My most poignant life lessons did not come through study or careful observation. Rather, I learned so much more about myself when I failed to use sound judgment and suffered from my own bad decisions. At those times, I didn’t trust my own intuition or the signals of distress that my body was giving me.
My discernment was clouded by misplaced loyalty and by clinging rigidly to outmoded values that did not serve me well. I wasn’t open to the examination of my entire belief system until a contentious divorce rocked my world.
I was already standing on shaky ground for quite some time when I finally filed for divorce from my abusive spouse.
Wisdom doesn’t always come through suffering, but when it does, it changes you forever. Your once buoyant heart is now fractured and will eventually heal, but the scars give it a different texture and quality. You no longer trust as easily. If you are lucky, your heart will break wide open and you will appreciate and love life more, love others more, and love yourself more.
You will make different choices going forward.
Raised Catholic, I believed that marriage was an inviolable commitment. I naively thought marriage would make me whole and happy, lacking awareness at the time that I was the only person responsible for my own happiness. I was successful in my career and had two children whom I loved deeply. Not wanting them to grow up in a broken home, I catered to my husband’s unreasonable demands.
Believing that if I made sacrifices he would love me back was an exercise in futility, as I had married a narcissist with whom I quickly developed a co-dependent relationship. He held me responsible for his happiness and volatile moods, viewing me as nothing more than an extension of himself. After a while, I didn’t even know who I was anymore.
It is very common for victims of child abuse to marry someone who will perpetuate what already feels very familiar to them. It got to the point that I contemplated suicide, as the constant barrage of verbal abuse and criticism had completely eroded any vestiges of self-esteem that I had left from a childhood of neglect, emotional cruelty, and unpredictable physical violence.
I believe that I married him because I was trying to heal my brokenness from childhood, to get resolution of what can never be resolved.
There was a turning point where my depression lifted into anger. I thank God for the blessing of feeling anger in my body. It raised me up from the lower vibration of depression to one of movement and clarity.
Anger was a signal that something was very wrong and that I needed to figure out how and when to respond, instead of remaining passive. It was time to take action to free myself.
Experiencing a divorce transformed me. If I hadn’t filed for a restraining order to stop my soon to be ex-husband when he started a new risky business, we would have ended up bankrupt. My taking action actually protected us both, although he didn’t see it that way. I did my own research on complex issues instead of depending solely on the counsel of my attorney, who advised me incorrectly without bothering to do any substantive research on them. Instead of trusting that others would look out for my interests, I relied on my own abilities to take care of myself. It was necessary to learn how to set healthy boundaries with others and become my own best advocate, accepting that I am the only person responsible for how I allow myself to be treated, who I choose to be, and what I can accomplish.
I read many books and questioned many of my assumptions. By letting go of beliefs that no longer served me, I stopped blindly following organized religion. I reevaluated my limited concepts of God, heaven, and the soul. It gave me great comfort to know that I am connected to others in a sacred, invisible web of energy through which we all live and move and have our being. I appreciated the divine nature of all life.
Prayer and meditation helped me get through the divorce and connect to Spirit. I became a Reiki Master and took workshops in crystal healing. The raw power of divine energy moving through me as a conduit to help people heal themselves felt amazing and humbled me at the same time.
I wanted to be truly free, and the divorce was not the only thing I needed.
After years of self-examination, I finally realized that true freedom would only come if I let go of anger after it had served its purpose. It was time to address forgiveness of self and others. Prudence and power reside in a forgiving heart. I forgave myself for all negative experiences and accepted them as my own. I unconditionally forgave and released my parents and my ex-husband for all hurtful actions, intentional or otherwise. It was easier to forgive my own faults and errors of omission and commission if I forgave those deeply flawed human beings who had wounded me. I released the bond that connected us and felt lighter, joyful.
“Letting go” of the past is not a passive activity for those who have suffered traumatic experiences.
Offensive behavior must not be allowed to continue, and this may mean that breaking all contact with the offender is required. Years of therapy, positive affirmations, and PTSD-focused healing techniques such as Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) were necessary for me to have a breakthrough and experience freedom from recurring negative thoughts and emotions.
Relief is attainable and worth the investment of time and effort for those who suffer.
If I can help just one other woman—one other family—break the cycle of abuse through my efforts to educate and empower abused women through either the free resources available on my website or my book, my efforts will have been worthwhile.
If that woman is you, my heart will be very full. You deserve to be happy.
Rosemary Lombardy is a financial advisor, Reiki Master, and the founder of www.breakingbonds.com, a free resource for abused women. Her new book, Breaking Bonds: How to Divorce an Abuser and Heal – A Survival Guide, is available now for presale, prior to its launch on February 8, 2019.