Many months ago, I was told by my husband that we no longer had a marriage, merely a business relationship. Not being sure exactly how to handle that realization, I was ready to leave. But I didn’t. That thought went against every moral fiber of my being. So I prayed harder. And kept myself even busier with our businesses. If you are familiar with the movie Fireproof, then you are familiar with The Love Dare. It’s 40 days of actions starting with more simple ones graduating to more difficult things to help fireproof and strengthen your marriage. It’s not only for struggling marriages, but for anyone wanting to strengthen their relationship with their spouse based on faith in God.
The Love Dare? I did it twice. 80 days plus. I prayed, I journaled, I poured my heart and soul into those little thoughts, reminders and actions every day. When I asked my husband what he wanted from me, he told me all he wanted was for me to be nice to him. My response was that anyone can be nice to him, but I was his wife. There should have been more. After 80 days, things were still the same. Oh, they were a bit more pleasant, I guess. The niceness was there, but there was no more love or kindness. I guess that had already died long ago.
For the last couple of years, though, there have been business as we
ll as personal things happening in our lives together that I didn’t agree with. When I asked why there was never any conversation about those things, I was told I was very verbal with my opinions, there was no need for discussion. Apparently my opinions didn’t matter. And that was verified when a previous relationship became more important to him than the one I was striving to make better.
The blinders slowly started to fall off. I was realizing more and more that I had become what so many others that had passed through our ranch and our lives were. Stepping stones.A little over two months ago, I left. Abruptly. With my belongings that were mine prior to our marriage of 16 years and my Jersey cows. My daughter, Taylor, has been my stronghold, and was actually my encourager to find myself again and rise above. She left with me and we are together, breathing, laughing, and rising above. I’m finding myself again. And I’m seeing life out loud.
There have been many rumors circulating around the crowds that know us. Most are untrue or half truths, as rumors will be. But the biggest, that is the furthest from the truth, is that I have already replaced my husband. First of all, I left merely two months ago. I would hope if I was replacing him that I would be smart enough to take more time than that. Second of all, you all know me better than that. I guess maybe you could say I replaced him with me. But there has never been another man throughout my marriage to him and at this point, I certainly don’t look for there to ever be another. And trust me, I’m okay with that.
I have been through every level of a failing relationship that exists. Disbelief, denial, anger, sorrow, fear, and finally, acceptance. And, no, I’ve never completed a 12-step program, so I imagine there are more than those emotions and actions I have named. But, as I stated earlier, I am a warrior. The release of all those emotions and actions has been more phenomenal than anything I have ever experienced. I cannot count the number of people that have seen me the last couple of months and tell me I look ten years younger or I’m glowing. And it has nothing to do with happiness, for I believe you can choose happiness. It has to do with healing.When a toxic person can no longer control you, they will try to control how others perceive you. The misinformation, stories and lies are unfair, but you must stay above it and know that other people will eventually see the TRUTH, just like you did.
I wrote my Stepping Stones article in response to a Facebook post that was probably the one thing that brought my situation to complete awareness for me. These are my words, from my heart and soul. And only the beginning of my story.
I have never understood how one person can truly believe they are solely responsible for their own success. Hang on, all you entrepreneurs (that’s kinda funny since I was recently told I wasn’t of an entrepreneurial mindset — ha!). I do believe we make our own paths. But, that path is always lined with others who haven’t quite “made it”, not because they can’t or won’t make it, maybe because they’re just not rising to the top as quickly as others. But those not rising as quickly to the top inadvertently seem to become stepping stones to success for others.It’s a sad but true fact. And I’ll be the first to admit that it can feel as if your soul is being ripped right out when you realize you’ve become one of those stepping stones. Just another tool along the path for someone else’s success. No credit given, no respect, thank you or pat on the back. Just the knowledge that you’ve been used up, stepped on and left behind.When we realize we’ve been that person, that stone, it can bring all sorts of emotions to light, some we never knew we really even had deep down inside. Hate is a very strong emotion, and I don’t believe I’ve every truly felt it, but I can imagine this strong feeling would be close. Bitterness, ugliness, rage all rearing their heads, all fueled by unbelief. Unbelief that one person could and would be so emotionless and so wrapped up in themselves, so full of arrogance that it makes no difference the persons that are being used for stepping stones, as long as their goals and dreams are coming to fruition. Because people get hurt in the process of rising to the top. Success equals survival of the fittest, right? But when it comes to the point that those people being hurt are the ones closest to us? It’s a funny thing how sometimes questioning a person on their rise to the top about their morals, ideas, goals or reasons why they are pursuing these dreams suddenly makes the relationship with that questioning person become toxic in their minds.
I’ve known hard people in my life. Folks hardened by life, experiences, failures and sins unaccounted for. Hard life experiences can lead to success if you can admit to those failures and sins. I’ve also known well a man who is admittedly never wrong. No matter what. No apologies. Just never wrong. Now, a single person might get away with this attitude for a very short while, but only because of their single status. Once a commitment is made to family, this belief cannot be further from reality. Families are units. Plural. Not a bunch of single people fending for themselves. Opinions, ideas, thoughts matter. Everyone is involved. Everyone. It’s not a high school principal corralling a bunch of hoodlum kids.
Arrogance destroys relationships. Arrogance destroys families. Pride will leave you all alone, even surrounded by your stepping stone fans and admirers.Okay. There’s a bright side.
I choose to not be left alone. I am surrounded by truth and loyalty. I am surrounded by a sisterhood of girlfriends who share the same passion for life and family and friendships and faith. And that loyalty runs deep. Deeper than any arrogant stone stepper could ever understand.
Here’s the thing. To the stone stepper, I may have been a stepping stone on his way to success. But in reality, I am a ROCK. I am strong. I am flexible. I am resilient. And I am full of faith. A renewed faith from withstanding the storms of being stepped on, kicked around, dug up and plowed under. My rough edges are continually being smoothed out by those storms. And one day I will be a polished, exquisite stone, unparalleled in beauty to the stepping stone I once was.
Do I regret being used as a stepping stone? Not completely. For it is only through the storms of life that we can become a solid ROCK.
Blessings ~ d