- For Survivors
- Resource Center
- Make a Difference
- Book Clubs
This is a moderated blog is a project of the Ruth Institute. Have a story to share? We're listening.
Posted on: Wednesday, March 28, 2018
It was one of my all-time favorite photos. I was laying on the floor playing with two of my children. My then 2-year-old daughter laid on my back, and my son was next to us. Everyone was looking up at the camera, smiling. But today, when I looked at this photo on the bulletin board in the kitchen, my face had a large “X” carved across it, likely by one of my children.
When my wife of more than 20 years decided to divorce me, I was the last to know. She cleaned out our bank accounts to hire a lawyer. She informed our three children. She published the divorce suit in the newspaper. Then she strode into my office one afternoon and looked at me with raging hatred. “I want a divorce,” she declared.
For the next hour,
I was subjected to a verbal blistering. Her complaints against me as a husband and father came fast and furious. In all, she spit out more than 40 “indictments” of my person. The only thing worse than being alone, she said, was being in a room with me. I was a weak person. She was sick of propping me up. She wished she’d never married me. I was an embarrassment. She belittled me without mercy. When she finished, my entire existence had been condemned.
Life as I knew it died that day. As a lifelong sufferer of depression, I was not remotely equipped to deal with it. After my wife had taken our two daughters and moved out, I stood in the bathroom, looking in the mirror. I hated myself. I must be to blame for this. I wanted God’s comfort, but the house seemed totally empty. I was so alone. He wasn’t there. I picked up an X-acto blade and started carving into my chest. I wanted to punish myself for my biggest failure. Blood was running down everywhere. I never felt so abandoned. For a moment, I thought of Jesus on the Cross. I felt ashamed of what I’d done. Then the tears came. They still flow.
God was there on that horrible day, even if he was hidden. Otherwise, I would not be here to write this. I still had more to suffer; sadness I’d never even imagined. My wife’s attacks continued, via email, on the phone, and in person. I was hospitalized in a psychiatric ward for a week. The nurses were shocked when my wife called, telling them she was waiting when I got out with divorce papers in hand. Furthermore, she planned to try to strip me of all custody rights.
When I returned home, my wife had taken down all the crucifixes, religious art, and sacramentals like holy water and piled them on my desk. That’s when I saw the hand of evil behind this attack. I was savaged for my Catholic faith. She told me I was a religious nut for having holy water. “Who does that?” she sneered. Somebody tore my wife down and put up a demon.
My attempts to establish a new life and still be a good father have taken many years. The divorce court allowed me just four days a month with my children. I was garnished for more than 40 percent of wages. When I was unemployed, the court took the majority of my state aid and gave it to my wife, who earned $100,000 a year. I ended up homeless, living out of my car.
If you tallied the cost of this divorce, the monetary figure was high, but the emotional toll was devastating. My son was out on his own and seems to have escaped unscathed. My daughters had serious medical issues, two suicide attempts, a sexual assault, and a lot of anger. I could not be there for them because my wife and a court said so. I turned to prayer to make reparations and ask God to heal the children, to call their hearts back to the faith. I pray to St. Michael for protection. I know Jesus can bring good from this. By offering up my sufferings, I can help. Lord Jesus, help me suffer well.
Posted on: Wednesday, July 12, 2017
We were the happy couple, married in our parish almost 30 years ago. After the marriage, my spouse apologized for pressuring before marriage to unchastity.
That had been my first mistake--believing the lie that in a serious relationship (we were nearly engaged after all) having sex occasionally was ok.
It wasn't. It bothered my conscience deeply and I felt used.
Once married we used Natural Family Planning. In the first year, we conceived. With bills to pay, crying every day, I left my child to go to work. Eventually my husband did quite well financially, so I quit to raise our children. My youngest was born in a traumatic delivery, which led me to fear having more children. I then made mistake number two--taking the pill. I knew it was wrong, but I justified it in "my case." God would understand, but I'm ashamed that I didn't confess it. I didn't understand the WHY of what the church taught. My mother had worked full time, and the message growing up was to put career and financial security as the top priority. Having a large family was seen as irresponsible.
