This is an EXCELLENT read and explains my silence the last few months. I cannot bring myself to say the words I want to scream out. From my adult children to one of my dearest friends to acquaintences I’ve known for years to those who read this blog and make PTSD inducing comments……..I have silenced myself because I just can’t bear up under the secondary abuse.
I remember the evening I really began to love other women. It was in a group counseling meeting at the women’s shelter the spring of 2011.
There they were. About twelve of them. All broken. All crying. Lives a mess.
As they cried and shared openly their pain and struggles, I saw the raw beauty of femininity for the first time in my life. It was as though someone wiped a window clean and where I’d once seen distorted, ugly hags, I now saw delicate and lovely maidens.
In that moment I suddenly noticed the elegance of one’s posturing, the cuteness of another’s painted toes, the smoothness of an older women’s long legs in shorts. Each one possessed some quality of unique and outstanding beauty that I had not noticed until I saw them through the new lens. The lens of Sisterhood.
I was raised in an extremely misogynistic world, so I fully understand the jealousy and fear that haunts so many women. But, it still disturbs me. It angers me. Now that I’m no longer wallowing in it.
Growing up, I was constantly compared to my friends. I wasn’t as pretty, athletic, hard-working, sweet, curvy, smart, etc, etc, as my friends. My parents began so many sentences with, “Why can’t you be more like…….” or, “It’s too bad you aren’t built more like……” I was mocked for things I couldn’t help, such as my big nose and my flat chest while my friends were admired and flattered for seemingly everything, and that set them up, in my mind, as my competition.
I saw other women as a threat. ALL women were my competitors, and I paled in comparison to them all.
I was taught and told that women can’t be trusted. All women are whores. All women are gold diggers. All women are backstabbers. All women are liars. So, I didn’t trust women with the jewel of friendship. It was difficult for me to feel close to girls, and I certainly didn’t trust them with my secrets or around my boyfriends.
And, many of them proved me (my parents) right. They stole my clothes, slept with my boyfriends and first husband, tore apart other relationships with their lies. They were the mean girls.
My own mother was the vilest creature of all and naturally was the first and foremost representation of womanhood in my young eyes. Can you imagine what she taught me about trusting other women?!
So, I get it. Still, I feel anger well within me when I see women attacking women.
I’ve noticed when male friends on Facebook post bitter memes about how awful women are, it is mostly women who like them or comment, “LOL!” When a woman makes the news, it is mostly women in the strand of hateful “fry her!” comments at the bottom of the report. Yet, when a father was recently arrested for kidnapping his child, it was mostly women who came to his defense because, they said, the poor man probably had a mean ex who would have kept his child from him.
Last night someone posted a picture of a beautiful black woman who is an outspoken advocate for girls’ protection from female circumcision, a survivor of it herself. Some company or organization was offering money to the individual or group who had the most likes. I immediately liked it and then, out of, I guess, a sick and morbid curiosity, began to read the horrible comments made by other women. They hijacked the entire post and began nastily arguing that women need to “get off of it” and quit being hypocrites because, in their minds, it’s no different from male circumcision and “no one says a thing.”
Women were telling other women to stop talking about the horrors of holding down a little girl and, without anesthetic, scraping off her clitoris and inner labia, then stitching her outer labia closed, leaving her in shock and at HIGH risk of infection and denying her the possibility of sexual pleasure as an adult. I’ve read accounts of physicians who were horrified the first time they saw the results of this, when they were called in to deliver babies through the mess these women’s mothers, aunts, and grandmothers–other women–left them with. I’ve read stories of girls dying and nearly dying from infection, not at the time of the “procedure,” but later…..when they began menstruating and the blood was not able to escape completely, or from urinary tract infections caused by not being able to clean themselves or even relieve themselves thoroughly.
I’m not advocating male circumcision, but that’s not the same thing.
Last night someone else posted a picture of dirty work boots and a loooonnnnng rant about women needing to appreciate their husbands and how hard their men work. Awhile back someone posted a video rant by a large breasted blonde telling women to “quit bitching at [their] men and just let them go hunting”…..”they need that man time after how hard they work for us.”
A few men, of course, liked these posts. But, again, it was mostly women who responded positively and glowingly, cutting down other women with the assumption that women in general just don’t appreciate men the way they should….the way men deserve to be appreciated, admired, honored.
