EP 112: My Story: Part 19: Making the Decision to Leave My Abuser

Diana WinklerChristian marriage

The day is finally here. You’ve been listening to my story for many weeks now. Hear about the events leading to my departure. Find out how I deal with job loss, the fear, the sleepless nights, the planning, and our day in divorce court. I also included my live recording of Virgin Slumber Song at the end of the episode!

Virgin Slumber Song by Max Ruger. Used by permission by license.

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Making the decision to leave

[00:00:00] Welcome to the Wounds of the Faithful Podcast. Brought to you by DSW Ministries. Your host is singer songwriter, speaker and domestic violence advocate, Diana Winkler. She is passionate about helping survivors in the church heal from domestic violence and abuse and trauma. This podcast is not a substitute for professional counseling or qualified medical help.

[00:00:26] Now here is Diana.

[00:00:30] Hi, everyone. Come on in. Get a holiday beverage of your choice and come and sit for a spell. Take a deep breath, unc unclench your jaw. Let’s talk about the holidays, which we are in the midst of. I’m not doing a holiday episode this year. I have done one last year, [00:01:00] which you can go back and listen to. But what I will say about the holidays is to take care of yourself. Make sure that you are establishing boundaries, and forcing those boundaries, and you don’t have to do everything that the holidays conjurs up.

[00:01:20] You don’t have to fulfill all those expectations of what our society deems as Christmas. You can have a quiet celebration with just your family, with just yourself. You don’t have to go into debt for Christmas. Your kids don’t have to have the latest and greatest gadget or toy. The holidays are supposed to be about Jesus, and he kind of gets pushed out of the way. But about self.

[00:01:51] You don’t have to go to those Christmas dinners if you’re not feeling up to it or you don’t want to interact with [00:02:00] people, your relatives, your friends, your church, whatever. You decide how you’re going to celebrate and you stick to that. Make your own traditions. Don’t follow everybody else’s.

[00:02:14] Take care of your mental health during the holidays. So I might say something more next week, but that’s what I have to say about the holidays. I haven’t even put my decorations out this year. Just don’t have time and I don’t have the energy.

[00:02:30] But onto our episode for this week. I know that when you listen to trauma inducing stories, like last week’s Twilight Zone Church, you kinda tend to tense up a bit, right? I know I did. So today is the day. You’ve been listening to my Crazy story for all of these weeks. Some of you months. [00:03:00] You are wondering what led up to leaving my husband?

[00:03:05] How did I get out? That’s why I’ll be talking about today. Divorce in all of its ugliness and pain. Next week will be the aftermath, a fallout, starting over and healing. So if all goes well, next week will be the last in this series of my abuse story. So I have been getting feedback about it. I might share that next week.

[00:03:35] But if this has been a help to you or maybe you have some feedback for me, constructive helpful, send me a message either by email or social media, whatever, it’s all in the show notes, my contact information. .

[00:03:52] and I have a lot to cover. So let’s dive in, shall we? Now, there [00:04:00] isn’t one single event or reason for leaving my marriage.

[00:04:04] There were multiple reasons and events they were accumulative. So if you know anybody who’s been divorced and been divorced yourself or maybe your parents, divorce is rarely because of one thing.

[00:04:19] So I’m gonna talk about a few events that led up to my divorce.

[00:04:25] They weren’t the reason for the divorce, but it certainly didn’t help. Now, up to this point, I haven’t really mentioned my martial arts training. Now I’ve talked about martial arts with other guests like, Kenny Jezek, my Jeet Kune Do instructor was on the podcast.

[00:04:48] So if you wanna go back and listen to Kenny’s episode, his last name is spelled J-E-Z- E- K. It’s a really good episode. I won’t [00:05:00] get into the training aspect of it today, but I did want to mention my training because it was relevant to me having the courage to leave my abusive marriage, my abusive church, and developing the strength I never had, least strength

[00:05:21] I never knew I had. Now, I started Jeet Kune Do when I was actually on staff at Cactus Flower Church. And you’re thinking you were in an abusive relationship and you were a martial artist? How does that even happen? Yeah, I know. It’s kind of a strange dichotomy there, but actually it’s not that unusual. I was being abused and didn’t know it.

[00:05:50] And I had been wanting to start martial arts all of my life, probably since I saw a karate kid. When I was a child.[00:06:00] I was bullied in school as a kid and I wanted a way to defend myself, but it never happened. My parents couldn’t afford to send me to karate school and my ballet lessons, which that’s what I was doing, since I was 14.

