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Kelly Cheek
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She prayed that we'd fall from the sky simply to alleviate the pain

A while back, in the post titled “It’s the end of the world as we know it,” I wrote about my upbringing in my past life as a Jehovah’s Witness. What I didn’t write about was what I did that got myself disfellowshipped.

Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t believe in divorce except on the grounds of adultery. Unfortunately, I was stuck in a twenty-four-year marriage in which “D” and I were both acutely unhappy. However, neither one of us had committed adultery unless, like me, you disagree with the judgment of the elders on something that she did, on two separate occasions.

I won’t elaborate, but both times, they ruled that it didn’t constitute adultery, and I was still stuck.

I won’t say that my suffering was all her fault. We were a bad match from the start, and we both had a hand in making the other unhappy. In her case, it came out in the form of anger and derision. I couldn’t do anything right, and the hateful tone of her voice when she said virtually anything to me made me wish I was deaf.

I was so miserable that it was getting to the point where I found myself hoping for a fatal accident. I wasn’t particular. I didn’t care if it took her or me or both of us. I just wanted the pain to end.

I remember mentioning that to one of the elders once. He looked confused.

“What pain?” he asked.

“The pain of my life,” I replied. “The misery of every single day that I spend with D.” He encouraged me to pray about it.

After seeing the pattern, catching myself wishing for death numerous times, I realized that I was just a step or two away from giving up on an accident and taking it into my own hands. That’s when I decided that, allowed or not, I had to leave. During my “Judicial Committee Meeting” with the elders, I related the years of anguish and despair that I had been suffering. To these elders, I also told about my hoping for an accident to end the pain.

“What pain?” one of them asked. This was after I had related the years of anguish and despair.

They disfellowshipped me. I was removed from their organization, which I have since decided was a good thing. But it didn’t feel like a good thing at the time. I mean, I was on track to divorcing the woman who had made me miserable for so many years, and the relief was profound. But in the process, on that one fateful night, I lost the right to have contact with my friends and family.

But in the end, it has been worth it.

D was extremely depressed, and it went untreated. Though she would put on a different face when we were with others, the pervading gloom of my time at home with her, I’m sure, affected me, and likely contributed to my own gloomy thoughts.

She didn’t believe in taking drugs. She was fully committed to a particular chiropractor for her natural remedies and treatments for virtually any malady, to the tune of nearly a thousand dollars every month. Anti-depressants would not be considered. She also wouldn’t consider couples therapy whenever I suggested it. “Why should I go to couples therapy?” she asked. “You’re the one at fault.”

A couple of nights ago, I received word that D had died. There were no details other than “cancer.” It’s been a little over ten years since the last time I saw her, and there hasn’t been a single day since then that I felt any regret over my decision back then. It was right. It was what I had to do.

But I don’t know how to feel about this news. Early on in those past ten years, I had forgiven her in my mind. I recognized that we were a bad match, and I saw that we had both been to blame for our mutual unhappiness. I didn’t hold it against her.

I have no idea what her life was like since we went our separate ways, since I can’t have contact with my former friends. But when I gave any thought to it, I had hoped that she had been able to find some happiness since then.

I’ve never felt more wretched than when I was with her, yet she was still a big part of over a third of my life (so far). The jumble of feelings I have is difficult to make heads or tails of. I feel a weird mix of depression and apathy about her death, and a little guilt about the apathy.

Writing about it, I find, has helped a little. Putting my thoughts and feelings into words always seems to help me understand.

My latest novel, Undying Love, book 4 of the SpiritSense Trilogy, has been sitting on my computer untouched for a while. Maybe I should use this momentum to get back into that. There’s nothing like personal experiences and feelings to lend authenticity to a melancholy story.