I feel like I have to put a few disclaimers out there before I even begin to write this. This is such a serious topic so I feel a sense of responsibility to get a few points across before I tell my story:
1.) I’m not saying medication is right or wrong. I’m simply telling you MY story.
2.) I’m not making an excuse for bad behavior or the actions of those around me. Who’s perfect? We are all learning and hopefully, doing the best we can.
3.) I’m not a Doctor and I’m not diagnosing anyone else.
4.) Not everyone gets through this. My reasons for sticking it out has absolutely nothing to do with anyone else’s story.
Forgive me if this story is all over the place. If I edit it, I know I’ll second guess myself and decide to pull information. I don’t want to do that. I’m writing this in hopes that it helps someone or in the least helps you hold back judgment when you see others dealing with it.
By now you may have noticed that I base a lot of my business and advice around self-care. I even got sick of using the words, “self-care” but couldn’t find anything else to replace it with.
Five years ago, I made my first REAL New Years Resolution and I committed to doing something that was good for myself every single day. Even if it was just drinking water, I was so desperate to live, I knew the only way I could continue to be a good mother was to encourage myself and be my own best friend. Little did I know, this New Year Resolution would save my life and bring me back.
I’ll rewind and tell you what led up to this self-discovery. Pure hell. Well, it wasn’t all hell, if I’m honest. But numerous events led up to my “rock bottom.”
My parents divorced early on (I think I was 4 months old when my mom left). My father moved in with my grandparents where my sister and I were raised. My father then moved out when he found his wife but he always lived close by until later years. We continued to live with my grandparents where I enjoyed being. Honestly, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I think much of who I am is credited to the fact that I had three parents who shaped me. For some reason, as little as I can remember, I felt like I was a mistake. I was only four months when my mom left so in my little mind, I clearly wasn’t meant to be. I never voiced this to anyone. My mom would come around during different seasons of her life. Most visits weren’t pleasant and I saw and felt things that little girls shouldn’t. I won’t rehash that because I don’t believe in blaming our parents. The best thing my mom ever did for me was leave me. I just wished she had stayed away.
I was raised to be fearless. My grandfather, grandmother, and father are all fearless in their own way. Grandma, a little more cautious (ok, paranoid for our wellbeing) but none the less, fearless. I was taught to take the bull by the horns. Heck, even my mom is fearless. It was just apart of me. And it did me well. I had moments in elementary school of feeling weak but for the most part, I grew up feeling pretty confident and feeling like I could accomplish anything I was willing to work for.
I married young and though no one is perfect, it was me who wanted to leave the marriage. I tried to stay for my children and to honor my commitment but I knew that marriage was not meant for me. I went on a drive up to the mountains with my dad one day and while I had a moment to myself, I stood at the edge of the cliff and thought, “This is my out. If I slip and fall, I won’t be disappointing my family by divorcing my husband and I won’t be the mother who broke up the home.” I then realized enough was enough and the fact that the thought of suicide crossed my mind, it had gone too far. The way I felt in my marriage didn’t need to be justified to anyone in my family. I knew staying for the kids would instead create more problems for them. The burden I felt leaving is something a lot of people don’t talk about. It’s always better to leave than to be left, right? Wrong. I was affecting my children and walking away from someone who was so in love with me. But I wasn’t in love and I felt like I was cheating myself. The thought of living in a loveless marriage started to cripple me inside. Leaving wasn’t easy. My family was angry with me and knowing I disappointed them made me feel so small.
A lot of things happened that I won’t bore you with, but being me and sometimes stubborn (and fearless) I packed up my two babies and moved out of state. I probably wouldn’t have done it the way I did but it’s like a band-aid… sometimes you just have to rip it off! I was done. I created a life for myself and my kids in a new place. Somehow, it worked out. There were times I had a great job and other times when I didn’t know how I was going to pay rent the next day. I learned quickly that all I needed was me and God. Having two little people staring up at you asking what’s for dinner, makes you figure it out. I was happy. Me, my small children, my small apartment, everything was in order. I was always broke but I was so happy. I was in control. If I needed something or wanted something, I found a way. I always got what I wanted. I know that may seem like a horrible thing to write or say out loud but it was true. I just always found a way. I believed in “the power of NOW.” My children were happy, I was happy, the end.
