“Today I Am Still Afraid of Him”

Last night a woman who originally wrote to inquire about access to Seven Reasons sent me this poetic piece, in which she succinctly shared the history of the descent of her once loving marriage into a harrowing miasma of pain and fear. She and I hope what she’s written will serve to bring healing to any other woman who finds herself in a situation similar to hers. Please pass it along to anyone for whom you think it may be of some benefit.

19 years ago today, I married my best friend.

9 years ago, he started sinking into depression.

8 years ago, he started becoming the monster he is today.

5 years ago, he started throwing things at me and calling me awful names.

4 years ago, he took the spark plugs out of my car and disconnected the battery so I couldn’t leave.

4 years ago, he kicked in both entry doors because he thought they were locked on purpose.

3 years ago, he ripped the bedroom door off its hinges and broke it in half just because I was crying.

2.5 years ago he hit me.

2 years ago, our then 12-year-old daughter asked me to leave him.

2 years ago, he left bruises on my arms where he grabbed me.

1.5  years ago, while driving down the road, he threw everything within his grasp at me—stuff from the dash, hats, napkins, papers. When we finally stopped, I got out and started walking home. He grabbed me and pulled me back to the van.

1.5 years ago, he yanked the phone out of my hands so I couldn’t call for help.

9 months ago, I moved out with the kids.

6 months ago, he blockaded the driveway so I couldn’t leave after picking up our kids.

4 months ago, on my 40th birthday, he ripped my keys out of the ignition so I couldn’t leave.

4 months ago, on my 40th birthday, I called the police on him.

In the past 4 months, I’ve obtained a Personal Protection Order from my ex,

filed for divorce,

been interviewed by childrens’ protective services,

filed for bankruptcy

went into hiding for full weekends, stashing the kids in different places

had to find somewhere safe for me to sleep.

Today I am still afraid of him.

Today our son is afraid of him.

Today our daughter is afraid of him.

None of his problems will just magically disappear if I change my behavior.

“If you were just the respectful, submissive wife you should be, I wouldn’t have these problems” is a falsehood.

Mental illness: take it seriously, early.

The longer you wait, the harder it is to repair all of the broken lives.

The longer you wait, the more likely it is to be too late.

About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ashley-Cohea/100000024967834 Ashley Cohea via Facebook

    So sad and so honest. Thank you for sharing this, John, and for all you do to help this very real problem. God bless you and God bless this family.

  • Joyce

    This is very powerful. Thanks for sharing.

  • Robin Mattingly via Facebook

    Thanks for posting, John. Sharing.

  • http://www.facebook.com/blessedandhighlyfavored1 Brian Wright via Facebook

    I am not only a survivor of domestic violence- but I have forever lost a childhood friend who was murdered by her abuser. This crosses all orientations, races, religions, and genders. If you are in a relationship where you are being mistreated- LEAVE. AT ALL COSTS. It just might save your life. (R.I.P. Carolyn- Gone, but NEVER Forgotten!)

  • wandav

    Oh my goodness.  My heart aches for this lady, and I would help her if I could.  However, she WILL survive.  She will.    God keep her – and her children.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

    Thanks for sharing that John, and thank you to the writer of this poem. The why’s behind why a spouse or significant other turns into a person one fears are of course varied. The time lines are different, the reasoning behind the horrible behavior different, the family dynamics different, but pretty much everything else is about the same.

    I continue to hope and pray that fewer stories like this are having to be told, because fewer and fewer relationships find themselves thus. I continue to hope and pray that more and more people discover the beauty of healthy relationships built on trust, respect and the desire to see to the happiness and welfare of those they partner with. It is my hope that venues such as this one and others continue to show women and men who are feeling trapped, that the entrapment  not as ensnaring as they believe or have been told. And lastly it is my desire that people see that God wants only what is best for us, and is not going to kick us to the curb because we opt to remove ourselves from a commitment that is toxic. He loves us too much to ever do that to us, despite what others may assume.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Microsofty Tina Cormack via Facebook

    The only reason why people allow themselves to be abused is because they place no value on themselves. If you look in the mirror and assess yourself, honestly, and without prejudice, you will see not just the reflection of a beautiful soul, but the substance of the greatest potential and strength. I believe that everyone has the ability to overcome bullying. :) Ask anyone who’s ever known me, and they will agree.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tim.conard Tim Conard via Facebook

    this is heart-wrenching. thank god that she got out and pray that she finds safety…

  • AnnBear

    Please, do not think that all mentally ill persons become violent.  The mentally ill are more often the victims of violence and not the perpetrators.  There is a vile stigma attached to mental illness that ends up permeating them and making it harder to live an already difficult life.

