I Didn’t Know I was in an Abusive Marriage

For years I struggled with my marriage. Depression and health issues made it even harder to get through a day once I quit working to be home with my kids. To top it off, we moved and I was more isolated. Funny thing, me being trained as a counselor that I didn’t recognize the abuses that had been going on for years.

I wrote my book while blind to this and I still stand by the truths I wrote  in there. I need those truths.

I understood about verbal abuse early on and with counseling, found ways to fight it as well as recognize that it was something I also had a tendency to engage in. I worked hard to eradicate all sarcasm out of my speech.

I’m not an arguer. I hate fighting. My husband has bragged about how great our marriage is because we don’t fight.

I found out early on it wasn’t worth it. I could never win. Early on I would refer to my “know-it-all” spouse as “Dr —–” It was not meant as a compliment. I now recognize it is more likely a narcissitic personality disorder. You can’t really win a fight with someone like that because anything you say can and will be used against you in the future, or twisted to make you begin to wonder if you are sane.

I really didn’t “get it” that I was being abused though until I heard Beth Moore speak while promoting her book “So Long Insecurity.”  She talked about not giving away our dignity. Then she said this in her book: “Whether male or female, any person who enjoys and exploits another’s insecurity and sensitivity is an emotional predator.” (pg 247) Beth then goes on to cite the Apostle Paul as writing about emotional predators. Whoa! How did I ever miss THAT in Scripture?

But he does:

“For men wil be lovers of self, lovers or money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God: 

holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; and avoid such men as these.”

(2 Timothy 3:2-5 NASB)

I’m not here to point fingers though. Only to say, I didn’t know. And not everyone in a difficult marriage struggles with abuse. And how do you avoid someone like this when you are married to them? Even if seperated or divorced, it’s hard to avoid someone you may have had children with. They will likely always be in your life.

But Beth Moore is right. We don’t have to hand them our dignity on a silver platter only to have it smashed to smithereens by neglect, financial strangleholds, emotional blackmail and verbal harangues. And then there is physical abuse too which is usually more easily identified but no less easy for a woman to cope with in a marriage. (Please, always be safe and get wise help and counsel if you decide to leave ANY kind of abusive marriage).

Coming to grips with truth about abuse though involves two main issues: 

  1. I have to own my sin. Am I pure and blameless? Have I never been abusive? Where have I failed? Sometimes confessing those sins to an abuser can make you more vulnerable to abuse. I have at times, when I’ve realized I’ve been wrong, confessed in a calm moment in the relationship (timing can be everything) and it has been something that takes my husband off guard completely. In those moments God has protected me from those moments being used to abuse me. In many ways that alone reaffirms His faithfulness to me.
  2. Knowing that your marriage is abusive is not a happy thing. The more you learn about abuse and how pervasive it is, the more you have to grieve in what you have lost, not so much in your marriage (because you probably never really had it) but what you had hoped for and deserved as a Christian wife. It’s a bitter pill to swallow.

Once you move past this though, and learn to walk in dignity (a good therapist who understands abuse as well as a great support system is essential), the easier it is to hold your head up and grow in your understanding God’s love and compassion for you.

I didn’t know I was abused. I do now, even though my husband denies that (yes, I have identified behaviors as such and it was not well recieved).

God never condemns us. Even when we fail, He is there with his loving arms ready and open to lavish his love. It may not change the reality of our circumstances if we are seeking to preserve our marriage until the Lord gives us permission to leave, but it grows us in ways we would never experience otherwise.

Do I wish I had never been abused? Absolutely. But I also recognize that God has and is continuing to use this as a refining fire in my life and as a platform to bless others. I’m humbled to part of His bigger plan.

He knows and sees your pain, Dear One.

Blessings, Lilly Grace

Not all Poor are Deadbeats

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Let me be clear. I have worked full time. I paid my taxes. I had insurance through my employer. I quit at kid #2 because it didn’t pay to work. Lost insurance. Moved to a mold infested mobile home to save money. The mold made me sick. After my third kid and a move to a healthy, safe house that we rent, I finally, after 9 years with no health insurance, applied for state insurance.

Food stamps were part of the application. Fine, whatever. Hubby withholds money for me to buy food and complains when I ask for it.

We were approved.

I have a master’s degree and cannot find a job in my field in my town. My kids are in a great school, one that helped my son who has “issues” thrive. I am married but for practical purposes, I live as a single person, with little support from the bio-dad, financially and in other ways as well. If I separated or divorced, I would be in an even worse situation financially, (so spare me your advice).

It is humbling to buy my groceries with my little card. One cashier always looks at my receipt that gives my balance on my card. I avoid going to her register now. I may be on food stamps but I’m still a human being and deserve to be treated with dignity. I’m not in the store with my flesh hanging out inappropriately or in my pajamas.

Health insurance has allowed broken bones to be cared for as well a hernia repair and now some ongoing back issues. Before that, well, I avoided the doctor at all costs, and would prefer to not be in any doctor’s office.

I’ll be honest. I’m not happy to be on public assistance. And yes, I have a smartphone. My husband is self-employed and has to have one for his job at was literally $1 to add on this one and we share minutes.