[00:06:19] So I didn’t start training until I was 28 years old. Now, my middle brother was already a martial artist. He was the one that encouraged me to find a teacher, and he suggested Jeet Kune Do. Now, my ex thought that I was taking lessons because I wanted to beat him up, but that wasn’t true at all. That really never crossed my mind.

[00:06:49] You know why? Because he was never physically violent with me. But I remember during the marriage that when things started to get heated and [00:07:00] escalated, I did mention to him that if he ever did hit me, that I would fight back with everything that I had. Maybe that’s what kept him from escalating to that level.

[00:07:16] I don’t know. Because if you listen to survivor stories, a lot of verbally abusive spouses, and maybe ones that throw stuff or slam doors or kick the dog, they often escalate to physical violence. That’s very common. The statistics are against me. Also, if the survivor goes back to the abuser, they now know that you’re aware of what went on.

[00:07:48] You left, you came back. Then the abuser wants you to be controlled even further and put the fear back into you even harder, [00:08:00] so you don’t ever leave again. And so it usually escalates to physical abuse at that point. But Danny didn’t do really any of those things because I wouldn’t let him. Now, Danny did make fun of my training.

[00:08:19] He did Greco Ruman wrestling in high school and college, and he was very good at it. So he decided one day that he would challenge me, and he did this from time to time. One day he would test me by picking me up off the ground from behind, or the bear hug, trapping my arms. Now, I’ve defended from this position many times, so I didn’t panic.

[00:08:46] He’s mocking me. What are you gonna do now? And at that moment, I just did a little tap of my head backwards, a head butt to the nose. It was barely anything, [00:09:00] but I hit his nose. and he let me go right away. Now, of course, he was all upset and you know, made it sound like I hit him full force and I told him I wasn’t even trying to hurt him, but he got the message and he never did that again.

[00:09:20] I was going to class three times a week when I wanted to get away from the poor treatment at home, and it just so happens that my regular day fell on Thursday. Do you remember what that day was? At Gospel Rhodes Church. That was soul winning night. And I told Danny not to tell the pastor or anybody else at church that I was taking Jeet Kune Do because the church would not approve.

[00:09:53] Pastor would not like me skipping soul winning night, even though we also went soul winning on [00:10:00] Saturday mornings. Pastor would not approve of me training with men, particularly wearing pants and grappling on the floor with men. Now I see to that as a woman, I am most likely not going to be assaulted by a woman.

[00:10:20] Now, you know I’m not saying it’s impossible, but for the most part, women are assaulted by men. And I’m going to wind up on the ground 90% of the time. And so I had to learn to defend myself by training with men that are bigger and stronger than I.

[00:10:41] And yes, I have female training partners that are 99 pounds soaking wet, and they can disable an attacker twice their size. My training partners are people that I trust with my life. I’ve known them for a long time. I’ve been a martial artist for [00:11:00] 23 years now, and I’ve had different instructors, different training partners, but I would never, ever stay if I didn’t trust those people. Because we are in close quarters, and you have to be able to anticipate your training partner during the exercises because you can be hurt pretty badly.

[00:11:23] If you zigged instead of zagged, then you’ll come home with a busted nose or black eyes. Now, for my birthday this year, Seeing a pattern here. The birthdays always seem to be a problem in my life. I wanted to buy a knife with my birthday money. I had been training five or six years at that point, and I was trained in weapons.

[00:11:51] Everyone in class carried a knife and we’re talking about a switch blade and I didn’t even tell Danny. I just [00:12:00] went and took my money and went to the store. I bought a recon cold steel knife with my money. That was $75. I don’t know how much it is now, but, and I got home and I just walked in there with it , and I’m just kinda whipping the knife open, you know, open and closed.

[00:12:19] And I said, look what I got for my birthday. And he saw it and he just flipped out. right away. He was convinced that I was just gonna use that against him. And he said, you didn’t get my permission to buy that. Why would I need your permission to buy a knife?

[00:12:37] I am a trained martial artist and I am trained in weapons. There isn’t any reason why I should not have one. So he again, thought I bought it to slit his throat with it. And I told Danny, You have firearms in the house. You think I’m gonna use a knife [00:13:00] against you?

[00:13:00] You put a gun to your head. And threatened to pull the trigger when we lived back east. I am the one who talked you into putting the gun down. I don’t have a reason to use a knife against you. I’m not a violent person. What kind of wife do you think I am that you’d be threatened with me?

