I married my high school sweetheart just before turning 21, filled with hopes and dreams of a future together that would never end. We were going to have 2 kids, a dog, live in a house with a white picket fence and grow old together. But that is not how my story ended.
After being married for almost five years we had the two kids and the dog, but my husband was not overly happy about any of these. He wanted his freedom to live his life without responsibility weighing him down. I am not sure initially how he acted out his desires, but before I was aware of any of his extracurricular activities, he had transferred a sexually transmitted disease to me. In time he started openly going out at night and would not return until the next day. Women started calling our home to schedule dates with him and my son started to ask why daddy would “put on that smelly stuff and go out and not come home?” My fairy tale home had turned into a nightmare! We divorced after 11 years of marriage.
The dissolution of my marriage and the hopes and dreams that went with it was devastating for me and my children as we began a new life with just the three of us. I have a special place in my heart for women who are going through a divorce and are tackling the challenges of being a single parent. It takes so much time and emotional energy to transition from being the stay-at-home mom and the nurturer in the family, to adding the roles of disciplinarian, bread winner and chief cook and bottle washer. By the time I got up in the morning and got my children off to school, worked a full day, came home and made dinner, helped the kids with their homework and got them off to bed, cleaned the kitchen, paid the bills, did the laundry and finally crawled into bed just to start it all over the next day…I was totally exhausted! And little did I know that this trauma was silently robbing me of my health.
I became increasingly more exhausted and initially thought that I was just overdoing it with all my responsibilities. But as my health continued to fail, I sought medical help, only to hear that I was a high type A person and I would have to learn to live with it. I became so discouraged! It took me over 10 years to find a doctor that understood the causes and progression of my maladies. The emotional trauma and rejection I experienced because of my husband’s sexual addiction and abandonment was the trigger that set off my fibromyalgia. As I continued to push myself beyond my limits to provide as much normalcy for my children as possible, my body continued to deteriorate. Chronic fatigue syndrome, colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, multiple food allergies, and probably most devastating of all…totally burned out adrenal glands…became a reality in my life. I learned firsthand that stress is a robber of our health. An ugly, unrelenting destroyer of our precious life energy.
I pushed myself to be all I could be for my children, but I did not understand that the best approach I could have taken was to take care of myself so that I could better take care of my loved ones. It is like putting the oxygen mask on yourself first on the plane before putting them on your children. I learned this lesson way too late to prevent the deterioration of my health. My hope and prayer is that I can encourage others facing similar trauma to stop and take care of themselves to keep them from going down the same path that I did. It is best if you can prevent the attack on your health, but if you are already part way down that road, there is much that you can do to regain your health. It starts by loving yourself and your family enough to make that choice. I believe with all my heart that God has taken me on this journey so that I can share my experience with others and help them on theirs. Perhaps this includes you. If you would like, I encourage you to follow my blog and email with your thoughts.
I would like to leave you with this verse that has been a comfort an encouragement to me through my journey:
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. Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
God does have a hope and a future for you!
Kristie is a member of ICCA, the International Christian Coaching Association and is a certified life coach trained in Women’s Coaching, Divorce Coaching, Health and Wellness, and Stress Management, and she is just completing the American Association of Christian Counselors program on helping those impacted by sexual addiction. She has been married for nearly 16 wonderful years to Steve, who facilitates many of our men’s groups. Together they do couples coaching and are planning to begin intimacy retreats for couples.