After my husband broke his vows… How I let go and found myself again

jen2.jpgHow do you let go of someone you vowed your life to? How do you stop thinking of yourself as a wife when that’s what you planned on being forever?

After finding out that my husband was committing adultery, I had to face the reality that the life I had always imagined was crumbling before me.

In this article, I am going to tell you how I picked myself up, how I discovered who I was, and how I began to love myself–not as his wife, not as someone who is single or married, but as me–Jensine. 

When I went counseling, I was still getting over the shock that my husband absolutely wanted a divorce and our marriage was completely over. The counselor kept telling me to “love myself.” I thought, what does that even mean? I haven’t a clue.

How can you love someone you don’t know? I didn’t even know who I was.

For those that haven’t quite heard my story, I will summarize it briefly. I fell in love with a man that I thought was my forever, my one and only. My friends thought I scored the perfect man because not only  was he Southern, polite, Christian, and handsome–he was also a medical doctor. He was extremely romantic during our dating days–flying across the country to see me, talking on the phone for hours with me, he sent me jewelry, and did elaborate things to impress me.

Within the first few months of marriage, my husband began to show signs that he didn’t truly love me. One particular day, I was having an allergic reaction and was having trouble breathing. We were having dinner with a few medical professionals. When I told him I couldn’t breathe, he ignored me and kept talking to the people at our table. I quickly exited the restaurant because my allergic reaction was overwhelming. I kept waiting for him to come out. But, he didn’t…not until all of the people at the table had finished eating. He cared more about what his doctor friends thought than how I was doing outside in the cold. I never told my family or friends that this happened and kept this a secret during the course of our marriage.

I was extremely lonely during my marriage.  My husband would come home at odd hours and would tell me he could never promise when he would be home. I was extremely depressed and began to spend all my energy working to impress my husband (even if I could see him for only about an hour or so a day). I would cook elaborate meals, make things for him, spend time cleaning, pack his lunch, wake up early to make his breakfast, and made sure he had a hot meal if he came home for dinner.  If he ever called, I would drop whatever I was doing and rush home to see him. Because, I never knew when I would be able to spend time with him. I started to notice that he was becoming aloof, and at times–I wondered why he ever married me.

Several times, I tried to spend time with my husband when he went out with friends–but he told me I was not invited because it was “doctors only.” I felt so rejected and inferior to my husband. Am I that undesirable? Why is he so embarrassed of me? I started to look in the mirror and tell myself I was unattractive and ugly.

After our 1st year anniversary, I discovered that my husband was soliciting services from prostitutes-and had been seeing prostitutes before I ever met him. His sexual addiction had started perhaps while he was in his early college years and he had hidden it from me as long as he could.

So, how did a broken woman screaming out for love learn to love herself? How did a woman who felt rejected, lonely, and ugly learn to see herself as beautiful, powerful, and desirable? 