I’m not a bitter man hater. I like men. I love men. I miss the scent of a man, the feel of a nice bicep, the sound of a deep voice. I think wives should appreciate their husbands. But, men are not superior, Ladies! They do not have more value or worth than we do. Our work and labor should also be appreciated. The same judgment or mercy should be equally applied across the board. If you are of the inclination to believe a man is innocent until proven guilty, then that gentle approach should also apply to women. If you are apt to judge a woman quickly, you’d better judge men quickly then, too.
The bottom line is….we are all sinful, fallen human beings. We all do wrong: men and women. And, we are all human beings created in the image of God. We all are of great worth: male and female.
That evening, back at the women’s shelter, in 2011, I alternately cried and laughed hysterically as I shared the history of abuse in my marriage and released all of that stifled emotion. And, those beautiful women sat and listened with compassion, as I had sat and listened with compassion to their similar stories. As I saw that they did not hate me, distrust me, judge me, or desire to compete with me, I relaxed into a Sisterhood of support. I began to finally put down the heavy rod of self-hatred that I’d been carrying on my back my entire life. I was free to love other women and allow them to love me back.
We need other women. We need deep, real friendships with women. I think the devil scored big when he convinced us to hate each other, when he convinced us to hate that core part of ourselves…..femininity. He robbed us of an incredible gift…the sisterhood of support.
I haven’t connected to television programming in twenty years, so I’m horribly out of step with that aspect of our culture, which is HUGE. One other friend and I often sit in silence at dinner parties while everyone else enthusiastically discusses the latest episode of the hot-right-now shows they’re all watching regularly. I don’t even recognize the names of any of the actors or actresses.
In group settings, the conversation always seems to eventually get around to that subject. And, it did again when my brother, sister-in-law, and I sat and watched my children swimming. My half-brother absolutely loves a show called Naked and Afraid and told me I just had to see it. Fortunately, there were a few episodes on YouTube, so I could take a gander at his obsession and feel a part of that conversation at a later date.
During one of the reunion episodes of the show the majority of the group verbally attacked one woman who had bowed out early from her expedition. One of the men condemned her for sitting around and playing the victim. She reduced to tears.
In my mind, as I was watching this verbal barrage, she was a victim! I didn’t care for how she presented herself, but she was plainly being bullied. She had clearly been ostracized during the time they were all Naked and Afraid and now she was being bullied to tears by the same group of people who obviously thought it was okay to treat another human being like that in a do or die situation. And, the greatest insult they could hurl at her was that she “made herself” a victim.
I hear it constantly. I see it on Facebook. Stupid memes everywhere. Inspirational quotes plastered around.
DON’T BE A VICTIM!
And, yet, there are victims. Victims of identity theft. Victims of natural disaster. Victims of random crime. Victims of drunk drivers. Victims of sexual exploitation. Victims of war. Victims of domestic violence. Victims of bullying.
But, don’t “make” yourself a victim.
I don’t know. Just my personal opinion, but I think we should make being a violent person or an exploiter or a criminal the thing to NOT be.
Our culture, and especially our institutes of higher learning, churn this garbage out.
Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged states, “People think that a liar gains a victory over his victim. What I’ve learned is that a lie is an act of self-abdication, because one surrenders one’s reality to the person to whom one lies, making that person one’s master, condemning oneself from then on to faking the sort of reality that person’s view requires to be faked…The man who lies to the world, is the world’s slave from then on…There are no white lies, there is only the blackest of destruction, and a white lie is the blackest of all.”
She eloquently twists it all around to make the culprit the victim. My apologies to all of those who fell in love with Ayn Rand in college, but what a bunch of hogwash!
Steve Maraboli doesn’t even try to sound deep and philosophical. He just says it…..“The victim mindset dilutes the human potential. By not accepting personal responsibility for our circumstances, we greatly reduce our power to change them.” And, even better, “Today is a new day. Don’t let your history interfere with your destiny! Let today be the day you stop being a victim of your circumstances and start taking action towards the life you want. You have the power and the time to shape your life. Break free from the poisonous victim mentality [emphasis mine] and embrace the truth of your greatness. You were not meant for a mundane or mediocre life!”
C.R. Strahan makes it all sound so spiritual and righteous (which, then, does that make admitting to victimhood unspiritual and unrighteous?) when he says, “Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim–letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.”
