Victim or Victor It’s Your Choice
I have been married 5 times. That has been one of the hardest statements I have ever had to confess to the public.
I am separated from my current husband and it appears that we’re headed for divorce… making this my 5th divorce. There must be something terribly wrong with me… is what 99 percent of everyone would think, or at least that’s what I tell myself.
Initially, I blamed my childhood trauma and upbringing, including being molested by a trusted official for nine years, witnessing domestic violence for the first eleven years of my life, having been bullied throughout my adolescence, emotional detachment from my mother, almost dying, and more, for my having to have suffered through such trauma.
But the demise of my current marriage has catapulted me into HUGE introspection. I have beat myself up, down, and all around and categorized myself as a huge failure. I have been very unkind and unloving toward myself. I have been impatient and callous with myself. I’ve learned that the choices I made were not made from a place of love and security.
My first marriage was to my high school sweetheart. I didn’t listen when my spirit warned me not to marry him. We now share a child. After we were divorced I didn’t take the time to heal, and was in search of a ‘dad’ for my son.
My second marriage happened about a year and a half after my first divorce. I married a man who I’d known for a while, but he was street-wise and I had led a sheltered life. We had no business getting married and years later he actually called me to apologize for the hell he knew he put me through.
My third marriage was to a man four years my junior and who I was ‘sure’ was my soulmate. He had accepted the fact that I could no longer have children and he had none of his own. I had recently accepted Christ as my savior, and even though I walked through life as a new creation with a clean slate, I was still not healed from my second marriage. My soulmate and I dated for eight months, sharing a closeness that I didn’t know was possible, and were married on Valentine’s Day. He cheated on me and I divorced him.
My fourth marriage was nineteen years later to a man sixteen years my senior. I didn’t date him long enough to get to really know him. I was intrigued by the fact that he loved the Lord. I was sure that because of that, we would work out any differences between us. During the time we dated, I did see red flags of abuse, but chose to ignore them. I left him due to emotional and physical abuse and he divorced me.
My fifth marriage, my current marriage, is to a man who is the culmination of all of my decisions. He was emotionally separated and had lived separately from his wife for one year when we met. He said their marriage had been over for years, and that they were only together until their youngest child became of legal age of maturity. That was red flag number one. I began dating him, a married man, because I really liked the way he supported me, seemed genuinely interested in me, and felt that I could really have a fruitful relationship with him where we could glorify God. He filed for divorce from his wife a couple of months after we began dating.
When we met I’d been divorced for a year and a half, and I had not emotionally healed. Red flag number two. Neither of us had healed from the trauma we’d both experienced from previous marriages. We were both rebounding and had never experienced a healthy relationship. Red flag number three occurred when he was in a hurry to marry me even though we’d only been dating a short while. We spent a lot of time together talking and doing ‘due diligence’ (as he later called it) to make sure we wouldn’t make the same mistakes we’d made in our previous marriages. We’d convinced each other that because we were Christians we’d be able to finally have the marriage we’d always dreamed of and solidified our love by having sex…before marriage.
About a year and half after we were married, just last year, I was told that I had 30 days in which to get my things and leave. Three weeks later he filed for divorce. I was blind-sided and devastated. He has never explained why he felt the need so strongly to abandon our marriage. A few months after he filed for divorce, he rescinded the divorce and swore that he had a Damascus Road experience. He repented and asked the Lord to forgive him. I’d already forgiven him, but I restored him (my choice again) before there was any permanent change…consequently, there was no permanent change.
I’ve learned that I’ve made these choices because I was seeking love from a position of inferiority, and because I had never self-identified with who I am at my very core. With every relationship I was in, I automatically morphed into whatever he liked and stood for. I had the very incorrect notion that if a man said he was a Christian that he was marriage material. Wrong! I am a melancholy personality who is a giver with a kind and large heart, and predators – whether they know they are or not—are drawn to people like me. My choices have caused intense pain and forced me to seek professional help, create boundaries in order to become free, and give me the burning desire to help other women see why they make the choices they are making, and to help them to choose life.
Every day is a struggle for me, but it’s akin to the process a butterfly endures before spreading it’s beautiful wings. There is pain, and I’ve learned to create a relationship with it. The pain will talk to me and say, “This doesn’t feel good”, and “I’m here to teach you what you don’t want so you can see what you do want”. I feel like a child who is learning to walk. I stand, I wobble, I get sturdy on my feet, I take a step, I fall down.
Upon waking, I have to immediately recite a mental litany of the things I’m grateful for; being able to breathe on my own, being able to open my eyes, having the use of my five senses, that I’m in my right mind, etc. The longer I focus on being grateful, the pain of rejection and loss lessens. Another choice of mine is to forgive… over and over again. I journal. I pray for peace. I cry. These are all choices, and the only person who can choose for me is me.
The process gets easier, yes, but do you ever arrive? No. The joy is in the journey, not the arrival. When you begin to deliberately focus on the progress you’re making and the different lessons that pain has taught you, you begin to see light where there was only darkness. You begin to smile and laugh out loud. You emerge.
I’ve been conditioned to think and live from a victim mentality. I’m tired of playing the victim. Instead, I am taking responsibility for my life and my choices.
Now, I see my life differently. There really is no blame. Everything I’ve experienced is for a reason. Everything. The coolest thing ever about this process is that it doesn’t involve your dependence on someone else. You choose!