Divorce is a Nasty Word
It’s a nasty word. I always felt like it made people look at me differently. I knew in their heads they were thinking “Oh, she is broken and a failure, so sad.”
I was married at 21. He was a bit older and successful. He told me everything I wanted to hear, needed to hear. Took me to fancy parties in Chicago by limo. Bought me pretty dresses, told me I was beautiful. Made me feel beautiful and wanted. Told me I didn’t need to finish college because he would take care of me. This lasted six months, until we ran away to Jamaica to get married. He didn’t want to tell anyone, not even my best friend. It had to be a surprise to everyone. When we got there, I felt isolated and alone. I wanted to say no and run, but I felt trapped. I should have listened to my inner voice- but, I was scared.
My mom has been married five times, and never to my father. I watched the first guy beat the crap out of her when I was 5, and swore I would never let that happen to me. I knew right then, I would not end up like my mom. She got up the courage to leave him, and married a functioning alcoholic – he was dad #2. I made it my lifes goal to do everything better than my mom. She got pregnant at 18. When I turned 18 and 3 months, I celebrated because I knew I would never be 18 and pregnant. I worked 3 jobs, lived on my own and went to college at 17 after graduating high school early. My mom didn’t graduate. I was determined to beat the odds and be a different person. For me, that meant only getting married once- and he knew that.
Shortly after we were married, we moved. Further away from my friends- more isolation. His drinking became clear. He too was a functioning alcoholic. He worked at a big firm in Chicago and drinking after work was encouraged. His work hours grew longer and his drinking got heavier. I was still determined to graduate college, so I was working a full time job and taking classes part time. Then, after I was isolated and lonely, he started staying out all night. He would say he was with friends, or working, but something didn’t feel right. His drinking was so bad that when he did come home, I’d hope he sleep on the couch so I wouldn’t wake up wet with urine in the morning. When I confronted him, he told me I was paranoid- that I was the one cheating and he did not have a drinking issue. I was put on a schedule to check in with him on a regular basis and had to stop going to school.
I knew what all of this meant, but I was so scared. He had no interest in fixing our marriage, I tried, but the verbal and mental abuse was unbearable. I gained weight and sat alone in my sadness praying he wouldn’t come home at all. But, I didn’t want to get a divorce. I didn’t want to be like my mother.
I was working late one night. I volunteered to be the one that worked with our IT guys to transfer us over to a new system. I was in the computer closet, on the phone for over an hour, and it was getting late. When I finished, I had voicemails from my then husband. I was listening to my messages on speakerphone and didn’t hear someone else come back into the office. The message was my husband and he was screaming. I was a cheating whore. He knew I wasn’t really at work. He’s always been right, I am worthless, I am nothing, I should be left by the side of the road, and don’t bother coming home. I’ll be nothing without him.
I sobbed. I was afraid and scared. Worst of all, I believed every word he said.
A few seconds later, someone came into my area. They had heard the entire message. They saw my car still at work and stopped in to make sure I was ok. I apologize, but they just hugged me. They told me he was wrong. I wasn’t any of those things, and that he didn’t deserve me. No one had said that to me in three years. I was a shell of the person I was. I left the next day.
It took me almost three more years to be completely free of this man and his grip. It took me even longer to find myself again and start believing the truth of who I was and who God made me to be. This experience in my life SUCKED. No way around that, but I can’t be mad that it happened. It made me who I am today. I am a college educated woman with two beautiful children, a wonderful husband, and someone who fights for the well being of women and children when I see them believing the lies of others and not the truth of God.
I never wanted to be a divorced woman. But, I also believe that God did not choose that life for me. He took that broken soul and turned it into something beautiful. And when it came to getting married again, I was ready. I knew exactly what I deserved in a marriage and how I should be loved and treated. That’s why God sent me Steve.
My prayer is that if you read this story and you are in a relationship that is either physically or emotionally abusive, that you will reach out and get help.
Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Blessings ~ Katie Van Gheem