Thursday, October 9, 2008
Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday. It also marks the one year anniversary of me being back in Utah. Last October, my dad came and rescued me from an overwhelmingly horrible situation. I call it a “rescue,” because it was exactly that. One of those “pack everything up in the night and leave before he finds out” kinda situations. It had gotten so bad with my ex that my family and friends were justifiably concerned for my safety and I just had to run. What a great birthday present for my dad last year. “I’m going to go save my daughter before her husband kills her.” How freakin’ lame!
I think back to those days (when I was married to the devil!), and I literally cringe. What was I thinking? How did I get so completely scammed? How could somebody be so deceitful and cruel? It’s not like I was born yesterday. I’m smart. I’m intuitive. I’ve been around the block. But man…he was slick. He even had my parents fooled – which is sayin’ something! What a nightmare. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ain’t got nothin’ on him!
A lot has happened in the last year. When I came back to Utah, I was a mess. I was paranoid, afraid, angry, shocked, beat up, humiliated… I could go on. I moved in with my parents because it was where I needed to be. I needed to feel safe. I needed to be safe! I knew that my dad would protect me and care for me and that by living with him and my mom, it would be a healing time for me to just get myself back together. And it was. My dad did protect me. Both he and my mom together helped me to remember that there actually are people in this world that are trustworthy. But in the beginning, there were some very, very dark days. Days where I would be so angry I couldn’t even see straight. Days where I would just sit and plot my revenge because he needed to pay for what he did to me. The devil had a field day with me, truly. I was consumed in bitterness.
I’m not gonna lie, the first 6 or 7 months were pretty awful. I had no money. I felt like I had no friends (I wasn’t really forthcoming about what a horrible place I was in at the time). I had a low-paying, completely humbling job. I was absolutely humiliated. I felt like everyone could tell just by looking at me that I had been victimized and it just pissed me off. I was a little ball of hate for a while. But over time, I began to heal. My old self began to reemerge. Eventually, I found my laugh again. I rebuilt relationships with my old friends and even forged new friendships as well. When springtime came around, I found myself not only freshly divorced, but also beginning an exciting new job! I made even more friends. I felt as though my life had purpose again. I was finally able to put the past behind me and really start over. I dove into work. I gave it everything I had. And I still am, I suppose. I knew that I would like what I do, but it never occurred to me that it would also be really rewarding for me. It gave me back my sense of purpose - my sense of worth. I’ve always had those, but they’d gotten buried underneath all the ugliness that I had allowed to control me for so long.
Once my divorce was final, I allowed myself to let go. There’s a whole lot more to that part of the story and many of you know what a raw deal that was for me, but now I look back on it and I’m just grateful I got out in one piece. It could have been much worse. I thank God for the family I have. I don’t think I could have gotten through that (or gotten out of that) without them. And they suffered through it with me. Willingly. Because they love me. They never left me. They never said, “Mandy, you’ve just gotten yourself into one too many messes. You’re on your own.” By their actions, they showed me what true love really is - especially my father. He was my hero before all this, but now he’s my super-hero. You’ve got to understand, my father officiated at my wedding ceremony. He married me to the guy who would turn around and start abusing me a month after our vows. Can you even imagine what that was like for him? To know that if he wouldn’t have agreed to marry us, that there’s a good chance none of this would have happened? To feel like his decision could have cost me my life? I know that sounds a bit dramatic, but we lived through that. It was real. Those thoughts and feelings were real. And how do you sit in the same room with the man who abused and demoralized your only daughter and not want to kill him? I can’t imagine the turmoil he must have gone through. And me, to feel like I had put him in that position… it was awful. But you know what? He didn’t kill him, and he didn’t treat him like crap. He recognized that my ex was a broken person. “Love the sinner, hate the sin” I’ve heard him say. That's a nice thought, but to actually be able to do it? Wow. I have a whole new respect for him. I did hate the sin. But I definitely did not love the sinner.
When I was at my worst, (and it was ugly) my father never turned his back on me. I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to look at me and see how truly broken I was. Not brokenhearted, but just broken - as a person. Crushed spirit, confidence stolen, guilt-ridden, ashamed, vengeful…the whole nine yards. And instead of letting that destroy him as it was destroying me, he just… loved me. It was absolutely killing me, and by the grace of God, my dad loved me back to life. I’ll never forget it as long as I live. Not a day goes by that I don’t know how truly blessed I am to have a father that loves me as much as mine does. Even when I don’t deserve it, he’s always there for me. I know he’ll never leave me. He’ll never abandon me in my time of need. He will love me unconditionally until the day he goes to glory. What an honor it is for me to be able to call him “Dad.”
So this last year has had a lot of ups and downs. I have come a long way from where I was a year ago. I’m happy. I’m free. I have a great job and great friends. There will always be a scar on that part of my life, but I’m healed now. A year ago, I wouldn’t have believed any of this could happen. But my dad told me it would. He had absolute faith in me that I would pick up the pieces and that God would allow me to have something better than I imagined. And He did.
My dad and I are closer now than we’ve ever been. I think we’ve been through almost every human emotion possible together and have come out stronger on the other side. He knows that I love and appreciate him for all he’s done and continues to do. I know that he’s proud of me and that he’d do it all over again if he had to. So dad, if you’re reading this, thank you for being there for me. Thank you for saving me. Not only from that situation, but from myself. You’ll never know how much I respect and admire you. Here’s to a much better birthday for you this year! I love you more than I can say.