The “burden of being a victim”………I say that burden is placed upon an individual the day the cruel person chose to be a perpetrator. And, I think our society needs to break free from the poisonous stamp of approval it gives offenders whenever the greater encumbrance is placed upon the broken and abused individual. Every time we tell a victim to stop making themselves the victim we remove accountability from the one who is truly to blame for the wound…..the one who inflicted it.
The definition of the word victim is “a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.”
We are effectively removing responsibility from those who should be held accountable for their actions and crimes and are, instead, placing that responsibility on those injured. And, that is what feeds the violence. If you are of an inclination to hurt others and you know that no one around you is going to hold you liable for what you do, why not? What is stopping you? What restricts the evil?
The Good Samaritan did NOT ask the wounded man what he had done to put himself in that position, and he is our example given to us by Christ. Yet, most of the time, our first question is, “What is your responsibility in all of this? What did you do to put yourself in this position?” His first response was not to lecture the man on the forgiveness and grace he “owed” the robbers. He generously and kindly tended to the man’s needs, seeing he had been wounded.
He generously and kindly tended to the man’s needs, seeing he had been wounded. That is all.
The heavy darkness bore down upon me until it forced me out of bed. Unable to sleep or even breathe for its weight, there was no place of rest to be found for me tonight.
It has been over four years since he stormed out of our home in a fit of rage. Two and a half years have passed since the divorce was finalized. And, yet, on Thursday I received notification from the court that he has retained an attorney and filed a motion to have his domestic violence conviction set aside.
Merely checking the mail had no longer caused me horrific anxiety. Now, that reprieve has passed, and I find myself avoiding the mailbox once again these last couple of days.
The DA’s office does not think I have a chance of winning should I request a hearing. “He’s kept his nose clean in the eyes of the law before and since his conviction,” they claim. The Chief Administrative Assistant was shocked the judge denied his motion to have this conviction set aside in 2011. But, I had a newly signed personal protection order, and he angrily exploded in the courtroom, frightening others present. The judge got to witness the narc’s other side that he typically reserves for private moments.
What do I have new since the 2011 hearing? She reminded me……that was over four years ago. He is threatening and manipulative with the children. She responded, “That isn’t illegal. That happens in a lot of families.” In the eyes of the law that continued demonstration of poor character does not indicate that he is still a threat to us or anyone else. Poor character is not against the law. They do not see the continuum here.
So, I can’t sleep.
Why is he trying once again to have this conviction set aside? What is his ultimate motivation? Is it simply that he wants to open up the possibility of returning to a former line of work that is easier than the work he currently does? Or, is he setting the stage for another ploy to gain custody?
The narc and I both know that the best defense is a good offense. The best way to defeat an enemy is to remove their ability to attack you. I am quite certain this latest motion of his is just that. I know he would claim in court that it has everything to do with job hunting, as he would claim the abuse was an isolated incident. But, I know he’s really just removing his weak spot–a conviction for a violent crime–in order to thwart my ability to counter attack should he go for custody again.
If I request a hearing and plead my case before the judge who listened compassionately to a child’s testimony of abuse and then awarded the abuser unsupervised visitation……..the judge who illegally awarded the narc, with a standing domestic violence conviction, a rifle and waved off my attorney’s protests that it broke federal law…….the judge whose own pastor came to court and sat with my ex’s nonbelieving family as “moral support”……….will he have a change of heart and validate my very real fears? Or, will he once again side with the abuser and give him what he asks for?
The known-to-be-corrupt DA’s office isn’t even supportive. They obviously don’t want to take this to hearing. Last time, the Assistant DA did. He was eager to keep the record in place.
If I request a hearing anyway and enter the courtroom alone, without the support of the DA, swimming upstream and fighting against everyone, and the judge orders the record set aside and sealed, the narc will be empowered by his success. He will know for certain he has the best enabler he could ask for….the courthouse….covering for him. That would most definitely give him the green light to fight for custody again.
Of course, any attorney would then argue that I’m just hateful and paranoid, a fantastic backdrop for a case of parental alienation, because I’m still holding on to this “one isolated incident” from eight years ago. I’m still trying to make the poor narc pay in spite of him being a model citizen in all other regards. Just another bitter woman.
