learning that I can dance in the rain instead of complaining.