The Tunnel

A vulnerable, scary post to write.

There is a light at the end of every tunnel.

Some tunnels just happen to be longer than others.

Ada Adams

This post is about that first hellish year. I had advice and gossip flung left, right, and everywhere. It was awful. I wanted to stay in my house and not face the world. Grocery shopping and getting the mail were acts of heroism requiring a gold metal. I quit church. I couldn’t do it. 

Those first few months for anyone are terrible. Mine had an extra special helping of awful because of the way my ex-husband responded. He decided to defame me to anyone and everyone he could possibly reach. The slander and gossip were horrible. How do you even go outside when your friends, neighbours and relations all know your deepest and darkest secrets? And even better, secrets that have never happened, but were now spread around as gospel truth. 

My now husband G was going through the same hell that I was, only he didn’t have the support of his immediate family behind him. We propped each other up, and when one of us went down, the other one pulled them back to the surface. For real.  I know without a shadow of a doubt that without the other person, we both wouldn’t have made it though. Suicide, my darlings, was a very real option. If it wasn’t for the children….well…

While my dependence on G started almost immediately, the circumstances regarding our relationship were misconstrued to the enth degree. I will admit that it looked bad. Really bad. Especially to a small town, Bible belt community.  But people didn’t ask us for the truth. They just assumed they already knew. I must say I have been guilty of the same behaviour myself. I just never realized how badly it could hurt someone.

I learned a valuable lesson. We really don’t have a clue how badly we hurt others until we’ve been there. And unless we ask for the truth from the source, we just. don’t. know.

G went to bat for me with the church elders, asking them how they could treat me this way.  Total isolation, and no one willing to listen, just to judge me and tell me I needed to repent and take back my husband. It only confirmed in their minds that we were wrong. They couldn’t possibly be wrong in their treatment of myself and G. We’ve had people come back now and admit they were wrong. This helps. But at the time it was almost more than we could take. 

Many times we had the conversation “what do we do?! Do we tell everyone what really happened? Do we set the record straight? Do we stop all the rumours and gossip? How can people actually believe all that, don’t they know us at all?!! Do they have any idea of what’s been done to either one of us? If they really, really knew the truth, they would be dismayed, alarmed, sickened, and they would understand.” 

We decided in the end that there was no point. To do this would be to vilify my ex-husband, and his ex-wife, and neither of us were willing to do this. Time would tell. And time has a way of making light of the truth. 

(shout out to the awesome, incredible friends and family who listened, supported, and stood by us! You were invaluable and we were so blessed by you!!)

In the meantime, we needed to bear up under the load, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. We said this line to one another repeatedly. “One foot in front of the other”. 

I despised that saying, and at the same time clung to it for dear life

During it all, I started to find myself. I figured out who I was, what I thought, why I was making the decisions I was making. 

I remembered who I was and most importantly, I remembered who I wanted to be. 

I had been shut down for so long. So angry, so depressed, so trapped, and so lost. 

My mother and G dragged me to a psychologist in a nearby city because I could no longer cope with it all. I was barely functioning. The depression and overwhelming anxiety that I was facing were getting the best of me.  The psychologist  told me that depression was anger turned inward. I was like “whaattt??That makes NO sense!” 

I had been diagnosed with depression at the age of eighteen, my first year of marriage, although I knew I had already been depressed in my teens. (see ‘gentle spirit’ for context).  

She told me that my tears were not tears of sadness, but tears of rage. It’s just that my rage was not ever allowed. It wasn’t socially acceptable. It wasn’t godly. So I had turned all my anger inward and instead I became depressed. 

It started to make sense. As did another thing…my mind couldn’t handle it and neither could my body. 

My body couldn’t deal with all those pent up emotions, and so it would remind me of my inner emotional turmoil in the form of almost weekly migraines. I  welcomed the relief of the physical pain because it overshadowed the emotional pain. The all encompassing migraine symptoms alleviated the pain in my heart and numbed the mental anguish in my head. This went on for years and years until I had finally had enough. 

Now the migraines had somewhat abated, because I was refusing to push down the rage and the grief and the pain. But I had so much rage, so much grief, and so much pain that I was drowning in it. I was terrified of facing another day carrying the weight of all the emotion I was processing.

 Enter anxiety. 

I do not like anxiety. It is worse than depression. 

According to my psychologist, I was using the anxiety to block my overwhelming emotions because I was afraid of all the pain. Weird how your mind does that to you. It tries to protect you from itself. The psychologist talked about how I could help manage my anxiety. I’m still not great at it. I try to talk out what I’m feeling and a lot of the time it helps. However, airplanes still do, and always will, require a heavy dose of Ativan! After all, who am I kidding. They are beyond my powers of reasoning and calming down. 

I made it through those first few months, by the grace of God. Every day was a battle. I sat and wondered if I would ever feel truly happy again.  If the sun would ever shine again. I felt I was in a dark tunnel and while the sun was shining on the outside world, I couldn’t even see the pinpoint of light in the tunnel opening up ahead. 

I wondered what normal felt like. I was holding myself together while picking up the pieces of my children’s broken worlds.  I had lost so much, but slowly, little by little, inch by inch, step by step,  I was gaining. 

I just didn’t know it yet. 

H.

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