With This Ring…

Ah weddings! Beautiful, symbolic, joyful ceremonies to celebrate the union of two souls in love, committing their lives to one another before God and their loved ones; “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, til death do us part.”

It’s a moment all little girls dream about, and one of the most pivotal days of any couple’s life. When I was a young girl, dreaming way too far into the future about my wedding day, I didn’t just imagine that day. I imagined all the days leading up to it, and all the days that would follow. I wondered what my Prince Charming would look like and my heart pounded at the thought of him tearing up when he saw me for the first time at the end of the flower sprinkled aisle on that wonderful day. I pictured him fitting into my family like as if he’d been there all along, and me in his. I envisioned him asking my dad for my hand in marriage and feeling like the luckiest man alive to have heard my father proudly say yes. I imagined what the proposal and the ring would look like, and that I’d cry tears of joy as I jumped into his strong, loving arms and screamed, “Yes!” to that long awaited question, “Will you marry me?” I daydreamed about our children and what our own little family would look like. I believed I’d have a beautiful love story just like all the Disney movies promised, and prayed I’d find it sooner rather than later.

The Disney movies and romantic love stories we watch growing up don’t often show what happens when the dream turns into a nightmare. What happens when Prince Charming isn’t so charming and rather than being swept off your feet you more get slammed down on your head. When fun, sweet date nights with romantic cocktails end up as drunken house parties and bar hopping with a belligerent alcoholic calling you a whore (among other names) in the parking lot just before he fist fights your friend, drives home drunk, punches a hole in the wall and then blacks out…every weekend. When your self respect has been so depleted that instead of walking away, you stay and make excuses as you clean up the mess.

The movies don’t prepare you for what happens when your desire to be desired coupled with your strong committed spirit leaves you staying in unhealthy, abusive relationships because either you believe you don’t deserve any better, or you’ve convinced yourself it’s just a phase and your love will be enough to help them grow out of it. When late night love chats on the phone turn out to be sleepless nights alone watching the hours tick by as you wait for your boyfriend or spouse to return home from the bar, wondering where he is and if he will make it home at all. When butterflies in your stomach turn into twisted knots. When sweet nothings whispered in your ear end up being verbal screaming matches that demean and destroy your soul.

They don’t often show what happens when cute banter over who pays the bill turns into hidden purchases and maxed out credit cards filled with bar tabs.  When the happy tears of a positive pregnancy test warps into a blame fest and a push toward an abortion. When a well planned proposal turns into, “Well, so I guess we better get married then huh?” When the big beautiful wedding filled with family and friends turns into a court house appointment that has to be rescheduled because the groom is too hungover to make the original date. When the flawless wedding ring he lovingly chose for you ends up being a ring from Overstock.com you picked for yourself and are still paying for on your own credit card.

No one prepares you for what happens when your sweet hope of a spouse who delights in children as much as you turns out to view them as a problem to be solved. When your excitement and joy over pregnancy isn’t shared and you end up doing it all on your own. When visions of lovingly welcoming your newest baby into your home and a doting husband sacrificing sleep just to hold him and help you any way he can, turns into being left alone in the hospital while he tries to convince you to let friends babysit the older two so he can go hunting…and then dumping you and your 3 sons in the door after being released from the hospital so he could spend time in the woods. When reveries of a partnership are changed into single parenting even though you’re together.
 
You’re probably thinking by now, “Well who in their right mind would stay in a situation like that? Who would allow that to be their story when they have a choice in how it looks?”

I often ask myself those same questions when I look back over the last four years of my life. I honestly have a hard time stomaching a lot of the choices I made based on my sick, codependent heart and my confused, deluded brain.

Ideally, a marriage happens between two people who love each other more than they love themselves. Who have made a conscious decision to spend the rest of their lives together, even in the hard seasons. Who know and respect each other and who each want to honor and uphold the other at all times. Who share the same core values and plans for the future, walking hand in hand toward a united destination. Who understand love is not just a feeling but a daily choice to lay your life down for the other.

After my first marriage failed, I vowed to myself it would never happen again. You’d think a promise like that would give me enough strength to choose the next one carefully and to only give the remainder of my broken heart to someone who had fought for it and proved himself worthy of such a gesture. You’d think I’d have taken my time, healed and become whole before trying again, trusting that God would bring me to the man he had for me when the time was right.

But I didn’t. I pressed forward against all sound judgment and loving advice. I believed what I wanted to about this person I’d found drowning in his own self destructive filth and tried with all I had in me to be his savior. To be my own savior. To trudge the dangerous waters, naked and afraid, naive to all that lay beneath the dark surface of this uncharted territory. I made excuses and believed lies, putting duct tape over each new wound to my heart and hoped that someday it would become a beautiful love story of perseverance and faith. I ignored the red flags and even defended the inexcusable behavior I continued to endure. I worked tirelessly to change this man into something he wasn’t, spraying perfume on a giant pile of shit and trying to convince myself and everyone else it was a pile of roses. I sacrificed my morals, surrendered my soul, and gave away pieces of myself until there was nothing left.

