Post Separation: Waves of False Guilt
[August 6, 2022: There have been some changes made to this post. For more information, read the Editors’ notes at the bottom of the post. Editors.]
(To our readers who are in abusive marriages presently: Only you and God know when the time is right to stay or go. He will lead you. I pray for our readers who are in incredibly trying, unbelievably exhausting, terrifying situations. This post is not for you. You have too many other heavier things to deal with right now.)
A friend writes:
When the scales were lifted from my eyes, regarding the abuse my children and I endured, a new heaviness overcame me. Why had I stayed in so long? How could I have let this happen to the children? They will now be scarred for the rest of their lives; they will have to go through therapy. Will they even be capable of healthy relationships? How could I have let them suffer? How could I have allowed such evil in my home?
I am writing this to, hopefully, relieve the false guilt of so many I have heard from this week. I went through this, as well. Only just today, my eldest child told me of something his biological father did to him when he was 6 years old (unbeknownst to me). It broke this mother’s heart. And, yet, I stayed three more years after that. All of a sudden, we realize that we let it go on for too long. Staying in the abusive situation was not as noble as we thought. It was not as “godly” as they tried to make us believe. There is a twinge of our conscience. To this, I want to say two things:
1) Please remember who the victim is or was. And remember who the abuser is or was. Friend, you are not the abuser — you were the victim. He or she clouded your thinking, manipulated, harmed, hurt, devastated and used you. I remember being in my home-that-felt-like-a-prison, feeling like there was ten feet of concrete over my head. I could not hear the voices calling down to me — they were muffled. Nothing was clear. No one seemed to be able to reach me and no one could hear me, either. My own private, personal, little isolated hell. How difficult it is to see clearly! Truly, only the miraculous reach of God’s arm could have lifted us out and shown us truth! Surely, God does not expect you to have been able to see clearly. You were sinking and He lifted you out, just like He lifted out the Egyptians from the miry clay of slavery.
2) If you feel there is anything of which to repent, take it to Jesus. I did repent of some things that happened in my marriage. My dear husband now (my second husband — not an abuser) does not like to think about it because he sees the damage that was done to my soul. I don’t think he really believes that I did anything worth repenting of. But, like so many others, I think I stayed in too long. Yes…. It is all in God’s timing, I know. But, I see what has happened with my children and my heart aches. I was afraid; I didn’t think I could make it on my own; I didn’t think anyone would help me or want me. I stayed for the wrong reasons. When I took this to Christ, I felt His love envelop me. I could almost hear Him saying, “Megan….you didn’t know. You didn’t know. You did the best you could.” Many of us were lied to by those we were taught to trust….by our spouses, by our church or by our family. How could we know?
I am choosing not to dwell on how long I “stayed in”. There is nothing that can be done and I am trusting God and moving forward as best as I can in obedience to my Savior (loving Him….loving others). I am choosing, alongside my husband, to raise the children in the best way we can, giving them a chance at a healthy life and healthy marriages in the future. That is all I can do. We can only go forward now.
If you struggle with feelings of guilt, whether real or false, take them to Jesus and let Him give you clarity, as He reminds you of His love for you. He was there the entire time. He knows. Release yourself so that you can move on into health and wholeness. Haven’t we been accused enough? I’m taking that walk with you. You did the best you could and God knows that.
You did the best you could.
[August 6, 2022: Editors’ notes:
—For some comments made prior to August 6, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be an exact match.
—For some comments made prior to August 6, 2022 that quoted from the post, the text in the comment that was quoted from the post might no longer be found in the post.
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- Posted in: Victims
- Tagged: conscience, false guilt, Megan C, recovery
I was hit last week with this overwhelming and VERY powerful wave of guilt over the fact that I “let” my abuser beat my children and I stayed “longer then I should have” your words spoke right to me. Thank you SO much writing such a comforting post!
I cried as I read this post. To this day, four years from the time my ex left me and our two boys only to prove to me how much I needed him and could not survive without him…and almost twenty-four years from the time I said, “I do” to that abusive man…I still cannot believe I stayed so long. I really dislike myself for not getting my boys out of that abusive environment sooner. I kick myself for hearing the horrible way their dad talked to them, the mental, emotional and verbal abuse they endured at his hands…and I stayed. I did nothing to protect them. I allowed those innocent boys, who are now two young men ages 21 and 18, to be treated the way they were.
