Morning friends,

The psalmist asked himself “Why am I downcast? What’s going on? (See Psalms 42 and 43). Depression is often a response to something that is wrong, either in our inner life, in our outer life, or/and in our body. Today’s question is from someone who struggles with depression and is paralyzed by fear. I’m sure many of you can relate.

But I think we can learn a lot from the prayers of David when he felt this way. When his negative feelings threatened to swallow him up in pain, he shifted his focus. When his situation became so scary he didn’t see any humanly way out, he turned his gaze to the one thing he knew for sure, God’s truth.

For example:

Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you. (Psalm 42: 5,11)

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again. (Psalm 42)

Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.” (Psalm 43:3)

If you need more help in learning to understand and deal with your negative emotions, I have a 3 session class starting September 2, Letting Go Of Negative Emotions. Click here for more information.

Today’s question: How do I overcome the visceral physical pain in my body as terror strikes my heart when I realize things must change? I have neglect, abandonment and alcoholism issues stemming from childhood. I then stepped into a 33 year marriage to a dismissive, callous, insensitive and highly functional alcoholic dependent husband who expects me to navigate and initiate all interaction and responsibilities relationally.I am woefully co-dependent which has left me terror-stricken and confused.I have been suicidal and hospitalized. I have filed several times only to beg for him to come back. I feel stuck in my inability to be free emotionally.The hostility toward me is ever present and the damage in my children has been expressed through eating disorders, obesity, and an unplanned pregnancy and alcohol and drug abuse. Our youngest son is picking up the slack with his abusive ways modeled toward me which is sending me over the edge again. I don't know if I can endure the dismissive disregard from my son now as well. It feels unbearable and triggers the hopelessness and rage I feel daily.Answer: I’m so sorry you are suffering and feel paralyzed and incapable of initiating necessary change. Your biggest problem right now is not your marriage, or your children, or your past. Your biggest problem is your fear. It seems that by your own admission, it’s easier for you to stay stuck in depression, overt hostility, rage, helplessness and family chaos and heartache over your children’s problems than to take a step toward healing for yourself.

You do have a good grasp on your problem. You hate living this way. You’re been depressed, suicidal and have been hospitalized, but you are too terrified and dependent to initiate changing things. The pain of change is more frightening to you than the pain you live with day after day. That pain is familiar and although horrible, you know how to do that pain –barely.

The picture I get as I’ve prayed about my response to you is that you are standing at the edge of a cliff, with someone who wants to harm you chasing you from behind, but you are too afraid to jump off the cliff because you don’t know how to swim in the waters below. Your heart pounds, your legs shake, your head buzzes with all kinds of horrible thoughts about what might happen to you. You say that you experience palpable, visceral, physical pain as you stand there telling yourself that you must jump off but you can’t get yourself to do it. So instead, you turn around and beg the person who is out to harm you to love and value you.

I hear you. You feel absolutely paralyzed. Let me break down the changes you must make into much smaller steps than simply jumping off the cliff. Perhaps then it will be less frightening.

But before I get into that, I want you to realize an important truth.

Change is going to happen, whether you want it to or not. Life never stays the same. (tweet that)

In the 33 years of marriage think back to all the changes you have already gone through. Marriage, your children’s births, their growing up, leaving home and getting married. There have been changes in your health and body over the years, mostly negative. Perhaps there were changes in where you lived or friendships were gained and lost.

Everyone also experiences unwanted change that interrupts our life. Death, divorce, health problems, job losses, people doing bad things to us, and financial upsets are part of living in this fallen world. No one likes these changes but they do usually get through them. And, some people actually not only get through them, they become stronger because of them.

Therefore, the first step in facing your fear of change is to remind yourself that you can’t escape change, it will happen. Second you need to remind yourself that you have handled change in the past, even if it was a change that you didn’t like.

Third, because people understand that change is inevitable, wise people plan ahead where possible so as to manage change in a healthy way. For example, a mother knows she will not always be needed as a mother. She prepares herself for empty nest by going back to college part time so when her kids are launched, she can move into a career she loves. Or, she finds some volunteer work or hobbies she can pour herself into so that she won’t feel lost when her job as a mom is finished.

Right now you know your marriage is on shaky ground. Even if you wanted to stay, what if your husband decides to leave you? What if he dies? How would you manage yourself? Are you preparing yourself financially? Emotionally? Mentally? Spiritually?

You’ve already said that you have your own work to do. You are depressed, have been suicidal, co-dependent, have abandonment issues, etc. Instead of thinking about what to do about your marriage, maybe you can start your change process by addressing some of these issues within you. In other words, if you get healthier and stronger inside, then from that place confronting problems on the outside whether it be your marriage or adult children won’t seem so terrifying.

A movie that illustrates an abused woman taking a first step to achieve a big scary goal is, Sleeping with the Enemy. Her husband was a sociopath, an evil man who totally controlled everything in her life. They lived in an isolated beach house and she was terrified of water, because she almost drowned in childhood. She couldn’t fathom leaving her husband safely. Her only hope was to fake her own death but that would require her looking like she accidentally drowned so that no body would be found. That seemed impossible. She couldn’t swim. She was terrified of water. She felt helpless and trapped.

She realized that the only way she could overcome her fear of the water was to face the water safely. She signed up for swimming lessons at her local YMCA. Week after week she faced her fear, got into the water with a swimming coach and practiced her swimming strokes until she got strong enough to initiate her plan and know she was capable of actually executing it.

You mentioned that you separated several times but then got afraid and begged him to come home. Even though you wanted a change, you weren’t strong enough to maintain the change for it to really benefit you or him, https://medfitnetwork.org/public/ambien-zolpidem-info/.

As I see you trembling on the cliff of your abusive marriage, I wonder if the first step for you is to back away from the cliff and take your own swimming lessons. What is one safe step you can take right now so that you face your fear of being alone? Face your co-dependency? Your rage? Your depression?

You can also start right now to make small changes that will make a big difference in how you feel. Get up earlier every morning and take a walk. Read your Bible. Pray, ask God for strength and wisdom. Eat healthy. Join Co-dependents Anonymous, go to Celebrate Recovery. get a counselor to help you with your depression and/or a coach to help you stay accountable to your goals. These are all things you can, and must do if you want to get healthy enough to initiate a change in your marriage that you are actually able to execute and stick with .

There are many women who read this blog who know exactly what it feels like to be frozen in fear. But they have learned that fear often masquerades as the boogeyman. It keeps us hovering in the corner of our life but if you face it straight on and start to walk towards it, you’ll discover it’s mostly bark with little bite. But if you don’t start taking small steps forward you will stay paralyzed by your fear.

Jesus asked a man who was physically paralyzed for 38 years an interesting question. He asked him “Do you want to be well?” (John 5). It seems disrespectful, even crazy to ask someone who was totally paralyzed if he would like to walk.

Jesus recognized this man’s fear. He had been lame his whole life. Healing his legs would solve one problem but then what would he do? This man would need to live in a way he never functioned before. He would now have to be independent, get a job, and support himself. He would no longer be allowed to be dependent on the good will of other people. He would have to be responsible for himself. Scary indeed. A challenge and an opportunity. If all you see is the challenge you feel afraid. If you can see the opportunity, you might also feel excited.

Dear one, God wants to heal you. He doesn’t want you to stay stuck in fear. He tells us “fear not” or “don’t be afraid” more than any other command in the Bible because he knows what a grip fear can get on our hearts, our minds and our bodies. Here is a sampling of many of those passages.

Click here for Fear Bible Verses.

Click here for “Fear Not” Scriptures.

He also assures us that “perfect love casts out fear.” 1 John 4:18

God will give you all the help you need to take small steps forward because it is his will that you mature and live a holy life, God-centered (not husband centered or fear centered life). 2 Timothy 1:9.

Start today by confessing your fear and ask God to help you be a woman who walks in faith. Trust him as you take each wobbly step forward and that that he will show you the next step and the next step. Proverbs 3:5,6; Psalm 32:8. Psalm 118:5-8

Next, will you believe what he tells you? – That you are loved, forgiven, precious, and important to him? That he will take care of you?

This past Sunday my pastor preached his sermon on Caleb. Caleb did not give into fear despite all the scary giants around him, despite all his peers who told him it was impossible to conquer the people in the land God had promised. In spite of what it looked like on the surface things, Caleb chose to believe God.

But the rest of the story is tragic. Those who stayed back frozen in fear, those who refused to believe God’s promises of deliverance and victory, were forgiven, but lived in the consequences of their own poor choice. They wandered in the desert for forty years, not one of them entering into the promised land because of fear and unbelief. Please don’t let that be you. See Numbers 13 and 14 for the story.

God doesn’t ask you to take reckless risks. But he is asking you to believe him and trust him. Will you step out of fear and into faith?

Friends, when you have been paralyzed by fear, what steps did you take to help you get unstuck?

122 Comments

  1. Alene on August 19, 2015 at 8:25 am

    Yes, I have been paralyzed by fear though I wouldn’t have worded it quite that way. I felt stuck. I couldn’t live with what was…but I didn’t know how to be a part of bringing about real change.

    I have begun to recognize that, for me, areas of depression often signal that there is something I should do or could confront or resolve or address with my husband. With my older son who working and married and lives far away…it is harder, and I really have to seek the Lord.

    I had a back story; an old story where fear had paralyzed me, a place of nightmares and shutting down.
    I had sought certain types of help but it was more marriage centered and I have realized that marriage counseling only works when both recognize a problem and are committed to working on the relationship.

    Finally, I hit a place where the pain of staying the same was greater than the pain of facing the problem. It was when my son copied his father and they were both putting me down and I said to myself, no, this is too much, I am not going to live like that. I had hoped the kids would come through ok. This son is now estranged. And I am done; done with the old way of doing things…it is a slow process for me and a lonely journey because no one in my family is with me in this, my family of origin cares but does nothing, I am learning to press into the Lord and listen for His nudges in a deeper way and found outside voices, like Leslie’s to help me on my journey.

