Home > Family, FTIAT, Uncategorized > FTIAT: Thanks for the Pain

FTIAT: Thanks for the Pain

Christine (The Dash Between) is a daily inspiration to me over at her Facebook page, but our paths first crossed in the blogosphere. Our conversations now flow between Facebook, our blogs and email, covering everything under the sun, but it was our first conversation about family that really helped me see Christine’s brilliance.

Her words expressed heartache, but even more deeply, a fierce, loving determination not to let her future be defined by the past or “The Family.” Every day I know her, I’m more inspired by her, and I’m delighted that you’ll soon see for yourself exactly why that is.

Recommended post: A letter to my Daughter: I know what it’s like

Thanks for the Pain

When Deb asked me if I would write a FTIAT entry, I was honored and thrilled! I have so much to be thankful for, I figured it would be a piece of cake to write. Was I ever wrong about that. The doubts started coming, and hard. I wasn’t good enough to be included with the many amazing writers The Monster In Your Closet has featured. I don’t write well enough. What I had to say was boring by comparison to other stories. Then I realized that I don’t have to be a fantastic writer. That comparing myself to others was ridiculous, given that we all have our own history. So, I have sucked in a deep breath and started to write.

A little over two and a half years ago, my life started to drastically change. I had been told by my then-husband that a relationship with me was too much work, and too hard for him to try. I realized that I had been a “mother” type figure in a one-sided relationship for far too long. I was home-schooling, and the kids and I were in a small town and stuck in the house 24/7. I was severely depressed, and often thought of driving into the nearest highway overpass support. Or downing an entire bottle (or two) of alcohol.

My parents had come for a visit, and I remember pouring out my heart to my mother about my marriage. I confided many humiliating things, and let her know that there was a very good chance my marriage would be ending soon. As she was getting ready to leave for home, I asked her if she was mad at me and if she still loved me. I’ll never forget the feel of her cool hands stroking the sides of my face, while she told me that she was not mad, and that of course she loved me. I felt such relief. And I felt that my foundation was rock solid.

When my husband and I finally separated, there was an uproar within The Family. These things do NOT happen in this family. The pressure was incredibly intense. I also told The Family I was no longer going to go to their type of church. The Family and Church are so tightly interwoven, that this decision was completely unacceptable to them. And the pressure increased exponentially. I couldn’t breath, I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t sleep. I remembered trying to reach out, to have someone HEAR me… But no one seemed capable of that.

My mother seemed to have forgotten our discussion. My sister was constantly on me to do “the right thing.” Every discussion was such a struggle. I discovered my sister had been having private discussions with my husband on how to get me to stop “this behavior.” I was asked if I had started taking medication. I was told that I wasn’t explaining myself well enough for The Family to approve of my actions.

I decided to spend a weekend away, planning on locking myself in a hotel room with several bottles of booze and never to leaving the room again. I’ve never had such an internal fight as I did that weekend. I felt the simplest solution for everyone would be for me to no longer exist. This struggle to live my life, just wasn’t worth it anymore. If I couldn’t live it their way, I shouldn’t live it at all. As I wandered that weekend, lost, feeling hopeless, yet trying to search my soul for another solution, I happened to walk into a gift store and see a plaque that changed my world.

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly…”

When I saw that, I felt all the despair lift away. I realized this was MY life. My family wouldn’t approve of my decisions, and that was okay. I was 34 years old, I didn’t need permission from them to do what I knew was right for me. I left that store filled with hope, and determination.

During that same weekend, my husband had gone to my mother and reiterated all of the things that had happened in our marriage. The things I had told her when she had come to visit. I received an email from her shortly thereafter in an attempt for us to start honest communication. The one thing that I remember most from that email was her telling me that she just hadn’t believed me when she and I had our discussion, but she realized what I said was true when my husband confirmed it. While that hurt me more deeply than I can say, I decided to overlook it since I wanted to focus on the fact that we were having communication during this very difficult time.

I moved to another state and started life over. I started to fall in love with someone who had been a very good friend to me. However, the tension in my family was high. I knew they weren’t happy with my decision to move. Strike that. They weren’t happy with the way I was living my life, period. That was made clear when I visited them for a weekend nearly a month after my move. I remember my Mom hardly looking at me. Whenever people would ask about the area I lived, or job interviews, she just scowled. The day I was to return home was on a Sunday. The depth of her anger at me became apparent to me that morning. Mom was harrumphing her way around the house, hardly looking at me, hardly saying a word before leaving for church. When it was time for her to go, I got up from the couch to say my goodbyes. She walked right past me. I grabbed her, gave her a hug, and told her I loved her. I got a quick hug as she mumbled “I love you” back. That was the last time I saw my mother before our estrangement began.

