Biblical Counseling, Christian Marriage, Divorce, It's All About the Image, Julie Anne's Personal Stories, Marriage, Marriages Damaged-Destroyed by Sp. Ab., Mental Health and the Church, Personal Stories

A personal update from Julie Anne:

Today is my birthday. This morning I woke up happy, smiling, and very excited to be alive and well with a great home, a great job, and great family and friends.

But I’d like to give you a window into what it was like this time last year.

I was not well.

In fact, I was spiraling downward emotionally, physically, and spiritually. When I woke up last year on my birthday, I made a vow to myself that I could and would not remain in the same place for my sake and for the sake of my children.

In all of my adult life, I was taught that the institution of a Christian marriage is sacred. I still have a very high view of marriage. But marriage is only as sacred as the people in it and their desire to keep it sacred.

What I have gone through has been more difficult than I can articulate. There have been so.many.tears. I fought hard.

I sought counsel from church leaders in two different churches. There was “marriage” counseling, although I’d never, ever recommend marriage counseling in a situation like mine. I also received individual counseling. Because of my advocacy work, I have been fortunate to know experts who understand issues of trauma and abuse (we both came from highly abusive homes).

I asked tough questions. Can this marriage be saved? Have you ever seen a positive result in a situation like mine? The answer was always the same: No. Even though I believed and trusted these experts, I still wanted to hope. So, I allowed more time to go by, hoping and hanging on to anything that might indicate a willingness to seek help and salvage my marriage.

I held on for a decade longer than I should have primarily because of teachings and social pressures present within many churches such as “God hates divorce” and “What does it say to the world when you break your vows as Christians?” (That is messed up, friends, and it needs to change.)

God doesn’t hate divorce. He hates the hardened heart that leads to divorce. God has strong words about marriage, and love, and contempt in a marriage.

For years on my blog and advocacy work, I have told abused women that God does not value the institution of marriage over the lives of the individuals in the marriage (even though that is not what I heard from pastors). It was a huge challenge for me to walk this talk.

Without getting into great detail, I was dying a slow death. My health was deteriorating. I asked my physician what I could do to get off of specific medicines. He said that I couldn’t…until my environment changed. That specific comment hit me hard.

If I am loved by God, and my body is dying a slow death because of what was happening in the home and in our marriage, did God really mean for me to continue to live like that?

And I also had to listen to my kids.

I received an ultimatum by two of my adult children, which was a wake-up call. They did this because they loved me.

Additionally, a few other members of my family made it abundantly clear to me that divorce would be better than the agony I was experiencing. They wanted me to be happy, healthy, and whole, and they knew it wasn’t ever going to happen in the marriage.

I have since discovered that children (adults) are, many times, far more prepared for the inevitable than I thought. When I told all seven of them, each told me they knew it was coming. Did their responses make it any easier? Heck no. There is absolutely nothing easy about this.

In October 2019, I filed for divorce, which ended up being backlogged for some time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Yet this life-saving divorce that was finalized last week — a divorce I never wanted and fought against for nearly 35 years — is a gift.

That’s right, it was a gift. I gave myself the best gift I could give myself: a life-saving divorce. I am now alive and well.

And you know how I know I’m getting healthy and thriving? I’ve now nearly mastered “Rêverie” by Claude Debussy on the piano, a glorious piece of music that I love.

…It truly is a very happy birthday to me.

36 thoughts on “A personal update from Julie Anne:”

  1. You go girl!
    I am so glad to hear you are no longer in a toxic relationship, that your kids get it, and that you are healing. Thanks for your transparency about how tough it’s been.
    May the best years of your life lie ahead, peaceful, productive, healthy and full of laughter.
    Go under the mercy.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Debussy said he wrote Reverie during one the the saddest times in his life.
    I love this piece, the falling and rising, the joy and melancholy, the need to almost let your fingers breath with your breathing in the phrasing.
    Good on you! I hope you have time to play every piece you ever wanted to.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Lord bless you with even more of Himself. He is the Good Shepherd.

    Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6.

    >

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Julie Anne, Heartbroken to hear of your obviously painful journey. Overjoyed to know that all nightmares end , and God’s grace is sufficient.

