Family Thoughts by Emily

Breaking the Silence On Divorce, Single Parenthood and Emotional Abuse

Breaking the Silence On Divorce, Single Parenthood & Emotional Abuse To be honest, this is a post I have wanted to write for years but couldn’t muster up the courage to do it. I think there was a part of me that was always scared of how my husband would react, or how his family would respond to reading a post like this. That fear is still there, but my feelings and desire for empowerment are stronger than the feelings of fear. My hope in breaking the silence on divorce, single parenthood and emotional abuse is that others who may be in similar situations can know they are not alone. All of these things are very lonely and nobody should have to go it alone.

I wish I could say that I write this from a place of peace and serenity, but I’m not there yet. Sure there have been some weeks of peace since my ex-husband moved out, the week before Christmas, but I am finding the farther we get into this divorce process, the harder things are becoming. A couple of months ago I would have told you that my ex and I were being very amicable and that this divorce would be as smooth as butter. That’s how it felt. I think the more that reality sets in for him, the harder this is becoming and the more darts he is trying to throw at me.

Let me tell you a bit about my marriage – after all, that is what it was on paper. I married at the age of 18, just one week before my 19th birthday. I was young and in love with the idea of being married. I had been away at college for a year and a half and had dated my lot of creeps. I thought I had finally found a good one. He was different from the rest. He was a gentleman who opened doors for me, asked me if he could kiss me, and followed all the rules. He made sure I was home by curfew (for the college apartments), and had a strong testimony in the church. I thought he was everything I wanted. We were married on November 23, 2002, and in the middle of a semester of school. I can say without exaggeration that when our honeymoon was over, IT was over. Back to school after our honeymoon I was introduced to a different kind of a man whom I was now living with. He wasn’t a terrible human being by any means, but behaviors were exhibited that were very foreign to me. There were many tears and I would often find him curled up in a ball on the bathroom floor, just sobbing! So much screaming, arms flailing, and fierce behaviors. There was much so much emotional abuse over the years. A lot of belittling. I was afraid. I didn’t run because I loved this man and we were married for time and all eternity. I made a commitment to him and the Lord and I was not a quitter. 

I sought much council from my parents and church leaders because I was at a loss for how to deal with these types of behaviors. I had a leader tell me very early on that if I couldn’t help this man,  then no one could. The burden was now mine to carry. So much pressure and responsibility for a 19 year old.  I came from a very stable family and this was all new to me. I tried to look past my new husband’s imperfections and take delight in being newlyweds where I could. I wanted life to be as normal as possible so we began a family right away. I love and cherish my children with all my heart, but I will say that adding pregnancy, sickness and hormones to my new marriage just made things even more challenging. Without getting into too much detail, there were times I feared for my safety. When things got very heated and intense I would try to grab the telephone to call for help, or to escape the apartment, and he would block the door and phone. I was trapped. I would eventually sneak out and run to the hotel nearby and use the payphone to call my parents. Our college neighbors could hear the screaming at times and for me that was very embarrassing. It was always him shrieking about who knows what! Usually it was his insecurities about life. 

We began counseling right away and continued to visit with various counselors and church leaders throughout our entire marriage. Some improvements were made and my husband was able to be a better husband and father than where he began. I wish it was enough! He struggled with depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder. Later in our marriage I began to question whether or not he even had Asperger’s.  I never felt he could really emotionally attach to me, even after the death of our daughter. With many trials in our adult lives, we were never drawn closer together. Communication was terrible and there was so much emotional abuse over the years. I would beg, plead and cry for him to stop yelling at me. The kids would plead for him to stop fighting with me, and because of his intense desire to be heard, he would not back down. Then there was the constant pressure and expectation of performing in the bedroom.  If I wasn’t up for it then there was hell to pay the next day.  