Two days later I told my parents that I was starting a new relationship. That phone call reminds me of the saying, “Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes.” My entire body was shaking. During this call my mother told me that she would not approve of my relationship. For the first time in my life I stood up for myself, and told her that I was not asking for her approval. I was simply informing her of what was happening in my life. She went to hang up, and I remembered rushing to tell her that I loved her before she ended the call. I got a terse “love you” in return, and those were our last spoken words.

I have been estranged from my family for two years and three months. My mother did not like my decisions, and encouraged my ex to take custody of the kids, since I had been “taken over by satan.” Finding her emails to him, and being served papers by him to take the kids away were so stunning that I literally couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t think, I couldn’t move, I hurt all over… inside and out. The pain was unlike any I had ever felt before, and that’s when I realized that my foundation I had been so assured of months before had vanished. I felt utterly alone, completely rejected, and betrayed by the one person I should have been able to trust.

I wrote a blog not long ago to my daughter about some of my darkest times. This was
one of those times I referred to. I got myself up, and put one foot in front of the other. I didn’t know what would happen, but I knew that I just had to breathe to get to the next minute, the next hour, the next day, the next week. And I did. I truly started life over that day, and I survived.

I started blogging to focus on living life. I blogged to remind myself to appreciate
everything, and everyone, in my life. I needed to focus on being grateful and thankful. But, I refused to write about this stuff. I didn’t want to go back through it, and remember the hurts, or feel the pain again. However, once Deb asked me to write about being thankful, I think I knew deep down that I was going to have to delve into this painful time in my life. I needed to remember that these are the things that have made me who I am today. And I like that person.

So, what am I thankful for? I am thankful for being hurt, rejected, and betrayed. I am
thankful for pain that cut me so deeply I thought I’d never recover. These things have
changed who I am. They have shown me that I am capable, I am strong, I am brave, and I can survive. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

last: My Blog Saved Our Family | The Strongest Woman I Know (3/30/12) : next

  1. Vina Kent
    March 16, 2012 at 5:44 am

    This blog post hit home for me as ive has a somewhat similar experience with family. I can totally understand where you’re coming from. It hurts so bad to have family… People who are supposed to love you, betray you. In my mind, i cant make sense of it because i couldnt do that to my kids… Anyways, thank you for being brave and writing this. Great post. My own story… Or part of it anyway is on my blog.

    • March 16, 2012 at 6:45 am

      Vina, it really helps to know that others have been there and can relate to what you are saying. I had a very hard time making sense of this as well, but one thing it did teach me was how to be the kind of Mom/Friend/Family member that I want to be. I will be visiting your blog shortly, to read your story! Thank you so much for the wonderful comment!

  2. Lisa Kilgore
    March 16, 2012 at 6:06 am

    This blog really hit home. I realized just how fortunate I am to have the mom I do.I got pregnant at 16 in 1978 and she stood by me.I am so sorry it happened to you the way it did but it has made you a really great writer and just think of the number of people your blogs will help!I will be following you and wish you the peace you deserve.Family can be toxic you did the right thing

    • March 16, 2012 at 7:03 am

      I am so glad you had such a supportive mother, especially at such a difficult time in your life! My husband always says, “you are the sum of your experiences” and I take that to heart. I am glad of the events that have taken place because, you’re right… they have made me a better person in some respects. (I’m not sure about “writer”, but I thank you for that GREAT compliment!). Thank you so much for the kind comment, Lisa!!

      • March 16, 2012 at 7:54 am

        I should clarify that I have remarried and that is who I refer to with “My husband”. Since he read this and wanted to make sure there was no misunderstanding…LOL

  3. March 16, 2012 at 6:48 am

    Wow, what a great post, Christine. I understand being thankful for the pain–truly.

    I’d also like to share I protected post I wrote about a somewhat similar subject. It’s called “The Lord to me to” and other Sad Excuses for Holiday Hearthlessness.” The password is “mother.”



    • March 16, 2012 at 7:29 am

      Thank you, Kathryn! I very much appreciate you sharing your experience with me and will read it as soon as possible!

  4. March 16, 2012 at 7:03 am

    Gah! Beautiful post, Christine. This makes me so glad for so many reasons. I’m glad you decided to push through your doubts and write a FTIAT post (something I also need to do). I’m also glad you decided to delve deep and write about something painful. Moreover, I’m glad you found your strength and took your place in the world. I am only sorry that your family relationships were the cost of finding your own happiness. It shouldn’t be that way.

