The Worst 48 Hours of All Time

I have wrestled with this post for two years.  I have alluded to it, danced around it, drafted it, and deleted it. It’s not my only story, but it is an important one of my stories.  And it’s true, and it is worth telling.  Sadly, so many people can relate to it.  Please share it with those people.  Here is the story of how I became a single mother of three.  How I fell apart, and the beginning of my coming back together.

*****

I knew he was gone long before he left.

We had been married for 9 years, some of them happier than others. We had three small children.  I stayed home and took care of the kids, he worked full-time to support us.  We had just purchased a wonderful home.  On the outside things looked wonderful. Things should have been wonderful.

But it wasn’t. Our marriage wasn’t fine. An accumulation of hurts and broken trust plagued me. I was lonely and I was worried.  I was struggling to keep things smooth on the surface, while the truth festered below. I coached myself. “Keep making it look fine.  Do not tell anyone. Be supportive. Nag less. Try harder. Manage it. Be a better wife. Be better.”

Still, I could sense it in my bones. It had been a long time coming; in the words we did and did not share.  In the space between us. I couldn’t put my finger on it.

“What is it? Who is it? What is going on? We can deal with anything if you tell me.” That’s what I said.  That’s what I thought.

He said everything was fine.  He said to trust him. He said not to worry.

He never did tell me. But I would find out soon enough.

On a family vacation in the fall of 2013 I picked up his phone.  It said “I love you.” It wasn’t a message sent to or from me. It confirmed what my heart already knew.  Our marriage was no longer just between the two of us.  I recognized the name of his co-worker. And I called her.  And the outward unraveling began.

Then he walked in. Denial, from beginning to end.  Grabbing the phone, deleting, backtracking.   The smashing of a life, in the instant of a text message.  No longer suspended in the gravity of the lie, little pieces started floating away around me.

The kids were sitting on the stairs, outside of the bedroom door.  They were 3, 5 and 7. I am so sorry they were there. So deeply sorry. I regret that they remember the anger, the tears, and the fear.  They didn’t know what was happening. Their life as they knew it was coming undone.

“Get out,” I said to him.

My hands and voice were shaking, but things were suddenly clear. Months of thinking, worrying, processing and avoiding the truth had prepared me for this moment. I had already known this would be the last time, the last straw.  The final piece of the puzzle snapped into place and I could see it all before me.  I knew what I knew. And there was relief in the knowing.  Painful, agonizing, and devastating. But still clear.

And I said it again, “You have to get out.”

And he did, a small bag on his back. He left. He left because I told him to. He left because he wanted to. He left because he had already left in a thousand other ways. He left because I decided, no more.

No more lies.

No more disrespect.

No more fear of what lurked on the iPad.

No more living with a pit in my stomach.

No more pretending.

No more stifling my own voice.

No more sitting in the pew on Sundays, listening to him preach.

I could take no more.  

But I wasn’t done with our marriage. At least I didn’t think so. I was done with the kind of marriage that we had. Things had to change. Maybe, if everything fell apart, it could be put back together in a healthier, happier, more honest way. I hoped.

The next day my husband and I met with church leadership in a dark and stuffy hotel room, minutes from our home. I was hysterical, and I was so afraid. I knew I was standing on the ledge of sharing something that I could not take back. Something that I had protected fiercely for years. Something that would have serious implications for me, and my children.

The other pastors in the room were kind and calm. Slowly and painfully a partial version of the truth was uncovered.  I wouldn’t know the full truth until months later. I gasped for air, for direction, for anything that could ground me. Eventually there was nothing left to say.

But I wanted to know what was going to happen next.  Someone please tell me what is next.  What do I do now?  One of the other pastors, and a friend of ours, said to me, “He may have to lose his job, to save his family, Dana.” Yes, I thought.  Maybe.

If only it would have been that simple.

The next day I sat with my mom at my kitchen table when I got the phone call. The church made a decision.  They too, said “no more.”  My husband was fired immediately.  We lost our income that day, our health insurance at the end of the month. Their decision honored me. I knew they did the right thing, but a really hard thing. They were very sorry. They would help me and the kids.

Just 48 hours, and everything had fallen apart.

*****

In the season that followed I barely stayed above water. I waded through the motions. I kept going only with the incredible love of my family and friends. My days were filled with discussions and counseling, trying to make sense of the senseless. My nights were filled with tears; mine and my children’s.  It was a dark time.

As weeks became months, my lessons became clear:

  • I cannot convince someone else to change.
  • I cannot change anyone except myself.
  • It is incredibly humbling to need and ask for help.
  • There are no boundaries to the fierce and devoted love of a mother for her children.
  • The safety net of a caring and committed community cannot be underestimated.

