What Changes and What Doesn’t

If there is one thing that doesn’t change… it’s this kind of situation. I read a journal entry from over 10 years ago, and guess what… it’s the same thing.  I’ve been writing the same things for years. He has not changed.

But I have.

I have grown, learned and become stronger.

I am still here… living with the same person.

That much is the same.

I didn’t realize it’s been two years since my last entry here on this blog. I write in my own private journal most often.

I have changed. I have learned who I am… I didn’t know it at this kind of level, that I am a child of God, and how He looks  upon me and sees me. I’ve learned more of that and taken that deeper. I know it in the core of my being.

The circumstances I’ve been in drawn me closer to the Lord, and on my knees. The closeness I treasure; for that, I thank God. He is always faithful and good, drawing me close and He is always near.

God doesn’t change.

i take one day at a time.

When I think there might be progress, then I see there has not been. I don’t know what the future holds. One day at a time…

Life is hard to describe. Days go by without incident… life seems “normal”. But then– one never knows when it will erupt, or happen. His words. His lashing out. His fiery tongue. One never knows.

And then I know– nothing has changed. There is no remorse, no recognition of what he has done or said to me. Why cannot I love him? He is clueless…. in fact, I do not think he even realizes how I truly feel. He thinks he is pretty ok, a great guy, a nice person. That is what he thinks of himself.

Without remorse, true change of heart, I cannot expect anything to change on its own.

But I can change. And I have. And I do. And I will.

I am not responsible for anyone else.

He has to reckon with God.

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Dreams

Just wanted to write a quick post to let those who read this blog (all two of you) that I am here. And thanks for reading.

I don’t even know where to begin.

I wish so much was changed. Yet it is very hard for me to step out and do it all.

I daydream a lot about the way I wish things were. No, I don’t love this man. My daydreams aren’t about him, but rather I do dream and wish for love, true love. I do daydream about it. And just admitting it– makes me sound a bit like a young school girl. But so be it. It is truth– it is the way God made us, designed us to be… to love and to be loved. And when it’s missing, we feel lonely, we feel that something is lacking.  And that is how I feel, how I’ve been feeling for  years. We do long for companionship– that is God’s design and purpose for marriage. Companionship. Not to procreate. Not to do some kind of ministry. But for companionship. Procreation is a blessing and part of marriage, but it isn’t the primary purpose of it.

Lonely. No companion.

I had hoped that my husband would be my best friend– someone I could talk to about anything. Someone I could depend on, trust, someone who was on my side, who would encourage me, support me, help me to be the best person I could be….

Yet reality is so far from this. I am very alone. He is not someone I can talk to. Not only is he not comfortable talking about anything more than mere functionalities of life, he doesn’t know how to, nor does he place any value or importance on it. He doesn’t understand the value of “relationship” or “companionship”.

I have a family member who just became ill, needed to be hospitalized. And I wished I had a spouse who would  hold me and let me cry on his shoulder. But no, I realize that our relationship is so far, so very far from anything like that. I realize this man is like a stranger to me. And so I am alone, in so many circumstances. And, you know what, it’s not him that I wish were holding me, not at all. But I do wish it were a man who truly loved and cared for me– that is what I wish for. Not him.

I have been alone for years. I feel like a single parent. I am not married to anyone who is “on my side”, who understands me, loves me the way a woman should be loved. The truth is, I’ve never known that kind of love ever in my life. And yes, it makes me a bit sad. Yet it is something I want to change, at least to have the hope for something different, or better. I can’t know if he will change or not, but he has shown no signs of it. No remorse, and no indication that he has done anything wrong. He thinks he is pretty close to perfect and thinks he is a nice guy.

And I know this isn’t the way it was meant to be. I know that. So much of life isn’t.

I want to be away from him, yet tearing apart my family is a drastic step to take. I can imagine my children’s faces in front of me, teary-eyed, torn apart by divorce, another statistic…they aren’t numbers, but people who will be hurt.

