(I know, I copied this post to both blogs, but I felt it was important to do so)
I went to therapy again today, and one of the things she helped me realize is that I wouldn't have left sooner because I was getting something out of that relationship that I wanted too. Not saying for one second that I wanted or deserved the mental and emotional abuse (we chatted a little more about my history and she pointed out more instances that easily qualify under both of those headings - I'm not just repeating it for the drama. I actually feel pretty uncomfortable about saying it still - that I fell for all of that - but that's where I'm coming to my point...)... I stayed as long as I wanted to. She pointed out that if you look at a scale, and there's a mountain of crap on one side, and a mountain and a grain of good on the other, then you'll stay. I realized what it was that I traded my emotional peace of mind in my marriage for was the opportunity to stay home with my children while they were small. That's what I chose. If I left earlier, I would have missed out on that. I knew that the children were in minimal danger if I stayed, and that the risk of sending them to daycare to be raised by someone else and have them miss out on the foundation of stability and love that can only be provided by their mother was a risk I was not going to take. It made it all worth it. Sure, it was a hefty trade, and one I wasn't even consciously aware of until about a couple of years before the end. Looking back I'm not even sure about the quality of my parenting considering it was a lot of survival mode, but I was there, and I loved them the best I could at the time. I hope that counts in the long run for something. And not for a second would I go back, knowing what I know now, and change it. I'm a Mom first and forever, and there is nothing I wouldn't do for my children. Staying after they were in school full time, and putting up with abuse that was obviously not going to end ever would have killed my spirit. I left for my children too. I'm sure they don't see it that way, but I did. I couldn't continue having them live in a house where I was allowing me to be treated that way. I definitely didn't want them to grow up thinking that any of that was normal or acceptable. I also didn't want them growing up in shades of gray. There is right and wrong, and I needed them to see the difference in the way their father and I choose to live our lives, rather than blending - or in other words me caving to keep the peace and going against what I believe to be best regarding values, morals, and religion.
I know that I'm an even better Mom now than I have ever been. I hope they see that it's never to late to change, that you have to work hard to get what you want, that faith matters, that truth in word and action and emotion matters, that they matter, and that I matter. And if they ever end up knowing what all happened between their father and me, that they see that it wasn't that I was too weak to leave - but that I was strong enough to withstand the 'mountain less-a-grain' for the opportunity to be with them.