Change can indeed be painful. I learned about this firsthand in 1992, when I left an abusive marriage, along with my entire lifetime of experiences, my home state, and everything I owned, to do so. It was, up until that point in time, one of the most traumatic events of my life, and certainly of my kids’ lives. I had only been out of the state of California a few times, and I barely knew what to expect when I crossed the state line about 15 minutes outside of Las Vegas, Nevada. I only knew we needed to escape to stay alive. I had a friend who offered us a temporary place to stay, but other than that, I was essentially running for my life. Pain was pushing me, until any kind of positive vision could pull me into a better place. I was finally to a point where I was willing to do anything – ANYTHING! – to ensure the safety of myself and my daughters, even giving up my entire life as I’d known it up until then. I didn’t want to end up as a statistic, or as a headline in my town’s local paper. So, off we went.
I need to tell you though; I had been praying and hoping for something better for a very long time. I prayed incessantly that my husband would suddenly be healed, become reasonable, not be so crazy and threatening, and be able to maintain a regular work schedule. He made excellent money when he worked and ran his construction business, but he would just as suddenly decide he wasn’t going to do it anymore, which would plunge our family into financial chaos. And not financial chaos only, but he would be at home tormenting us and stalking me if I tried to get away. I spent more than one afternoon sitting on a bench at the local police station to stay safe until someone else could pick me up from there and take me to some other safe place until he calmed down.
Finally, one day I realized that if anything was ever going to change, I was the one to make that change happen. It’s not that God had forsaken me, but that I had forsaken myself. I had placed the whole power for change in the hands of an external force, (albeit a divine one) rather than in bringing the situation under control myself and creating the change I wished to have happen. Once I fully integrated this idea into myself, I was able to make the changes I needed to make to be free of the situation. Prior to that time, I was busy doing what all the ministers and priests told me I should do, which – to coin a phrase was – “stand by my man.” It was “true”, after all, that man was made in the image of God and is most God-like – more than women – because after all, woman tempted man with the apple and women were made from Adam’s rib and were reflections of man. Men, by their very nature, were made to be the head of the household (and everything else) and my job was to allow him full reign to do this. Even if he was as crazy and dangerous as all get out. My job was to trust God and obey my husband. After nearly a decade of this, I knew I couldn’t do it anymore if I wanted to stay alive and live any semblance of a normal life with my kids.
It’s depressing to think of all the women and children out there right now who are living through a similar situation, and for similar reasons.
Once I fully realized that a crazy, intimidating man is nowhere near as capable of making family decisions as any normal adult woman, I was then able to fully integrate the idea that God works through humanity, not around it. This has huge ramifications for all kinds of things happening on this planet, including over population, climate change, wars and rumors of wars, economic disparity, and generally, the treatment of all life on earth in a humane and sustainable way. Begging an external deity is not the answer. You can beg till the cows come home, but the only thing that’s going to change an unpleasant life situation is if you do something about it yourself.
I have no regrets about leaving my husband 30 years ago. None whatsoever. I don’t think God is going to send me to Hell for doing it. I paid a heavy price already, by needing to start my life completely over from scratch, with two kids in tow. This turned out to be a great blessing for all of us. As Maya Angelou once said, “I wouldn’t take nothin’ for my journey now.”
And that brings me back to something perhaps less life or death (and perhaps not). One thing we can learn to do is to bring one area of our lives under control. Once we’ve done that, we then begin to realize that we can do it in all areas of our lives. I won’t kid you – this can be very difficult, depending upon what you’re attempting to bring to heel. For some people, that situation may be addictions to drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, or gambling. We all have our drug of choice. I was a smoker for 30 years. I have the lung damage to prove it. I was able to put that addiction down once I realized I didn’t need or want it in my life anymore. I attended 12-step groups for years. I think they helped, but the main thing for me was simply deciding I didn’t want that to be a part of my life anymore. I haven’t smoked in over 20 years now.
Our financial lives are not immune to these situations either. I mentioned gambling earlier, but that’s only one way in which we can play with addictive behavior financially. Some people end up deep in debt because – very simply – they spend more than they make. They use credit to do this. Some people use credit and then they say they pay it off every month. Turns out though, that less than 50% of all people who use credit can pay off their balances every month. If you’re one of them, congratulations.
All I’m saying is that if you want to change something in your life, it’s up to you to do it. If you don’t change anything you’re doing, you’ll continue to get the same results you’ve been getting. If you don’t like those results, you must be willing to change what you’re doing. I’ll admit to hating that, and most of us do. But it’s also true that we must move past the pain of change if we want to get results that are different from the ones we’ve been getting so far. If you want to lose weight, you must change you’re eating habits. If you want to be in better physical condition, you must do some form of exercise regularly. If you want to have a sound financial condition, you must stop spending more than you make and just putting it on the credit card. This, my friend, is the road to hell, not leaving an abusive spouse.