A wedding ring is not just a symbol to the world of your love and commitment to another person, letting everyone know you are spoken for. It’s not only a reminder of the most important relationship in your life and your devotion to that person. It is also a symbol of their love, commitment and fidelity to you. A promise of their faithfulness and love to you. A vow to honor and cherish you for as long as you both shall live. A daily reminder of their choice to dedicate their heart to you and only you, above anyone and anything else, other than God. While wedding rings are beautiful in their own right, the true beauty lies in what they represent.

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Mine does not hold any of that depth and beauty.

My wedding ring was not given to me by a man who cherished me or even wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. Mine was delivered to me by a mailman. This ring was not carefully selected by a man who valued my heart and what the ring would represent for the rest of our lives as a couple. It was selected by me, from a website, while I was home alone and my husband was out at a bar. This ring was not placed on my finger in front of a church filled with my closest family and friends. I put it on my own finger when it finally arrived in the mail.

It’s pretty, but it’s meaningless. It’s expensive, but it’s worthless. It’s a daily reminder of my love and commitment to someone who didn’t uphold the vow.

Although I’ve been separated from my husband since March, my divorce is not anywhere near finalized yet, so I have continued to wear the ring. Many people who know my situation have seen the ring and asked why I’m still wearing it, assuming it’s because I can’t let go or it means too much. My primary reason for wearing it is simply because until I’m no longer married on paper, I’m still married. Although the ring itself carries no meaning or value at this point, and really never did, I’ve wanted to demonstrate that despite the lack of commitment and promise on the other side, I wanted to uphold mine.

This journey has just begun and the road ahead looks almost as scary as the road I left behind. Worse in fact, in many ways; but also so much better. The divorce is not over and I am still legally married, so I still feel a need to wear a ring on my left hand. But I believe it is time to let go of this one.

It is time to let go of the broken promises and the shattered vows. To say goodbye to the childhood dream and another failed marriage. To release the burden that my love wasn’t enough and my fidelity was one sided. To forgive myself for my poor choices and sick heart, and to forgive him of the same. To take off the meaningless ring and untie the twisted ropes that held us together.

With this ring, I am bound. Bound to a lie and a heartache I didn’t choose. Bound to the pain of my poor choices and their lifelong consequences in me and my son’s lives. Bound to an empty promise and a broken vow; a devastating loss of an unattainable dream.

It is time to undo the binding. Not to be free to find another, but to be free from the bondage of the past. To be released into the arms of the only One who deserves my heart; the One who has fought for me and earned my eternal love and devotion. To untie the mangled knots of lies, deceit, and selfishness and be fixed rather to the only One who is pure in truth, grace and sacrificial love. To heal through the fallout, letting go of what never was and holding onto hope of what will be. This is not the life I had planned for myself or my children, but it’s not a surprise to God and He is redeeming every broken piece of my heart and restoring it to Him.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” Proverbs 31:25

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37 thoughts on “With This Ring…

  1. I cannot imagine your heartache during this time but I am so glad you are not remaining a victim to this any longer. Someday you will be the one to give others in the same situation the strength and encouragement to do the same. Many prayers for you and your sweet boys.

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    • Thank you sasha, that is my prayer! I know we don’t go through the things we go through for nothing and that God’s mighty hand is bigger than all of it and fully able to redeem it all and use it for his good. I pray others will find strength in reading my experience and know that they don’t have to continue in that story. My faith is what kept me in it, but eventually, my faith is what released me from it. Thank you for your encouragement and for reading.

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  2. We have more in common than I realized. I’m so sorry your road to happiness has been such a challenging one. I divorced my first husband 7 tears ago at the age if 27, but it seems like just yesterday. He was an alcoholic. I planned to write about it eventually, But was in fear that maybe he would read it. Those boys are very lucky to have your presence in their lives, you are doing great. You just gave me some courage to maybe talk about my past. Xoxoxo

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    • That means so much to me, Thank you! What a wonderful thing to be able to encourage someone else to share their story. I’ve often thought about him being to read it if he wanted, but ultimately land on a few truths. 1. He knows all of this already and it’s the truth. 2. I’m not even including a lot of the awful details, at least not until I can out it in a book for a bigger purpose (if I get that opportunity). 3. It’s my story and that’s all part of it. 4. If I never speak the truth, others will never have the chance to read it and find strength from it as well. 5. I try hard not to slander him or expose him or drag him through unnecessary mud…but some things are just truth and you can’t change what they are, even if you want to.
      We can’t ever go back and make the details pretty, but we can learn from them and find beauty in what lies in us and ahead of us. I’m so glad you shared that with me and I hope you do write about your experience some time. Through the pain, Its been a very healing journey for me. I pray the same for you!
      Thanks again for reading and commenting.

