July 29th, 2021

Disappointments Part 2of2

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The Beach Trip

My 2 daughters and my 16-year old’s best friend took a short girl’s trip to the beach a week ago. Of course, this trip was not without any issues. Story of my life. We stopped for breakfast on the way. The lady at the drive-thru handed me our drinks and I gracefully dropped the very large strawberry lemonade right down the front of me, and ice was puddled in the floorboard beneath the foot peddle of the car. And there was a line of cars behind me. The lady kindly gave me a rag to start soaking up the mess and fixed me another drink.  I carefully drove my car to the nearest parking space. My girls looked at me nervously and wide eyed, just waiting for me to lose it and have a meltdown. This was the first time that I had been on a trip without another adult, without my husband to help me with the kids.  The beach was always our thing, that we did as a family each year.  I was too emotionally exhausted to get angry or cry. I simply wiped up the mess and drove towards the beach. I was not going to let this ruin our trip.

We finally reached the beach and drove around for another 30 minutes looking for a parking space. My options were to pay $20 to park across the street in the parking deck and walk with the heavy cooler, pay $10 for 2.5 hours of maximum parking time, pack everything and everything up and move again, or pay $40 for all day parking right off the beach.  Now I remember what was so great about the extra help or a man to do the heavy lifting. So, I paid the $40. That hurt because I’m a thrifty spender but again, at this point, I just didn’t care.

The waves were huge because a hurricane had hit 3 days before.  The shells were monstrous, plentiful, and fully intact. I’ve never seen anything like it. After about an hour of picking shells, I sat down in my chair to relax and listen to music on my phone. That’s when I say it,” the text” …From My husband. It simply stated in so many words that he missed us, all of us. That he knew we had a troubled marriage, but he still loved me and no matter what we were always going to be his family and one day he hoped we could be friends. I was stunned. It had been almost 2.5 months of either silent treatment, no contact, or just angry/resentful behavior from him; and now this. Why now? Was it because we were at the beach? Did it seem like we were moving on without him? The thoughts raced through my head. I read it at least 5 more times before responding. I texted him and reminded him that this was a separation. A time for us to work on ourselves as individuals and try to become two healthy, whole, healed people. I explained to him that more than anything I wished we could be a family but we both had to be willing to go to therapy and work. I told him if he was ready and willing to do that, I would go. But there was no response from him.

The beach trip was exactly what we needed. A fun, girls’ trip. Some one on one “family” time. When we got back, we began preparing for my daughters sweet 16 party which was only 3 days away. Friday evening, we decorated the venue. I thought about what my husband had texted me.  So, I made the effort to show him that we were still open to being a family.  I texted him to remind him of the time of the event and the address to the venue. But he texted me back that he would not be attending. He also sent our 16-year-old a message apologizing to her and telling her that he was not going to be attending. He promised to make it up to her. She came to me crying and showed me the text. You see, my husband came into our lives when my son was 5 years old, and my daughter was 2. He had raised my children for the past 14 years. Their biological father was in the military and although he was involved in their lives, he lived out of the country or on the other side of the country and absent. I felt for her.  He had broken her heart. How do you explain to a 16-year-old that the man who had raised her and she looked up to as a Father for her entire life was not going to show up for her on such a special day? I realized that the text message he sent me about us always being his “family” was just another empty promise. He was still only thinking about himself and his feelings.

The Epiphany

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A few days later, I had a Therapy appointment.  I was able to talk to my Therapist about all that had happened. I asked her opinion about what that text message from my husband may have meant. She explained to me that some people when they feel that their significant other is moving on, will try to “regain some control” by reaching back out to them. This was confusing to me. Why would someone do that? What are they trying to accomplish with this? I asked her if she thought he meant any of it? She said that sometimes they do it because they mean it and sometimes, they do it to feed their own ego. Like saying, “She still loves me”.  I asked her what I was to do with this information? Do I still hope for change?  She simply said, “actions speak louder than words”. “What have his actions showed you”? That’s when I realized. Our entire marriage was full of either empty promises with no follow through or blatant refusal to do anything he didn’t want to do. There was very little action or wanting to make any sacrifices in our marriage. It was that moment that I realized and decided, I was done waiting for him to change. I had waisted too many years on hoping and waiting for him.