And, I would miss work, lose clients, fall behind on the kids’ schooling, the children would miss out on extracurricular activities, and I’d be broke, living in squalor while trying to pay a worthless attorney to plead my cause, knowing full well he’d had a friendly dinner with the opposing attorney the night before and that my fate was decided before we ever stepped foot in the courtroom. Every ounce of energy and every dime would go to contesting the narc and his latest antics.
My only other option is to not request a hearing and just allow the conviction to be set aside. Go on with my life with no regard to what he may pull next. Go to work, pay my bills, run the kids to birthday parties and dance classes and piano lessons, rebuild my credit with the dream of buying a modest home….live. Live and breathe and sleep, trusting in God that He will protect us and has a plan in all of this mess. Focus on a positive direction for the children and myself regardless of the narc’s latest antics.
He frequently said, “Bad attention is better than no attention at all.” He loves to fight. He loves contention. He’s constantly agitated over some perceived injustice because others simply don’t treat him as special as he should be treated. So, he slanders them and creates difficulties in their lives to make himself the center, as he feels he should be. I don’t want to hand him that pleasure by charging into a losing battle. “Supply” feeds the narc, and I’m simply finished being that source for him. If his nourishment is cut off here, he will be forced to look for it elsewhere. He needs it. He craves it. Like an addict, he is single-minded and focused as he seeks his next “hit.”
I panic at the thought of facing him in court again. I have tremendous anxiety over the idea of him actually having the children in his custody! But, at some point, we must go on with our lives and not live in continual reactivity to his demands for attention. My time and money and energy must go into rebuilding a life worth living, not struggling with the vicissitudes of a life that I’ve extricated myself from. And, I have to let the narc see there is nothing to feed on here. Not any more.
I never listen to the Dove, a local Christian radio station, because I have viewed it as “too schmarmy Christian.” By that, I mean, I’ve thought it plays into the stereotypical phony voiced love/grace/mercy at all costs teaching that is so prevalent in the Christian community at large today. But, ya know what? My heart was just hard, and God revealed that to me this morning.
I never listen to the Dove. But, last night my teenage son bought me a secular CD I’ve been longing for for quite some time. We listened to it on our way home, and he popped it out to bring it in the house when we arrived back home, leaving the system on. So, when I started the car this morning, to head to work, the stereo system was on, and, for some weird reason, it was set to the Dove.
At first I listened more for my own entertainment. I was going to mock it. Through the static I could hear them laughing and throwing around the “grace” word. But, it did NOT go where I thought it would! I was convicted. And, I was fed. And, I was validated.
I didn’t wake up last Monday morning thinking about War Room, the Kendrick brothers, or Christian movies in general. Perusing one of my favorite websites while drinking my morning coffee, I read a wrap-up of the weekend’s box office that briefly discussed the success of War Room, a movie I hadn’t thought about in months since I had watched the trailer. Delving further, I clicked on several links to reviews of War Room and came across a statement that prompted me to write a brief article on the Kendrick brothers. I didn’t write a review of War Room, nor was that my intention; writing the article, based on my knowledge of the Kendrick brothers’ movies, I was mainly responding to movie critic Scott Renshaw’s comment. However, my post generated so much buzz, both positive and negative, that I made the rash…
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Sometimes people look at me sideways when I share how prayer has literally saved my life, healed my body, and brought me necessities of life. I have a lot of stories of times God has shown up in response to prayer and made His presence evident. He has performed countless miracles in my worthless life. I BELIEVE in the power of prayer! But, I won’t be watching the Kendrick Brothers’ film War Room.
The loss of my $7 is not going to even make a ripple effect in the millions of dollars their films have grossed, and I know that. (Their previous four films brought in a combined $78 million in the domestic box office!) But, I won’t throw my measly $7 away like that anyway, not even to satisfy my curiosity…….what is the strange obsession this country’s church goers have with these movies?
