By Wanjiru Njoroge
Took me alot of guts to write this but here goes…
Three years ago yesterday, I walked down the aisle with dad on my right and mum on my left side. I was a beautiful happy bride! I was happy getting married in the presence of family, friends and colleagues who cared for me. My wedding day is one of those days I would gladly live in for the rest of my life- the make-up, gown, bouquet, venue, food, music, weather, shoes, bridesmaids, grooms men, cake and the mood were perfect! I was walking in to my happily-ever- after-phase of my life.
Every girl dreams of a happy fulfilling marriage and I too had that dream- I would be happy, ever after. Honeymoon came and went and the reality of marriage started knocking. Marriage is such a reflection of who we really are. I began to see my husband’s flaws, mine too were glaring. I realized am not perfect; none of us is. I wondered why I had never noticed some things-but as they say, love is blind- mine was partially blind- I saw some red flags but I believed they would turn green with time and we will be good to go! How wrong was that 29 year old girl? (hold on to that thought.)
I am a firm believer that prayer works and as a good wife, I prayed. Fervently. I was told to “support my husband”- I did; the best way I knew how. 1 year 3 months into the marriage, things had gotten super thick! I was in a violent and toxic marriage which everyone else saw but me- I was chronically late to work, perennially broke, withdrawn, very isolated and gloomy, my smile kaput, the once confident girl was now seconding guessing herself all the time, my self-worth and esteem were at negative zero percent- but si I was praying for my marriage, trusting God to come through? So I hang on. But I was dying inside. I died with every blow. I died with every insult, i died with every negative degrading comment. I died with every look of suspicion and false accusations. I died. Was i angry at God? Maybe. Was i angry at myself? Yes. Was i angry at people close to me who should have told me the truth as they saw it, yes. At that point of resentment and bitterness and not knowing who is on my side and who is against, i chose silence. And the silence killed me.
But our God is a God of another chance. I gathered courage to get my life together and i was not going to do that in that marriage. The what ifs crowded my mind but my resolve to get myself together drove me. Sometimes, we have to do what we think is impossible in order to see what is really possible.
Separation and divorce is a path no bride (or groom) ever imagines they will walk in; but life happens! I learnt in my early adulthood years that life is not a straight line; it’s a doodle- the most important thing is to keep drawing (growing.)
And so i walked out. To find me.
Today i celebrate- i celebrate that i had my dream wedding (not many women get their dream weddings). Although the marriage was not the marriage of my dreams, i celebrate that i grew- i grew emotionally, i learnt to handle my emotions. I learnt to trust God in nasty times. I learnt the importance of a support system. I learnt it is okey to make mistakes.
In my journey of separation and divorce, i have experienced firsthand how gossip quickly ruins friendships, I know how ‘society’ judges the woman harshly when a marriage fails-i stopped attempting to answer or explain the question- kwani what did you do?
But i have also met wonderful people who have been in my shoes and know exactly what it feels to look at your wedding portrait and want to smash it against the wall. They understand how if feels to remember a day like yesterday and shed a tear or three, women who opened their hearts to me and gave me the courage to move on. The Well, a 10 week counselling program facilitated by my sister from another mother Mueni Wambua taught me what authenticity looks like. I learnt how to embrace my pain, shame and not let it identify me. I learnt how to love me again. I got an opportunity to be vulnerable so i could heal.
The very fact that i have put up this post on my 3rd Anniversary is evidence that God restores. He heals. He gives a new beginning.
For you out there dying in a toxic marriage, i always say, prayer helps but so does leaving.
Here are a few truths to encourage you;
1. Marriage works. But, it is hard work! Do your bit and leave the rest to God.
2. Failed marriages are not an identity. It’s a season, it passes and a new one begins.
3. Do not condemn yourself that your marriage failed. Find the strength to move on and let go
4. Letting go is h.a.r.d. It does not happen overnight but one day you will wake up and realize you made the right choice.
5. Healing after separation and divorce is possible- Get the right support system. For me that was my folks, they walked with me to the very end. The Well where i met people who totally understood me. Trust God.
6. Happiness is choice. Decide every morning that you will be happy and you will.
7. You can start again, right from where you are.
8. Never be afraid to do what is right for you.
9. Watu watesema na usiku watalala- don’t give a damn what they will say about you. Whether you stay in that toxic marriage or leave, they will talk anyway. Refer to point# 8
10. God loves you- whether your marriage failed or its working; that does not change His love for you. He loves you so much! He has a good plan for your life, to give you a future and a hope.
Rick Warren says in his book The Purpose Driven Life that your experience becomes your ministry.
In God’s world, no pain is wasted.