Outside of my journal, I tend to only write a piece when I feel I have arrived. You know, like after I have learned the lesson or gotten over the hump.

But as I have been walking one of the roughest paths of my life this year, I found myself consistently saying to those asking me when I’d be writing again, “I can’t. Too much going on. Writer’s block.”

And while that was partly true, it hit me: people like me are lonely during the hard times because all too often all there is to read at 2 a.m. when we can’t sleep and are scrolling Facebook are the success stories. What if people like me were more open about the in-between season? That time when the answers are still unknown and there is pain in my chest as I doubt my every move.

You see, it’s taken me until this year, seven years total, to admit I fell in love with an abusive man.

My empathetic heart thought all he needed was the right kind of love to heal from his childhood and combat trauma, and he could be the person I just knew him to truly be. And while the trauma has always been valid, and his mental health has improved, there are some things that are entirely inexcusable. Unfortunately, it took my lashing out my pain, lack of self-worth, and anger onto a window to figure out: I have lost myself trying to save someone else. As the window’s glass shattered, I slumped to the floor and sobbed. I decided right then and there, I needed help.

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Through beautiful friends, supportive family, extensive therapy, and a new church community, little by little, from February of this year until now, I have broken free from my husband’s control, from an unsafe home environment, and from the lies that have fed my mind for all too long.

I am breathing again. I am a better mom. And I feel like the blinders have finally come off. I gained the courage to involve the law and have separated from him, now feeling more protected, and equally important, feeling seen.

However, I still have so many decisions to make. With two young daughters and a teenage stepdaughter, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that my every move has a huge impact. And though my husband more recently has seemingly had a wake-up call of his own and has sought out help and sobriety, the questions beg to be answered: Can trust ever be restored? Can abuse ever be healed if one stays with her abuser? What kind of mom am I if I choose to stay with the risk of his relapsing? But if his change is genuine and long-term, wouldn’t I regret divorce, tearing apart my family?

And there it is. The in-between season. I don’t have the answers.

And though everyone might pitch in their two cents, at the end of the day, I am the one living with my choices. And I can only do my best, praying all day every day for His wisdom. To this very moment, God has yet to send me that special manualyou know, the one with a detailed action plan.

And because it never just rains but it pours, of course, this is the same season when my one daughter was almost admitted to the hospital, my other baby only gets about one or two weeks of a break from being sick before contracting the next kid virus, my stepdaughter has begun the challenges that come with high school, and as a healthcare worker, the COVID fatigue has been extremely real. Did I mention my ulcer and sprained foot?

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Most of us know the right words: Stay connected with the right people. There is light at the end of the tunnel. God works everything together for good. Don’t be hard on yourself.

But at the end of the day, the loneliness still creeps in, the mental battle rages, the vulnerability hurts, and the nightmares plague the little sleep I do get.

Then the next morning I wake up, give the biggest hugs and “Good morning Sunshine!” to my daughters, blast praise music on the way into town, and clock into work ready to run more COVID tests . . . all the while in the back of my mind wondering what life is going to look like by Christmas.

And I guess I am sharing this vulnerable part of my life story to say: To whoever is in the in-between season, to the one not on the other side of the troubles, to the one who doesn’t have the answers, you’re not alone. It’s OK not to be OK.

A.W. Cogent

I am a blessed single and working mama to two little girls, who are 18 months apart in age. I also have a bonus teenage daughter. Vocationally, I am a medical laboratory scientist; however, my favorite hobby is writing, highly influenced by my journey as a mom navigating beyond various traumas in my life. My sole purpose is to reach the one person who needs to know she is not alone.