Now, enter, “new husband.” Isn’t this where everything always gets complicated?! 😉
I remarried to my now husband, David. He was more than perfect. I fought it at first. I kept telling myself he wasn’t, “my type” until I realized, “your type” sometimes means nothing when you love someone. Everything is (and should be) perfect in the beginning so I won’t bore you with all the reasons I fell in love with him.
Here’s where things got a little messy… I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder. I had problems with pain since I was in the first grade and my grandmother took me to numerous doctors but no one could explain it. I went to see chiropractors weekly until I was 16 and decided driving around and working were more important than taking care of my pain. Knowing what I know now, that pain I felt was much more than a little girl should ever have to deal with and had much to do with my emotions than what was known back then. I started taking medication for my autoimmune disorder and that quickly turned into needing another prescription for another symptom. Pretty soon, I was on multiple medications including pain medication, antidepressants and I was overweight and unhappy. One thing I had was a husband who was still so in love with me.
We decided to grow our family and so I got off all medication. Actually, That’s a lie. I changed medications and had one of the scariest experiences I had ever had. I tossed out all meds and vowed not to even bother anymore. I DON’T RECOMMEND DOING THIS but for me, I dealt with it. I had seen my mother on drugs and was raised to never, ever, allow yourself to be dependent on anything (or anyone). I never got addicted to pain meds because I was too paranoid to do so. I thank God for that because now looking back, I had access to so many things that could have ruined my life.
After waiting for what I thought was long enough to be off medication, we tried for a baby. Getting pregnant was easy for me. But I learned quickly, holding my pregnancies wasn’t. I lost two babies in my second trimester and one in my first. I thought I was done trying but my husband asked me to try just one more time. I agreed but told myself that if I was going to put myself through that kind of pain again, I had to try my absolute best to make this happen. It was all or nothing. I started taking very good care of myself. I mostly ate raw for a few months and did everything possible to be healthy. We then decided after about 8 or 9 months, to give it another try for the fourth time. Praying helped me deal with anxiety and the fear of losing another baby and once I got into my third trimester, I felt like I had won the lottery.
We thought we were good. Everything was going as planned. Wrong again. I lost my job, my husband was out of the Marine Corp and couldn’t find a job that paid enough to support all of us. He was going to college full time and working two jobs to barely make ends meet. We had eviction notice after eviction notice. Oddly enough, I was still happy. I think I was happy because I wasn’t afraid to find a way. Been there, done that. What I didn’t understand was just how different my husband and I are when it comes to financial situations. By the grace of God, someone heard that my husband was having a hard time and called him to offer him a job in this small town I had never been to. He accepted it on a Friday and told me about it on Saturday. He was gone by Sunday night.
To say I was “upset” was an understatement. I was 8 months pregnant and my husband moved 9 hours away. Our minds thought very differently. I was ok with trying to figure it out and being broke while doing so. I wasn’t ok with separating my family. All my husband could think was, “I need to support my family.” All I thought was, “There goes my family.”
I carried my precious little boy full term and gave birth to a healthy little human. I felt like I had won the lottery again. I did it. My prayers worked. Again, I always got what I wanted. That’s what I always told myself.
I should be happy, right? God blessed me with the baby we had been praying for. I was SO HAPPY. And then my husband left again after his leave was up. I still managed but went forward with making plans to move to this small little unknown town so we could be a family again. This wasn’t as easy as I had planned. My ex-husband had eventually followed me out of state to be closer to our children. And now I wanted to follow my current husband out of state? He wasn’t having it. He said “no.” And there was nothing I could do about it. I was told I could legally move out of state to be with my husband and new baby, but I wouldn’t be able to take my other children with me.
I understand what the Bible says about putting your husband first and I understand the importance of having a healthy thriving marriage for the sake of your children. But I could NEVER leave any of my children. My ex-husband wanted to take them and he would allow them to visit me in our new town. It wasn’t okay with me for many reasons. I told both my ex-husband and my current husband that I would not be leaving without my children and so I chose to stay.
