These days, I don’t shock so easy. Years of informal counseling in a church setting combined with the real world education of an abusive marriage means I’ve heard and/or experienced my share. I’m guessing anyone nearing the mid-century mark can shout amen.
The assumption on the part of friends, family and complete strangers that I long to reenter the dating game does surprise me, just a touch. After all– I just exited hell, why would I want to go back? The beast you know is preferable to the one licking his chops on e-Harmony, thanks anyway, and no way in a a very hot place am I ever going back.
Unlucky in Love
The girl who went in totally unprepared for a life locked in battle with a raging beast walked out fighting to stay tender in heart and mind. I don’t want to live jaded. I have children, dear to my heart, who long for love and the intimacy of couplehood. They do not need a raging witch proclaiming Doom and Destruction upon a God-created gift meant to bless us here between eternities.
The fact remains, the naive teen that trotted down the aisle doesn’t exist any more. My views on remarriage are no big secret to those readers who’ve been around awhile but let me restate for those just arriving:
In my heart of hearts, I believe marriage is a beautiful thing when patterned after God’s design. I believe that most divorced individuals are free to remarry another believer if they chose but I’m also a big fan of Paul when he says its better to remain single.
In my own life (including family and friendships), I’ve witnessed few healthy partnerships. Marriage equals work under the best of circumstances and if two people love each other and share mutual respect and understanding, the work counts as joy. For those of us exiting the abusive bus, however, we also understand what it means to labor alone, fighting to keep a zombie marriage on its feet and howling. We can dress that puppy up in Sunday best, slap on a little lipstick, force those rotten feet into a pair of Louboutin’s but no way is that monstrosity what God intended when He called it good.
For years, my heart and mind were drawn away from my Savior. I’d like to spend the rest of my days getting to know Him. That doesn’t mean I have no feelings (nudge, nudge, wink, wink.) Despite what I assumed at twenty, my body is not dead at fifty. Still, I fully believe in the gift of celibacy and I’m thankful for my Father’s provision.
Some Thoughts Between Pals
A recent email exchange with a dear friend brought the topic around again and I’d like to open this up to a wider discussion. We touched on the phenomena of abused women remarrying into a second (or third, or fourth) abusive marriage and how, on the surface, things might look totally different this time around.
Here are a couple of quotes from that exchange:
You know how I’m feeling about remarriage. Its not that I’m so jaded I think that every man out there is abusive. That isn’t it at all. And its not that I’m unfeeling and particularly want to live my last years alone. That certainly isn’t it either. It’s more about the fact that however this pattern of abuse of power works, it is *so* pervasive right now and takes so many different forms and frankly, I don’t want to deal with a single one of them.
Somehow, I think we are just starting to understand the scope of this and how deceptive, low down and sneaky these people are at their very core. It’s their nature– it’s what they do and they cannot do otherwise. In other words, we’re at the edge of something huge and the Lord has led us here with eyes open and what we learn is going to be staggering once the monster gets out of the box.
One other thought– I think those of us who grew up in this pattern (of abuse as children) are at a disadvantage, particularly when this gets more cunning. I think if you grow up healthy with healthy patterns of love and self respect, then you know this right down to your core. You don’t have to *think* about it– you meet someone and you aren’t attracted to them if they are abusive and carrying these qualities and attitudes at *their* core. Doesn’t mean you won’t get fooled, but if you have a healthy family to support you, maybe you don’t stay in this so long if you do get caught.
But we, on the other hand, have to learn. That means head knowledge. We pick up some here, some there. We learn by experience as we get older– like an adult learning to read and it never quite becomes fluent. So what hope is there for us?
I think we are the ones who can *articulate*.
Someone who gets this instinctively can’t tell you why something bugs them, just that it does. That’s all well and fine but doesn’t help those trapped in domestic violence and other forms of abuse. We, however, can *speak* what we learn. We can do our part to break the pattern in our own family and in the lives of those we meet. But I think its the next generation that benefits from our suffering. The pattern breaks, we model health and healing, they learn and move forward into freedom.
Yeah, I know I made some pretty big leaps here and you are more than welcome to call me on them. This isn’t Ida Mae preaching to the kiddies. This is Ida Mae searching for the truth.
The floor is open.
Let us reason together and stuff.