[00:13:23] I didn’t purchase the knife to kill somebody with it. It’s mostly for training and utility, and I told him I’m not returning it. Somehow he dropped the issue, but I am gonna say that martial arts gave me a spine. It gave me confidence to stand up for myself. I learned skills to defend myself, of course, but it also taught me to be assertive.

[00:13:53] And those qualities are not really desirable in the denomination that I was a part of. They [00:14:00] wanted their women weak, helpless, quiet, and dependent on a man for everything. And if I never went to Jeet Kune Do I never would’ve left my abuser. I talked about this when Kenny was on the show.

[00:14:15] Steve and Julie were my training partners, and they were the ones that told me, you need to get away from that abusive man. You shouldn’t tolerate how he treats you. They were one of the few people that saw me as an individual, as a person, as a woman. My other friend Linda, who was my quilting buddy, she was part of the trio that helped me move.

[00:14:46] Now we’re going to talk about that today, but it probably took years of training with them to actually realize those things. Yeah, I’m in a bad relationship, so it changed my [00:15:00] life in more ways than one, and I’m really forever grateful for that. I recommend that people study a martial art or a self-defense class on a regular basis, particularly women or people that, are not very strong.

[00:15:17] Yes, it’s a commitment and yes, it’s challenging, but besides the self-defense part, there are so many benefits to it. It will give you strength and empower you because you have a life worth defending. You are a valuable individual. You are a child of God. You are worthy of respect, love, and honor, and that’s what you should expect from the people around you, those in your circle.

[00:15:49] So let me cover a couple more events that happened the last year up to me leaving. They were humiliating events of being with him in public. [00:16:00] I’ve told you some of the stories already, but he was pretty much a powder keg. We went to dinner at our favorite restaurant one night. It’s closed down now. but it was this beautiful Midwestern historical building with a home cooking type of menu.

[00:16:19] Now, I don’t remember what we were talking about, but he started screaming at me in the restaurant, and of course, everyone was looking at us, and I told him, please lower your voice, but he wouldn’t. And we were regulars in that restaurant. So the waiters knew who we were by face,

[00:16:40] and the waiter came over and asked if I was okay, and asked me if I wanted him to call me a cab. I said, no, I have a car, but he will probably need one. And for the first time, I walked out, I left that [00:17:00] restaurant. That’s usually what he does when he doesn’t get his way. But I’m turning the tables on him.

[00:17:06] Literally this evening. I walked towards the car and I told him I was going home without him. So of course he was following me and he was saying he was sorry. I had never done anything like that, but I was sick of it. I was sick of him fighting with me before we went to church and humiliating me in front of everyone, from his relatives to our friends, to total strangers.

[00:17:31] I had got into the car and he got in as well, and we sat there in the car. I didn’t really wanna talk to him or be in the same room with him, so he says, I really wanna pray. I don’t wanna pray with you. I don’t wanna even be in the same room with you. And I told him to get out, but he wouldn’t get outta the car because he knew at this point, if I got home, I’d change the [00:18:00] locks or something like that.

[00:18:01] So we wound up going home together that night. But not because I wanted him to. This whole situation, this whole marriage, it’s like a slow drip, a frog, and a pot of boiling water. I had slipped into a depression. I had never been through that before. In fact, I had been judgemental about people who had been through depression.

[00:18:29] It’s like this black cloud over your head. Or a dark pit that you fall into and you can’t get out. So to cope with my reality, I worked extra hours. I went to the library, I went to the gym. I did extra church activities. Of course, I went to martial arts class

[00:18:55] anywhere. But if I was home, I was in the sewing room, or I [00:19:00] was doing chores, or I was walking with the dogs, going to the dog park with them. Remember that Danny would watch sports, every kind of sport all year round. So he really didn’t care if I was around or not.

[00:19:16] and if you’ve been through depression, part of depression involves being exhausted and tired all the time. So I took naps. I went to bed early. I really stopped caring about hygiene or my appearance. I didn’t care. I wouldn’t take regular showers or do anything with my hair. I didn’t wear makeup. I didn’t want Danny around me or touching me, and that was my trauma response.

[00:19:48] I shut down. I didn’t pray. I didn’t do my Bible reading because I didn’t think God cared about my suffering at this point.

