I should have seen the writing on the wall and planned an exit strategy long before I needed it but I had not. Financially dependent and deeply in denial I lingered until the very last second. Then I fled, penniless, in desperation.
When I left my husband, newborn baby in tow, the only realistic option I had was to move back in with my parents.
I dreaded the thought of having to go back to my childhood home. I knew it would be emotional suicide for me. But I had made the choices that put me back there. Personal feelings aside, there was no doubt that my parents’ home would provide us with all the comforts we would need, and most importantly my baby daughter would have an abundance of love and stability.
Though my husband had put me through a living hell, I never wanted to leave him, still loved him, and could not imagine life without him. The loss was profoundly painful, the grief nearly unbearable.
Now thinking back to all the issues that had confronted me all at once I cannot imagine how I managed to stay sane. I was a first time mother, only two weeks post partum, and single. My baby was very small, not even six pounds, and she could not eat enough at one feeding to sustain her for very long. She only slept two hours at a time so I was nursing her every two hours, all day and all night.
My parents, who remained deficient in respecting personal boundaries, were not making things any easier for me. Every time my daughter woke up and cried in the middle of the night they would brazenly open the door to the bedroom I shared with her and scream at me to pick her up. They said she needed to be fed and held. I was trying to teach her to self-soothe so she would fall back to sleep on her own and I could get some badly needed rest, but they just didn’t get it.
While all this was going on my husband was doing everything he could think of to punish me for leaving him. He retained his family’s attorney and threatened to fight me for visitation and custody. That terrified me—in his drugged-out state of mind there was no way I would even leave him alone with the baby for a second. I could not afford a lawyer of my own. All I could do was plead with him to drop the custody/visitation issue and help me out financially. Unmercifully exercising the upper hand he just toyed with me and played head games.
I applied for welfare, but the state claimed I was ineligible because my car was worth more than the allowable assets. My retired parents with a modest income stepped up to the plate—they sacrificed and helped as much as they could financially. I am ever grateful for everything they did to help me. In that way they made my life easier. I won’t go into it, but I wish I could have said the same about their emotional support.
I continued going to Nar Anon support group meetings for a few months to help me cope with all my problems. The “Higher Power” focus, fundamental to all twelve-step support groups, was constantly being reinforced there and I was beginning to get it.
Though I grasped the idea of a Supreme Being working in my life I still could not utter the word “God.” Jewish people simply did not refer to him that way. They rarely talk about him outside the synagogue; when they do he is referenced in other ways. I was conflicted about that for a very long time, probably a few years.
I understood how important prayer was in connecting with God but I did not know how to pray. I thought prayer required carefully formulated phrases. Try as I might I could not put the right words together. I did not know how to talk to him so I didn’t.
Desperate for answers I began seeking solace in books. The library with its vast resources became my sanctuary. I would stand in front of the shelves in the spirituality section waiting for a book to “speak” to me.
Books about the supernatural, especially those about life after death, were of the most interest to me. These books opened my eyes to a realm I never knew existed, let alone believed in. Through this newly acquired knowledge the bigger picture started coming together. The religious perspective never made sense to me but the spiritual one did and it captivated me. I could not wait to learn more.
The God I had always wondered about, the one my grandfather had loved with his heart and soul began to materialize in my mind. And what I had always suspected appeared to be true. God was not someone to be feared. God was not judgemental—he loved and supported me unconditionally. God did not care where I was or the method I used when I talked to him. I did not have to prioritize what I asked him for as I had been taught—he would provide what was best for me. And contrary to religious doctrine I did not have to jump through hoops to get his approval. God was pure love. It was that simple.
My relationship with God took time to build, as all relationships do. The more I talked to him, trusted him, and opened my eyes, the more he showed me.
After feeling alone for so long I now had a constant companion. God sat next to me while I ate breakfast. He rode in the passenger seat of my car. He even showed me his humorous side. I talked to him like I would a friend, laughed with him at trivial things, and thanked him all day long for every little gift he gave me.
Faith turned my life around—everything changed. God pulled me through years of adversity and then blessed me with a life filled with love and abundance. In hindsight I can see how consistently he had always worked in my life, even when I did not acknowledge him. I thank God always and forever for my beautiful life. That is something I will never take for granted.
He placed an important mission in my hands and I will not let him down. For the rest of my life I will spread his messages of hope and love. It is time to pay it forward—and I joyfully commit.
There is so much more to the story than I can share in the limited space of this article. If you would like to know more, the entire story is told in my memoir Fine…ly: My Story of Hope, Love, and Destiny.
Continued From – Through a Simple Twist of Faith, Part Two
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