Really, I was buying time. I was trying to figure things out. How could I keep my family together? My husband would come to visit every two weeks for a weekend but with a colicky baby and two children involved in many activities, I wasn’t the peppiest wife when he came home. Instead, I saw it as an opportunity to finally get more than 2 hours of sleep. This and the distance started to take its toll on our marriage. Everyone was unhappy.
Then, it got worse. I was served with papers stating that I was trying to kidnap my children and leave the state. At first, it seemed like a joke. Kidnap? I was sitting there breastfeeding my infant with a c section wound that was not healing, and I was kidnapping my kids? I quickly realized this was far from a joke. I didn’t understand why my ex-husband would accuse me of doing this. I tried to figure out a plan and went on a mission to straighten things out. However, in the midst of it all, I couldn’t sleep because my insides were shaking so badly and I started to lose so much of my hair that people often thought I was going through chemo. Everything got so complicated that my husband decided our marriage should just end and he informed me that he wasn’t coming back to our state to live. It was as if one thing after another was crumbling and I had no idea how to stay above water. So I hit my knees. I prayed just like I prayed for my baby boy. Almost every minute of every day, I prayed. Then, I got a knock at the door and it was my ex-husband. I could see the sincere pain in his eyes and so I let him in. He explained how scared he was to lose his relationship with his children after just losing his wife to cancer. So he panicked and with the nudge from his lawyer, said I was kidnapping our children. Now, looking back, I completely understand his pain and know that it was God that led him to tell the truth. He made a deal with me and allowed me to leave the state to live with my husband only until we got back on our feet.
Everyone was excited to move. Not because we were excited about where we were going, but we missed being a family. I thought I had won YET again! Prayers answered, this was going to be a new beginning. It was actually the beginning of what felt like hell.
We moved quickly and then quickly realized that many things were swept under the rug. I felt happy AND miserable. I left everything I had established. I was in a tiny town where things felt very different. I would be ok, I had once packed up my two babies and moved to a new city so moving to be with my husband in a small town would be a piece of cake! It wasn’t. My baby slept maybe two hours a night at a time, my husband had zero patience, and I had two kids that needed attention because they were adjusting to a lot of changes, and my hormones were all over the place.
I was miserable with myself. It was as if everything from the start of losing the first baby to my husband leaving, to my ex-husband making accusations, to figuring out a way to pay for a move and pay legal fees, etc suddenly hit me. I thought I had won! And here we are, all of our family together, and my husband still wasn’t happy? I had done ENOUGH. I was tired. I am almost positive I had postpartum depression but I saw REAL reasons to be sad so I didn’t give it the attention it may have needed.
I’ll leave all of the juicy details out, but literally, we had a huge blowout and the next day I called my husband to see where he was because he didn’t come home from work. He was sitting in a parking lot thinking. My response went something like, “oh please, quit crying and come home.” He did come home. And then he started packing his things and told me, “I just don’t love you anymore.”
“Hurt people, hurt people,” took on a whole new meaning to me. All I could think was, “I was fine until you came around. My stuff was together. We were fine. Then I go through three miscarriages for you, lose my hair for you, figure out a way to move to be with you, leave everything to live in this small town, for you, and NOW after two months, you decide you don’t love me?” I was beyond pissed. And like most painful situations, you go through a rollercoaster of emotions. I packed up the house in about 20 minutes, went and unenrolled my children from their schools, packed up the car with whatever fit, and told him to kiss the kids goodbye because we were going back home. A part of me wanted him to beg me not to go because I didn’t want to go. But he didn’t.
I made a pit stop at my grandparents’ house and emotionally let loose. My grandmother stayed up with me talking to me about the importance of family while I mostly cursed my husband. My grandfather did what he did best, made sure my car was safe to continue the drive. I could see the pain in his face without him saying a word. I will never forget the phone call I had with my husband while I was at my grandparents’ house. I still wanted him to beg me back. I was only 3 hours away, it wasn’t too late. Instead, out of frustration my husband yelled repeatedly, “What don’t you understand? I don’t love you!” It felt as though I had been punched in the stomach over and over. I lost it. I turned around and my grandfather had been listening to me the entire time. “Just take it easy. Just take it easy,” he said calmly.
