I have always struggled with the junk that had built up inside me. I went through years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse growing up. To add to that mess I had a broken marriage with a man who was just as broken as me. We both struggled with drugs and alcohol. We both struggled with infidelity and poor self-esteem. I am ashamed to admit it now, but I never saw my husband and I as being broken. I saw him as the person afflicting pain, and me the victim. I couldn’t see past my pain to see that he was in turmoil too.
Travis and I met in 1998 working in a factory. I was 18 and a senior in high school and he was 19 living on his own. I always make the joke “Trav is from New Hampshire, I grew up in New Mexico, and we met in the heart of it all.” I would say we both experienced “love at first sight” but, we were partiers and sooner than later our relationship began to reflect our baggage. Over the years, I have found out we have so much of the same baggage.
I went through years of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse growing up, and the sexual abuse didn’t stop until I was about 16. We moved around so much, and life was always in chaos, until my mid-teen years. Travis moved around a lot too. His mom was a single mom and her relationships weren’t always great. Travis had been the “man of the house” at a young age. There were times Travis witnessed his mom’s boyfriend getting drunk and abusive so Trav had to step in and stand up against him. We both grew up extremely poor, but in our mid-teen years, our parents were coming out of poverty.
Travis struggled with drugs and alcohol as a teen and was in rehab by the time he was 16. I experimented with drugs and alcohol but it wasn’t until I was in my very early 20s did my addiction start to get out of control. Once I realized my addiction was “real” I quit doing drugs and alcohol cold turkey in 2003; I did relapse once in 2005. For Travis, it wasn’t that easy for him. For the next 8 years, his battle with drugs and alcohol would have its ups and downs, but for the most part, we tried our best to make sure our children didn’t have the same life we had growing up. It wasn’t easy keeping things together through the baggage that came along with growing up in poverty, abuse, and the struggles with drugs and alcohol, but we did it.
In 2007 I was pregnant with our 5th child Sadie and I was taking care of my dad who had stage four cancer. In 2008, within three months of the new year, we had a newborn, Travis went to work and the doors were closed at the machine shop, and sadly my dad passed away. I had never felt so much pain and pressure in my life, but it was through that pain and uncertainty I came to the Lord. In June of 2008 we found Cornerstone Church when in need of food. By June 8th I gave my life to the Lord.
For Trav, it wasn’t that easy. If anything his addiction was taking over every piece of him. It felt like the man that I loved and the loving father that I knew him to be was being taken away from us. When I gave my life to God Travis was still an atheist. The mention of God angered him. Satan tried and tried to tear our family apart so many times before, but this time he almost did.
In 2011, I filed for divorce and found myself slipping from God. I was angry and lonely and I willingly left his side. One morning God came to Trav and he took away his addictions in one night. Trav explained it as time kind of stopped. He had been up all night but it felt like all those hours condensed into 45 minutes. He felt God calm him and put him to ease. Trav came over at 5 A.M. to tell me what had happened but things didn’t go too smooth.
Travis found out I was moving on with another man. He was angry but he didn’t let go of me and refused to give up. He told me about what God had done for him. I didn’t believe him I thought he was trying to get into my head. Then, he told me that God talked to him without saying a word. That he felt the words and I became so angry because I knew he was telling the truth. That is how God talked to me, and I knew God wanted us to work it out. I remember being so mad at God that I didn’t want anything to do with him or Trav. I went back to Trav begrudgingly.
The morning he came back one heck of a fight broke out and Travis said something to me I’ll never forget. We were sitting on the edge of our bed and he asked me “Do you love me?” I looked at him and immediately said “No” and I looked forward in spite. I think I felt a level of hatred for him. I’ve never felt hate for anyone, I don’t know. All I know is I felt something new and it sure as heck wasn’t good. Travis immediately cried and grabbed my face with both hands and said: “I ruined you.”
Whatever funk I was in at that moment I snapped out of and began to cry like a little girl (I am crying now). I got up crying and shouting “Why would you say that? Why? I am not ruined! Why? Why would you say that? Don’t you ever say that again. I am not ruined!!!” I remember this panicked feeling, like a mania. I just wanted out of there. I wanted to tear the walls down. I wanted to run out of that house and never come back, but I couldn’t my kids were there.
Eventually, Travis calmed me down and he said he didn’t mean to say that to me, but little did he know from years of sexual abuse I had always felt like damaged goods. I felt ruined. What he said was one of my worst fears, and one of Satan’s biggest lies in my life coming true. I felt from the moment I met my husband I was too used up and ruined from what had happened to me. When my husband said the same words I said to myself for over 20 years, I flipped out. It wasn’t until last week did I realize what Travis meant.
When Trav said “I ruined you.” he was crying. At the time I did not care to a degree that he was crying. I was so angry and embarrassed about the situation that I wanted him to feel what I did. That was the first and only time I ever felt any degree of revenge, and I am sorry to this day for just the thought. Again, he said something that I had been feeling and telling myself since was 11 years old. To hear those words out of his mouth shocked me to say the least. Before he said those words he was crying and begging me to love him again and to keep our family together. I should have known he didn’t mean it in the way I took it.
When Trav said “I ruined you.” he was really saying “I took the one good thing in my life and turned it against me.” When he said “I ruined you.” he was really saying, “I thought the world of you and I have always loved you and cherished you.” When he said “I ruined you.” he was really saying “I am hurt too and now I am alone without you.” When he said “I ruined you,” he was really saying “I am ruined.” Like a hurt and angry fool, I didn’t see it at the time, but I see it now.
It is amazing. Our marriage has been completely restored since 2014. It took about three years to get past our own baggage from before we met to work things out and be the family God intended us to be. Isn’t it funny that three years after the complete healing and restoration of a relationship how God will continue to show you his works, and what the other person was going through? I believe he reveals truths so that we always remember where we were, how we relied on God to get us through, and how our God is the one that provides us the way and the blessings (Deuteronomy 8:3). And so, that we will continue to follow God’s word, rely on him, and teach our children to do the same (Deuteronomy 29:29).
What we go through in life and how God brings us through it is our greatest testimonies. Travis and I both made it through. Both of us were willing to work with God on what we had to do. We both relied on God to not only help us get things right but to love each other in the process. I don’t know why God revealed that truth to me, but I am so thankful that God blessed me with Trav’s perspective. It was such a thoughtful gift from our father. Now I want to take a moment to pray.
Father God, Thank you for your sweet gifts. I can only thank you and give you all of the credit Lord for seeing us through our hard times. Times of stretching and growth. I want to thank you for being the manna in our lives and blessing us with every need we have: physically, worldly, and in our personal relationships. Lord, I want to ask that you give everyone a birds-eye view of truth. A truth that needs to be seen. Only you can satisfy the hunger of our hearts and souls and only your manna, your words, suffice. Break open doors, move the rubble, throw a rope, or create a path so that people will see the blessings of your words, your truth Lord. Thank you Lord for holding me when I need arms to reach.
In Jesus’s loving and merciful name,