  1. I decided that my life was worth fighting for. When my husband boldly declared his new relationship with his mistress all over social media, I was crushed. I thought, we are still married and he is brazen enough to declare his love for another woman? I was embarrassed, ashamed, rejected, but mostly–I hated myself. I hated my life. I went to the window in my room and opened it. I started having a panic attack–and in an instant, I found myself thinking about suicide. I began to wonder how far down it would be if I jumped out. And somehow, I mustered some strength to fight back with the lie that had been plaguing me for so long. The lie that told me that I was worthless–that I would be better off dead. I said, “No, I want to live. I am going to live! I am going to live.” 
  2. I started fixing my relationship with God. One day, I was driving home and I heard God say “Divorce but Not Defeated.” I had not been hearing God’s voice because during the whole breakdown of my marriage I was too confused and angry to listen. But, it was when I was not even expecting to hear from God that he began to speak to me; it was when I was quiet and not yelling or shouting in anger at him. When I googled the phrase, I discovered it was the EXACT title of a book written by a Christian woman who had experienced a similar situation with adultery and I quickly ordered the book. That book helped me through many rough and lonely nights. Before this, I didn’t want anything to do with God while I was hurting because I was so angry that he let everything happen to me. What I realized later is that what my ex-husband did to me was not God’s fault and had absolutely nothing to do with God. In fact, it was God’s grace that gave me the strength to get out of an abusive and extremely unloving marriage. After my perspective changed, I started seeing God as good and loving.
  3. I learned to love MYSELF without any labels; I learned to see who I was when I stripped away my skills, talents, abilities, physical attributes. If you don’t love the raw and real you. Then, who else will? You’ve got to love yourself in order to tell others how much they should love you.  If you don’t love yourself, it will be impossible to know if someone truly loves you–and it will be almost impossible to love others deeply.
  4. I learned to be easy on myself. I realized that in order to heal, I was going to have to start putting my needs first–which meant saying, “no” to some things.  I turned down invitations to parties, celebrations, and baby showers because I needed space to heal. I let myself rest–and on some days, I called out from work because I needed it. Some days, I didn’t feel like going to church, and that is okay. I learned that God knew where I was at, and he knew what I needed.  You don’t have to explain yourself to God or your friends  because the way you feel is completely normal! And, if your friends or family can’t understand you, have them read my other post by clicking here. I had to learn that it was okay to ugly cry; I had to learn that my emotions would range from being on top of the world to feeling dreadful. I learned to tell others what I needed from them–and learned to stop living in the land of regret. I also stopped going back into the past and had to stop “replaying” my life over and over. The bottom line is, the healing process of a broken heart does not belong to us–it belongs to God. So, when we start letting go of the healing process and quit trying to heal ourselves, that is when we can allow God to do what he does best. He is the best healer in town!
  5. I began to do practical things–I began to physically take care of myself. I began to tell myself that I was worth it by taking care of my body. I started going to the gym, started changing my wardrobe and my style. Sometimes, you have to do things that require physical action and then later your mind with catch up.
  6. I began to realize that not everyone’s opinion mattered. This is KEY. Everyone and their mom will have an opinion on what you could have done, should have done, or should be doing–but all you have to worry about right now is what is right for YOU. I decided which friends to lean on-and which friends to keep at a distance until I was healed enough to hear what they had to say. I didn’t allow everyone to speak into my life because I knew I had to protect my heart from hurtful opinions and judgmental accusations.
  7. THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE….I began to slowly let go of him….. AND, IT IS A PROCESS STILL. This is probably the slowest and longest step in my journey. When I first was away from my husband, I kept seeing him everywhere (even though he wasn’t actually there). Every man that slightly looked like him instantly brought him back into the room. And, at times it was so overwhelming I would break down and cry. I was so depressed that I would lock myself in the bathroom at work and cry because I missed him. I just wanted to be back in his arms. But, what I missed–was a mirage. Part of letting go was stopping all communication with him–even writing to him and sending letters to him had to stop. When we got divorced–all of the marriage debt defaulted to me by a fluke in court. I kept filing papers to try and fight it, but I didn’t realize that all the legal fighting was actually delaying my healing process. It kept re-digging old wounds from the past, with every phone call, every email, I would get reminded of the pain of my husband’s infidelity and unfaithfulness. I would begin to feel all the same feelings of betrayal and it would just reopen the wound. I had to LET GO of everything–including fighting for what I thought was justice, and eventually I just let go of the court case. Sometimes, you have to give the justice to God. Because he brings justice in his own way–which is always better.
  8. I began to do a lot of healthy self talk. I have a sign that I read to myself that hangs in my bathroom. It says, “I am a desirable, powerful, and influential woman.” And, I look at myself and tell myself that I am super sexy, beautiful, and hot. Because if you depend on someone else to tell you that you are beautiful, then when they stop saying that you are—you will believe that your beauty is gone. You need to tell yourself who you are because if you don’t, someone else will. 
  9. I began to hold the hands of others who were in the mud with me. It is so important to identify with others during this part of your journey. Part of the devil’s lie is to tell you that you are alone. This lie is what usually causes people to keep things secret and to keep things in the dark. Well, the devil is a liar! And, God’s truth is what will set you free. When you begin to surround yourself with women who know what you are going through and have been there or are there themselves, you will be able to have a great support system. Don’t keep quiet.
  10. I began to discover my past and figure out what wounds I had from my childhood. This is super key. You can’t try and fix the most recent problem in your life without retracing your steps back to your childhood. Unhealed wounds won’t heal themselves. They have to be dealt with or the infection will just spread into other places in your life.

I am still in progress, but guess what? I love myself! And, I hope after reading this, you are encouraged to find a road to healing. Just know, you are loved–and you were created ON PURPOSE. God didn’t make a mistake when he made you. Humans make mistakes–but God does not. And He can work around mistakes and make your story into something beautiful.  If you have read this far, then I am talking to YOU!

