Today’s post will probably be a bit strange for some, but I’m going to write it anyway. I couldn’t sleep last night — had fitful hours of weird dreams, and finally decided, “You know what? I’m just going to get it off my chest!”
If you know me even remotely, you know that I’m no longer married, and I’m sure a lot of people have been wondering, “How is she doing? What must it be like to have been married for almost forty years, and suddenly find yourself living alone? What does it feel like to find out that you never really knew the man you married? What’s it like to have shared the majority of your years on this earth with a man who concealed his heart from you?” *note: This is not a pity party, nor is it a bashing party. This is me telling you what it’s like to find out after almost forty years that you never, ever knew the man you married. And, I’m telling you my story on the day that would have been my 43rd wedding anniversary.
Back to the story…….
On April 18, 1970 on a chilly spring afternoon in Villanova, Pennsylvania a gathering of family and friends came to surround me and and the young man I was marrying with love and support and to witness our vows of love and total devotion to each other. We had an outdoor wedding, and I must say the weather was touch-and-go right up until the final moment of setting up the chairs outdoors. There had been a terrible thunder, lightening and pelting rain storm the evening before (an omen, maybe?) and we didn’t know if an outdoor wedding would be possible until the skies parted early on that Saturday morning.
As it turned out, there were a few rain puddles, but the sky was crystal clear, the forsythia and daffodils were in bloom, so the outdoor wedding went on as planned!
I’m not posting any photos of the actual wedding itself. The photos have faded, and in all truthfulness, I haven’t opened the wedding album in several years now. I have no desire to ever look at those pictures again. At least, that’s how I feel at this moment in time.
What happened? Two young Christians, met at a Christian college, fell in love, went through a year-long engagement, got married, settled down in a lovely country setting, became a model minister’s family, had eleven beautiful children, and then slowly (at first) the foundation began crumbling until the climactic moment when the world came crashing down!
Plain and simple, there was very little verbal communication in this marriage. I think it’s safe to say that if compacted into time, I cried literal years due to that one thing. There was little to no talking within the marriage. By nature, I’m a talker. He was not.
Ladies and gentlemen, here’s a lesson learned. You will never change a person! I repeat. You will never change a person! I was naive enough to believe that after we got married, he would talk more. Instead, he become more and more quiet, more private, and excluded me from major areas of his life. ALERT! This was a big ALERT, but I didn’t pay attention.
You can learn to live with a non-talker, especially when eleven kids fill your home with noise, chatter, and laughter! Okay, with six boys and five girls there were some times of drama, crying, fighting, screaming, and all of the crazy, nutty stuff that comes along with having kids one right after the other! So, the “ALERT” of non-communication was brushed aside temporarily until the kids began leaving the nest.
And, before we knew it, there were only two daughters left living at home, and many grandchildren being born. I was beginning to feel a bit strange –eerily strange. I felt like I was living with someone I didn’t know as the years with the eleven kids at home were winding down.
But, it’s easy to figure out that I love babies — always have and always will. They are life’s greatest treasures — the most magnificent of miracles, and I was blessed not once, but eleven wonderful times over! And, now the next generation was beginning to arrive and my heart soared once again! Now the grandkids filled those empty places in my heart and that was good………..
Except — there was still no communication with the man I loved. He was more private, more withdrawn, and more secretive with “me” than when we first got married, although he was a gracious, much-loved and respected community member and the most active minister, volunteer, counselor, and confidante you’d ever find. ALERT! Take care of your wife first! Everyone else comes second. Wife is next in line after God. Always!
Let’s just say around year thirty-six, my heart became empty. Devoid. No more love left. My heart had been bleeding — hurting — for so many years that it finally caught up and my heart was bleeding just like the bleeding hearts you see in this picture. My heart bled, and bled, and bled until there was no more love left for this man I had married almost forty years before. And, so we parted. ALERT! Neglect is a sure sign that something is wrong! I repeat. NEGLECT is a sure sign something is very, very wrong!
The sad part of this very true story is that not long after we parted our ways, he was arrested and convicted of being a practicing pedophile since the age of fourteen. Yes, that is correct. All through our married lives, he was molesting children — little girls were his preference. I tremble. I shake. I vomit. I shudder. I cry. I go numb. There’s only so much thinking I can do about this. The man I loved. The man I trusted. The man I looked to for godly instruction. The man who fathered all of my children. The man who I wanted to make happy all the days of my life was a practicing pedophile and that is why he was so secretive and quiet and unable to communicate with me. The man I married now sits in prison serving thirty years of incarceration which I think is a fair exchange for the lifetime of hell his actions created for the countless innocent children who were harmed by this one man.
How does that make me feel? Initially like dirt for not seeing what was going on. Initially broken. Initially angry beyond words. Hateful towards him at times. Weak. Alone. Afraid. And, hurting beyond hell for my family! What did they do to deserve any of this???????
Today, April 18, 2013 is my wedding anniversary and I am celebrating alone. I will drink a glass of wine. I will eat a thick, juicy steak. I will linger over another glass of wine. And, I will NOT cry. I will not allow this man to have power over me any more. I will not feel sorry for myself ever again. I will not say, “This is terrible and I did not deserve this.” Life is unfair to most people, and truthfully this part of my life has been terribly unfair, but it will not ruin me! I will not allow this to define me. I am bigger and stronger than this!
My message to every person who has been trampled on, deceived, and had your heart stomped on is this:
Take some time to grieve. Feel the hurt. Let it go deep. Allow it to cut and bleed (and believe me, it will)! But, after the shock of it all and after the pain of the initial blunt force to the heart begins to stop hurting so bad you want to die, walk away for a while and take stock of your life.
Pull the blanket of hell back and uncover the blessings of heaven that are still there! In my case, my God, oh my God, how I thank Him for all that has been given to me! God, how I love my children! God, how I love the grandchildren you have given to me. God, how I thank you for allowing me to live this long and have good health. God, how much I thank you for food, clothing, transportation, and a home. Oh, my home! God, how much I thank you for allowing me to wake up to birds singing and to be surrounded by so much nature and beauty.
Do I hate being alone at this stage in my life? At first, I did. But, you know what? I’m beginning to blossom in ways I never thought possible. I feel more sure of myself than ever before. I laugh more than I have in a long, long time. My heart is beginning to feel alive again. Heck, those aren’t bad things — those things are great things! And, I’ve found that I’m never really alone. Every day, there is someone who is placed in my life that blesses me in some wonderful, caring, giving way!
My special thanks today to my friend Deb, who married the man she loved with all of her heart on April 17, 1970, just one day before my wedding. We were friends before we got married, and we remain friends to this day. Deb, my special friend, sent me the sweetest message ever yesterday letting me know that even though she was happily celebrating her 43rd wedding anniversary, there was a sadness knowing I was not celebrating mine.
Deb, I am celebrating! I really, really am. And, tonight when I lay my head on my pillow, I will thank God for the wonderful blessing of a 43-year-long friendship!
Yes, indeed, April 18, 2013 is a beautiful day! God bless all those whose hearts have been broken with the fortitude and resolve to go on! Even with the pain, it’s still a mighty fine life!
Trust me in this — you WILL survive! And, you WILL blossom again. And, you ARE a thousand times stronger than you ever imagined!!! Don’t ever allow anyone to define who YOU are! You are magnificently made and you can survive anything!
Let’s celebrate life together!!!