[00:19:59] I [00:20:00] am grateful that somehow God spared me from alcohol abuse. I didn’t like the taste of alcohol. I still don’t. Or drug abuse. You know, I grew up during the just say no to drugs era, so never did drugs or using antidepressants because I was taught that they were sinful at that time. Sleeping pills.

[00:20:27] I probably should have gotten some of those because I didn’t sleep very well. These things and more are responses to trauma or abuse, but I didn’t recognize that at the time. I didn’t know those were symptoms of depression. So you can also add to that sexual addictions or sexual behavior, which I will talk about next week during the aftermath.

[00:20:54] But our 13th anniversary was coming up and we usually planned something [00:21:00] to celebrate. Now I say celebrate loosely, but I don’t remember if we went to dinner or not. Sometimes he would cook up something really fancy instead, but what I do recall that night was our attempt at having sex. We were in the middle of foreplay and we zigged instead of zagged.

[00:21:26] I used that twice in the same episode. Anyway, we collided heads, literally hard. There was a lot of pain, a lot of yelling and cursing. and all of the relationship issues, the stress of work and the ministry and the intimacy problems and everything came to a literal head that night. Although it was an accident, we both said, forget it.

[00:21:57] He went to go watch TV like he usually [00:22:00] does, and I went to bed crying myself to sleep next morning. Denny was always awake before me. I just sat there in bed and I thought to myself, I can’t live like this anymore, not another year of this. And I said to God, I will take the consequences of whatever comes as a result of leaving my husband.

[00:22:29] but I’m getting out before it destroys me. I hadn’t prayed in years. And then I called my friend Linda, my quilting friend, and I’m crying and rehashing the fiasco of probably the last week or two. And she said to me, Diana, I’m tired of you calling me and telling me about that abusive husband of yours.

[00:22:57] You need to get out of that [00:23:00] house now. And you know, I’m blabbering, I’m crying, and I say, I can’t. The church won’t let me. My husband won’t give me a divorce. I will lose everything and I will have to start over. God will punish me. All of the tears, all of the excuses. and she stopped me for a moment and she told me something that I will never forget.

[00:23:34] She said, Diana, God isn’t going to stop loving you for leaving your abusive husband. He loves you no matter what.

[00:23:49] And it was like being hit with a bag of bricks upside my head. I realized what she said was true.

[00:23:59] [00:24:00] God did care about me no matter what. My friend cared about me enough to tell me the truth of what I needed to hear, and I told her that I would make plans to leave. Danny’s going out of town for business and he’s staying with his parents. So I had a lot of work to do.

[00:24:19] I had to get a post office box in my own name. I had to get a new cell phone in my name. I had to look for, an apartment that I could afford on my salary. I had to pack up my valuables without him noticing and pretending that nothing is wrong. An Academy award-winning performance.

[00:24:41] That’s what I had to put on. I was pretty numb at that point. I didn’t have a whole lot of expression on my face. I would talk when I was spoken to. At that time, it was January when I made the decision to leave. [00:25:00] It was April when Danny was flying back to his parents and I was terrified that he would find out.

[00:25:10] When I was planning, he notices everything and I didn’t sleep for months. I took pictures of my two dogs cuz I knew that I didn’t have very many. I knew I wouldn’t be able to take my German shepherd dogs with me. That was the really painful part. I hoped that they would be well cared for when I was gone.

[00:25:36] Yeah, I was working as a dental assistant at the time in this new practice. The dentist before we started work, he called me into the back office and he said he was letting me go. And I asked why. But he wouldn’t listen to me. He just told me to get my things and leave. And as I was [00:26:00] gathering my stuff,

[00:26:00] I was crying, walking out, and the other assistant saw me and she said, I’m sorry. She knew that I was planning on leaving my husband in two weeks. That’s why I was crying. How was I going to leave with no job?

[00:26:17] So I really despaired that and I, I panicked that this is it. I’m not gonna be able to leave. So I called my friend Julie and told her what happened, and she said that I could stay with her. and her family until I got on my feet, and if I didn’t leave now, I wouldn’t get another opportunity for a really long time.

[00:26:43] So I still had a lot to do. I had to hire a divorce lawyer. I found one in Phoenix that would let me make payments, and I think she was a few grand with her fee. I also had to reserve a storage pod to put [00:27:00] my stuff in because I couldn’t bring everything to Julie’s house. I had a very good credit rating at that time.