Here I was, completely out of control, in front of the man who taught me self control. The man who stressed the importance of self-control to me my entire life. His sad eyes and his pat on the back made me feel like I had disappointed him. I knew he was trying to comfort me but all I felt was shame. My grandmother somehow talked me into not leaving. She made me put my pride aside and told me to turn around and go fix my family. I was so pissed. ME? Fix it again? I was so tired of fixing things. But I listened to her. I drove home (only after driving 5 hours past my town and getting lost). I figured I would at least give myself time to properly move instead of yanking my kids out of school. Talk about embarrassing when you have to go and enroll your children back into school…. at least I’m here to laugh about it.
The train wreck continued. Except it got more and more complicated. I felt left. Everything I had ever felt from my mother, I felt with my husband. I can now see it, but back then I didn’t. I was unwanted. A lot of things seem like a blur but I had spiraled out of control during the first few days of coming home. All I could hear were his words, “What don’t you understand? I don’t love you anymore.” At one point when he came to visit the kids, the sight of him sitting there smiling like everything was ok, hurt so badly I left the room. I couldn’t stand to see him. I lost control of my emotions and he walked in. Lots and lots of fighting words. Painful words. In front of him, I grabbed an old bottle of prescription meds and went to the bathroom. He knew what I was about to do.
I only remember my thoughts. I was sitting on my bathroom floor for a long time. Just crying, holding the bottle of pills with a bottle of water by my side. I was embarrassed to be me. My second marriage was going to be another failure. I brought a life into this world just to be blindsided. My own mother didn’t want me, why would I think my husband would stick around? Words that had been said to me while growing up were replayed over and over and over. I was a failure to my family. We were the fearless ones! And there I was, my world a mess on the bathroom floor.
What stopped me? First and foremost, my children. Even though in that moment, every part of me just wanted the mess to stop spiraling out of control and I felt like I had no other way to end the pain. I couldn’t leave my kids. It was a huge fight inside of me. What will I be teaching my children? I thought about the pain my grandmother would feel. I thought about the lessons my grandfather had taught me and giving up was never a lesson I was taught. I was so angry at myself for not doing it. I kept trying to reason with myself and tell myself that everyone would understand. And then something clicked.
I saw myself and my weakness. Something I didn’t want to be. Something I knew I wasn’t. I got so angry. I was furious that I had let someone take my power away. I was now unemployed, overweight, crying on the bathroom floor wanting to end my life….? Why…? Why was I doing this? How did I get here? No one was coming to save me. Not my husband, not my children, not my friends, not my parents. It’s just me and God again, on the bathroom floor. I prayed for the strength to be still. And God gave me that strength. Moment by moment. It was not my decision to make. If I could get through one more moment, I would be ok.
The next few days were painful, to say the least. I didn’t know what to do so I ran. I packed the baby in the stroller and I ran. I ran for hours at a time because it forced me to breathe. I had so many embarrassing, painful moments that make me cringe. But, I also now realize that most of us have or will have these moments. The teller at the bank asked me how I was doing and I blurted out, “My husband left me in this town!” And then cried in front of everyone. I knocked on a neighbors door that I didn’t know very well just to ask her what there was to do in this small town and told her my husband left me. I had just gone back to a very dark place and I figured if I was in front of someone, I would be ok. I was in yoga class and the instructor approached me after class and said, “I notice you rarely breathe. Is everything ok?” I burst into tears and also told her my husband left me, right there in the middle of the gym.
I gave myself a timeline. I remembered a Native American saying that went something like this: We will gather to hear your story three times. The fourth time, we turn our backs because it no longer serves you. I allowed myself to cry only once a day and only if I was in the shower so my children wouldn’t hear me. Then, I would only cry three times a week. And then I would cry once a week. Soon, I stopped crying.
I immediately got back on track. By this time, we had been separated for about 3 months. I had a lot of time to think and process everything. I was in pain but my pain was going to be mine to own. I don’t agree with my husband’s actions but I also see the role I played. The role in which I was so prideful on not medicating myself, that I didn’t want to acknowledge that something was indeed wrong and I was dealing with more anxiety than my body could handle. My husband and I lived separately but he showed up one day and sat next to me in church. I still didn’t want to talk to him. But He kept showing up. And soon after we both agreed to go to counseling while we lived apart.
