Abandonment – From Devastation to Restoration

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I am a Christian – a follower of Jesus Christ – who is not yet a divorcee, but the case is on. I do not wish to divorce my husband. We were married for more than 26 years when the marriage collapsed, I felt my life was over. I have prayed and continue to do so morning, noon and night, for my spouse for a over a year from the time he left the house to live with his mother and brother. I am fully expecting God to not just “heal” my marriage, but to give me a brand new marriage with the same spouse. When will that happen, I keep wondering!! God is near but many a times it seems as though He does not even care that I have been betrayed, abandoned, and left to face the unknown totally alone.

To be as committed as I was to the marriage, to my spouse, and to my God, and then to be unceremoniously dumped is devastating. But I am not giving up. It fills me with a sense of worthlessness and sends me spiraling into a major bouts of depression. Still I continue to trust people and mostly God, I do not hide in the midst my four walls for too long. It hurts so much to miss him every moment of the day. There are times when I don’t want to do anything. I just want to be left alone and not be hurt again! But that doesn’t happen. It’s always a suspended depression and I ache and ache deep inside. Barely did I surface from the loss of my 22 years old son who went to be with the Lord 3 years ago.He got drowned in a river and we never found his body. My pain is many folds. Coz the lady who is having an affair with my husband is a widow from our church. Her family are supporting her in this whole issue and she is encouraging my husband to proceed with the divorce matters. I feel so helpless. ~ Queen

Dear Queen, I thank you for writing to me, and though you have not asked a specific question, I do understand how you are feeling. It seems very odd that most of the women I know lose their husbands to another woman right around the 26-28 year of their marriages.

You did not mention if your 22-year-old son was also the son of your husband, but I am assuming he was. If so, your husband was going through the grieving process, as you were. Perhaps that had something to do with his departure.

PJoesAprilSM.jpgerhaps you do not realize that you are, indeed, going through a grieving process. I believe it’s an even harder grieving process when it’s divorce than it is when it is death that takes our loved one from us. With death there is a finality. With divorce there seems to be no finality at all. Have you ever studied the grieving process?

There are various models out there for grieving. Some say there are 3 stages of grief, some say there are 4, and some say there are 7 stages. The first on the scene, and also the most quoted is found in Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ book,On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Lossir?t=survinspitofi-20&l=as2&o=1&a=074326. Remember: she is identifying five stages that a dying patient experiences when informed of their terminal prognosis, not divorce.

The five stages Kubler-Ross identified are:

* Denial (this isn’t happening to me!)
* Anger (why is this happening to me?)
* Bargaining (I promise I’ll be a better person if…)
* Depression (I don’t care anymore)
* Acceptance (I’m ready for whatever comes)

Another model for grieving says there are 7 stages of grief:

1. SHOCK & DENIAL
You will probably react to learning of the loss with numbed disbelief. You may deny the reality of the loss at some level, in order to avoid the pain. Shock provides emotional protection from being overwhelmed all at once. This may last for weeks.

2. PAIN & GUILT
As the shock wears off, it is replaced with the suffering of unbelievable pain. Although excruciating and almost unbearable, it is important that you experience the pain fully, and not hide it, avoid it or escape from it with alcohol or drugs.

You may have guilty feelings or remorse over things you did or didn’t do with your loved one. Life feels chaotic and scary during this phase.

3. ANGER & BARGAINING
Frustration gives way to anger, and you may lash out and lay unwarranted blame for the death on someone else. Please try to control this, as permanent damage to your relationships may result. This is a time for the release of bottled up emotion.

You may rail against fate, questioning “Why me?” You may also try to bargain in vain with God for a way out of your despair (“I will never get angry again if you just bring him back”)

4. DEPRESSION, REFLECTION, LONELINESS
Just when your friends may think you should be getting on with your life, a long period of sad reflection will likely overtake you. This is a normal stage of grief, so do not be “talked out of it” by well-meaning outsiders. Encouragement from others is not helpful to you during this stage of grieving.

During this time, you finally realize the true magnitude of your loss, and it depresses you. You may isolate yourself on purpose, reflect on things you did with your lost one, and focus on memories of the past. You may sense feelings of emptiness or despair.

5. THE UPWARD TURN
As you start to adjust to life without your dear one, your life becomes a little calmer and more organized. Your physical symptoms lessen, and your “depression” begins to lift slightly.

6. RECONSTRUCTION & WORKING THROUGH
As you become more functional, your mind starts working again, and you will find yourself seeking realistic solutions to problems posed by life without your loved one. You will start to work on practical and financial problems and reconstructing yourself and your life without him or her.

7. ACCEPTANCE & HOPE
During this, the last of the seven stages in this grief model, you learn to accept and deal with the reality of your situation. Acceptance does not necessarily mean instant happiness. Given the pain and turmoil you have experienced, you can never return to the carefree, untroubled YOU that existed before this tragedy. But you will find a way forward.

You will start to look forward and actually plan things for the future. Eventually, you will be able to think about your lost loved one without pain; sadness, yes, but the wrenching pain will be gone. You will once again anticipate some good times to come, and yes, even find joy again in the experience of living.

Which ever model you find fits your particular personality, Queen, you must understand that what you are going through is a long process. Experts say it takes 5 years for every year you were married to finish the grieving process. I don’t know that I would agree with that. I would only say it takes as long as it takes YOU.

Also, you declare your belief in God, even your faith that He will give you a brand new marriage with your same husband. You must understand, Queen: God will not violate the free will of your husband. You remind me of myself, somewhat. It’s like you are saying, “God, if you don’t answer my prayers and bring my husband back (totally in love with me again), then You are not on my side!”

God does not take sides, Queen. He never promised you would not experience pain. Jesus Himself said, “In this world you will have trouble. Be not afraid. I will not leave you or abandon you.” Now either you believe what Jesus said, or you don’t. How you behave will reveal your true belief.

May I suggest you pick out one or two close friends, make them your confidantes, and go to them when you need human ears to listen to your pain. But around others, do not talk as a victim. They will quickly tire of your victim talk and they, too, will abandon you. Besides, the more you hear yourself talking about how badly you’ve been treated, the more you will believe you are little more than the world’s biggest victim. You believe what you hear coming out of your own mouth!

When you pray, ask that God’s will on earth (in your situation) will be done as it is in Heaven. And then begin to praise Him, no matter what happens. The more depressed and victimized you become, the less attractive you are to your estranged husband or anyone else.

And why are you still attending the same church where your husband and the widow woman are carrying on? Are there not other congregations you could visit?

Last, please, even if you do not “feel” like it, start nurturing yourself. If you’re overweight, start walking in the cool of the evening. Praise God as you walk. Pay particular attention to your appearance. And if there’s something you loved doing when you were a young girl, now is the time to pick it up again! Most of the time, you will not remember all of the things you loved doing when you were young unless you are journalling. Get a notebook, title the page: “I used to love…” and then sit in your most comfortable chair (or on the grass) and start reminiscing about your childhood. If you loved painting, go buy some brushes, paints, and art paper. Then get to painting!

Above all, do not waste your time sitting at your own pity party. No one benefits from pity parties, Queen – not you, not God, and not your marriage.

I do hope I have given you something to think about – something that will help you progress along the journey from devastation to restoration. I pray God’s blessings on you, for He knows best what will truly bless you.

(c) 2009 April Lorier

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