If you’ve been with me from the beginning, you know that my blog started out as a sort of open journal. I had a two year old and was in the middle of a divorce from my then husband of nearly five years. I felt like I was venting to my family a little too much but needed an outlet to get out my thoughts on what I was going through. I also learned a lot about myself and about life and wanted to share in hopes that someone else would be encouraged by my journey… and learn from my mistakes. Fast forward to today – over five and a half years later.
It had been on my to-do list for months at this point, but I finally got started organizing my garage. There wasn’t a lot of cleaning that needed to be done, but I did need to sort through two small storage bins and either toss or donate the bigger items blocking the area where I wanted to set my new shelving units. I found a few old papers that need to be shredded, some old Christmas décor, and a small stack of notebooks. One of them had miscellaneous notes – mainly weekly grocery lists. One had study notes from a few medical technology classes I’d taken years ago. The last one though had pages of my thoughts from 2013 (three years prior to my divorce) that I had titled “Unresolved Issues”. I don’t even remember ever writing this down, but here it was – six pages of event after event of negative things that had happened so far in my marriage (just two years in), how it made me feel, and one question in particular that repeated itself in different events throughout the entire account, “Why am I still here?”.
I didn’t read through everything, but I had read enough if you know what I mean. Some of the things I read, I had completely forgotten about. It literally felt like I was slowly unpacking memories that were decades old even though all of these things happened not all that long ago. A few feelings came back. They left me standing there a bit numb for a few minutes. Then, I was overwhelmed with two feelings in particular: regret and gratefulness.
Now, I know what you may be thinking at first – overwhelming regret at getting married in the first place. Right? Well… actually, no. I don’t regret getting married. I’ve learned a lifetime of lessons from my experience in this marriage. I’ve been able to get stronger than I ever thought I could be and help others through their journeys as a direct result of some of the things I dealt with in my marriage. Not to mention, my best little buddy was a result of that union. I have my son. What I regret was staying in a relationship that was emotionally abusive for three years past when I’d started asking myself why I was still there. I realized what was going on and knew it wasn’t right for a long time. I endured additional events that I didn’t have to subject myself or my son to if I had just had the courage to leave a little earlier. Not that I wasn’t scared when I did leave (because I was), but I was eventually willing to do it afraid. I regretted how long it took me to get to that place.
But immediately following the regret, I felt overwhelmingly grateful. My life is completely different now than it was five and a half years ago. I have been catapulted in a totally different direction emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially. As poor as my mental health was then, it is that much richer today. Every aspect of my life is so much more rich and full than it was before. Even if it took me a little longer than it could have, I am so immensely grateful that I did leave. Lord only knows what life would be like now if I hadn’t.
I share this, and I will keep sharing this, because I want you to know how incredibly important and valuable you are. If you are in a relationship, any relationship (family, friend, spouse) and things just don’t seem right. If you continue to feel worse and worse when you’re with this person and are blamed for your feelings. If you can’t stop asking yourself “why am I still here”, please get help. Talk to people you trust, talk to a therapist or counselor – don’t just stay where you are and not voice how you feel or try to make your environment better. And if the relationship doesn’t improve, even if you are afraid, muster every bit of courage you have to leave. Your life, your mental health, your peace – YOU – are worth saving. You never know who is going to be inspired or encouraged by seeing you choose you. And who knows, maybe one day, years later, you’ll stumble on something that reminds you of what life used to be like. Maybe you too will be reminded of things that you’d forgotten. It may sting a little. But maybe you’ll also be overwhelmingly grateful. Thankful.