The first thing I did after I lost my job was attend a Women of Faith conference with my mom. In my seeking of God over the years, I had become a regular annual attendee at various cities in the US based on my work schedule.
When I got back home after that trip, I dove into helping my partner in his business full-time. I had already been helping full-time but now I was working with him all the time, and that meant 24/7 because he was always thinking and talking about work, and therefore there was always something for me to do or be engaged in. Oh, and by the way, it was all unpaid.
It was awful and I hated every minute of it. That’s because I allowed myself to be made to feel even more inadequate than I had already allowed. Up to that point, I felt like a failure as a woman. Now, I felt like a failure as a worker as well. The one thing that I always felt I had a handle on was my mad skills when it came to work. Coming on the heels of the emotional dive of redundancy, it was hard to swallow being made to feel as if nothing I did was right or good enough. But swallow it and power through, I did.
Early in our relationship, I had accepted as fact that we were unlikely to ever get married, for a very good reason which I won’t get into here (again, it’s not one hundred percent my story to tell). I see now that I short-sold myself and lowered my standards. I didn’t see it that way at the time; I just thought I was being practical.
About two months after my redundancy and into me working for him all the time, my struggle with how I felt about our relationship went into high gear. Over the previous nine plus years, I had thrown my all into it – my heart, my body, my sense of self, my peace of mind, my money. We had very briefly broken up twice in those ten years and had several memorable instances of conflicts where I always came out the loser and always allowed myself to be made to feel unworthy and inadequate. To be honest, I can look back on it now and see that I was in a situation that was emotionally unhealthy for me (at the very least) but I didn’t see or acknowledge it then. I didn’t know it until my anam cara unexpectedly witnessed it for herself and (God bless her!) pointed out a thing or two to which I had blinded myself.
I had conversations with her where I would express my doubts and she would listen and commiserate but never push me one way or another, always supporting whatever my decision would be – to stay or to go. I spoke to one of my spiritual mentors about my doubts and she said to me, “Kristine, how do you know that God doesn’t have someone better for you?” I vividly remember breaking down in tears when she said that but I also felt trapped by the years of my life invested in the relationship and my lack of confidence in leaving it. I remember sitting in church one Sunday during that time and thinking, “This is why people shouldn’t live together before they get married. You see too much of who the other person really is then you don’t want to get married to that but you feel like you can’t turn around and walk away either.” Even as I struggled with the feeling of wrongness about the relationship (and believe me, I felt that wrongness in every way), I tried to improve myself, reading books and taking online courses that I hoped would help me be a better partner in the relationship and a better person who deserved to be with this man. I did everything I could think of and everything that was suggested to me and I can honestly say that all that was left for me to do was lay down and die for the relationship.
Then he asked me to marry him. To this day, I can’t say why he did it. I think I know but I can’t say for sure.
And I, like a fool, said yes. I think I was happy but I really can’t unequivocally say that I was. Since I was struggling to hold on to the façade of my life, only God can say for sure. I certainly told myself that I was happy, and I told myself that my struggles about the relationship were over because everything would be fine now since he had asked me to marry him.
By this time, it was October 2014 and I dove into planning my wedding. In November, we travelled to the US to visit with his family for a few weeks, until the new year. Everything was calm and quiet until just before Christmas when it all fell apart. We had gone out with his relatives and, in my humble opinion based on reasons which I won’t disclose here, I felt that he was acting like a jackass. I had decided not to say anything because I wasn’t looking to rock the boat in any way. But I tend to wear my feelings on my face and something must have shown through because he kept insisting that I tell him what was wrong. So I quietly said, “You’re acting like an a**hole.”
I confess it, people. I said it. It was wrong to say it and I shouldn’t have done it. I still think he was acting like one but I should have said it in a better way.
You would have thought the world had ended. He didn’t speak to me for days, then when he did speak to me, he blew up and cursed me out royally in front of one of his relatives, more than once. I prayed and I prayed and I prayed so hard during that time. I apologised repeatedly, I humbled myself, I threw myself on his mercy. I didn’t know what else to do. My efforts were met with continued silence and scorn. Through it all, I continued to plan the wedding, hoping that when we got back to Jamaica we could sort ourselves out in premarital counselling.
Then God orchestrated for me to meet up with an old friend from high school who I hadn’t seen for a good decade or so, living in a nearby city. Sitting alone with her in her kitchen, I poured out my heart to her and she looked and me and said, “Kris, this is not the girl I knew from high school. That girl was bold and fearless.” I will forever be grateful to her for saying that to me because it made me start disliking the shadow that I had become and wanting to be that girl again.
On the night two days before Christmas, my partner started a conversation with me that would end it once and for all, though I don’t believe he knew that when he started it. In the midst of that conversation, when he threw out an ultimatum, God made it clear to me that it was time to go. “Kristine,” whispered the Holy Spirit to me quite audibly, “this is the last chance I’m giving you. Take it and run.” So I did. I don’t know how I finally found the courage to do it but I did. I accepted the ultimatum that had been issued and I ran with it.
I knew it then, and I know it even more now, that I walked away from that relationship full of the knowledge that I had done everything I could to make it work. And therefore, I was able to walk away without once looking back.