My world fell apart 15 years ago when I found out that my husband was having an affair and had fathered a child with this woman. It felt as though a sword had pierced through my heart and whatever trust I had in him was destroyed.
But deep down inside, I believe that a marriage is meant to last forever and I was sure there was a way to salvage ours. Our son was only three years old then and I couldn’t imagine putting him through the ordeal of a divorce.
So we stayed together for another seven years trying to make things work. But the conflicting feelings of anger, injustice and grief festered within me. While I doubled my efforts to be a better wife and mother, at the back of my mind I was always questioning: “Why me, God? Why did this have to happen to me?”
As time went on, the unresolved emotions built up inside of me and I was getting more and more agitated. Finally the day came. My husband asked me for a divorce. He made it clear that he was done with the marriage.
That was the final blow to my world. In that moment, I saw the broken pieces that I had tried so hard to patch together in the past seven years fall completely apart.
Questions swirled in my mind like a hurricane and I was utterly overwhelmed. “What should I do now? How would I, as a divorced woman, continue to fit in the Catholic Church? How would others see me? Would I be excommunicated from the Church? My first task was to keep my sacramental life active as that is for me a very important part of my relationship with God.”
In that moment, I saw the broken pieces that I had tried so hard to patch together in the past seven years fall completely apart.
Asking the right questions of the right people
Thankfully, I had the grace to trust that God would guide me through the mess. And sure enough, He did. I found a Christian counsellor for emotional support, a Catholic lawyer to find out what my legal rights were, spiritual directors for spiritual direction and guidance on where I stood with the Church as a divorced woman.
With all this support and proper discernment, I peacefully decided not to agree to the divorce, opting instead for “divorce without consent”, which meant that we would be legally separated for four years before the civil divorce could proceed.
Drawing strength from God
Despite all the preparations, I was not spared the devastation when my husband served the divorce papers in 2013. The divorce was now real.
I cried, I screamed and I pleaded with God during this period. I called Him dirty names because I was so angry and disappointed with Him! I questioned: “Why did you put me though this? Haven’t I served you well in my mission work?” I found myself breaking down in public places at inopportune moments.
After many years of being absent from silent retreats, I packed my bags and headed to Seven Fountain. I let God have my full fury! During one of my sessions with the spiritual director, I was asked where I got my strength from. The answer came to me immediately. My strength is from God. 2 Corinthians 12:9: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” became a reality for me. This breakthrough set the tone for the rest of my healing journey.
Providing a stable environment
As a mother, I wanted to protect my son from the trauma of the divorce but also help him grow spiritually through the ordeal. I assured him that he would never have a stepfather as I still see myself married in the eyes of the Church and impressed upon him that divorce is never the answer to problems in a marriage.
I made sure that I didn’t get in the way of the father-son bond either, even though I was feeling hurt in the early days. My husband has legal rights to visit my son only during weekends, but he actually comes to our home every day to be with my son, something I never stopped.
To my kindred spirits
To all those who are experiencing brokenness in their marriage, know that you are not alone. The breaking down of your marriage is not the end of the world.
Happiness is within you through God. Seek God and you will find happiness. When something doesn’t go as you had planned, know that God is showing you another way.
Healing is an ongoing process and takes time. Negative feelings will resurface from time to time. In these moments, go back to the times you have experienced God’s grace and draw strength from those precious experiences of grace.
My life has taken an unexpected turn, something I did not ask for. Being open to the journey and the gifts that God desires to bless me through it has resulted in the initiation of the Surviving Divorce programme.
Running this programme and being able to support those going through the same pain has been an immensely humbling experience for me. As a divorcee, I felt I was good for nothing. But now, God showed me how that power is truly made perfect in weakness and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. (Gal 2:20)
Know that God has His plans for you too. Open your heart to Him and let Him take charge of your life.