I may think I’m ready to face the critics at church. I may think I’m ready to be a single woman in society, with three children. I may think I’m ready to face strangers and judgmental attitudes and the stigma that is part of a single woman, or a divorced woman. But I am not ready to face my children. Yet. Not yet.

And I may think I’m ready to face all of those people who act like my friends now, but won’t be my friends afterward, but I can’t really predict how it could be. I know I stand to lose a lot of “friends”. But I’m not worried about that. I know I must prepare for it. I know that for some people there is nothing I could say to make them understand. And, no I’m not living my life for them. I know I must be resolved in my own mind to do this on my own… I must be resolved in truth. If I truly believe through and through that what I’m doing is right, I’ll be able to stand and face the opposition. And while I do believe I’m right, and not wrong… I’m still not able to move in the direction I want to move, and I need to find out and understand why.

What is holding me back?

I know that it is something to do with myself. But I need to discover it.

I’m worth more. I’m worthy of love.

I know it.

I don’t know if I’ll ever find this love I long for. I know that it exists. I know that others have experienced it. But in my current circumstances, I don’t see the hope for it. I see more of the same.

I realize in many ways I stand aloof in my pain, aloof from my friends who are in happy, fulfilled marriages… they cannot know my pain, and I cannot quite fathom their joy and security in their relationship. I stand aloof, figuratively… because no one seems to know how to help me. Because they are all “happy” and I am not. Because they can talk freely about their marriages, sex lives, relationships, family, children, they actually “talk” to their spouses as they should, make plans for the future, discuss life as a team together…while I feel so alone.

I wish it were different! Oh, so different. I cannot imagine a future with this man… but the truth is, I do long for a true relationship with someone I could discuss a future with.

I do pour out my heart to God and I know he hears and listens. I’ve been through much healing thus far of the pain.

This story is not over.

Abuse is a Cycle

He comes in with a smile. He has no idea what he’s done or said, it seems so normal for him to lash out insults and ugliness.

I want to throw up sometimes.

A string of verbal vomits have been spewed on the floor and no one has cleaned them up, they stink and rot and we step over it and pretend it didn’t happen, stuck in a cycle of self-destruction.

I’ve continued on with life, I’ve not confronted, then I’ve confronted his abuse, his words, but for years was scared, living in fear, for years… scared of stepping on cracked eggshells… and now I’m not sure what I’m afraid of anymore.

God has come in and touched my heart in a deep place, gently telling me “I belong” and how much I am loved and that my worth is not tied up in the hard-heartedness I am shown by this man who took a vow in a church, standing right beside me.

I long to be free, for this dying relationship to either die or revive, but I am in torture in this middle country of confusion and uncertainty, and whipped by a cycle that keeps on going nowhere.

How does a wife, abused verbally, emotionally, spiritually and physically by her husband, who is shamed, not able, or willing, to share her story, act? What does she do? How does she then live? With three kids watching and hearing how he yells, and disdains her very being? This relationship is nothing, an empty nothing. I feel so sorry for my kids, this “family”… I wish so much better for them.

So yes a few months ago he told me I was useless. Told me that I should do something useful with my life. But there’s been more since then.

Not sure what she should do, the recipient of such fine words from a “husband”. What would you do?

I walk a fine line, of respect and assertiveness, standing up for myself. For years, I cowered. Shrunk. Let him assault me.
But not anymore. Truth finally shook me to my core, the cross, and I realized I am here and my soul isn’t ready to die… he may want to snuff my voice, but Jesus wants me alive and well and able to speak and to live an abundant life, not an abused life. Abundant does not equal abused.

The church needs to know how to help women like me. I’m your neighbor, your friend, your sister, your daughter. I’m in the faces of many women you see, but we hide it well, too ashamed for you to know that we are “abused”. Too shameful. You understand, don’t you, why we hide? But we desperately need you to be our friend, to not look away. What will you do? Will you look and see?

Tell your pastor. Tell your church. Tell your friends. There are ways to help. There are good and bad ways, right and wrong ways of helping someone in a situation like this. Don’t be afraid to confront the person.