I understand that there are deadbeats out there, trolling Walmart in their pajamas, abusing the system. Applying for disability perhaps so they can pay the rent and buy their cigarettes and alcohol (not allowed on food stamps by the way, and neither is toilet paper or feminine hygiene products).

I know a mom who had six kids and her food stamps never covered a full month of their needs. Child support rarely came through in full. Her kids sometimes went without breakfast.

See, some of us in difficult marriages, or divorced, are legitimately hurting and in need of help. I shouldn’t need it. My husband is smart enough to make a decent living but always comes short of his lofty goal. We have no savings. No debt either. We had to file bankruptcy 9 years ago and decided then to NOT get any credit cards.

Why am I telling you this? I’m not for Obama-care. I have seen how hard it is to break out of the entitlement mentality. I am entitled to nothing. Except dignity. I’m grateful for a roof over my head and a car to drive. Heat and food and healthy kids. That’s more than so many others have.  I don’t want to be where I am at. I find the process of renewing our benefits to be humiliating even though the workers have been kind. The process, however, has not.  I understand they have to do their job and the system has it’s flaws. Seriously I have spent weeks getting things straightened out that they have messed up. Having said that – if they wanted me to do a drug screening to qualify, I would gladly submit to that.

I am working but not getting paid — yet. In time I will and maybe, just maybe it will buy me the freedom to make it without the assistance.

I’ve lived without insurance before and will probably do so again if I have to. I don’t buy into socialism. I don’t like the government calling me and telling me what to do medically with my children (even against doctor’s orders?).

Just remember us when you post your rants on Facebook or twitter. I understand your anger and frustration. Why should your taxes go up to fund people like me? Maybe you would be willing to help someone like me in my difficult circumstances. I understand that the real issue is with the drug using deadbeats who abuse the system making it hard on those of us who desperately need it. Unfortunately, as self-employed people, we get hit hard on the taxes too.

Everyone has a story. Some may break your heart. Be careful in judging the person with the food stamps. Someday, it could be you.

Decorated in Dignity

I’ve been making great strides in my personal life. Confronting some of the lies. Making positive steps forward. I thought I was doing pretty good.

Then I spent the night at a friend’s home. At first I thought I was jealous of the beautiful house and all the lovely things that make it so gorgeous. But I know my friend and I know the yuck she has been through in her life and I would never begrudge her the bounty God has blessed her with in her marriage and the material things she has been able to purchase. Things I cannot even dream of owning.

It was a comfortable home and I enjoyed my stay and her gracious hospitality. I came away refreshed. And a bit inspired.

I also realize that her tastes are different than mine. As beautiful as her home is, I would not decorate quite the way she does. We’re just different.  I would chose different colors etc. Yet I was comfortable there.

But for a little bit there I felt like I was trailer-trash because of some of the ways I do live. See, I’m not a very good housekeeper. My house is relatively clean and tidy but wide open spaces can give more of an appearance of that than there really is. I still have clutter on my desk and in my kitchen. I need to scrub the toilets more often.

But I recognize that I have been believing a lie  believing that I am trailer trash. I get that message (not in those exact words) from two people in my life. My mom and my husband. My husband doesn’t complain about my housekeeping. He’s totally content and rarely lifts a finger to help with anything anyway. Plus he’s rarely here. My kids don’t care either. My mom has always criticized every attempt to create beauty. Nothing is ever good enough. After I showed her a newly painted bedroom , she swiped her finger along a door and told me I need to dust. Wow. Thanks for the affirmation, Mom.

So I gave up caring. If it’s never good enough, why bother?  If my husband doesn’t affirm me for making the attempts, why bother?

I know God does not care if I’ve swept up every dust bunny or crumb. I know He’s not bothered by the stack of papers that need to go to the garbage that have collected on the island in the kitchen, or the stuff to be filed or tossed in my office.

He doesn’t care about that. He cares about my heart.

But my friend’s home expresses the beauty of our Creator. No clutter distracted from that.

I’m distracted by many things. They all take me away from the beauty of God.

And because of the messages I’ve had, I have allowed myself to live as if it were true. That I were trailer trash. Unworthy of beauty and neatness. I’ve been trashed by my husband when I do something creative as it is considered a waste of money. Funny how when I looked at my friend’s stuff all I could see was dollar signs. And grieve the lack of finances to embrace finer things myself.

So I’m challenged to confront my lack of dignity. God says of a wise woman: “Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she smiles at the future.” (Proverbs 31:25)

I don’t smile at the future because it feels like in my difficult marriage it will be more like it has in the past. Because I’m putting all my perception of myself as that of my husband’s words and treatment of me.  Oh, this is so easy to do!

But I’m going to try to walk in dignity. Take more pride in my home. Baby steps at first. Little things over time.  I can make my home sparkle with my personality like my friend has done with hers. I may have limitations in my spouse and finances but that doesn’t mean I have to live like I do. I am creative and I love to express that. Cutting myself off from that denies a part of who God made me to be.

In what ways do you need to put on the mantle of dignity for yourself?

Blessings,

Lilly