And to this day, I try to tell myself I did the best I could, but I didn’t know how to leave. I didn’t know how to escape the prison we called home.
I can still remember the tremendous weight lifted off of me the day he walked out the door of the home we owned at that time. I finally felt that I could breathe. I felt life coming back into a lifeless soul that had all but given up on ever feeling loved, accepted or wanted.
I wake up lately from nightmares. I cannot go back to sleep for all of the negative things rushing through my head.
I never really talked with my boys about all that happened, thinking, “oh, they lived it, they know why this happened.” But then their dad talked…told lies about me…filled their heads with so many untruths. And my oldest son verbally attacked me a year ago about how he was tired of hearing my lies and he had spent all this time with his dad who told him how it really was.
I know now what a mistake I made early in the separation of not sharing more with my kids about the horrible things their dad was doing. Not to condemn their dad, but to teach them how wrong his actions and words were.
It is not an easy step to take in deciding to leave an abusive situation. But I would tell any woman (or man) facing that decision and living in an abusive marriage that you can survive and you will thrive if you step out and save yourself. Trust God and trust yourself.
My abuser left the home, too, I’m sure with the same thoughts and intentions. I remember crying tears of joy in the first weeks after he left and shouting, “I’m free! I’m free!” That was before all of the court mess and the post-separation fall out of the last 20 months.
I’ve been wondering lately how much we should talk about their dad and how much information I should give them in preparation for the forced visitations. I don’t want to bad mouth their dad, but I certainly don’t want to send them in unprepared or invalidate their feelings upon returning home. He is a monster. I needed to hear what you just said. I needed to know how important those conversations are. Thank you!
Anew — I think that I must be much more upfront with the kids. It sounds like most parents want to be very careful about what they say about the other spouse. Some people HAVE to be careful (due to gag orders — that is tough business). I seem to be the exception….I am very straightforward with the children about their father. He has no contact with them at all (not since November). I feel like, if I am not honest about his character, they would struggle with the insecurity of wondering if there is something wrong with THEM….which would be unbearable to their little minds. It seems to bring my children a great deal of security to show them that it is HIM and not THEM. I am not ugly about it….I just explain his psychological issues….his sin issues and the choices he has made. It has brought them a lot of relief. Many would disagree with the way I handle it. But, mine NEEDED it. They needed to know why he has done the things he has done and they needed to know how to handle him when he WOULD call them and talk to them. But, this is all just my opinion. And it has done wonders for my kids’ peace of mind (peaces of mind? peace of minds?). 🙂
And perhaps, Meg, you can be so explicit with your children because they don’t have to have visitation with him, but only sometimes talk by phone to him. When the kids are regularly seeing the abuser on visitation, it is a whole other ball game. They are much more subject to his lies and manipulations and to being intimidated by him. My daughter believed that she loved her dad all the time she was having visitation with him; even although she sometimes came home emotionally ratted by the visitation, she still thought she loved him, she wanted his love, and a lot of the time she thought he was a nicer parent than I was. Hmm. There was lots of manipulation going on on his part, and he was appealing to her Adamic sin nature to make her rebel against me, the Christian, the one who was trying to bring her up with good morals and good character. It was really hard going.
Only after the proverbial hit the fan (when she was eleven and a half) and I pulled the plug on visitation, did she slowly come to see that he had been a bad dad.
While visitation was still ongoing, I used to tell her plain statements like “I left Daddy because he abused me. Because he hurt me. Because I didn’t feel safe with him.” She heard me say those things and she believed me up to a point, but he was always in her ear telling her his lies so she could not really process it all till visitation ceased. Morally and emotionally she lived in a schizoid world, being one way with her dad, and to some extent another way with me. She couldn’t show any of her fear or anger to him, so I copped the lot. But all this was before she was 12. Only when they are around 11 or 12 do children start to have analytical and abstract thinking: before that kids are concrete thinkers. And they have quite black-and-white moral thinking between the ages of nine to twelve.
Yes, Barb. I very much see your point. I still have much to go through with the children. And, perhaps, black and white is very good for them right now but who knows what I will be facing in a year or so? I rely on Christ every day for these things. And I have to take it one day at a time or I get swallowed up in anxiety over them.
