Tag Archives: christian divorce

Recommended: What About the Children? by Cindy Burrell

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Wonderful post over at Verbal & Emotional Abuse by Cindy Burrell:

For an abuse victim who dares to reveal to her friends and family members her inclination to leave her abuser, she often hears something quite different than what the pastor asserted. She will more likely hear, “What about the children?”

There it is: an emotional trump card, a ticking time bomb. Any convictions about escaping the emotional harm she and her children might face on a daily basis are at once upended and she finds herself catapulted into visions of an unavoidably disastrous future. Could it be that perhaps separating from the abuser will only make things worse? Is it true that a child is better off in an abusive household where both parents are present than in a broken home?

Really appreciate the insights from someone further down the road. You can read the rest of the article here.

Prehistoric warm blooded bear-like creature that has nothing to do with Cindy’s post.

Some Thoughts on Remarriage and the Generational Cycle of Abuse

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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.

Here’s another:

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.

Recommended and Working on a Little Something

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Right now, I’m simmering. Not in a she’s-gonna-blow kinda way. Just mulling some things over and seeking God’s direction for new paths.

Recommended:

Barbara Roberts transcribed one of Lundy Bancroft’s videos here. Don’t know about you, but I have a hard time sitting through a thirty minute video when I can read something in ten.  Thank you Barbara!

Here’s a quote and a link to her post:

Lundy Bancroft Says the Right Outlook is Outrage

Is this a male on female crime?

The answer is yes; it is overwhelmingly a male on female crime. Certainly there are lesbian batterers who are abusing their female partners; there are gay male batterers who are abusing their male partners. But the people who are dying are not men who are being abused by women. I certainly know couples where the man is the nice guy and the woman is the not-nice person. It has nothing to do with who is nice people or who’s not nice people. It’s not that image of the world where somehow men are bad and women are good. But it’s about tyranny and it’s about fear and intimidation and it’s about the belief that you have the right to create fear and intimidation, and that you can count on other people to back you up.

Jeff Crippen wrote another wonderful article titled, Why an Abuser Cannot be a Christian. One of the things I appreciate about Jeff– he says the hard things. Lots of church folks get all sorts of bent out of shape over articles like this and I say– Let them twist.

Things are all kinds of messed up when a sociopathic liar can lead the congregation while his terrorized wife and kids get hounded by those in authority.

I want to re-visit and re-affirm the fact — and it is a fact — that the abuser is not and cannot be a Christian. A person who is ruled by a mentality of entitlement, of power and control over others, who so lacks a conscience that he feels absolutely justified in the evil tactics he utilizes to get what he wants and to rule over his victims, is not a new creation in Christ. And I need to continue to affirm this because it is being denied in our churches. I know it is being denied because I continue to receive first-hand reports from Christians who are victims of terrible, ongoing (usually for decades) abuse who verify that their pastors and elders and fellow Christians are insisting that the abuser IS a Christian.

If you haven’t yet, head over the A Cry for Justice and read through some of Pastor Crippen’s articles.

And finally, an article from Morven Baker  (a wee lecture for the ones who will never want to hear it)  just because she found the cutest kitty picture and needs extra tissues.

Forgiveness and Other Silly Ideas

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For the last week, I’ve been hanging. Just sitting. Sometimes the excitement bumps over so I thought I’d share.

I’ve read other blogs and commented lightly, kept up with emails, done a little work for a new friend. At the moment, I’m eating eggs and spinach. If envy hasn’t swamped your boat just yet, give it a minute.

*pause and think calmly whilst I finish eggs*

Thoughts go running by, most of which are not the least bit naughty. I killed several spiders but did not think badly of them for hiding in my covers preparing to nibble my flesh.  I took a few cleansing breaths before sending them on to spider heaven. I did not hold their wicked ways against them for, you see, that’s how spiders are. The very nature of spiderhood involves skulking and nibbling. You can’t fault a spider for acting like an arachnid.

I took several walks of a tranquil and peaceful nature and was sniffed inappropriately by a dog. This is not funny. In fact, it’s quite invasive. My thoughts remained all peaceful and stuff for, after all, dogs sniff. They tend to like aromas of a personal nature. They lick their backsides for goodness sake. I hold no grudge against this or any other pup for sniffing inconveniently. I did, however, glare at the owner who should  have used a regular leash instead of a twenty foot retractable line particularly with a dog prone to olfactory mishaps. After a few moments of near-naughtiness, I moved on with my life.

Ida Mae (you may be asking)—this is way cool but why-oh-why are you tormenting  us with the minutia of your serene and peaceful ordinariness?

