The conclusion of a three-part article written by Randi Fine
I should have seen the writing on the wall and planned an exit strategy long before I needed it but I had not. Financially dependent and deeply in denial I lingered until the very last second. Then I fled, penniless, in desperation.
When I left my husband, newborn baby in tow, the only realistic option I had was to move back in with my parents. I dreaded the thought of having to go back to my childhood home. I knew it would be emotional suicide for me, but it was the safest place for my daughter to live until I could get back on my feet.
Though my husband had put me through a living hell I never wanted to leave him, still loved him, and could not imagine life without him. The loss was profoundly painful, the grief nearly unbearable.
Now thinking back to all the issues that had confronted me all at once I cannot imagine how I managed to stay sane. I was a first time mother, only two weeks post-partum, and single. My baby was very small, not even six pounds, and she could not eat enough at one feeding to sustain her for very long. She only slept two hours at a time so I was nursing her every two hours, all day and all night.
My parents, who remained deficient in respecting personal boundaries, were not making things any easier for me. Every time my daughter woke up and cried in the middle of the night they would brazenly open the door to the bedroom I shared with her and scream at me to pick her up. They said she needed to be fed and held. I was trying to teach her to self-soothe so she would fall back to sleep on her own and I could get some badly needed rest, but they just didn’t get it.
While all this was going on my husband was doing everything he could think of to punish me for leaving him. He retained his family’s attorney and threatened to fight me for visitation and custody. That terrified me—in his compromised state of mind there was no way I would even leave him alone with the baby for a second. I could not afford a lawyer of my own. All I could do was plead with him to drop the custody/visitation issue and help me out financially. Unmercifully exercising the upper hand he just toyed with me and played head games.
I applied for welfare, but the state claimed I was ineligible because my car was worth more than the allowable assets. My retired parents with a modest income stepped up to the plate—they sacrificed and helped as much as they could financially. I am ever grateful for everything they did to help me. In that way they made my life easier. I wish I could have said the same about their emotional support.
I continued going to Nar Anon support group meetings for a few months to help me cope with my all my problems. The “Higher Power” focus, fundamental to all twelve-step support groups, was constantly being reinforced there. Though still a foreign concept to me, I was beginning to grasp the idea of an intangible force working in my life.
Desperate for answers I began seeking solace in books. The internet had yet to exist so the library, with its vast resources, became my sanctuary. I would stand in front of the shelves in the spirituality sections waiting for a book to “speak” to me.
What I read in these books made more sense to me than anything I had ever heard before. Through this newly acquired awareness the panoramic picture of my life started coming together. My eyes were opened to the incredible love that had always been available to me but that I never knew I could tap into. Though the religious perspective never made sense to me, the spiritual one did and it captivated me.
I finally understood my grandfather’s spiritual connection; the one that brought him so much joy in his life. He found it through religion. I didn’t. I came upon it through adversity. It doesn’t matter how we come to this understanding. What is important is that we know we are unconditionally loved and supported at all times. There is no greater love. Always have faith.