[00:27:09] That’s because we always paid our bill on time, so I got a credit card in my own name and I also had high limit credit cards in both our names that I would take with me. That was going to be my way to finance my life until I got a job. Some of you with kids are thinking that it was much easier for me because I didn’t have kids. And that I at least had marketable job skills and friends.

[00:27:41] That is correct. I would agree with you if you’re thinking that. I cannot imagine what I would’ve done if I had children with this man. I guess it would depend on how he treated the children if they were being abused too. [00:28:00] At this point, I can only speculate. On victims with children, many of my podcast guests and many of my Mending the Soul peeps, they have all escaped with their children successfully.

[00:28:16] it can be done. Now, it will be very hard, and you’re gonna need some extra planning and stealth, but you can do it.

[00:28:25] So the night before, the big day, I think he actually asked me for sex because he was going on a trip for two weeks.

[00:28:35] I told him I was sick, I was nauseous, and my stomach hurt. So that was the truth. I didn’t want him touching me. I could not stand him touching me at this point. I didn’t sleep all night. I was sure that he was gonna find out and

[00:28:55] the whole house of cards would come tumbling down. [00:29:00] The next morning I drove him to the airport and gave him a quick obligatory kiss goodbye, and he got on the plane and I was headed to the divorce lawyer’s office to draw up the paperwork, and I thought I was gonna vomit. This is it. It was now in motion.

[00:29:23] I was getting out. So I went home and I started packing my things. I had two weeks. The storage pod had arrived. I started loading things up. Steve and his wife came over and helped me. Then Julie came over to help pack stuff into boxes because I was delirious at this point with no sleep.

[00:29:49] I took half the dishes, I took all of my books. I took all my sewing room stuff. I took my Christmas stuff. I couldn’t [00:30:00] take either of the bedroom sets. One was the mahogany canopy set, which was too big for an apartment, and the other set in the guest room was in Danny’s family. So I didn’t take that. I probably should have at least taken the mattress and box spring, but I didn’t.

[00:30:20] I took a loveseat couch and I had my black station wagon that was in my name, and it was paid off. I took that. I took my family photographs and I left his behind. I took all of my favorite movies, DVDs and VHS,

[00:30:42] I think that Danny called the house phone while I was packing. One day he told me about his day and how mom and dad were, and then he asked what I was up to and if I missed him, right? Well, [00:31:00] I’m cleaning and organizing and I miss you like a turd in a swimming pool. And I laughed. He should have been suspicious at that point, but he had no clue about what was going on, what was about to happen.

[00:31:18] He thought that what I said was a joke. I said, I have to go. And he said, love you. I hung up the phone without saying it back click. I knew his parents were listening to his call and he only said it for their benefit cuz he never said it to me at home. I FedExed the divorce papers and a dear John letter to his parents’ house the last day of his trip, the day he would be flying back home.

[00:31:50] I put the last items in the pod and got ready for Julie to come pick me up and go to her place. So I sat [00:32:00] there with my dogs and just cried.

[00:32:04] And they knew something was wrong. Your dogs know when something is wrong. When we go on a trip and pack a suitcase, they know that we are going somewhere without them. My dogs went to a kennel. I had been packing for two weeks, and of course my stress hormones were through the roof, so they knew something was up.

[00:32:30] It was really painful sitting there with them. I didn’t know if I could leave them, but after listening to the voice of reason, I already knew that I had to leave and I couldn’t take them. I could get another dog someday.

[00:32:47] Then the house phone rang and I let it go to voicemail. Back in those days, you could hear who was talking on the voicemail as they left a message. [00:33:00] Pretty nice, actually. Wish I still had one. You could also choose to pick up the phone and answer the call if you wanted to talk to the person. And of course it was Danny.

[00:33:11] He had gotten the divorce papers

[00:33:14] he wanted me to pick up. He was crying. He told me this story about going to church yesterday and that the sermon was about marriage and that he was gonna tell me he was gonna be the best husband, the husband that he should be from now on, blah, blah, blah, blah. This is the first stage of horse crap. Also known as love bombing.

[00:33:41] I wasn’t gonna pick up that phone. No way. I left my cell on the counter because I wasn’t going to take it with me. I had my own phone with a number he didn’t know about. So he kept calling and he kept calling and leaving messages and I called Julie on my [00:34:00] cell and then I said, you need to come and hurry up.