*pause and discuss amongst yourselves whilst I get tea*

 

The Part Where The Accuser of the Brethren Shifts Blame. We are all Quite Shocked Really.

When I left the beast, I was accused of many things. Most are not appropriate for a PG-13 blog such as this, however two of the most common (and least interesting) come to mind.

  • I was told the anti-husband was not angry, no sir. Indeed, I was the one with anger issues. I even received a book in the mail on just this subject from one of his helpful new friends.
  • I was accused of the sin of unforgiveness and informed that I would not have my own sins forgiven. (The beast is quite helpful with it comes to scriptural interpretations and such, especially as applied to my flawed and deficient selfhood.)

Because I really do care, these accusations bother me. I do not want to be a bitter, angry woman going through life biting the heads off small animals. So what’s a girl to do?

This one prays a bunch. I ask the Father to reveal those things hidden in my heart He doesn’t much like. Through long years of association, I know He’s faithful to do just that. Most recently, He released me from this fear that I’m carrying about  a root of bitterness inside a heart too hard to know any different.

Let’s Be Clear

For decades now, I’ve taught the kids we are not responsible for someone else’s behavior. We are only responsible for our reaction to that behavior.

Be angry– sin not.

Anger in its purest form is not a sin. It is neutral, like any other emotion in a range the Lord provided. God gets plenty angry. Just like everything else, anger has a purpose.

We all know anger can be  mishandled. “Do not let the sun go down on  your wrath.” Right?  Anger dwelt upon, buried deep, allowed to ferment below the surface can lead to sin. The scripture describes this as a root of bitterness, springing up, defiling many. Pretty accurate description all around.

So am I angry? Not really. In fact, I had to *become* angry before I could find the motivation to finally leave.

I needed the energy, the force, the strength within the emotion to propel me to righteousness—to doing right actions. The fancy term for this is righteous indignation. I had to stop making excuses for inexcusable behavior, force my eyes wide-open to see the wrong done to my children. I had to get up and walk out, knowing I was right to remove them from the reach of someone who continually and purposefully harmed them at every opportunity.

But I do not live in a state of perpetual rage. I’ve got my moments sure but anger is not my go-to emotion. When I see injustice I feel sorrow. When I hear another victim’s story, I feel their pain within my own. When someone cuts me off in traffic, I figure their mommy didn’t teach them any better.

And when I recall abusive events, I bleed. I am not an angry person.

Unforgiveness?

Forgiveness is another matter.  I firmly believe half the reason I couldn’t  get free of abuse? Too much forgiveness.

*lets pause and think calmly on this whilst you put away your stones*

Our definition of forgiveness is much too squishy. My definition of forgiveness followed the typical party line:

  • Make Excuses
  • Find a Rational (rotten childhood, poor upbringing)
  • Forget (pretentious really but most of us are pretty good at faking)
  • Wipe the Slate Clean
  • Move on and Keep Quiet (never mention it again)

Forgiveness doesn’t broadly encompass all topics. We need to make finer distinctions. Forgiveness does not equal reconciliation nor is it co-joined with a case of self-induced amnesia.

We do not become suddenly stupid.

I forgave on a regular and continual basis. I did not hold a record of accounts nor did I demand repayment. In fact, with every infraction, we started all over. The problem here is the beast never actually repented nor did he *ask* for forgiveness. How could he when he believed he did no wrong? He was sorry all right—sorry he got caught, sorry I was upset, sorry I was rocking his boat with my feelings. He wanted me to shut up and move on so he could go back to doing the exact same thing, over and over and over.

Forgiveness is not:

  • Reconciling with someone who has not changed, nor has the slightest inclination to do so
  • Pretending nothing ever happened
  • Giving someone a free pass to start all over with no account for past behavior

Forgiveness means we do not pursue our own course of vengeance but turn the matter over to the Heavenly Court. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19) Sometimes we forget that second part.

Our Father has promised to repay our enemies. When we forgive, we let go and let God be Who He is– Righteous King and Judge. We can do this because we believe and acknowledge His position, power and authority and we trust His wisdom and timing.

This whole subject of forgiveness came to a screeching crescendo in my mind and heart when a dear friend of mine stepped way outside her comfort zone and shared her agonizing story. Right now, she  is going through her own version of hell. In fact, she endured yet another slapdown just this morning.

Years ago, she found herself in a tight spot and took something that belonged to another. In time, she was caught and sentenced. She spent years faithfully repaying her debt. There is no doubt she repented and has offered her heartfelt apology again and again. The aggrieved party,  however, will not let go. This person hounds and pursues,  intent on destroying her life, livelihood, and peace of mind.

The former victim has become the abuser.

