In the beginning of 2008 I was in a marriage of 43 years and it was the most trying time of that long relationship. His type-A personality, chronic fatigue, alcohol, bitterness and his Mom’s death left him depressed, angry and unable to work. I was co-dependent in that relationship and trying hard to avoid conflict.
In February of 2008 I left for Kentucky to represent my husband at his family’s meeting about his mother’s estate. It was also the week of my mom’s death anniversary, so I remained in Kentucky to be with my 89-year old father. I came home to find that my husband had hung himself in the basement. My life was shattered. The trauma and stigma of his suicide shook our family to the core.
One month after my husband took his life, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. My sisters and I took care of him over the next 15 months as we watched him shrink to 86 pounds. After Dad died, I felt confused and angry. I had not had time to properly process the trauma of the suicide and I was grieving my Dad. Both men who I thought would be there for me were gone. Even with wonderful family and friends, I felt abandoned, alone and sad.
In 2009, my new friends, Ken and Debbie Iding, introduced me to RLI at a fundraiser and invited me to a conference. My eyes were finally opened to what had happened to me. I had taken on my husband’s battles and was angry at everyone with whom he had been angry. I recognized that the spirits of rejection and abandonment had convinced me of their lies about not being loved. Self pity, bitterness and fear had taken root in my emotional pain. I finally let go of the resentment, the “whys,” and the “woulda, coulda, shouldas.” At that conference, I found freedom from the rejection of a suicide, the abandonment of death, and the anger and fear that had taken over my days. I could finally forgive my husband for leaving me and release the anger and grief.
Not only did I get freedom and new tools from the teaching, but I saw many other lives changed at that conference. I immediately got involved in RLI and found a new ministry for my own life. I continued to learn and to analyze my thoughts and actions. Through the ministry of Restoring Lives International. I now help others get free and stay free.
And, there is another wonderful bonus. The ministry has not only given me a new life – it has given me a new husband. I give Debbie the credit for putting Chuck Clevenger at my table at an RLI fundraiser in 2012. We were married in 2014!