    I only received a bit of resistance from my family during my separation and divorce, and most of it came from one (older) relative. There were a lot of bad feelings between me and her family at first, but we’ve worked it all out since. I do realize what a blessing that is.

    Congratulations on life! You win. 🙂

    (And dang it, Deb, if you don’t get the best entries for FTIAT. It is indeed intimidating.)

    • March 16, 2012 at 7:42 am

      Chris, I will admit that writing this one was the most difficult of all posts I’ve written… but I am glad I finally did it! “Intimidating” is the right word! However, I realized I’ll never grow if I don’t push myself past my comfort zone, and that is something I’ve been focused on a lot lately… growth!

      I think it’s easier to stretch myself, especially in this area, because of the wonderful group of people I’ve happened to stumble upon in our little facebook community. Just reading posts such as yours, Deb’s, Katy’s, El’s & Shannon’s (to name but a few), let me know that the fear of rejection or ridicule is just that… my own silly fear. This is just one other thing I’m thankful for… supportive bloggers with their encouraging and uplifting words!

      I am sorry you had to endure some family tension of your own, but how wonderful to hear that you worked it out!

  5. March 16, 2012 at 7:11 am

    Thank you for sharing something so deep and personal. I think so many of us can relate on some level of the pain and rebuilding that you had to go through to get where you are now. And though we may never understand why such things have happened the way they did in the past I truely believe those moments are what carried us to where we are now and into the future. GOD gives and takes away people in our lives for a reason. He gives us what we need to live our life with him.

    • March 16, 2012 at 7:47 am

      And though we may never understand why such things have happened the way they did in the past I truely believe those moments are what carried us to where we are now and into the future.

      THIS! I couldn’t agree more! It took me a long time to realize it, though. I know now that everything that happened was to make me the person I am now. I try to be more empathetic, more kind, more loving and so much less judgmental to those around me. I know what kind of person I really want to be, and what kind of person I really do NOT want to be. I also agree with your statement that God gives exactly what I need to life a life with Him too… Not always what I want… but what I need. Thank you so much!

  6. March 16, 2012 at 7:35 am

    Wow, just wow. Thank you so very much for sharing this raw and personal story with us Christine. There is always hope if you are willing to listen to your inner you and not be so scared of change that it immobilizes you. You are strong, brave, and wise.

    • March 16, 2012 at 7:51 am

      There is always hope if you are willing to listen to your inner you and not be so scared of change that it immobilizes you.

      Yes! Exactly right… I think for me, and probably most people, change is terrifying. But, it’s just that… change. Something different. Something that, hopefully, promotes growth and makes you stronger. I never acknowledged that I was every really strong or brave until recently… but I am fully claiming that now! Thank you so very much for your kind words!

  7. Jim
    March 16, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Beautiful….since I started reading “The Dash’, I have been struck by your honesty and openness. The truth in the statement, “God doesn’t give you more than He thinks you can handle” is borne out so well in your writings. The path God has put you on now is what you were meant for all along. You, “Mister” and your kids are all so blessed! Thank you!

    • March 16, 2012 at 11:02 am

      Jim, as always your comment brings tears to my eyes. I know that being able to write some of my experiences openly has helped me to heal and move on. And, from what some of the commenters have said, helped them in some way too. I know God has me on the right path too, and am overjoyed with the abundance of blessings! Thank YOU, Jim!!

    • misterofthedash
      March 16, 2012 at 11:11 am

      She only thinks she got the blessing. God blessed me more.

    • misterofthedash
      March 20, 2012 at 8:53 am

      While I generally leave the revelation of her battles with her “former life” to Christine, there is another important facet of this painful event that she didn’t include. While we understand that God has blessed us both greatly, her parents tried to use Him as yet another tool of the war waged upon her.

      They had taught her that if she did not do as THEY instructed her to do, God would be angry with her and take his revenge upon her. Luckily, she didn’t turn away from such a God. When she was older and had children of her own, the message was strengthened and modified in the most horrendous way I could imagine: If you don’t do things as WE say you should, “God will get your attention by harming or killing your children.”

      I have never heard such a dispicable, mean, harmful thing to say to a parent. And BY a parent, no less. That was just another betrayal for her to overcome and I know the lies they spoke in their efforts to retain control continue to haunt her at times…although the children are absolutely thriving and love their mother for who she is. As do I.

