Wednesday, August 27, 2014

A Day in the Life of a Failing Marriage

Photo attribution here.
I was only eight weeks pregnant. It was almost as soon as I knew that I also knew there were complications with the pregnancy. Spotting. Slow heart beat. Bed rest. I can't blame the baby for not sticking around. I wouldn't have. No one deserves that kind of home life. I was lying to myself about as hard as I could, but all that the stress I carried in my body was absolutely unbearable, even for me, a 27 year old woman. That's no place to keep a baby.

Before it all ended there was a night where I started bleeding. I called the emergency medical line phone number they had given me when it was confirmed that I was with child. The friendly male nurse on the other end recommended I head to the emergency room, so I did.

The Mr. came too... at least his body was there. He was playing a game where he was acting as happy as he could about the whole pregnancy thing, despite the fact that he had told me moments before I showed him the plus signs (three, just to make absolutely sure) that he was essentially on his way out of the marriage. Let it be a testament to the power of stress on a human brain that I somehow avoided allowing what he had told me before the big reveal to even compute. I couldn't believe that he would be leaving. I literally would not let myself. It's a defense mechanism used in the worst of times by the most desperate people.

When we got to the hospital, everything happened very slowly--not like a slow motion sequence of something significant-- I mean really, actually slowly. It was the middle of the night so it took hours to even get an ultrasound tech to show up. While we waited The Mr. fidget and played with the ER room equipment like a 12 year old boy despite my stress laced pleadings for him not to touch anything. When the ultrasound tech finally arrived it took an incredibly uncomfortable extended period of time with an instrument inserted in me for him to ascertain with extremely shaky hands, that the heart beat was slow and I should go home. Nothing we could do but wait.

That night I spent in the hospital I was racking every crevice of my brain to find some method of comforting myself. Ideally in this situation, of course, a woman would feel secure enough knowing her partner was there, but regardless of how hard I suppressed the knowledge that The Mr. was on his way out, my body still knew and would not allow me to relax. I suppose if a partner isn't available for emotional support then a girl might think back on her childhood--tender moments with caring parents, but either my childhood or my memory failed me that night. I could find nothing to grasp in an attempt to cling to hope and stability in the eye of the storm of the demise of my marriage--until, I remembered.

I was in my third transfer of my mission. I was with my follow-up trainer that I always called my fairy godmother. She had taken my by the hand and lead me into the mystical world of the terrifying and soul expanding life of an LDS missionary. After two transfers of her holding my hand and walking me through, I was getting transferred--to Kansas. Away from the Visitor's Center where I knew and loved 15 other sisters. Away from the house we all lived in together-- sharing stories, giant vats of lasagna and clothes. Away from the spiritual powerhouses I had come to know and love and the streets I recognized, I was being sent to an area far away with a Sister I didn't know to ride a bike in a skirt in a college town and talk to everyone about Jesus.

I cried.

I didn't just cry, I cried my eyeballs right out of their sockets. The newly formed friendships I had made there in those short months were and are life-alteringly important to me and in that moment I felt like I was leaving them behind forever. Crying like this is not uncommon for me, but crying like this in the presence of another person, for me, is almost unheard of.

My fairy godmother companion-- born and raised in Utah, runner of marathons, setter of goals, maker of plans, product of a stable home--knew what to do. You do what any good mother does when her baby cries. You sing to her.

So as I laid there and sobbed my little shortsighted eyes out in my twin sized missionary bed, this Sister, with no concern of her image or the awkwardness I felt playing the role of a child so aptly, sang me the song Que Sera Sera.

Que sera sera 
Whatever will be, will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera sera
What will be will be

I think it was the most motherly thing that ever happened to me. It must have been, because in that dismal moment where my marriage, my life and the life of my unborn, unplanned, unprotectable child hung in the balance, that is the memory I finally found to cling to. My most salient memory of that night in the hospital is lying on a sterile bed with an IV in my arm, conscientiously monitoring my breathing in an absolutely futile attempt to abate my stress, The Mr. in my peripheral, and I'm singing myself that song.

Que sera sera
Whatever will be will be
The future's not ours to see
Que sera sera

Two nights ago I had the experience once again of sharing my marital history with a friend who had not previously been aware of it. This is a lot more common for me these days. I find sharing the story lightens the burden of carrying it for me, and so I do--much more often. The question came, of course, as it always does, "What happened?" And I had that moment again where I felt a need to justify myself. I wished again for a way to encapsulate the bitter essence of that era into an easily distributable sentence, so that everyone could have a small taste of what that time was like and no one could hold my decisions and actions against me.

But there is no easy explanation. It just was.

It was horrible.
It was traumatic.
It was emotionally scarring.
It was more painful than anything I had previously fathomed possible.

But he didn't hit me.
He didn't cheat on me.
He didn't turn to pot or porn or develop a sudden affection for Neil Patrick Harris.
He just wasn't kind, and the story above is a 6 hour glimpse into the two years that caused me to draw such a conclusion.

I'm sharing this story for two reasons.
1. I feel a need to reiterate that it is acceptable, justifiable and important to place a premium on personal wellbeing. If you have a story like the one I just told, you are entitled to seek and find higher, safer ground.
2. If you know someone who has been through it, consider the possibilities of the vast realm of experience he or she may have endured before "calling it quits". There is more than one way to hurt a person. There is more than one way to die.


  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences. As one currently going through separation and divorce, I feel hope through others' experiences.

    In reading your experiences it sounds like you may have been in an emotionally abusive relationship. I'm not sure if you've explored that thought, but I would encourage you to do so (perhaps you just haven't labeled it here as such). Emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse and even when out of it, the effects don't necessarily disappear. I'm not sure if you've met with a therapist, but I've found it to be incredibly helpful in my path out of emotional abuse.

  2. Thank you for sharing. I am/was in the process of divorce but I didn't follow through, because the started making me feel crazy and as if I was imagining all the emptional abuse. He has become a better husband, but I die a little each day, I go through the motions as I pretend to be a happy wife.
    I wish I was stronger, more confrontational, more decisive.

    I need to break free, for myself, for my children.

    I need the strength.

    PS, I hope you are in a much better space.

  3. Ugg my phone just deleted a long comment.
    Basically I wish I could express to you how much these words have strengthened me. They resonated with my soul and helped me feel. Thank you. I'll refer to this passage often. You are not alone. And you are SPOT on.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your painful, difficult story. I've been separated (under the same roof) for over a year. We have 3 children at home, and he refuses to leave, believing I will just cave if he just ignores, dismisses, belittles what I am telling him. He's trying to control my access to money, and wants the house and full custody even though I have given up graduate education and career development to homeschool our special needs kids. His justification is that I'm the one who wants to leave. There is zero respect for the value I have added to our home and family life. I felt so depressed and trapped that when I went to ER with chest pains last year, I wished I had died of a heart attack so I wouldn't have to put my kids through the pain of divorce. But then I received a clear, calm impression that I need to live and be as healthy as I can for my kids. And since that point, I have received step-by-step direction, insight into his thinking and bahavior, and peace. I don't know what the time frame will be, but I know Im on the right path. He honestly believes he can and has a right to prevent me from getting divorced. Initially he claimed this was in the best interest of the children. But now that I have shown I am patient, and won't go back to living as husband and wife, he claims we should get divorced as quickly as possible for the sake of the kids as soon as he finds a job. *Sigh* Yeah. Not looking out for the best interest of the kids. Anyway, General RS President Aileen Clyde taught "It is not charity to bow down in shame." So glad to have read her words, and known they are true. Prayers and blessing for usll of us walking this unexpected and non-traditional role as LDS women.

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