Sometimes, grief comes out of nowhere. We don’t expect it. We don’t want it. But it comes and takes our breath away. Disrupts our day. Perhaps our week. Waves of grief, crashing over our world. Waves we weren’t anticipating. It’s as if the bottom has fallen out of your life. It has.
When you go through a divorce, you should expect to be ambushed by grief. You are not crazy – you are grieving. This is so hard. The pain pierces deep within. It physically hurts. There are lots of tears. Deep anguish. It can take your breath way. I know.
We tend to do things to try to get quickly past the grief of divorce, but a friend warned me not to bypass the process. She said to feel it, process it, work through it, go to God. She skipped over the grief when she got divorced and had to come back to it, years later. She wisely told me to deal with it now, when it comes. Which it will.
The writers of Scripture knew and wrote about grief. Paul explains that we are not exempt from grief, but instead, he teaches how our grief is different than those without faith. He writes in 1 Thess. 4:13 that we “do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” King David wrote similar words 1,000 years earlier in Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Jesus echoes the grief with hope message when he speaks gently to our grief in Matthew 5:4, calling us blessed and promising comfort. As I grieve, I remind myself that I grieve with hope.
“I wouldn’t really call what he does ‘abuse.’ I mean, it’s not like he hits me or anything.”
Have you ever found yourself saying something along these lines? Many people believe that “abuse” only refers to physical beatings, the kind where the man leaves the woman with bruises on her body and swollen eyes. And they are badly mistaken.
Verbal abuse takes a huge toll on a woman, especially when it is combined with other injurious behaviors, such as controlling her or cheating on her. The put-downs, the humiliation, the ridicule — all of these can attack a woman’s soul deeply, sometimes more deeply than assaults do.
What are the key messages that verbal abuse sends you? His vicious words tell you that you are beneath him. He sends the message that you have no value. His insults and rejection work to convince you that you are not worthy of love. His verbal attacks teach you that everything you do is wrong. His arrogance and demanding treatment make you feel stupid and incompetent.
I grieved at the thought of telling my children that we were getting a divorce. I knew this would rock their little worlds. Forever change their story. I stayed in a destructive marriage for many more years than I should have, primarily because I didn’t want to turn their world totally upside-down. It hurt this mama’s heart.
But what they were seeing and the way we were living was destructive to them, too.
I was dying a slow and painful emotional death and was becoming a shell of a person. I was having to deny the abuse that was taking place just to cope and get through the day. I numbed every part of my heart. It was too painful otherwise. They were seeing all this, as well as the angry, disrespectful, and manipulative way that my spouse treated me. They would think this was a normal way for a man to treat a woman, and would likely repeat the pattern.
When I decided to divorce my abusive and narcissistic X2B, I went to an adolescent counseling center and got some advice on how to tell the kids we were divorcing. Here were their general suggestions: Continue reading
Several people have asked why I started this blog. Why I tell my story. Why I risk having my XNarc find out and go ballistic. Here is why: I hope as you hear my story, you hear about hope that wouldn’t let go. You hear about love and life. I hope you hear of the grace that is greater than all my sin. Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in. I hope as you hear my story, you hear of Him.
My story is a story of brokenness and rescue and hope and love. I pray yours is, too.
Enjoy this music by Big Daddy Weave.
Guest blogger Dr. Mary Ann Shaw is a child expert who has written two books, Helping Your Child Survive Divorce and Your Anxious Child. I’m grateful for her contribution to this blog.
Helping a Child Survive Divorce
“Helping a child survive divorce” is a misnomer to begin with. Children do not “survive” divorce as it is an on-going event. Divorce starts when children are usually young. They have a life-time of dealing with the divorce off and on through different stages they go through. While the stigma of divorce may not be in the forefront, it is there. Ways to handle divorce largely depend on the child or children. Honesty without information is the best policy.
“We as parents are going through changes in our feelings for each other. We have talked about moving apart from each other.” Now comes the tricky part. How do you convince the child or children that one is not moving away from them, physically and emotionally? The younger the child, the harder it is for them to understand closeness when not physically close. This is when you search for a parallel situation for explanation. You can use the concept of loving feelings for grandparents even though they don’t live with you. Best friends are loved but not living with you. It is important that this concept is made. A fault a lot of separating parents make is going into how situations really won’t change.