Steve and I had been passionately in love during the early years. Date nights, trips out of town, words of affirmation, deeds of service, time spent: you name it, we did it. We were experts at keeping the romance alive. My second child was just shy of five months old when my husband wrecked my […]
I was at a friend’s house watching American Idol when I got a text message from a cute guy who was interested in me. We were old friends and had reconnected at church the previous Sunday. (I later found out he was too chicken to ask for my number, so he got it from a mutual friend.) He asked if we could go to the park and take a walk to catch up. It sounded like a great idea.
Until I looked down at my outfit: an old high school t-shirt with multicolored paint stains, cotton gym shorts, flip-flops and a ponytail. A ponytail does not say “memorable first date.” Internally, I freaked out.
It has been said that Hope is an anchor for the soul. And I think Joy is the rope that secures us. Joy isn’t always smiles and bright eyes. Joy is a connector. Through Scripture, Sacraments, and my local faith community, Joy connects me back to the Hope that steadies me when the seas begin to swell and I feel tossed and tumbled by waves of anxiety.
For months, my counselor and I worked toward dealing with my emotions instead of shoving them down into the acid that sat in my belly along with all the bad memories. At the bottom of all the junk in my soul, I found grace, resolve, understanding, and forgiveness — for my mom, for my ex-husband, but most of all, for me.
The impact of the other car jolted me awake. I pulled over, dazed, heart pounding, to the shoulder of the interstate. I couldn’t believe this was happening. We were covered in debt and doubts and I’d picked up an extra twelve-hour shift that Saturday morning to try and make ends meet. The worst part? The insurance agent promptly reported, “Mr. Austin, your auto insurance lapsed three weeks ago.”
Waiting on the State Trooper seemed to last forever, so I called to deliver the bad news to my wife. I felt like all I ever gave her was bad news. I can still hear her say those heavy words, “I’m taking the kids to Florida for a while, until we can figure things out.”
My wife spent a week on a psych ward following the birth of our first son. She had a miserable fight with postpartum depression and sleep deprivation. One year later, nearly to the day, I landed in ICU and then a psych ward following a suicide attempt.
Shortly after, our marriage nearly fell apart. She left for two weeks, and they were the saddest and scariest days of my life. Once she came home, we started intense marriage and individual therapy, laying all our cards on the table. It was now or never. Eventually, we both decided to stay, fully aware of what that meant.
I will never forget how cold the tile floor was on that hot September afternoon, as I slid down the wall of ICU room number six.
The statement that made my knees buckle, as I stood at the end of that hospital bed, was, “No, I did not mix up my medicine. I wanted to die. I do not want to be here any more.”
My clearest thought was how I was not enough. But if not me, how was our beautiful baby boy not enough to make my husband want to stay? I wondered how I could possibly face family and friends at our son’s first birthday party the next day, alone. I wondered if I would spend the rest of my life the very same way.