The Day My Heart Stopped Beating

The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
WHERE DO I BEGIN?

ONE THING KINDA, SORTA LEADS TO THE OTHER SO GUESS IT’S BEST TO START AT THE BEGINNING

I’m the second oldest child in my family and I grew up with 3 brothers and 5 sisters. At age 14, I lost my Dad in a work-related trucking accident, leaving my Mom aged 34 alone and responsible for 9 children. My oldest sister was 15 at the time and the baby was 2 years old.

In trying to deal with the grief at the time, my Mom didn’t always make the best decisions; it caused different dysfunctions in the home.

At age 18, I got pregnant and before I knew it, I’d married my high school sweetheart.

We’d been together for 3 years.

I BECAME A MOM AT AGE 19 & MY WHOLE WORLD CHANGED

I had some pretty fast growing up to do: life was not just about me anymore. It was about this beautiful baby boy I held in my arms. I quickly took on my responsibilities as a wife and mother and life moved on.

Eighteen months later, our 2nd child, my oldest daughter was born. For the next 8 years life was pretty normal.

WE BEGAN MARRIED LIFE WITH LITTLE CHANGE FOR MY HUSBAND 

He continued playing hockey, ball, extra-curricular activities, anything to keep him busy. At the time, I didn’t realize how much of a deal-breaker this would become, as he had his needs met in those things, without any real need of me. We barely had conversation; he had those with other people during the day. He was very extroverted, often to a fault.

I’d always believed that if I tried to pin him down to more time at home, I’d be changing who he was; I didn’t want to do that. In retrospect, I let him get away with too much. He wasn’t held accountable for his time and it kept him from being present at home. I didn’t realize until too late that I enabled him to stay distant by saying nothing.

The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
The Day My Heart Stopped Beating

HE WASN’T A BAD DAD, BUT WASN’T INTERESTED IN THE DISCIPLINE SIDE OF IT. That was left totally to me. I remember his saying that he wanted to be seen as nice and whatever happened with the kids was between me and them. Leave him out of it. That set a trap for my being seen as the “bad” parent. For me, I was not interested in being a friend to my kids; I was their Mom. My goal was to equip my kids with strong ethics, morals and strength to live successfully in this world. It was important to teach them about life.

I wanted to be at home as much as I could, so I’d been working at seasonal jobs here and there. When my son and daughter were age 8 and 9, I made the hard decision to go back to school for a hairdressing degree. That way, I’d be able to work from home and continue to be there for my kids.

IN JULY, I FOUND OUT I WAS PREGNANT; I WAS SET TO BEGIN SCHOOL IN AUGUST 

 At first, I was disappointed but as I figured it out, I soon got happy about it. This didn’t have to change my school plans and I moved ahead.

The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
I DIDN’T NOTICE HOW STRESSED I WAS BECOMING
There were so many things to take care of! I thought I was handling things well… UNTIL. By Christmas that year, I was experiencing anxiety. I couldn’t name what was happening, all I knew was that my body was very sensitive to situations around me.
 
JANUARY 1982
I come home from visiting ex-co-workers to find my father-in-law sprawled on his back on his deck. Beautiful white snow was falling and his feet held the door to the house open. I went over, touched him on the shoulder but he didn’t respond. As my home was in the same driveway, I quickly went inside to tell my husband about his Dad. He’d died of a heart attack.
 
Two weeks later, 7 months into my pregnancy, I was told by my doctor that I had to stop my training due to high blood pressure. I was devastated. I got excused from school and happily told I wouldn’t lose any credentials. I could return when I was ready.
 
My 2nd DAUGHTER ARRIVED IN MARCH & WHAT A JOY SHE WAS
One month later, we moved into my in-laws home as it was bigger for our family. For the next year, I enjoyed being at home with my kids. Then, it was time to return to school.

TWO MONTHS AFTER I RETURNED TO SCHOOL, I BEGAN HAVING SEVERE PANIC ATTACKS – THOSE LASTED FOR THE BETTER PART OF 15 YEARS. It was a struggle to deal with as I got agoraphobic too. Anywhere I had to go that was more than 30 minutes from my home… or with lots of people, set it off. I became afraid of imagined danger during those years.

I managed to finish getting my diploma by pushing myself through it. A 35 minute drive to  school most often took me over one hour to get there. I had to stop several times on the side of the road because I was so anxious. But I was determined.

NOBODY KNEW HOW BADLY I WAS SUFFERING, because I didn’t want to transfer that anxiety and fear onto my children. My friends, family, and even my husband didn’t know the extent of my fears. I got so good at putting on my mask, and even in a full-fledged attack no one could tell what was going on. It was my secret.

The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
 The Day My Heart Stopped
The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
The Day My Heart Stopped Beating

IN OCTOBER 1989, GOD FOUND ME. AND… HOW HE CHANGED ME

He began chipping away one thing at a time and restoring me. (This is a blog post I need to write and tell you more about.) (-_-) Time spent with God was the beginning of my healing.

Push forward several years.

IT WASN’T EASY AS I STRUGGLED WITH MY OLDEST DAUGHTER’S REBELLIOUS ATTITUDE

It got pretty intense and I was pretty much alone. (This too could be another blog post…) Incorporating truths from my Bible held me up. I got involved in Bible studies and began attending a good Christian church where my faith continued to grow.

My husband liked the change he saw in me, but didn’t see the need for himself. For a few years, we went our separate ways spiritually and eventually he began going to church with me. 

