I told my bishop of my husband’s infidelity. My bishop had known my husband as a child, knew his entire family well, and didn’t believe my husband capable of my accusations (his confessions). Bishop insisted that his family was strong; his parents had very important, powerful callings in the church. All his siblings were faithful. Maybe this was just a misunderstanding.
I felt very strongly that God told me to divorce my husband. My bishop gave me a sad smile and replied, “That is not God. He would never tell you to break your temple covenants. Pray more.”
I tried to trust my bishop’s wisdom and keep going, keep functioning, but inside I was in turmoil. I felt guilty for failing to please my husband enough for him to want to be monogamous, and worse, for being so blissfully ignorant of my failings. How did I not realize I was such a terrible wife? In desperation, after a huge fight, I took a straight razor blade and sliced my shoulder three times in neat, careful, parallel cuts. The precision gave me comfort. As the blood oozed down my arm, I remember telling myself that it should hurt. It should really hurt. Yet I felt nothing–only the warm blood trickling down my arm.
I was wrenched back to reality by a baby crying late in the night. I robotically wiped up the blood and went back upstairs to nurse my tiny, less than ten-pound one-year old child. Despite my constant efforts, she wasn’t thriving. As I rocked her, I told myself terrible things. Dark things. It was my fault that my family was breaking apart. It was my fault the baby wasn’t gaining weight. I had failed her and failed my husband. All the things he pointed out to me were true. I did have a temper. I wasn’t nice to him when we fought. I didn’t praise him. I was lazy and slept more than I should. He was better off without me. Maybe my bishop was right–he wasn’t the monster. I was. He didn’t want to live with me, and I couldn’t live without him. I should kill myself and make it easy.
My doubts and fears engulfed me. Every time I attempted to talk things through with my husband, he played the victim, blaming me for his unhappiness. Hopeless and trapped, I lost my sense of purpose. My mood swings were drastic.
I told to my husband, “I can’t live with this pain. I’m ending it.” He nodded and rapidly assured me that it’d be okay if I died, he’d make sure the kids were taken care of, and said a few other things that are now a blur. What stands out now is his eagerness to agree. So quickly. As if he wanted me to go through with it. The one person who could throw me a life preserver instead pelted me with rocks.
Something inside me split open. He wasn’t going to talk me out of it. I cried–full body shaking, wracking sobs that wouldn’t stop for hours. All my heartbreak and pain and anger and rage and desperation came pouring out of that reservoir I had been holding back for so long. When I finally stopped crying, I looked in the mirror, saw my puffy eyes, and said, “Enough.”
I went to the only person I felt I could trust, someone who I knew would be interested in helping me, and only me. I went to my physician. I honestly don’t know what I was expecting. I only knew that I desperately needed help. What I ended up with was a diagnosis of hypo-thyroidism and anemia. It was then that I realized I’d accepted undeserved blame.
I wasn’t lazy. I was an exhausted mother with an unfaithful, abusive husband. A husband who tacitly agreed suicide was a good idea. A husband who wanted to avoid the consequences of his poor actions.
Eventually, I worked through my depression. I saw a counselor. I got help for myself and later tried to get counseling for my marriage. I had to find the conviction, despite what several bishops and a couple of stake presidents told me, that God did tell me to get a divorce. I had to ignore the warnings about ruining my eternal family and breaking covenants and focus on the safety and well-being of my children and myself. I came to the realization that there was no amount of temple attendance, prayer, or defusion techniques I could practice that would keep me safe from my abusive husband, and I found a safe way out.
My marriage didn’t survive, but I did.