I was just going to write and thank you for your arms around me on Saturday night, your words telling me it's alright to grieve, to feel it. This is for you who, in her wisdom, simply let me cry.
The hurt is like an ocean inside me and there have only been two people who have ever stood there on the shore. Jesus and me, hand in hand. We have stood there often together over the many years. Sometimes I have been on my knees weeping and He has stooped down to comfort me. Sometimes I have been on my face and He has been kneeling beside me, rubbing my back.
I was able to share this ocean of pain partially with my counselor the first time my husband and I separated. It was only partially the focus as it needed to be. We went mostly to the river that pours into that ocean and that is where I found the healing then. For the first time I was able to explore what fed that huge body of pain and I found answers and courage to move on. What strength I had! How full I was of God's Spirit and His comfort and love!
But that was then - nobody has known since about the times I wept before God like I did that night with you. Nobody knew about the times I sat in my closet and just wanted to die. And nobody knew about the times I drew in a deep breath, got up from the floor after Jesus and I had gone there again, and just went on, knowing that it was my responsibility to be a good wife, to love my husband as he was, to take whatever mood he was in, whatever he was thinking, to know that I could never fill him up but be constantly accused of being the one who was somehow responsible for him never being full.
Every accusation, every expression of disgust, every time he let me know I disappointed him, every time he expressed anger toward God and spoke about a philosophy that was so blind to all the riches God had for him, cut me. Each time he raged at my beautiful daughters and told them they were irresponsible, hopeless excuses for human beings, yelled at them, let them down, expected them to fail and then acted like he was the most wonderful father in the world around people filled up the ocean a little more.
Like Mary, Jesus’ mother, I pondered all these things and hid them in my heart. I tried to do the right thing, live my own life in spite of how deeply I felt everything.
I tried to share it with others in the past but it came out as though I was complaining about my husband. It was labeled as emotional abuse and a difficult marriage. The “pat answers” were to follow the instructions in Timothy about having a meek and quiet spirit which would win over my husband. I tried again and again. I went back to God again and again looking for what was missing in me and what I wasn't doing right to win him over, to bring him to God as that passage said. I confronted the fact that I had lost my respect for him and showed it. I knew I was not trusting him. And yes, I did, by my attitude and my actions make him feel guilty as though I was holier than he was. But, in my defense, much of that was unintentional. It was protection against not being enough. It was me going on with my life.
Leaving all of that when I left my marriage was like being let out of a cage and finally getting my dignity back in many ways. It resulted in my feeling beautiful and honorable and strong and in making a resolve to never let his words or attitude hurt me again - never. And I haven't. Ever since.
I was going to find someone with whom I could be myself - and who would recognize my true worth. I knew he was out there and I was ready to spread my wings and fly, even though, as a song that was so applicable at the time says, one wing was broken.
And, immediately, I fell into another man’s path. He was drawn to my vulnerability. We shared the ocean of pain in common. I let him into my heart. You know what happened. The ebb and flow of rejection and fear, again, and, in the end he chose someone else who he said could do more for him than I could. I just wasn't enough.
And the ocean grew.
Part of this fallen world is not being able to share the ocean of hurt, truly, with someone else. No one else can ever really stand there with me - they can only see me going through it, try to feel it as much as possible. That adds to the pain as sometimes it is so overwhelmingly lonely there.
But you were there with me that night, my dear friend, sister. For the first time I just let myself simply feel the pain in someone else's presence. I just felt it. No reasoning. No excuses. No trying to figure it out. I just felt it - as I have so many times before with only Jesus.
I know this is the way of healing. I know that I must spend more time really looking at the river feeding the ocean again. I know the ocean will most likely never diminish in my lifetime but I will always carry it inside of me. However, if I choose, my focus will not be there - it will be on the beautiful sunsets over top of the ocean. It will be on enjoying picnics and volleyball with those who are close to me on the warm sand beside the ocean. Until heaven, it will always be there but it won't always cripple me. My wing won’t always be broken.
I think what I most want in a man is someone who can stand there with me as you do. Not try to change me or fix me but let Jesus do that as He only can. And I want to stand with him beside his ocean, too. Just "be" with him as he can "be" with me. No judgment, no accusations, no criticisms, no blaming, no telling me I must be flawed - just holding me when the pain overwhelms me and doing his best to give me the courage to go on; just enjoying the sunsets and picnics alongside me as I learn to relish life despite the pain.
The rip in my side where divorce tore off of me the man I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with is going to be healed, I know. God will not only heal me but restore me to a place where I am a new person. Piecing back together my shattered heart into something new, different, strong, I will grieve less over the pain. I will come to the place where I notice it less. I may even be able to be thankful for how it contributes to the person I am today. And I will understand it more in others as I will be able, like you, to stand there with them and just let them cry.
Thank you. Thank you so much.
Read more articles by Bernice McDonald or search for articles on the same topic or others.
Sharing with you as I read your article. Yes, time brings restoration and joys you never imagined.
Healing involves letting go also. So does forgiveness, not only for the offender but for our selves.
Shalom, dear lady. Prayers