[00:34:03] Pick me up now. She’s like, what’s wrong? I said, Danny keeps calling and leaving messages. I can’t take this. So she said, I’m on my way. So the storage unit was picked up and I fed the dogs. I gave them a hug and kiss, and Danny would be home that evening to feed them again.

[00:34:28] I locked the house and I gave the house keys to my neighbor across the street. He kind of looked at me with concern. And I said, please give these keys to Danny. He’ll be home this evening. I didn’t say anything else and I left. I got into the car, put the rest of my junk in Julie’s car, and we left for her place.

[00:34:56] There was no turning back for me at that point. I [00:35:00] got to Julie’s house, I was still crying. Her boys were very young then, and first they asked why I was crying. Her husband, who’s very kind, didn’t say anything except that, Hey, you need anything? I put some of my stuff in my room, I’d be staying in, and I laid on the bed.

[00:35:27] I was shell shocked. It was like a turtle without a shell. Somebody had ripped the shell off my back. I was vulnerable and exposed. That’s how I felt for the first time ever. And I was expecting the wrath of God to fall upon me. I really did. But instead of wrath, I felt [00:36:00] the love of God on me. Tenderness, a warm hug, acceptance.

[00:36:08] I didn’t expect that at all. And no, I don’t have a Bible verse to explain it or support it. That is just what I experienced. Julie’s family went to another church, I think it was a Nazarene church, which is a mainline evangelical church. Julie sang in the church band and she said it was casual dress. You could come in your PJs and no one would ever say anything.

[00:36:36] I mean, this time in my life, I’m still wearing skirts and dresses. I didn’t even own a pair of pants, no, I shouldn’t say I didn’t own a pair of pants. The only pants I wore was to martial arts class.

[00:36:48] So they took me to church with them, and I hadn’t been in anything but an I F B church since I was 18.

[00:36:57] I was 38. [00:37:00] So I expected weird people dressed in crazy outfits and a rock and roll mosh pit service. And you know, you think all these crazy things because that’s what the preachers tell you. Anybody outside the Baptist church are crazy, none of that. There were normal friendly people there, regular looking church building.

[00:37:25] And the worship music surprised me. I had never been so moved by a band. I never knew a church that could even worship with a band. I had a lot to learn. , they played an acoustic set of, my chains are gone. You know, amazing Grace from Chris Tomlin. , you know, the song. And I just started bawling, just crying. A flood of emotions and tears.

[00:37:59] You know, my [00:38:00] chains are gone. It had only been a couple days, so I was still pretty raw and emotional, but everyone was so supportive and very kind. And the ladies were giving me hugs after church. I did like Julie’s church, but I really wanted to attend a church with a choir. I loved being in the choir.

[00:38:26] I wasn’t quite ready for a band yet, so I remembered that a friend from Bible college who had moved out here and started a church on the west side of town, I had been there a couple times with Danny for Christmas shows that they would put on. and you’re thinking isn’t the opposite kind of church that you want after leaving your church?

[00:38:52] Well, I remembered he was what we call IFB light. He didn’t have the legalistic [00:39:00] stuff going like a traditional Baptist church, they had modern worship music. They didn’t have a dress code, and I would see a familiar face. I met the pastor and his wife, Harry and Sherry, and they asked me right away where Danny was.

[00:39:20] I told Sherry I left him and I’m in the middle of a divorce. She didn’t seem judgmental at all about the divorce and came over and gave me a hug. she said I was very welcome here at the church. And there are other people in the church that are divorcees too. So after the services, I had dinner with pastor and his wife and gave him the Reader’s Digest version of why I was separating from him.

[00:39:53] I mean, they knew Danny, they had met Danny, he went to Bible college with us. but in the end,[00:40:00] Harry said that I could be a member of the church. Come as you are. So I joined the choir and became a part of the church family. Danny found out that I had joined Harry’s church. He called the church office and gave Harry this story about, there’s two sides to every story and you need to hear my side of it.

[00:40:20] Harry just said, you know, I’m just gonna stop you right there. Diana’s here. She’s coming as she is. We’re accepting her and letting her process the divorce, and I’m not gonna get in the middle of the separation and the divorce proceedings. So I was really thankful and glad that they let me heal at the church and they didn’t bring up my ex all the time.

[00:40:46] So, speaking of the divorce proceedings, I only let Danny email me. He didn’t know I was at Julie’s. I could have gone back to my parents’ house, but [00:41:00] that’s what he expected me to do. I did not want him to know where I was, and I recommend that highly. So right away he wants marriage counseling.