Psalms 147:3 He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Jesus didn’t casually die on the cross so we can build churches and celebrate Christmas. He came so that he could take you where you are and transform your messy life into a miracle. God transformed my view of who I was and He can do the very same thing for you. No matter how ugly you think you are, no matter how undesirable you feel, no matter how much you want to commit suicide, God WANTS YOU. He says, “I pick you! I pick you! And, I always have wanted you.” Will you let him in?

If so, say this prayer with me: Dear Jesus, I invite you into my heart. It is broken, it is messy and I don’t know what to do with it. But, I trust what you can do with my heart. Will you heal every part of it? I believe that you died and rose on the Cross and you paid not just for my sins–but for the things that would happen to me to make me broken. I pray that in this moment, you begin to show me what I need to do to become a whole person. Amen.

After you have prayed that, ask God to show you what things or steps you need to take to start loving yourself.

Your journey is going to be unique, just like mine is. I don’t have it all together. But, I often tell others, that you only need to be one step ahead of someone to lead them. So, will you let a perfect God turn your broken heart into a beautiful story?

-Jensine, writer for the Healed Heart.

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A Second Chance For My Wedding Dress

dress

I stuffed my wedding dress under my bed, so I wouldn’t have to look at it in my closet. It was too painful to keep in sight, but too precious to give away. What an irony, right? Yes, that is how I felt about my dress after my marriage fell apart. I never thought I would sell my wedding dress.  I always thought it would be passed down as an heirloom to my future kids. But, life takes turns you don’t see coming.

I listed my wedding dress on Craigslist and was contacted by a woman interested in buying it. My heart skipped a beat when I read her message. Part of me felt relief; however, part of me felt sad that something so special would now belong to a stranger.

The Craigslist buyer told me that she was saving herself for marriage and was a Christian. I thought, what are the odds that a woman, who is saving herself for marriage (like I did), would be the next person to wear my wedding dress? Also, what are the odds that we would both share the same faith? From the things she was saying, I saw myself in her.  I was surprised.

A few weeks before this, I decided to take out my wedding dress and look at it. It was absolutely breathtaking. I began to reminisce on the day I bought it. I was at David’s Bridal and had only been trying on dresses for 20 minutes and decided right away that was it.  Most people spend a long time finding the perfect dress–but I knew that dress belonged to me at first sight. From the delicate placement of sequins, to the soft layers of fabric, to the curve of the seams—every detail was full of character.  I felt like a magazine bride in that dress.

Now, that gorgeous dress was tainted with the pain of divorce. As long as the wedding dress was in my possession, it would represent heartache. It held memories of walking down the aisle to a man that would later break all of his vows, mistreat me, and choose other women instead of me.

The Craigslist buyer met with me to try on the dress. As emotional as I thought I would be, I calmly removed the wedding dress from the garment bag and offered to help her try it on.  As I was lacing the back of the dress, I noticed that it fit her perfectly. The crazy part is the dress fit her even though I made a lot of custom alterations to fit my body shape–including shortening the dress, taking in the waist, and altering the bust.

It gets better:  I ended up giving her my wedding shoes and corset because they were her exact size too!  God cared about the details so much that he arranged for us to meet: two people with the same dress sizes, same shoe sizes, same faith. He knew that this would be a healing experience for me. It almost seemed too obvious: God was saying that I get to recreate my fairy tale again.  

As she stood there looking at herself in the mirror, gasping with disbelief that she was going to own everything she was wearing—it became clear. She would write a new story for my wedding dress. A dress that had been stuffed under a bed would now be part of a beautiful and loving marriage. It was now her treasure.

IN ONE SINGLE MOMENT, my wedding dress went from being a symbol of heartache to a symbol of pure joy. She said God answered her prayers through me! Can you believe that God used me to bless someone’s marriage in the midst of my divorce?  He sure has a sense of humor. God works EVERYTHING for good…everything. Nothing goes to waste if we let Him redeem it.

Now, when I think about my wedding dress…I smile. In about a month, that bride will walk down the aisle, and my old dress will shine just like it did on my wedding day. Except now, there is a tale to be told. A tale of redemption, second chances, and answered prayers.  And, one day, she will pass that dress down as an heirloom–just as I have always hoped.

-Jen, Writer for the Healed Heart

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