    I know this both as a mental health professional and as one of the mentally ill.

    • Anonymous

      Thanks for that reminder, Ann. But I’m sure very few if any people know so little about the mentally ill that they equate being mentally ill with committing violence. But, again, you’re right to remind people to never think that.

      • AnnBear

        Rats, my first reply just disappeared, lol!  And it was so much better than this one:

        Unfortunately, the media loves to point out mental illness in violent crime.  The stigma is pervasive.  I sometimes feel that I am on a one woman mission to take the stigma out of it.  I waver between being open and hiding.  When I have disclosed, friends do treat me differently and that is part of the stigma.  My attempts to educate then fall on deaf ears.  People say they understand and they do on a surface level.  When I really need support, it is difficult to find anyone who can listen.  I do understand their fear especially when my depression takes me to really dark places.  Fortunately, my husband is very supportive.

        • Joanne

          AnnBear,

          Boy, do I understand this! Our son has depression. He decides who he discloses to among family and friends. He couldn’t care less if we talk about it with people who don’t know him but it is his decision to talk about it with people that are close to him. He prefers if its spoken about to more people far and wide and as matter of factly as possible. Yeah, he’s got depression. So what. Other people have heart disease or diabetes. Whatever.

          The thing is though, that my parents know about his depression, but his other grandparents don’t. My Mom was a nurse and has a clinical approach to his depression. His other grandparents don’t know because they would look at him like he was damaged and he can’t stand to have that “poor you” attitude that would ensue.

          And I hate that people don’t understand the difference between depression, bipolar, schizophrenia etc etc.

  • Joanne

    Mentally ill people who have depression are not able of being this aggressive.  This man likely has another mental illness, but it is not depression that is doing this.   Most clinically depressed people have trouble getting out of bed and going to work, they do not have the energy to kick in door, rip doors off of hinges or behave in other aggressive ways.  Perhaps he is bipolar or schizophrenic.

    My best wishes to this woman, but please be fair in your portrayal.

    • me

      Hi-in my poem, I used the terms “started” sinking into depression and “started” morphing… both at the beginning of it — I used those for a reason — it started as simple depression 11 years ago – it morphed into what it did because he refused to get treatment.  Had he complied with proper treatment – counseling and medication – I believe it would not have gone as far as it did.  There may have been no aggression; there may have been no violence; there may have been no verbal and emotional assaults.  He still will not accept a diagnosis (last I knew, it was personality and mood disorders) – 2 years after I initially wrote this.  The point is – if you refuse to get help, it can go much farther than the original illness, and at some point, it’s possible that it can become untreatable.  I’m not by any means saying that mentally ill people are always violent; I’m not saying that the aggression exhibited in my situation was a result of the depression; in my situation, it is a very clear example of how an untreated/uncooperative mentally ill individual can gradually escalate into what my ex-husband had become.

      This is a poem I wrote about my experience; not an attack on mentally ill individuals in general. 

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=721446848 Donald Rappe

        He does indeed sound like a person who is alcoholic or mentally ill, things which are not far removed from each other. I wish you well and hope for your safety.

      • Joanne

        Thank you for clarifying that.  I wish the original post included that disclaimer.  A casual reader may think depression = abusive aggressive man.  My 26 year old son suffers from depression.  He’s probably had it since he was 8-12 years old.  His depression is mild, he has never been hospitalized or had any other ongoing problems or mental health issues.  He gets depressed and has trouble getting up and living his life.  That’s it.  He takes his meds everyday, doesn’t view them as anything more than something he needs.  As he said to me once “its just a brain chemistry thing”.  He loves a wonderful young woman who he is good to, and she is good to him.  I found this post upsetting as he has never been violent and a person who has true, simple depression is not violent.

