There is a span of time during my marriage of which I am very ashamed of. Stuart and I were fighting nonstop. I was leaving in the evenings to hang out with friends at the local dive around the corner, completely uncharacteristic of me. Hitting up the dance halls every now and then, reminiscent of my highschool years. I’m not sure what I was looking for. My youth? An escape? Trying to find myself? Maybe reinventing Julie. I don’t know. What I do know is, I am ashamed of the way I handled myself during that time.
I am more ashamed from a mother’s vantage point than that of a wife. I promised myself early on I would be a better mother than I was accustomed to as a kid. I failed during that time.
Stuart and I were headed down hill. I didn’t care what “he” thought. I was done. That being said, there are a hundred things I should have done differently regardless of his role.
The example I set for my kids was disheartening to say the least. I was leaving in the evenings when I had never left before. I would come home later than I had ever come home in the past. They weren’t stupid.
For the first time since I was 19 years old, I was not thinking about my children. I was self absorbed. Only thinking of me. Wallowin’ in the big ole puddle of self-pity, day after day.
I missed my daughter’s 6th birthday dinner with family because I was too ashamed of goings on the night before. I won’t ever get that back. She will always remember I wasn’t there.
I should have been more intentional and less selfish with my every move. It was hard enough on them seeing Stuart and I growing apart. I know they had to see it. They weren’t stupid.
The only good that came out of that year or so is that my kids, now grown can look back and glean hope from that turbulent time in our family, if ever their relationships are headed down a path of destruction. Stuart and I made it through the ugliness. Albeit scarred, and injured but as survivors. They can too.
I thank God daily for our kids. They were resilient during storms that they should not have had to weather. Being a kid is tough enough. Add two angry parents looking for a way out and the outcome could be detrimental. Thankfully, they made it through our storm unscathed for the most part.
Ya know, I knew better. I grew up in a tempestuous household. I vowed when I had kids, our stories would be different. For the most part they are, but the chapter I’m referring to, well I wish I could rip it out and burn it.
I claim no expertise in the matters of marriage or motherhood. I do however think we can learn from each others mistakes. I’m not going to preach about arguing in front of your kids. It’s a no brainer, don’t do it.
I do want to encourage you to seek healthy ways to find yourself if you are feeling less than or lost. Don’t turn to bars and dance halls. Don’t run away. The mess is just awaitin’ for you to get back.
Your happiness: Realize that no one person is responsible for your happiness. If you are waiting on happiness in the form of another, you are going to be highly disappointed. A little fact that I chose to ignore for a lot of years.
Lost: I was lost because I aligned my self worth with my status as a mother and wife. I was not successful at either of these roles for a period of time because I didn’t know who I was. It took failing health and almost divorcing for me to start discovering Julie. Julie outside of being a wife and mother. It’s ok to have your own identity. It helps you become a better wife and mother.
Finding you. There is no magic formula. I was knocked flat on my face in 2004 when diagnosed with Chiari Malformation. That is when my true self discovery began. Truth be told, I’m reinventing myself often as seasons are always changing.
Stop playing the victim: I was a master at this. Stuart made it easy however. He was angry, degrading and a dream crusher for a lot of years. I was always walking on eggshells around him. It was easy to fall right into the “poor Julie” trap. I should have been stronger than I was.
Time: “Quality Julie time” is what was needed. Not the kind of activities I was partaking in, away from my kids and husband, regardless of my heart towards him at that time. If you are married, don’t venture to “those” places. Just don’t do it. It’s not worth it. Nothing good can be found at the dive around the corner or the dance hall down the road.
We are charged to be advocates and examples for the kids that God has entrusted to us. We are going to screw up, a lot. My lord, to this day I tell Corey he was my guinea pig. There are mistakes that kids bounce back from. There are mistakes that leave scars on their hearts and get in their heads. My own mother’s words “you don’t deserve a wedding” ring in my ears almost daily. That damage is done. It’s taken me a lot of years to forgive but forgetting, well I am not sure that ever happens. Take precautions to guard your kids from those moments that could be baggage later in life that they don’t deserve to carry around.
If I could change that year or so, I would, if only for their sake. They weren’t stupid. I just hope they are forgiving.