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    BWS Stories - "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"...Marriage

    "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face"...Marriage - Catholic and Family Prohibitions?Mustering the Strength and Courage to Leave A Dysfunctional Marriage

    Dorothy M. Neddermeyer, PhD, Life Coach, Hypnotherapist, Author, "101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life," "If I'd Only Known--Sexual Abuse In or Out of the Family: A Guide to Prevention," "Chicken Soup for the Single Parent's Soul." Dr. Dorothy has the unique gift of connecting people with a broad range of profound principles that resonate in the deepest part of their being. She brings awareness to concepts not typically obvious to one's daily thoughts and feelings.  

    Catholic and Family Prohibitions?Mustering the Strength and Courage to Leave A Dysfunctional Marriage

    Being raised Catholic and being the Black Sheep of the family, it was a difficult decision to step out of my marriage.

    As a Catholic and being raised in the Midwest on a cattle ranch-females were taught to be seen and not heard-father knows best-a.k.a. men know best. Girls were to be cute, sweet and never cause a scene. I was labeled the Black Sheep, because I spoke my truth and voiced my opinion about-convoluted thinking, double messages, and rhetoric. I can laugh at it now-I was at age seven telling my parents how to ‘get along.' I recognized how they pushed each other's buttons that invariably started an argument. 

    My divorce would be the first in my mother's family. How could I do this to her? How could I, one more time, be on the wrong side of her sensibilities? This would not be an easy transition. In addition to family taboos, my career had been on hold for over seven years. The odds seemed against me.

    Unbeknownst to my mother, I had stopped attending mass two months before I was eighteen. In my mind, I was no longer Catholic; therefore, the Catholic prohibitions did not apply.

    As a result of my innocence and lack of experience with male relationships-I married a brilliant man, who had achieved high accomplishments in his short career-albeit he was an alcoholic. He easily kept his alcoholism hidden for six years. My introduction to his habit was a major shock. When I saw him drunk for the first time, I knew he was an alcoholic. Nearly seven months pregnant with our first child, and a house full of furniture packed; to be loaded the next day to move to France, I was like a deer in headlights.

    Being in a relationship with an alcoholic was anathema to my sensibilities. There was no way I would consider it for a minute. The next day I clearly and emphatically discussed this event. He acknowledged he was drinking more than he knew was prudent, however, he did not agree with the alcoholic definition. He agreed to reduce the amount and frequency of using alcohol. I was encouraged that he was in agreement that at least his use of alcohol was over the edge. We moved to France. All went well. He made a major career decision to move to another company in California. We had lived in France 13 months and our daughter was 10 months-old. 

    A year after moving to California, I noticed the frequency and amount of alcohol use was increasing. Once again, my sensibilities for my life, daughter and second child was in jeopardy-I was pregnant. Our discussion regarding the increased amount of alcohol was a firm emphatic decision-either he resolved his issues that were prompting him to use alcohol or I would leave the relationship. We were both physical abuse survivors-albeit I had resolved my issues-and was loath to stay in a make-do relationship and raise children with an alcoholic father. We engaged in couple therapy for alcoholics, he went to individual therapy and I attended a support group for wives of alcoholics. 

    To my dismay his willingness to stay with the therapy process long enough to resolve his deep emotional wounds was short-lived. He was sober two years when he began drinking again. I knew I needed to leave.

    My mother questioned my sanity-after all-I had more than most women. Yes, I had all the trappings a successful man's career can provide, but behind closed doors, I was married to an alcoholic-not unlike many marriages in the 70s when alcohol and a successful career went hand-in-hand. My self-respect and my children's well-being were more important to me than trappings.

    With no family support, my self-respect and resolve to raise my children in a non-alcoholic family was the impetus to reach deep inside myself to muster the strength and courage to step out of a marriage that was doomed to a long and painful downward spiral.

    As I marched forward my ideals and my children's future compelled me to stay focused, strong and resolved to follow-through. To further protect my children from the worst ravages of alcoholism, I moved to New York to minimize the amount of time they spent with an alcoholic parent.   

    The fruit of my decisions have unfolded as I had envisioned. My two adult children, graduated college with honors and have great careers. They manage their lives with great success, and they are raising my four grandchildren with healthy skills and attributes.  

    In the meantime, I had a successful career in Fortune 500 companies as a consultant. Currently, I maintain a private holistic health care practice after completing my doctorate degree in Metaphysics. Their father, a successful business owner, is still a practicing alcoholic.

    This is not to say that the journey was easy-it was my self-respect and resolve that got me through. Each time I thought of the alternative of raising my children with an alcoholic parent day in and day out, I collected my courage and strength to do what I needed to do.

    The story also includes that I systematically gained the respect of my now, 93 year-old mother and siblings, who believed my mother's opinion about me-the Black Sheep child, who was never good enough, has taken center stage as a formidable success story.    

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