When you’re not with the right person, relationships can be hard. When they go wrong they can leave a mark and the mark it leaves may not be only on you.
My parent’s divorce was messy and fueled by cheating, drugs, and alcohol. My sister and I were pawns in their power struggle. My vision of what a relationship was became severely skewed as a result. As I grew up I walked away from good guys because I just didn’t know what to do. I found wrong guys and wrong situations to be a comfort zone. I’d been there and I knew what to expect. At 20 I got pregnant by and married someone fairly fresh out of rehab (always a great idea). I stayed in a marriage for years longer than I should have because I didn’t want my children to go through what I had with my parent’s divorce.
I knew I needed to get out. He had excuses. He blamed me. I was a horrible mother. I was a horrible person. I didn’t take our children to church enough (while he laid at home in bed with a hangover). The house was a mess. I was fat and lazy. I wasn’t allowed time to do things with friends yet he would disappear for days on end for a bender. I was given a pittance for grocery money while he squandered twice as much to spend on drugs. He was a master of projecting all of his own self-deprecating feelings onto me and I fell for it hook, line, and sinker.
I was miserable and I felt like a useless human being. I felt like I would never have a life any different than what I had and did at that moment, so I stayed. I stayed for far too long. I stayed until I got to the point that I felt that killing myself was the only way out.
One day that thought struck me. Suicide was the only way out of a marriage that I didn’t want to leave because the impact that a divorce could have on my children. What were my children seeing NOW that wasn’t harming them?
A father with a drug and alcohol addiction that never really had any time for them.
A mother that felt worthless and that suicide was the only way out.
No respect. No love. No idea of how to have a normal relationship.
Learning all of the harmful lessons I learned as a child.
How was my not being around going to be a good thing for my children? How would it save them from going through what I had as a child as a result of my parent’s divorce? It was bullshit. I left. I saved myself and my children’s future.
Did I do it gracefully and perfectly? Hell, no!
Did my children grow up feeling loved with a mother that learned to care about herself? Absolutely.
My children have all had what I see as normal relationships. I’ve never been concerned with any patterns of self-destruction that I exhibited at their ages. This has been the bar I set as a measure of success. My father grew up in a home with an alcoholic and abusive father. I grew up in a home with an alcoholic father. My children had an alcoholic father. I had to break the cycle for them and I hope….I think….I did it. I have never felt a freedom quite like it.
Abuse comes in many forms and doesn’t always leave black and blues. I don’t ever remember getting any more than a spanking as a child (and it was most likely well deserved), but the impact of my parents out of control marriage left an impact on me that could have lasted for generations just as the impact of my grandparent’s bad marriage and my grandfather’s alcoholism did. My father was never strong enough to break out of its vice-like grip. I am truly thankful that I was able to dig deep and find the strength and courage to free myself and my children from the path we were on.
If you find yourself at the bottom of the pit, ready to give up because you don’t know what else to do…..
Remember that you worthy and you do have the strength to break free ❤