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Posts Tagged ‘emotional abuse’

The last one was so vivid. They are always the same ~ my husband moves back into the house. This morning I woke up thinking, “Thank God it was only a dream!” I have been having these dreams almost every night since he moved out.

We went to see my therapist last week – all 7 of us. Compared to the day we told the kids that “dad” was moving out, they were very quiet. Only speaking when answering a question and volunteering no information on their own. Giving very little indication of “how they are doing”.

My husband also acted so strange during the therapy session, doing most of the talking and saying several times that despite his circumstances, he felt “so blessed”. (?!) He told us that he lived in his car for a week, (yes, you read that right, he lived in his car!) until one of his friends took pity on him and invited him to stay in a guest room. Being true to his character of always wanting “all” or “nothing” he said to me privately that we either need to divorce or he is going to come back home.

Whatever strength I lacked in enforcing boundaries in my marriage up to this point, I lack no longer. I have told my husband that our separation does not have to end in divorce, but he should use this time away from the family as an opportunity to work on his personal issues. I will not consider a reconciliation until:

1) He receives counseling – he can not change his behavior long term if he doesn’t understand what drives it.
2) He repairs his relationship with my two older children – the damage he has done to them as an emotionally abusive father can never be undone, but I pray it can be healed.
3) We attend marriage/family therapy – we are a broken family and it has been that way long before the separation

This is such a bittersweet time for me, I’m not sure how much of it I will be able to write about. I am glad my husband has moved out and I feel such a sense of peace and renewal in our home. But at the same time, the ugliness that caused the situation looms nearby and the strength required of me now is elusive. I know it can not be my own strength, it must be His. I also know myself, and know I am not always the most faithful of followers. I tend to lean on Him only when I have no other choice.

As I stand on the precipice of a new season, I acknowledge I don’t know what is next. Whether I feel ready or not, I remind myself, He is ready and I have to be clinging to Him.

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“We write to taste life twice . . .” ~ Anais Nin

I write so I will not forget. But some days, I just don’t want to remember. Sometimes I just don’t want to “taste life twice”. This is one of those times. So for anyone who follows my blog, I hope you forgive me, but today I am posting only a song. Like most of the songs I post, this one speaks for me.

Where I am today.

Right now.

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To say the last week has been difficult would be a great understatement.

He had been caught. He just didn’t know to what extent when I confronted him. And so he lied. Had he told the truth, would the outcome have been different? No point in wondering that now. Once I began reading out loud to him, the e-mails they had exchanged that were in my possession, my husband realized he could lie no longer and the ugly details were revealed.

He met her 18 months ago . . . It became “inappropriate” early on. I told him he needed to leave. Move out. And he needed to tell the kids why or else I would. I gave him 1 week. He refused. By mid-week he even began to deny everything he had admitted just a few days before. Why wouldn’t he? I’m sure he was thinking that we would fall back into our usual pattern by telling me,

~ “You are blowing things out of proportion”
~ “You are being over sensitive”
~ “It wasn’t what you think”

It didn’t matter. Nothing he could say at this point was going to weaken my resolve.

Despite my husband’s juvenile and desperate protests, (“I’m not going to tell the kids and you can’t make me!) we had a “family meeting” exactly 1 week after the thing that changed everything happened. My younger ones cried. My older ones were angry and demanded him to explain. He couldn’t. And then the dam burst. Every crazy, dysfunctional, hurtful, narcissistic behavior of my husband was confronted . . . By the kids. There was no blatant disrespect, but they held nothing back.

His response? He took off his wedding ring, set it on the table, packed a bag, and left the house. He was gone and I could finally breathe. We all could finally breathe. The toxic energy was gone and now our healing could begin.

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Wishing this couch wasn’t so familiar to me as I settle in with a box of Kleenex, anticipating an emotional hour spent sharing the events of my week.

“I just want you to sit and listen while I read something to you“, my therapist announced unexpectedly. With no preface, she began reading:

Narcissistic wounding starts early in life to children whose parents are insecure, abusive, addictive, or have narcissistic patterns themselves . . . People with narcissistic traits process information, emotions and unresolved pain to make up for what they did not have in childhood.”

