This is a hard post for me to write. Not only because it is the story of the hardest decision I’ve had to make, but also because I know there will be those of you who will judge me. After all, I judged myself for a while. I still struggle with guilt from this decision even though I know it was the right decision under the circumstances. This is the story of how not taking care of myself cost me everything.
I married young. Before I knew who I was or what I wanted out of life.
We weren’t even married a year when I had our first child, a beautiful baby boy. Three and a half years later, we had our first girl. Three and a half years after that, we welcomed another beautiful little girl. We had quite a few issues in our marriage starting shortly after we had our son. My husband wasn’t a bad guy, and he was a great father, but he was a bit controlling. Whereas, I was quite submissive and accommodating. I was no good at standing up for myself, for what I wanted. I would take the things that were bothering me and shove them deep down inside myself.
I began to feel like I was just another child in the house.
I stayed home and took care of my husband and my children. I gave them all I had to give. It wasn’t long until all those things that I kept shoving down began to weigh on me. I became depressed. I went through the motions in my marriage. I all but stopped taking care of myself. I put on quite a bit of weight because I ate horribly. It was a good week if I took more than one shower. I felt like a shell of myself.The only bright points in my life were my wonderful babies.
They were the only reason I had to smile. And, for the longest time, I thought I had to stay in the marriage for them. Once, when I almost was brave enough to try for a divorce, our pastors at the time guilted me into staying. They told me that if we were to divorce, that my children wouldn’t be covered by God and therefore would go to hell if they were to die. (Yeah, it was a bit of cult situation. But that’s a whole other post.) A couple years later, and after we were out of that church, I realized the truth.
I knew that if I stayed, my children would think that our marriage was just how it was.
That they would never know how marriage was supposed to be. My son would think it was okay to treat your wife like a child that was under your control. My daughters would think they were supposed to be totally subservient to their husband. That they weren’t supposed to have a say. And they would grow up with a mommy that had no light in her. I realized that, while we were technically one family unit if I stayed, we were a dysfunctional and unhealthy family unit.
So, I made the decision to leave and I took my amazing children with me.My husband resigned himself that our marriage was over. He even helped me and the kids into my mom’s car when we left. I assumed that it was a given that they were staying with me. So, a week later when he asked to keep them for the night, I thought nothing of it. Until the next day, when he let me know that he had filed for emergency custody and I wasn’t getting them back.
My heart broke into a million tiny pieces.
He had completely blindsided me. I didn’t know what to do. I had no job. No money. I was sleeping on a couch at my mom’s house. I didn’t know how I was going to take care of myself, let alone my kids too. But they were my kids and I wanted them with me. My step-dad gave me the money for a lawyer. And so it began. The back and forth between lawyers. My husband was only letting me see the kids with supervision, as if I was going to run off with them. I was hurt and insulted, but I got to see my kids. And I could tell they were being well taken care of. As much as it hurt, I began to realize that they were better off with their father’s situation. He had a great job, insurance, a nice home for the kids, and a great support system. And most importantly, he loved our babies just as much as I did.
I told my lawyer I was thinking about giving him primary custody.
And I told her why. She all but straight out told me no. It was becoming clear that her only interest was winning the case. She didn’t care about me or my children. But she convinced me to keep fighting. All the while, come to find out, she had been twisting my words to the judge and my husband’s lawyer. Making a case for abuse. And, while he could be controlling, that wasn’t the case at all. I could tell that the longer this battle continued, the worse she was going to get, and my kids would eventually get dragged into it and that is the last thing I wanted.So, I thought long and hard, and I made my decision.
I was in no position, mentally, emotionally or financially to care for my children at that point. My husband was. It was the absolute hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. But I decided fighting any longer would’ve been selfish. I wanted my kids, yes. Of course, I did! But that wasn’t what was best for them. And I had to do what was best for them, not for me. So I skipped over my evil lawyer lady and I met straight with my husband to settle on the details. Who then had his lawyer (who was a very kind man) write it up.
Now, I have my kids on the weekends and some holidays.
I also have them for a few full weeks throughout the year. And my now ex-husband is very cooperative and lets me have them when I have special occasions that pop up. It’s not enough, no, but it’s what I get. I miss getting them ready for school in the mornings. I miss helping them with everyday things. They were 8, 5 and 1 at the time of divorce. They are now 14, 11, and 7. I have missed huge portions of their lives. And all because I didn’t take good enough care of myself to be able to take care of them.
I am so much better now!
I am barely recognizable as the same woman who had to give her children’s custody away. I am confident and well cared for, both by myself and my wonderful new husband. I am happier than I have ever been. I even have an amazing new baby girl, who is adored by her siblings! And hopefully, someday, I will be able to have all my babies live with me again. Until then, I will take what time I have with them, and make the most of it. They are growing up to be the most wonderful, beautiful and,
frustrating strong-willed young people and I couldn’t be more proud of them!