I crawled literally on my hands and knees in the dark. The grass was cool beneath me; the tears were hot streaming down my cheeks. I searched for the Crosses I’d flung across the backyard earlier. I was hurt. I was terrified. I was mad at God. What had happened to my life? To the lives of my children? To my family? To our whole world?
So often during those first couple of years I’d run images in my head trying to figure out what had happened. My husband and I had been best friends and had renewed our vows on Valentine’s Day 2009. What had happened to change him so drastically? Had he changed or had I misjudged him the entire time? I couldn’t know. What I did know is that shortly before we renewed our vows, he reconnected with an ex-girlfriend on Facebook and that on Mother’s Day of that same year he suddenly announced he was leaving, moving out just a week later.
I was also five months pregnant with our fifth little boy.
I went to church Sunday after Sunday. I faced the whispers around me. I faced those who asked how I was even though I was too tired to tell the story again and knew they were more interested in gossip than in how we really were. I faced those who didn’t dare ask even though I desperately wished I could seek their help. I faced those who stayed away because, as one woman put it, if it happened to our family it could happen to anyone’s. I faced those who told me divorce was contagious and they now worried for their own families.
I spoke to the other woman’s brother, a priest at a nearby parish. “Please help me,” I begged, “Your sister is having an affair with my husband.” I realize now how unfair it was to go to him, but I was desperate and hoped someone who shared the faith and loved this woman would help her see what she was doing. I didn’t want to hurt the other woman. I thought she had probably made a mistake, that she didn’t know about our family, the private jokes my husband and I laughed at, the love we shared. I wanted someone to understand and explain to her. A few days later, the priest left me a voicemail telling me to talk to my parish priest. My life was falling apart, and I was left with an understandable ,but painfully dismissing voicemail from the one person I hoped could help.
I spoke to my parish priest. He was a kindly man who helped our family financially when child support was unpaid, a man I’m sure prayed for my boys and me and probably for my husband too, but he was also a man unequipped to handle the trauma we were experiencing. I was so wrapped up in my own grief that I self-centeredly judged his ineptitude harshly. My reaction may have been understandable, but that doesn’t make them right.
The text message from my husband announcing that he had filed for divorce came when the baby was three days old. I hadn’t stopped shaking since that Mother’s Day and wouldn’t stop for months after the message came through. Was it that message that sent me flinging the Crosses across the backyard? I’m no longer sure of what it was, but I clearly remember the night, the agony, the desperation, the darkness.
I clearly remember crawling around in the dark searching for the Crosses, searching for God, thinking I had done everything I was supposed to, I’d gone to church every Sunday, we held hands and prayed before every dinner, I’d even gone to Confession twice a year, surely God would heal our broken marriage.
But He didn’t.
And things went from bad to worse.
And I questioned my Catholic faith and searched for better…
There are several reasons divorced Catholics leave the Catholic church. Here I share some of the obstacles I faced in my church community, in friends and family and in my parish priests. My next post will discuss my search for God in other Christian churches and the goodness I found in many of them, the understanding, the devotion, and the Love I encountered there.
I hope you will stick with me over the next couple of days until I conclude this series with why I will continuously choose to remain Catholic. If you are divorced or in a hurting marriage, please reach out. Contact Catholics Come Home or another until you get the answers God delivers about His church. I don’t know all I hope to one day, but I also would be willing to help if I can.