Trigger Warning: This post contains descriptions of self-harm and suicidal ideation.
PILAR: Over a decade ago, in early December, my husband shattered my world. He confessed he was seeing someone else. This confession spilled into a few other confessions. He didn’t want to be a father to our children or a husband anymore. He told me he was having doubts about his faith and that he didn’t want to be monogamous or married anymore. At the time, I thought this was 100% a faith issue and hoped that if he could regain his testimony, maybe things would turn around.
My confusion came from his assurances that he loved me, but that he felt I had failed him. I was devastated and scared. My life was spiraling out of my control. I was terrified by what this meant for the future–both mine and my children’s. I was a stay-at-home Mom with a nursing baby, financially dependent on my husband. I spent the holiday season in shock. I mechanically wrapped gifts and stuffed stockings, making it through by focusing on my little children, extended family, anything to keep me from breaking down.
After the holidays ended, there was no more hustle and bustle to drown out my pain. January came, and its cold, gray weather mirrored the way I felt inside. 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.
If you are struggling for any reason and you need to talk, please reach out:
Si necesita usted ayuda en español llama 1-888-628-9454
National Suicide Hotline 1-800-273-8255 or chat.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
The Trevor Project 1-866-488-7386 or thetrevorproject.org
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 or chat thehotline.org
Trans Lifeline 1-877-565-8860
Your Life Your Voice 1-800-448-3000 or yourlifeyourvoice.org