I cried today. I cried thinking about a girl I used to know. That girl was me.
For some reason something made me think about the old me today. The girl who cried herself to sleep at night. The girl who was so depressed she could barely function. I cried for her. Life back then was so different from today. I rarely think about those days and when I do it’s a brief thought, but today I found myself walking in those old shoes. The feelings rushed over me and I was immediately in tears.
Looking back, I don’t know how I made it. I don’t know how I went out into public and kept it together. Basically, I don’t know how I survived.
I lived with a sex addict. Chad, the man I married, had a dark secret and it slowly destroyed our lives. What started with sometimes viewing pornography had morphed into a lifestyle that thrived on lies and cheating. Our home was a place of torment. I lived there trying to make it through the day and dreading the next one. Good days were days where there were no new discoveries and no yelling. Good days weren’t really that good at all.
We moved near Durham, North Carolina for Chad to attend Duke Divinity. It was far away from all family and friends. I left my support system behind. I couldn’t really cultivate any friends within the Duke Divinity community because I would have to be fake and could never reveal the hell that was our life. So, I lived in a small town with very little to do and passed my time at home with the kids, everyday. I would long for Chad to come home for the help and companionship that I desperately wanted, but anyone who’s lived with an addict knows their life is all about them. He wasn’t any help to me and seeing him made my heart hurt.
I did what had to be done. I took care of the kids and attended church but inside I was dead. There came a time where I believe it showed. A few sweet, older women of our church would come and encourage me seeing that I was visibly sad. They all assumed it was because I was homesick. So, they would sit down beside me on the pew and tell me about how they moved from home and how they understood. That was so painful for me. I wanted to lean into one of those dear ladies and sob into her shoulder. I wanted to tell her how difficult my life was. I wanted that so badly, but instead I thanked her for the encouragement.
What I’ve typed is just the tip of the iceberg of hurt that was our life then. There are so many memories of abandonment and loss. Thinking about those days is sad, but it is good for me. It is good for me to remember, even with tears, the horror that God saved me from. It reminds me of when Moses commanded the Israelites in Exodus to remember.
This is a day to remember forever–the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery. Today the LORD has brought you out by the power of his mighty hand. Exodus 13:3
It’s easy to get caught up in my life as it is now which is such a stark contrast from the years before. It’s easy to forget those days and take for granted the peace that now reigns in our home. It’s amazing how quickly it became normal for me to have a husband who would now do anything for us, who is giving and loving and sacrificial. Isn’t it crazy how we can so quickly forget the hell that God has saved us from? How quickly we own this new place of peace and call it normal.
Remembering all of this today has renewed a sense of gratitude in my heart over what God has done. I’m thankful for these memories of my past, painful as they may be, because they remind me of how big God is and how nothing is impossible for Him. And for that reason, I don’t ever want to forget!