This could be really juicy, right? An unchecked brain can imagine all types of scandals and possible reproachable behaviors. This post could go so many ways! And who hasn’t done something during their marriage that forever affected the relationship? Obviously, I have.
Let me start by saying that I was way too committed to making my marriage work. Is that possible? Yes, absolutely. Don’t get me wrong – marriage takes commitment. You know that. But there’s a healthy way to do it and a “suck your soul out of your eyeball” way to do it. My commitment included putting me and my children in harm’s way and I can’t change that now.
I so badly wanted my marriage to be awesome. I so badly wanted to give my children a happy, lovely childhood in a happy, lovely family. I was willing to do and give up anything to achieve it. And, believe me, I did.
You know, I didn’t realize at the time but I think I kinda saw my marriage as part of some twisted proclamation of triumph over my childhood circumstances. I had grown up in so much chaos and I had always wanted to have a “normal” family. I guess I thought that being married with a cute, little family of four in a cute, little house would prove that I had defeated the dysfunction and done something better. I had made my happy family happen finally!
So when my husband took a sharp turn from goofy, geeky teddy bear to scare-me-shitless sadist, I saw my whole world being engulfed in the fiery flames of dysfunction yet again and I did what came naturally to me: I became a firefighter. I vowed to prevent and put out all of the fires single-handedly while also KonMari folding all of the laundry and writing handwritten Christmas Cards each December!
What did my firefighting look like? Some of it feels embarrassing but I’ll tell you because I like you and I don’t want you to have to do the same things. I read all of the books and blog posts – on codependency, communication, toxic in-law relationships, etc. I wrote so many letters filled with “I” statements, forgiveness that was never asked for, and oodles of encouragement. I bought motivational artwork to hang on the wall. I put up affirmations around the house. I made a “Bad Day Box” for him so that he could reach in for a surprise any time he was upset. Yep. I thought fun greetings cards, candy, and knick-knacks on demand might curve his rage and untreated childhood trauma. 🤦 Lordy. There aren’t enough Snickers bars in the world to achieve that goal. I remember literally being on my knees and begging for him to save this marriage with me. My stinging, tear-filled eyes full of desperation – my simultaneously stuffy and snotty nose swollen and red. He continued to mess around on the computer. I did everything I could think of during my firefighting days. And none of it worked. I shouldered so many tons of guilt for being a “shitty wife” who couldn’t do anything right.
I stumbled into Al-Anon during all of this because it seemed cheaper than therapy. That’s some honesty there. I went to work on my own childhood stuff with my parents but you know what happened? With increased exposure to a great Al-Anon family and personal help from my sponsor, I started to realize that my husband’s behavior wasn’t my fault (just like my parents’ addictions weren’t my fault) and my mind-set started to change.
So what heinous and shameful atrocity did I commit that nailed the final, rusty nail into my double corpse-filled marriage coffin?
Here it is, friend:
I committed to my recovery.
- Thinking that I didn’t deserve his abuse
- Asking for what I needed
- Telling my truth
- Caring for myself
- Saying “No” when I wanted or needed to say “No”
- Working the 12 Steps
- Creating boundaries
Feeling Better. I started feeling better. And that really pissed him off.
The more I took care of myself, the angrier he got.
The angrier he got, the more aggressive he became in every aspect.
The more aggressive he became, the more terrified I felt.
The more terrified I felt, the more I sought solace in my recovery work. This kept going until the situation became an arsenic-laced air fryer and the marriage burnt to a crisp. Stick a finalized divorce decree in it, it’s done.
And you know what?
I wouldn’t give up what I’ve learned and how I’ve grown for anything. Not even a ring on my finger and all the symbolism it held – both real and imagined.
I don’t mean to downplay any of this or make it sound like I just had an easy-to-come by epiphany one day and everything was smooth self-care from there. That is so not even close to the truth. It has been brutal. And my cute, little family of three is still trying to work through some of the dystopian-like aftermath. But I have hope that we’ll get there. I think we’ll be okay. Better than okay even. And do you know why? Because I’ll be damned if the story stops here.
Thanks for being here with me. Talk to you soon. ❤️