  8. March 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm

    This was such a powerful post, Christine. Thank you for sharing it with us, and you certainly shouldn’t doubt your talent as a writer! I’m not sure I would have been as strong as you were during a time where it must have felt like you were losing everything. It shows us what kind of person you are that you didn’t lose yourself (and in fact found yourself, from the sounds of it), and that that was the most important thing. Here’s wishing you a very bright and happy future – you deserve it! 🙂

    • March 17, 2012 at 9:12 am

      Thank you! I think everyone discovers how strong they really can be, when they least expect it! I, too, wish you a bright and happy future!

  9. March 16, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    One word came to mind when reading your post: AMAZING. It is amazing to me that a mother (or father) could betray their child. It is amazing to me that in your darkest moment, you chose to walk toward the light, finding a new path – this is something so many people have trouble doing, ever. And it is amazing that you are grateful for your experiences and the “you” they’ve helped you become. My heart broke for you in reading your post (and isn’t drawing out emotion in a reader a sign of a good writer?) but I was uplifted to see how you made is successfully to the other side.

    • March 17, 2012 at 9:15 am

      Ha! “Amazing” certainly is a perfect word for a lot of this! Life has become “amazing” for me, and I have to appreciate the path that led me here. So many times I breathe a sigh of relief when I think of the “what ifs”. I am glad too that I was able to head in this direction, rather than that darker one! Thank you so much for your wonderful comment…It is uplifting to me!

  10. March 16, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    wow great post. Going to try and be thankful for the pain…

    • March 17, 2012 at 9:16 am

      Thank you so much! Sometimes it’s hard to be thankful for it when you’re in the midst of it… That hindsight is a helpful thing, enabling you to look back and be thankful!

  11. March 16, 2012 at 3:25 pm

    “They have shown me that I am capable, I am strong, I am brave, and I can survive. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world…” Amen to that and so you are… Beautiful post! TY! 🙂

    • March 17, 2012 at 9:17 am

      That is the best part, isn’t it?! Thank you so much!

  12. March 16, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Christine, what a heart wrenching journey! I am sure so many people will be inspired by your example.

    Thank you so much for sharing!


    • March 17, 2012 at 9:18 am

      Thank you, Louise! In the end, that’s all I write for… in the hopes that someone else can either be inspired or, at the very least, realize that they are not alone!

  13. March 16, 2012 at 6:50 pm

    I am honored to consider you a friend, Christine. You have been a tremendous source of strength, compassion and understanding as I sort through a difficult period in my own life and I feel so incredibly grateful that you realized that you are a butterfly. This is a beautiful piece of writing from a very beautiful woman. Love you.

    • March 17, 2012 at 9:21 am

      Dearest El, I feel exactly the same way! You have encouraged me, supported me, and use words of comfort with me during some of these difficult times. I am sorry that you have to go through any difficulty, but hope that I can be there whenever you need your own comfort, a shoulder, or a place to vent to. As I write this you are running, and I am praying that whatever challenge you are facing at this moment you are able to overcome. I love you too!

  14. March 17, 2012 at 3:53 am

    This blog post is indeed is a revelation of God’s grace. He is indeed a WOUNDED HEALER!

    Thanks for the brave heart God has given you! I may not fully understand the pain you’ve been through, but I understood that pain can be a blessing! 🙂

    • March 17, 2012 at 9:29 am

      So many times the thought of “God will never leave me” and “God cares about me” helped me get through this. Yes, WOUNDED HEALER is right! Thank you so much for the wonderful comment!

      • March 20, 2012 at 3:00 am

        🙂 Keep inspiring more 🙂 God empower you more!

  15. March 17, 2012 at 9:34 am


    Thank you for the opportunity to be a guest blogger here. While I struggled so much with my doubts about writing this, I am glad for that one encouraging comment from you that prompted me to go ahead with this. It was helpful for me that in writing it I could see just how very far I’ve come in the last few years.

    I am so very blessed that our paths crossed! You also have the kindest readers, and for that I am grateful! This wonderful little blogosphere/facebook world of supportive internet friends I’ve stumbled into is quite a rare gift! Just one more thing to add to my list of things I am thankful for!

    Much love,

  16. March 17, 2012 at 3:58 pm

    THANK YOU, Christine! I am currently crawling my way up and out of the rock below rock bottom. I see so much of myself in your experience. As I have pawed and pulled at the wall around me, I have learned to have FAITH and to be THANKFUL. To be thankful for being stripped down to a raw nothingness. To lay chocking and sobbing enduring intense and continuous pain. My life vanished and was replaced by merely not dying. Sadness and struggle were my only companions. But I hung on and somehow I’m still alive. My climb is just beginning but its people like you that supply the hope I need to pull a bit harder and reach a little higher and breathe. Thank you, Christine, and god bless you!