After a decade of marriage, one day I walked in and caught my husband masturbating. Was he watching porn on his computer? He said that every man does it. It hurt deeply. He met someone, a porn model. He told me that he didn't want to be married to me anymore. He claimed that he had never loved me and we were not compatible.
We saw a priest who failed us. He told my husband that since he wasn't happy he could leave. I felt so abandoned. I considered leaving the church. My husband continued to be distant, cold towards me. I considered suicide.
Alone one night, I heard a quiet voice telling me that I was not alone--God was there. During this time our oldest, who was in high school, became involved in a same sex relationship. I cried all the time. No one could tell me how to deal with this. The ministry in my archdiocese turned out to be gay-affirming. I left the first meeting in tears. Their message, to affirm, I couldn't do. At my new parish the priest told me about Courage.
I couldn't in good conscience start dating, as I was still a married woman, regardless of what my husband chose to do. He had broken his promise; I didn't want to give my children that example. I focused on my two teenagers. They needed a responsible parent. I was forced to go back to work. I remember crying on Christmas Eve as the utility man came to shut off our utilities again. That same Christmas my estranged husband bought our daughters designer handbags. I felt ashamed that I had failed my children. One day I came home and caught my youngest daughter, 18, with her boyfriend. I yelled at him and asked him point blank if he was prepared to support a child.
Soon it will be 10 years since that day when my husband shattered our family. Along the path of tears I gained a deeper faith. I learned to trust God in ways I never had. I discovered how very much He had always been there with me, protected, and guided me. I am a different person than I was on that first day when I thought my heart would explode from pain. I left my old parish because the memories hurt too much and because the failure of the pastor left me feeling abandoned. I found a new parish where they actually preach the true Catholic faith. I became involved in parish life and began formation as a secular Carmelite. I began to educate myself through the Courage apostolate. I began an EnCourage chapter in my area, providing hope and truth for parents.
Three years ago my husband filed for divorce. I miss the man he used to be. I now see a man without inner peace, and my heart hurts for him. He is
cohabiting with a woman 10 years younger than I. My oldest is cohabiting in a same sex relationship. I understand now about redemptive suffering. God
really is close to the broken-hearted, abandoned spouse. He always provided for me. And I really feel that I have been blessed with the better part.
I am His, and that is where I want to stay.
Submitted by M. M.
Posted on: Monday, January 16, 2017
It all probably started in high school when I became bulimic. I thought I was the only one in the world with this terrible compulsion. Now I know that 4 of the 6 daughters of my family engaged in bulimia during their teens. I also now know that my father was engaged in porn and put enormous pressure on us to look slim and perfect.
Later at the University of Wisconsin in Madison in 1971, I had a nervous breakdown at the end of my sophomore year and sought psychiatric care. The psychiatrist told me "the problem is that you are still a virgin." Until then, I had resisted the sexual revolution because of my morals and belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church. Suddenly I rationalized that since I was suicidal for so long, I was obligated to try anything to try to save my life.
Three months later I had slept with 4 different guys. I was headed to a life of promiscuity. I convinced a guy from my old high school that we should live together and then that we should sleep together. In 1973, this man became my husband, two months before our first son was born, and fathered 5 children with me. We divorced after 29 years.
He was unfaithful most of the marriage, perhaps because I had been promiscuous before marriage. I was faithful to him though. I was too busy and too blind to see. I still blame myself for seducing him in the first place.
I came to see that I had been wrong, because I was using men to lift me out of a suicidal depression. Sure sex can distract you from the pain, but not cure the underlying dysfunction. It has taken me 45 years of growing self awareness to appreciate that I survived and have been active in the prolife group ever since Roe vs. Wade, January 22, 1973.