My children haven’t had any contact with their father since he was arrested in July 2012. When they ask about him I tell him that he is living with their grandfather (his father) far away and that he will not be allowed to get near them until he learns that he is not allowed to hurt people. We have talked about how what he did was wrong and how NO ONE deserves to be hit or talked to hurtfully. They are still very young but I feel that letting them know that he is abusive and that abuse is wrong is the best way to handle the situation.
Yes, Bethany. You brought up a good point — age appropriateness is important. My older two seem to need more information while the younger two need the basics. Sigh. It takes so much wisdom for these things, doesn’t it?
VERY TRUE Barbara! Visitation is a factor that would make it very difficult. I don’t think there is any “wrong” way of handling the situation and we need to trust our parenting instincts!
Yes — we are all doing the best we can.
My situation is that 2 of my kids are being wined and dined to the hilt by their father, so it’s like they have totally forgotten what it was like before the separation and all the reasons I gave them for it. I can see the one that still lives with me becoming a challenge. She questions everything I do and say no matter what it is, and anytime the subject of her father comes up, she is always subtly taking his side. My now 20 year old son who is in school refuses to talk about any of this with me or anyone else. He is not hostile towards me, just really distant about this and I know his father is spending way more time and money on him than he ever did before I filed for divorce. It really hurts to see all this happening, but I don’t know what I can do about it.
Meanwhile, the almost ex is busy waiting every month when our divorce is almost final and then he pulls some trick out of his hat to delay it. We have been separated for 16 months now and I just want it to be over.
I am so glad you wrote this, and I just want to encourage you (and all the other readers) too…that not only did you do the best you could, but God was doing things also…preparing you, the kids, the people you would meet in the future, etc.
Until you left, and knew you needed to leave (probably, and who knows what would have been– but until then) probably it wasn’t the right time. So definitely, be confident that you DID do the right thing and don’t dwell on what might have been…for it could have been worse if you had done it sooner.
I am sure that God empowered you to leave at just the right time. 🙂 God rescued the Israelites at just the right time, but it took a while to convince Moses…who wanted Aaron, etc. and that all took time. During that time, abuse from the Egyptians was occurring, and people were hurt. But God had the timing all planed out to be perfect. So please, don’t anyone feel guilty for not doing it sooner!
God has a rescue plan, and he also has a plan for redemption and restoration–of your heart (not the relationship to the abuser, necessarily!)
Thank you, Merri, for this encouragement! And it is so nice to see you here again. 🙂 I love what you wrote —
I love that, Merri! “God has a rescue plan, and he also has a plan for redemption and restoration”! So true!!–for those of us who feel we stayed too long, and for those of us who feel we fled too soon without “trying hard enough.” I’m sometimes–though with less conviction every day–affiliated with the latter camp. My husband and I were married for a short while, relative to everyone else I have thus far read. But things got so bad so fast (literally minutes after the “I do’s” themselves) that it felt like a lifetime–it still feels like he stole something essential about my life, because he changed who I used to be. Don’t get me wrong–I’m a stronger and better person these days than I ever was before, and for that, I am truly thankful to God. (Never before had I quite understood how God can extract the brightest of miracles from the darkest evils!) But, given the nature of abuse–especially abuse of the psychological kind–it doesn’t take long before noxious barbs and lethal distortions insinuate themselves into our minds. And then our very identities can feel like unfamiliar labyrinths, futile to navigate.
I tried very hard throughout my marriage to love my husband, to open his eyes, to work things through. And his abuses only escalated. Finally, God just grabbed me by the hand and led me out. I praise Him for that! But then the letters and incessant phone calls from the church arrived–petitions with signatures, even!–telling me that I was acting precipitously and with evil. I had already chastised, pilloried, condemned myself for leaving my marriage–something, initially of course, we all think will never come to pass–and I frequently found myself on my knees before God, pleading for forgiveness and understanding and hope. False promises from my ex that “NOW he understood” or “NOW he’d like to see a church counselor” (albeit one that was a family friend and completely in the Pokraka’s pocket), false accusations from his church, false guilt in all its forms plagued the sweet serenity God had brought me to.
But not NOW. I am on God’s timetable NOW. And God lifted me out NOW.
No matter when the rescue comes for each of us, we have to trust in His magnificent wisdom. Don’t fret. He has been with us all along.