I’m ready to move on with my life.

July 25th, 2021

Disappointments Part 1 of 2

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I wish I could say it was an uneventful few weeks, but I guess I'm just not that lucky.  

It all started with my girls returning home from visiting family for the Summer.  I picked my oldest daughter up from the Airport. The next day I was supposed to meet my mother-in-law 3 hours away to pick up my youngest daughter. My Mom was supposed to meet me at 8 a.m. at my home and drive with me to pick up my daughter and we had planned to go shopping at Ikea which was nearby.  At the last minute, my mother-in- law called me to tell me she planned a trip to upstate N.Y. to visit family.  So, She asked if I could meet her at 8 a.m. instead of leaving at 8 a.m. (which meant I would leave around 4:30 a.m.). I felt like I had to say yes because we had already agreed to meet, and technically she was doing me a favor by bringing my daughter halfway instead of me driving the 6 hours to her home to pick her up.  So, I agreed.   

I called my mom to give her the news. She understandably explained to me that driving to my home at 4:30 a.m. was too early for her but told me to contact her when I got home and she would come to pick up the girls.  You see, I work the night shift so my parents are helping me by watching my girls now that my husband and I have separated.  I know, you're wondering, why can't he watch the kids?  Well, that's an entirely different conversation. So, later that night I was checking my email and realized that the new mattress that I had purchased was being delivered the next morning between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. Talk about poor planning...Obviously, I can't be in 2 places at once so I had a small panic attack and did what any girl would do. I called my Mom. It did not go how I thought it would go. 

I called my Mom and asked if she would be willing to still drive to my house at 8 a.m. as planned so that she could be at my home when my mattress was delivered. She practically scolded me for not setting better boundaries. She told me that I should have told my Mother-in-Law that I was unable to meet her that early in the morning. I told her that I wouldn’t do that because my Mother-in-Law was doing me a favor by driving my daughter halfway to meet with me, so I felt like I should compromise with her. She then told me that I should call my husband and “tell” him that he needed to go pick up our daughter. I told her I was not going to do that either because he drove her all the way to his Mom’s house and it was my turn to bring her home. She then proceeded to criticize me for not asking for more in my separation agreement so that I wouldn’t be in a position where I had to ask for so much help from others. I was hurt. I cried and became angry with her. Finally, I just hung up on her. I began to pray and ask God for help.

“Man may let you down, but God can never fail. “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in man.” Psalms 118:8

I felt helpless. Like my support team was just falling apart and I had no one to lean on except myself. And then I remembered, this is not the first time that the people I loved and trusted the most had not been there for me when I needed them. There was nothing I could do about this. So, I pulled myself together. I decided to leave my 16-year-old daughter home the next morning for the mattress delivery. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. the next morning and drove the 3 hours to pick up my daughter. She was so excited to see me. And just like that, nothing else mattered. She and I had breakfast and we went shopping at Ikea as planned. Then we drove back home. I called my Mom when I got home and she came to pick the girls up at 4 p.m. that evening. I even bought her the glass jars from Ikea she wanted to put her spices in. However, when I gave them to her, she said, “Thanks, but you only got four”? “I needed more than that”.

I was done.

July 10th, 2021

Be Active Not Reactive

It has taken me almost three weeks to write this blog post.  I’ve typed the post three times and each time I deleted it.  I’m currently struggling with self-blame.  I’ve been working with my therapist on it.  She tells me that I need to learn to have self-compassion.  She keeps telling me that there’s nothing wrong with me.  I asked her if that was something that Therapists said to all their patients?  I asked her, if my husband was the one speaking to her and he asked if something was wrong with him, what would she say?  She told me that if she were treating both my husband and I, she would tell him that he needed to be more patient and kind with me and if he was unable to do that, he would need to rethink whether or not he should be in this relationship.  That made me feel better.  You see, my biggest regret in our 14 -year relationship was the way I reacted to my husband’s behavior.  Because, even though he did things and said things that were hurtful to me, I should have set better boundaries, I should not have allowed him to treat me the way that he did. I should not have allowed him to affect my emotions to the point that I would became reactive. 