[00:41:14] If you, if you remember, I dragged him kicking in and screaming to three different counselors. I don’t think I talked about two of them. The first one was Diana D, right? The second one was peer counseling from friends of ours who actually went to school with me and Harry. And the third was a professional Christian counselor at another church, not a Baptist church.

[00:41:42] All three of those, Danny would refuse to cooperate, wouldn’t take ownership for any of his behavior. It’s all my fault, wouldn’t do the homework. So this stunt that Danny is [00:42:00] pulling on me, that he wants counseling now, it’s too late. I told him no. I told you a long time ago that when you refused to cooperate before that there would be a day that it would be too late for counseling.

[00:42:20] And that day is today. Pastor Gary emailed me from Gospel Road and he had to pick Danny up from the airport because since I left there was nobody to pick him up. So Pastor knew all about it. On the car ride home, he had read my dear John letter and the divorce papers. He asked to meet him and his wife for lunch.

[00:42:50] Danny had asked for the video camera back since I took it with me, and I agreed to give it to the pastor. So we met at a [00:43:00] salad bar and I didn’t know what to expect. I mean, my hands were shaking and I wasn’t comfortable. And it wasn’t because I thought they were going to hurt me. I didn’t believe that, but I was still very raw and traumatized from moving out and my emotions.

[00:43:19] So they started off with saying that they noticed my behavior changed a few weeks before. Namely that my face looked numb and expressionless. Yes, that’s true. pastor’s wife said she knew something was wrong, but didn’t ask me about it. I said, well, I wouldn’t have told you the truth anyway if you did ask me.

[00:43:44] So Pastor said that he read the letter I wrote to Danny and he said, how Danny treated you was wrong and ungodly, and I’m sorry. I could hardly eat my [00:44:00] salad with my hands shaking, and now I was crying. I didn’t expect him to even respond like that. I mean, he wasn’t a bad pastor. I think that he really meant well and he did what he believed to be right, and he said that he thought that the marriage could be fixed.

[00:44:20] I had pulled the rug out from under him. and now I have his attention. I said, preacher, I appreciate you caring about me, but I’ve been in this place before. When he promises to be a better husband and apologize, it only lasts for a few weeks, maybe a month, and then he is back to abusing me again. He asked me to come to a counseling session with him and Danny as a favor to him.

[00:44:49] I said, well, I’m not promising anything. I’m planning on going through with this divorce. Save a parting of the Red Sea Miracle. [00:45:00] Danny is not going to change. He has been treating his own parents, his siblings like crap, and he just added me to his list when we got married. But I agreed to go for a session.

[00:45:15] Julie was not in favor of that. She thought the pastor and Danny were going to talk me into going back. There’s some validity to that, but I said, I’m not going back. This whole thing is all for show on Danny’s part. It isn’t about saving our marriage.

[00:45:34] I showed up at church and sure enough, Danny was there and there comes a crocodile tears and he is apologizing to me and he said he loved me and wants to work on our marriage. And I looked him in the eye and I said, Danny, I forgive you for everything that you’ve done to me. [00:46:00] Everything you put me through, I don’t mean you any harm.

[00:46:04] But just saying, sorry, isn’t enough. What are you gonna do to take responsibility for your actions? How are you gonna facilitate the change that you need to make, not just for me, but for your whole family you put through hell too. So the pastor started in on the official counseling session and starting asking questions.

[00:46:27] My brain has blocked my memory of what those questions were, but I think they were typical of the previous counselors that we have seen we’re in the middle of it all, and Julie calls me on my cell and she’s calling to make sure the pastor isn’t tying me up and holding me hostage. I told her everything is fine.

[00:46:51] I’m okay. I will be home shortly. We’re almost finished now. Danny did not know that it was Julie. On the other end of that phone, [00:47:00] he thought I was at a safe house or some kind of a woman shelter. I did not volunteer any information as to where I lived. So back to the counseling. It was the same song and dance.

[00:47:13] You made me act this way. You didn’t submit, you pressured me for sex, you overspent. You never liked my parents or my family, blah, blah, blah, blah. So you’re not taking any ownership of your junk again. What about the controlling Every aspect of my life, the horrible names screaming at me in public places.

[00:47:40] Treating me like a trophy, using sex as a weapon against me. The neglect, it all came down that he wasn’t going to change. He had been doing this his whole life. So I just told the pastor, we’re done here. I am going through with a divorce preacher.