“Narcissistic injury happens to the child when his emotional needs are not  met . . . They learn how manipulation and using guilt gets what they want.”

They cannot tolerate negative emotional distress and turn it on others in blame, rather than looking within to see their own part of the problem . . . They deny and rationalize their own contribution to the problems to preserve their own internal fantasy of being good and right.”

“They are super sensitive to criticism and either attack the other person or leave the scene. This blaming the person who gives criticism helps the person with narcissistic defenses avoid feeling guilt, shame and depression, but it also keeps them from taking responsibility for learning from their mistakes and ultimately from growing up.”

“They seek refuge in being seen as the good guy and try to gain approval and recognition from others . . . Constantly seeking attention and approval puts them in the precarious position of always needing something from yet someone else.”

“As they believe they are right and others are wrong, they rarely admit faults in themselves . . . They believe they have the right to do whatever it takes to get short term gratification without suffering any consequences . . .They have little or no remorse for the pain they caused the other person, only anger that they did to get away with their behavior.”

“Family members learn to back off from confronting their bad behavior in attempt to not ‘hurt their feelings’ . . . Criticism of their behavior or trying to get them to see what they are doing only causes them to entrench further into defensiveness.”

“When found out in wrong doing, they get evasive, lie or get angry . . . They would rather threaten their relationship than face humiliation, embarrassment or injury to their self esteem.”

“The narcissism defenses of becoming angry, shutting down, minimizing and distancing keep them feeling safe in the moment . . . People with severe narcissistic traits do not change because they do not believe that they have a problem . . . They CAN NOT see the damage that they inflict on others.”

CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NARCISSIST

* Uses emotional blackmail to get what he wants
* Has poor insight and can not see the impact his selfish behavior has on others
* Wants to control what you do and say – tries to micromanage
* Is unable to see things from any point of view other than his own
* Ignores your feelings and calls you overly sensitive if you express feelings
* Does not expect to be penalized for failure to follow directions or conform to guidelines
* Neglects the family to impress others
* Is overly involved with his own hobbies

She looked up from the screen of the tablet from which she was reading and asked, “Does this sound like anyone you know?” I nodded, speechless.

“I’ve always doubted the diagnosis of ADD for your husband, and even though it might be accurate, this sure seems to describe him as well, doesn’t it?” Again I could only nod, dumbfounded.

But what does this mean? Then I realized . . . my husband may have multiple issues which could explain his behavior, and that are blindingly evident to those closest to him, but it really is quite irrelevant until he sees that he has issues which need to be addressed and until he wants to resolve them.

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I recently spent 4 days alone. In virtual silence. Amidst the beauty of the mountains, I walked the trails, in awe as nature lived and breathed all around me, but mostly, I listened for answers.

And I received none.

God spoke, but not in the way I expected. I was both drained and refreshed. I cherished the isolation, yet yearned for company. I grieved, and I was comforted.

But I came home still having no idea what to do about my marriage.

While I was gone, my husband sent me this e-mail:

“You deserve a vacation. You are a devoted mother of five, who works extremely hard. I recognize it and so do the kids.”

“I know that when we communicate, I feel constantly accused, which is very difficult on me since I am not someone who has any desire to be close to anyone on any level – (emotionally or physically) other than you, my wife.”

“As I’ve said before, I take my marriage vows very seriously and feel that is not something that will ever change. Our marriage is not going to end because of me walking away.”

“I understand that it is disrespect you feel by my behavior. I am aware of your feelings, however, I am not seeking anyone’s friendship, nor have I ever been in a compromising situation seeking companionship.”

***

I had to read and re-read the e-mail in order to process all the emotions that his message incited.

The first read brought feelings of guilt. My husband’s words sounded sincere and, for a moment, the memory of all that had transpired between us was forgotten history. The weight of responsibility slowly began to creep upon me as I questioned why I couldn’t be a better wife. A wife deserving of my husband’s kindness.

With the second read, I couldn’t help but notice the presence of denying any unfaithful intentions or behavior, and the absence of acknowledging my issues with his trip to Arizona. Why was that? My feelings had been hurt by his lack of communication and from excluding me in his vacation plans. Yet, he chose to address an issue that had nothing to do with either one of those.