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the crowd and follow the sheeple down any path they wander without question. I bought those first four of the Kendrick Brothers’ movies. Admittedly, I absolutely love Courageous. But, Fireproof was naive at best and horribly damaging at worst. The star is a pornography addict and an abuser, yet he is held up as a hero, saving people. The only person who doesn’t see how fantastic he is, is his wife….the person who lives with him. The woman who knows what he’s really like. The one person who sees beyond the image he portrays publicly. Of course, she is just as wrong in their mess of a marriage because she has an affair of the heart. He isn’t really to blame for his behavior toward her. She does seem to almost deserve some of it. In the end, he finds Jesus, smashes his computer, and pays for his wife’s parents’ needs. She responds to his grand monetary show, making her appear shallow and all about the money, and forgives him. He does seem to sincerely apologize, but his behavioral change occurs only over the course of a few weeks. And, as we all know, abusers are quite adept at making those short-term changes, only to lure us back in to their web of deceit. Our hero wasn’t held to any long-term change before the relationship was restored. He simply performed a few grand gestures; his wife saw the light of his miraculous short-term change; and everyone lived happily ever after.
Since I have not seen War Room I can only go off what I’ve heard. That, and the few YouTube clips I’ve watched. From my understanding, the entire premise of the movie is that the wife’s prayer life will change her husband’s behavior and save her marriage. And, THAT is a dangerous mindset for the Christian church as a whole to embrace so enthusiastically.
I see and hear the Christians all around me clapping their hands and saying, “Oh, prayer works! Lovely!”
And, so, they go off with great fervor, excitedly encouraging every wounded wife with the admonition to pray harder for her marriage, and the Lord will be faithful to fill her husband with a love for her and a committment to their marriage.
Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that God is a big Santa Claus in the sky, just sitting there waiting, longing, for us to send up requests, so he can happily drop down our gifts upon us. Somehow, we’re supposed to believe that we can be the Holy Spirit in someone else’s life.
Scripture does teach us to pray. Jesus said we have not because we ask not. He said if we had the faith of a mustard seed we could move mountains. And, I believe every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Every. Word.
Some of those words tell us to admonish one another. And, I’ll give the Kendrick Brothers credit….the weight room scene does have a friend admonishing the husband. But, in real life, that just doesn’t happen. I’ve never seen it. What I see is the same Christians who are embracing this movie and think they can just pray and get whatever they want are the same Christians who think they can show an abuser the love of Christ and he’ll respond with automatic repentance. He’s only acting in that sinful way because he needs love. “Wounded people wound people,” as I’ve so often heard them chant.
The word of God tells us to go to a brother caught up in sin and reprove him. If he refuses to repent, we are to turn him over to satan for a season, “that he may be won.”
The wife of a very abusive pastor kept an index card pinned to the wall above her desk. It read, “Some come to Him when they see the Light, others only when they feel the flame.” Our weak, politically correct society doesn’t want to offend anyone with the threat of flames. It doesn’t want to turn anyone over to satan, in spite of biblical instruction to do so in certain circumstances. So instead, we victim blame: Pray harder. Commit your marriage to Christ. Submit more. Love your husband with the love of Jesus. As though somehow her behavior can control the situation. Her lack of faith is bringing this upon her and, conversely, her improved prayer life will improve her marriage.
Maybe her prayer life does need to improve. Maybe her attitude does need to change. Maybe she does need to leave off bitterness and allow herself to be filled with the love of Christ. But, NOT FOR HER HUSBAND OR FOR THE SAKE OF HER MARRIAGE. But, for Christ alone!!! He is enough! She should be running after Him, seeking Him, because He loves her. Not because if she runs hard enough after Him he’ll give her that sinful man she’s unequally yoked to.
And, I boldly proclaim that I have never prayed so hard or fasted so often as when I was in an abusive marriage!!!
Did my prayers fall on deaf ears? They weren’t answered!
No, the Lord was bottling the oceans of tears I cried during those years. He was looking down on me longingly, not because he was eager to play Sugar Daddy to me if I’d only ask Him, but because He longed for me to STOP worshipping MARRIAGE. He longed for me to worship HIM.
The Kendrick Brothers won’t miss my $7. They have millions and millions of dollars to bathe in. They’ve joined forces with Sony because Sony brings us such great, uplifting, spiritual films like Evil Dead. It’s a natural pairing, right? The Lord certainly is smiling on that. (Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God. James 4:4) I can see Jesus, the man/God who overturned money changers’ tables in the temple courtyard, placing a stamp of approval on their $3 million production budget for their most recent movie because it’s a great Christian movie, bringing millions of people to their knees in renewed prayer. The end justifies the means. I can see it now…..the hope this movie will bring to the masses. The abused. The broken. The poor. The homeless. The sick. Christians will excitedly tell them to pray harder. HARDER. HARDER! Pray harder to see the changes they NEED to see in their lives. And, they’ll walk away…..home to their abusers, or perhaps not to a home because they don’t have one, or home to remain hungry, or still sick…..now also carrying the shame and blame that somehow perhaps it is all their own fault. If only they had a better prayer life.