[00:47:59] But he [00:48:00] wanted us to have a date by ourselves without the pastor there to see maybe if we could talk things over. And Danny says that I could see the dogs. I said, well, don’t expect anything to happen. I will agree to meet with you just because I wanna see my dogs. So I met him at the park near the house with the dogs.

[00:48:23] and it was really good to see them. I just missed them so badly. They recognized me and ran towards me. So then he wanted to go and eat at our favorite Italian restaurant for lunch, which was a block away. I was starving, and so I said, okay. Then we talked about stupid, funny stuff, nothing really serious.

[00:48:47] He seemed to think that since we had a pleasant, cordial conversation for a change, that there was a chance

[00:48:55] I want to be cordial, even to my ex-husband, [00:49:00] but his behavior would be unpredictable as usual. One day he was walking our female dog, Annie, around the block, and he was jumped by a couple of young guys, was punching the daylights out of him. Now Annie is a trained protection dog, so on his command she bit the attackers and then chased them down the street.

[00:49:26] Danny recalled her when it was safe enough to do so. So he told the police that I hired my martial arts training partners, to beat him up. When I found that out, I said, why would I risk my own dog being hurt? And all my training partners are over 40. None of them are young punks.

[00:49:49] And I told the story to my, my training partners, and one of them says, , Diana, you owe me 50 bucks.

[00:49:57] That was great. The [00:50:00] real attackers here not to be defendants in a court case, Danny had analyzed some phone recordings that were evidence in court. The defendants found out where Danny lived and jumped him as a scare tactic, but that’s the kind of person that Danny is. I mean, he actually thought that I would do that. If I really wanted to harm him,

[00:50:24] as I said before, there would be much easier ways to bring harm to him. Well, the day finally came for the court date for a divorce. I brought my lawyer. He didn’t even have a lawyer. I gave him everything. I gave him the house, the cars, the dogs. I just wanted out. I didn’t fight for anything, but I did need some furniture for my future apartment.

[00:50:57] All I had was a couch and he [00:51:00] agreed to pay for my furniture bill in an email. When we were before the judge, he said, I don’t want this divorce and I’m gonna drag out the divorce by not paying for this furniture. I pointed out that he promised he would pay for it, and I have written proof. So my lawyer says to Danny, you got everything in the estate.

[00:51:24] All she wants is some furniture, and I produced the bill, which was about a thousand bucks. Which was a basic bedroom set, a kitchen table, and chairs. I already had a couch. I said to Danny, it ends today. If you don’t pay for this furniture, like you said you were going to, I’ll find another way to pay for the furniture, but it will not stop these divorce proceedings.

[00:51:54] So he realized that it was over and there was nothing he could do to stop it.

[00:51:59] [00:52:00] And so he finally agreed to pay the furniture. Handed me over a check,

[00:52:05] I think in Arizona. It’s still a no fault divorce, so either party can file for divorce and the other one can’t really stop the divorce. The papers were signed by the judge and it was. My lawyer said something funny. She said that was the smoothest divorce proceeding that she had ever seen. Well, pretty much it was because I gave him everything and it didn’t fight for anything.

[00:52:32] Now my parents’ divorce was a horrible drag out fight over stuff and child support and mud slinging. And again, Danny and I did not have children together, which I am grateful for. At this point I did not ask for alimony because I could work and I didn’t want any connection to him whatsoever after this, the only time we talked was when he got my [00:53:00] mail or someone we knew died.

[00:53:02] Although he didn’t tell me his father died, which I was really angry about cuz I found out by accident. , but maybe I’ll cover that next week if I have time. So I was out, I am divorced and I’m ready to start a new life. I’d like to say it was all sunshine, rainbows, and glitter, but it wasn’t, anybody will tell you, even if you have a amicable divorce, which I guess is, it was as amicable as it could have been.

[00:53:38] It was very hard for the next two years, which is what we will be covering next week in the aftermath, getting a job, getting a place to live, dating, my bucket list, counseling, my healing journey. And so I appreciate you being here with me through this [00:54:00] journey.

[00:54:00] But the hardest part is over. So as promised, I do have a song for you called The Virgin Slumber Song, and it’s live in concert and it’s a very beautiful classical song. You may or may not have heard it, but I saved the recording because it came out really well. So again, take care of yourself during the holiday season and if you need anything, I’m here for you.

[00:54:30] Just contact me. God bless you. Have a great week.