    When I hit that point (some people call it an ‘it’, when “it” happens), I went to get help for me. I asked my parents to pay so I was not dependent on my husband. I went to find out what I could say or do when this or that happened, because I was not going to live as the scapegoat of the family. I warned my husband. He really has no clue to him the words meant little as he has no desire to see the problem. Even before that, I set my first boundary which was an amazing step. I have since found a free women’s shelter that offers classes and some counsel.

    I well remember how scary it was to begin to confront these things head on, to learn what that meant, and could look like, and take tentative steps, and then more steady ones, and still today to wonder how to progress more and more quickly and more clearly. How to define a process so I know where I am headed and can steer clearly and well.

    It helps to write this out, to process where I am at now. Farther along, but not where I want to be. I need to keep moving. And it is hard. But good.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 19, 2015 at 10:05 am

      And, you have come a long way haven’t you?

    • Kelley on August 27, 2015 at 11:28 pm

      I am happy to say that I was again hospitalized on my birthday July 25th. It was a real wake up call to stop making excuse for my husband and to get out of my wishful magical thinking to step into reality of what truly is. My husband did not come to see me nor did he even inquire as to my Wellbeing. He did not bring my son or ah be him call or show any concern. To my kids if they were to show empathy or concern it would be disloyalty to my husband. I went to a friends home when I was discharged and have been staying with her since. Today I signed a lease for an apartment while my husband show only contempt for me and remarks” no one Told you to leave” Bryson and I are adjusting. He is controlling any time I have with my son 15. And interfering with our planned 1 hour visits. My son only tolerates me and it is a grief to my heart. I have not heard from my idle daughter at all and so I don’t have contact with my granddaughter either . My oldest daughter had called several times and shows some compassion which is nice. I feel more peace than I have in so long. Such relief and fear of a different sort…but I can learn and will become capable in time.

      • Leslie Vernick on August 29, 2015 at 9:02 am

        Yes you will, keep safe and keep growing stronger.

        • Kelley on August 31, 2015 at 6:04 pm

          Thank YounLeslie, life seems a blur these days. I have signed a years lease on an apt. I spent all day today on the phone with utilities and movers. My husband has been not encouraging my son to see me or to have him keep his 3 last dates with me where he backed out at the last moment to Bike with his dad one day and go to a movie another of the days. Feeling a lot of grief over this but keeping focused. My stomach continues to hurt and it is hard tot eat. One day at a
          Time.

  2. Cheryl on August 19, 2015 at 8:35 am

    This is probably the best thing I have read about change and the fear of change! Thank you! I am a licensed counselor and my clients deal with the fear of change a lot. I also lead a women’s group for women who are dealing with spouses struggling with sexual addiction. We use your material in our group, and this post will be sent out to them as soon as I finish writing this reply! Two take-aways here: One is we all experience change in one form or another, and survive. The second is God is with us through every second of that change! Trust in Him and He will bring us through that change!

    Leslie, your books and blog have been a mainstay in my work with women suffering from emotional abuse. I learn so much from you, so thank you! Please know you are blessing women everywhere!

    • Leslie Vernick on August 19, 2015 at 10:05 am

      Cheryl, thanks so much for your encouragement. It means so much to me that other professionals are using my work with hurting women.

    • Christina on August 19, 2015 at 10:23 pm

      Cheryl, where is your group located? I am dealing with a sexually addicted spouse.
      Thank you

      • Cheryl on August 20, 2015 at 11:16 am

        Christina,

        I am in central North Carolina. If that works for you, I can give you my contact info.

        Cheryl

  3. Linda on August 19, 2015 at 8:45 am

    Leslie …

    Your compassionate, thorough response to this reader’s situation reminds me once again why this pastoral counselor / coach thinks you’re one of the best Christ-centered professional counselors out there.

    Period.

    ;-}

    Blessings to you today, friend. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us each week. May God send you refreshment in ways that make your heart soar!

    • Leslie Vernick on August 19, 2015 at 10:03 am

      Thanks so much for your encouragement Linda. I deeply appreciate it.

    • Valerie on September 2, 2015 at 4:06 pm

      I second Linda’s response wholeheartedly!!! 🙂

  4. Carolee on August 19, 2015 at 11:16 am

    This is exactly what I needed to hear today. Small steps. I am so afraid of change and feel like leaving my very toxic relationship is impossible at 67 years old. But 23 years of constant verbal abuse, criticized for how I talk and what I do and even how I eat is giving me health problems. He has told me he will not stop trying to “fix” me. Living under a microscope when I can do very little that pleases him. He has a violent temper yet doesn’t think he needs help in anything. He claimed to be a Christian but then said it didn’t work for him! I have seen this “conversion” as manipulation. This blog has helped me so much. Leslie I pray for you so much and thank God for you and the support you give to us. The blog last week clarified so many questions I have had but were afraid to voice. I have felt so stuck. I am glad for the encouragement this week about how everything changes. So much to pray over and think about.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 19, 2015 at 11:50 am

      Carolee, I’m glad you found it helpful. It’s never too late to change.

  5. Robyn on August 19, 2015 at 11:35 am

    My husband does not want me to go to a counselor and would be angry if I attended any kind of women’s group. He knows where I’m at and what I’m doing most of the time. I only have my bible and limited time on the computer.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 19, 2015 at 11:49 am

      Robyn, if your husband did not want you to go to a doctor and you were having chest pains or felt a lump in your breast would you go? I think you would. Your husband has as much control over you as you allow him to. You must begin to take small steps forward towards reclaiming your heath and your life if you want to be whole. What do you think he would do if you went to a Bible study? Would he be violent? If not, then perhaps you need to put your toe in the water and go and let him be angry and ignore him. You can say “I need this for me” and let it be at that. He’s very threatened by anything you might do that does not revolve around him and his needs. That is not a marriage, that is a prison camp. But the door is not locked and you do have choices – they are scary and when you change your dance steps the dance at home will change, but would you rather stay stuck in fear and hopelessness?

      • Elizabeth on August 19, 2015 at 4:03 pm

        Thank you, once again, Leslie, for wise practical counsel. The first step of change came for me the day I spoke with a friend for the first time about the verbal and emotional abuse from my husband. She was not surprised and came along side me. That was 25 years ago. I have learned much along the way about my heart and responses and God is at work in me. Another change moment for me was when I realized I had choices and they were not to continue absorbing the abuse but to speak out and make changes in the way I responded and remove myself from the abuse. It has been a long journey in which I have grown to know and love my Savior more and more. Thank you, Leslie for allowing God to use you to help us.

      • Daisy on August 19, 2015 at 5:56 pm

        Leslie,

        I enjoy what you write and find healing in the things you say. You are exactly right: this is not a marriage, it’s a prison camp. I experienced that prison camp of a marriage myself. I know very well the fear and hopelessness that Robyn is going through. It is very real and you are left completely paralyzed by it.

        Having said that, I put myself back in Robyn’s position as I considered your question about going to the Dr if your husband did not want you to go. Although I have been divorced for over five years, my husband was – and still is – completely controlling, manipulative, persuasive, and believable. If I would have had a health issue, he would have told me, “It’s all in your head,” or “You’re just imagining that,” or “That’s just your excuse to see your boyfriend.” (As I wrote in my response to Robyn, my husband accused me and the Dr of having an affair. Through counseling I later learned this is a common tactic abusers use to confuse their wives. It’s part of the crazy-making). As persuasive and demanding as my husband was, he probably would have convinced me that my problem was all in my head and I would not have sought medical treatment, so I’m not sure that a woman would go if her husband did not want her to. These men have a way of brainwashing their wives so that the wives truly can’t discern fact from fiction, right from wrong, etc (that’s another thing a counselor shared with me).

        Since this is a prison, I do not agree with your statement, “your husband has just as much control over you as you allow him to.” That’s like telling a prisoner in a state facility, the warden only has as much control over him as the prisoner wants him to have. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous! Yet, that’s just what we are dealing with in these situations. When we are trapped in a situation like this, you truly are a prisoner and your husband is your warden or prison guard.

        • Leslie Vernick on August 19, 2015 at 6:27 pm

          Daisy, I hear you and perhaps your husband would have the power to make you think it is in your head, but eventually your body would tell you he’s lying. You’d be gasping for breath or your lump in your breast would be getting bigger and bigger. Brainwashing is real but the truth is more real and more powerful. There are resources available for women who need help, who want to learn to get stronger, who don’t want to live like prisoners anymore. Unless you are physically locked up, you can seek help but much like the woman I blogged about today, many women are too afraid to reach out and grab the help available because it WILL upset the marital apple cart so to speak. You hear testimony after testimony from women on this blog who believed they had no choices, that they couldn’t speak up, they couldn’t stand up, they couldn’t have boundaries, and yet when they began to get stronger, they somehow weren’t as scared as they had been before. Even if nothing changed in their husband, something deeply changed within them and they realized that they weren’t so helpless, so powerless and they began to grow. They may not have been able to leave yet, but they stopped being defined by their prison guard (husband) and started to discover who they really were and what they were made of….and they found out they were a lot stronger and more capable than they thought (or were told).

          • Susan on August 19, 2015 at 8:13 pm

            Thank you for speaking this truth. So encouraging!



