Trusting Him

Monday, 6 July 2020

When I first left my husband and began this journey of freedom and healing, God told me this is the season to trust in Him. He will meet all my needs. Let me tell you, that God is so faithful that He has met all my needs! This journey has not been at all easy like I thought it would be. I was so excited when God said to trust Him, and everything would be ok. For some reason, I thought His promise meant I would just skip off into the sunset without a care in the world. Boy, was I SO wrong!

I often get overwhelmed with panic and anxiety about my husband. He's so unpredictable. He's done some things that really have me just fearing for my safety. Currently, his visits are virtual because of the coronavirus. Every visit with him virtually in my dining room leaves me afraid. The sound of his voice brings back so many traumatic memories. I hear my kids telling him details of my life, of their life. It gets overwhelming. I often get depressed for the rest of the day. 

For the entirety of their lives, I've had a rule about secrets. We don't keep secrets in our family. I implemented this rule because my husband always had sketchy characters around, and I worried they would do something they shouldn’t and ask my children to keep it a secret. I worried their dad would take them somewhere he shouldn’t and ask them to keep it a secret from mommy. Now that our family has lost a member, and is different, I find myself wanting to keep secrets. I try to explain to the girls that I don't want them telling Daddy everything I do and say. I recognize this is a slippery slope, so I have requested that the kids don’t talk about me with their dad. He doesn't need to know who I talk to. He doesn't need to know anything more than he can find on my blog. Quite frankly, I don't feel safe with him knowing anything more.

Yesterday was a visit with their dad. They began to tell their dad about a friend I have. This friend is a man. Through this friend, I'm learning how healthy, whole men interact with women. I'm learning that the problem wasn't me, it was my husband. I mean, I knew that the abuse wasn't my fault, but confirmation that I am a good mom, friend, and human being is really nice. He's the broken one. After the girls told their dad about my friend, I called this friend to tell him I don't feel safe being friends with a man. I'm afraid my husband will retaliate and come after me. He told me I’ve done nothing wrong. He told me to do whatever I need to do to feel safe. The safety of myself and my kids are what is most important.

After he suggested I figure out a way to stop allowing my husband to control my life, I asked if we could read Psalm 91 together. Of course, we did. I read Psalm 91 and got pretty choked up as I was reading. When I was finished, my friend asked me if I believe what I had just read. Well, of course, I believe it. I go to this passage of scripture often. I have it written on my bedroom mirror so I can’t forget it. Next, he asked me if I trust what I had just read. He asked if I trust in Him.

I almost cried as I said that I did. The truth is though, that I did not trust what I was reading. If I did, I would not have been a mess in my bed, hiding under the covers. The realization shook me. Since that conversation, I have really been thinking and praying about trusting Him. The truth is that if I did trust God to fulfill the promises in Psalm 91, I would not be afraid of my husband coming to get me because my children tell him I have a male friend. I would not think that having a friend of the opposite sex is something I am doing wrong and need to hide from anyone. Those thoughts are a product of the years of narcissistic abuse and irrational jealousy. 

I was never allowed to have male friends. A few years ago, I was at my parents’ house for a visit. My husband had stayed home for whatever reason. My big brother, who I had not seen in YEARS was there! I snapped a selfie of course and excitedly sent it to my husband. His response was not exciting or happy. His response was jealous and terrible. My husband was jealous of my brother. He actually thought I would meet up with another man and then send him a photo of it. I don’t even know that he believed the man in the photo was really my brother until they met at a later time. When I saw my other big brother for the first time in years, the selfie I sent my husband with a disclaimer that the man in the photo was my brother. 

I’ve learned that trusting God means I am free, like, really free! I am free to live my life as I see fit. I will not choose my friends based on how my soon-to-be-ex-husband will react to those friendships. His reactions and inability to see the reality that is the end of our marriage are his problem, and his problem alone. I no longer have to choose how I live my life based on how he will feel about my choices. It means that I will be safe no matter what part of my life my children share with their dad. God has promised to keep me safe, and He is faithful to keep his promises.

This morning, I was lead to another Psalm of protection to pray over my life. It’s Psalm 37. Over and over again, God says to trust Him, and everything will be ok. Trust Him, and my enemies will be destroyed. Trust Him, and I will be safe. Trust Him, and I will have the desires of my heart.

