Please welcome my wife Karen to our blog writing team. Karen is currently preparing to launch her own blog and is in the certification process to become a Life Coach. Enjoy…
Recently Ken and I went for a walk as we often do on the weekend. And as we often do on those walks we take time to talk and reflect with one another on things we have been working through or dealing with during the week or just in general. We are captivated by one another and unencumbered by the distractions – it is wholly focused time that I crave. I am an introvert by nature and much of the dialogue I have in my head goes unspoken till I have the opportunity to think it through, process it into something tangible. And when I’m ready there is a waiting ear to hear my thoughts and answer questions. This walk was no different.
I think a lot about what was… and reflect on the impact that has on the present. So I asked my husband a question that is not unlike previous ones. What do you miss about your previous life, your previous wife? While this question may have been a curious one at first it was one that opened up a cherished opportunity to talk and reflect and think out loud.
As we talked I reflected on how often we see through a glass dimly…that we attempt to understand our circumstances and choices through a dim lense and many times view who we are through that same impediment. As the conversation continued I peeled back more of the layers to walk down a side road long ago traveled but the experience was immensely valuable and very appropriate to draw conclusions pertaining to our conversation. About 12 years ago I experienced a significant bout with depression. It was like a crushing weight, something unlike I had ever felt or experienced at any point in time up till then. It was a daily struggle – like a war inside me that was often lost to remain free from tears as I soul searched and pushed hard against the waves of emotion that battered me. I was desperate to understand why I felt the way I did, but the more I tried to get answers the more elusive the resolution became. I knew I was unsettled in my marriage. Mine was a marriage of emotional and at times physical abuse, and my faith flew in the face of the reality that if I was to be content in all things I needed to be content with this behavior. My mind and heart were at war with one another, and the result was a deep depression that at the time I could not explain. I would look into the mirror every morning and see a woman that I did not know and the conflict inside me raged silently.
How could I be content with the behavior of another that regularly and systematically demoralized, degraded and manipulated me and my children? How could a Faith that commands us to love one another allow a man to perpetrate such pain on his family in the name of the Bible but tell us we are to be content in our circumstances? While I understood the context of this statement and it’s application, holding it in perspective with my circumstances is how the conflict – for many years – churned and evolved in me – till it developed into something outward…a sadness and despair from which I could not free myself… it was all encompassing.
I thought I was to be that person of contentment even with such behavior, even with a spouse telling me I was his to command and I was to be happy in that role. But it didn’t make sense…and my fear kept me captive to the behavior, all the while my heart was running in the other direction… not from God, but from the woman in the mirror of whom I could only see vague glimpses…images that were distorted… painful shadows of what life had become and the remnants of the self I had lost to be for another what would never be ‘good enough’. I was seeing my image dimly through glass…a mirror that was terribly distorted. I had allowed another person to create those distortions and in that process I lost my own sense of self in order to make another person feel better about their own shortcomings and failures. I had allowed my spouse to manipulate and distort just enough to take what was needed, but in that taking, my own image was slowly, piece by piece being clouded from view. I was no longer the person I was created to be, I was the person I had to be to survive, to keep peace, to run from my fear… I was captive to the marriage, and to my fear, and to the woman I could no longer see in the mirror.
Freedom lies in being bold…Robert Frost
So many of us find ourselves in this same place… fear has gripped us and we are unable to look in the mirror and see who we really are… see the person we have become or the person we need to be. We fear change, we fear failure, we fear the pain, we fear the unknown. At some point in my process, I realized that if I wanted to understand my journey, my depression, my self, I needed to look into that mirror and see myself for who I was…peal off all the layers, take away the view of another, and see…clearly. It is only in these most vulnerable of moments when we are alone with ourself, and if you are a person of faith, with God, and we cry out for the sight we need…the clarity to understand without the distortions… to see ourselves as a valuable and significant human being. We have to want to see ourselves though… to do the hard work of knowing who we really are.
That depression was a turning point for me. It did not mark a dramatic change at that particular time, but it marked something far more significant. That depression marked the realization that I no longer needed to live in the internal conflict that held me captive. I had a choice. I had a choice to live in fear and continue to look at the woman in the mirror and not recognize her, or to find a new path…one without fear…one that looked into the mirror and could see the person I needed to be…the person I wanted to become. In 2009 my journey would intensify culminating in filing a protective order against my spouse in 2013 and ultimately divorce in 2014. The finality of that decision was life changing but it has been the best decision I made and I have no regret…
So how did a question about what my husband misses about his previous wife turn into all that you might ask…? Well, it’s quite easy when you both enjoy the ability to converse and engage one another deeper without fear of being shut down or shamed or your thoughts minimized. We could talk for hours…and on a walk such as this one… miles go by and it’s just he and I…together… I am so grateful for those times and for the man he is… respecting me for the woman I am… As for that question, well, it did get lost in the conversation, but was eventually answered… but that will have to be for another time.
There is so much more to my story, and one that I want to share and unfold on my own blog. I hope to post more here as well, and add a link for ease of access. For now, thank you all for reading.
May you look into your mirror and see…