    • Daisy on August 19, 2015 at 4:41 pm

      Robyn,
      I can certainly understand how you feel. I’ve lived through it.
      When I was married, our kids were small, so going anywhere was difficult.
      My husband had a job where he worked all day and was on call 24/7. Instead of being home in the evenings, he chose to fill those up by volunteering to be on various community boards, organizations, groups, and the fire department. His rationale was it was community service and good to be out in public. That sounds honorable, so I believed him. However, as soon as I was out of the picture, all those noble things were abandoned leaving the door open for me to see clearly they were his subtle way of exercising more control over me since he knew with himself gone, I would be forced to stay home and away from contact with other people.
      I did not have a cell phone. If I tried to call anyone on our land line, he would subtly listen in on whatever I was saying, so even if I would have known of support groups or hotlines, it would have done me no good.
      We had internet, which he could spend hours at a time on, but if I tried to get on, before I could even log on, he’d start complaining that I was tying up the phone line and people could not contact him if they needed him. He set up separate log ins for our computer. Each required a separate password. Of course, he set my password up (so he could access my account anytime), but I had no idea what his password was. Another red flag of control.
      I kept a diary of my personal thoughts, which I thought was private. But, it wasn’t. He was reading it, despite the fact that I hid it in different spots when I would write in it.
      My only “outing” and social connection was to go to the Dr because he was treating me with anti depressants, so I required frequent med checks and appointments. My husband turned that against me, too, when he started accusing the Dr and me of having an affair. (Later, counselors told me this is a common accusation that controlling, abusive, narcissistic men use against their wives).

      These situations come down to two issues: his control and your fear. I was faced with it myself. As soon as I heard the garage door opening, my body would tense up and I’d become afraid. It took me a long time to realize that’s what was happening. And after I’d discovered it, it took a long time to come to grips with it. A wife who is so afraid of her husband that her body tenses up when she hears the garage door?! That’s not love! As Leslie mentioned that’s a prison camp! When I realized I was a prisoner and not a wife is when I knew I had to take action. But it still took awhile because of the fear holding me back.

      From my mistakes, I will share one caution: be prepared! Be over prepared! If your situation goes to the point of divorce, make sure you have legal representation so that you can get the best outcome for you and your kids. I did not. Now (years later), lawyers are telling me judges will rarely over turn custody decisions, so I’m pretty much stuck watching my kids grow up being raised by their manipulative, controlling, abusive, narcissistic dad. In some ways, I left one prison only to enter another one.

      • Mary on August 19, 2015 at 5:05 pm

        I know the garage door shutter. It starts at the base of your spine and travels up to your head. Next follows a small gasp for air and a heart that pounds out of your chest. It creates a zombie walk that rivals even the best Halloween parade.

  6. Connie on August 19, 2015 at 11:53 am

    I had a dream one night. I was living in a house, on the second floor. Because there were no supportive walls on the first floor, the second floor collapsed. I moved to another house and the same thing happened. As I was standing looking at the house, someone walked up to me and said, “You need support”, and then I woke up. I was living in a fairly new town, far from family and old friends whom I kept up with by phone and email, but had been mostly keeping to myself in this new place because it seemed that’s what people here did. After the dream I went to 2 women and told them the dream and asked if I could hang out with them sometimes. They seemed surprised but now we go for coffee usually once a week and sometimes shop together for fun.

    This is just a small part of my journey, but it had an extra bonus. I’m in my second marriage and it started off as abusive as the first. This time I set boundaries sooner (yes, very scary but I was leaning on the Lord so much more and was ok with having to leave if needed – the first time it took hospitalization to leave). I have learned not to keep things secret anymore and having local friends helped in the boundary setting, in that he knows I talk about things……respectfully, but I do share…..and that helps him not want his reputation hurt and to treat me better.

  7. Sandra Anderson on August 19, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you for this teaching, dear Leslie. My heart goes out to this dear, fearful lady because I was much like her which is why I stayed in a destructive marriage for 57 years. In fact, I probably would still be in it had I not read your book and realized God did not expect me to. I then set boundaries that my ex-husband refused to accept, so he finally was the one who left me. I then had to stand on my own two feet; and with God’s help, went to a Christian therapist, sold the house, and moved into a senior apartment. I’m now have the freedom to attend church, read my Bible and pray, and serve the Lord to my heart’s content, as never before. I wish I’d had the faith and courage to have left early-on, rather than allowing fear to prevent (for all those years!) the peace I now enjoy.
    Blessings, Sandra

    • Carolee on August 19, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Oh Sandra you are such an encouragement to me. So often I feel to old to cope with changes I know I need to make. My husband doesn’t accept any boundaries I put up either. in the last blog someone mentioned she put up an electric fence in her mind and stood guard against the hurts her husband hurled at her. I use that picture now too. I am so thankful for Leslie and the Bible references that speak so well to my needs. Bless all you dear ones on this blog too. Your stories of how you cope and how you have come away from all the abuse are giving me more hope. I wish I had advice to give but for now I am just working on healing and getting a strong CORE ! Thankful and praying for all of you

  8. Aleea on August 19, 2015 at 6:03 pm

    Friends, when you have been paralyzed by fear, what steps did you take to help you get unstuck?
     
    . . . .All I know to do is pray and pray: Lord, help me not to be a coward.  Lord, I’m so afraid of swallowing intellectual dishonesty that I feel immobilized at times and am so full of questions and doubts that have no real, useable answers, not in this life.  My pastor told me that faith involves a choice analogous to the marriage bond, and to reconsider elements of faith would be like having a wandering eye!  This is so amazing outrageous to me that there is no other way to explain it but as desperate self-deception, ditto most static model marriage teaching, as well as soft patriarchy, soft complementarianism in marriage.  What ever happened to the living text of the Gospels (RE: living)???  Pastors miss the living, breathing reality of Christianity.  It is not often that one sees a sober assessment!
     
    . . . .Now, my counselor has a different approach, she always invites me to contemplate my death when I get stuck.  I don’t fully understand that but I roll with it, sometimes it works well.  She will say: ”Aleea, the second you start to think about your own mortality, it affects and changes the way that you live, which I think is a really beautiful thing,” “We’re humans. We forget.  One of the Greek/Coptic words for humans is ‘they who forget,’ which is no accident.  We forget all the good things, and we forget all the bad things, because if we carried around that pain with us all the time, we’d be walking scars worse than we are now.  We forget we’re going to die.  We forget that this time that we have on this planet to serve Christ is very limited.”

  9. janice' on August 19, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    I would first ask myself, “How is this fear serving me?” Then I would stop telling my self the story (whatever that is)that I can’t do something because a,b,or c. I would start affirmations every day and remind myself who I am in Christ. I surround myself with people who have stopped telling themselves they can’t do this or that and learn from them. I am a warrior and a child of God. I see secular coaches and mentors using Biblical principals to really help people stop continuing on in their destructive patterns. And they do it in a very short time. We have to stop being such a wimpy group of people and start realizing that we have the Holy Spirit to help us. God is for us.YES!!!! Start claiming who you are and stop believing the stories you are telling yourself. Thanks Leslie for helping people to get strong.

    • Aleea on August 20, 2015 at 4:41 am

      “We have to stop being such a wimpy group of people. . . . “
       
      . . . . who really knows, I certainly know I don’t —but, in the end, I would bet that our deepest fear is NOT that we are inadequate (wimpy) at all.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful b-e-y-o-n-d measure and we will not know where to stop.  The truth is not a flower, it is a two-edged sword that radically deconstructs men’s power structures.  At first that seems useful, —very helpful, but then it starts burning in what looks out-of-control and we forget following Christ is the total opposite of what most would see as safe.  That said, our playing small does not serve the Kingdom of God.  There’s nothing spiritually enlightened about shrinking so that men but even women, won’t feel insecure around us.  That especially applies to our husbands. . . .So when Jesus carries me, I always go for the truth.  Truth is what can stand up to ANY level of questioning.  All truth is safe, but nothing else is safe.  It will not endure, it leaves no positive legacy.  It will fall apart with time because it is was not the truth.  Anyone who keeps back the truth, withholding it based on ignorance or motives of expediency is a criminal to Christianity.  —Again, the Lord is not served by us playing small, shrinking so that others don’t feel spiritually inadequate or spiritually insecure.  God wants us so close to Him that we are radiating His glory.  When we do, we liberate others from all their fears and give them permission to do the same.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us and as we let our own light shine (—as some of you have and as more of you are doing), as you/we do that it gives others permission to do the same.  . . . .I know many here have done that for me, even though I still have lots of serious faith issues brought about by church leaders applying way too much magical thinking and peddling truck loads of unsubstantiated false hope (sophistry).  As we are liberated from our own fears, our (your) very presence automatically liberates others.

  10. Cyndy McCollum on August 19, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    My first step toward freedom was putting on the armor of God (Eph. 6). I started with the belt of truth and told God that I didn’t trust my husband to give me truth, and I didn’t trust my own perspective. If He (my heavenly Father) didn’t “buckle me up” I was sunk! Every day to this day I do this before I get out of bed, asking God to feed me His Truth. He has never failed me in 8 years!

    • jennifer on August 22, 2015 at 9:06 pm

      I read “The Survivors Club” by Ben Sherwood. The book was about people who survived natural disasters and physically dangerous situations like plane crashes and sinking ships. What I found most fascinating was the discussion that it is very common for people to freeze when confronted with intense fear. The military realizes this and trains soldiers to do any thing but freeze. They are taught to move for their safety. I think this same advice translates here. Move. Mover you body, move your mind, move your spirit, move your circumstances, just don’t let fear paralyze you.

    • Maria on August 24, 2015 at 6:48 pm

      Leslie, I laughed when I read your comment about attorneys. I also like your analogies of truth and love. Aleea, I enjoy reading your posts although I have to read them more than once! I admire your responses to criticism. A lot of times I get defensive. You’ve modeled how to respond positively-thanks.

    • Sandy on August 25, 2015 at 10:09 pm

      Appreciate this comment! God has been teaching me to do a similar thing! It will only make me stronger, because to stay in the truth means I have to KNOW it myself!

  11. Stacey on August 20, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Very good post this week. I can relate to the fear of change, fear of not having an income, fear for the children, etc.

    If you are considering leaving (fearful or not), I want to suggest a few things, so when you are ready, things are in place.

    1. Open up your own PO box, checking account, and credit card account.

    2. If you are a stay-at-home mom and want to continue, get going at starting your business.

    3. Record, record, record. I just can’t stress that enough. Use your phone and record your conversations with him and store it online so he can’t have access to it. This action could very well determine who is fit to be a custodial parent.