Letters To My Husband - Number 2

Saturday, 4 July 2020

Dear Husband,

If you’ve read my last letter to you already, you’re probably wondering why I’m writing these things about you. I’m writing so I can heal. I’m writing so other women and men can know they don’t have to suffer in silence and hide the shame of their abusers. You see, the shame carried around by the abused isn’t our shame to carry; it’s YOUR shame. We are so kind that we hide it for you. I’m not hiding it anymore. I kept your abuse hidden from the world for far too long.

I know that you read all of my blogs and probably read every Facebook post and watch every video that I make. I know you’re following me on social media because the same mutual “friend” who gave you the ammunition to stalk and harass my neighbors, friends, and family told me so. She said that you now know what you did wrong. You told her that I love Jesus, and can’t live with alcoholism. While those things are true, not loving Jesus and being an addict isn’t necessarily what you did “wrong.” 

The wrong that you did is so much deeper than that. During a recent therapy session, I sent my therapist the most recent video I made describing only a few violent episodes. I provided little detail of the beatings. I watched him cry and wipe the tears from his face. My therapist is a grown man who I think has great strength. Just learning of a tiny bit of your abuse brought him to tears. After my therapy session ended, I called up a friend to ask him if he also cried after watching that video. He did. It was in that moment that I began to realize how terrible your actions were. Your abuse makes grown men cry; real men cry when they learn the ways you tortured me.

All those years you blamed me for the abuse that you, and you alone dished out. You told me you yelled at me and called me names because I made you angry. You had me believing for years that I controlled your emotions and behaviors. If only I could figure out how to keep you from being angry, you would be nice to me. If I could somehow make you happy, maybe you would stop calling me names and putting me down in front of our beautiful daughters. Every time you insulted me in front of them, I loved you a little less. I remember thinking that I never want a man to treat them the way you treat me, and I had to fix it. Do you remember when I asked you how you think you will feel when your daughters come to you broken, telling you their husbands or boyfriends have been abusing them? To this day, I’m still awaiting a response to this question.

I remember the turning point for me. I remember the day I started to realize you don’t actually love your family. Sierra was an infant; she was still nursing. I kept the breast pump supplies and bottles in some plastic drawers in the kitchen. You had been out all night the night before drinking and doing drugs like you did most nights back then. I got up in the morning to feed our baby and pump milk for her. What I discovered when I opened up the drawers to get my pumping supplies horrified me. You had urinated in the drawers.

I felt humiliated. I was heartbroken. I was disgusted. I felt angry. I felt as though you did not love our new baby. If you loved her, why would you urinate in her feeding supplies? I couldn’t understand why you disliked her so much. This wasn’t the first time something like that had happened. There was another night a few weeks after she was born that you urinated in the laundry basket that housed all of her clean, folded clothes. To make it even worse, when I confronted you about it, you yelled at me. How dare I accuse you of such a thing. You lied and said you didn’t do it. You were so convincing, but there wasn’t another option. This was the first time I began to recognize your gaslighting, though I didn’t know it was called gaslighting at the time.

You are a master gaslighter. You have mastered manipulation, and it’s so scary. You always told me you weren’t abusing me. You would even have me believing that I was the abuser, and you were the victim. I know now that was just part of the abuse. You needed to make me feel like I was the crazy one. You needed me to keep your abuse a secret, so you ensured that I would feel as though I would be the one in trouble if I ever told anyone. On the occasions that I did find the courage to speak out, you would turn it all around and convince the person I had told that I was the one abusing you. I eventually stopped trying to tell anyone and resigned to suffering in silence.

I’ve heard that you’re sober. I’m so glad to know that you’re sober now. I’m glad because I now know for certain that your issues are much deeper than your addiction. There is something deep inside you that is broken. I don’t know if you can ever be fixed. I am certainly not going to stick around to find out. I no longer hold onto the hope that you will be sober and we will have a happy, healthy life together. I know that isn’t possible with you. I also know that saying this puts me in danger of retaliation. It must be said. 

God has promised to keep me safe from you, and I stand firm on that promise. He took me out of the danger that was our marriage. He kept me alive during our marriage, and He will continue to keep me safe and to provide all my needs. My life verse, Jeremiah 29:11 says, “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a hope and a future.”

Letters To My Husband

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Dear husband,

There are some things I would like to say to you. It’s taken me years to find the courage, strength, and the words to say the things I'm about to say. Honestly, your absence from my life is how I’ve been able to heal enough to write you this letter and the letters to follow. Our life together has been filled with heartache and pain. The rest of the world knows our life to be full of happiness and love. I, however, know the truth of what our life actually was.