I dealt with these types of behaviors for 11 years! Sure I had my issues and maybe even pushed his buttons at times, but I don’t believe I deserved the meanness that came to me tenfold. People ask me if there were ever good times. I would say the longest stretch of any shred of normalcy in our marriage would be about 6 months, and that was only once. 

I am a pretty strong person – or at least I used to be. I wanted to have a happy and normal marriage so badly that I tried to force it and live as normally as possible. We would take vacations and try to be loving, but it would usually end up as a slap in the face. Wounds would get reopened and would fester. My ex-husband ruined almost every vacation we ever took. He knew how to turn almost anything into a fight. After about 8 years of marriage I felt myself weakening. After heartbreak over a damaging marriage, and the death of my daughter, I started to lose myself. I began to battle with a touch of depression and temptation, as well as weight gain from turning to food for comfort. I didn’t want to fight for my marriage anymore. I cannot even tell you how many times I questioned divorce, but never went through with it because I felt trapped and scared. I didn’t know how I’d support my children, or if I could handle being alone at night (due to fears). I worried that raising my kids with a broken home would be too damaging for them. 

Then came a point where I knew without a doubt in my mind that it would be better to raise my kids in a loving and safe home environment, without dad in the home, than with the negativity and toxicity that he brought with him in the home. I got my blog to where I could support my kids, which has been a huge blessing to me. My oldest son was struggling with headaches nearly on a daily basis. He witnessed his father scream at me on numerous occasions, and even get a bit physical with me. I am protective of my son and I knew he was protective of me. It ate me up inside that he felt helpless. He hated walking on egg shells, not knowing when dad would blow. I had to do what was best for my children, and for my own mental well being. So, I decided it was time to end it. It was the best decision I have made in years, but it isn’t without it’s difficulties and heartache.

I get the feeling that many think I’m much happier now, and that things must be so easy because I’m not dealing with having “him” in the home anymore. It doesn’t work that way. There is peace in my home and some days I am definitely happier than I have been in years, but He is and always will be part of my life because he is the father of my children. That doesn’t go away, and it brings a whole new set of trials with it. Can I just say that I hate how long California divorces take? 

As for single parenthood, it is not easy. I have fears that my children will someday be teenagers and they will resent me for not sticking it out with their dad. I know they can see why I did what I did, but I still worry. My daughter is still young enough that she doesn’t understand it as much as her brothers. There is no relief at the end of the day like with many marriages. No dad to come home and tell the kids to behave or give their mom a break. Nobody to help with the nightly dishes and tidying up. Nobody to help with the bills and finances. Or even for evening companionship once kids are in bed. Playing all of these roles and maintaining a good relationship with my kids, and continuing to show them how much I love and adore them is tricky. I want it all. I hope and pray I just don’t screw them up and that they can see how much I care. 

I do feel like I am headed in the right direction with my life, and for the lives of my children. It is a process and one that I wish would hurry up, or go more smoothly. I hope it runs it’s course and that in no time all the challenges will be a fading memory, filled with happy ones. I have fears of future relationships. I am ready and want to love again, and hope and pray I can trust my instincts. The last time I married, I thought I knew what I was getting and I was wrong. I hope that age and experience have taught me a lot so I don’t get caught in the same type of mess. 

P.S. I wrote this ad I was going through the divorce and things were still fresh. Read my next story on dating after divorce.

About the author

Emily Buys

29 Comments

  • I am the man that Emily married. I am not proud of this failure on my part & the failure even on our part for our children to deal with.  I regret many things I did that have been exposed here once again. I am glad that she did say there was improvement on my part because I did make sacrfices, just to little & not soon enough.

    On a good note, both of us are committed to our children. I don’t tegret having children with my once eternal companion. They have a chance at making silver linings after the terrible storm. Emily & even I can make lemonade out of this mess if we choose with the help of Jesus Christ, & our willingness to not behave the same ways is my hope.

