Someone once told me, “What you once thought was wise, may not be wise at all”.
I was a mother to a precious little two-year-old girl and had another on the way, in a marriage that was destroying me. I was miserable and sad and struggling. I could see the last pieces of what I recognized as “me”, slowly slipping away. I was scared. I felt as if the Earth below me was collapsing along with everything else surrounding me. I felt alone – living half way across the country from any family I had. I felt completely and utterly out of control. I felt totally hopeless and helpless.
I could not see how I was going to get out of the situation I was in. How was I going to raise two little girls on my own without any family or type of support system near by?
How on Earth was I going to be a good mother? How was I going to provide for my children? How was I going to move through the fear that felt like it was paralyzing me? How was I going to be a good model as a woman to my daughters?
So I stayed. I gave birth to a beautiful, healthy baby girl and found myself responsible for the lives of two little ones. I was still miserable, still lost, still filled with fear, still feeling helpless, still hopeless, still spiraling out of control.
I went through my days as if on auto pilot. I did what any mother should be doing. I took care of my daughters, loved on them, fed them, bathed them, laughed with them, held them, read to them. I was physically present with them – they could see me, hear me, touch me, and smell me. However, I wasnʼt emotionally present with them. I was letting fear and misery take over. I was starting to surrender to the fact that this is what my life is going to be like. My thoughts were on repeat. I am going to raise these two precious souls in a loveless, abusive marriage. I am going to do what needs to be done for the sake of my children. I am going to sacrifice my happiness in place of theirs, because that is the wise thing to do. Because that is what I am supposed to do. I am not supposed to get divorced. I am not supposed to leave. I am not supposed to raise my children alone without their dad in the same household. I am not supposed to shuffle my kids back and forth from one house to another. I am not supposed to shatter the image of this perfect little family.
The wise thing is to stay. The wise thing is to keep my family together. The wise thing is to sacrifice wherever necessary. Or so I thought.
Until one night about 13 years ago – a night that forever changed the course of my life and what I “thought” was the wise thing to do.
It was a fairly typical day and night in my home. I was taking care of my daughters while their dad was at work. When 5:30 rolled around and he wasnʼt home, I called him.
No answer. I called again. No answer. I paged him. No response. I called again, and again, and again, and again.
I could feel myself becoming angrier and angrier.
I started to ask myself, How many times are you going to tolerate this? How many times are you going to let him do this to you and the girls? Then the tears came. Then the fear set in. Then the panic. Then the desperate prayers and pleading for answers, for help.
As he opened the door and walked in, I began to yell. “Where have you been?” “Why did you lie to me?” “Why were you driving?” They were questions I had asked countless times before. As I yelled, and he yelled, I caught a glimpse of my sweet three-year-old daughter standing in the kitchen doorway. I watched as her eyes grew bigger and bigger, her head turning to look at him, then turning to look at me, and then back again to him.
Until suddenly, everything stopped. It was as if time stood still as I locked eyes with her, and heard these words spoken through them, Is this what you want your daughters to think love is? Is this what you want your daughters to think marriage is? Is this what you want your daughters to think respect looks like between two people?” “Is this the way you want to raise your children, in a household filled with unrest, uncertainty, verbal and emotional abuse?” “Is this the type of marriage you want to see your daughters enter into?” “Is this what you want to model to them as a woman, a mother?
And just like that, I realized the biggest disservice I could ever do as a mother to my daughters, and clearly the most unwise thing I could do, was stay.
That night I learned an incredibly valuable lesson and gained wisdom that will stay with me for all my days to come. That night I learned sometimes what we once thought was the wise thing, is not the wise thing at all. That night I learned to never discount where, or within whom wisdom may lie. That night I was blessed with invaluable wisdom speaking to me through the eyes of my three-year-old daughter.
About the Author: Kolleen Harrison
Kolleen Harrison is a creative living in the beautiful Central Coast of California. She is the Founder of LOVEwild and Founder/Maker of Mahabba Beads. Her passions lie in nurturing her relationship with God, loving on her happily dysfunctional family, flinging paint in her studio, dancing barefoot, making jewelry (that is so much more than “just jewelry”), and spreading love and kindness wherever and whenever she can. You can find her popping in and out at LOVEwild.org or MahabbaBeads.com