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I was insane for a while...

...and I did not know it. I did the same thing over and over expecting, hoping, praying for a different outcome. But of course the different outcome never materialised, how could it - I did the same thing over and over...
I treaded on eggs, I counted every word coming out of my mouth (and even those I formed in my mind, not saying anything) not to cause conflict. I carried on with life as if nothing was wrong, I continued to do the errands, created the home, took care of the kids, took his suits to the dry cleaners. Like a fluid I lost my shape to fill the empty paces between the shapes that were my husband and my kids. For seventeen years I did the same thing over and over.

I can now see this for what it was – I allowed emotional abuse. At some stage I was cross with myself for allowing the abuse as if it was normal, allowing one person to control every outcome of my daily life, allowing the total destruction of a once strong woman.

So many clichés became true of my life – I was like the frog in boiling water not realising that the temperature was raised since I jumped into the cool water; I was the house wife feeling worthless because she decided to sacrifice her career for husband and kids; and above all, I thought that if I take control myself, the Lord will bless me, I can do this life much better than He ever can.

On the surface, all believed we lived a wonderful suburban life with holidays abroad, a beautiful house in the leafy city suburbs and an exceptional place at the sea-side. Our life was picture perfect.

It was a picture I enjoyed although I could never understand certain things about my husband’s behaviour...

My husband is/ was/ will always be a coke addict. We were married for about 10 years when he told me (after a confrontation following yet another late night home) that he has been using cocaine for about three years. Suddenly all made sense: the inexplicable anger outbursts, the hundreds of thousands of rands being paid to beneficiaries that he was so vague about, the long hours “at work”.

At first I kept it quiet. For about two years I covered for him until I could no longer make excuses for his non-appearance at engagements or angry behaviour. I wanted to do it differently from what I understood the norm was for relationships where one party was addicted. I attended group therapy and was part of support groups, I had my own individual therapist (still do, actually!), I read all I could lay my hands on to try
and understand addiction, especially those about codependency. And I prayed.

The revelation that he was using coke was followed by many promises. The promises - that he “will not ever do it again”; if this that and the other change “it will be easier to not feel so down and self-medicate with coke”; if I did something to contribute to the income of the
household he “will not have to work so hard and have the stress that drives him to relapse” - continued for about five years before I came to the end of the road.

Many often ask me, then and now, “when do you know that it is really the end of the marriage?” My constant answer is “you will just know it”. One of the biggest turning points though, was when a close mentor told me “make a decision; the Lord will bless you whatever you decide; He cannot bless you when you remain indecisive.”

Taking care of me (with the Lord’s guidance) was the first step to my own healing: taking the focus away from my husband whom I believed was my “saviour” to focus on the one and only Saviour; doing the things I needed to do (like hiking up a mountain to the top of the continent); listening to the music I loved; spending time with the wonderful miracles of our union, our children.

In retrospect, I wonder why it took me that long to know, to really understand, that nothing I could do, could ever change the choices he made. Since the day he took that first line, whenever it was, he walked down the road of a second secret life and nothing I did, could bring him back. That was the most valuable lesson to learn – I am responsible for my own actions, for nobody else’s.

I continue to declare: everything is working together for the good, for those who love Him. I am strong, only through Jesus that gives me strength!

Maria
mariadeb@mweb.co.za

   
www.maximonline.co.za