I've never felt safe enough to share with you my feelings about the way you've treated me since the beginning. Even if I did, you would not have recognized my feelings as valid anyway. You still may not. The first time you hurt me was only a month after we met. Do you remember that night? It started out so magical and fun. We went to One Spark. I was so happy and proud to have you by my side. We had so much fun together. We had the cool makeup in the basement of that bar. Remember that? In case you forgot, here's a photo.

When we had the makeup put on, I had no idea it was foreshadowing what would happen later that night. We were pretty drunk, so most of the night is a blur. One minute we were passionate and having the time of our lives. Then all of a sudden, you became a monster. You choked me and hit me. You threw your own tv off of the desk, breaking it. You ripped my clothes and bra off. Ripping them off of my body was not done in the heat of an intimate moment, but more like a rabid dog eating a rotting carcass. The makeup that was applied to your face somehow got entangled into my hair. 

When we woke up the next morning, we walked into the house, and Dawna asked what happened. I looked in the mirror, and I looked like I had been hit by a Mack truck. I had your handprints around my neck. My arms, face, breasts, and torso were all bruised up. My favorite shirt and bra were ripped to shreds. I WAS IN PAIN. You had defensive wounds and scratches from me trying to fight you off of me. I still don't know why you were so angry to behave so savagely.

We decided that morning to never speak of the night before again. After all, we were both drunk and neither of us could accurately remember what happened. Since we couldn't remember all the horrific details, we would just forget it ever happened. We never did speak of it again. I, however, never did forget. I will never forget the terror I felt or the pain of my wounds. I'll never forget applying layers of makeup to cover up the bruises for the job interview I had a few days later. I'll never forget the shame I felt.

You see, after someone savagely beats you like an animal, you think everyone you encounter can see how broken and damaged you are. No matter how much makeup you put on, no matter how long your sleeves are, you feel as though people are staring right into the face of your shame. You can hear them asking what you did to deserve such a beating. The reality is that they couldn’t see and they were not judging me. I did a great job covering up your bruises. I wanted to keep my shame a secret. 

When I posted the above photo on Facebook, people were concerned because the makeup artist did such a great job. It looks so real! It is insane that he captured almost what I really looked like the next morning after the makeup was washed away. Do you remember what you commented on that photo? Let’s take a look at some of the comments that were left on that photo.

Do you see what you did there? You had fun that night. While I can admit that most of the night was fun, the monstrous hell that came at the end ruined all the fun. I was left with shame and regret. You didn’t even recognize what you had done to me. You had no idea you had stripped away a gigantic chunk of my soul. You just forgot it ever happened and expected me to do the same. Because I would have otherwise been homeless, I did what you asked. 

If I’m completely honest with myself, and I think I am, I can admit that part of the shame is knowing that all the signs were there before that first night of physical abuse. The warning signs of the monster that you are were evident from the very beginning. Remember, just a couple weeks after we started dating when my landlord broke into my apartment with a group of people and threatened to beat me up? You may not remember it. I'll never forget. I called you scared. I asked you to come to help me. I didn't know what that help would look like, but I thought for sure this man who claims to like me so much would come to my rescue. Boy was I wrong. You yelled at me to call the police and figure it out on my own. That should have been the last conversation you and I ever had. 

The day after I had barricaded myself inside my busted up apartment, I made this post:

I didn't recognize it as the red flag that it was. It's clear to me now that my friend Christa recognized the red flags I could not. That must be why she was the first friend you needed to be out of my life.

I was already so damaged and broken over other tragic things that were happening in my life that I couldn't recognize the red flags. I was so conditioned to be abused by my own parents that I thought the way you treated me was normal and loving. After all, you told me you loved me right? You see, I had been abused by my parents and other men, lost a child, and had been abandoned by my family and friends. I was hurt and alone and very vulnerable. I was trying to figure out life after losing most of what I had ever known. I was easy prey for a monster such as yourself. Furthermore, I had no idea what the red flags of abuse were.

At the time, I didn’t know that love is not jealous and mean. Love does not intimidate or insult. Love does not cause scars. Love does not hurt. I know these things now. I now stand firm on 1 Corinthians 13:4-5. God says, "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged."