“That Man is Your Husband,” said a Disembodied Voice.

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I’ve been vigilant about not scaring my atheist or agnostic readers away by waxing too Woo-Woo spiritual on this site.

I’m incredibly skeptical when it comes to religion. Jim Jones from Jonestown, anyone? David Koresh from Waco Texas? And did you know Scientology is considered a religion in order to evade taxes?

But a huge part of breaking my cycle-of-emotionally-abusive-relationships came from working step 3 of a 12-Step program.

STEP THREE: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.

This wasn’t easy for someone like me who was raised Mormon from the age of 8 to 18. I love Mormon people (my family included), but didn’t take to the doctrines. They left me feeling guilty and disenfranchised.

So I quit religion and everything that fell under its umbrella.

But soon after starting the 12-step program I realized I’d thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

That I needed to find my way back to the God I knew as a much younger child; which I found in catching Blue-Gills while fishing on Lake Cachuma, or in the slobbery kiss from my Springer Spaniel Max, or in saying The Lord’s Prayer with my Grandma-Santa-Barbara after eating her much-lauded chocolate chip cookies which she secretly cut from a Nestle’s cookie dough roll and threw in the oven.

I began praying again, asking for sign posts to follow on my path to making better choices in my romantic life. Looking back I can’t believe how many answers started coming my way.

For those of you with a strong connection to the God of Your Understanding you will wholeheartedly believe the story I’m about to tell.

But for those of you who have a healthy dose of skepticism about such things, this post might be a tough one to swallow.

Let me tell the skeptics my brief story anyway:

In 1996 I won a writing competition in my UCLA screenwriting master’s program. A portion of a script I wrote was selected to be presented as an onstage skit in a 567-seat theater in front of Hollywood industry agents, managers and producers.

To say I was a bunch of rattling nerves would be an understatement. My Xanax needed Xanax.

I attended the event with my long-term boyfriend Mr. Cruelly Handsome. I’ve mentioned Mr. C before (he may have changed his identity and entered the Witness Protection Program thanks to me).

I’ve already detailed the many ways he was failing me as a boyfriend and I was failing him as a friend (I kept trying to change him, instead of accepting him and stepping away).

So I’m just going to give you a snapshot of that night which typified our relationship.

Mr. C went in search of a bathroom before the event and didn’t return for almost 20 minutes. I found out later he’d stopped to chat and have his photograph taken with an attractive actress he’d just met.

Later, when my former screenwriting teacher, Henry, stopped to chat with Mr. C and me, Mr. C told him he hoped I sold my screenplay for a lot of money so I could pay for him to take a surfing trip to Cayman Islands by himself.

He was joking. But, also not really joking.

Al anon 12 steps

Cut to: My former teacher Henry standing at the podium to announce my scene to the crowd. He’d come to the show to support me that evening despite the fact that he had a massive film coming out the very next night and tons of press he had to do before the opening.

As he introduced me and spoke about my work as a writer I suddenly heard a disembodied voice speak inside my brain.

No, I don’t have schizophrenia, no, I do not speak in tongues, no, I have not come to Jesus. But the voice said this, “That man is your husband.”

The voice was not referring to Mr. C sitting next to me. It was referring to the man at the podium generously supporting me and speaking about me as a writer in the way I wanted someone to feel about me as a woman.

I continued trying to get Mr. C to marry me for another year. And I only spoke to my former screenwriting teacher twice during that year, but from time to time I wrote in my journal, “I think Henry is supposed to be my husband.”

Mr. C decided to move out of our house in the winter of 1997. On May 27th, 2001 I married Henry and we’ve never looked back. I lay all of the glory at the feet of Step 3.

If you found this article helpful book your first one-on-one coaching session with me today!

If you know someone else who is struggling in an abusive relationship please share this story with them. You never know what might be a catalyst for change. xo S

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3 Comments
  • carlene
    Posted at 23:05h, 30 May Reply

    Awesome story Shannon, and im sure all those signs that were sent to you were from the universe giving back to your openness to receive. ive had the signs too, some like a smack on the side of the head… But also being an intellectual, and wanting what I want, not what I need, i rationalize, question, and then try to ignore those things because it means I have to change. Not go back to my addiction, also known as my ex, and that is so hard for me and so painful, that i’ll look the other way to ignore the signs. I’m ashamed, after all this time, eight months, that I’m back to seeing him on weekends. I don’t see a future, nothing has changed, and yet… here I am, doing the same things over and over. Thank you for writing this great piece and about all your asshat experiences. your truthfulness and willingness to share helps me see that I’m not alone and that there’s hope. And so far, it’s Saturday night and I haven’t texted him! Maybe I can make it through to Monday… One baby step at a time

  • Dana
    Posted at 18:59h, 28 May Reply

    “Mr. C decided to move out of our house in the winter of 1997. On May 27th, 2001 I married Henry and we’ve never looked back.”
    ^^^^
    I wanna read the stuff between these two dates!?!? How did it all come together? At what point did you tell Henry about the voice? I wanna hear the love story!!!!!

    • Shannon
      Posted at 17:20h, 30 May Reply

      Oh Dana thanks for giving me the idea. I do have a book coming out this fall that explains some of that. But I don’t think I’ve told the entire love story. Hmmm. Once the book is done I will definitely have to get into that. Thank you for the idea!

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