When Illness Takes Over a Marriage

By Guest Blogger Teresa Wilkinson

John and I were married on April 2, 1991. We eloped because I just couldn’t put the details together for our wedding. I couldn’t decide what I wanted… the big show or the small family wedding.  Could I survive the embarrassment of all eyes on me at the big show? Or would it be fair if we did the small family wedding with only our parents?  John had several aunts, uncles, and cousins that would surely be offended if they were not considered “immediate family.” So, I kept ignoring the whole marriage scene just to stay engaged. I was very comfortable sitting on the fence here. So John gave me an ultimatum,  “Either we get married now, or the whole thing is off.” I packed up and within 5 hours, we were married.

I have to say he was right. We were meant to be married. We had two beautiful children and some fantastic memories. I was lucky enough to become part of a very large family of mixed races, cultures and social economic standing. I loved my new family as much as I loved my husband.

HappyFamily

Our married life was great for some time. But then it began to unravel. At first, I ignored all the signs. The dissolution of my marriage began with my inner demons. The rapid decline of my mental health became a reality we could no longer ignore. There we were, two isolated people. Me in my world, and my husband in his. My husband took a bottle of booze with him for some extra comfort.

We had 13 years of a good strong marriage, but it was not enough to battle our prospective illnesses. We both ignored the problem for three more years, he is his world, and me in mine. We stayed staring at each other, both perched on our own branches. But out of frustration, anger, loneliness and heartache the name-calling began. We weren’t talking anymore, we were screaming at each other from those branches, our children caught in the middle.

We were certainly not being the best parents or human beings we could be. Yet, divorce was just not something we could talk about, because the pain was too surreal. I finally realized that staying married was doing more harm to our children than a divorce would ever do. I had to get off the fence and begin to repair my family and my life, by getting healthy and filing for divorce.

Filing for divorce was not exactly jumping off the fence. I think deep down I thought the whole process of divorcing would wake us up and scare us into staying together. But after we filed, I focused on healing our family and correcting our problems. At first, things started looking up for a while. Our children went into counselling and I began to see a therapist regularly. But, my success was short lived and I started blaming the whole situation on him and his drinking.

alcoholism

John then quit drinking, and I got crazier. John replaced me with another woman. I ended up in a lock down facility because I was a danger to myself. For six months I lost my children, my husband and my sanity. I finally woke up. My children and my ex-husband were healing, yet I was so stuck on that fence unwilling to admit that the divorce I filed was for the right decision.

When I finally took responsibility for my part, I was able to heal. I eventually reunited with my children and retook my position as a Mom. John and I share custody 50/50. I have two great kids, who accept me for me. I am an effective parent and mentor.

Divorce was the right decision for us. John and I are better parents dealing with our illnesses separately. We did not have the tools to deal with our illnesses together and it was as harming our children.

The area between us filled with mental illness, my compulsive behavior and his booze and inability to articulate his needs was too great for us to fix. I can say that today, John and I are in a good place together and with our kids. We worked hard to get here, and I’m proud of where I’ve come.

So what if you are sitting on the fence as I was dealing with something in your marriage or in your life? Take the plunge. Do the work. Whatever that plunge may look like – therapy, divorce, a decision to get better, whatever. But to stay perched on that branch stuck and unable to move, is no way to live. I know that now. And perhaps a small word of advice… never be afraid to ask for help.

I wish you all good luck in getting unstuck in your lives. May your journey be one of learning and healing.

Teresa Wilkinson

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Ladies tell us, how do you know when to throw the towel in on your marriage, or when to fight? Have you been suffering with an illness that has kept you stuck in your life and prevented you from truly living? As always, please feel free to comment anonymously. Remember, your words may help another in more ways than you can ever imagine.

xoxEDxox

12 Comments
  1. Today’s post was very dark but I enjoyed reading it. What I took away is, many of us struggle silently with problems and we’re too embarassed to share them or ask for help. Teresa good for you for turning your life around and working towards greater mental well being. I wish you all the best.

  2. Thank you for your comment Teresa. I hopt this will inspire people who need help, to ask for help. And that it will take away “shame” sometimes associated with mental illness. Thank you again for sharing your story.

  3. Teresa,

    Thank you for sharing your story. I, too, have experienced limitations from chronic illness. And you are right about getting to know yourself and finding a place that feels right for you. The support of family and friends have been my saving grace as well as spiritual strength. I’m happy to say that when you find rock bottom, the only way to go is up.

    Kellie

  4. I’m amazed, I have to admit. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both educative and
    interesting, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the
    nail on the head. The issue is something which not enough men and women are speaking intelligently about.

    I am very happy that I stumbled across this in my hunt for
    something regarding this.

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