    Now for the NEXT part of your life’s journey !
    Step 1) Ignore 98.8% of what “church people “ Will say to you as a “divorced woman“. Ignore 100% of what Baptist or church of Christ folks will say to you.

    Step 2) Believe nothing without scriptural support. We have become a church of well pastor so and so says ….

    Grace to you,
    Scott

    Actually let me rephrase that,
    God bless you,
    Scott

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Julie Anne,
    I am so grateful for your candid honesty of your pain of staying in that marriage. I know how difficult it is to follow what you know is right amidst the naysayers who only wish you well; staying in a loveless marriage is life sucking. You are such a courageous and loving woman.

    I am praying this next year you have abundant joy, peace that surpassed all understanding and the God of our hearts guides you into the new adventures HE has prepared for you!

    Much love~
    fellow woman of mass destruction

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  6. I am so sad to know this hidden pain you’ve been suffering. I hope you firm in the knowledge that you help to right wrongs, you care for the widows and orphans, those without resources who are overlooked and vulnerable. You absolutely make this world a better place. You help those who are hurting and you are sometimes able to help someone embrace faith again after a shock, a crime or a tragedy.
    Thank you for encouraging me when times are tough. You shine a special light and we flock to your place of safety and love.
    I pray for your heart to mend, for you and your children to be comforted, and for you new life to prosper and be fruitful in many ways.
    May God richly bless you Julie,
    Rebecca
    @casabeca

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  7. PS Debussy’s Reverie is even more beautiful than Clair de lune, IMHO. You playing it could be good be such good medicine. I’ll be thinking of you when I next play it.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Yes, a life-saving divorce is a gift from God. I know this from personal experience. There is so much false teaching in this area that it breaks my heart. People that may mean well can be so cruel because they think they know what God has said about this, similar to what some thought God said about slavery. I try not to blame the sheep, but I do hold the false teachers accountable and share the alternative teaching as I can.

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  9. I received an ultimatum by two of my adult children, which was a wake-up call.

    Good for them and i’m very happy for you that you have them in your corner. Kids are smarter than we give them credit for some times, adult or otherwise. Wishing you the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So glad you were finally able to get that gift of freedom. I hate that the church has made an idol of marriage that they are willing to sacrifice “the least of these” to its altar time after time.

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  11. Thank you for sharing your story, Julie Ann. Altho I have never been the victim of domestic abuse, I am the empathetic friend to several women who have struggled in this situation. The conservative church bears a heavy responsibility for pressuring women to stay in terrible marriages as tho their suffering will somehow be a sweet fragrance to the Lord. There is instead a stink of misogyny that would cripple devout women who only yearn to serve God fully and are held captive by unbiblical traditions and self-centered husbands.

    I used to read Crying Out For Justice when Jeff Crippen was still involved because I wanted to understand more fully why otherwise intelligent women stayed in impossible situations. There is such a false presentation of the character of God as one who would reject and punish women who only seek to live in peace and harmony. I’m so glad that you believed God would still love you. I am thankful that we have many laws now to protect women and respectable well paying employment so that they can support themselves and their children. Too bad it had to be the “secular” world that brought about this righteousness, when churches could have led the way. I’m thankful indeed that God is not crippled by the reluctance of conservatives to enact His justice and mercy.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My two oldest were thrilled when I finally pulled the plug on the destructive marriage (and my youngest, who hadn’t been nearly as affected by his dad’s sociopathy, is now also SO glad I did it). I didn’t have the strength to do it for myself; it was the mama bear who did it. Life has not been easy, but it was so, so worth it. Blessings to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh, so glad you’ve found freedom and greater restoration after coming through such a difficult time. Your kids sound amazing and gifted with wisdom. Long distance hugs to you! I love Debussy’s Reverie . Such healing!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hey Julie Anne, Have watched you walk this painful journey with faith, honesty, and amazing patience. Have watched your process of deconstructing aspects of your life and beliefs that were not based in the truth, and reconstructing again, based on wisdom, truth, and authenticity.
    Very proud of you, and grateful for your friendship.
    Love you much!

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  15. @Nancy ‘Too bad it had to be the “secular” world that brought about this righteousness, when churches could have led the way.’