That’s unforgiveness.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

I have forgiven the beast but this time around, my eyes remained wide open. I recognize he has never repented. He has never acknowledged the sin of abusing, berating, and bullying his own family on a broad scale, much less apologized for the hundreds and hundreds of incidents he created along the way to punish us for our many sins against him. He fully believes that everything is the fault of one person and one person only (and that would be me.) Even now, when no one from his immediate family will have a thing to do with him, he refuses to accept any responsibility.

That’s fine. It’s now between him and his Maker. Someday, he will answer for what he’s done.

Perhaps with time, he’ll actually repent. That’s fine too, but I’m not counting on it.

After all, what can you expect? Like spiders and dogs, he just did what came natural.

Recommended: The Lord is the Friend of the Lonely by Jeff Crippen

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Jeff’s written a powerful article over at A Cry for Justice titled, The Lord is the Friend of the Lonely Who Fear Him.

One of the themes that inevitably comes through in these stories is the incredible alone-ness of the victims. One recently told me how she felt after finally being able to leave her abuser, “I was grieving for my marriage, my home, my husband, and I was all alone in a new town.” Christians to the rescue? Hardly. Some of you are STILL alone. That is one reason we began this blog. We hope it is growing into a community of real Christians who “get it.” Don’t ever be afraid to contact us. We will believe you and do our best to affirm you and share some of the things we have learned. We will believe you. I wish we had a giant place and we could just tell victims, “come on down here. We have a place for you!” We should all pray that something like that might happen one day.

The works of the enemy thrive in darkness. Just as our Lord delights to see us free and whole, it is our enemy who keeps us bedded in shame, hiding behind closed doors, terrified to speak. Confusion, fear, torment– all from hell itself.

Whatever you’ve done, wherever you’ve been, no matter what happened–you did not deserve the nightmare of torment.

I’ve gotten to know Jeff virtually and I’d like to encourage survivors to prayerfully consider sending your story as he requests in this article. There is power in our collective testimony. As we break the isolation of our suffering and speak out, others will take courage.

No matter where you are on this journey, you have something to contribute.

You may have nothing left but you own the truth of your story, your life, your experiences.

Invasion of the Peace Snatchers, Nighttime Edition

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For the last three nights, I’ve wallowed in dreamland nonstop. I wake in the morning with head pounding, jaws clenched pit bull tight, not quite able to recall. . . was it a nightmare?

Don’t think so. I’ve had my share of those and this doesn’t feel quite the same. No heart-grabbing, couch-shaking terror on waking, just this vague impression of disquiet shadowing the day.

This morning, I remember.

The beast outlasted me.

Dreams and Other Realities

In the dream, we’re on a weekend visitation to my former home. The kids are small. My closest friend comes along for backup. Both my parents are there. The anti-husband ignores me and spends the entire visit working the crowd—fetching coffee for my folks, playing quiet games with the children. He caters to each  individually in the way they like best and they love the attention.

He never once sends a disparaging comment my direction. He doesn’t criticize in any way. As the night progresses, he wins them over, one by one. The dream plays on for hours.

Until finally, it’s just my best friend and I standing by the kitchen table. He wraps both arms around her. A genuine embrace. He pulls back and looks into her eyes with open affection.  Then again. He’s holding her in his arms until she melts. He pulls back, just a little and begins chatting, laughing, flattering. She turns, visage glowing and says, “You have to admit, he’s really something.”

And then, for the first time all weekend, he looks me full in the face and stares me down. I know this expression. I’ve seen it a thousand times, in a thousand places, for a thousand reasons—

—unadulterated venom.

He doesn’t try to charm me any longer, it’s not worth the effort. There’s no pretense. In his face I see covert, unspoken rage. This is the truth, witnessed for decades. Hatred both glaring and defiant that no one else will believe.

I turn to the kids and tell them to pack up their toys, we’re leaving. They’re tired. They don’t really want to go—and his expression changes. He turns away, starts playing to the crowd again, clowning, pretending this is all just one big fun time. He heads off to assist everyone getting ready to leave.

I’m left standing alone. I’m so tired and. . . he’s won.

When You’re Beat

I don’t like my dreams invaded. But there’s a measure of reality here I can’t shake this morning.

Recently a close friend lost their home in a natural disaster. I got the news from the beast along with a play by play of all he’d done to assist them in their suffering. There’s no doubt he did all those things and much more, front and center. First to arrive, last to leave. Helping, organizing, working the crowd of my former friends. People I love. People he hardly spoke to before my departure.

He possesses a weapon I’ll never muster—his hatred energizes him, fuels his efforts to see me discredited, to ruin my relationships through winning over my friends and family. He’s entrenched for the long haul and it scares the crap right out of my wounded soul. Lying, insinuations, innuendo all wrapped with deeds of kindness, individually crafted to flatter each insecurity. He will see me alone, isolated and discredited. Or else.

