Wednesday, January 22, 2014

You don't have to hide!

I find myself reflecting over what has happened in my life over the past 2 years or so and I am seeing how far I have come and for that I am ever thankful.  I find joy in little things that were rarely noticed 2 years ago.  Last night after work and attending a women's club meeting, my grandson came running to me at the back door and gave me a hug (right at my knees) and I seriously melted on the inside because that little boy took time out of playing to recognize that Mimi was home.  That is the kind of things that make me cry and be so thankful to be alive in spite of my difficult situation.

I know that I am here on the other side of 2 abusive marriages and I do my very best to focus on the positive every day.  There are days that it is very dark in Maryann-land and I have to work really hard to see the light in the day-to-day routine of my life.  I know firsthand how difficult it is to be abused at home and hide it from your friends and church circles. I did exactly that from 2005-2010 and that is why my story comes as a shock to a lot of people.  The family front that was put on by myself and my ex-husband was believable and he would get very angry if I even hinted to the pastor's wife that we were struggling with stuff and could she say a prayer for us.  

My second ex-husband cheated on me with 11 different women that I know of and many others were suspected over the time we were legally married. We always had food to eat but the bills got behind at times. As time went on, the arguments got worse but he never raised a hand to hit me, he chose instead to disappear and visit friends 2 days at a time. I thought he was over that when we moved to GA but then it was just geography cause he had girlfriends there as well. Georgia was the last chance for our marriage to make a comeback because I had just about lost all hope. I did not want to be a  2-time divorced woman in my 40's but I also prayed that God would open my eyes and give me the courage to see what was there in front of me.

I chose to file for divorce spring of 2013 because I was tired of being connected to him after he had broken so many promises. We had separated in July of 2012 when he basically dumped me and my belongings at a local storage unit place. He unloaded the U-Haul and even wanted to hug me goodbye that day.  I let him hug me and then I had to rush to my parent's house and get ready for an interview at a local bookstore.  I cried the entire time because I knew in my heart/mind that I would never see him again.  I got that job and other jobs that were placed in my path during 2012 and give God the glory for each and every pay check and profit check I received in the summer/fall of 2012. 

2013 rolled around and I was with dear friends for New Year's Eve/Day and I have been so blessed by them and their family who took me in without question.  Their home has been my place of refuge when I needed to escape or hide.  This family has seen me cry, scream, fight and give up on many occasions and yet they still stand with me, stand behind me, pick me up, push me when I need it and most of all support me every step of the way. We are blessed to all attend church together and my church family has truly been a blessing to me in many ways as well. 

When it came time to file taxes, I had to make the dreaded phone calls to my ex-husband to get his info and to tell him that we were filing separately because we had been separated for half the previous year.  Because of laws, we had to reference the previous year and that meant more conversations about our past than I wanted to deal with.  Last year, after taxes were filed I knew I had to put a stop to the separation and made the phone calls to start proceedings to file for divorce.  My parents had said they would back me when I made the decision to file for divorce and all I had to do was say the word.  So there I was in the local grocery store (in the potato chip aisle) and it hit me. It was time to file for divorce. I called my mom in tears and texted my two best God-fearing friends then I called the lawyer the next week.

May 14th, I visited the lawyer's office for initial consult with a dear friend at my side and got all the details I needed to start the proceedings.  May 21st I went back to the law office and paid the fees, read over the documents, cried seeing it all in black and white and went home on that rainy day knowing a countdown had started. I waited in prayer and fear. I was scared that he would refuse to sign the papers. I don't know why I was afraid, but part of me expected him to fight me on filing for divorce.  June 22nd would be the day that the ex-husband would call me to say he had signed the papers and was mailing them back.  The waiting had to continue the appointed number of days and on August 1, 2013 my divorce papers were signed by a local judge and my marriage was over.  

I got the papers, read them and sent out text message to family and church friends that knew the story. I cannot say that I celebrated that day, but it was a day of relief because I now had the papers in my had that said legally, I was a single person and no longer tied to him or his last name. I had the lawyer put in the papers my choice to go back to my maiden name and that was part of my freedom celebration.

August 17th at a local restaurant, I got together with about 10 other friends and we had a nice celebration dinner and reflected a bit on how everyone there was a part of my life and I asked each of them to help me move forward and keep looking ahead.  From that day forward, I refused to hide and I started telling my story more and more.  

So please don't hide! Your life and your testimony is not for you alone, it is for you to tell others what you have been through so they may see the glory of God in everything you have overcome by leaning on him. 

My verse is Isa 41:10  Fear thou not; for I am with thee; be not dismayed; for I am thy God; I will strengthen thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.