January came around and I was more irritated about the gym being packed than anything. And then I started thinking about New Year Resolutions. What could I improve on? Should I even do this new year resolution thing or would it just be something I forgot about by March? I started to reflect on what it was I NEEDED. And then it hit me. I never ever wanted to be that woman on the floor crying over a man again. I never want anyone to take my power away. I never want to feel unloved again. How would I ever get back to being the independent, powerful woman I was when my husband met me? By loving myself. At that moment, SO MANY things occurred to me. Big and little. I literally lost myself in someone else and it had nothing to do with who my husband was. I neglected myself and my needs. From the simplest actions to the larger aspects of my marriage. I used to care about my sleep and have a little bit of a PJ obsession. Before my husband, I had nightly rituals before going to bed and I always felt beautiful sleeping in those beautiful pjs. He didn’t care about those fancy things, so I didn’t do them. Before him, I lit candles and read books before bed. Instead, I sat on the couch with my husband and watched TV until we passed out. I used to meditate, but I stopped being alone long enough to have quiet time. Everything was in order in my mind, until my life spun out of control and it was because I didn’t care for myself enough to let myself see that I COULD deal with whatever was thrown at me. I had been doing it for years! But I got lost. Everything was about my husband’s happiness. Everything was about my children’s happiness. I completely forgot about myself until I was crying out for help. I let it go too far.
My New Year resolution was to do something that made me feel beautiful every day. Even if that meant just getting water in my body. I did this every day for an entire year. I never missed a day to reflect on what I did to acknowledge my own well being that day. Not only did this make me feel loved, but I was also a better mother and I was a better wife. My happiness didn’t depend on my husband. It was mine. I didn’t need a husband. I didn’t need him to provide for me. I didn’t need anything that I couldn’t give myself. My husband moved back in and I would be lying if I said everything was a fairytale after. No. We have our ups and downs. But, we are better today than we ever have been. We have gone through trials and tragedy and survived. He doesn’t have to carry me along for the ride. We carry each other. We take turns being the logical one. We take turns falling apart. Most of all, I can honestly say, “I don’t need my husband, I want him.” I think I needed to feel my broken heart so I would be forced into dealing with the crap I had held onto for so long.
It’s nice to be spoiled, to be treated nicely, to be given gifts, etc. Who doesn’t want that? The difference is, I don’t need that. It’s me and God. I gift myself. I take care of my own wellbeing. I treat myself. I love myself. I care for myself. If I want something, I figure out how to get it. If I need alone time, I give it to myself. If I need to feel beautiful, I make it happen. My happiness is my responsibility. And so, when I see flowers, I buy my own flowers. Everything else my husband does for me is just the icing on the cake. And that’s who I was raised to be.
Every year since, I continue taking my New Year Resolutions seriously. It’s not about a smaller waist line, its about improving my wellbeing overall. I focus on self improvement and self awareness. This has not only changed my life for the better but its made my life a lot easier. I’ve gone through a lot since my first resolution. Ive started a business, I’ve been hurt, my husband had a stroke and had to learn to walk again, Ive lost an important person to cancer, the list goes on. The difference? I know more about myself now than I did 5 years ago. I can process things much more clearly. I’m ok being alone. I love myself for the intentions and integrity I have. I no longer feel the need to stay in relationships or friendships if they don’t serve my soul. I no longer feel the need to explain myself. I don’t have a problem saying “no” anymore when I’ve taken on too much. And all of this has come from the yearly commitment I make to myself, for myself. When you start to value yourself and truly love yourself, life just gets easier. Not because obstacles don’t come your way, but you learn to trust your own ability to overcome those obstacles.
I hope my story gives you hope if you ever find yourself on your bathroom floor feeling unloved. There is hope. It’s not the end unless you decide its the end. That moment may feel unbareable but that moment wont last forever. Turn your attention to yourself. Start with you. You may be all you’ve got and that’s ok. Anyone can leave you. You have to be OKAY with that. It’s a tough journey to self discovery because it forces you to deal with painful issues. The prize is worth it and hitting your knees is free. It’s you and God. Buy yourself the flowers.