Finding out that my husband was abusing my daughter wasn't the first mind-boggling terrible thing that I had to live through in my life. It was, however, the worst...and, as odd as this sounds, I truly hope that it remains the worst thing that happens in my life.
There are a myriad of emotions one goes through when you find yourself in this position. The one I want to talk about today is guilt. The abuser has none. He (or she) will find ways to lay the guilt on others, a thousand and one rationalizations to excuse behaviour that has no excuse. As the non-offending spouse of the abuser, you, however, have tons of guilt.
How could I let this happen? Why didn't I see it? How could I have married this person? I lay in bed with him, had a child with him, stood before God and our family and swore to love him until "death do us part". How? Why? You feel as if you failed, as a parent, on the most elementary level. You failed to keep your child safe. You brought this person into their lives.
The list goes on and on.
How do you move on? How do you go back to the person you used to be?
Well....you don't. Every trauma, every tragedy in your life changes your personal reality. You can't go back to the person who never experienced betrayal, loss, pain. You go forward. It is really just that simple. You only have two choices, if you think about it. You get up in the morning and you keep breathing, or you don't. I don't know about you, but for me there was no choice in the matter. My family had already been through this horrific experience and I was the mother. I was now the only head of the family -- me, and only me. To not move forward, to not keep breathing, was unacceptable. So I got up in the morning, remembered to breathe and got through day 1, day 2, day 3, day 100, day 200.
And the guilt? It really doesn't go away either. I just started to stop listening to it. There was nothing I could do, at this point, to change what had already happened. All I could do was stand by, and with, my children from this point forward and be the support system for all the difficult days ahead. It's been almost four years now...four years since I got a text message that took my life apart at the seams. And even now, in a dark moment, I can hear that voice in my head saying "How could you have been that blind? How could you be that stupid?"
Occasionally, I'll get my youngest to give me a hug. (She's a great hugger!) I remember the four really good friends who saw me through the darkest days...and I remind myself that someone who has friends who stand by them when their life is in the gutter can't be THAT bad a person.
And I remember what one of them told me -- that the sun rises in the morning, that each day is a new start to get things right.
Did it change me? Yes, it did. I do not trust people easily, if at all, except for people I have know for years. I don't date. I don't trust my ability to judge new people. If Prince Charming is out there, he is going to have to show up at my door with a bow around his neck and three letters of reference.
But what hasn't changed about me is the most basic part. I still love the beach in the summer, sunsets, laughter. I still love with all my heart. I still have faith. I still believe life has a purpose. And my children are still my world.
I tell myself what I told my daughter -- God (whomever or whatever you believe Him to be) -- God can make great good from great evil, if we allow it. I have reason for being here. And tomorrow...tomorrow is another day to get things right.