Archive for category Women Living Well

Marriage: Not for the Weak Hearted

Today, almost every woman in America is asking this question: How could Huma Abedin stand by her husband, New York City Mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner, also now known as “Carlos Danger”, and defend her marriage after learning he lied about the timeline of his scandalous cybersex activity?

My guess is that two extremely strong feelings—love and pride—motivated her to speak on his behalf at yesterday’s press conference.

It’s probably safe to say Abedin’s level of embarrassment about her husband’s illicit activities is beyond measure. Her marriage to the one-time U.S. Congressman was supposed to be different. She and Weiner were supposed to be the next prominent Washington power couple. But that’s all gone now, and a curious public wonders why she stays.

I know how she feels.

Today is my 20th wedding anniversary, yet it’s not a day of celebration. A marriage expected to bring about exciting artistic creativity, enduring love and a positive, strong picture of the black family, has been breathing on life support for the past five years. The roller coaster ride of my husband’s mental illness and the emotional abuse associated with it almost made me pull the plug on more than one occasion, but I made the decision to stay. Why? Because of love and pride.

Family and friends thought I was out of my mind. Many witnessed my misery, very much like we watched Abedin face reporters yesterday, and wondered aloud why I was willing to sacrifice a budding career to stay in my marriage after years of horrible mistreatment.

I denied there was a problem for a while, thinking my husband just needed to mature a bit since we married in our early 20s. But reality set in after a few years. My creative, fun and talented husband had sunk into the abyss of a psychosis that he was unable to battle on his own. I was afraid for him, knowing that if I left he would fall into the kind of life he desperately wanted to avoid.

We spent years battling the mental illness in secret, because of embarrassment. I was unwilling to admit the marriage had failed. I almost drowned under the pressure. The pain of multiple miscarriages and an unexpected career transition made me break the vow of secrecy. These issues also made my husband step out from behind the shadows of his psychosis and begin working to rebuild our marriage.

After years of pain, I’m still working to forgive.

Abedin said she has already forgiven her husband for the betrayal. I hope so. But unless some larger political calculations are in play, it seems to me that Abedin may already be headed down the same dark, difficult path of denial and pain I’m still recovering from.

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A breakthrough…finally

Happy 2013. This still-new year kicked off for me like others in recent memory. I spend a significant amount of time in January helping my husband, aging mother, and brother in graduate school who is physically absent from his young son for extended periods of time, get the year off to a good start. But this year is different. I am addressing my own needs too.

This is a breakthrough.

I have spent years neglecting myself. Not because anyone asked me to, or demanded my full attention. Like many women, I sacrificed my own wellbeing because I thought my family needed me more.

Beginning with my nephew’s surprise arrival in 2001, less than a year after my brother’s high school graduation, my family has endured a mind-boggling share of challenges and pain. My father’s health began to decline shortly after my parents and I got my brother safely off to college. Dad attended my brother’s graduation in 2004, but congestive heart failure, triple bypass surgery and kidney failure were among the health burdens he faced prior to his death in 2005.

Five other close family members and friends died in the year that followed, including my Godmother/aunt. Needless to say, the grieving process was extremely difficult for all of us.

All of this grief, on top of being supportive to a husband recovering from years of emotional abuse and neglect as child and a brother trying to sustain an unwise relationship for his son’s sake, made me invisible to myself.

I immersed myself in everyone else’s problems, forgetting about my needs and dreams. What was once a constant level of excellence became an acceptance of mediocrity. My career, marriage and health all suffered.

But I’m now fighting my way back to greatness. Despite a number of false starts, I’ve managed to lose almost 75 pounds thanks to regular exercise and a new, healthier relationship with food. My marriage, though still hanging on by a thread, now has a chance of becoming the mutually beneficial and strong relationship I’ve always wanted. And although an unexpected June 2012 job loss has stretched household finances to an uncomfortable level, I’m working hard to breathe life into my career. Creating this blog is the first step on my way to professional fulfillment.

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