Wow! What perfect timing! I really needed to hear this! In fact, I walked in the house just this moment and sat down here after walking and praying, “Lord, why do I always feel accused by everyone around me?! Is it me? Am I all they say that I am?”
As my 16 year old sinks deeper and deeper and grows more and more distant and behaves more and more like his dad, those around me seem to be pointing their fingers at me. I carry enough guilt I certainly don’t need anyone else’s blame! Just yesterday I shared with a dear friend that I can’t take it anymore and am actually looking forward to the break that military school will give the other kids and me. I told her that my son acts more like his dad every day, and there is nothing more that I can do. I’m tired. She gasped and said, “No! Don’t give up! All things are possible through Christ! Just read Beth Moore’s Breaking Free!” I walked away with yet more false guilt heaped upon me, as though she thought the problems with my son are that I’m holding on to things I shouldn’t or not trusting Christ enough to work miracles.
Really, truly, I think my faith has to be much, much greater than that of most of my friends who see me as “giving up,” depressed, or losing faith. For sixteen long, excruciatingly painful years I believed God would rescue me and would protect my children from bearing the consequences of their father’s sins. I sat waiting patiently, full of faith, as our lives fell into total ruin. I hate myself for that. Yet, it is such a strange place to be. On one hand, I have those accusing me that my faith isn’t strong enough, yet my faith is what kept me in a place I shouldn’t have been. So, I feel guilty for that. But, if I’d left early on, who knows if he’d have taken our now 16 year old and ruined his life anyway. Certainly I would have saved myself, but then I’d have to bear the shame and guilt of leaving my husband and my marriage and being……..faithless for not giving God a chance to work a miracle in my husband! Oy!
Whether the guilt is heaped on by myself or those around me, it feels like a darned if you do, darned if you don’t proposition. Thank you for pointing me back to the truth at just the right moment!
I’m right there with you sister! I went seeking help from friends about my feelings of guilt and I got mixed reviews. One was shocked that I felt any guilt at all and thought that I was pulling his leg! He couldn’t believe that I thought of myself as a bad mother because I let that man around my children. I assured him I was serious and that the guilt (though it may be false) was overwhelming! People who haven’t been there don’t understand how much it hurts to come out of the fog and realize the damage that was done, not only to you but also to your children. In his mind I should just pick up the pieces and move on like nothing happened. “Your free now right? So what’s your problem?”
Oh, my gosh! Yes! That is exactly the reaction I get! “Just move on.” “Quit living in the past.” “L, you need to just let it go.” “Things are going to get better, but you have to trust God.” “He isn’t living there anymore. Now, you’re just hanging on to something God has freed you from.” Really???????
While I’m glad for them that they don’t, can’t, understand. It is certainly frustrating dealing with their “wise advice.”
I learned a new word the other day that exactly fits this dilemma you describe, A New, where you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
noun: A choice involving multiple undesirable options.
Oh, Barb, I LOVE words anyway, but that one is b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. I think you just gave me my new favorite word! It should be my last name!
I agree, this should be my last name too! Wow!
“Damned if you do, damned if you don’t” is the signature position of an abuse victim. I’m glad there is a name for it!
Thank you, Barbara! I find it so helpful and validating having words to describe what is happening!
A new Free, Hugs to you!Been praying for you. Please throw the false guilt away! Don’t carry it. And I know that is so much easier said than done! I don’t have answers only across the continent hugs and prayers.
My children are well into adulthood now, and I certainly feel I stayed stayed in the marriage too long. He didn’t beat them, actually I remember him slapping one of our children once. He very rarely said anything even suggestive as being insulting.
What he did though was extremely covert. He hardly spoke to them at all and was away from home a lot. We did take vacations and he did give them some attention then, but never did I recall him giving them any positive lessons in life. He virtually ignored them, and I basically raised our children on my own. I tried to impress upon him the importance of becoming present and loving for them but to no avail.
Our children have had serious emotional problems in their lives, and I want to protect them so cannot give any details. I feel their father’s disregard for them played a large part in the difficulties they have faced so far.
I am so sorry, friend, for all you have endured. Neglect like this certainly is abuse and it sounds like your children have had plenty of neglect. Praying for them tonight. They are heavy on my heart. Big hugs.
Thank you, dear Megan. Hugs to you and Blessings.
Now free: Ditto and Ditto. I consider it a blessing now that he was gone so much while they were growing up.I think that is the only reason they don’t have more problems than they do.