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  3. Very touched. I can relate in so many ways. You’ve already made the biggest most important step in this and that was leaving. Being a military wife I have seen sooo many of my friends marriages end just like this or worse. It’s truly heartbreaking especially when there’s kids involved. Just remember God gave you this life because he knew you could handle it. Readying your story was very touching and like I said I can relate in more ways than none in your story! Keep your head up, keep faith, and never give up. Divorce tends to get uglier before it gets better but I know you’re strong enough to handle it all! Praying for you and your boys!!! Were moving to FL in a year.. I hope we become close!!

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    • That means a lot Kristin, thank you!!! I’m in Kentucky now so we are pretty far from Florida but at least there’s Facebook! ☺ thank you for your encouragement. I agree with you and know God is using it all for his good and creating beauty from the ashes. ❤

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  4. It’s carthartic–writing about it, isn’t it? Sharing your story and sharing the pain. And it’s also amazing at the support that comes from those who are willing to help shoulder some of that pain with you.
    You’re clearly an intelligent girl, clearly able to sort through the sadness and anger and confusion with the outlet of writing, which is a huge blessing in and of itself. Too many people are afraid of the vulnerable position they’re in and simply shut down rather than attempt to process it. I have great admiration for your courage. But it’s okay to be weak too. The suffering is a huge component of this situation. The ability to not be strong takes a lot of letting go, and that requires strength as well.
    I hope you keep reaching out to connect with others. I hope you have family and friends around you to give you the much needed support this asks for. You can do this. You and the boys.
    Take good care.

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    • You are absolutely right. I find so much beauty in being vulnerable and not,pretending like everything is Perfect. I feel like I’m called to share my brokenness with the world as a reminder that in one way or another, were all broken, but we’re all beautiful. Writing is such an amazing outlet and I’ve found so much healing theough this process, and hope this is only the beginning. The support is amazing and I love that it provides others with strength to say, “me too.” Its not always pretty but there’s always beauty in it. Thanks for your words and for reading! It means a lot! ❤

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  5. Rachael, your steadfastness in your faith in The Lord speaks volumes, especially as you’re going through such a difficult trial. Continue to cast your burdens on Him, and He will carry you.

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  6. Wow. That was so powerful and emotional. I felt like I was in your shoes when I was reading this. The raw heartache, I felt that. You are so very admirable. And faith in the Lord, what a testimony for His enduring love.

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    • That means the world. Thank you! My goal in sharing is always to show the love and grace of God and healing that can come from such brokenness. Its not always pretty, but it can be beautiful. Thank you for your words!

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    • Wow that means a lot to me. Thank you! I feel called,to be busted wide open and honest with my life because otherwise, what was the point!? Healing comes from brokenness and although my life has a lot of brokenness, there’s also a lot of healing, and hopefully I can help others through that as well.

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  7. You are so so strong! I read once about a women who traded in her wedding ring for a right hand ring after her divorce. It was a ring of her promising to love herself. If I can find it will send it to you, it was very sweet. (BTW the spraying perfume on a giant pile of shit line cracked me up… great way to put it!)

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    • Haha, thanks…it’s really the best way to explain it! And yes, that’s a great idea….if I can’t sell it for anything worthwhile I may do something like that! Thank you for your compliment abd for releasing

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    • Thank you so much… it has a lot to do with self respect. Now that I have some, I won’t endure abusive treatment anymore and neither will my boys. They’ll learn respect for women and themselves and we will all be healthier as a result of my past mistakes.

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  8. Thank you for sharing your story. Those boys are so lucky to have such a strong mama whom they can proudly look up to. You are amazing. And I know this particular journey isn’t over yet, it has made you stronger and you can help others in need.

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  9. I don’t know what to say Rachael. Thank you for sharing your story. You have been through so much and I just can’t tell you how amazing I think you are! You have risen from the ashes and don’t let anyone ever drag you back down. You are a true inspiration and a beautiful momma. So thankful to have you as a new friend.

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  10. Oh Rachael, it is heartbreaking when reality doesn’t meet our expectations … or when our expectations outshine reality. I always dreamed of the fairy tale wedding, the honeymoon, the reception with friends and family… I wanted it all, and I think most of us women wanted that at some point. But then, it wasn’t so much about the ceremony around it but the meaning behind the vows. And when that was shattered… well, I don’t have to elaborate (even if our situations are different). You have my continued prayers and hugs for this trying time in your life.

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    • Thank you kori! I agree…it’s not the ceremony I dreamed of so much as a healthy love and marriage. I’d take a court house wedding and a happy marriage any day, but I didn’t have either. It was as much my fault as it was his for allowing it and continuing,in, but as the saying goes, love is blind. Until finally, light shines and you cannot stay blind any longer. Praying for you and your situation too, although I don’t know the details, God does.

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  11. I commend you for your words of honesty, your own accountability, showing weakness, for your growth. So many people try so hard to ‘maintain face,’ but there is no substance, there is nothing to fight for aside from the promises and the unfulfilled dreams. God bless you on is journey and thank you for sharing your wisdom ❤

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