  • Life is not an easy road, especially when it involves the loss of a child and divorce. I sincerely hope both of you will find happiness again. For Aaron, it takes courage to respond to this post and I admire you for that. Emily, I can tell you are a very strong person and will be fine though it may not always be easy. It takes a very strong person and a lot of courage to put your personal problems out there for everyone to read. I wish you both the very best.

  • Your story is a powerful one and I think it will help people in similar relationships! My mother came from a horrendously abusive relationship and she too tried a while before moving on. I will tell you as a child of such a situation that your children are going to be so grateful. My mother went on to find the love of her life and has been so happy for over 30 years. From this I have learned what how a good relationship is supposed to be, I had a better eye for those red flags than many of my friends did and I learned to value myself! When it was time for me to find love, I found my soul mate and I know it is because of these lessons. The lessons you are teaching to your children are INVALUABLE! You are teaching them that you are worth better, they are worth better and that you will protect them. As hard as it was, you chose better. As you said, life can be hard and lonely but it will get better. Everyday you all will heal a little more, feel a little safer and life will get a little brighter. Thank you for your bravery in sharing this. Early in your post you said you used to be strong, that isn’t true. You ARE strong and this proves it.

  • Emily, you are so much stronger than you know! Having lived through a similar situation as a child, I can tell you that your children will thank you for rescuing them from the daily stress. Sure, there were times we longed for a real family, but nothing like the family we were able to get away from. This is a strong decision you made and your children will love and respect you for it even more as they get older. Decisions like this are never easy and you always second guess yourself, but coming from the perspective of a child who lived through this, I can tell you that you made the right choice. <3 Life will get better, you will have confidence and love will come into your life again–because you are too amazing for it not to!

  • Just wanted to commend you on your Honesty. That had to be hard to do. I don’t know abkut divorce, but I know about being a single mother raising kids. My biggest fear is what not having a mother and father in the home will do to them. However, in your situation to have a man like that is not healthy for the kids. I pray you willl find someone who loves you and your kids and someone who will treat you like a queen.

  • I have known you for quite awhile now and had no idea, so not only are you still stronger than you think but you didn’t wear your heart on your sleeve even though we would have loved to have been of some support to you. With your can do attitude you are going to be fine but everyone has time when they need some help, just remember you have a lot of people in your corner and there’s nothing wrong with needing a little help now and then. Lot’s of good wishes for you and your babies. take care and hope to see you soon.

  • I’m proud of you for sharing what I know has been unbearable. I’m proud of your courage, your tenacity and your determination to make a better life for your children. You’re amazing on so many levels, ESPECIALLY, that you’ve been able to provide for yourself and your children all alone and created a lovely, peaceful home to nurture and encourage your precious children. You Go Girl! Be patient and VERY selective – you’ll get your Happily Ever After.

  • Thank you so much for your testimony. I have gone through the same kind of marriage. I was married for 18 years, to a minister. When I ended the marriage, I felt like such a failure to my family, to my husband, and ultimately to God. My exhusband had tried to kill me several time and threatened to kill my children. There was much verbal abuse and physical abuse. At the end of the marriage he tried to kill his self several different times and ended up in the hospital for awhile. But through much struggle for five years after the divorce, God brought a wonderful man into my life, that is a true Man of God. My husband has the same testimony that I have. He was married for 18 years also and when through much abuse, physical and mental. My husband treats me and my children like the Bible tell a husband and father to be. The relationship between my exhusband and my children have been restored. God has helped me to forgive and let go of the past. We invite my exhusband to all our family functions and everyone in my family treats him with love and respect. Just like Jesus told us to do. I can’t thank God enought for the long dark valley of 18 years, because without it I wouldn’t have the testimony that I have and be able to help other people that are going through what I went through.
    May God richly bless you and help you through this valley. I know that God has something very special for you and your family!

  • Thank you for sharing this.
    I can relate to a lot of your story.
    It helps to read about another single mom trying her best to do it all and sharing the same kinds of struggles and fears.
    I wish you all the best.