Jodi, we have many similarities in our situations. I’ve been separated for almost 17 months, to a mostly covert-abusive man. We also have adult children who are being negatively affected by him, and it has resulted in alienation from my daughter right after I left the marriage, and now is moving on to my son.
He is taking me to court soon and if this means an escalation of decisions and fair resolution then so be it. The legal decisions will not, however, heal the deep rift and the developing one between my son, and his wife, whom I have always thought as my second daughter.
It appears like a terrible price to pay for leaving my abusive husband, but I know that the Lord has a plan for me. I can see Him working it out amidst the chaos. It is good.
Thank you for this, Megan. My daughter said to me today, “Mom, you should have left a long time ago”. The guilt sweeps over me, but I know why I stayed was because I wanted to do what I believed Jesus would have me do and as I sought out counsel for that, the answer was always, “God commands you to stay”. May God hold all men to account, who gave counsel to victims of abuse, to stay in it, until death if necessary. I no longer believe that advice comes from God. God grant us Your will – freedom from abuse.
And that’s the thing. God knows that. He know that your intentions were to honor Him. Oh, how He understands us!!
Wow! How I struggled with this very thing after I took my 5 young children and left my husband. “Polylemma” for sure! I wanted to know that I had done the right thing, but there was no way to know how it would all look 10 years down the road. Would I look back and be glad or would I regret what I had done? I listened to music a lot in the weeks and months following the separation. It was my refuge and source of comfort and strength. One day I was driving and listening to my Newsboys cd and heard a song that really spoke to me. I don’t remember the name of the song now, but the message was that God is the God of the present, He holds the future, and He can redeem the past. In that moment I knew that no matter where I am, even if I made mistakes in the past, I can trust Him. I can trust Him that He will turn everything into good, whether I did it all just right or not. I can trust Him to be with me each day in the present and I can trust him with the future of my children. It helped so much to know that I could relax and I didn’t need to spend one more moment fretting or feeling guilty about any of it. I had done the best I knew to do, and had stepped out in faith and the rest was in His hands. He has been faithful and my children are all adults now (except one). Yes, they still deal with issues from the past but I know that God will be faithful to complete the work He started in all of us.
It’s funny – I have more false guilt over deciding to leave my job than I have had leaving my marriage. I guess in my marriage it was clearer to me that I did allI could, even in the times when I could not do anything. At work it feels like I haven’t lived up to my own work ethic – and even though it’s (in part) because I’m being manipulated and overburdened and taken for granted, I still feel like I should have done more. I think of all the good things and how long I’ve been there, then I wonder why I haven’t left before?
Now Free – I know about the covert abuse very well! Praying for you and your children!
I fear that my kids will learn from their father – in fact my younger one already is showing some of the behaviors (I suppose some of it is his age – not many 8-year-olds like to take responsibility for their actions, but it just feels uncomfortably familiar). I’m so afraid I won’t be able to teach him that these things are not OK. Partly because the abuse was so covert, so easily explained away by him. So I’m afraid of what to say whenever they ask questions. Am I making sense? Will they think I’m overly sensitive? Too harsh? Intolerant? Are they afraid I’ll leave them?
One of the things I’m especially thankful for about this blog (and others, including Megan’s) is that you all believe me!
all I can say is I don’t know how I discovered this site other than the hand of God
this time last year was about to move in refuge in my home town and attending church
the day after left marriage went to church and the sermon was don’t worry about the clothes on your back/food on your table /money in your pocket -be like the birds
poigniant as I had walked out with just what wearing
I instinctively knew I would be ok and it was from God
since then I have volunteered with the refuge and formed links with my church and the Lord is now calling me to do a ministry for women and children and is definitely opening Doors and answering prayers and guiding me to find passages/song lyrics that offer confirmation that this is from him
my friend who came in refuge same time as me said it was like being called like Abraham to pack up and go to somewhere you don’t know(she came across country didn’t know any one) that the Lord will show you-
so I do believe The Lord is calling forth those in perilous situations like ours and raising us up to help our fellow sisters in need through support and awareness
Welcome to the blog, Beth! 🙂
Little Miss Me…Good for you that you are finding life better since you left the marriage. You should, as covert abuse is one of the dangerous types of abuse there is. I have never felt any guilt whatsoever in leaving my covertly abusive husband. In fact, if I had stayed I would have felt a lot of guilt eventually. Yes, I also felt that I should have left earlier, but God knows when we will be ready, and His timing is always spot on!
