I’ve been divorced twice…. sort of. The first time was official with a judge. The second time was not official because no actual marriage took place, however we did have a child together.
I would love to tell you that my first divorce was painful and heartbreaking and all of the negative things that people usually associate with divorce- but that would be a lie. I was free from a toxic, abusive relationship. For the first time in my adult life I had full access to the money I was making. I could be as involved as I wanted to in church and not have to listen to lectures about being a “hypocrite.” I felt like a fully autonomous person for the first time in many, many years.
When I walked away from that relationship, so many things that were detrimental to my physical, mental, and spiritual health stopped. I stopped being a trophy wife, I stopped being a source of income for my ex-husband’s gambling addiction and night life. I stopped drinking myself into unconsciousness. And I stopped hating myself. Eliminating toxic people from your life has a funny way of breaking the cycle of self-loathing and self-harm.
My pseudo-divorce was an entirely different experience. This dissolution was more painful because a child was involved. Father of Child (FOC) and I began dating while I was in the process of getting a divorce from my husband. Within a few short weeks, I was pregnant. CRAP. (In all honesty, “crap” was not the four-letter word that I used when the pregnancy test showed a positive reading.) How does a woman who grew up in the church, who knows and loves Jesus, get herself into the position I was in? Simply stated: stupid, weak flesh.
Breaking up your child’s family, hurts. No matter how many times her Father and I reassured her that Momma and Daddy loved her no matter what, my heart would break each time she went from one house to another. And then when her Father began dating again, and eventually married, suddenly I was fighting to retain my place as Mother.
For a long time after we separated, FOC and I were able to maintain a friendly relationship. We were able to do family things together and co-parent successfully. Things began to change once FOC and I started dating other people. Everyone moves on at their own pace and whereas I was enjoying being single for the first time in almost two decades, FOC was actively searching for a serious relationship. That serious relationship turned into a marriage which caused a bitter custody battle that is still in the process of being finalized.
Naturally, FOC wanted to assure his new wife of her station in our daughter’s life, while I wanted her to remember that she was just the step-parent and to “stay in her lane.” The more that FOC tried to force her into a parent role, the more I reminded them both that she wasn’t our child’s parent. It was the world’s ugliest game of tug-of-war and this poor woman was the rope. Meanwhile, my precious child was suffering. This is perhaps the most selfish I have ever been in my entire life.
That all changed one day when FOC, his wife, and I sat down for coffee and conversation. Our daughter was suffering and it was no longer something we could brush off. Something had to give. And so, we talked. And we all agreed that we couldn’t go on like we had been. We each made the commitment to work harder at getting along, we apologized for the hurt that we had caused one another, and most importantly, we forgave each other.
It was after the three of us decided to start living out our Christian beliefs that we started feeling the peace that Christ brings. And while our wounds are still healing, we are working on our relationships with each other. This is what people who profess to be Christians are called to do. It is not enough to talk the talk, we must also walk the walk.