And if you are a pastor, learn. Abuse is similar to addiction. It doesn’t go away with a simple pat on the head, an admonition to both sides to do “better”, to forgive.  An addict doesn’t usually realize he is an addict, nor does he usually choose healing for himself.

An abusive person is caught up in a cycle, called the “cycle of violence”. Google it to learn more.

Learn the profile of an abuser: usually someone who seems kind and charming, you wouldn’t guess who that person is behind closed doors. Abusers can be crafty and fool many people- including pastors, including friends.

Be a friend to someone you know who in this kind of situation. She needs you to be a friend. She might need you to help her in tangible ways. She might need a place to stay for a while. She might need you to go with her to talk to someone about her situation. Ask her what she needs.

If you’re a woman in this situation, talk to someone. Get help. Get out. Do whatever you need to be safe and healthy. And remember: abuse does not equal abundant living. It is not the way it was supposed to be. It is WRONG.

I’m still here, STUCK, I don’t know what to do. Because people can’t see my bruises, they assume whatever it is, it should be alright, should be better, and can be handled with just a couple of talks. They see us in church, see the facade of a normal life, and assume all is just fine and dandy. But brokenness lies behind the window panes. Broken people. Broken hearts. And sweet children who deserve to have a mother and father who love each other. Who ought to see a husband loving his wife, who ought to see gentleness, tenderness, kindness.

That is the way it was meant to be.

Said I Was Useless…

I’m still here, just wanted to post to say that.

Life is still the same.

Last week, he said  I was useless. Told me to do something useful with my life.

Useless? He decides? And apparently, that is his conclusion.

Interesting.

How would you feel if your husband said that to you? Ever hit you? Slammed you verbally with insults? Can find many negative things to say about you, but nothing positive?

No apology from him, incase you are wondering. No remorse, no thought that he has done or said anything wrong.

Of course, I know that is not true– I know my life is not useless. I firmly believe God has a purpose for me. I find my identity with Christ,  He is using me, and the truth is not what my “spouse” (I can’t even refer to this man as a husband, even though legally he is still that), throws at me in terms of judgment and criticism. I’ve heard it called “verbal vomit”.

He wants the benefits of a marriage relationship, but not the relationship itself.

I’m talking to a counselor, a Christian counselor.

I can’t imagine what a  healthy marriage and relationship must feel like… to feel appreciated instead of criticized, to be loved, instead of disliked, to be encouraged instead of discouraged, to be treated with kindness instead of harshness… to live in freedom to be yourself, and to know that someone else loves you as you are… wants to be with you, know you, cares for you… I am so far removed from this, I cannot even think it in the relationship I am in. I do not see him changing… to be this kind of person.

Even though I can’t say I like this person, it still makes me cry, because  it’s the death of something big. A family is dying, and I’m straining to see any embers of hope. A marriage relationship is near-dead. I cry over my loss. It’s lonely. 98% of the people around me know nothing of what my life is like behind closed doors.

It’s taken me a great deal of time to emotionally recover. I didn’t homeschool this past year (after a long, drawn out battle about this issue), because I needed time to rest and recover. Nobody in my household gets this, of course “he” doesn’t, and my kids are too young to understand this problem (and they don’t need to know all of it, although they live in this house and can clearly see and hear how he treats me). I wish life were different, so my children could witness a “real” loving marriage. Not this fake shallow, hollowed out one. It’s painful, sad… just wrenching. My children deserve better than this.

He refuses counseling. Thinks it is useless. Thinks it is “worldly”.

I’m still learning. I did some research. I’ve learned my situation is not uncommon. My scenario, or profile, as an abused woman, is not so unique. So many out there are like me. I just don’t know who they are. I’m learning how scripture has been misused against me. I’m learning different interpretations, ones that make sense Biblically, and take the whole Bible in context. I’m learning a great deal.

I’m getting stronger, learning how to stand.

Do you wonder what the Bible has to say about remarriage, divorce, and when it is allowed according to the Bible? Here is an excellent article on the subject:

http://www.rbc.org/uploadedfiles/Bible_Study/Discovery_Series/PDF/Gods_Protection_of_Women.pdf

Why do women stay in abusive relationships? Here are seven reasons:

http://johnshore.com/seven-reasons-women-stay-in-abusive-relationships-and-how-to-defeat-each-one-of-them/

There’s more, much more. This is just a start.