In 1973, before my ex and I got married, I went for a pregnancy test at the Blue Bus free health clinic in Madison, WI. They gave me the positive results with a list of 5 doctors that would do my abortion. They knew I was single and poor. I quickly ran out of the bus and hid from the pro abortion atmosphere in Madison my entire 9 months. I felt like a spy for the prolife movement.
Every year though, I was able to become more vocal and active until I stopped hiding. I have been to two March for Life events both in D.C. with 3 kids and in Chicago with a grandchild. Now I am happy and God has just blessed me with Grandchildren #12 and 13. My family is prolife and good Catholics. My 3 sons have wonderful Catholic wives and are leaders in their churches. I am grateful that I didn't abort. I am grateful that I forgave myself and my ex and can love my whole family now.
Submitted by J. B.
Posted on: Friday, July 17, 2015
"Honestly I'm devastated by my sister's divorce. But I'll never tell her how much I miss my brother in law :/"
We found this sad image on Whisper.sh.
Posted on: Tuesday, July 23, 2013
by CTW (Illinois)
My mom denies how painful the divorce was for my brothers and I. Once we grew up, she openly mocked the statistics demonstrating poorer outcomes for children whose parents divorced, because we didn’t suffer any of the social pathologies to which we were statistically more susceptible:
Now that we’ve all “turned out all right,” my mom continues to mock the above statistics, but what she cannot detect because it cannot be measured is the emotional pain, the psychological upheaval, and the gap in our upbringing and personal development due to the absence of our father.
There is one other “social pathology” to which children of divorce are more susceptible—one that my mom conveniently ignores: it is much more likely that our own marriages will end in divorce.
Mine already has. I’m in an interesting cohort: the first generation of kids affected by the new “no-fault” divorce laws. (My parents divorced in 1975, when I was 9). My children are in another interesting cohort: the kids of the kids of the first no-fault divorces.
I have looked at divorce “from both sides now,” and no matter how you look at it, it stinks. As I was descending the steps of the courthouse after my divorce (I was the respondent, my husband was the petitioner), my attorney, wet-behind-the-ears and unwise, said, “Congratulations. He’s out of your life forever.” I just shook my head and said to him, “If only that were true.” Earlier in the divorce proceedings, an older attorney at the firm had spoken more wisely: “In a way, divorce is almost worse than death, because the relationship ends badly and then you still have to deal with the person as an adversary, at least until all the children grow up. And even then, sometimes the conflict doesn’t end.”
That is my experience exactly. People get divorced because they think it will solve all their problems. In reality, all it does is exchange one terrible set of problems for a completely different but equally terrible set of problems. What a sad inheritance to pass on to one’s children. I'm 46 years old, my kids are 21, 20, and 16, and we're all still feeling it.
Posted on: Friday, March 01, 2013
by Thomas M. Loarie (Danville, CA, USA)
I became a single parent of a 13 year old son and a ten year old daughter when my wife of 16 years decided to pursue a "new" life 400 miles away from our home.
I spent a great deal of time and money doing what I could to minimize the damage that abandonment and divorce would have on my children. I came to know Judith Wallerstein and her 30 year Ford Foundation-funded longitudinal-study of the effects of divorce on both parents and children. Her books, "Second Chances," and "The Legacy of Divorce: 25 years later" are must reads for anyone who is contemplating divorce or who has suffered from divorce (again parent or child). A protege of hers, Elizabeth Marquardt, also authored a book, "Between Two Worlds," that I highly recommend. These are also great books for those involved in family counseling.
Finally, Mitch Pearlstein, former deputy secretary of the Department of Education, added another important book, "From Family Collapse to America's Decline," that deals with government policy, unwed mothers, incarceration, poverty, and education. All who have been touched by divorce and remain open to changing the direction of our country will find this useful. Pearlstein presents the evidence and connects the dots.
Educate yourself and get involved. The family is becoming extinct.