Alexandria Barlowe has encountered obstacles and battled insecurities all of her early life. Then just when she thought love was the lifeline she needed, she found out that what she has out that the relationship that she disguised and remodeled as love really wasn’t it. Once she hit her lowest point, it was then that real love–for herself– showed up and saved the day. Falling in love with herself with God’s guidance was the key to freeing herself and finding the life and love she deserved.
What did 13 year old Alexandria think of herself as a teen? My teenage years were a bit awkward for several reasons. I was taller and more developed than the other girls my age and I got teased a lot. I’ve always been an old soul so I never fit in at school. I often felt insecure about my body and left out. So 13 year old Alex thought she was awkward and not cool like the other kids. This caused me to long for adulthood which I felt would be better than my teen years.
When you graduated from high school, where did you think your life was headed? I knew that I was going to Creighton University & I didn’t know how or when but I knew that I was going to be an entrepreneur. I was still dealing with the loss of brother from the previous year but I was anxious and excited to go to college and experience dorm life!! I was not really sure about much other than the fact that I was looking forward to starting school.
Where did you get your initial vision of marriage from? I got my vision of marriage from the teaching I received at the church that I grew up at. I have since formulated many different thoughts on marriage as a result of my failed first marriage and my current marriage. I have learned that no one can tell you how to be married. No two marriages are the same and you essentially have to write your own rules according to what works for you and your spouse. Marriage is every day on the job training and daily maintenance.
I don’t think a lot of absentee (emotionally and physically) Fathers really understand the impact their absence has on their children, their daughters especially. For daughters also without their fathers can you explain the love you needed versus the love you received from your mother or other adults in your life and what as a daughter you felt you were missing. Someone once told me that a girl’s dad is her first love. Your dad is supposed to be your first example of how a man is supposed to treat a woman. If your own father is not present, that sets the tone and pace for all of the men to come. So when my dad walked away, without even realizing it, I then expected every man to leave me. I think it also has a lot to do with the parent/child bond as well. If one of the people who helped to bring you into this world doesn’t value you enough to be present for you, what kind of message does that send? Not a good one!
Did you equate the problems in your childhood or upbringing to your father not being there? I definitely equated many of my childhood issues to my dad not being present. I internalized the fact that he was not around. I am a big proponent of counseling and/or talk therapy. A therapist once told me that according to many things that I was describing to her, she believed that as a result of my father not being present, I drew the conclusion that I was not lovable or unworthy of being loved. Can you imagine a child existing in this world feeling as if they are not worthy of love? The moment she said that, I felt as if a lightbulb went off because she described exactly how I had always felt! Since I didn’t feel lovable, I gladly accepted any resemblance of love from a man who gave it, even if the love was superficial.
Did you feel like you were missing something by not having your father present? Was there a relationship with him in your early years to compare with? Something was definitely missing because he was not present. He was at the hospital when I was born and he was around when I was a toddler up until I was maybe 6 or 7. My mom told me that he would always lay me on his chest and put me to sleep when I was a baby. In No Good Thing, I talk about how I wondered why he didn’t stay around. Wasn’t I a cute baby? Didn’t we bond when he was putting me to sleep on his chest? I didn’t understand how he could bond with me and then just up and leave. Now that I have a child of my own, my husband and I often talk about how we do not understand people that leave their children. There’s got to be some sort of mental illness involved for you to create a life and not have any concern for the wellbeing of that life. I have fond memories of the early days with my dad. I think that if he were around longer, I would have been a daddy’s girl. I look at pictures of us when I was around 4 or 5 and I see the huge smile on my face as I clung to him. Then all of a sudden, he disappeared. He stopped coming around. He stopped calling and I didn’t know why. I later found out that he married someone else. She had children so I felt as if she and her children took my father away.
Do you recall how your mother prefaced or explained your Father’s absence during your childhood?
She often told me and my older brother (different father who was also absent) that we were not going to sit around and cry about our dads not being around. She would say “it’s ok to be hurt about it but you can still have a wonderful life without them.” She always told us that it was our dads’ losses and that we were not to blame for them being absent. She didn’t give me many specifics other than that. She never talked badly about my dad. Just told me the truth which was that he chose to not be in the picture and it wasn’t my fault.
