Rough Week


At one point, I promised writing on the bad days.  Since this is walking-through-pudding rather than stuck-in-concrete, I’m going to give it a try.

The trigger: an encounter with the anti-husband. Came home to find him driving past my home. No words exchanged, couldn’t get a shot of the license plate. But he knew and I knew. Mocking email came the next day.

Fallout: Confusion, anxiety, bad dreams, physical pain. And I’m losing my words again.

Confusion—every thought ends in, ‘but my husband would say. . .’  which generally ends in some type of blaming. Confused enough at the moment I can’t come up with an example although this has been going on for several days now.  I’m reminded of the scripture, “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8)

Anxiety—like swallowing a vibrating rubber ball. Stuck right in the middle, won’t go down, won’t come up. Checking, double checking the doors, jumping at noises, obsessing over trivial things like whether the laundry got rotated. Everything feels overwhelming—how will I support myself at this age? What’s going to happen to the kids?

Bad Dreams—one after the other. Dreams of children closed up in dresser drawers. Holding babies I’m not sure are still alive, getting left behind, tops of feet covered in blisters. Wake up, get water, visit the little girl’s room, go back to bed, dream starts up all over again without skipping.

Pain—neck is tight. Upper back is tender to the touch. Stretching my arms out wide causes so many joints to pop it startles the dog. Migraine threatening, hovering close. Old wounds inside are throbbing.

Word Loss—this one’s hard to explain. It starts when I can’t finish a sentence. This kids try to fill in my thoughts and I pick like multiple choice. “I need to head to the drugstore and get—“  Aspirin? Toilet paper? Shampoo?–  “Shampoo! That’s it.” If it sets in for long, I won’t be able to write. Answering email’s out of the question except for a quick reply. Editing this, or any other post is laughable.


  • I’ve talked via email with  a couple of friends about the inciting incident. Telling what happened, then listening to their advice provided concrete steps to take for safety.
  • Called the massage therapist and set up an appointment, hoping to break this cycle of physical tension. I live in a big town and we have schools I can afford. The piggies go unpainted this quarter.
  • I’m painting with the music cranked. Working through the process of a few watercolor flowers seems to help.
  • Praying. Lots of praying.

Thankful in All Things

A reminder’s in order that this was my continual state of being for most of three decades. This little spell’s  been going on less than a week. And what started it? The near proximity of the anti-husband. No words exchanged, not heated debate. His email hit the trash bucket without reply. In some ways, it’s a good reminder of how toxic he is.

I haven’t gotten to fetal-position on the bed just yet. I can carry on a pretty decent conversation. I’m still taking phone calls and telling friends I’m fine.

At times like this, I also have to remember—the wounds from emotional/verbal abuse are very real. Healing takes time. And ultimately, the divorce that terrified me years ago will cauterize this wound and give me the freedom to move forward.


10 responses »

  1. Since I first heard of this from our mutual friend several days ago, I’ve not ceased to pray for you. I’m praying still. If you ever need me, I’m just an e-mail away. Meanwhile, I’m holding you and yours up to our Lord and entrusting you in His tender care. ~ Anna

      • I should have known, should have seen it coming. I didn’t and today my H made me sick–his words, his cruelty. I had a meltdown; I haven’t had one in a long time. He started in and I froze; later nothing but puddles. Thank you for your words–so expressive, so full of pain. I can fully relate. It’s been days now with today being the worst. I’m praying for us all.

  2. Ida Mae – Confusion and word loss. I think these things happen because abuse – or even the re-triggering of it – overloads the brain. Just my theory. I know precisely what you are talking about. At the hands of abusive, power-hungry people who have caused division many times over the years in our church and sought to drive me and my family out of here, my mind has become so overloaded – like a 300 ring circus with shows active in each one – that attention to everyday thought gets pretty difficult. Friend or Foe? Am I innocent or guilty? Did that really happen? So you have to go back on the track and replay things so you can figure them out. No, that never happened. Yes, he did have an arrogant, wicked tone and he has done it many times before. And most importantly, yes, that IS what the Bible says. No, that kind of person cannot be a Christian. So, what in the world was the reason I came into the kitchen? Shoot! I missed the turn-off. Then you go turn around and the brain-wheels start rolling again and, man! I missed it again! Your life and thoughts keep you in this perpetual U-turn mode. And the people around you for the most part don’t know anything about it. They just think you are a putz. Unless they have been there, of course.

    I can remember sitting in an old log community hall in Montana where I pastored my first church for 8 years. We rented the building. There was a moose head on the wall and a big old barrel woodstove. For hundreds of Sundays I went to that place, first one in, seeing my breath in the winter at 20 below sometimes, or finding an outbreak of flies inside, or some errant bats that had to be eliminated before the service. I remember sitting there with my wife one evening with about 60 people there. It was the annual business meeting of the church. Oh what a joy! A classic abuser had been causing division in the church, and he led his little party of 10 people or so into the meeting. Before the thing was over, I was sitting back while the board president presided over the mess. It was surreal. Here are these people, accusing me, and moaning and complaining that my salary was too high (the church only paid about 20% of my salary, the rest was paid by a missions organization). I was unkind. I was not fit to be a pastor. It was time for a change or people would be leaving the church (and the problem with that would be???). In the end, it was the abuser and his clan who left.

    But all of those people were still around. Just like your abuser, they don’t ever just leave and disappear for good. They keep showing up. The keep working to gain allies against you. They slander you and stalk you. Jeff drives into town too much. Jeff should be visiting people more. Jeff’s sermons are too long. About time for Jeff to be moving on, right? So the thing goes on. These are the tactics of wicked, evil people who hate Christ and despise His Word and His servants. Many of them are abusers of their own wives and children. And they all create the confusion and word loss and U-turns and doubts you are talking about.

    But, here I am 30 years later, still a pastor. Still getting shot at sometimes. I’m not in Montana, but Diotrephes and his kind have representatives all over the country. I’ve met plenty of his children here. But they don’t seem to have the hold on me they used to. It gets better. Things get clearer. You start to find out that you aren’t such a wicked, worthless, piece of slime after all. I think that is Christ who does this.

    I did turn 61 last year, so I still forget why I went to the kitchen. Have to go back to the chair I was in, re-track the trail of my thoughts, then remember I was after some peanut butter. Turns out then that you are quite normal after all.

    Next time, try to get a better shot at…..uh, of….. the license plate.

  3. Jeff– that’s a perfect description of how the confusion and word loss works! Thanks for writing that because I sure can’t right now.

    And no, they sure don’t give up, do they? Good gravy.

  4. The past week has been full of threats, nightmares, and anxiety for me as well. The way you describe the loss of your words…I feel wordless, stammering, adrift. Thank you for articulating the words I cannot yet say.

  5. Oh sweet Ida Mae. I just want to face the bully for you, and let him have a piece of my mind. Professionally, of course 😉 He wouldn’t be the first.

    Alas, I don’t want to alarm you but have to let you know that, statistically, a woman who leaves a domestic violence relationship is seven times more likely to be killed than if she stays. He drove by this time. He might not next.

    Print out his emails, and give them to your therapist. Please let neighborhood watch know. Go down to the police station and lodge a complaint. Tell everyone that he is stalking you. The more people that know, the safer you are.

    You are loved. Your children will rise up and call you blessed. Praying for you.

  6. I’ve felt all the same…
    horrible dreams, lost thoughts, hyperventilating, panic attacks, constant wringing of hands, deep sighs and almost a “guttural” moan…
    Re-traumatized when a memory triggers or I catch a glimpse of him when he comes to pick up the kids for a visit…
    The man I was married to for 33 years and I am RE-TRAUMATIZED by just seeing him!!
    I understand totally Ida Mae!
    The verbal and emotional abuse effects are real.
    Thank you for your words, raw and real. I pray for you and the others on this blog…

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