If I were to give advice to my young self, I’d tell her to not rush into a relationship, not put all her hopes and future in a man and what he can do for her. But rather, she is already good enough and whole on her own.
A man doesn’t make her whole. God does.
She’s worth as much as any other human being. She’s beautiful. She’s smart. She’s got a lot going for her.
Why not celebrate herself?
Her being in the likeness and image of God.
The truth is, my young self wasn’t aware of all that God was. All that He created through my parents’ conceiving. That He loved me more than I ever knew and still do not fully know. I didn’t grow up being taught about the Trinity, Christ’s teachings, the amazing gift of the Holy Spirit, even though I was baptized when I was a baby.
Today, I look back on me in my late teens and 20s, and even in my 30s, and it feels like another life. And a lifetime ago.
But if I dig a bit deeper, that woman is still me. The shining light inside my heart and soul is still me. The essence of Dorothy is still Dorothy. And that’s not a bad thing.
While I was going through my divorce over the last year, there was a moment when I approached my jewelry box and spotted a pendant. It’s a gold D with a tiny diamond nestled in the curve of the letter.
It was remarkable that I still had that pendant, considering I wore it when I was as young as seventeen and into my early twenties.
However, when I came back to the church in which I was baptized, I replaced that pendant with a cross, and I’ve worn a cross ever since.
But on that day in the fall of 2020, I slipped that pendant on the same chain as my gold cross and haven’t removed it since. The satisfaction and joy that came over me hasn’t been forgotten. A great moment, even if it seems insignificant to maybe the average person.
It was a type of reclaiming the Dorothy that had been veiled, been suppressed, been nearly snuffed out.
The Dorothy who’d been psychologically, verbally, and spiritually abused for 23 years without any clue she’d been.
The realization came to me via my therapist that I’d started seeing back in August 2020, when I’d separated from my husband because I couldn’t deal with his relentless berating of my sons and me for nearly a year.
It seems he’d escalated in those last months before I’d finally said I’d had enough and was done. I couldn’t do that any longer.
I had shared a string of text messages from January to June 2020 with my therapist. When I reread all that was said, I realized how horrible he’d been to my sons and me. I recognized that on my own, at that point.
However, I also noticed how God was with me throughout all those years. He’d truly helped me through so much.
So I noted this to my therapist. That I noticed the Holy Spirit must have been with me because I’d remained calm throughout those exchanges, trying to assuage him and keep the peace.
Something that seems to be pretty much a basic trait of most women. It seems engrained in us to try and keep the family together.
But I’d not been living in reality.
I was living in a world of how I thought things should be. Not how they actually were.
Infidelity more than once, porn addiction, financial deception, verbal and psychological abuse toward my older son and me.
The feelings of guilt and fear anytime he’d come up into the bedroom when I was there. The sinking feeling of having to be a good, dutiful wife to keep the marriage together.
I thought that’s what God wanted from me.
And He was who I was doing all that I did, for.
I’d been a wife of a military man, taking care of our special needs younger son. A stay-at-home mom for 23 years. Struggling to take care of my two sons.
When my youngest son was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 13 months old, in order to take care of him, post brain surgery, having acquired a nose tube to eat (he lost his swallowing abilities after the first surgery), and driving him to his therapies twice a week for years, I could not monitor my ex-husband’s bad behavior (opening personal loans without my knowledge, whining he wanted more attention, dealing with his porn problems, and his sporadic infidelities).
I simply had to tune him and his issues out in order for me to cope, to function, to take care of my youngest son, who had the remnants of his brain tumor post surgery (due to that remnant being on his brainstem and couldn’t be removed without losing his life). He was my top priority throughout his childhood.
Unfortunately, my oldest son was unintentionally left feeling unimportant, unloved, and harassed constantly by his father.
But after a huge blow up between him and me on July 31, 2020, I woke from my dissociative state. Realized I didn’t have to live like this. It was okay to care about what I’d been through. About my own hurts and needs.
Since this time, I’ve gained a whole lot of clarity, strength, and see myself as worth much more than I’d thought.
My oldest son has a good therapist that is helping him through his traumas, as well.
Although I mourned the day my divorce was final. I mourned the woman who’d tried so hard to keep it all together. Fought within myself, the woman who didn’t want to be in that situation anymore and the one that said I must. Divorce is wrong. You’ve got to stay the course. Be a good wife.
Well, the woman who didn’t want to continually accept his mistakes, as he called them, won out.
I realized I felt like I’d been his prostitute in a way, via the fact I had no income of my own.
I was done with any intimacy.
I would protect myself from now on. And I have.
What is ironic is that in my early twenties, there were three behaviors that were an automatic NO GO for me:
Yet, he violated every single one of those, on multiple occasions.
Yes, when I first married, I’d just come back to church and was learning my faith and working on a relationship with Christ, so I was working on forgiveness. And forgiveness is always a good thing.
But one doesn’t have to be treated in such a manner and stay in it to forgive.
Liberation and Independence bolstered me over the past year and a half. Learning who I am and being happy with it.
For the first time in my life, since the summer of 2021, I’ve realized I don’t need a man to be complete. I can do fine on my own and at this time, prefer it.
God is with me.
My family and friends.
I am hoping for a future with good health, family, friends, my writing, and my cats.
If a decent man comes onto my path toward Christ, I will consider what I am ready for or want to do at that time.
What is paramount is I’ll be okay no matter what.
God is good.