Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pioneer Woman

I've had a few different women inquire about my journey and when and how I knew divorce was the right decision for me.

Being in the LIMBO phase was awful. You're not sure what you're doing at all. You can't figure out why you're staying. But you can't really imagine leaving either. You hope he can get better. Can he get better? Will he get better? What if he gets better after I leave? What about my kid(s)? How will I know if/when I've given it enough of a fight? When can I gracefully bow out, knowing that I've tried my damnedest? Will I regret leaving him? WHEN WILL I KNOW? There were so many times I felt helpless and wished that someone would just tell me what to do- fight or flight.

Welcome to a living hell.

Looking back though, limbo phase is a really crucial place to be. It's a place of self-discovery in every form because if you kick it into survival mode and become a PIONEER WOMAN, there will be no impossible choice to make-- it will be made for you. And because you've gone through such an empowering phase, you will be stronger and even more capable to march on no matter what lies ahead.

In this post I will explain How to Become a Pioneer Woman in the Modern Age:

(Soon after discovery, depending on the safety/risk that the misbehaving husband has put the wife and children in, some pioneer women will choose to separate. I did right away. But even if you are still living with your spouse and the severity isn't worthy of immediate separation (or separation at all), these principles can still apply.)

The first, and most important thing, you must do is pack up your wagon, load your small children in and start the arduous journey across the plains! This can be metaphorically speaking OR literally if you choose to separate. The point is that you don't sit around waiting for and expecting your spouse to change. This is going to be a long, dangerous trek no matter what he's doing, so GET BUSY YOURSELF.

Carry on!

LIVE YOUR LIFE regardless of what he chooses to do (whether you seperate or not).

When you do this your husband will have one of THREE choices.

1) He can choose to stay behind entirely or he can wander off at any point during the journey. As unfortunate as this may seem, you have NO control over what he does. Regardless if you really wanted him there, if he chooses not to participate, you go at it alone. The choice is already made.


2) He can choose to half-heartedly tag along adding 200+ pounds to the already heavy load by dangling his feet off the back of the wagon. He might chip in here and there with a woe to me attitude. While you pull you his weight with the unimaginable strength that you didn't know existed within you, he will become a hindrance, making the task of survival even more challenging for you. He'll cause a dusty mess and he'll do nothing but slow you down.


3) He can choose to commit to the traveling party and pull the hefty, heavy and packed-to-the-brim wagon across the valley. He will FIGHT to get you there safely. He will do WHATEVER it takes to ensure that his family will be sheltered and fed and as comfortable as possible. He will be a healthy, necessary addition. He will not complain or mope. His primary focus will be to PROTECT his family by keeping them safe and out of harms way. He will surprise you and everyone else in camp. And if he's doing everything humanly possible to make things easier and better, you'll be drawn to him. Even if you want to gouge his eyes out for what he did (addiction, infidelity, lies), if he is doing it RIGHT, you will {unexplainably} want him around. Miracles happen.

It sounds really easy, right? Unfortunately there are parts of the journey where nothing makes sense. Everything is foggy. Husband may be up one day and down the next; adding more weight to the handcart some days and lightening it other days. You're riddled with confusion.

This is why the state of limbo is so crucial. Just as the pioneers didn't cross the plains overnight, neither will you.

And so, you wait. You wait as long as you deem necessary, still moving forward of course, before making any life changing decisions. You blaze the trail and you see where it takes you. After enough time has passed and you get a clearer vision of the whole situation, then you re-evaluate.  You re-evaluate if he's making your trek better or worse. You re-evaluate how you feel in his presence- safe or unsafe. If he is improving, even in the slightest of ways and is easing the burden, he can stay. If however he is doing nothing more than bogging you down, putting all those in your camp at even more risk, it might be time to leave him behind. Your safety and that of your children will always take precedence. Always.

I waited 6 months before the decision was made to leave the man I loved on the trail. The choice had become clear. The proof was in the pudding.

And so, I forged ahead alone with my two year old by my side.

I had become a pioneer woman.

I killed my own buffalo.

And I did make it to the valley. Bruised and malnourished, albeit, but I made it. And so did my son.

What started as a party of three ended a duo.

Was I disappointed? Yes.

Did I have different hopes/expectations? Yes.

Did I mourn? Are you serious? 

Was this how I envisioned my life would be? Not in my wildest dreams.

But it was. This was my new life.

So if you are in the thick of the turbulent uncertainty of Limbo-Land, breath..... it's okay! A decision doesn't have to made right now. It's okay to float around for awhile. Don't dwell on the past... don't try to imagine the future (it's mind-frazzling)... just focus on the NOW and do what it takes to survive. Do what it takes to cross those plains, with or without him. Press forward. I promise you that you will make it-- I cannot promise how exactly you will get there or what might take place on that trail, but YOU WILL MAKE IT and so will your children.

On my anonymous blog 2 years ago, as I was in the thick of it, with a broken wagon wheel even, I posted this picture of a dog-tag I made with this sentence:

"I am a pioneer woman. This is what I've been dealt so buck up, chin up, and keep on going!"

I still have this necklace and I wear it often. It reminds me of how I became (and still am) a Pioneer Woman!

** This is my own interpretation of the principles I was taught by my in-tuned therapist, Maurice Harker.

**I mentioned this whole concept to one of my friends during a difficult time and it resonated with her greatly. You can read about her a-ha moment by reading here.

Image Credit


  1. You are the strongest, most amazing woman I know, Jacy! Love you friend.

  2. Awesome post girl. I think you nailed it.

  3. nailed it is right.
    this post is exactly what happened for me.
    you said it so so beautifully.
    i have a friend who i am going to share this with.
    she has been in limbo for over 2 years!
    what an awful place to be in.