How long were you married? Technically 1.5 years but we were physically separated before then as he left for deployment to Afghanistan after being married for 6 months. I knew very early on that I had made a huge mistake and would have to end our marriage.
How old were you when you first got married and as you look back what did you feel like was the rush at the time? I was 22 and the rush was because he was leaving for deployment the following year and we wanted get married before he left. He claimed that he wanted to be sure that I was his wife in case anything happened to him while he was in Afghanistan. I speculate that he married me because he wanted to collect extra money while deployed as all married soldiers get additional allowances for their spouse. So basically, I was a young fool in love (ha) I laugh when I think of it now but it was no laughing matter at the time. I was head over heels and I agreed that we shouldn’t wait.
What about the marriage was troublesome? My first husband struggled with a lot of internal demons that he was not aware of or in the headspace to work on. Those demons were present when we dated but I ignored major red flags. In summary, we had no business being together in the first place. He was verbally and emotionally abusive. He had a history of violence but never became physically violent with me. I believe that is because of the grace and mercy of God and the fact that we weren’t together very long (1.5 years on paper but the marriage was over less than a year in). I know that all physical abuse starts off with emotional and verbal abuse, so he was definitely grooming me to take physical punches in the future.
What did your first marriage reveal about Alex (your core) and what did it reveal to (lesson) Alex? My first marriage revealed that I was stronger than I realized. I was more resilient than I realized. When my husband told me that he didn’t love me anymore, I was completely broken and didn’t think that I would be able to recover. By the grace of God I did recover and in fact came out better! My first marriage debunked a myth that I actively believed which was that being single was the worst thing ever. I used to feel that singleness was a disease and marriage was the cure. As a result of daddy issues stemming from my dad being absent, I grew up longing to be loved. That longing caused me to settle and make a poor decision by marrying my first husband. At the end of my first marriage I learned that being single was not the worst, being married to the wrong person was.
Depressed and Suicidal. What took you there and what was your lowest point where you found you had to rely on God the most? The depression started when my husband started to act differently. It was like a switch went off and he became a completely different person overnight. He often gave me the silent treatment for days and weeks. I started to feel suicidal after he deployed to Afghanistan when I realized that there was no hope for reconciliation. I had put my all into my husband and into my marriage. I never intended to be divorced and I meant every word of my wedding vows. Facing the reality that my marriage was over shook me to my core and made me feel like I didn’t want to live anymore. I was in so much pain that I just wanted it to stop, forever; even if that meant me not being alive anymore.
How did God clear your vision and allow you to have clarity to get out of and survive that situation? God cleared my vision by safely removing me from the situation. He filed for divorce while he was on leave from deployment in November 2011. God helped me realize that the end of my marriage was not the end of my life but the end of a very tumultuous chapter of my life. He showed me that I needed to focus on him and focus on myself instead of being desperate to be married. He gave me a joy that I cannot explain once my divorce was final. I felt so free! I was determined to live my best life and pour all of my energy into my relationship with God, my career and myself! What I did not know was that he had the desire of my heart waiting just around the corner.
If he had not filed for divorce do you think you would still be there? Why wasn’t the weight of it all not enough to have you file first? Oh no, I definitely was out of there lol. The only reason I didn’t file first is because I was advised that I could not serve him with divorce papers while he was on active duty in Afghanistan – it had something to do with the Service Member Relief Act. My plan was to file when his tour was over and he was back in the states but he beat me to the punch. He filed while he was on a 2 week leave from his tour. Also, he was very cruel and I believe that he wanted to be the one to file and not vice versa.
What lead you to write your first book? I wrote No Good Thing because I wanted to send a message of hope to other women who have found themselves in abusive relationships or marriages. I didn’t want another young woman to feel that her life was over because a man decided that he didn’t love her anymore. I wanted to share that there is hope for fairytale love and romance after having your heartbroken. To this day, I am still in utter disbelief at how beautifully God orchestrated my courtship, whirlwind engagement and marriage to my current husband. Reconnecting with and marrying him helped to restore my faith. Now, 5 years into our marriage, when things get tough, I am reminded of how God brought us together and how he turned my broken heart into a heart that sings. There’s no way I can be discouraged when I think of our story! I am forever grateful and I am dedicated to sharing my story with the masses! My husband actually came up with the title of No Good Thing and the scripture that it is based on is so TRUE! Psalm 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield. He gives grace and glory; no good thing will he withhold from he who walks uprightly!”