Do you know what is burning in me? A desire to get the truth out. When I get out of this mess, I’ll have to speak up, to help others. This just can’t keep going on. It’s a problem, it’s in the church, out of the church, everywhere, and the church  needs to learn how to deal with it. I know churches are imperfect (because we are all imperfect people); believe, me, I’ve been there. I’ve gone to the pastor, talked to leadership, etc. And nothing has been done about my situation. I don’t harbor grudges against my pastor or these people; on the contrary, I’ve come to realize that they just don’t know what to do about it. They don’t know how to help women in domestic violence situations. They haven’t been educated or trained. They are doing the best that they know. And I appreciate that.

But women still need help. This problem isn’t going away. Change has to happen. And once I am in a position to help others, I want to do so. I’m not sure what that help will look like. It might involve educating those in my church, as a first step. It might mean blogging about it. It might mean writing about it, and offering ways to help women through my writing. Maybe one day I’ll be in a position to be a safe haven for someone else. I don’t know how God will use me. It remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: I cannot be silent. any. longer.

Ugh! I want to cry out and yell and proclaim to the world! I don’t want my daughter to end up like me, and this to perpetuate for another generation! My soul and heart cry out to my Abba Father to help me!! Provide a way for me! Open the sea like you did for the Israelite slaves! My heart is held captive, in slavery, by one who is hard-hearted, wounds me, and slays me with his tongue and anger… I endure spiritual, verbal, and emotional abuse…and sometimes physical abuse! I am tired but not crushed, and I am rising up and seeking to be free!

How can this all end?  There is tragedy in staying and him not changing; and there is tragedy in divorce. What in the world am I supposed to do, God? Unless he changes! I don’t know how realistically that is possible? How can a man who thinks of women as subordinate change? He doesn’t see me as an equal heir before God! He has said so, I’m subordinate, I’m not equal, I’m to submit… and he says I have no right to divorce because there has not been sexual infidelity on his end. Well… he forgot about the years of lustful thoughts he confessed to, which he now says he’s “over”. Who knows, for sure?

People in church who are divorced are looked down upon; the church  must take the most conservative stance; and under no circumstance should divorce be permitted. Doesn’t matter if she is being abused, or not. No case exists. Is this Biblical? Is this what the church has come down to: law? Again, read the first document above (and then the second link), which explains it better than I can. It is over 30 pages long, but WELL WORTH THE READ. PLEASE READ IT.

You may have a friend who needs you. A sister. A daughter. A neighbor. Know. Learn. Help. Be there. Don’t turn a deaf ear and pretend it isn’t as bad as that. It is bad. She needs you. She needs a friend.

I’m still walking this road. Friends are greatly needed on this road. Be a friend to someone you know, or may suspect, is in trouble, or in an abusive relationship. The church cannot be silent. Wake up, church! Your women are hurting. Will you stay silent?

Learning from Jane Eyre

A book I’ve enjoyed reading is Jane Eyre. I read it years ago and read it again recently. Beautiful piece of writing. The story is timeless. I was moved to tears. If you’ve never read the book, you’re in for something special. One of the best.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from Rochester to Jane:

“My bride is here… because my equal is here, and my likeness.”

“I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you–especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.” -Mr. Rochester

I love you as my own flesh. I beg of you to marry me. Say “Edward, give me my name.” Say “Edward, I will marry you.” –Rochester

You – you strange – you almost unearthly thing! – I love as my own flesh.” – Mr. Rochester.

” ‘Come to me – come to me entirely now,’ said he: and added, in his deepest tone, speaking in my ear as his cheek was laid on mine, ‘Make my happiness – I will make yours.’ ” – Mr. Rochester.