I sat in the hairdresser’s chair while she talked about people I’ll never meet.
“Of all the people she could have gotten pregnant by, and it was this guy! They don’t even like each other, and they were only together two months. I was like, ‘Weren’t you using anything???’ I asked her about her baby shower, and she said she isn’t having one. Which, I get, because she’s not married; the situation isn’t good; it wasn’t planned, and she’s not even with the guy, but still……everyone should have a baby shower. She’s going to keep it, and she’ll need stuff. She said that no one has offered to throw her one, so she isn’t having one. So, I volunteered. I mean, can you imagine? Not having a support system like that? Your mom and your best friend neither one even offer to throw you a baby shower? Nothing? How awful that your hairdresser has to throw you a baby shower because no one else will! I can’t imagine not having a support system AT ALL.”
Oh, Sweetheart, I can!
I’ve been that girl. I am that woman. I’ve been the one who has graduated college, got married, had babies, and no one celebrated. Accomplishments and major life events go unnoticed. I’ve received frightening diagnoses, been abandoned, buried family, and am living in squalor, and it sometimes seems that the only people who notice are the ones who blame me for ending up like this.
What they don’t understand is that the reason they are where they are is because, somewhere along the line, they had an intact support system that assisted them and allowed them to be the success they are today. They’ll often say they’ve worked for everything they’ve got. And, no doubt, the individuals I’m thinking of are indeed very hard workers. But, way back when, someone made sacrifices and did the unglamorous mundane things so they could focus on achieving their goals. Goal completions were celebrated, or at least congratulated, which spurned them on. And, their “tribe” still helps them today, even if they aren’t willing to acknowledge that they aren’t a one man or one woman show.
I know families who all live on one piece of property or on adjacent properties. There are, at any given time, four, five, or six adults to watch children and guide them, run them to activities, let them know they’re loved. There are that many adults available to take down the trash, pick up a gallon of milk, feed the dog. They back each other in child discipline and instruction, reiterating the values mom and dad are trying to instill in them. They come together to have garage sales, do yard work, perform household repairs, and host celebrations; they divide the work. They loan vehicles and move each other in when tough times strike. They take turns tending the sick and keeping vigil with each other through long nights in a hospital.
It keeps the wheel running smoothly. It keeps any one person from feeling over burdened and overwhelmed. It allows each individual the opportunity, the freedom, to at least attempt to reach their goals.
And, like my hairdresser, they can’t imagine what it’s like on the other side over here.
Over here……where, children don’t get meals and clothes and help with homework. There is no structure. No routine. No support. Over here……where one adult is strapped with ALL of the responsibilities. One person to educate, train, raise up, instruct, pray with, feed and clothe, and love the children. One person to work and provide support. One person to perform maintenance and repairs. One person to bear the burdens of the world on their lone shoulders.
And, face the shame of their failure.
My clients will frequently tell me at the end of an obviously long, hard day, “Go home and put your feet up!” They mean well, they really do. But, I have to get groceries and cleaning supplies for the next day, cook a meal, go over the kids’ school work, deal with whatever has broken around here on any given day, pay bills, take the trash down, feed animals, wash cleaning rags and restock supplies for the next day, return calls and reschedule clients, try to schedule kids’ dentist and doctor visits, read to the kids, brush their teeth (or, at least check the job they did), dole out vitamins, clean my own place a bit, and deal with whatever emotional crises the kids may be dealing with. Last night my 15-year-old was tormented with nightmares and barely slept…..he dreamed his dad and his family came here and tried to kill him.
Rest, recharging my batteries, exercise, and time “alone with the Lord” are elusive in my life.
I was recently asked, “If it was really that bad, why didn’t you just leave?” I HATE that question. First off, the ‘if’ is really offensive, as though it may not have been as bad as I’m telling. Second, where was I supposed to go with no money and sometimes no car and dragging along five children? I didn’t have family to run to.