    By doing these things to prepare to leave, they ARE taking the small steps to have the COURAGE to leave. You can’t expect yourself to just jump without being ready emotionally because you will go running back to the insane relationship.

    To those of you who are scared, we understand. We’ve been there. My counselor and Leslie’s book were a tremendous help to me. I followed the steps necessary to check every door and window to see if he would be willing to change. He wasn’t. My 26 year marriage is soon to be over with and I am so thankful that I made that decision to leave. It’s a process, not a weekend contemplation.

    Having faith has never been easy.

    Blessings

    • Leslie Vernick on August 20, 2015 at 11:10 am

      Thanks Stacey for sharing your steps to facing your fear.

    • Vivienne on August 25, 2015 at 8:50 am

      Very practical advice – thank you. I am implementing these now.

  12. Survivor on August 20, 2015 at 10:05 am

    OH! Fear is SUCH a paralyzing thing!!!!!!! I lived this way for about a year. My husband had been abusive to me in every way there is for about 9 years. I took the children and went to my parents’ for about 4 months. Then he found an apartment and moved out so the children and I could come back home. I thought I had gotten strong enough to handle things on my own. Turned out, I was only ‘strong’ when I had support around me. After moving back home, the anxiety set in again and I became so desperate for another set of ‘adult’ hands n the house that I was willing to believe him when he said he had changed, and gradually, I allowed him to spend more time with us. Eventually, he moved back home too. After he had been home for about 6 months, the same old things began cropping up again. I was so crushed!! And so afraid!! I had tried everything I knew at that point and NOTHING had made enough difference for the children and me to feel safe and healthy! People kept saying: “You need to look at yourself.” This terrified me. It sounded like they were saying that I was the cause of the broken relationship–mostly because that was what I heard from him all the time. I knew that if I began working on myself and truly found things to work on that he would take those things and run with them and use them to ‘prove’ that all the problems in our marriage were my fault! I was too afraid to do ANYTHING so I did NOTHING! I had weeks of not being able to get out of bed and care for my children. I managed to get absolute necessities done such as laundry, and minimal cooking. The children learned where to find nutritious snacks, and my 6-year-old learned how to make PB&J and fix a bowl of cereal. My 2-year-old learned to bring a diaper and wipes into my bedroom and climb up onto my bed to get changed. It was a terrible time! I could not face what was going on in my house, so I hid from it, cowering in my bedroom. I was in so much emotional pain that I prayed repeatedly for God to take my husband from this life, or else to take the children and me Home to be with Him. I considered cutting as a means of distracting myself from what was going on. And during this time, the church I was in was no help whatsoever. Several people actually went so far as to say that I was the one who was abusive rather than the other way around. Beyond that, they wouldn’t even speak to me. I would walk in the church doors and sit down. After the service, if I tried to talk to anyone, they would turn and walk the other way. I was in so much pain, and left so completely alone it was unbelievable!

    I kept saying: I tried shutting up and giving him what he wants; I tried speaking up–and then I ended up fighting with him and not being all that much different from him–and neither of those helped. I had called 911 and he was arrested for nearly killing me, and I had left him for several months. I did not believe that I could make it alone if I left permanently, and I do not see remarriage as a Biblical option for myself. I thought there HAS to be another option!! But I felt hopeless. I had tried everything I knew and at that point, felt as though I had exhausted all of my options.

    Then, HIS counselor invited us to a special service at his church. We met the pastor, and have been attending ever since! It has been very healing for me. I finally got the courage to look in depth at myself. I got on medication for the anxiety and depression. My counselor has been doing Splankna therapy with me which includes EMDR for the traumas I have experienced. I am hearing more and more from the Holy Spirit, seeing my gifting develop, and feeling so loved by my Heavenly Father!! At this point, it doesn’t matter any,ore what we uncover in me–I just want to get healthy again and will do whatever it takes!! I also have the security that, even if my husband tries to use those things to blame me, ultimately God is my Judge and He knows the Truth!! So I continue on this path even though there are still a lot of unknowns, and I want to encourage anyone who is afraid to take the leap with this: YES!! It is terrifying!!! But it is SOOOO WORTH IT!!!!!! And once you take the plunge, it isn’t HALF as bad as it looks from the other side!!!! In fact, it is FAR less painful than the mess I was living in before!!!!! I still have a long way to go, but I have much more confidence in my ability–with God leading me and bearing me up–to continue on this journey!! May you all be blessed and find your own peace and healing on your journeys as well!!!!!

    • Leonie on August 20, 2015 at 10:18 am

      Are you still with your husband now?

      • Survivor on August 20, 2015 at 10:32 am

        Yes I am still with my husband. The amazing thing is that when I got help, I learned some stronger ways of standing up to him and how to walk away after I had stood up to him and just leave the ball in his court. That called him to a lot more responsibility and he actually seems to be taking notice. Now, I am able to bring things up without it turning into a fight every time. I am feeling a little more heard and a little more hopeful that this can actually be repaired. There will have to be miraculous healing in my heart for me to really be able to trust him again, but that won’t happen anyway until he is actually trustworthy. I am trusting my Father to work it all out in His timing. We have a long road ahead of us and a lot of work to do, but it looks much more possible than it did a year ago.

        • Survivor on August 21, 2015 at 7:53 am

          My children are still very young–currently 3 and 7. When I took them with me to my parents’, they were 5 and not quite 2. I have definitely seen in their behavior that it impacts them negatively, but I also see that as I get progressively more healthy, they respond very quickly to the changes in how I relate to them. I am learning appropriate ways of standing up for them when my husband is too hard on them and he is learning to apologize to them when his ‘discipline’ falls into the range of abuse. Apologizing makes all the difference in the world!! I have seen my 7-year-old go from fearful and withdrawn to happily chattering and hanging out with us with only an apology in between! I make it a point to talk with them about what they experience, have them share their feelings, and acknowledge what is wrong. I do not want them to grow up believing that these things are somehow right or ok…….. Fortunately, at this young age, they are very resilient. It has been tragic for them, but together we will recover! The older one has seen a therapist and I was recently given info for a therapist who is local here who sees younger children as well.

          • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2015 at 3:15 pm

            The children are impacted at every age and I’m so glad as their mom you are attentive to their needs as well as your own.



        • Survivor on August 21, 2015 at 7:55 am

          ….and I should add: my therapist and my parents have done an amazing job in coaching me on what my children need and how to help them through these difficulties. A therapist that I used to see–until he closed his office and I had to find a new one–also worked with children, so I brought my son to him a time or two and he was super helpful in coaching me in what my son needed.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 20, 2015 at 11:09 am

      Thanks you Survivor for sharing your vulnerable story. I think so many women are afraid to do just what you did. Everybody has stuff, and once we can look at our own stuff and begin to heal, things get much clearer for us on what we need to do with our external stuff such as our marriage.

      • Survivor on August 21, 2015 at 8:02 am

        Thanks for the encouragement, Leslie! Looking at ourselves is not pleasant any time, but when someone wants to use every little thing against us instead of being supportive, it becomes downright terrifying. But, when I was able to get past that and do it anyway, it actually was empowering! And you are so right that things become so much more clear! Currently, I have an opportunity to walk with a young lady who is getting free of her abusive ex and needs a lot of support because he keeps getting inside her head and making her second guess herself. I am testifying for her in court–he is trying to take her daughter–and doing what I can to help her regain her confidence in herself and find her voice again……

        • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2015 at 3:14 pm

          Thanks Survivor for playing it forward and helping another woman who feels terrified and needs supportive sisters to hold her arms up in the battle.

  13. Leslie Vernick on August 20, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Thanks Aleea, I couldn’t agree with you more but Truth coupled without love sounds like clanging gongs or clashing cymbals (1 Corinthians 13) and many people will put their hands over their ears and refuse to hear. So always combine the tough medicine of truth with the love of God for the best way to be heard. After all, that is the goal, yes?

    • Aleea on August 20, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      Leslie,
      . . . The love of God is the goal, absolutely (—truth in love).  . . . But I confess I don’t know how to measure myself so as to know if I am achieving that.  I assume the truth and deep understanding are of great value but without a benevolent and charitable heart they are not.  That said, I don’t know how to measure myself on a benevolent and charitable heart meter.   What does that mean to know, to really know, if I have a heart full of real love?  Real love, love that has sacrifice on it. . . . How can it be that folks in Scripture “. . . have faith, so as to remove mountains, and at the same time have not love for God, and good-will to men?” . . . . How could that be, and yet the Bible says it can be?  . . . . Real love sounds so appealing, so restful and peaceful but is real love somehow greater than truth with some love, even if I can’t measure it?  I guess I really don’t know how to evaluate my level of love.  . . . . —You know what?  I wish we could work sometimes on Christian love and humility and prayer and going deeper with Christ and understanding how to hear the Holy Spirit more. . . . . Separation, divorce, withholding sex, showdowns with our husbands, filing court documents, filing lawsuits, debating with pastors over the meanings of the Greek words for submission, et.al. (—and I understand why all that is so, so necessary) but it gets so very unpleasant and triggers the argumentative attorney in me.  . . . .I guess I’m an emotional weakling who lacks courage at times and just wants to lay her head in Christ’s lap and hold His hand.  I can be a truth-seeker warrior with the best of them but more Real Love sounds even better.  Real Love is better than Real Truth with even a modicum of love? (RE: reverberating gong*** RE: brass castanets sharp and piercing***)   . . . hmmmm, wow, that is a hard to understand statement at so many levels: Real Love > than Real Truth with even a modicum of love. 
       
      ***all the junk used in the worship of heathen deities. . . . —But Paul never developed a negative attitude.  He picked his bloody body up out of the dirt and went back into the city where he had almost been stoned to death, and he said, “Hey, about that sermon I didn’t finish preaching —here it is!”

