In March my husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage. This could not have happened without the Lord, my Pastors and my faith. The faith to start over, faith to be open, faith to be willing to allow the Lord to work through me and use me to help encourage and inspire other women.
On April 28, 2004 I thought I would literally lose my mind. Riding in the back of the ambulance the next day, I knew I would not survive. The situation had the best of me. “Just give up” was the desperate thought that entered my mind. “God is not with you,” the little voice lied. “I thought He would give you your hearts desire.” But surely this was not my true desire.
“ Why are you crying” were the words the enemy kept throwing at me. How could the one I love taunt me? As I lay in the emergency room he sat across from me laughing in the midst of my pain and heartache, I felt my world being destroyed. Is this a dream? Did my husband really come home 4 days earlier and say he was leaving? I just gave birth to our third child 5 days prior.
“Why are you crying?”
“Could it be that you just told me you were leaving?” This had to be a dream.
“Whatever? Are you crazy? You are a man of God; this is not biblical! You just don’t decide that you don’t want to be married anymore after 8 yrs. You have children, you have responsibilities!”
“Whatever Nicole.” The dream became a nightmare.
This is what began 8 months of warfare, tears, prayer, teaching and most importantly, learning my purpose.
This is one of my stories. My life is a testimony and God knows that I will share it. The bible says that we are overcome by the power of our testimony.
My prayer is that this story will help just one woman be able to “Breathe Again”. If it helps hundreds or even thousands, that is great. But my mission is to reach that one who is suffering, who is going through what I went through. Sharing my story is also healing for myself. So thank you in advance for reading and also helping me “Breathe Again”.
The words to that famous hymn go a little something like this.
“This is my story, this is my song, I am praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song, I am praising my Savior all the day long”
To be in the church and living “somewhat” right is what I thought it took to keep my home, my marriage and our life together. All we needed was “church”. Boy, was I wrong! It takes a lot more than just “church” to keep it together. It takes a relationship. Not just one person having a relationship with the Lord, but both of us.
I ended up in the back of that ambulance due to hemorrhaging. When all the tests were done the diagnosis was “stress”. Yeah, maybe I was a little stressed out. My husband did just tell me the night before that he was leaving. The doctor prescribed Zoloft (an antidepressant), but I refused to start taking something that I would be dependant on. I made this assertion not knowing that shortly after that I would be dependant on another pill.
My husband was in and out of the house after that night. He was still officially there, but not really there until a few months later. Then I put my foot down.
“You will not do whatever you want to do in this house. My kids will not see you coming in and out as you please. You will not sleep here, go to work, then leave and go sleep at another woman’s house. My son is 14 and I do not want him to think this is ok.”
That is what came out of my mouth but I really wanted to say was,
“I will do what you want, just stay”
“ I will accept you being with another woman, just stay!”
I wanted to beg and plead.
“Don’t leave me, don’t leave us, just stay”
As desperate as it may sound, that is what I was willing to do for my marriage, for my kids. I grew up without a father in my home. I didn’t want that for my kids. I didn’t want to sleep around, date, or get to know someone else. When I got married it was for life. We were meant to be together, I didn’t want a divorce. I wanted my husband. But he didn’t want me.
After all how many other women know their husbands are cheating and still stay?
One older woman shared her story with me and said, “Baby – sometime you just have to do what you have to do. My husband cheated on me for more than 30 years and the affair didn’t end until the other woman died. My kids used to come in the house and tell me their father’s car was parked at her house around the corner. I just accepted it. I lived with it for the sake of my family.”
But I could not be a statistic. I had more respect for myself than to allow that to go on. As difficult as it was for me, I knew he had to go.
I made a promise to myself that I would not cry in front of him anymore because that gave him power. Each time I would cry he would laugh. (The enemy would laugh) So I arranged a time to be out the house so he could pick up his things. He called me and said he had them and he was taking them to storage. I hung up.
My chest got tight, my stomach turned, my heart began to race. My knees began to buckle. My hands were shaking uncontrollably. I needed air. I had to get air. He actually took his things. He actually was gone!
“There is not another woman, it’s just me.”
“Do you think I am crazy?”