Tell us about your latest literary contribution? I am so excited about Soul Source and the Soul series movement because it drives home the fact that there is truly power in sharing your story! Myself and the 22 other women in this book spoke about the things we have endured in a way that will truly speak to the heart of anyone who has experienced trauma. I have also had the opportunity to meet and get to know these women and they are truly strong and courageous women of God. We bonded through sharing our stories and doing this project together and I absolutely cannot wait to see what the future holds for all of us.
My chapter, God Gave Me the Desire of My Heart…Now What? Is a solution for anyone who has been heartbroken and doesn’t believe that love will find them again. It’s a solution for people who look at love and marriage with rose colored glasses on. It is a beacon of light for new mothers who are consumed with anxiety and constantly wondering “am I doing it right?” It is a mini update of my first book & lets my readers know where I am now and what new challenges I’m facing as a new wife and mom!
How do you take the things you experienced and learned and turn them into valuable lessons that you use as a parent and determine the type of relationship you will have with your own children? Wow such a powerful question. I think about my life experiences and how they affect my parenting every single day. Firstly, I am so grateful that God allowed me to raise my daughter along with my husband. Knowing that she will not have daddy issues like I did brings healing to my heart and joy to my soul. I often think about having “the talk” with Viv when she is older. I think about what I’m going to say and how I’m going to tell her about my struggles as a young woman. My life experiences make me want to work constantly to cultivate her confidence so that she never seeks validation from anyone other than God and herself. I want to do everything in my power to equip her to make wise decisions in every aspect of her life. I want her to feel empowered to work towards every goal and ambition that she sets her mind to! Most importantly, I want her to know that her dad & I love her unconditionally and will always support her. There is nothing she can do or say that will cause me to stop loving her, judge her or mistreat her. She is my sweet sweet girl and nothing will ever change that.
What advice would you give to newlyweds who find themselves in unhealthy relationships for all the wrong reasons but have not found their exit strategy to joy? Why is it important to not stay too long trying to salvage a relationship that has run its course? My advice would be to definitely devise a plan. If you are in an abusive situation you absolutely must have a plan. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member or counselor. You cannot stay. It’s important to get out as soon as possible because hearing negative things about yourself and experiencing emotional abuse chips away at your self worth every time that it happens. If you don’t get out, eventually there will be nothing left! When my 1st marriage reached the lowest point—I didn’t even recognize the woman staring back at me in the mirror. I wasn’t acting like myself. I wasn’t eating and I was constantly on edge because my mind and soul were not able to deal with what was happening to me each and every day. I shut down. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that he’s mistreating you because he loves you and he can’t help it or that you shouldn’t have done whatever you did to upset him. You have to realize what’s really going on and make your escape plan…TODAY!
What is your relationship with your parents like now? My relationship with mother is great as it has always been. She is a very major part of my life and I thank God for her every day. She is a God fearing woman and an outstanding mother. She is very supportive and is always there when I need her.
My relationship with my dad is good. In No Good Thing, I describe him as a familiar stranger. What I mean by that is we talk often, I have memories with him but he doesn’t know my innermost thoughts and feelings. Our relationship is surface-y per se. However, I love him dearly. I’ve forgiven him and I no longer harbor ill will because of his absence. My father is very charismatic and has never met a stranger. I’m happy about the place we are in now.
What is Alexandria like now? The healed Alex is happy, energetic and hopeful for the future. I love being a mother and I am grateful to be able to work from home and spend lots of time with Viv. I love my work as a writer and editor as it is very fulfilling. I help others tell the stories & that’s something that I am extremely passionate about! I’m very much in love with my husband James and I can’t believe how quickly the past 5 years have clipped by. We celebrate 5 years of marriage on September 1st but it feels like we just married yesterday. I feel that I am in a place where I can be the best version of myself because I no longer feel that longing to be loved. I am loved but most importantly, I love myself. I am working on my relationship with God and actively working to live out his mission for my life. My heart is full of happiness and joy; all thanks to Him! I am forever grateful!!
For more information on Alexandria and her endeavors visit alexbarlowe.com.
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