Mental Illness and the Difficult Marriage and yes, Robin

I haven’t posted for some time and resisted even writing this.

This week Robin Williams died. He struggled with a mental illness. Some say it was depression and other’s say bi-polar. Either way, he struggled and gave into the darkness and the light he shared with the world has been snuffed.

Robin was married three times. Three. From what I understand, all three women loved him. He had children who adored him. All of these individuals knew his struggles with addictions and depression. They all cared.

Yet I heard someone blame his wife for Robin’s suicide because she was not in the bedroom with him that night.

Wait. Excuse me? Did you have a front row seat to the pain of that marriage? Did you walk with his wife through the heights and depths of what Robin struggled with in his mind and soul?

No. You didn’t.

Especially if Robin was bi-polar, the fact that his wife was still there, married to him, says volumes about her love and devotion. They could have shared a room and he could have shot himself in the garage. When someone makes the decision to kill themselves (and yes, it is a decision even if they feel they have no other choice), it is not the fault of the people left.

When I began to realize that the pain of my marriage wasn’t all my fault, that my husband was really ill with who knows what, I was scared. As I made changes in my behavior and stopped feeding into his insanity, he grew worse in some ways. I spoke to my pastor, almost asking permission to seek to be healthy. He affirmed I needed to be healthy for my own sake, my kids and my ministry.

“So if my husband kills himself, it’s not my fault. Right?”

He nodded. If my husband reacted to my pursuit of psychological health, by killing himself, that was his deal. Not mine. I had no culpability in it whatsoever. He is an adult and responsible before God for his choices in the way he treats his wife, and in how he lives his life.

My husband is still alive. I still struggle. Should he die I wouldn’t be like Robin’s wife, claiming to have lost my best friend.

I have great admiration for spouses who stick with a husband or wife who struggles with bi-polar disorder. It can make a marriage difficult and rational thought can be hard to find during certain aspects of this illness. I’m not saying my husband is bipolar. He’s not been diagnosed. He’s mentally unhealthy though and many would agree with me on that. It’s not just a disgruntled wife’s complaint.

It’s a verbally and emotionally abused wife’s truth. And the fact is, mental illness can manifest itself in abuse of others. Not always and it doesn’t have to be tolerated.

So please pray for his wife and children as they move forward with his gaping hole in their lives. I’m sure that while they wished for Robin’s freedom from the pain he struggled with, this would never have been on their list of choices as to how that would come about.

And if you are struggling with a spouse with mental illness–you are not alone. Get help and support from a therapist or a support group. You don’t have to navigate this journey alone or let yourself become a victim of the illness either.

And if you’re hurting . . . maybe this song by Rich Mullins, one of my favorites, will be a blessing to you.

Blessings to you,

Lilly Grace

 

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What do you mean by “Difficult”?

My book, Lessons from the Trenches, is due out in January of 2014, through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. I wrote it to help women in difficult marriages.

But what do I mean by that word: difficult?

I’m not writing to the woman whose husband snores or drops the clothes on the floor in the bathroom for visitors to see when they stop by. I’m not talking about a man who has bad breath or perhaps can’t balance a checkbook to save his life.

I’m talking about men who may have a mental illness, including but not limited to personality disorders. I’m talking about men who might even be emotionally, verbally, and financially abusive. I’m talking about men who are controlling. Maybe they have a physical disability that interferes with their ability to be a husband. Maybe they are just he victims of bad family relationships but refuse to get help? Maybe they are not believers. Maybe they charmed you into thinking they were a Christian but now that you’re married you find that there is no evidence (fruit) to testify to their faith. Maybe they charm the pants off of everyone else and neglects and ignores you (another form of verbal/emotional abuse). Maybe they struggle with addictions: alcohol, drugs, pornography, or perhaps gambling.  Maybe they have even had an affair.

Now we could go round and around about which of these justifies seeking a divorce. But Jesus said that permission to divorce was due to hardened hearts.

I want to encourage you not to harden your heart towards God, no matter how much you just long to be free of the pain you are experiencing in your marriage. All relationships can be hard. Difficult conversations can leave scars. Trust has to be earned.

How do you respect a man who does nothing worthy of that? How do you stay married to him? And why would you even try?

I’m raising a lot of questions here and not giving many answers. Most of the marriage books out there don’t give much help to those of use who struggle in marriages like these.  It is exactly to women in these kinds of marriages to whom I am writing this book to.

I wrote it to remind myself of the good God has done in the midst of my pain and struggle.  I was encouraged to publish it to help others who desperately need that help from someone who is walking that same path, not knowing what the future will hold.

I  can’t promise you God will fix your marriage or that if you do X, Y & Z your marriage will be changed. I can promise you that God will walk with you through the struggle and grow you and change you and use you in ways you might ever expect.