It’s how I imagine the devil worked the crowd until a third of the angels fell right along with him.

Wish there was a happy ending here, but I just don’t see it this morning.

 

 

 

Sunday Shortie: Single Minded Morning

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Another Sunday Shortie. A few quick thoughts, typed out fast, minimal editing.

Beautiful morning. The sun is shining,  the birdies are all twitter-pated. Coffee on the front porch, stiff and black. Neighbors running leaf blowers way too early.  A dog under my feet wanting a little rubdown.

I like freedom. I enjoy being single. Mornings remind me just how much I like this newest concept of alone time.

Most of my divorced friends and acquaintances  remarried, many within a  year of signing  papers. On the whole, they seem happy with their decision but I’m suspicious enough to wonder sometimes. Occasionally,  I ponder  this foreign concept of life with someone who actually likes you and wonder how the mornings play out.

I’m guessing they get up and smile at each other. Stumble through coffee without getting nervous enough to hit the carafe against the counter and shatter the glass. No one gets angry about grounds spilled in the sink.  They ask each other, ‘What do you want to do today?’  They might work together painting the bedroom or weeding the flowerbeds. They get more accomplished as two rather than one.

That sounds nice. It’s just not on my agenda.

Marriage is a commitment that takes work under the best of circumstances. I don’t understand those who want to jump back in so soon.  Maybe there’s something missing but I’m just not sure I’ll ever get enough of this blessed stillness.

I Like It Here

Mornings were never my own. I gave away thousands to someone hell-bent on their destruction. Control was his thing. Keeping us all off balance, forever focused on the minutia of his ever changing demands made his day. And I am tired.

During those last few years before escape, I learned to find God in moments stolen between explosions. I’d sit on the deck, quiet my troubled heart and listen. No laundry list of prayer requests, no deliver-me-or-I-perish drama. Just me and my Creator and a few quiet moments to worship for His infinite goodness.

These days,  I wake up slow and ask what’s on the Father’s agenda. I tell Him how wonderful He is. Coffee on the porch, then inside for some time working on His latest project. I tell Him about the kids as if He didn’t already know and ask advice on the latest crisis. Grab a plate of grits and head back out in jammies. He’s never complained, not once. My Lord makes me smile.

Nothing explodes, no one outlines my duties for the day, then tells me exactly how things will be done or else. God has yet to push me against the counter, trap me in a corner or block my way out of the refrigerator. I’m learning I don’t have to look over my shoulder all the time.

I’m free to serve God and serve others. That’s a privilege I don’t take lightly, one I don’t particularly want to give up. I do understand the Father can heal through new relationships. I also fully believe that the One who formed me in my mother’s womb can heal all the hurting places. In fact, I’m counting on it.

Now every morning, I turn to Jesus and see if He wants coffee. So far, He hasn’t taken me up on the offer but who knows?

There’s always tomorrow.

Recommended: Anna Wood: Alone Except for God

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Anna’s written a heart-achy post over on her blog, At the End of Myself, At the Feet of Jesus.  Many understand the sadness of living without hope but few can articulate so beautifully. Anna nails it :

Some days tears come unbidden, time and again, as if they will never end. Other days, she feels numb, dead inside, and no matter what happens, no matter how her abuser tries to hurt her, there are no tears left to be cried

Often sadness threatens to overwhelm her: the loss of the love she’s never known seeps deep inside her and flows out in aching ways.

She hurts daily for her children: for what they haven’t had and for what they have had to endure. Sadness threatens to drown her as their pain mixes with her own and flows into black. If not for God, she couldn’t hold on another second.

I can relate. You can read the entire post here.

Thank you, Anna.

 

Recommended: Barbara Roberts: Stormie Omartian Doesn’t Get it About Domestic Abuse

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Another one of those Oh-My Gertie, Get My Spectacles moments.

This morning, Barbara Roberts wrote a deceptively simple little post over at Not Under Bondage. I settled in, grabbed the coffee anticipating a lovely time rolling my eyes at the clueless nature of Christian celebrities who think they’re qualified to author books on marriage and stuff. Nothing better than a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge with my friend across the ocean.

Oodles of books have been written advising Christian women how to have great marriages. Trouble is, most of them are clueless about the dynamics of domestic abuse so they give atrocious advice which could be toxic or life threatening to a victim of abuse.

So far, so good.

Then that sneaky little Australian Bulldog links to this.

Ever read a book  on the subject of marriage and want to smack it against the bricks? Yeah, me too.

Barbara honey? You find the *best* stuff!