If I could hold you, my friend, and tell you the pain doesn’t last forever, I would do it. I was screaming more than once just begging God to take my pain away. This was agony, a serious emotional pain to the point of feeling physical pain in my body. There was no more pain that I could humanly take. I wanted it to end. But somehow I kept going. I had no choice but to keep going. I held on to God like He was the only one who could save me. Little did I know that holding on to God was the very thing that would save our lives. I was up against something far stronger than I could handle on my own. I was married to man who abused us mentally, verbally, and physically. I was about to battle for freedom from a personality type that doesn’t allow you to leave without you suffering serious consequences. I knew this in the back of my mind.
I knew living in abuse was many times easier than getting out. Freedom was going to cost me everything — he made sure of it. The high cost of leaving is a sad reality for many women and children. You have to be wise, and it takes a whole lot of courage to take steps into the unknown. It was hard partly because I was already beaten down mentally and emotionally. I had no value; I didn’t love myself. He had made me believe that I was a total looser, worth nothing. He had made me think that he was actually the one suffering and not me. This is what mental abuse does. Not even people closest to me understood what was going on. I was conditioned to obey his ways because obedience was the right “spiritual” thing to do. How crazy is this: I was trying to get my value from the very thing that took it away. And when the abuser thinks he owns you and tells you that you have no right to leave, things can turn ugly pretty fast. It did for me.
Somehow courage rose deep down in my soul. I had come to a point where I realized that if I didn’t do something, I would not make it for a very long time. I might die either way. I was ready to give it my all and leave.
At the time we were working in full time ministry. I made up my mind while driving from Connecticut back to New York in January 2015. I was coming home with the kids, after spending the New Year holiday with friends. I was done and so tired with life that I didn’t care if getting out cost even my life. I was already dead on the inside. I was finally desperate enough.
The amount of shame I was carrying was like a mountain. Shame and fear kept me from reaching for freedom. They were like twins who never left my side. He was a minister of the gospel in a high position in the church. Thousands of people were looking up to us. The pressure of protecting him and the church was unbearable. Although I didn’t know it at the time, this shame wasn’t even my shame, it was his.
Shame and fear kept me from reaching for freedom. They were like twins who never left my side.
The Devil always tries to keep us in darkness. He is the father of lies, the enemy of your soul. Jesus came so we can live in the light, in freedom, and in truth. Expose the darkness for what it is; then it will lose its power over you.
But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light. Ephesians 5:13 (NIV)
Expose the darkness for what it is; then it will lose its power.
And that is exactly what I did next. Our lives were about to change forever.