  4. I love the way you worded it!!

  5. Quite beautiful my dear! This is Kam by the way! I am excited to add your blog to my blog list!

  6. Okay, this rocked my day. Love every word. I cried when I got your vmail, BTW. I need to see your gorgeous face SOON.
    Sleepover and farmer's market, end of June?

  7. This. Was. Awesome. I'm so grateful you shared it. Will be linking to this post, in multiple places.

    1. Yes and yes Michelle! Share to ANY and ALL! THIS SAVED MY LIFE I tell you.... Simple thought but it moved mountains!

      And thank you for the info below... I will expound on what I personally dealt with (his behavior choices good and bad and how I knew it was time) but it was just too darn long already :)

      THANK YOU!

  8. I think this advice from one wife of an addict could be really useful for those in limbo mode. One of her mottos is:

    "I happily support recovery action and behavior in my husband, but I refuse to enable addict behavior."

    Recovery behaviors include: honesty, humility and accountability. That should include attending 12-step or other recovery meetings, accountability also with ecclesiastical leaders, and (usually) therapy, as well as setting personal boundaries to stay 'safe' and having a sponsor to report to and look to during the process of recovery.

    Addict behaviors include: lying, denial, minimization, justification, blaming, victim behavior.

  9. This. is. incredible. I have been feeling like I have been living in limbo for several years now. What I didn't realize is that I have to choose to be a pioneer woman & blaze the trail. I didn't realize I was already doing this - just started recently - and I have no idea what lies ahead except that I must keep moving forward - no matter what.

  10. Jacy: THANK YOU! I'm so glad you did a post about this. Limbo land sucks. But, you've given me perspective on it and a way to forge ahead instead of getting lost in my sadness. I also really appreciate the idea about it being a journey, and that you take as much time as you need. It's been so helpful for you to share this. I love reading your blog, thanks for the inspiration!

  11. Wow, I LOVED this! Suddenly everything just clicked for me. I remember the worst part of everything was allowing him to drag my life down. I kept fighting and fighting for things to be right, but he just refused. When really, I should have held my head high and said, "You are free to make whatever choices you would like, but I am going to pick up my wagon and continue forward. You can ruin your life, but you cannot ruin mine!" That's the hardest part of marriage I feel. An individual could be moving along their path as strongly and confidently as they can. Then another individual gets added to the mix, and they are dragging their feet and moping and whining, and it pulls the whole load back! It really made me question the purpose of marriage! Because if we are supposed to be on this earth to progress as individuals, how the heck could we do that if we are married to someone who is pulling us down? Anyway, I just love this, because I realized, no matter how harshly they are weighing the wagon, I can still have power over MY life! Love you, Jacy!!

  12. You are amazing. I can't tell you how much strength I've gleaned from your blog and your advice. My best friend is in your ward (Mary) and she directed me here. I've been pulling my handcart with a lot of extra weight for over a year now, limbo is the hardest.

    1. Hi anon!

      Mary told me all about you, too... well, not ALL... but some :) I've been waiting for you to say hello :)

      I'm so sorry to hear of your hardship... I know just how awful it can be... Limbo is hard and hopefully, you will see very clearly what path is the right way to go for YOU and only you.

      Know that you are loved and that I have been thinking about you... I really have.... it is not easy but what a blessing it is to know that you are not alone and that YOU WILL SURVIVE.

      Hang in there and please, reach out anytime...

      Sending you love.... XOXO

      P.S. Mary is a doll!

  13. A friend sent me this post today, just when I needed it. My limbo is nearing an end as I've had to make some of the hardest decisions of my life. I'm scared to be "alone" after 7 years of having someone by my side...kind of. A part of me feels freed and excited and I feel guilty about that. I want what is best for my two children and I believe I'm making the right choice but that doesnt make my choice any easier. Thank you THANK YOU for writing this. Limbo has been the hardest thing I've ever dealt with and I feel like I've dealt with a lot the last 3 years of my life. I appreciate your honesty. Your words give me strength to keep going when I feel like crawling in a hole. I'm realizing more and more how NOT alone I am in my journey through divorce.

  14. A friend sent me this post and I am so grateful! I have been in "limbo" for years now. I have tried to deal with this completely alone. I have come to find out that trying to cope alone is a horrible hell, and that we all need each other. I felt like it was a burden on others to hear my story, but have learned through hearing others stories that it is not a burden. I am uplifted. I was wrong in trying to cope alone. I recently decided that it was time to pack up and move forward. The guilty feelings I have about not giving enough to my marriage and family have got to stop. I would always think..."I promised eternity...why am I giving up now? Am I being selfish? One more try? He doesn't mean to do this to me." This post helped me realize that what I think I need to figure out, I already know by his actions. Time will define the final outcome as I carefully watch his actions but I must move forward alone with my children for now. You have a beautiful way of writing. So positive, firm, and fair. I appreciate your honesty. I will probably re-read this several times as I continue on my journey, but please know that you have helped me so much in this post alone. Thank you.

  15. I am a wife of an addict and this touched me. Thank you for writing it. <3

  16. I am a wife of an addict and am in the final stage of a divorce after 35 years of marriage; and all the stages of addiction, addictions of every kind. I add my endorsement to the truth spoken here. I left 2 1/2 years ago and was in limbo but you are correct, the decisions were made for me. I just had to have the courage to see them for what they were. This analogy is so appropriate. I admire my pioneer ancestors and now can identify with them and feel a connection with them. Thanks jacy and to my sweet friend that sent me to this link

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