Covert abusers are one of the most dangerous types of abusers. They will “hit” their victims when they are not looking and walk away before they can fully realize the damage that has been done. Usually the victim can’t even know just how serious was the damage. Covert that they may be, they are also able to physically abuse their spouse if they feel their buttons have been pushed too far! This happened to me.
They will blame, blame, blame. If it is not your fault then it’s someone else’s or the weather or whatever. They will forget…such a convenient excuse. But they have very good memories when it comes to revenge. They will not often show anger but will ultimately make the victim pay in one way or another. They generally do not punch holes into walls. They often don’t mean what they say. I’ve been through all this and more. I felt so minimized and so worthless at times that I thought I had a huge character defect (permanent) or was going insane (on and off.)
I’m not sure what behaviours your son displays but perhaps a good counsellor would help your children and yourself? I went to counselling for awhile and it helped a lot. There is also a book by Lundy Bancroft called “When Dad Hurts Mom… Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse”. I haven’t read this book, but another book of his, “Why Does He Do That?” is excellent. I have no doubts that the first one mentioned is also very good.
I am so glad that you left him!
I believe so too Beth ❤
Thank you, Megan. I still struggle with massive waves of guilt. I stayed decades longer than I should have. I was afraid of making it on my own, of my children growing up with a single parent as I had, etc…. And I still had so much love for him. I wanted our marriage to be an example of what God could do. As I found my own heart forgiving I acknowledged that God was changing me. I assumed that my husband was changing too. I put so much guilt on myself for not being a good enough wife that he had to take his affections elsewhere. I was so wrong!!!!
Now, as I review the years, I see with clarity. I have had to ask God and my children for forgiveness. Despite my efforts it wasn’t enough. As I was the one who walked away the guilt was tremendous. But I am going forward now.
We all carry a burden that is not completely ours. I still work on only carrying my own. It’s hard sometimes. Old habits are comfortable. But I know that Jesus came to set the captives free. It takes time, sadly.
Thank you for sharing,how do u stop the trigger of false guilt to overwhelmed u all the tym,,, I realy loved reading this it helped a lot.
Dimi, there are quite a few posts on the blog about false guilt. Just put the word ‘guilt’ into the search bar. And welcome to the blog!
WOW…..THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU FOR THIS POST……..
I don’t know if others feel the same way, but this heaping of false guilt really makes me angry. “They” can say all they like, but if “they” really want to know the truth, I’ll give them the truth. I didn’t stay because I was weak, scared, co-dependent or too blindly in love. I stayed because I was a “good Christian” who took the teachings of the church very seriously. I stayed because I was obedient. When God Himself warned me not to keep on walking the road to hell with him, I started to “rebel” against everything I had known. When He Himself parted the Red Sea, I was quite happy to walk through it, although I felt like a rebel.
Why can’t people be happy that there are obedient, loyal, conscientious Christians in the church instead of trying to analyse victims and blame them for their suffering? I know, Megan, that you are writing from the perspective of feeling guilty as a victim, but I suspect that some of the guilt that we find ourselves fighting off have their roots in the words and attitudes of the people around us who vocalize their deep belief that victims are somehow at fault.
What I have found helpful is the power of the word “AND”. Yes, I take responsibility for exposing my kids to abusive treatment AND I did my best within the regime I was in. I was abusive in some ways for allowing them to be abused AND I am not the abusive parent. I understand the right of my older child to be angry AND I will not allow disrespectful behavior toward me. My kids are still suffering from the post-separation violence AND they are much better off. I tell my kids the truth AND I don’t malign their Dad. “AND” means both statements are equally valid/true and I am comfortable accepting both.
Not Too Late, that is so well put. Thank you!
Yes — exactly. I love the way you word it, friend. I will remember the power of “and”. And, welcome to our blog! Your words are truth!
NTL thank you so much for your beautiful words. You have given me a wonderful new outlook AND I am grateful 🙂
I feel guilty for leaving, especially since he is not abusive to my kids. It’s all emotional abuse to me and sporadic. But now he says he will go to counseling if I agree to work on us. Bargaining of course. But somehow I feel sooooo much guilt.