A couple of years ago, a friend of mine was left by her husband. He kicked her out of their home and left her with no way to support herself or move back to her friends and family. Over the last two years, she has completely rewritten her life and I’m so proud of all the work that she’s put into it. I asked her if she would answer a few questions for me, thinking that perhaps her experience might offer some help or encouragement to people in a similar situation.
Q: While in your marriage, what was your view of the state of your relationship?
A: I thought I was in a solid relationship, and I felt lucky to be with my husband. I felt like other people probably didn’t have someone as good as him, as he himself liked to point out. He said no one else would accept him as he was, while implying the same of me. We had tried to have children together, however, I had 3 miscarriages throughout our marriage. I blamed myself for this perceived failure, and, unfortunately, so did he. It placed a growing strain on our relationship and finances.
There were moments of incredible happiness, however, I also remember feeling a nagging loneliness for many years. Most days I put my husband’s wants and needs before my own, I felt they were more important. In truth, I knew no other way. I had been with him since I was 17 and we separated when I was 32.
Q: Now that you are single (and have been for a while), what advice do you have for women entering marriage?
A: I think it’s a really good idea to figure out what your likes and dislikes are before entering marriage. People should know what their boundaries are, as well as how to maintain them. Before marriage, you should have an idea of what financial independence is like, get those skills ready so if you need them, you can pull them out of your pocket. I had no sense of independence when my ex asked me to leave our home, I was very frightened at the prospect of starting over on my own. I would not wish that experience on anyone.
Q: Looking back, can you see that you were mistreated and in what ways were you?
A: I was mistreated in many ways, and the sad part is, I didn’t realize the extent of it until we were separated. I thought the measure of control he had over my life was because he loved me. He would mention often that he had trained me to be the perfect wife for him, and at the time I was so pleased by this. Looking back, I see how manipulated I was. He would feed my insecurities and use them to justify his behaviors.
Q: What has your journey of healing and self development been like?
A: My first steps of my journey were taken when I was still living in the same home as him, but after he had asked me to leave. I did not beg to stay. I started planning my departure immediately. My mom had been planning a visit, so we began coordinating my departure together. Once I arrived in my home state again, I did stagnate for a couple months. Part of me still hoped he would ask me to come back, but those hopes were scattered when he told me he was with someone else. That was when I began planning a real future without him.
I started dating someone, a former coworker, because they showed interest in me. I felt flattered at the time, and feeling wanted was a balm which soothed my wounded feelings. I began applying for jobs, and when I was offered a great one, I accepted and found a roommate who worked at the same place I’d been hired.
Within a year of employment, I was able to afford an apartment of my own. This was the first time in my life I was paying all of my own bills. The feeling of financial independence is truly intoxicating. My relationship with my family and friends is now stronger than ever before. I can make social plans without consulting anyone but myself and those with whom I am making plans, and it feels so empowering. I am a happier person than I thought I would ever be.
Q: How do you feel about yourself today vs. when you were still married?
A: I feel empowered. I have learned not only how to not only survive on my own, but also how to thrive. It sounds cheesy, I know, yet it’s true. Navigating life on my own hasn’t been easy, but it’s definitely worth it. My feelings of self-worth have been growing since my separation. I am happy, and that’s huge.