The house we rent is cracking and sinking. The water runs iron brown from all of the faucets. The sewer is seeping through the ground. The lights short out. My four-year-old grandson told me that I should put the firewood tarp over the house because of all of the cracks, as he pointed at the roof and asked me if I saw them. Acquaintances will ask, “How much can you afford? I’ll keep my ears open. I’m always hearing about open rentals.” Their intentions are good. But, they can’t imagine. They can’t imagine what it’s like to not really, honestly, be able to afford anything. My realtor friends think they’ve found me a great place though it’s a 2 bedroom, further out from town than where I’m at now, for only $200,000. For this area, perhaps that is a good deal. But, I can’t afford that! Nor would I even qualify for that kind of loan! I made $10,000 last year! My sweet, precious Bible study pals talked last Christmas about no one being able to live off of $10,000 a year nowadays, they did when they were first married but you couldn’t now…..They can’t even imagine.
Two families I know have moved in with her parents, so they don’t have to try to live in their own houses while they’re being remodeled. A friend recently moved her ill brother onto her property from out-of-state. My daughter’s retired father-in-law just built their new pump house while my daughter and son-in-law were both at work. Some things are simple, like animal sitting while someone goes on vacation. Some things are big, like home sharing.
The thing is, even for these friends and acquaintances who are successful and independent with lovely lives, they still depend on their families more than they realize. They wouldn’t ever refer to it as “dependence.” They might say they have “a great family.” They might rightfully point out that they do for their families plenty, too! It’s just an intact, healthy support system where everyone does what they can. It’s just an outward expression of familial love. But, some of us don’t have that. We never did. We’re left floundering without a support system with the burden of our worlds resting solely on us, overwhelmed and exhausted, wondering when God is going to provide us with some miracle……like a support system. That thing to them that is brushed off as something to be expected, is for some of us a miracle that we hope and pray for. And, we’re the ones who can’t even imagine what it must really be like to have love and support that you can take for granted will always be there.
Hello again! It’s been awhile. I’ve missed you. How have you been?
My summer hasn’t gone exactly the way I planned it. I bought a pair of hiking boots in June, thinking that I would hike the waterfalls around the state. I haven’t been to one. Instead, I’ve worked nearly every weekend, following on the heels of full work weeks, all summer long.
The ex quit yet another job, so child support didn’t come….just in time for my youngest son’s birthday and the 4th of July. I worked the 4th, too.
One morning as I was slowing to turn into work, a young girl slammed into the back of me and pushed me into the embankment on the other side of the ditch. My cute little car sustained front end and rear end damage. The damage to me was confined to my back and my psyche. Neither are healing very quickly.
The online dating thing hasn’t gone as planned either. The men I’ve “met” have either been total losers, perverts, or so emotionally damaged they aren’t capable of being in a healthy relationship.
In short, my summer has been a wreck. But, ya know what? I’m still here. And, there are seasons where that is okay. We don’t always have to be on top of the mountain or in conquering mode to prove that we’re trudging onward. Some times just getting up and breathing and putting one foot in front of the other is good enough.
I have learned a lot this summer. I’ve learned that there are some really awful people in this world. There are people who enable evil. There are people who couldn’t care less about other human beings and how their actions affect those around them. There are people who seek out other human beings to use for their own gratification with no regard to the humanity of the ones they’re using.
And, there are good people in the world. There are those who will bend over backward to do a good job. There are people who feel great compassion. And, there are people who show tremendous kindness no matter how rotten things are for them personally.
I’ve learned that I can advocate for myself without joining that first group. I can stand up for my rights and seek out resolutions that are good for me without losing my sense of decency. And, those in the second group will listen and respond appropriately. Those in the first group never will, so it’s best to jump over their heads and seek a better person in a higher position to petition.
I’ve learned to respond gracefully to the question, “Why did your ex beat you?” Several of the men I’ve chatted with have ultimately said some complimentary, flattering statements and then rounded off with, “…….if I had a woman like you I would treat her like a queen. I could never do that.” Well, maybe they could, maybe they couldn’t. But, the point is, I’m no longer offended by that question. I used to immediately get angry, as though the response they were looking for was that I had provoked him, that we fought constantly and I hit him, too, that he’d caught me overspending or cheating or something else that might warrant his behavior. I did none of those things. But, even if I had, would that have justified the terror he unleashed on his wife and children?