  • Hopedvc

    An excellent description of domestic violence, John. Thanks for publishing this. As a survivor myself of a brutal attempted murder assault when I filed for divorce, who has since become an expert in the field, I travel and train all over about the complexities of DV. It really has nothing to do with mental illneess. Abusers become more violent as their  relataionship falls apart, because the victim becomes disgusted and tired of the abuse and pulls away.  He senses that his control over her is threatened. This is why most DV homicides happen during or after a separation. It is very important for the public to understand that those who abuse their partners are not “sick”. Most mentally ill people are not violent, and most violent people are not mentally ill. Abusers are not “sick” around everyone – just the ones they want to control! They do NOT abuse others generally. Also the abuse is not due to their use of drugs and alcohol, either (although this can increase the level of violence & the danger- these are coorelates, not causes.) If sickness or drugs or alcohol made a person violent, then he would be just as violent with his friends & others (especially the ones he gets high and drinks with!) A great easy-to-read book that helps explain this is ‘Why Does He Do That?’ by Lundy Bancroft.  A handbook for those being abused is ‘When Love Goes Wrong” by Ann Jones….Victims and their loved ones – our neighbors, friends, etc. -who buy into these myths are in increased danger because they think that by addressing the “mental illness” or addiction, etc. they can change him or “help” him and thereby make themselves safer. This is not true. Anyone who wants more info should call 1-800-799-SAFE. This is the 24/7 national DV hotline. Thanks again, John.

    • Suz

      Just as an aside, I’d like your opinion of something I perceive: The time and effort invested in “grooming” a victim to tolerate abuse; is this a factor in escalating violence during/after separation?  Do long-term abusers feel that they have more to lose than short-term abusers?  

      I DO understand the role of victim denial; I was once in a somewhat abusive relationship, and I stayed in it longer than I should have, hoping he’d change.  I bring this up because of the time line in the poem.  I get it but at the same time, I don’t get it, and I know it’s very common.

      • Hopedvc

        A good question. It is not so much “grooming” (as in the case with prostitution and child sexual abuse, etc.) although the abuser does indeed learn that by threatening or hurting the victim, he can control her and get his way. The reason that most victims get stuck in an abusive relationship is that they become traumatically bonded with the abuser (see Stockholm Syndrome). Victims eventually end up trading their ‘escape skills’ for coping skills, just trying to survive day to day in a miserable situation. The abuse may not even be physical. He runs everyone else off, isolating her. Then, losing him (the last one she has, ironically) means she risks “losing herself” as well, since he identity is completely wrapped up with him. A compex dynamic that abusers take full advantage of.
        The reason the abuse escalates during and after separation is that the abuser knows he is losing control and he “pulls out all the stops” in a last ditch effort to keep her. I don’t know that there are “long term” and “short term” abusers, per se, just victims who figure out early that he is not what he appears. Sometimes an abuser will ‘give up’ and go away if a woman does not tolerate his early manipulations, but typically the abuse builds slowly, not starting with anything physical. Abusers are almost always serial abusers, having ruined other relationships along the way, regardless of what they say to their victims (usually something along the lines of “No one else has ever made me so mad/made me act this way.”)
        Abusers are attracted to victims (not vice versa) because survivors (of child abuse or other abuse) are already traumatized and are more easily ‘shut down’ or paralyzed by violence and/or threats, having learned the hard way that fighting back/talking back  is dangerous. Changes to brain chemistry resulting from traumatic stress, PTSD, etc. can also cause a victim to shut down or ‘trance out” when threatened, which gives an abuser an advantage.
        When a victim believes that he is “sick” and “can’t help himself” (as I did), she has colluded with the abuser and made it easier for him to continue his control and manipulation. Unfortunately, many pastors and professional counselors do not understand domestic violence at all and recommend couples counseling or marriage counseling. These not only don’t help, they can make things worse and much more dangerous. The best thing for a victim to do is to seek confidential help from a professional domestic violence agency, not just a “mental health professional” or a pastor. Too many woman have gotten injured badly or killed because someone who was well-meaning gave them bad advice and urged them to try to ‘work on the relationship’. Nothing the VICTIM does can stop or change the abuse. Period. Only the abuser can change this. Domestic violence is not a “relationship problem”. It is one person who believes he has the right(and maybe the God-given responsibility!) to “keep his woman in line”. His belief system feeds all of his thinking, and his thinking in turn leads him to act in certain ways. Sending an abuser to “anger management” can be disastrous, as it is not an “anger issue” – it is a belief system issue. An abuser is very unlikely to change unless he admits he has a problem, wants to change and has meaningful on-going consequences for his actions. Even then, it will be something he will have to work on, every day for the rest of his life.

        • Suz

          Thank you!

        • Kay

          For the better part of a year, back in college, I was with a guy who was very controlling. At first, he was the perfect boyfriend, handsome and sweet and silly. All our problems were quickly resolved. But over time, and especially after we got engaged, he began getting more and more combative. My friends saw it and hated him, so he hated them and kept trying to badmouth them to me, trying to get me to spend less time with them. Whatever I did was wrong. We were spiritually “married,” meaning in front of God though not in front of man, because we didn’t want to wait any longer, but his parents wanted him to finish college first….So now he began demanding me to “obey.” I refused to say that in our marriage vows, which upset him. If I didn’t do what he wanted, he would punish me through various means, such as yelling, withholding things I wanted. I kept resisting his controls, and told him if he ever hit me after we were legally married, I’d divorce him. He said, “It takes two people to sign the divorce papers.”

          He finally got sick of me refusing to be a controlled wife under his thumb, and broke everything off. But came back two weeks later. Now I realize it was actually a power play, that he probably had no intention of making it a complete break, but wanted to force me to do his bidding, whatever it might be. During those two weeks off, his best friend even tried to get me to ditch my friends, so it seems he was trying to use others to control me as well. We were “married” again, for another week. During that week, I was so scared that he would leave me again that I did anything he wanted. I was afraid of screwing up. I did things that repulsed me, so he wouldn’t leave. But then one night, he asked a couple of my friends a hypothetical question that they knew was about me, that it was meant to embarrass me and control me through others’ opinions. They disagreed with him, he felt humiliated, and because I wasn’t “supportive” of him in this argument, he got up and left for good. And of course, I was the bad guy to him because I wasn’t submissive enough.

          I heard plenty of stories from his next girlfriend, too, about things he did with her. That he slapped her once, for example, but she slapped him back and he never did it again. When she finally broke up with him once and for all, her friends practically threw other guys at her to get her away from him. The next girlfriend, I’m told, was very submissive–and he told her all these stories about me, about what a good girlfriend or wife I’d been, talking me up so much that she wanted to meet me….My friend who told me this, said he was doing this to control her. He got her pregnant, and married her. But now they’re divorced.

          In the past several years, it was very difficult and emotionally trying to watch as a guy I called my best friend was in an abusive marriage. On the one hand he would tell me about her verbal and physical abuses of him and the children, then on the other tell me I had to be friends with her to be friends with him, and blame me for not wanting to get close to her. I tried to be pleasant to her, but to be buddy-buddy with her was impossible.

          The whole family stayed with my family while they were homeless, and I witnessed some of the crap going on. But he’s Christian, they both said marriage was forever, and he kept talking like he would “love her” into a better relationship, etc…..I saw no evidence that his “loving her” and giving in to her all the time were changing a thing. All I saw was a controlling, possessive wife who wanted to isolate him from anyone who saw her for what she was. I saw her doing exactly what my ex tried to do with my friends. I became her next target. (There had been others, both male and female, people who saw her for what she was, who finally got run off.) I eventually got run off, while she blamed me for everything, even for her insane rages. She told me I knew where they lived if I ever decided to “GROW UP and stop being hurt over the consequences of” my “behavior.” The “consequences” being her raging at me, belittling and humiliating and demeaning me, telling me to “f*** off,” etc. Yeah, this is the thanks I get for all the things I did to help them out when they were homeless, then afterwards when they were perpetually in need. I now see her as a user, behaving herself only as long as they needed our money, free food, free babysitting or taxi services.

          Now come to find that my former friend is not so innocent, himself. Not only did I realize, months after I was run off, that he was a narcissist with violent tendencies. But he was convicted a couple of weeks ago for choking one of his children (only 9!) until she passed out. So good riddance to him and his wife, both.

          One of the hardest things I have ever done is to report this former friend and his wife to Social Services. I had no idea at the time, that I reported them the same day he was arrested for choking his little girl.

          But it need never have come to this point. I have no idea what he sees in this woman to make him stay with her despite all the crap she pulls on him and the children. I know now that he physically abused the same girl when she was much younger, as well. I have no idea why I saw the whole family together three months after his arrest, four months before the plea bargain was struck that gave him probation instead of jail. But this situation is a prime example of why marriage should not be treated as a jail, screw up and you’re sentenced for life. It means misery not just for the couple, but for the children, too.

          Meanwhile, my own marriage has already lasted 14 years, and shows no sign of stopping. We’re not sickeningly cute, don’t kiss in public, etc., but we’re a family and this is home. My former best friend would tell me on the one hand that he would give in to all his wife’s opinions and wants, that this was the way to “respect” women, but on the other hand that the man should be the head and the wife should submit. He would tell me this is how I should run my own marriage. Yeah, well, I saw how well that actually worked in his own: as a power struggle. Why should I screw up a marriage that does work by imitating a marriage that does not? And why should he put a “never divorce” policy in place when he was in an obviously abusive marriage? It’s crazy! Meanwhile, his eldest child is now probably scared to death of him because he traumatized her enough for her to go to the police and report him.

          It’s enough to make you jaded on marriage even if you’re in a good one.

  • a former pastor’s wife

    Yes.  I have a very very similar story.  My husband was a minister.  And, yes, it was mental illness of a severe variety.  Came on slowly, growing inch by inch until he was a monster, only (like the proverbial frog in the pot of boiling water) it happened so slowly that it was VERY bad before I was able to see just how bad it was. 

    No amount of submission will fix that.  In fact, I strongly believe that my adherence to “wifely submission” made it worse for ALL of us—-myself, him, and for our children.  The conservative evangelical church’s counsel and books and “insight” into marriage (due to their hierarchical view of marriage and their fascination with “roles” in marriage) helped to make a difficult thing (something that would have been hard, no matter what) turn into a real nightmare. 

    For all their talk about family values, they sure helped to *hurt* our family more than they ever helped it.  Because of the idea that the husband is the leader and the wife is to be in submission, my husband’s mental illness flew under the radar for waaaaaaay longer than it should have.   “Just submit more and pray harder” isn’t the answer for everything.  But the well-intentioned church people had on their “husband-lead/wife-submit” glasses on, and so that was all they saw, that was the answer for everything. 

    Toward the end, when it was getting flat out freaky, I was told to just view my marriage as my cross to bear…literally, that I should view my husband just like Christ viewed the cross as He carried to the hill.  This, by smart intelligent loving people, was the advice I got.  No one suggested my husband go get help.  No one suggested something must be wrong with him.  Nope.  It was just me.  Make sure I’m submitting in all things, being cheerful, and keeping my eyes on Heaven’s rewards for a life that had become a Hell to live. 

    I am thankful that we made it out.  Barely.  Despite the church, not because of it. 

    • a former pastor’s wife

      PS.  I agree with some of the above thoughts.  My husband has mental illness, but he is also an abuser.  Those are two different things.    Not all mentally ill people are abusers…just like not all physically ill people are abusers…just like not all white skinned people are abusers…just like not all heterosexuals are abusers…(you get the point). 

      Abusers (see the amazing book, “Why Does He Do That? By Lundy Bancroft—one of the best books ever for learning about abusive men, what makes them tick, what we can do about it, etc) may or may not be mentally ill.  If an abusive person is mentally ill, then that just makes the abuse all the more complicated because it is NOW accompanied by psychosis or delusions or voices or what have you. 

      In my case, my husband had some abusive traits that came out here and there but were mostly okay…a narcissistic tendency that may have been tempered by real life (who knows?).  In his case, fundamentalist Christianity  fed and fed and fed those power lusts by giving him a ministerial position where an entire church thought he was amazing and constantly told him so, where he had the power to regularly “speak for God” to people who measured spirituality by theological knowledge instead of simple and humble acts of love and grace.  It was also fed and fed and fed by having a wife learn that she was to submit to this man’s will in all things (and a church that taught him that God ordained him to be the leader over the wife in all things), and THEN those abusive tendencies were further fed by a mental illness that took a bad thing and made it much worse (with mania and psychosis, etc).

      • Val P.

        I was told the same thing – “just pray to Jesus” to fix my husband. In the meantime, be a good wife, don’t make him angry.

    • me

      Wow!  Very similar stories.  I agree with the freaky thing – and the church thing.  It took me awhile to find a church that I am comfortable attending.  My former church let him sit two rows behind me when I had the PPO without doing or saying anything.  I shook every time and had to take anti-anxiety medication just to go to church.  AND told me that I had no biblical grounds for divorce.  AND sent a nasty letter to me and the pastor of my new church telling me what a sinner I was.

      How long ago did you go through this?If you’d like to talk more, I think John could send you my email address.

  • Hopedvc

    I do lots of trianing for churches and faith leaders on this topic. Here are some great resources if you are interested!

    PASCH (Peace And Safety in the Christian Home) trainings, book list,materials, newsletters & annual conferences for evangelical Christianswww.peaceandsafety.com
    RAVE (Religion And Violence E-Learning) http://www.theraveproject.com FREEdownloadable Christian training curriculum, sermons, e-learning classes,map of shelters, DV ministries, world DV stats, audio & video, etc.TELEVISION/DVD 
    “When Love Hurts”, 4 part TV seriesCan be viewed on line anytime at in its entirety athttp://www.rbc.org/radio-tv/dayofdiscovery/2007/10/07/program.aspx

     “Broken Vows: Religious Perspectives on Domestic Violence” 2 parttraining DVD with study guide http://www.faithtrustinstitute.org

  • http://www.facebook.com/cat.rennolds Cat Rennolds

    Please do not rely just on your police and your restraining order.  Please.  Find a way to be able to physically defend yourself and your children, or be within range of help at all times. 

    Far too many murder victims had a restraining order when they were killed.   Please be careful.  It sounds like you are, but, please.

    • Val P.

      I so agree. My ex was verbally abusive with me and the kids, and eventually became physically abusive with the oldest. (And now that child is an athiest. I have no doubt there is a correlation.) Even after we moved out and after the divorce was over, he continued to come over and into my apartment anytime he chose to. He moved a block from us, with the pretense that he wanted to be near his kids. Even after I remarried, he was still an ever present source of irritation and to a certain degree fear.

      My new husband and I both have hand guns, and belong to a gun range. And I know how to use my gun, how to load it, clean it, and properly store it. That gun, and a burglar alarm that operates on a cell phone (no wires to cut) were a great comfort to me. Otherwise I was terrified every time my husband went out of town. Because my ex always seemed to know when he was gone.

      The good news is my ex eventually tired of harrasing and following me. He met a nice, rich widow lady and has been remarried for about 4 years. Thank you Jesus! Apparently he’s a pillar of the church where they attend. I am very thankful that he’s happy in his new life. It allows me to be happy in mine without having to look over my shoulder.

  • Tralala

    I wanna know how one moves on from DV.  It’s been 15 years since my divorce from an emotionally and psychologically abusive alcoholic husband.  And I am stuck.  Don’t trust. .I have a nice tidy little wall built around myself where I let few people close. My ex-husband married the woman he was having an affair with, pretty much claimed her children as his own, while neglecting ours.  The hurt and anger I have toward him does not seem to ease.  Any programs out there to help, or, should I physically put distance between us?  We live in the same small town.

    • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ allegro63

      Tralala. Putting “distance” between us, is what I have done about my ex, even though we live in the same town. I simply shut him out of my life. I never contact him, ask him for things or engage in conversations. He attempts to contact me on occasion, and I opt to either ignore it, or find out what he wants (he always wants something) so I can quickly tell him no. For me it works better and it sends a firm message to the ex that his opinion of me or my life matter not at all. I suspect it makes him a little nuts to be shot down at every turn and I get a bit of pleasure out of that.

      I also changed churches and several other things in my life, with the purpose of reinventing who and what I am. Before my life revolved around keeping my spouse happy so that he wouldn’t act badly, which in such cases is an effort in futility. Now I live my life working to accomplish personal goals that are mine alone.

      The hurt and anger are still there as for me its only been a couple of years, but I am intentionally not dwelling on them….most of the time. I have written about it some , I have shared with others with the intent of letting them know that they are not alone in leaving or experiencing bad relationships, I have advised others to leave, as we deserve better. It helps, at least for me to consider that the hell I went through had a purpose, to maybe someday help others, or to at least be more empathetic.

    • http://leap-of-fate.com Christy

      Tralala, is counseling an option? It has been helpful for so many people who are stuck and whose hurt and anger are understandably slow to ease. For many it has been the best life-giving gift, the best thing we never wanted to do. Dear friends and counseling have kept so many of us alive or given us new life we never thought was possible – a new way of seeing and understanding ourselves and our world – that benefits all of our relationships including that with ourselves.

      My dear friend shared that in her circumstance the best divorce advice she ever received was this: A life well-lived is the best revenge.

      No matter how we slice it, if we let our pain control us – we lose. In my own situation, in order to let go and get unstuck, I had to realize I didn’t choose what happened to me in the past nor can I change now what happened then. I cannot control another person or change who they are or how they act or how they treat me  - no matter how much or how badly I want them to be different. I don’t have that power.  I can only change me and how I choose to react to situations and the people in my life. I’m in charge of change for me. And that was freeing. 

      Counseling often helps us uncover and see what is, rather than what we think it is or wish it to be. In this way, knowing the truth does set us free. And I would be nowhere without having taken the vulnerable risk of pursuing relationships with people I love and who love me and who so often are the purest source of meaning in our lives.

      The book “Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart” by Gordon Livingston was also instrumental in helping me learn this and other truths and ways of living and letting go and ultimately moving forward. His other book “How to Love” is a primer in learning how to recognize character traits of people whom we should cling to and those whom we should avoid. And the work of Brene Brown on the issues of risk and vulnerability in order to build close and meaningful relationships has been invaluable. Her amazing talk about this can be viewed here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html What she says, I have found to be true. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

      I hope this helps. All the best to you.

  • Anonymous

    read this beautiful and heartwrenching poem…. first, THIS act of sharing stories like this is a ministry, but what also struck me are these truly helpful and supportive comments. i thought THAT’s the kind of thing we’re supposed to be doing. When the culture sees Christians as ‘those people who hate gays, and evolution, and believe there’s a war on Christmas” instead of “those people who help battered women regain their lives” there’s a real disconnect.
     

  • Still Bruised but Better

    I married the man of my dreams after a VERY short whirlwind courtship….I thought the high would last forever…it lasted six months when he almost broke my jaw, threw me like a rag doll to the cold hardwood floors, picked me up and threw me outside..I should’ve left him but the minister said I was doing something wrong..that I needed to submit more..somehow it was my fault..

    Fast forward almost ten years after trying to be as good of a christian wife as anyone ever could be, HE divorced me saying I was unable to truly submit to him.

    I cannot believe an intelligent woman like myself actually allowed this crap to happen to me in hindsight. Religion like this should be eradicated from this planet. Religion like this kills..it kills reason, it kills common sense..it almost killed me..and no doubt had he killed me, one of the moron preachers and people this man associated with would’ve got his prison time down to just a few years. After 16 years, I am still bruised and have never remarried. He has remarried several times. To all women out there, I would say, “The first time he hits you, leave and never look back.” That’s all I have to say. Thank you for listening.


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