By the third time thru, I was angry. I began reading what was not written and raged over the fact that my feelings regarding the present issue were ignored and invalidated. Was it really that unreasonable for a wife to want to know that her husband is planning to take their children on vacation and have her feelings hurt when she finds out about it after its been planned? – Only to realize she has not been included in those plans.

And as I sat with the peace of God’s nature surrounding me, so opposite of the resentment churning within me, I had to question the spiritual aspect of my situation. Was the devil trying to destroy my marriage . . . Or was God allowing me to view it from a different perspective?

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I read about the goal of a Christian is to be more “Christ-like”, but what does that look like in real life? When are we to “turn the other cheek”? . . . When is “righteous anger” appropriate? – “Do we continue in sin because grace abounds? – Certainly not!”

My husband may never change. Am I willing to continue living the way things are?

No.

But how do I stay married and find a way to live with his behavior? And how do I know the difference between God’s will and my own?

***

With my husband and 3 youngest sons gone on a vacation that was planned without me, I have been struggling with these and many other questions. I have had several e-mail conversations with my husband since they left – which is better than face to face conversations, since my anger is in a full blown rage right now.

***

Me: “I can’t believe that even after our last conversation about communication, I was still getting information about your trip from the kids, instead of from you. I can’t help but think that nothing I said got through to you.”

Him: “It seems everything I do or say makes you upset and I find it very sad. In light of that, as well as the fact that you weren’t going on the trip, I saw no reason to communicate the details to you.”

“I would have been more than happy to have you accompany us to Arizona, but I knew you were scheduled to work.”

Me: “You SAY you wanted me to come on this trip, but your actions said something completely different. I am so discouraged over the lack of change during the course of our marriage, and the bleak future ahead if the path we are on doesn’t change.”

Him: “It is just so unfortunate that this entire incident could have been prevented if you would just communicate with me in a more loving and understanding way. I am trying to not let it affect my health, but it is. I understand that you feel I don’t communicate well, but my behavior is usually a response to your behavior towards me.”

Me: I have reached a crossroad in our marriage where I no longer take responsibility for your behavior. I have done nothing to provoke or deserve your disregard for my feelings.”

Him: “It is MY feelings that are constantly being disregarded. You do not understand the daily struggles I face from financial difficulties and dealing with your children, not to mention the years I have been forced to interact with their father over his (lack of) financial responsibility. I am glad to say, that even with all of my imperfections, at least  I am not like the men from your past.”

Me: “You are out of line.”

Him: “I feel blessed and at peace to have a clear conscience in knowing that I am not ‘out of line.’ “

***
So that’s the state of things. I ended the conversation by telling my husband that I was going away for a few days to think about the future of our marriage. I need some serious quiet time to listen to what God wants from me right now.

Psalms 55:1-2, 6-8, 16, 20-22

Listen to my prayer, O God.
Do not ignore my cry for help!
Please listen and answer me,
for I am overwhelmed by my troubles . . .

Oh that I had wings like a dove;
then I would fly away and rest!
I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness.
How quickly I would escape – far from this wild storm of hatred . . .

But I will call on God and the Lord will rescue me . . .

And as for my companion, he betrayed his friends;
he broke his promises.
His words are as smooth as butter,
But in his heart is war.
His words are as soothing as lotion,
but underneath are daggers!

Give your burdens to the Lord,
and He will take care of you.

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The Silent Treatment – Month 2: I am feeling so battered by the storms in my life. Even though I know all the promises God has given and that I should be trusting Him to give me the strength to endure the storm, I am in such need of peace.

I would love for Him to calm the seas during this raging storm. I would love to have that “perfect peace” that “surpasses all understanding” and that allows me to “be still, and know” He is my God.

I have been told that sometimes God calms the seas, and sometimes He calms the heart. I would be grateful for either, at this point. So until then, I continue to pray – for grace, strength, wisdom, guidance . . . and, when I am so overwhelmed that I have no words of my own to say in prayer, I will use the words of a song.


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