I have a standard response they all get: It’s because it is who he is. It has nothing to do with me. His abuse says nothing about me. It says everything about how inherently evil he is.
That usually stops them in their tracks.
But, it’s true. He abuses because he is an abuser. Not because I brought it on myself. My responsibility in the whole thing was that I chose him. I was a good wife to a bad man. I have to examine though why I married a bad man.
I’ve learned that if I don’t set my bar pretty damn high, most men will attempt to step on it and push it lower. There must be a zero tolerance policy in place in my heart and mind. Never will I tolerate disrespect. Never will I accept a man who has less ambition than I. Never is it okay to send me semi nude photos or talk in a sexually suggestive manner. If I allow one little indiscretion to pass by, just one, because I convince myself that I’m too out of how things are in the world today, it opens the flood gate for further disrespect. It just does. If you give wickedness and selfishness a foot in the door, it slams its entire body into the opening and pushes with all of its might to allow in all sorts of demeaning behaviors.
I’ve learned how to nicely reject someone. And, that is huge. Doesn’t it seem like we survivors have spent a lifetime feeling guilty for not letting others have what they want? Even if what they want is us? It’s like “no” is the ultimate dirty word. Sure, they don’t always like to hear it, but that’s okay. If someone can’t respect our no then the relationship wouldn’t have been a healthy one anyway. It’s totally okay to simply say, “I think we’re looking for different things in a relationship.” It’s okay if they act hurt or angry. Their emotions and their ability to be an adult about it are their responsibility. What I allow in my life is my responsibility.
There are a lot of things I can’t control, like whether or not my ex mans up, holds a job, and takes financial responsibility as the bare minimum. I can’t control a spoiled young girl whose parents bought her a car within a month of rear ending someone else, and then rear ended me, too. I can’t control insurance companies and demanding clients and horny, lying men. I can’t even control how my summer has gone! All I can control is how I respond to all of it, and that almost always requires me viewing myself as being just as worthy as everyone else around me.
I’m worthy of my car being repaired fully. I’m worthy of being treated with respect as a business owner. I’m worthy of being treated like a lady. And, it doesn’t mean I’m an awful person because I ask for those things.
Hmmmm……..perhaps I did climb a few mountains this summer. And, ya know what, the view from up here is spectacular!
I don’t mind being alone today. I don’t mind working today. I don’t mind having a grilled cheese sandwich and some hastily purchased store bakery brownies. None of it bothers me. Honestly.
Mother’s Day has never been that big of a deal for me. The ex would fight with the kids about what to get me, something they’d run out and buy at the last-minute. Almost like an afterthought. He’d pick me up a coffee and grab something for dinner to bring home. One year he left me to tend several large trash fires while they ran in late Saturday afternoon because he’d forgotten the next day was Mother’s Day. It wasn’t ever about the kids showing me gratitude. It wasn’t ever about making me happy or honoring me as the mother of his children. It was about me expressing gratitude to him for whatever little he did and allowed the kids to participate in.
I’m used to Mother’s Day being a bit lackluster.
But, this year I am sad. I’m sad because my little boy is sad. He cried in church and has spent most of the day weepy and bending over backwards to be helpful. He finally just confessed to me that he is sad and a bit angry. He just wishes that he could have bought me something. He even has his own money to spend. He just has no one to help him do anything for his mama. And, he said he can’t wait to have a wife so he can do things for her for Mother’s Day. Someday. When he can drive. Someday. When he isn’t a little boy and isn’t dependent upon other people. Who aren’t there.
He has been with me as others have bubbled over about where they’re eating today. He has been with me as people have said they’re sorry today is just another work day for me. And, he has taken it all to heart and felt the sting, as though he is responsible.
His one glimmer of hope today came at church. They had purchased long stem roses for every mother in the congregation. The children were to hand them out before the service ended. He brightened. He would be able to give his mama something, too! But, then, the teacher told him no. He was to pick a woman sitting somewhere and hand it to her. He sobbed as he realized he really was to be empty-handed today.
I know people feel bad for me on Mother’s Day. On Valentine’s Day. But, I think it’s worse for the kids. Their childhood isn’t marked by family celebrations and happy days honoring each other. It’s watching every other family do those things while they sit on the sidelines or wander along behind mom, dragging cleaning supplies into an empty business.