Be careful what you wish for, what you say. Three years ago today my then husband of more than 3 decades told me once again that he was ashamed of me, that he deserved better, that I had to lose weight. He refused to kiss me, hug me, touch me until I lost weight. As I said, this wasn't the first time I had heard this sentiment from him. But, something went off in my brain that time. Besides the sense of failure and confusion and frustration, I felt anger. The anger of a long criticized, long abused spouse.
For once I did something I should have done years and years ago. I took all those terrible feelings to Jesus, in prayer and in the form of a priest in Confession. I halfway feared that the priest would say it was my duty to please my husband and lose weight. I was halfway afraid that I would leave Confession sadder and more depressed than I went in. But, trust is what I learned. I was encouraged not to continue to accept unacceptable behavior. I was encouraged to seek help. God loved me and didn't demand that I suffer.
I sought help in the form of a counselor who spotted my depression right away and got me on meds. She saw me weekly until I was more stable. She said nice encouraging things to me. She listened. She encouraged me in my hope that I did not have to stay married just because I am a Catholic woman who wants to follow the teachings of the church. I am allowed to be happy.
I found a lawyer who helped me to get out of the marriage. It was a long road. I had to listen to testimony in court that I was the crazy one. I had to give up money and things that were rightfully mine. I had to drive an old car that I had to pour money into because I couldn't trade it until I had title to it. I had to get the house together, clean out the mess, pay for repairs, and sell it while he walked away with exactly half the profit.
Finally, I am divorced and working on an annulment. An annulment? Yes, through prayer and counseling and reflection I have come to see that when I married, I barely knew my husband. We had dated only a few weeks when we got engaged. We knew each other less than a year when we got married. After we got engaged the priest speeded up the marriage prep and wait time. Unfortunately, at that same time during the engagement, I was learning to distrust my husband to be. Over and over again he did things that ignored my feelings at best and crushed them at worst. And why did I marry him? Because I thought he was my only chance. I longed for children and marriage. He went to church, doesn't that mean he knew Christ's love? I went into marriage with mistrust and fear. I thought I would change him. I thought God's love would change him. But, I learned over and over again to protect my heart from the man who was my husband. The only change I had at my disposal was my own.
The way I loved him was not the love of a partner, a spouse, but loving someone who I felt sorry for, who scared me, who was sometimes nice, but often critical and dismissive of my needs and wants and desires. This was my part, I was dishonest and married a man I didn't fully love and came not to love at all. I love him like my enemy these days. I hope and even pray he comes to know Christ, but I want no part of him.
He thought no matter what he said or did to me, I wouldn't leave him, couldn't leave him. He told me as much. But, he never wanted to be married to a woman who struggled with her weight. And he got his wish. He isn't. I am not sure he is ultimately happy with the way it ended up. But, me? I can breathe. I feel whole and free for the first time in what seems like forever. I made mistakes. But, I am not required to live with them.
(And I don't want to go into the rest, but the weight was not the only issue in the marriage, it is the easiest to explain here. We tried marriage programs, counseling, read books, talked to deacons, prayed to fix our marriage. If you judge me, please keep it to yourself. I judge myself enough. And remember--be careful what you wish for.)