When I’m in pain that’s not always enough to comfort me. But knowing that there are others who are walking that same path, trying to honor God, is comforting.

If you want to join me o that journey. Keep coming back here and follow my facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lillygracebrown.

Blessings,
Lilly Grace

Three Weddings and a Funeral

Yes, I know , the movie staring Hugh Grant was actually FOUR Weddings and a Funeral. But this isn’t about Hugh Grant, even though he is cute and has a lovely accent and is fun to watch in the movies. My life has not been quite so comedic although I did plan three weddings.

Today I woke up unsettled as I kept feeling like August 17th was supposed to have some meaning to me. Like it was important somehow.  I checked my  calendar. Nothing written down. No birthday or anniversary or anything even really scheduled.  As I sat spending time in God’s Word and praying and journaling and reading some other great authors on faith – it hit me.

Today is the day I had originally scheduled my first wedding.  I felt grief and sorrow hit me in the gut. See, I ended up marrying that man a few years later after much heartache. I look back on that young 19 year old girl and see now that the patterns for abuse that I experience today –were already germinating back then. They were even set in place long before I met this man I would eventually marry. I despise how desperately needy I was for love that I didn’t see it and felt I didn’t deserve any better.

And I despise the fact that the enemy keeps telling me those lies even now.

The engagement took place on Valentine’s Day, and the wedding planned for August. Why wait? Except that the big surprise was that my fiancé, the one who surprisingly proposed to me, ended up calling it off.  I was heartbroken. He of course blamed me, saying I was forcing him to marry me. Really? I don’t remember holding a gun to his head to propose. But my undervaluing of my personhood by my biological family only affirmed that yes, I was not worthy to marry this man (or any man for that matter – who would ever want me?). I wasn’t thin enough, pretty enough and obviously, according to this man,  I was too controlling.

Hindsight makes me want to weep at how wrong my fragile young  heart was.

We did get engaged again,  and I called off that one on the day of the wedding.  We eventually did marry a few years later after much more abuse I was too ashamed to admit to because after all, I was a Christian.  I was so used to taking the blame for the negative things that happened to me. I felt the weight of someone else’s sin as if it were my own and shame prevented me from speaking about it.

So I planned three weddings,  went through with one, all to the same man. I’ve stayed married to him through better and worse. Mostly worse. I keep seeking God’s wisdom and truth about who I am in the midst of my challenging circumstances.  And I pray for rescue.

See, I believe if God wants me out of my marriage He can do it. I don’t pray for my husband’s death, but I have thought about what life would be like when that happens.  Practical things like liquidating his business and frivolous things like finally buying the bed that would be best for MY back.  God could also bring my husband to divorce me, and I would consider him as an unbeliever and let him go.  God could also decide to change things in my marriage as well.

So far there’s been no funeral.

Does that mean I should never consider legal separation? I don’t have biblical grounds (in the truest sense) to justify divorce. My husband, I believe, is mentally ill. I married for “in sickness and in health.” He won’t get treatment and is blind to his foolish ways and won’t seek wise counsel. I pray for God’s leading and guiding.

It is hard not to long for escape.  Today I grieve a young woman who did the best she could in her circumstances 26 years ago.  I weep for her vulnerable heart and I grieve for the loss of many dreams – primarily of being loved and cherished by my husband.  I have to believe my “happily ever after” ultimately is with Jesus and my lack in this life and marriage forces me to depend on Him in a deeper way than I probably would have otherwise.

Do I sound foolish to you? Many would say “Leave” but it really is not so easy. However I am praying a different prayer now. Not just one of “rescue” or for a job or some other way to survive. I’m praying that for the sake of the glory of God and His name and power shown through my life, that He will break the bonds of control that are currently holding me captive. Not just that I would endure them with grace, or that I would try to break them on my own (realistically, it would not happen even with a divorce or separation, no matter what a lawyer might tell me).  My heart has to listen to my God and that can be a difficult voice to hear amongst the negativity, grief and old message tapes that tell me I am unworthy of the love and devotion of a godly man.

In realityI have the love and devotion of a godly man already. His name is Jesus. And maybe, just maybe, if I were not struggling in the way that I am, I would not be as driven to seek my value, worth and love from my Creator King who also says:

“For your husband is your Maker. His name is Yaweh of Hosts – and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer. He is called the God of all the earth. For the Lord has called you like a wife deserted and grieved in spirit, like wife of youth when she is cast off.”  (Isaiah 54:5-6)

I am loved and cherished and worthy of that from the One who made me and will use me for His glory, in spite of my pain and suffering. If God can be glorified in me today, then I will be grateful that I was found usable by Him.  I may not see the impact. I have to trust the outcome to Him and cling to my Husband and trust Him for everything else. He’s my God. He can do it.