“No – no – Jane; you must not go. No – I have touched you, heard you, felt the comfort of your presence – the sweetness of your consolation: I cannot give up these joys. I have little left in myself – I must have you. The world may laugh – may call me absurd, selfish – but it does not signify. My very soul demands you: it will be satisfied: or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.” – Mr. Rochester

He turned away; he threw himself on his face on the sofa. “Oh, Jane! my hope–my love–my life!” broke in anguish from his lips. Then came a deep, strong sob.

________________

*sigh*

Rochester loves Jane “as his own flesh”, sees her as his equal, says (poetically) their ribs are connected and if she were to leave he’d bleed inwardly, calls her his hope, his love, his life.

 

And here are some words spoken by Jane to Rochester, or in regard to him:

I am strangely glad to get back again to you; and wherever you are is my home–my only home.” –Jane

“I had not intended to love him: the reader knows I have wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and no, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.”

“it is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, must devour the life that feeds it; and, if discovered and responded to, must lead into miry wilds whence there is no extrication.”

“You are no ruin, sir—no lightning-struck tree: you are green and vigorous. Plants will grow about your roots, whether you ask them or not, because they take delight in your bountiful shadow; and as they grow they will lean towards you, and wind round you, because your strength offers them so safe a prop.”

Well he is not a ghost; yet every nerve I have is unstrung: for a moment I am beyond my own mastery. What does it mean? I did not think I should tremble in this way when I saw him – or lose my voice or the power of motion in his presence.” – Jane Eyre, narrating.

‘Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton? – a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup?

It was near: and as I had lifted no petition to Heaven to avert it – as I had neither joined my hands, nor bent my knees, nor moved my lips it came: in full, heavy swing the torrent poured over me. The whole consciousness of my life lorn, my love lost, my hope quenched, my faith death-struck, swayed full and mighty above me in one sullen mass. That bitter hour cannot be described: in truth, ‘the waters came into my soul; I sank in deep mire: I felt no standing; I came into deep waters; the floods overflowed me’. ” – Jane Eyre, narrating.

“I have now been married ten years. I know what it is to live entirely for and with what I love best on earth. I hold myself supremely blest—blest beyond what language can express; because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. No woman was ever nearer to her mate than I am: ever more absolutely bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh. I know no weariness of my Edward’s society: he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart that beats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together.”Jane, Chapter 38

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Such love and beauty and passion in those words, to one another and about one another. I wonder sometimes if art (literature and the visual arts) are mocking reality? Does such love exist? Is it an idealistic portrait of what could be, were it not for our humanness or circumstances or other obstacles? Such love– really– is Charlotte Bronte mocking true love? Is it too good to be true, or have I been living in a cycle of fog so long I don’t really know?

Or, is Charlotte Bronte expounding for us what love can realistically be through this remarkable story? Is  this story, this piece of art, a true representation of what is real? I wonder–especially in matters of love between a man and a woman. I have not experienced this kind of love in my own life. I realize– just because something is beyond my scope of experience– does not meant it does not exist. On the contrary, it wholly can exist. I’ve never experienced going to the moon, but it is a true possibility; man can fly and land on the moon and just because I’ve not done it does not mean it is outside the realm of possibility. I’m simply wondering if love truly does exist in the sublime, passionate way it is depicted in literature and art.

And yes, it is excruciatingly sad to live trapped within four walls of hypocrisy, with someone who considers himself “good” and is self-righteous. I am tormented… because I feel trapped and saddened by this predicament in life and I long for something deeper and real, an authentic relationship with someone who knows me and with someone I know.

I am in the process of reconciling myself to the fact that… this kind of love is something I may never experience in my life. I have to accept it as a possibility. Hope for it, but don’t put all my hopes in it and banking on the fact it will happen. I don’t know what will happen.

What I do know is that something  “better” than what I am living with does exist. Perfect? No. Better? Yes. Better– defined as living with myself– in terms of self-respect, self-confidence, and realizing who I am and what I am, and am worth more than being treated like a wadded up piece of paper… a person with gifts, talents, and a voice that has something to say. Not listening to voices of defeat, hate, belittling, but listening rather to voices of hope, encouragement, fortitude, strength, courage.

I may never find my Mr. Rochester (even though I’d surely like to), but I am finding myself. I am no longer hidden under the pile of abuse.

