I lay awake at night. My heart raced. My sheets drenched in sweat. Sleep deserted me. When I slept, I awoke with pressure and tightness around my heart so fierce I thought I was going to die. Even during the day, I constantly felt like I was going crazy.
This had been my state since the day my husband informed me of his decision to take a second wife. He had very little reason to give me. He didn’t really need any. Our religion permitted it. While actually hearing him say it was a shock, the truth is I had always somehow known this moment would come. I had dreaded it for many years.
In the days that would follow, I walked about like one in a trance. I lay alone in the bed we were supposed to share while he went to be with another woman. I felt as if the home I had spent many years building was collapsing around me. Thankfully, I had good friends. And they told me to keep my head up. They were right. I needed to. My in-laws were watching. Sneering behind my back. Trying to evaluate the damage this situation would do to me. For a reason I never understood, it gave them joy to catch glimpses of any perceived fracture in our marriage. They thrived on it. When we presented a united front, it made them unhappy.
I braced myself when the day arrived and even drove one of the groups of people who went to ask for the new wife’s hand in marriage. I put on a strong front and got through the ceremony. At night, I crumbled. No longer was this man exclusively mine. I shared him now. Openly. My heart ached. Terribly.
Looking back, that day presented a new chapter in our marriage. I matured in a new way. Learned more about myself. Learned to pray for myself and my children first. Learned to watch out for myself. To be more independent. I refused to get sucked into the competitive lifestyle I had often despised polygamous families for. So I defined standards I believed in and avoided pettiness.
Difficult as it was, I soared. I made financial decisions and breakthroughs I could never have imagined. I became a better mum. I discovered new things about myself. The ache got better. Maybe I loved less…a little numbly. I kept my sanity and these days, it doesn’t hurt as much. I found strength I didn’t know I have.