  • Thank you so much for sharing Pam! I’m so sorry you had such a rough go of it, but thrilled you found love and a man who treats you the way you deserve to be treated. Forgiveness can definitely be a powerful thing. That’s great that your kids are able to have a healthy relationship with their father now.

  • Emily…you are so brave…so strong…I really admire your honesty…In my heart I believe that this is something that will help other women going through similar circumstances. You are amazing and I know you will find someone who will love and cherish you and your kids the way that you should have been loved and cherished all along…

  • I went through the same thing and had the same fears about doing it on my own, how to support my child alone, etc. But, I knew that as much as God hates divorce, He hates to see His Children suffer from abuse even more. I left when I was afraid it was going to get physical. I didn’t want my daughter to ever witness her dad’s behavior and think that it was the way a man treats a woman, nor, seek the same pattern for herself when she gets old enough to be in a relationship. He had the exact same behaviors that you describe about your ex…he was finally diagnosed with borderline and narcissistic personality disorders. That was a huge relief to me to know that all that crazy wasn’t about me (as he always would blame me for everything). A great book I was told to get by the therapist is called “Stop Walking on Eggshells: Tsking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder.

    God Bless your journey and thank your for your courageousness to claim your power and not take on your ex’s shame any longer.

  • Wow, thank you so much for sharing C! I hope you have so much more peace now; especially with the knowledge that you are trying to teach your daughter right!

  • I am a new visitor to your blog. I have a similar story. We were married approx 20 years. I was a single mom for approx 5 years. I am now married to someone who is not abusive and sometimes I still have trust issues. I still haven’t blogged about my experiences much. It opens some deep wounds. Thank you for sharing !!

  • I cannot thank you enough for sharing your story. It sounds almost identical to mine with the timeframe exception. My son was only 5 weeks old when I left and it has been a struggle every day. Yet, somehow I knew I had to take this step for his sake and feel like I regain a smidgen of strength with each passing day. Your story is inspiring and it makes me feel that there is someone who has experienced the same types of things. I have used/experienced the exact same vocabulary that you have – waking on eggshells, explored possibility of Aspergers, ultimately him getting diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and anger management issues; toxic environment for kid, etc.

  • Emily – thank you for your words. For the first time I feel like I’ve found the words to put to what I am going through. I’m terrified to get a divorce, but I think things are headed that direction. I’ve struggled to find someone who understood where I am and what I’m feeling, especially in the church (my ward, my LDS friends, etc), my parents (been married happily for 20 years), or any friends who married at the age I did (and seem to still be happily married). I feel like the only person going through this, even though I know that’s not the case. No one speaks up about it though, and I’m grateful you did. You’re right, and your words hit me hard. God wants us to have a happy eternal marriage, but He also wants his children to be happy. I haven’t had that happiness in a while, and I want to do good by my son and raise him in a happy loving home where there isn’t always tension and fighting. I hope he doesn’t hate me too if my marriage does completely fall apart, and I’m so thankful someone else worries about that the way I do. If you have any advice or things you would’ve done differently when going through the divorce please let me know, I’m certainly all ears at this difficult time. Thank you.

  • I am so sorry you are experiencing something similar Brooke! I can empathize with the difficulty of the situation. It is not an easy one for sure. You are welcome to email me if you have any questions. Don’t give up hope on happiness. It can come!

  • Oh Em! I am so out of the loop. I’ve stumbled onto your blog and can I just say, it has been way too long. I’m so sorry you had to actually go through this, that the “movie” was your reality. At the same time, it has certainly strengthened you. That took courage to finally make the decision to leave and say enough is enough. I am so glad that you have found love again and have found happiness again. I love those little things that the Lord does to bless us. He knew then what to place in your life to help you, and certainly knows now too. Glad to see that you’re doing so much better and that you truly are blessed. Keep moving forward, Rebecca

  • Everyone have its own battles in life and I know you can overcome any of it particularly on the divorce part. Thanks for sharing your experienced.

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