    I feel this way, too. The church has been, maybe just of late, dragged kicking and screaming into a world where people believe being treated with respect is a basic right. There are definitely issues as with every process of awakening, but I think at the core of “woke” culture is a desire to be respectful and unoffensive.

    @JA, I’m sure it is hard, but freeing. Like others here, I expect there will be a grieving process as you work through the loss.

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  16. @BD:

    Debussy said he wrote Reverie during one the the saddest times in his life.

    From personal experience, sometimes it is the Dark and Strong emotions that empower creativity. Of the three times in my creative output where “the story wrote itself”, all three were Dark in some way, two were Lamentations, and one was written to write my way out of a depression.

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  17. @Mark:

    There are definitely issues as with every process of awakening, but I think at the core of “woke” culture is a desire to be respectful and unoffensive.

    The problem begins when “woke” curdles into its own form of Righteous Fundamentalism.

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  18. I have always wondered how many “GAWD H&S DIVORCE!” preachers are abusers themselves preaching HARD to keep their own Widdle Wifeys from ditching them.

    Ringing in God as My Enforcer like a witch-man’s familiar spirit in Appalachian or PA Dutch hex lore. (Isn’t that the original meaning of “Taking God’s Name in Vain”? i.e. “You Do Your Own Dirty Work! Don’t Drag Me Into It! Don’t Even Mention My Name!”)

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  19. Happy birthday, indeed! Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that you lived through so much pain and devastation and that the church’s lies kept you in that situation for far too long. I’m so proud of you for advocating for yourself and giving yourself the gift of freedom and healing!

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  20. I’m crying a little (attachment and separation issues) but I’m happy to hear of the support from within your own family. I can even hear the lightness in your printed words. May the cycle be broken, in your family and beyond.

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  21. Julie Anne, I’m so glad to hear that you’re well, and that the steps you’ve taken to find normalcy and happiness in this life are working out for you. It saddens me to know that your husband didn’t care enough about your well-being to change his ways, and that you had to make this decision. May God bless and strengthen you, and fill the years to come with hope and gladness.

    And I know it’s much belated, but: Happy Birthday!

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  22. Thank you, SKIJ. I wake up with a smile on my face and so much excitement for the future. This morning, I thought to myself that it feels like I am finally living. It is an amazing thing. I appreciate your kind words.

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  23. This is so wonderful. I’ve been deconstructing the church’s teachings on marriage and divorce in my own life. Twenty-three years have been invested in my case. But I’m not yet strong to break away. I admitted to my therapist that my health will continue to suffer. It’s just so hard. I know it will be worth it. I know to be patient with myself. Your words here matter. Thank you.

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  24. A.L. thank you for sharing your experience. It IS hard. Tomorrow I have hopefully my final appt with my physician to get off all my meds that I required while living in that toxic environment. It has been a several month weaning process. One thing to note: I have never heard a story from someone who said they divorced too soon from a destructive marriage. It seems to always be “why did I wait so long?”

    Please keep me posted. I care! You can do this.

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  25. I have never heard a story from someone who said they divorced too soon from a destructive marriage. It seems to always be “why did I wait so long?”

    I think you’re right about that absolutely. (I always say the same thing about retirement at work, everybody who retires is happy about it).

    I wondered about your marriage from a few comments but i didn’t want to pry or be gossipy. I’m so happy that you’ve made a decision and are happy with it. Wishing you joy!

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  26. JA, I’d wondered how your marriage weathered some of the things you went through–never asked because I figured you deserved your privacy. I’m sad to learn that the reality was apparently far worse. Praying for you in this.

    (and to say something that I’m almost certain you know already–please be wise as you withdraw from the meds. Sometimes it truly is a change of scenery that makes all the difference, and I hope that’s the case, and sometimes it’s something deeper)

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  27. BB…we were in-house separated since 2012 after the lawsuit…it was never to be permanent in my mind. Interestingly, the kids saw it more clearly than me. One said the other day, “he left you a decade ago.” Wow…I was slow. And part of that was due to the idolization of the installation of marriage. Just suck it up and deal with it.

    Thank you, BB, for your considered support.

    I’m out camping with my youngest son and with friends..enjoying life..(and still checking the blog 🙂).

    I think I’ll share the rest of my mental health story now. I posted it last week on my personal FB page.

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