"....... for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust" Psalm 103:14

If you don't want me, then who am I?


All those years ago - almost 10 years now - in the early weeks after what was a pretty traumatic separation, a kind and wise person gave me some advice. She said, more or less, that I should not allow myself to be defined by a man who had betrayed me and abandoned me. That I actually wasn't (necessarily) who HE said I was.

But he said..........
At the time this was incredibly hard for me to accept. He'd left me, after 21 years together. He'd planned it. He'd deceived me over weeks, and possibly months, so I wouldn't know what he was thinking, and therefore had no opportunity to try to change his mind. He'd said horrible things. And surely what he'd said - about who I was as a wife, as a mother, as a person, and what he'd said about our marriage - well surely those things must have been true.

My own judge and jury
I struggled with my desperate grief, and, frankly, my abject terror at what might be ahead for me as an abandoned wife, a single mother, a reject. Within days - days of unanswered text messages and futile phone call attempts - I'd written a soul-baring letter, lamenting the horrible wife I'd OBVIOUSLY been, begging him to give our marriage another chance. Although I still have a copy of that letter, to read it now is excruciatingly painful.

I had poured out in black and white, all over the page, every failing I could think of, big and small. And I emailed it right to him (just in case he might need a list, to use as damning evidence against me, of course. And he did, why wouldn't he?). I had laid my wounded heart completely bare, and opened myself up to (even more) condemnation. I made it so easy for him by being so willing to condemn myself. In the worst possible way, I was my own judge and jury.

Hang on a second.........
But I also told him why he should not make this awful, life-changing decision. I asked him instead to join me in working to restore our marriage. Whatever it took. I asked him to please, please reconsider. He brought that letter to our first counselling appointment, and the counsellor asked him to read it aloud. Oh no, he wanted ME to read it. And so I did. Sobbing, grief-stricken, completely useless to stand up for myself, but still hopeful that this might be the start of a reconciliation conversation, I read it.

Every. Damning. Word.

When I finally made it through to the end, the counsellor looked at me and said "Well, it sounds like you've been very complacent in the marriage." Ummm, hang on a sec, what????

Wisdom of hindsight
To say I was utterly gobsmacked at the unbelievably simplistic assessment of our situation would be an enormous understatement. The fact that as a trained, supposedly experienced, counsellor she could possibly think that this one-sided, grief-induced, desperate listing of my own failings was all there was to our sudden marital mess, left me truly lost for words.

In the week before our second, and final, counselling appointment - at the insistence of the counsellor, and supposedly "to finish things properly" - I managed to muster a scrap of indignation that fuelled a second list in which I was much kinder to myself. I went to the appointment hoping that, at best, I would be able to read that letter aloud too. I wrote of all the good, good things that we had together, of our commitment to our marriage and our family, and every other positive thing that I could think of. It made no difference - "It's over for me" were his exact words - but at least I left feeling that things were more balanced, in my own mind anyway.

Who am I now?
Over the next few weeks of shock, and then the gradual thawing into the agony of raw, gut-wrenching grief, beautiful friends and faithful, supportive family spoke into my life, reminding me of how they saw me, and, more importantly, how God saw me. At the time it was hard to hear those sweet, affirming words, harder still to believe them. But I couldn't deny that God's amazing Word also spoke to me of my worth in Him. And little by little these affirmations began to defuse the ammunition I'd naively sent to my husband.

In time I began to see myself, and our marriage, with much more clarity. Finally I sent another letter, and this time I detailed every good thing about our marriage, and every possible reason why reconciliation was worth it. His email response took an agonising week to come, and was politely perfunctory and brief, to say the very least.

"Thank you for your letter, but I do not feel the same and will maintain the separation."

And just like that, he put the final nail in the coffin of our almost-22-year marriage.

How God sees me
From there it's been a long, slow and often painful process of allowing God to refute how my ex-husband saw me at the end of our marriage, and instead believing only what God says about me. I'm a work in progress (obviously), but my counsellor's wise advice still resonates and is still absolutely relevant today, all these years later. I'm not defined by my ex-husband, who no longer wanted to be married to me for reasons known only to him.

I am defined by my Heavenly Father. I am a precious and much-loved daughter of the most high King. Imperfect, but loved beyond measure. Being married now to a man who loves and affirms me on a so-much-more-than-daily basis, is truly a blessing, and I'm incredibly thankful to God for this beautiful man who sees in me what I often don't yet see in myself.

10 comments

  1. This was quite heart-wrenching Sue - it must have been such an awful experience to go through, with such long lasting repercussions. I'm so glad that God has since brought some healing to your heart, and that your new husband is much kinder to you in words and affirmation. Still, these sorts of wounds last a long time and we forever bear the scars. Thankfully God uses "all things" for our good and his glory, even this wretched time of your life, and there's clearly evidence that he has already. Much love to you xox

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you dear friend. It can be a little strange writing about it from this vantage point, so long after the events. It almost feels as though I'm writing about someone else's experience. But if my story can give even just one other person hope that what someone else does to me (or them) or says about me (or them) is not the final word, then it's worth sharing. Thanks for your comment xx

      Delete
  2. Dear Sue what an emotional rollercoaster and don't you dare listen to that Counsellor! You are a beautiful, strong woman and yes it is hard when a marriage ends but look at the person you are now. You are a brave, strong woman who has the courage to write about her feelings and experiences. Cudos to you!
    Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond. #BloggersPitStop

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank you Sue for your sweet and kind words of encouragement. And thanks for reading xx

      Delete
  3. Sue you have managed to transform your life after (what we would all consider to be) a heartbreaking and humiliating ordeal. To have the one person you trusted beyond measure betray you to completely and refuse to give you closure is appalling to say the least. You haven't allowed it to make you bitter or vengeful - you have moved forward with grace and I'm so glad God found you someone who truly appreciates all you have to offer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leanne I'm incredibly thankful for the transforming power of God, to whom goes all the credit (glory) for the healing and restoration that has taken place since that time. I hope my story can give hope to others who may find themselves in a similar situation. How blessed we are to know and serve the living God xx

      Delete
  4. Sue, I've experienced the grief of rejection. It took years for God to heal my heart and yes, I still wear the scars but you're right ... I want to tell others how God is able to work in and through the worst of circumstances. Thank you for sharing your story. Blessings!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Deb thank you for your comment. It's such an amazing blessing to look back and see just how God has worked in and through even those circumstances that at the time brought such pain.
      I really enjoy your blog, by the way xx

      Delete
  5. You're an absolutely courageous woman, Sue. Thank you for sharing your story and for those beautifully affirming words at the end - 'I am a precious and much-loved daughter of the most high King. Imperfect, but loved beyond measure.'

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Carlie, these are the truths that set us free and enable us to move beyond the pain to the blessings that are ours in Christ! Thanks for your kind words xx

      Delete