    • Daisy on August 22, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      I always spoke the truth in love. After all, my goal when I was married was to help him realize the way he was treating me was wrong and how uncaring he was being ~ and hopefully he’d wake up and see how much he was hurting me so we could “recover” and stay married. But, no matter what I said, how I said it, what I prayed for, what books I read, which counselors I saw, NOTHING got through to him. His words, behavior, and attitude toward me never changed. Still hasn’t and we’ve been divorced over five years. We can try to “get through” to them, but in the end, we can never “control” (I don’t like that word) another person’s words, actions, behavior, etc. Some times all we can do is what we need to do in order to heal, even if that means getting divorced, walking away, and creating a life of our own.

  14. Sue on August 21, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I need wisdom… my children are enrolled in a private school and the school asked me to help teach. My husband won’t let me, for absurd reasons. How can I not allow the control? You say, Leslie, he’ll only control as much as we allow. What can I do?

    • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      You can say “I would like to teach, I am a grown adult woman and I think I am capable of making that choice for myself.” Why would you as an adult, allow another adult to not let you do something you want to do? That makes you the child and him the parent. That is not your role or position. You can also say, “I’m sad you are unhappy about it and don’t see the value in it for me and the children but I’m going to try it and see how it works out because I think it’s best for me.” Then do it. If he protests harder you can say, “let’s discuss this with a third party to come to some ability to compromise” He probably won’t because his reasons are absurd and to control you and he knows it. As soon as you simply say no and stand up to it and offer to bring his reasons into the light of a third party, most men like this back down. If you are afraid of physical abuse, if he threatens that, go to the police and file for a protection from abuse. Sooner or later women in your positions have to regain control over your God given right to choose. Your husband is not your god, your father or your warden and you are not a child, prisoner or a slave. You are an adult and at least in the USA you have the right to make choices for yourself. Your husband can say he’d rather you not, or he doesn’t like it but he doesn’t have the right to say you can’t.

      • Maria on August 22, 2015 at 9:27 am

        Leslie, what does the Bible mean when it says in Ephesians that wives are to submit to their husband? I understand that in an abusive marriage that when a husband asks a wife to, for example, not go for counseling it does not apply. But how about in a healthy marriage, what does submission look like? Is submission the same as obeying? In some marriage vows, the word “obey” is used. In Sue’s case, if she were in a healthy marriage, would she be going against the Bible if she went against her husband and pursued the job? A lot of pastors preach on submission and how men are the head of the home, and how when agreement between the spouses can’t be reached, the husband has the final say. Is this submission in a normal marriage? I understand that submission is a voluntary act by the wife, it is not submission when the husband forces a wife to do something. But in a normal marriage, doesn’t the Bible ask us to willingly follow the husband’s lead whether we agree with it or not? Many women want to honor and please God, but some of these scriptures and church teachings contribute to women getting abused. I feel like it is easier for women who aren’t Christians to recognize abuse because they don’t have these teachings. I want to teach my kids what the Bible really means when it talks about wives submitting to their husband, but I am not satisfied with my understanding of it. From a logical, maybe secular point of view that makes sense to me, women are human beings who have the ability to make choices. We live in a free country and when faced with decisions such as these, a husband can voice his opinion about different matters, but the wife can go ahead with her decisions. Does this contradict the Bible? This submission teaching kept me stuck because I was of the opinion (through reading the Bible and listening to pastors) that submission applies no matter what the husband does (except in cases of adultery and abandonment). Although I went along with this teaching, it didn’t make sense to me. Out of a sheer need for survival, I began to realize that it was crazy going along with my husband who was not making decisions for my good or the good of the kids, but just for himself. That is when I began to heal. It didn’t make sense to me for example that it should be the husband’s role to decide the division of labor in the home- he did not want to do anything at home, and according to church teaching, because we couldn’t come to an agreement he got to make that decision, and of course his decision was that he should not do anything. Going along with this would not be for his good, because it would make him more selfish. When I sit in church with my kids, and the pastor preaches on this Ephesians topic, I feel it can be very dangerous to them. I have never heard a pastor talking about how submission does not apply in abuse settings. Also, this “husband gets the final say for the sake of peace” teaching is dangerous. It sets up people to be abused/abuse.

        • Leslie Vernick on August 22, 2015 at 1:43 pm

          You ask some great questions and I’ve answered them in 3 of my books, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship and How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong. But I will summarize some of these points in next week’s blog. It’s too long to put in here and I have to get my thoughts together more succinctly than I can do in the moment.

          • Daisy on August 22, 2015 at 3:03 pm

            While we wait for your comments, Leslie, I’d have to add those verses in Ephesians 5 speak of wives submitting “as to the Lord and husbands loving their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” In that context, I see the important thing to remember is God would never want us to be avusive, hurtful, control, or say mean things. Wives submit to husbands who lovingly act like Christ. If husbands are so controlling toward their wives that they won’t allow them the freedom to do what they want (in this vase, work)



          • Daisy on August 22, 2015 at 3:08 pm

            While we wait for your comments, Leslie, I’d have to add those verses in Ephesians 5 speak of wives submitting “as to the Lord and husbands loving their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” In that context, I see the important thing to remember is God would never want us to be abusive, hurtful, controlling, or say mean things. Wives submit to husbands who lovingly act like Christ. If husbands are so controlling toward their wives that they won’t allow them the freedom to do what they want (in this case, work) does the husband REALLY love the wife as Christ loved the church (i.e. would the husband die for the wife as Christ did)? It’s easier to submit to some on and go along with them if you know they truly love you and are not just abusing you to feed their own ego. (Sorry, I think this posted twice. The first time I was still typing it).



        • Aleea on August 22, 2015 at 7:14 pm

          Maria,
           
          Do read Leslie’s books, they are excellent! and have certainly helped me.
           
          Also, two free resources I read two years ago that helped me (—they are still there):
           
          Google: +pdf +“WHAT DOES ‘SUBMIT IN EVERYTHING’ REALLY MEAN?  THE NATURE AND SCOPE OF MARITAL SUBMISSION” -you need the +pdf  . . . . Anyway, that excert is from Steve Tracy’s Ph.D. dissertation and it is very, very readable.  He goes over all the issues with a detailed study of what headship and submission used in the New Testament mean.  His wife is a marriage counselor too and has helped him make the points in very practical ways.  It is very easy to read (only 26 pages) and understandable.
           
          At the next level, Google: DC Parker – The Living Text Of The Gospels – Internet Archive.  That book is free too.  See CHAPTER 5  The SAYINGS on MARRIAGE ANDDIVORCE. . . Dr. Parker is Cadbury Professor of Theology and the Director of the Institute for Textual Scholarship blah, blah, blah at the Department of Theology, University of Birmingham.  He is a very reliable New Testament textual Greek and Latin palaeography (—that just means when he says something it has pin-point accuracy.)  By the way… I talked with Dr. Parker a long while ago and I remember he told me: “. . . any ‘submission’ in the correct textual, context appropriate sense, is an issue between you and God NOT between you and your husband.  A husband who is loving a wife “as Christ loves the church”, as a humble servant leader, is likely never, ever going to even mention the word “submission” et. al. —vs— If the plain sense makes sense seek no other sense.   
           
          Anyway, I think (—but, full disclosure, I have been wrong A LOT . . . honestly, sometimes I look at Bible Texts and think to myself: Lord, what we have here is a failure to communicate.) . . . . Anyway, I think that the point is not to climb out of one cage into another cage (—that is actually easier to do than you may think) but to climb into Christ’s open arms and be free, really free.  For me, I always start with: —What is the Holy Spirit telling me to do? . . . RE: Luke eleven (“. . . .how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”)
           
          —I will be praying for you!

  15. Momofthree on August 21, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I recently separated from my husband after being together for 15 years, the fear and anxiety has paralyzed me several times. I did seek professional help and recently began taking anti-depressants which have helped me a lot while attending counseling about once a month since it’s an expense I have to force into my budget. We separated many times before and reconciled within days, this is the first time we’ve actually been separated for months, I have gone as far as to file for divorce, which I regret at the moment. Many times my husband has begged me to take him back, but I’ve not seen change in his behavior, my “no’s” are not respected, he continues to be emotionally and verbally abusive and so I often have to block him from my phone to distance myself and attempt to keep myself sane. We’ve been separated for a few months, towards the beginning I wanted to return home and desired that things would maybe be better, but reality would tell me that going back would neither make things like before and that things like before was precisely why I couldn’t go back. Being separated gives me leverage that I do not have to allow his name-calling and accusations or angry outbursts to continue. Before we separated I felt used and mistreated even by my young children.
    I fight fear and depression everyday, almost constantly. Fear of the unknown, having to manage on our own, even though I often felt like my husband weighed me down, if I let fear win, it cripples me, so fighting to survive is my only choice.
    I don’t know how I came across your website, there’s very limited biblical sound advice for women who experience abuse. I ordered the destructive marriage book and am currently reading through it. I don’t know if things will work out with my husband eventually or if not, either way I have to get better emotionally and address and correct the behaviors my children have learned from us. Thank you for what you do, it is truly eye opening and so much comfort to know I’m not crazy.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 21, 2015 at 3:13 pm

      Mom of Three – thanks for sharing your story – even as you are in the middle of it. I hope you come back, this is a great group of supportive women.

  16. Leonie on August 22, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Thank you for this post – I love the bible verses. I think I have been depressed because my abuser has defined my reality and everything about who I am was negated, dismissed, discounted, vilified, countered …. Somehow, I trusted my husband and believed the lies but when i look to God, he gives me truth. We have reason to rejoice because we know the end of the story!! His word tells us over and over not to be afraid or discouraged or lose hope or to stop persevering – his word is truth – all these damaging messages that brought me to depression were lies! He made me well, he loves me, God is the true lover of my soul!