It also became clear that my marriage was not going to be saved. I wasn’t going to get an amazing redemption story. I was going to get a divorce.

The tasks in front of me were monumental. There were the practical struggles; moving, going back to work, single parenting, new schools.  And then there were the matters of the heart; grief, fear, anxiety, shame, loneliness and anger.

I kept going because of my kids. They needed me, and I needed them.  I would do what I had to do, if only for them.

Slowly, we made progress. Small, insignificant steps at first. The kindness of friends, the unwavering love of grandparents sustained us. One obstacle and one risky decision after another, but still we kept on.  Eventually I realized I wasn’t just doing it for the kids, but for me too.  For all of us.

*****

It has been almost four years now. And there are things that are still hard, but we are okay.  Actually we are way better than okay. We have a new life.  A full, joyous, wild, adventurous and imperfect life.  A healthier life. And we will continue on.

This is my story.  The story of a woman who said no more.  Thanks for joining me.

XO,

Dana

 

 

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “The Worst 48 Hours of All Time

  1. You are an AMAZING woman, Dana, and so incredibly brave for sharing your story. You are thriving and so are your kids…other women will be so blessed to hear your story and know they too can thrive.

    Like

  2. Hi l remember emailing you 4 years ago when your blog started l was you sat on my settee in a house in a small market town in Lincolnshire England .l had had cancer my story similiar to your own only l was later to find out that in 22yrs of marriage my husband had 4 affairs. I am now 8 yrs into my journey l put one son through university and my youngest through college .Both are now married one an mechanic and the other a primary school teacher .l had no financial support from my ex it was as though his role ended the day he left his boys were left to me to feed keep a roof over their heads clothe them all the usual stuff a parent does.Well both my boys are now married and l have met a wonderful man .I was single for 7 and half yrs thought l was on the shelf well l am now 47yrs old lol.One day a friend said to me its time to look up Paula or you will miss him l looked at her and laughed but there he was in costa coffee the new start of my life the man to restore me the patient man who puts up with all my doubts my lack of confidence my non belief in myself.l have just been in hospital to have a lump removed he was there by my side took unpaid days off work looked after me and still is .My boys have not liked me moving on being me again having a new man in my life but they are getting there its like l should just be mum not have a life but they are learning l am still mum but also Paula happy living my life believing again .So my lovely Dana remember look up when you are ready maybe you already have you are a mum but you are you too and its ok to be you .Love to you and yours from Paula xx

    Like

      • Hi there l am doing good like l wrote just had more surgery all went well find out in a month if the surgery had solved the problem .l think its amazing that we are connected through your blog l am here in england uk you at the foot of the rockies 😊 our lives have been changed by one mans desisions and choices but we are growing and changing seeing our strengths we never knew we had learning and blooming and shining.keep in touch Dana.you are welcome to visit and stay . maybe one day we. Can do coffee we do have Starbucks here lol 😀😀😀.love ya p xx

        Like

  3. your beautiful crystal clear clarity and vulnerability make me cry for you and for everyone i know and love who has been thru this betrayal. bless you for this kind of courage that picks up broken pieces and puts them back together making it more beautiful and strong than it could have ever been. thank you for sharing. what an incredible woman you are.

    Like

  4. Oh Dana…ALL of this!! So raw and so real. I like to think, as Sheryl Sandberg said, “We’re kicking the shit out of Option B!”

    Like

  5. Dana, I’m so glad to known you are doing well.
    You are so strong and courageous to write these words for us all to read. My heart aches, knowing all the pain and heartache. But I praise our Abba at his amazing love, care and support that has allowed you to Breathe and thrive.
    Our communities of family and friends are life.
    Bless you sweet girl.
    Breathe

    Like

  6. I offered a bit of my experience with this situation but it didn’t post so perhaps it was too long….sorry

    I admire how you were able to go on and know how difficult it has been for you but you are continuing and strong and a hero to all who have suffered like difficulties …may you continue to thrive

    Like

  7. Once again Dana, outta the park. For those out there who can’t say those words…no more; for those who have said them and wonder if they should take them back, and for those who’ve plowed the way before you experiencing yet unable to put their hurts and agony into words.
    Keep writing sweet friend, others need this truth, raw and right, hard and encouraging.
    May the Lord restore to you what has been snatched, may He cover your kids and make them resilient, becoming champions for truth, love, compassion and light. May above all else your wounds be gently mended and your heart always turned towards Christ.

    XO,
    Kathleen

    Like

  8. Dana, I admired you when I first got to know you and your husband. I admire you even more now as a single mom. You are a remarkable woman. Thank you so much for your blogs.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s