Layers First

There I sat. Alone. Silent. And in pain.  

During my seven-year marriage, I encountered other couples who had divorced and often wondered, “Why didn’t they try harder? Why didn’t they keep the marriage together at all costs? I just don’t understand.”

But, now, on the other side of marriage and trying to pick up the pieces, I saw a new view of marriage and divorce. The truth was I did try hard—very hard—but it still didn’t work out. I couldn’t stop the repeated cheating. Or the lying. Or the manipulation. It was just part of who he was, and I could not live that way any longer.

Looking back was a blur. I had no idea how I survived the excruciating pain of separating a household. Separating my baby from her father. Separating my heart from my husband’s. But I did know one thing—Jesus still loved me, and He would help me through this.

And that is what He did. He was merciful and loving. As badly as I wanted to jump into dating, so I could stop feeling lonely, the Lord kindly led me to understand that if I chose a man in my current emotional state, he would be similar to whom I had chosen the first time. If I did not take the time to allow myself to heal, then I would end up in another bad situation. He taught me that I needed to get help. I had to seek care for myself so that I could care for my baby.

I had no idea what “getting help” might look like. I just knew my heart was broken, and my own thinking wasn’t going to cure the pain. So, I prayed, “God, please send me a good Christian counselor that can help me, and please make it affordable,” and I felt like God answered. I rushed to schedule an appointment with much excitement, ready to get into the counselor’s office as quickly as possible. I wanted to heal so I could love again. 

The appointment was made, and it wasn’t long until I was sitting in the waiting room. After a few minutes, I heard my name called. I looked up and saw a beautiful brown-haired woman with a genuine smile on her face. In some ways, she reminded me of a friend I had known for more than twenty years, and I thought, “How sweet of Jesus to do that for me.”  

With the Holy Spirit, sweaty palms, and a racing heart, I courageously put one foot in front of another and stepped into my counselor’s office.

I gently sat on the brown leather couch and buried my left side into the arm of the couch so I could have the comfort of the arm touching my side. I had it all planned out. I would talk about the divorce and get to the bottom of this question that haunted me, “Why did my marriage fail, and how can I keep from repeating this situation?”

As she began to listen and I began to talk, mostly tears and muffled words came out. The questions she asked me led down different roads than I wanted to go. They went to the distant past, not the divorce, including my parent’s divorce, my sibling abuse, my trouble during school, and other childhood traumas. My pain was deeper than I realized. My tears poured, and words came few and far between. 

Then, finally, the moment I had been waiting for—she asked about the divorce.  As I spoke, it became clear that I had layers of trauma and pain beneath the divorce that I had ignored for decades.  Those layers were what needed to be tended to first.  

The session came to a close. I wiped my eyes and walked to my car. As I put the key in the ignition and started the engine, I sat for a few minutes and stared out the window.  Sitting there, I thanked the Lord because I knew this was a beginning. This first conversation with my counselor showed me a sign of hope. Hope for a healthy relationship with an honest and trustworthy person. Hope for a relationship where one person listens while another talks with no interruptions. I had never had that, so this was a new way of communicating. And I liked it…a lot. As painful as it was to unearth these past hurts, I decided that if this new place of “being heard” meant uncovering the layers, so be it.  

Audrey Ann is a joyful Christian woman who loves to laugh. Her life mission is found in mothering and teaching her delightfully fun and curious child. She also works a full-time job, volunteers at church, and manages her household. During moments of free time, she can be caught out in nature, writing, or exercising. Audrey Ann remains anonymous so she can protect family and friends that are a part of her story.