A Time to Leave–Part 2

Michele Armstrong April 5, 2018 7
A Time to Leave–Part 2

As I sit here in this moment to write, I think back to the night when I knew I had to leave the insanity, and it all comes flooding back. All the feelings of despair, all the overwhelming thoughts of inferiority, all the destructive lies of Satan that had guided my thinking for all those years. What were people going to think? What repercussions am I going to suffer for this decision? How is God going to provide for my needs? How could God ever use this broken vessel for any purpose of his?  You can’t know the depth of torment and confusion and pitiful agony one feels in that moment–unless you have lived it. And unfortunately, I am finding many that know it–especially in the church. And it is so very, very sad.

Even breathing at that moment seemed a deliberate task. The darkness consumed me. I felt used up, spit out, good for nothing and useless. But more than anything, I felt broken. And I was broken. Broken beyond repair, so I thought. I had to find rest for a while. Just a moment of peace, for if I didn’t, I wasn’t sure where this would all end up. Literally, I knew mental and emotional breakdown was eminent if I didn’t find some quiet.  I knew I was in a crucial and dangerous moment. 30 years is a long time to live inside a tortured mindset filled with abuse and cruelty and insanity. I had pushed beyond what most could have. But now, even as strong as I had been in the past, every ounce of me was gone–even the will to continue living or the thought to even care. I had been having physical signs of  tremendous stress in the weeks prior. I had already experienced the horrific night when he had chased me in the vehicle nearly killing us both. I wrote about that in an earlier post. I was disoriented all the time. I was having numbness throughout my arms and hands. I experienced stages of panic attacks. All signs of tortuous stress and even physical manifestations of heart issues. So this night I was at the breaking point.

But suddenly, a set of arms wrapped around me, as I lay crumpled and shattered.  They were arms of strength and comfort.  They were the arms of my son. He gently whispered, “It’s going to be ok, Mama.” He had seen so much of the abuse and insanity in his life, as both of my sons had. It crushes my heart when I think of it. And God had some repair work to do on them, also. But in that moment, my 20-year-old little boy (in my eyes) became a man. There was an exchange of roles. He became the comforter and the super-hero, and I was the wounded, broken little girl in need of restoration and repair. And he never left my side, in a matter of speaking, over the next several months as I sought to bring some sense of sanity back to my life. And only God knows the strength I gained from both of my sons during those days.

All I could think of in that moment was that I needed to get to a place of safety and peace. I needed to think. I needed to rest. I needed to heal. I had to leave. I didn’t know how or for how long, or what the future held or how on earth I was going to function or provide for myself. But I had to get away. I made plans to get to my parents’ house in Texas.  But of course first, I had to deal with HIM. It’s a long story, so I will just give a very condensed version.

My son and I met my husband at a Taco Bell, where I told him I couldn’t go on like this, and that I had to do something about it. I don’t know if I would have had the strength or courage to say the things I did, were it not for having my son with me. If you are in that situation, find someone you trust to be with you. Having a support system there makes all the difference.

As I began sharing my heart with my ex-husband, he, of course, interrupted and interjected his own reasons and excuses and story–a story that went on for hours. A story of his valiant attempts to be God’s servant, and how he had struggled and “given up” so much in his gallant effort to be the bearer of God’s message. You would have thought it was the story of the making of a prophet–a knight in shining armor sent to this world, stripped of all of his glory to shed light on the path to God, and be a beacon for those who were so lost. You would have thought he was the only one who had ever experienced it. That he was God’s answer to creation for the plight of human frailty. I guess he wanted me to say, “Ok, I understand. So that’s the reason. Well, in that case, all is forgiven and everything is ok. Let’s go home.” But I was long past his stories.

It was a story I had heard many, many times. He should have protected me in the castle while he was out fighting the dragon, he said. He actually said that. He said, that he “could have had a harem,” but he gave it all up for Jesus. He actually said that. And I could go on and on. And he did go on and on. I’m not sure that me or my son said three more sentences in those hours that followed. I just remember sitting huddled in a Taco Bell seat with my head in my hands and watching huge tears plop on the floor at my feet. That’s all I could do. That is all I had left.

When the night finally ended, I informed my husband that my son and I were going to a hotel. He insisted he wanted to come with us, but I refused. I was finding strength to stand my ground. As I was getting into the car to leave, he leaned into car and helped me buckle my seat belt. Manipulation tactic. I thought I would vomit.

I can’t describe what enduring those few hours did to me. Just making the decision to talk to him was life-altering. And the hours of words and words and more words that followed seemed to be an emotional trainwreck. When I finally got to the hotel later that night, I fell into the bed and curled into a fetal position. Heaven and earth were at war at that moment. My whole universe was shifting and it was cataclysmic. It was as though I could hear the demons of Hell shrieking with delight and the angels of Heaven thundering their war cry. And I was the hostage in the fray. Hostage to my past. To my present. To my future. All so uncertain. All so utterly disoriented  and mixed up. I felt I was going crazy. My tortured mind was reeling with clamor. I was standing at the edge of a great chasm, screaming for help. I wanted it to stop. Please make it stop.

That’s when I felt God’s arms through the arms of my son, and heard God’s voice through my son’s words,”It’s going to be ok.” And I found a shred of strength.

I don’t remember the rest of that night. I don’t know if I slept. But I do know that somewhere deep inside I felt strength to carry on and to pursue this course seeking peace. I called my husband the next day, and asked him to leave the house. I had to get my belongings and I wanted him to be gone. Surprisingly, he agreed. I think he knew. He knew I was serious and determined. He knew I was on a mission. He had never seen me emphatic about a decision before, and I think it stunned him.

My son and I went to my house and filled the back of a Suburban with our belongings. He was going with me. He wasn’t going to let me be alone in this. He was out of college for the summer, and he put all his other summer plans aside and went with me to Texas to my parents’ house. I don’t know what I would have done if I had not had a place to go. My parents were angels on earth during that time. And their home was a place I could find healing and peace for the moment. And though this whole thing was far from over and had only begun, I had made a step. One step. A step that for all the tears and struggle and weakness, it was a step that would shape a new course for my future. I had no idea what lay ahead. I just knew I was going. I didn’t know for how long, but I was going. I didn’t know, nor did I care, what the next day or weeks or months held. I just knew I had to go. No plan. No answers. I just had to go.

And on that day, I began a long journey. A long journey to Texas to find peace, and a long journey of life to find myself. And though it has not been an easy one, I know now, God had an incredible plan. A plan to make me victorious. To make me a warrior. To help me to find my voice, so that I, in turn, could help other women find theirs. His incredible plan of provision for me is astounding. I will share that in my next post. Soon, my friends. In the meantime, press on toward the heavenly prize. And know that no power on earth can hold you captive if you seek freedom through Jesus. Hold on to to that thought. It will carry you through.




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