When you don’t know if you should leave or stay…
Something that I read today and it stuck in my mind. Deeply. Mostly because the post that I wrote before this one about “People who require your silence” was about victims of domestic violence even though I never actually came out and said it. Stating it seemed too obvious, so now I will wait while you go back and re-read that post again 😉
A lot of people approach me on a regular basis – both men and women – who are stuck in violent, degrading, abusive marriages. They are unsure about getting out. For the women mostly, the fear of getting out outweighs the fear of staying in the marriage. They know that getting out means losing social standing, family support and with no viable financial income or even an education that can be used to build a career, they will fall into the mercy of their families. If they have kids, its even more complicated with custody laws in line with religious laws and ugly fights that drags on in courts.
Funnily enough … the families know what’s going on. They know for years but still they tell the girls to suck it up and stay in it, to salvage it if it can be salvaged, to try to their last breath if needed. Even in scenarios where the person fears for their own life, the advice remains the same. I get that no one likes to see their investment go to waste. What I don’t get is why more people do not invest into the daughter’s education, career, instead of saving it all up to hand it over a complete stranger.
Maybe I have become cynical or just too practical from too many decades of having to take care of my own shit despite having been married. My advice usually depends on whether it’s a life threatening situation or not. If there’s a threat to life, then I advice to get out and handle the rest as it comes. I put them in touch with organizations specializing in victim support.
If its not a life threatening situation, then I tell them about the mistake that I made. Divorce blindsided me and I walked out of it with my savings drained and struggled to keep food on the table. So I tell them to wait, to keep a distance, to get a job, a career if they can, start saving up money, to build a cushion for when they leave.
Leaving a marriage anywhere in the world is unpredictable. Some families will take you back in, blame you for the breakdown and generally make your life hell since now you are less than a person with a huge failure tattooed into your forehead. Others don’t just take you in, they cushion you, they protect you from the blows of others, they rally around you and support you through this most difficult time.
Did you know that the death of a long term spouse and divorce ranks nearly the same in grief? You mourn the life that could have been but will never be. You mourn the life that was, the parts that were good. Outside of the institution of marriage, women suddenly find themselves to have become fair play to men at their work and men within the extended families.
The daily annoyance and gaslighting will drag you down. It will be the icing on top of your cake … the grieving cake that you got smashed into your face. But here’s the thing… this has not happened only to you. You are not alone in this. This is not your fault alone. When people say that, don’t buy into the guilt. It’s hard but as people hand them to you, like a gift, do not accept it.
You will find your way. Even in the darkest of nights, you will find a way. There will be guides and unexpected angels. There will be people who have gone through the same things and genuinely empathize with your pain. Go out, find your tribe, find other people who have gone through the same, ask for advice.
Most of all, go within yourself and find a way to get over the bitterness. To let it all go if you can. It might take years but carrying all that anger and hurt will bring you down more often than anything else. Let it go, lighten your burden, hold your head up high and move on. There is a life after all, there will be days ahead full of sun shine, there will be rain but also rainbows. You will get through this and you will find that you are stronger than you even knew.
If you can’t find that light at the tunnel, then set that tunnel on fire and light it up yourself. You are never alone in your journey. Find your tribe and let them help you get through this.
For all those still stuck… I hope you find the courage and the support you need.