Don’t Stay For The Kids

I stayed in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship for years because I thought that I was doing what was right for my kids. I was miserable but I told myself that it was better to stay. I was wrong. Staying did not make my kids happier. They could see that I was miserable. They saw the fights and the tears and it scared them. Mommy was unhappy and my 3 year old thought it was her fault that I was so miserable.

I had been struggling with postpartum depression since our second daughter had been born. The moment I held her in my arms I knew that the marriage was over. I struggled to take care of myself and the kids, and my husband had been of no help. He refused to help with the girls, and only saw them when I brought them outside to tell him good night. He had checked out of our life. He would come home from work and stay outside emptying his trailer full of junk all over the yard until 2 in the morning, just to throw it all back in and repeat the next day. He was a hoarder and would collect anything and everything and stash it in the trailer so I wouldn’t get mad at him for bringing home more junk. The pills he was addicted to kept him up all night, and often resulted in keeping the whole family up with him. He would get violent and break things or punch holes in the walls when he was angry. He was manipulative and a narcissist. Any problems we had he blamed on me and I found myself apologizing to him for his terrible behavior!

I felt like a single mom. I realized that if we got divorced, not much would actually change in our lives. I couldn’t keep having the same arguments with him. Every attempt to communicate back fired on me. I thought to myself that I was doing the right thing staying because of the kids. I didn’t want to hurt my girls. I eventually realized that staying was more toxic than leaving. After one of our epic blow out fights, my daughter came up to me and said, “It’s okay Mommy, don’t cry!” My sweet 3 year old was trying to comfort ME! What kind of a mom am I? She could clearly see that I was unhappy. I didn’t want her to grow up thinking that ours was a normal, healthy relationship. They saw the way he was treating me, and I did not want them to think that it was okay to treat anyone that way. I was setting a bad example to my girls. I knew that I wanted them to grow up and find happiness, not to settle for just any guy.

My Grandmother gave me the wake up call I needed. I took the girls with me to visit her in Florida.  I spent the week pouring out my heart to her. I couldn’t keep up the charade of our marriage any more. She told me that if I decided to leave him that she would support me, but if I stayed I had to suck it up because that was the choice I made. I came home from the trip determined to give him one last chance to turn things around in our relationship. Less than a week later he blew up at me at a friend’s party when I asked him to help me with the kids. I was humiliated and angry.

The next morning I told him that I was done. I had been holding in all the anger and resentment towards him for so long. I told him I was angry at him for not being a better husband, for not helping me with the kids, ever. I was angry that he had continued to abuse his prescription drugs and lie to my face day after day. I told him that I couldn’t do it anymore. I had tried so hard the last year to fix things, but he chose his addiction over our family.

I was surprisingly calm during our discussion. I thought I would cry but there were no tears left. I had spent so many nights crying myself to sleep over the last year. He thought this was another one of my meaningless threats to leave if he didn’t change, but I made it clear that I was serious this time. No more second chances. I was leaving for good. He cried, he begged, he pleaded with me, and when I told him I had made up my mind he became angry and started to yell at me and call me every mean thing he could think of. I packed up some clothes and took the girls to my parent’s house.

The next few weeks/months were chaos. My ex was lashing out at me, stalking me, blasting me on fb, and then would call me crying and begging me to take him back. All of this confirmed for me that I had made the right decision. I have never once looked back and wondered if it was the right choice. My only regret is that I didn’t leave sooner.

It’s been 3 years and I am in a great place in my life. I am remarried to a wonderful man. We have a daughter together now and he loves my girls like they were his own. My kids are happy and doing so well. They still ask questions from time to time about why I am not with their dad anymore, and I try my best to handle it delicately. It is definitely challenging being a divorced parent. I still have so much room to grow as a mom and as a wife, but choosing to be happy was the best decision I could have made for my girls and I. They will grow up knowing that they are safe and loved.

If you are struggling in your relationship, I recommend to try counseling and try to work things out. Unfortunately, for some relationships it is not enough. If you are in an abusive relationship, whether mentally or emotionally abusive, there is hope. You are not alone. You are strong enough and you are going to be ok. Listen to your gut. Change is scary, but it can be so rewarding. Everyone deserves to be happy.

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