And maybe that is the art– a life, uncovered, unhidden, really living life, authentically.

I’m coming out of the rubble. Something beautiful is finding life.

 

Companion through Winter

Time goes on. A new year. A new season. Winter. Harsh, cold, brutal.

As I pass through valleys and winter seasons in my life, I know who is holding my  hand. My soul does have a companion.

There is one who never fails, who keeps his promises, who never lies, who does not change.

I can’t imagine not knowing Jesus, and how knowing him changed my life. The Bible isn’t just some  holy or religious words to me. They aren’t a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s a story, a beautiful love story. It’s truth and  life-giving words. They are real. I know Jesus, not just about him, or read words or heard nice things about him or claims that he was a good person with some good ideas. I know him, like a good friend. Like my best, closest friend.

Most days I am clinging to him, holding on, and letting him hold and carry me through the storm. There is no other person on earth who can always be there, and care about me, and love me the way he does. There is no other love that can compare to who he is and what he’s done for me. I feel and accept that love. He offers me a place of rest in a tumultuous journey.

He knows how many hairs are on my head. He has so many thoughts toward me they cannot be counted. Honestly– no one else cares that much! He cares for the birds, and gives them food– and he will do the same for me! Am I not worth than they, he asks?

So my constant friend, who is always there, whose love for me is beyond comprehension, is also bigger than the mess I’m in. He can take, fix it, and restore and heal. He can heal me, restore the broken parts, and make me whole again. And he has already begun the healing process. He can do what in human eyes seems impossible. He is bigger than any problem I can even conjure up.

Hope is rising up in me. I don’t know how he will do it, but I’m convinced of his care and love for me, and that he promises he will never leave nor forsake me. Those are promises I can count on.

Is Anyone Listening?

Is anyone listening? does anyone even care?

My daughter, after today’s tirade, wrote a note and posted it on the wall. She says she wants nothing for Christmas.

My little boy said he really wants a good friend, and a little while later he asked me if I would be his friend. I said, “of course, I will always be your friend.”

My other child keeps it all inside. He doesn’t feel loved because he is not getting the one thing he asked for.

They are all so lonely, we are all so lonely. They each need a good friend, which none of them truly have. Each time we get pushed out, even among so-called nice Christian families, the kids don’t act so nice when the parents aren’t around, kicking, shoving, calling names, behaving badly.  They are lonely for friendship. No one knows how much we are suffering. No one. People back away. People are so busy with their own lives. People just don’t know what to do. People are busy. Too busy. When I get out of this (notice I didn’t say “if”), I hope I don’t become too busy to help someone like me. I hope I’m there. I know it’s hard to be there, when you have your own lives, kids, activities, family, love, relationships, things to do, gifts to buy for your own family, presents to wrap for your kids, friends to talk with,  have coffee with, go shopping with, family to be with… I know it’s hard. But, people all around are hurting. And nobody is listening.

I felt really really down today, I mean down.

I did share with someone yesterday and I am thankful for that. She listened to me and prayed for me. I need to share. I need the friendship and support. So it’s not like people don’t know. A few do. But again no one can be here living my life with me all the time. I live it alone. I can’t go and tell each person everything that happens when it happens. They’d get sick of it. Now you know how I feel.

My kids don’t feel loved, don’t think they deserve love. If this is their biological father, what kind of God will they believe in? One who is angry, full of wrath, ruling with an iron fist? Waiting for us to mess up so he can punish us? Sooooo wrong. Wrong!!!!

What kind of warm Christmas memories are being made here? None, but stinging, painful memories. So many things, adding up, they will need healing from. It is very sad.

And he yelled at me because I didn’t want to have guests at Christmas. How can I entertain guests when he treats us like this? He is so delusional, he just doesn’t get it. Ugh. You’ve got to be kidding me.  How on earth can we entertain and pretend everything is all ok? You’ve got to be kidding me. And then you yell at me about it.

I know no family is perfect, and I know there are situations out there that are worse than mine, but we’re hurting in the situation we are in.