“God only gives you what you can handle” ……..”Whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”… I’ve heard these phrases many times since I served John. They are always spoken by well meaning people who likely don’t know what to say so they rely on these common phrases…. but these words mean very little when you are living the debilitating moments of life. Over the last two years countless people have told me “You’re so strong”… and all I could think was…No…. I’m so weak. Why don’t you see that? I’m breaking inside.
While a part of me is glad that I gave the illusion of being strong and getting to the other side of this mess unscathed… another part of me finds it extremely lonely that no one really saw how broken I was. How broken I still am. Although I am slowly finding the pieces of myself and putting them back in place, nothing is ever the same once it’s been shattered. I will never be fully healed.
I think everyone thought that once I was able to obtain some physical space from John that things would improve and feel better. I wish it was that simple. After I moved out the fear remained. The struggle of the divorce remained. His desperate attempts to retain some of the control he had held over me for years remained. The only difference was that I could sleep at night without fear that he would sneak up on me in my vulnerable state and hurt me.
We started following the parenting plan which gave John much more time alone with the children than I thought was safe. The first weekend he took the children they sobbed and clung to me. They begged me not to force them to go. I bit my lip, plastered a fake smile on my face and told them how much fun they were going to have with their father. My heart broke as I lied to my children’s faces.
They were scared and they had very valid reasons to feel that way. This man was dangerous and manipulative. I found out later that while they were with him he would hit them and tell them that my home is not really their home. Their only home is the one they’ve lived in all their lives which is the home he continued to live in. He had no care or concern for their mental well being. Everything was a strategic move on his part…. some chess move in his bigger plan of trying to maintain control over the people he felt he owned.
After the children left with their father the emptiness set in. The hole in my gut was all consuming. I felt hollow. So hollow that it was almost as if I felt nothing and yet somehow hurt intensely all in the same moment. I was like vapor…. barely there and dissipating in all directions.
I laid in bed and I stayed there. The moments ticked by but I had no awareness of how much time had passed. I had moments of sobbing and quiet moments where tears gently rolled down my cheeks, but most of the moments I laid there empty and emotionless… being vapor. I imagine this is what depression…. true depression… is.
When my children returned on Sunday night it was as if my purpose in life walked back in through the door and I went back to being the loving and protective mother that I needed to be to help them survive their father with as little emotional scarring as possible. While they were with me I managed to keep the depression at bay, but as soon as they would leave it would creep back in like a dense fog.
Again, I’d like to say that this feeling has gone away. Maybe some day it will… when the children are older and I know that they can defend themselves against John a little better…. but for now it remains. While it has become more faint, it remains. The more faint it becomes though the stronger I become… and I remain.