He tried real hard to “become” a Christian but I still wonder to this day if he EVER truly got it. He had a form of Christianity but his heart was not there. He found it very hard letting go of worldly things that were not helping his “Christian” growth or our marriage. 

THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US GREW WIDER AS I CONTINUED TO FOLLOW JESUS 

I knew we were unequally yoked, but the Bible told me that I should continue as I’d been before knowing God personally. I was very committed to that marriage no matter what EVEN WHEN it wasn’t always easy due to our differences in seeing/doing things. He continued doing more and more things alone. 

Our kids got married and we became grandparents. More and more, my husband was staying away. If we had more than 10-15 minutes together per day, that would be a good day. I tried everything I knew: reading books, teachings, talking with him… nothing worked. Sadly, he had already left the relationship many years before it ended.

THEN ONE DAY, MY HEART STOPPED BEATING

I CAUGHT HIM. IN A LIE. IT BLEW EVERYTHING OUT INTO THE OPEN. He finally confessed he’d been having an affair… for an undetermined amount of time. I naively assumed it was an emotional affair. I could never have suspected him of cheating. He was NOT that type of man. But in my heart, I KNEW it was over. 

My heart was broken… and our marriage ended.

The Day My Heart Stopped Beating
 APRIL 12, 2016 – I wrote this on my Facebook:

GOING THROUGH A PAINFUL SEPARATION

“My hubby of 44 years… 47 years together, has given up on us. How it’s possible to hurt so deep inside and recover, I don’t know. The future I believed in has died and I mourn. I’m in the trenches of creating a new reality, a new life as I’ll be moving the first of June to a new place. I’m now focused on cleaning up things here for the move and what goes with me. Garbage, bringing, leaving, giving away. Everything brings UP so many memories… feelings of loss… grief… whatever. Everything I do has feelings attached. CRAP! But, it has to be done. It’s normal.

How quickly 47 years of togetherness is cleaned out and divided. It’s so stinking sad. The one thing I know for sure is that I’ll eventually be okay. My heart isn’t here anymore and I’m looking for a fresh new beginning. Looking for the next stepping stone. I’m in the middle of a legal separation, legal appointments, finalizing things at the house and planning for my move. So much to do in so little time…”

I really only got the real story of his affair several weeks later. Until this point, I still gave him chance after chance to fix this but he did not want to. After 2 months, I asked him for the last time (I’d asked about 12 times before) if he was sure he didn’t want us back. Maybe he would change his mind and really try this time? He said NO.

That day, I threw the key to my heart out the window. It had been a hard marriage in many ways for so long and I was NOT going to waste any more time on it by crying, begging or other.

I WAS MOVING ON & I TOLD HIM SO. HE AGREED 

It might seem like it didn’t take long to shut the door on my marriage but know that I had been living alone in many, MANY years. The on-going affair had been going on for many months; that truth came out later in the chaos. She was cheating on a long-term relationship and he was cheating on me. I was totally blind-sighted as I’d never have believed he could do that.

He’d been staying out later and later and had no interest in talking, or doing things with me. He was out the door at the crack of dawn and I just couldn’t grasp his attention. You’d think it would’ve seemed peculiar to me, but he’d always been this way right from the get go. He’d always lived the single life even if married. I’d finally given up the fantasy that things would ever change and it was what it was.

 JUNE 6, 2016 – I wrote this on my Facebook:

TOUGHEST 7 WEEKS OF MY LIFE

“I’ve gone through shock, denial, anger, learning to let go, more angerbitterness and now finally at the accepting phase.  I can’t believe all the years I’ve given to this man were for nothing… Wow! But I believe there is a season for everything under heaven & it’s time to move on. Dissolving a marriage is not for the faint of heart. I thought I’d understood when my son went through it a few years back; I watched him go through the hell of betrayal, 3 little boys under 4 years old… depression, etc. BUT truth is that we NEVER fully understand a process until we’ve walked through it ourselves.

I’ve been all over the place emotionally and THAT is NOT me. Having NO control, just riding the tide through unwanted circumstances. I’ve had to let go… and let God. Only He can make a message out of this ugly mess. I can’t fix this and I’m not going to try. I’m okay and looking forward to the what’s next.

It’s important for me to GUARD my heart so it doesn’t become hard… bitter… spiteful… mistrusting… all of those ugly things that keep us in bondage. That’s my responsibility, to guard my heart & attitude. I’m so ready to close this chapter and start a-fresh. I know good things are coming and I’m ready to let them in. It’s not been easy but I’m coming up on top! YAY!!! STRONGER than ever…”

I look back now and see I’ve been given a new lease on life, when he walked out on our family. According to Scripture, I was no longer bound to this man. His affair gave me biblical freedom to continue on with my life. I know I’d have stayed to the end, that’s who I am. But I’d been working alone in this marriage for so many years.

I’M COUNTING MY BLESSINGS, JUNE 1st, 2016

“It’s a turning point. I’m into my new home now and very committed to finding me. Just who am I? Just a wife? A Mother? Sister? Friend? Maybe I’m just ME?” 

  • I have a few friends I share my heart with —> it’s great therapy.
  • No more conforming for anyone any longer. Done!
  • I’m resting & getting closer to God… He is healing me everyday.
  • I’m surrounded with people who have my back. I totally feel the love.
  • I’m getting healthier emotionally, spiritually… physically.
  • I am well… my life is getting better day by day.
  • I can finally say… Thank you Lord, my home is a house of peace.

In God’s perfect timing, I met Marcel.

And MY HEART STARTED BEATING AGAIN Click to Read More About It   

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Norma Bourque Niles

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