    • March 17, 2012 at 4:18 pm

      Your comment has me in tears. You help me to remember why sharing these kinds of experiences is so important. Because there might be just one person out there who has gone through, or is going through the same thing. The hardest thing can be going through it and feeling so alone. Exactly like you say, with sadness and struggle as our only companions. I am so sorry that you have had to go to the lower than rock bottom place, but I am so happy that you found your strength to hang on and still be alive. That. Is. So. Hard. and YOU did it! Thank YOU for your comment. If you don’t mind, I will keep you in my prayers. Sending good thoughts and very best wishes to you… ~Christine

      • March 17, 2012 at 4:30 pm

        I discovered something that I never, ever anticipated…we are not in control…and knowing that I gave myself over to the will of god and he is guiding me towards life.

        Thanks for the prayers. I will pray for you as well.

  17. March 17, 2012 at 5:28 pm

    Christine, this is a fabulous post. You hit the nail on the head when you said

    I needed to remember that these are the things that have made me who I am today. And I like that person.

    That is exactly what I try to remember every time I think things could have been different, that if things had been different I wouldn’t be where I am today, with the people I have around me.

    I am so happy that you are doing well in your new life. Sometimes the only way to take care of yourself is to get rid of everything that’s weighing you down. You go, girl!

    • March 17, 2012 at 6:23 pm

      Sometimes the only way to take care of yourself is to get rid of everything that’s weighing you down.

      Wow, is that ever true! Hard to do, but sometimes so necessary!! Thank you so much for the kind words and wonderful comment!

  18. March 18, 2012 at 8:27 am

    This is such an amazing glimpse at who you are Christine. Thanks so much for sharing it with us and for your sharing your strength in your choices and your ability to overcome. I am sorry for your pain and I am so happy that you now have someone who you love and loves you and your children. You are a wonderful mother and have shown your children the gift of validation of yourself. Big hugs to you and Deb thanks for featuring Chrstine! Xo

    • March 18, 2012 at 10:25 am

      Aw, Shannon… as always you leave me with a lump in my throat and a huge smile on my face! Thank you for always being there with encouraging and supportive words! Your comments, your posts, they are just one of the things that help keep me focused in the right direction… moving forward! I have been so blessed to have found like-minded people who want to find the brighter side of things. Those who appreciate the little and the big things. It helps me to constantly remember to do the same, so that the temptation to wallow in self pity, or grumble and complain does not become too great to resist (although some days it does!).

      Thank you for the light and optimism you project! Much love and big hugs to you!!

  19. March 19, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    First off, to Deb, thank you for hosting Christine! Love her and this post validates every reason why I do.

    And, to Christine, the honesty you share in this post gives me (and so many others, I am sure) permission, encouragement, and courage to be who they are regardless of who trys to tell them otherwise. It reframes how we can look at hurt and reminds that we must be true to ourselves in this journey; often easier said than done.

    Like you, I consider some of the hurts I’ve endured to be some of the greatest gifts I’ve received. It was good to be reminded.

    Thank you, Christine, for this post. xoxo

    • March 21, 2012 at 9:30 am

      TM, thank you so much! I spent so much time not speaking out about how I felt, that I finally realized doing that helps no one! Blogging helped me heal and move on, but the reason for putting it “out there” was simply that it might help someone else know that they are not alone. I grew up around a mindset that “we don’t expose our weaknesses [personal or familial], or the bad stuff”. In retrospect, I think that was more harmful than being able to freely express how you feel and what you’re going through so that you can get support from those around you. I suppose this is my way of trying to promote support and understanding!

      I am sorry that you too have had to endure pain, but then again, I am glad that you can see them as gifts!

  20. March 20, 2012 at 7:02 am

    Beautiful and honest post. I’m sorry for your hurt and pain, but so thrilled that you learned the lesson…that you ARE strong, you ARE worthwhile, you ARE beautiful!! Keep walking one foot in front of the other!

    • March 21, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Thank you so much! I feel more like I’m skipping with one foot in front of the other nowadays…LOL

  21. March 20, 2012 at 10:34 am

    You have to be one of the most prolific writers on WordPress today, Deborah!
    You’re miles beyond anyone who thinks a list of ‘AWESOME!” things is the answer to the world’s ills!

  22. March 28, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Chrisitine, you are my hero. You are stunning and amazing and incredible. As I first began reading, I wished I could have been there with you to comfort you in the depths of your despair. But as I finished reading this beautiful story, as my tears spilled over and I read all that you are grateful for, I knew why you were meant to walk that path alone. You are a beautiful example of grace. Thank you. I am humbled.

  1. March 16, 2012 at 11:15 am
  2. March 30, 2012 at 5:31 am

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