    • Sunshine on August 22, 2015 at 10:40 am

      I have to take an anti-depressant now because of the state of my marriage and home. As difficult as it is to admit, I know that my past choices have brought me to this point in my life. I stand amazed at what I have said yes to and allowed to have happen to me. Now that I can see clearer, I can go back and pinpoint where my path took a turn and I did not stand strong in my beliefs. Leslie, when I read what you wrote to Sue about choosing to teach despite her husbands answer, I laughed. Of course, why wouldn’t you say, ” well I am sorry you are not on board with it but let’s see how it goes?” I know now that when a husband wants what is best for his wife and family, he works with her, he doesn’t make choices despite her in order to “control” circumstances and claim that it’s safer to keep the wife home, because of his own fears. The most difficult thing for me has always been to make a choice and then have to deal with a person’s disappointment in me. I know that it is not my job to manage other people’s emotions. It’s a difficult habit to overcome. I have hope and I feel encouraged when I see a post that says”do it or say it” and let the other person BE what they are going to be. This means to me that I can live and make choices and not be paralyzed by fear. Just this morning I opened a bag of cereal and my husbands words rang in my ears, ” you can’t even open a cereal bag correctly!” I smile and pour that cereal anyway.

      • jennifer on August 22, 2015 at 9:28 pm

        Sunshine you can open cereal for me anytime! I like the way you open it! Yum.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 22, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      You’re so right Leonie, so listen to God’s voice above all else. I think that’s how Jesus made it through.

  17. Elle on August 22, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Sometimes I really get upset when someone uses the words “I allowed myself” or “I allowed this to happen to me”. I am not saying anything about the person who uses the words. I am upset that they have probably been told those words to their detriment.
    Maybe I am wrong, but I never allowed anyone to do what they did to me. I was slowly, but surely brainwashed into my abuse. Most of us do not even realize what has happen until it’s too late or great damage has already been done.
    Tell me this. Does anyone really get training on being abused and what that looks like? Or, let’s look at it this way. Does anyone get trained on becoming a victim on the street to some horrible crime? Have they allowed that to happen to themselves? I don’t think so. So what is the difference? I feel it is wrong for a victim of abuse to have to feel shame about themselves because they were told that they allowed themselves to be abused.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 22, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      Elle, I appreciate your point and you’re right, when you are victimized, it is never your fault. However, once you realize that you have been victimized, it’s crucial that you not allow yourself to continue to be victimized if you can help it. Right? So if you’re brainwashed to believe it’s a wife’s duty to submit to tyranny in your home and you don’t see yourself as being controlled and victimized, but rather as a godly wife, then there is nothing you can do. But once your eyes are open and now you see more clearly and realize that that’s not what a godly wife is, nor does headship mean you have no choice or no voice, you must do something. When you are revictimized again and again and again and you stay passive, you need to look at why, and what you need to change or to stop it. I think the only way for a woman who has been brainwashed and victimized to regain her sense of self and heal from being a victim is to begin to take the reigns back over her life and body and with God’s help, not allow herself be in a position to be a victim any longer.

      • Elle on August 22, 2015 at 2:25 pm

        I understand. Thank you.

    • Daisy on August 22, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      Yes, Elle, I completely agree with your second paragraph on brainwashing. I, too, difficult not “allow” all these problems to happen. In fact, I did not realize how serious it was until my counselor one day had told me my husband was brainwashing me. What?! No way! Brainwashing was bad. It’s something cults do, but not your husband! That was a real eye opener for me when she said that. It could very well have been my turning point.

      • Elle on August 22, 2015 at 4:26 pm

        Maybe the word brainwash was the wrong word to use. I am thinking where you are constantly told who you are, what you do wrong, how you do things, calling you names, talking over you, your thoughts or ideas are wrong, and so much more, and not recognizing it for what it really is for years. It totally destroyed me. I separated quite a few months ago and am in the process of divorce. It was terrifying then and it’s terrifying now, even after all these months. I churn inside, so I understand all about being so afraid, you can’t move, you can’t make a decision . . .

        • jennifer on August 22, 2015 at 9:23 pm

          Elle, I am so happy for you that you had the wisdom and strength to leave an abusive relationship. With time you heart and mind with heal. There are so many wonderful days ahead of you. Have faith and look for the the little joys in each day.

          • jennifer on August 22, 2015 at 9:25 pm

            With time your heart and mind will heal. Sometimes I am just so excited, I forget to use speak check. Bless you!



          • Elle on August 22, 2015 at 9:43 pm

            Thank you, Jennifer. Bless you, too!



      • Maria on August 23, 2015 at 11:14 pm

        Another tactic that abusers use is put downs followed by periods of good treatment. It is extremely confusing to the point where it is easy to make excuses for the put downs- maybe he didn’t mean it, he just lost his cool etc. This coupled with blaming of the victim makes it even more confusing. Being brought up in a good Christian home, and sheltered from evil, I could not imagine people could be this wicked. Having gone through this, I am very intentional of making my kids aware of wickedness (age appropriate, of course).

        • Leslie Vernick on August 24, 2015 at 6:13 pm

          Maria, if you can remember that the periods of good treatment are usually part of the abuse cycle that will help you. It’s not as if they “got it” and are trying to do better. They just put on their good behavior because they recognize that bad consequences will come if they don’t. But then the build up phase starts all over again and the abusive starts again and then the good behavior follows etc et c etc.

          • Maria on August 24, 2015 at 6:55 pm

            Leslie, I have come to realize that the good behavior is not a result of repentance. It just scares when I think of what such an individual can be capable of.



          • Carolee on August 25, 2015 at 12:37 am

            I am so glad for the reminder that good behavior is still just a part of the abuse cycle. After enduring a week or so of very harsh behavior,criticized and put down and then pouting and coldness. (He wanted me to say I’m sorry to him to make “peace”) I just was able to stay calm and tell myself the truth. When he realized he was getting nowhere he is now playing the “nice” card. We will see how long that lasts. I am through with any kind of hope it’s a change in him. It NEVER lasts and I’m so thankful ,with the help of your wisdom, that I now see this.



  18. Robyn on August 22, 2015 at 5:25 pm

    Once again, when I do stand up for my own choices and make my own decisions for what’s best for me or our kids I have to pay. He will go along with the decision but have negative and hurtful little remarks concerning what I have decided. I was a teacher and quit my job going against everything inside of me telling me not to, God’s will. My family and friends couldn’t believe I would resign from a job I loved and felt called to do. My husband would call me all day checking up on me and would say such hurtful things to me about my job. He wanted me to resign and I finally gave in to “keep the peace” which of course made it no better. He is a hard working man and has a good business. My teaching salary was nothing compared to what he brings home. Now I’m totally dependent on him financially.

    • Connie on August 22, 2015 at 6:35 pm

      I understand what you are saying, that you have to pay. Sometimes for a long time. It can be the silent treatment, or little remarks, or many other ways, and it can go on and on for months or even years. I made a small off-hand remark about my h’s driving, something he was doing that day that he never allowed our children to do even a little bit, and he said nothing but did that thing in an exaggerated way for about one and a half years before he went back to driving safely. And yet, to ‘keep the peace’, well, it doesn’t really do that either because he finds something else to make you feel badly about.

      • jennifer on August 22, 2015 at 9:13 pm

        I have thought that no one can “make you feel badly”. It is your choice. Positive and truthful self talk usually brings me around to sanity quickly. I remember H is the one with the problem, not me. Without H I am perfectly happy and live in peace, so his words can’t make me feel anything but disbelief. I try to keep the smirk off my face as I smile to myself about how much Jesus loves me as H has a temper tantrum.

    • jennifer on August 22, 2015 at 9:19 pm

      Robyn, I was told it is impossible to appease an abuser. I saw decades of this as various family members tried to gain love and acceptance from a manipulative mother. The children tried well into adulthood to be loved and accepted. They bought expensive gifts (lincoln town car, remodeled her bathroom, bought a time share at the beach) all with the message “I love you if….” She wanted full control and she got it. “If” was never good enough. We finally got relief the day she died. What a beautiful day.

  19. Leonie on August 22, 2015 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Elle,
    I am kind of in the same place, kind of a “now what” place. I have been separated since May, finally things are calm even if only temporarily – I constantly am going through legal stuff and am now looking for a job. I am learning slowly with the help of resources that I can trust my own feelings and perceptions. I am not the cause of my husband’s anger and rage, I didn’t make him verbally abuse me and my 3 older kids, I deserve freedom from mental anguish (this is a big one!) I can say no to what I don’t want or don’t like, I am not alone and can ask other’s to help me, (lots if support and resources out there!) I can count on my own creativity and resourcefulness. I am capable & have a lot of great skills. There are things I love to do that are affirming. I can accept my feelings, they are valid, they are not wrong they are indicators that something is wrong in my environment and it isn’t me. When those feelings (if I have been verbally abused by someone) I can ask myself why do I feel this way, what did that person just tell me about myself that isn’t true or that I felt helpless or overwhelmed about? Then I can tell myself the truth about what just happened and the truth about myself! God is with you!

    • Elle on August 22, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Thank you, Leonie. I’m counting on God being with me :). Just wish my healing process were not so long. I actually get down on myself sometimes because I feel as though I am not moving as fast as I thought I would or as fast as others think I should. That’s one of the hard ones for me to snap out of sometimes.

  20. Lisa on August 22, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Aleea,

    What does what you wrote even mean??? It’s so wordy and high fluent I have trouble figuring out what your even addressing. Please, can you bring it down to everyday English?

    • Aleea on August 23, 2015 at 5:37 pm

      Lisa,
       
      I completely agree with you and I honestly appreciate your feedback, thank you —as well as your efforts to read what I write.  So what does what I wrote even mean?
       
      1) So, Leslie was making the point that truth coupled without love will not be as effective as Truth with Love.  I am wholeheartedly agreeing with her but wondering how I can measure myself so as to know if I am achieving that.   
       
      2) Then, I am asking how can folks in Scripture as the Scriptures say “. . . have faith, so as to remove mountains, and at the same time have not love for God, and good-will to men?” . . . . How could that be?  Yet the Bible says it is true?  Something is not right there. 
       
      3) Then, I am asking Leslie if sometime in the future can we work on Christian love and humility and prayer and going deeper with Christ and understanding how to hear the Holy Spirit more clearly.
       