This is my life.  And sharing it with others makes me feel vulnerable and it opens up the door to judgment and criticism.  This could either be helpful of devastating to my already damaged self- esteem.  But I’m doing it anyway.  I’m sharing my story so that others out there experiencing the same situation will not feel alone.  This post is about Emotional Reactivity and not giving others power over you.  If only I understood this earlier.  It probably still would not have saved my marriage, but it would have saved me the shame I feel for my own actions.

What is Emotional Reactivity?  It is an impulsive reaction to when we feel stressed, angry, or hurt.  Your body goes into a fight-or-flight state that can cause you to overreact emotionally.  It’s something that happens to all of us.  However, some struggle more than others (ie. Those with mental health disorders like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Personality Disorders).  These disorders also make it harder to control these reactions.  Some people may argue that people react this way to try to control other people.  I disagree.  At last in my experience, I felt like I was losing control and tried hard to regain control of my life that was being torn from me by the person I trusted the most. I explained to her that sometimes my husband would say to me, “you can’t make me do anything”. I would tell him, I don’t want to make you do anything, I just don’t understand why you say you want to be in this relationship but you don’t want to do any of the things that married people do. I offered her my example of what I was feeling when I was “being controlling”.

Let’s say you’re driving in a car with someone and they are speeding and driving recklessly.  You ask them why they are driving so fast.  They don’t answer you.  So, you ask them nicely to please slow down.  They refuse.  You now assertively tell them to stop the car and let you out. They tell you that it’s their car and you can’t “make them do anything”.  You know that you have no control over this situation, because they are the one driving the car.  But you want to get out of the car.  You are trying to re-gain control of your environment by not allowing the other person to hurt you.  So, now you react.  You yell, scream, fight.

I know what you’re thinking.  If someone made you feel this way, why on earth would you stay for 14 years?  Well, here’s a couple of reasons:

  1. It wasn’t always this way.  There were happy times.  Sometimes they lasted days, weeks, months, years.  But they never lasted.
  2. You have a strong religious faith and you believe in the vows that you took.  You don’t just give up on a marriage.  You fight for your marriage.  You do everything you can to make it work.  Even if it kills you.
  3. You’re embarrassed.  This is not your first marriage.  It’s your second.  If this fails, that means that something is wrong with you. So, you go to therapy and you work on yourself.  You know that you can do better.  You are determined to be the best person, mother, wife you can be.
  4. Your first husband left you. While you were pregnant at that. You didn’t even have a say so in the situation. You know what it’s like for someone to give up on you and not even give you the chance to work it out.
  5. Your significant other says things to you like, “I can’t believe you’re doing this to our family” or “I can’t believe your giving up on us”. They make you question the reasons you feel like they have hurt you and tell you that they are insignificant.  They make you doubt yourself and feel as if you’re going crazy.  And you start to believe it.
  6. It’s not easy to separate overnight.  You have a home, children, furniture, bills, bank accounts, cars, animals, etc. It’s difficult to just up and leave an unhealthy relationship.  How do you decide who leaves and who stays?  Who takes what or whom? Plus, the few times you did ask him to leave, he refused. He could care less about displacing his wife and three children, as long as he isn’t inconvenienced. And what are you going to do, call the Police on the Father of your child?

14 years later and no amount of medication, therapy, self help books, bible study, or podcasts have made a difference in the relationship. You are becoming more emotionally reactive.  You flip flop between extreme anger, uncontrollable crying out of frustration, caretaking (excessive pleasing and giving to keep the peace) and avoiding your significant other.  It’s trial and error.  You even flat out ask the him to just tell you how you can talk to them when you’re in a disagreement, but they are unwilling to navigate that either.  That’s when you realize, your Therapist is right.  There’s nothing wrong with you.  Yes, you are flawed but you realize it. You are trying to correct it, you are doing the work and making positive changes.  The problem is that you can’t argue with yourself and you can’t learn to affectively argue with someone who is not willing to also learn and do the work. Both people have to sacrifice, do the work, and make the changes.  

Now the pain, shame, and blame are settling in.  I realize now that by arguing and fighting with my husband, I was allowing him to continue his behavior.  I remember when I was a child, my Mom used to yell at my brother and I when she was angry. We never took her seriously, because she just made threats but she never actually followed through. However, we listened to my Father. He never raised his voice. He told us to stop one time and if we did it again, he would get the switch and whoop us. It’s the same concept. It’s like a parent who just keeps yelling at their child instead of giving them consequences for their behavior.  The child will never take them seriously because the parent only threatens, they never actually do anything about it.  I had no problems setting boundaries, but I would cave when my husband tested my boundaries. I should have stuck to my boundaries and followed up with consequences when he violated them.  If he continued to violate them, I should have separated myself from him and if that didn’t work, end the relationship.  Instead I suffered for years. It not only affected me but also my children. I should have lead by example and taught my children that it’s not healthy to stay in a toxic relationship.  It’s been a hard lesson to learn. All I can do is continue to work on healing. I don’t want to bring this into my my next relationship.  I just pray that I haven’t caused my children any permanent damage.

June 20th, 2021

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Today my husband stopped by to drop his keys and garage door opener off. It’s official, every drop of him has left the house. How am I handling it do you ask? I keep waiting for the second grieving wave to hit me. Like it did Memorial Day weekend when he took our daughter to his Mother’s and I spent the weekend crying and separating all of our stuff. I remember telling friends how much I missed. I went to church and had the prayer team pray over me to take the pain away and asked God to give me clarity on whether I was making the right decision. And then I prayed for my husband that he would find God and change his heart.

Starting New

Today things were different. Today I cleaned the entire house (my house) from top to bottom. I turned the walk-in closet into an office to fill all the empty space. I cleared, cleaned, and repainted the upstairs loft for the roommate I pray will occupy it. I cleaned the bathrooms and emptied all the cabinets and drawers. I moved all of my girls toiletries into my bathroom to fill the other side of the double sink and cabinet that used to hold his stuff. Now there’s also an empty bathroom for the possible roommate. I cleaned and re organized the kitchen, pantry, and refrigerator. I cleared out everything that was his. I went to the grocery store and bought items that I liked.

“Never go to the grocery store hungry”

You know that saying, “Never go to the grocery store hungry”? Well when you’re newly separated, just don’t go to the grocery store on a Sunday or Father’s Day. It was filled with happy families and husbands and wives. Everything was centered around Men. They were even playing sad music. Damn you Wilson Phillips!!! You almost had me with that song, “You’re In Love”. You know the one where she talks about how happy she is her ex found love and now she could let him go? Total B.S. Is anyone really happy when they first find out their ex has moved on? But, I still didn’t cry. I just told myself, this too shall pass. This was not Gods plan for me. God wants me to learn to stand on my own two feet and be happy with me. I put my head up and a smile on my face and walked over to the wine section and started thinking off my next blog post.

What I learned this week

Soo… here I am sharing it with you. What did I learn this week? I learned to rely less on my friends for support. I spoke with my therapist who suggested I watch “Runaway Bride” with Julia Roberts and watch how she finally took time to figure out what she liked and then start writing down what I liked. I read two books on Kindle Unlimited. The first was “Empaths and Narcissists”. I learned that I’m an Empath. I allow my feelings to control me. This is something I really need to work on in the next 12 months. Learning to be happy no matter what the situation. That’s really hard to do. The second is “Breaking up and Divorce 5 steps: How to heal and be comfortable alone.” I’m still reading this one so I’ll have to let you know how I like it.

Go in peace

In closing, I did gift my husband with a Father’s Day card and a gift card from our girls. I hope it brought him some joy today. You never really know how the other person is handling the separation. I know one thing, I have been on very high doses of anti depressants for anxiety, depression, Fibromyalgia pain, and insomnia for the past 5 years. It felt like no matter what I did I still felt out of control and triggered. These past 2 weeks since my husband has been moving out of the house, I have felt more at peace and calm than I can remember feeling in years. I believe that God is telling me that I made the right choice.

May 27th, 2021

Final Separation

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Almost one month from the date I found out my husband was continuing his relationship with the woman that was causing strife in our marriage, we were signing our separation agreement document. Thankfully, we were able to come to a mutual agreement on how to separate our lives, time with our child, and our finances. It was not an easy task and at times it was a struggle to agree on what was fair. I’ve always been the type of person to only ask for what I need and not everything I want. My husband may disagree and say I got everything that I wanted but I don’t believe this to be true.

Take him to the cleaners

When you’re discussing ending your marriage, a lot of friends and family members may advise you to hire an attorney and to ask for everything you’re entitled to. Attorney’s are expensive and it’s my opinion that it’s always better to come to an agreement civilly and not fight for things that just don’t matter. I did take their advice and was lucky to speak with an Attorney that gave me a free consultation. At the end of the day no matter how heartbroken you are over what was done during the marriage or why the marriage ended, wouldn’t you rather walk away with your head held high and your dignity? Treat people with kindness, don’t ask for more than you need, and God will bless you.

What I walked away with

My husband promised me and my children a house to live in. Even though I knew when we were buying this home that our marriage was probably not going to last, my husband said he wanted us to have a house to live in. So, the girls and I are keeping the house. The mortgage is a little more than I can afford but I am searching for a roommate to assist me in paying the bills. I will pay/buy him out of a portion of what he is entitled to for living in the home for 1 year. We split our joint debt down the middle and both agreed to work towards paying off our half. We split the savings and tax returns. We agreed to alternate every other year for claiming our daughter on our taxes. We agreed to joint custody in the way of both having equal say in our child’s life, however I would have her in my custody most of the time and he would have her 2 weekends out of the month (due to his schedule). And he agreed to pay me a reasonable amount of child support based on his salary and time he spends with our child. Because of COVID the government is giving money to families with children, so I agreed to not collect child support from him the months that I receive these payments.

Have compassion/ Have faith

At the end of the day, this is my child’s father. The man I loved for 14 years of my life. I only wish the best for him and I want to set a good example for my daughter. I want her to know that if you trust God, he will provide and make sure you have everything that you need. It is better that your children see you work together and resolve problems without anger. It may not have been possible when you were together, but it can be possible now that you’re apart and have better boundaries in place.

June 9th, 2010

My new found independence it’s both exhilarating and exhausting. Who knew that mowing the lawn could be so painful. My backyard alone is approximately .30 acres. And somehow I managed to break the riding lawnmower that we had when I asked my husband to show me how to use it. I was trucking along and had almost finished the entire side and yard when it just stopped working. I checked the gas, still half full. I thought maybe I had run over something so I tried to push it to move it from it’s current location. Oh my God. What was I going to do when my husband left, there was no way I could push this thing back into the garage on my own. And it wouldn’t be so bad if our house didn’t sit right in front of the community mailboxes where everyone stopped to get their mail on the way home. How embarrassing.

Broken

You would think that this man who I spent the last 14 years of my life with would have a little bit of compassion for me. He just left me outside to try to fend for myself. Of course it broke when I was using it. And it made it worse that I actually had to go inside and ask him to come outside and help me. Like maybe there was a little bit of satisfaction that I couldn’t do it without him. I felt weak and a little sad. I asked him what I had done wrong which in a way this broken lawnmower was a metaphor of the last 5 years of our marriage. Where I had asked the same thing, what had I done wrong. It’s funny how some of us self blame. I watched as he tried to start it up and it began to smoke from underneath. Did I run over something I shouldn’t have? He just said, I don’t know what you did. Then he pushed the lawnmower back into the garage, saying, “well I guess you’ll have to contact someone to come fix it”. Then he just closed the garage and walked back into the house. The coldness in his voice and the rejection of his body language was something I was all to familiar with.

Another Loss

I called my Dad, and I spoke with my cousin. Both of which asked me, “Did you put oil in it? I don’t know. This was the first time I had ever used it. They both schooled me on how it was like a car. It needed gas, oil, and a tune up ever so often. They said, if no one has ever added oil to it, then you may have blown the engine. This was good and bad news. The good news, was that it was not my fault. We had had this lawnmower for about 6 months and this was the first time I had used it. But it was also bad news, because if my husband had never put oil in it, the engine probably was blown and the riding lawnmower was no more. Which mean, I would have to use the push mower to mow the .60 acres our property laid on. My husband was not the most handy man in the world, so this too gave me a little bit of satisfaction knowing that I probably knew something that he didn’t know and that it was actually him that broke the lawnmower due to his failure to upkeep it. But in the end, I was the one who would suffer the loss.

13“For I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

Phillipians 4:13

So here it was 2 weeks after that day and my husband had decided to mow the rest of the front yard. But there was still the backyard that continued to grow into a nice little cornfield. So, I came home from work, I started that push mower that I again, had never used before, and I prayed that it would not break. I started it up on my own, I figured out how to put the gas in it, and I figured out how to tilt the mower enough so that it could chop down the cornfields without clogging the mower to where it would shut off. It took me a little over an hour but I did it. Just before the last drop of light disappeared and the first drop of rain started.

Lessons learned

My arms, my knees, my legs, my neck, and my abs were killing me. I had the first real workout I’ve had in over a year but I had done it. I was an independent woman. I had learned not to let your grass grow to high and drink plenty of water so that you won’t pass out. Now, if I can just learn how to use the weed eater.

April 28th, 2021

The Betrayal

This is the day that will be etched in my mind for the rest of my life. I fought so hard to save my marriage. But that day, was the day I said, “I just can’t do this anymore”. You see my husband of 10 years was having an emotional affair with a woman almost half his age. An affair that he promised was over. But it was that little voice in the back of my head that whispered check the cell phone log. And there it was, multiple calls back and forth. 10 days to be exact. 10 days that he could have been focusing on our marriage but he gave that attention to her. The days that I sat crying while he was glued to the couch and his cell phone and ignored me. The weekend trip to the mountains for my birthday that proved to be one of the worst birthdays I’ve ever had.

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Blame Shifting

He told the therapist that I had betrayed him. That checking our joint cell phone log was an invasion of his privacy. And that texting her to ask her to please respect my marriage was overstepping. He said that she had been the one to reach out to him again because she wanted advice about her relationship. When I asked why he didn’t just tell me, he said it was because he thought I wouldn’t be able to handle the truth. He shifted blame, defended her, and then called me crazy. To say that I completely snapped and lost my shit is an understatement. There was no apology, no accountability, and no ounce of respect for my feelings that day.

Nothing left to give

I had given every drop of physical and mental energy I had to this man. I read my bible, I listened to marriage podcasts, I read self help books, took classes, took antidepressants, and spent thousands of dollars on therapy to fix me so that I could be the best wife to this man. And at the end of the day, none of it could save my marriage. Because my husband was not ready to change. You see, it takes two willing participants to make a marriage work. It’s give and take and both people have to be willing to make sacrifices and changes. My husband did not want a divorce but he also did not want a marriage.

Do I stay or Do I go

At the end of our therapy session the therapist asked us not to make any rash decisions but to take the next week to think about what we wanted to do. Did we want to continue to work on the marriage, separate for a period of time, or separate with the intent to divorce. I couldn’t even look my husband in the eye. I just grabbed my keys and purse and walked out the door and went to work. I was beyond hurt and just could not see how I was ever going to trust him again. I was torn between staying or going. Staying said that I was accepting his behavior and going would mean another failed marriage.

About this Blog:

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Have you ever gone through a marriage separation?

Did you know that in the State of N.C. it takes 12 months before you can file for divorce? It doesn’t matter the circumstances. Maybe there was betrayal, infidelity, trauma, abuse, maybe you were just unhappy, maybe it was amicable. Maybe like me, you spent all your time and energy trying to fix your marriage, trying to change yourself, trying to make the other person happy; that when you finally had enough it was because you didn’t even recognize yourself anymore. You felt empty and dead inside. Who wants to live that way?

Separating from your spouse is not easy. It’s actually gut wrenching and painful. Some people even say that the process of divorce is like grieving a death, except the other person is still living. You built a life with this person and now everything will change. There will be anger, blame, awkward silences, and empty stares. And if you have children, you will probably still see and interact with that person regularly.

“Divorce is probably as painful as Death”

William Shatner

So, why am I writing this blog?

Because we shouldn’t feel ashamed for choosing our own happiness. Not every marriage is salvageable. God is not mad at you, people will stop talking, your children are not doomed, and you are not broken. Have compassion for yourself. You did not fail. You can start over and claim your own identity. Learn to love yourself again.

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This is my journey, start to finish, one day at a time. I will document the next 12 months of my life. I don’t know what the future holds for me. Maybe I’ll be divorced. No matter what the circumstances, I will be praying for healing and searching for true happiness.

Here I go……