Those words again. That is what our conversations were like. For a man to be so concerned about his family and then not care how we ate, not care how we paid the mortgage, not care about anything at all concerning his wife and kids, much less the Lord; it was too much for me to handle in the beginning. He changed right before my eyes. Didn’t he know this was wrong? I know he was not raised like this. I tried to understand, I tried to just pray that he would come to his senses, but enough was enough.
It was not a good example for my children and it was awful for me. My mind was slipping each day, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep. I would have panic attacks, my stomach was upset all the time. At the time I was still on maternity leave from my job so all I had was time.
Too much time if you ask me. Time to examine myself inside and out. Why did he leave, what did I do? What didn’t I do? Did I get too fat? Am I ugly? Did I not give him enough sex? Those were things that ate at me day in and day out. Why did I move to Virginia, away from my family to a state where I had no one but him?
This is when my dependency on PM pills began. I took PM pills every single night after he left. I just wanted to sleep this nonsense away. To sleep next to someone for years and then be left to sleep alone was awful. I hated to be in the house by myself. To tell the truth, I was a little scared. Grass was growing, toilets were breaking, the truck sounded like an 18-wheeler, the air conditioning broke and I had to pump my own gas. Those were just a few things that happened initially after he left. It was terrible. I never had to do deal with these things before. I was totally clueless. My husband had spoiled me, and I had to learn how to do many things on my own.
Watching the reactions of my children broke my heart. My daughter would cry for her daddy every night in the beginning. But then she started to pray. I would hear my 6 yr old daughter in her room praying for her daddy to return.
I remember one particular night she came out of her room and said “Mommy, we need to pray for my Daddy because he is in a bad neighborhood and we just need to pray that the devil gets away from him.”
My son was just angry.
People would come to me and say the wrong things all the time.
“I know how you feel.”
“It will get better.”
Those were just some of the maddening things people said to me.
I have found that if you don’t know how a person feels or don’t know what to say just don’t say anything. Sometimes the best thing to say is nothing.
Each day was a battle. Most people didn’t know I was going through anything because I went on with my day-to-day functions. I wore a fake face. A mask. I would summon just enough strength each day to do what needed to be done. I couldn’t be like some and sit around and cry all day; I had three children to take care of, and one was an infant.
They depended on me. They needed me and I needed them. They kept me going. We were all we had as far as family. The days got better as I started to dive into things I enjoyed. I kept busy in the church and other activities. I enrolled the kids in sports.
A busy schedule kept our minds on something other than the fact that we had been abandoned.
Many people thought I should hate him but I couldn’t. I loved him. Not the person that he became, but the man I married. The person he became was mean, rude and just a different creature towards the kids and me. He was not himself. Each time I talked to him it felt like I fought 12 rounds against Tyson. It was exhausting just trying to have a normal conversation with him.
The phone rings at 7am.
“How you doing?”
“ I am good and yourself?”
“ Just on my way to work”
“Hey, do me a favor and don’t call me when you are on your way to work – especially after you just got out of the bed with another woman. I am your wife.”
“Whatever Nicole.” That phrase again.
“There is no woman.”
At least 3 times a week my phone would ring at 7am until I refused to answer.
Each night I would come home and scream into the pillow. Each night I would think about dying. I knew the Lord; I would go to heaven, right? At work I would go in the restroom to cry, then splash water on my face and resume my daily responsibilities.
Most people never knew.
My husband and I are back together now but the most important thing is that I found me. I found the lost Nicole that was buried. The Lord allowed me time to work on me. I truly am grateful for who I am and what I had to endure to help others. Often I tell people I went through for you. Not me.
That is why I founded Breathe Again Magazine. Women wear these masks really well, but we are hurting, struggling, crying on the inside. Most people never know. In my struggle I needed to touch someone, identify with someone that knew how I felt, someone that could relate. By using this magazine as a forum to share personal stories of triumph and victories, our mission is to help encourage and motivate just one woman with an article of inspiration.
The quarterly events are to help someone get “A Breath of Fresh Air” even if only for an afternoon, evening or night. To get away from our “to do” list and snatch some time for yourself. You deserve it.