      4) Then, I am complaining about myself (I’m an emotional weakling who lacks courage at times and just wants to lay her head in Christ’s lap and hold His hand).
       
      5) Then, I am asking if Real Love (sacrifical love) is better than Real Truth with even a modicum of love?  Is Real Love > than Real Truth with even a modicum (—a small but sufficient amount) of love.  Because if Love is greater than Truth why bother with searching for the Truth?
       
      . . . So, if we gave everyone that is on this blog a wholistic intelligence test, I have a high level of confidence I would fall into the lower quartile.  Not because I am a total bloomin’ idiot (—although I am willing to consider that after what you have made clear to me!) but because so many of you —so many— sell yourselves short.  In Christ, you are far more powerful than you realize.
       
      Also, my goal is never highfalutin anything, I love you and want to communicate.  Here is what it would sound like if I was going for highfalutin “. . . Transference of fear and self-loathing to an authoritarian vessel.  It’s catharsis.  Mrs. Vernick absorbs their dread with her narrative.  Because of this, she’s effective in proportion to the amount of certainty she can project.  Certain linguistic anthropologists think that this form of language virus rewrites pathways in the brain and dulls her readers’ critical thinking skills.”  —That’s highfalutin!!!  The other is banging it out in 4 min. before the flight attendant swooped in and told me to turn off my cell.  
       
      —Anyway, I love, really care and pray for those here and I can say from the bottom of my heart that to know Christ and to have any part (no matter how small) in His Kingdom is just overwhelming to me!  —And one last point: We should never get discouraged.  There are NO great women OR men of God. . . just weak, sinful women and often, worse men of a totally GREAT and absolutely merciful, AWESOME God —that we all have access to!!! 

  21. Sarah on August 22, 2015 at 10:30 pm

    There were so many great points / questions listed here… And Leslie – thank you, as always, for speaking truth and helping others to learn to do the same. I have realized how important it is to speak truth … to be comfortable in speaking truth … for my own process of healing.

    I used to feel so. Much. Fear. So much. I separated from my (now ex) H after just 24 months of marriage and one infant child. I felt fear in every fiber of my being: recounting the trauma I experienced made me cry at the drop of a hat and thinking about any next steps made me feel a tremendous amount of fear because I felt that it was nearly impossible to get out from underneath this idea that my H was smarter and more relentless about fighting than I was. Can you “hear” the lies that I was believing about myself?? I felt powerless by believing that these were the only truths I was to contend with, instead of addressing that I was fearful and needed God that much more.

    He might be “smarter” – in the sense that he is more logical and analytical – than me. But I found comfort in God’s promise that he gives strength to the weak. And that He opposes the proud, but gives grace to the weak.

    He might be more relentless about fighting, but God promises that when God is for us who can be against us? He promises, and has delivered, me over and over again. Evidenced both by my salvation as well as day-to-day life experiences.

    What helped me critically overcome some of this fear? I do feel I have come a long way, but I know that I am still a work in progress. There was an opportunity for my H to take a new job in a different state. It was much better pay, and was an exciting career move for him. The question posed was, “What are you (both) going to do about your marriage?” I was immediate – my chips were “all in”. It’s important to note that he never answered that question out loud, which was posed by our pastor who was counseling us at the time. So, I moved away from an amazing church community for the sake of wanting to step out in obedience and faith by honoring my marriage covenant. Please note that my pastor did not say anything else but to ask this question. And, I did know that conventional wisdom would have said that if you didn’t see real progress towards change that things were not going to get better. Even with that knowledge, I wanted to place God first and step out in faith.

    Things did not get better – even in less than 9 months’ time. I filed for divorce because things were actually getting somewhat worse. But, I believe that God was gracious to me for having stepped out in faith. I have felt ZERO regret or doubt about whether this was the right thing to do or not. I should add that it was during this time of 9 months when I found Leslie’s work on emotionally destructive marriages. I identified with having been in such a marriage, started to acknowledge to myself that I was abused and was being abused, and started to see how there is a Covenant but that it was abandoned by my H and I had grounds for getting out. I filed for divorce and got a restraining order while I was pregnant with our second child. Talk about more fear! Fear of how will I give birth on my own, how will I raise two children, how will I raise a daughter (the 2nd) at that (think: fear of cycle of abuse continuing for her), fear of being judged, …. etc.

    I was paralyzed with fear that first time I separated from him. I continued to feel fear, but God has been gracious.

    I learned that it was important to be INTENTIONAL about a small group of women friends whose words I would choose to listen to. I tend to be a great “listener” — maybe too much so. But I decided to trust a small select group of women whose words I would intentionally mind. I asked them to be truth tellers in my life, and let them know that I would be more intentional about listening to them. They wouldn’t take the place of God’s authority and Word, but would be a sounding board that should reflect back to me what I think I might be hearing from Him.

    I decided to TRUST that I tend to believe lies about myself, and that I needed to also be intentional about listening to truth.

    I decided to be committed to TELLING TRUTH as well. Leslie’s work on “CORE” strength training was instrumental in this.

    I got a biblically sound (Christian) therapist. I was committed to investing in myself by seeking therapy. Before I separated from my H with that restraining order (RO), it was impossible for me to go to therapy. I feared my H regarding this as well. But after I got that space with the RO, I was committed to my well-being. I found a women’s shelter that offered counseling services for free, and started there. This therapist was instrumental in helping me see that I was a victim of abuse, but also encouraged me to see what I needed to do to no longer be victimized. There were action steps I could / needed to take… and it was really hard, because I felt so much relief in being recognized that I was being abused. And calling things what they are – abusive – was the first hard step. The next hard steps involved being open enough to see how I could maintain boundaries, and needed to if I wanted to get stronger instead of remaining fearful.

    My exH is relentless, and does seems to outwit me all the time. The drama that ensues because of his “smarts” is really too much. But by God’s grace, He has shown me how much I have overcome (listen to “Overcomer” by Mandisa!), and see how much He has been a part of that journey. Thus, I feel more encouraged and emboldened to press on and be strong and courageous about my journey to get unstuck from my fear of the unknown. Fear of the uncertain future.

    Walking this road is lonely. I felt that and was so discouraged; it seemed I didn’t have a friend who truly was there for me. In dealing with this despair, God was gracious. I didn’t see it at the time of being depressed about having no friends, but He is gracious. I came to see that having friends is great, but I have a Friend – the ultimate Friend – in Jesus. And He is all I should need. I started to trust God more and tell Him about my loneliness. Slowly but surely, He answered my loneliness and became my Rock. Having that moment has helped me grapple with my fear, but it took my being intentional about trusting Him more than others to get unstuck from my fear of being alone or misunderstood.

    Thanks Leslie for being committed to telling truth.
    Thanks for encouraging us to walk in truth and to walk in Truth.
    Thanks for your own personal journey, which I believe is what helps so many of us feel understood and see that glimmer of hope of coming out from under oppressive circumstances.

    • Leonie on August 24, 2015 at 9:15 am

      Wow, my husband did the same. He often told me that he Is smarter than I am. A lot of times it was like a cat and mouse game with him always being able to outwit me. Then I realized like you did that if God is for me then who can be against me.
      It also became obvious that he was using how “smart” he is against me and to tear apart the family that Hos gave him – which is not smart at all but evil. He is no match for the Holy Spirit – our helper who guides us – and every time I asked him to show me the truth, he did. I really cling to the verses that say ” do not fret when men do evil against you, and do not fear, do not be discouraged

      • Leonie on August 24, 2015 at 9:16 am

        Sorry that posted too quickly : Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

    • Maria on August 25, 2015 at 8:19 am

      Sarah, Not many women realize that they are being abused until several years into the marriage. You should be commended on that and also your courage to leave. How are your kids doing? What are the custody arrangements? Could you please share on how you were able to recognize the abuse so quickly. I think that will be very helpful to many.

      • Sarah on August 31, 2015 at 1:39 pm

        I was asked how I identified the abuse so quickly; I can appreciate that 2 years seems like a short time to identify the abuse, but I wish (for all of us) that abuse could have been identified earlier and I could have avoided being in a lifelong relationship with this kind of person.

        I had an incident occur where my exH rammed an 11-lb child’s toy into my body; our 15-month old son was in the room when it happened. I was stunned — I had never had another person do anything like that before and I was scared for my son as well. I talked with several friends before I had an undeniable feeling in the pit of my stomach. While I understand we aren’t to allow our feelings to dictate what we do, I now see that this was God’s grace in my life — to give me such a strong and undeniable feeling to push me to act. With Leslie’s work, I also now see that I have some intuition that I have grown accustomed to ignoring for most of my life.

        I called the police. I am so thankful that they believed me, since I had barely-visible marks on my body. I’m lucky that I live in a state where domestic violence is not tolerated very well at all (even though the courts are also very slow to support those who have suffered from emotional abuse or other subtler forms).

        My exH was arrested, and I got a temporary RO. I had the mental and physical space to start reading and trying to find answers to “Am I in an abusive marriage?”, “What does God / the Bible say about abuse in marriage?”, “How did I get here?”, etc.

        I had been working on being a more submissive wife. because my then-H confronted me with a truth I withheld from him: I had experienced an abortion before I met him. I never told him about it. I was dealing with the guilt of that act in my own way and hadn’t really had time to process. But I still should have at least been truthful about this. (Never mind the fact that he had been married once before and never told me about it; his first marriage ended because of a DV report she made, etc). I got married, faced this lie, and was repentant. I scoured resources on what it meant to be a biblical / godly woman, a godly wife, and mother. I was challenged and wrestled with the idea of being a “submissive woman” — and realized how feminist my thinking had been, and where I needed to reshape my thinking. I wrestled with the question of “how does submission look different from being a doormat?”.

        In terms of actual resources, at the time this is what I came across:
        – notions of complementarianism
        – men need respect just like women need love (Emerson Eggerich’s book)
        – trying to respect my man / H in the ways that he values respect (Nina Roesner, ‘The Respect Dare’)
        – finding Leslie’s work (!!!)
        – Lundy Bancroft’s website / articles
        – finding a support group for victims of DV in my area
        – going through filing for divorce (the first time)
        – having pastoral counseling with my H
        – literally trying everything I thought sounded within my ability… and then having to move away from a solid, biblical church community that I loved and loved me back. I did that “for the sake of my marriage” … even though it was against conventional wisdom. I believed that God was big enough, and I trusted Him. I moved out of state. Things didn’t look different, and in some ways it got worse. When it was clear he didn’t value my life or that of our 2nd child’s, I sought legal counsel again. Sadly, I honestly didn’t think that what I would share would be grounds for anything. But surprisingly, they were — what my H did to me convinced a judge to issue me another RO, and I filed for divorce at the same time.

        I am now divorced. I moved back to my previous state. Abusers tend to want to isolate you — keep you away from friends, make you feel guilty for having any kind of social life. One time, I went to a book club meeting after being homebound with our son for 6 months. It was my first time “going out”. He called me after 30 mins and berated me for being out. I came home soon after, and couldn’t understand it. After I started reading all these different resources, I started to “see” how controlling my H was. I wanted to deny it and not believe that my beloved husband was like this. But I couldn’t deny it. It takes trust — trusting your instincts, trusting your thoughts, trusting a few close friends, TRUSTING GOD … make that intentional decision. You will make a few mistakes along the way. But by God’s grace, I hope and pray that they are as few as possible, and that you can create a support network for yourself.

        Seek a women’s shelter — try to find free counseling. If you can’t, try to find a counselor who will take you on a sliding scale. Investing in your own well-being is so, so, so important.

        I hope this helps… God be with you. God be with us. Whether you choose to stay or leave the marriage, you can do it well. And if you choose to stay and then decide to leave, remember that you are not a failure for doing so. You are being strong and courageous for saying NO. If you choose to stay, you are not a failure no matter what your H says to you. If you chose to leave with understanding who God is and who you are before Him, you are not a failure. You are strong and courageous, and He goes before us.

      • Sarah on August 31, 2015 at 1:42 pm

        PS – my custody arrangements are being litigated in court currently. The kids see their father every other weekend, and one overnight during the week. This is temporary, as my exH did not adhere to the previous custody agreement. He violated the agreement over and over again, with very little consequences. That is the frustrating thing about courts.

        Tina Swithin, from One Mom’s Battle (OMB), has a blog. I read that from top to bottom.

        Lastly, one new book I just read and am in love with:
        “Will I Ever Be Free of You?” by Karyl McBride, PhD. This book describes my life and affirmed so much that I was uncertain about in my life.

        • Leonie on September 2, 2015 at 5:53 pm

          Thank you, those sound like great resources. Litigating with a narcissist is not fun – those will be immensely helpful! I love Lundy Bancroft too – if only the judges and lawyers would be familiar with his work!
          You were wise and resourceful in getting out for you and your kids. Thanks so much for sharing with us!

  22. Leonie on August 22, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Hi Elle, everyone’s journey is different and takes a different Keith if time for sure! It is good that you got out of your abusive relationship too! I am not tempted to go back because the abuse was so blatant and over the top. Right now, I am reading Patricia Evans book ” The Verbally Abusive Relationship” and finding it very affirming. It is putting words to the experiences I have had so I can understand the dynamic and not accept that kind I nonsense from anyone. It is missing the Christian truths that Leslie’s books include though. I get stuck a lot and am just trying to process everything. I am starting counselling with my 2 daughters soon (some of it joint & some separate in appropriate age groups) – a session hosted by the shelter – I am looking forward to it.
    I am trying to remember the person I once was, and the things. I used to love to do, or just tackling something that needs to be done that I had let slide while I was just trying to hang in there and survive/cope through all the trauma for so long, not to recreate the past but to get my enthusiasm and drive back and feel like the old me again.

    • Leonie on August 22, 2015 at 10:34 pm

      length of time – that should say

    • Elle on August 23, 2015 at 2:40 pm

      Wow! I can so relate to so many of the things you stated. Remembering the person I once was and the things I enjoyed. I don’t even know what I enjoy anymore, ugh. I used to be open and bubbly. Now? Pretty closed up. Need to build my confidence again. Trying not to be afraid to do things. That’s a sticker for me, a lot! I still need to get Leslie’s book, but I am happy I found her website. Thank you so much for your words of encouragement 🙂

      • Maria on August 25, 2015 at 8:36 pm

        Elle, after I started counseling, it took about a week to get back my normal persolanity. I had become negative and just a very different person. Hang in there and you will see changes.

  23. Lisa on August 22, 2015 at 10:37 pm

    Aleea,

    Maybe it’s just me, but I almost have too skip over most of your entries, because the are so laden with a feeling of over dissecting that I actually feel weighted down reading them. Maybe I’m just small of brain.

  24. Maria on August 23, 2015 at 7:09 am

    Thanks ladies for taking the time to reply. I understand that submission is a willful act of the wife and It is not submission when the husband is telling her to. But when the Bible tells us to submit, if we just go by what we’re willing to submit to, we may not be fully following the Bible. Leslie, I look forward to reading your views on this. Thank you very much for all your time and effort. You are helping so many.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 24, 2015 at 6:04 pm

      Maria, Wednesday’s blog is full of headship and submission. HOpe it’s helpful.

  25. Lisa on August 23, 2015 at 9:15 pm

    Aleea,

    YOU are VERY intelligent! It would be amazing to see you r work in a courtroom.

    Just wish for you that you can relax and not get so twisted in a knot over the issues here or perhaps it is only the way I am viewing it reading your posts.

    Is love greater than truth? I think they are one in the same.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 24, 2015 at 6:11 pm

      This is one way someone described love and truth. Love is like an egg yoke – gooey and messy without a lot of structure or boundaries. Truth is like the egg shell, tough and sharp and at times brittle. Without truth, love can get sloppy. Without love, truth can feel hard. Together they nourish the soul.

  26. Aleea on August 24, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    Lisa,
    I think you are definitely right: Truth is love, absolutely. . . .But real truth has no marketing plan which is very hard in a church culture and world built on serious fantasy and men’s dreams.  Hearts are completely unreliable organs to guide you to the truth.  When seeking spiritual truth, to be objective about it, I cannot do that by relying on church leaders who have worked millennia to “prove” they are right.  I cannot determine truth by a nose count.  Many pastors use God as the remote control where they tell women what to do via God.  God is going to judge us for not thinking for ourselves.  Swallowing intellectual dishonesty is not the same as submitting our wills to our Savior.  Intellectual dishonesty of biblical scholarship is a vested enterprise and secret fundamentalists posing as “objective researchers” of the truth are a constant issue.  They are theology promoters disguised as scholarship and in most cases are just as dogmatic as atheists.  Truth is what is left when everyone stops pretending abuse isn’t widespread.  Truth is not a safe discipline and cannot be practiced without challenge to theological convictions or without risk to faith commitments or “truth” assertions.    
     
    . . .Anyway, on the love part (—the FUN part!!!), one of the things I am working on now is to choose to maintain the conscious awareness of God’s presence all day long.  If I can maintain the conscious awareness of His presence, I can love people better.  Obviously, when I bear anger and resentment and bitterness in my heart, I erect barriers to God’s grace within myself.  As soon as I engage in something hateful, I close God out.  —But, thank God, the converse is also true —as long as I maintain my connection to God, I am less capable of engaging in something hateful.  I don’t react.  I don’t resent. I keep a certain inner stillness.  . . . Last night, I was asking myself these questions: Do I really treat others with kindness, gentleness, patience?  Do I really face my own hypocrisy?  Do I regard others with love and compassion (—and as Kim taught us, including ourselves)?  Am I obedient, and constantly surrendering my life to God?  The more I confess, honestly, the more I open myself to God’s grace.

  27. Leslie Vernick on August 24, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    I’m so glad you hang in there, you have such important things to share. But we definitely wouldn’t understand your highfalutin talk. But aren’t attorneys trained to write in ways no one can read or understand? Aleea you ask good questions and make some really good points but I do think it would help if you could write in shorter sound bites, then perhaps it wouldn’t get to heavy for some to plow through.

  28. Elizabeth on August 24, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    Thank you, Aleea. I needed to hear this today as I have been slipping back into some old habits.
    “Obviously, when I bear anger and resentment and bitterness in my heart, I erect barriers to God’s grace within myself. As soon as I engage in something hateful, I close God out. —But, thank God, the converse is also true —as long as I maintain my connection to God, I am less capable of engaging in something hateful. I don’t react. I don’t resent. I keep a certain inner stillness.” I realize I have been erecting those barriers to God’s grace and that is why I have been finding it hard to love and grace my h. There are things I have not forgiven and that is when I am bitter and angry toward him. I am learning to surrender to Christ’s Spirit within me in those moments and let Him love and grace him. I do not want to close God out and erect barriers to His grace in and through me. I need Him desperately. Thank you, again, Aleea and God bless you!

    • Aleea on August 25, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      Elizabeth,
      I’m seriously praying for you.  . . . .For me, my resentment comes when I refuse to forgive someone, justifying myself by my self-righteous indignation at being hurt.  And some of these family hurts are very deep: abandonment, betrayal, rejection.  I keep turning that hurt over and over in my mind, and refuse to let it go by justifying my anger.  Then I feel justified in hating and despising (—That sounds so bad but I’ll just call it for what it really is.)  —But the Lord, has clearly showed me that by doing this, I only continue to beat myself up with THEIR sins, and compound THEIR sins by my own resentfulness.  . . . So I work hard to try to not blind myself to my own sin, and focus most of all on how Christ has forgiven me.  That resets my perspective.  But, I’m not very good at it.  I’m a mess.  Often, I have to repent of my repentance.  —I’ll never be anything more than what Christ makes me.

  29. Lisa on August 24, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    Aleea,

    I traveled very far to see my loved one in the hospital–it was very life threatening situation. When I pulled up in the parking lot, fear rushed over and through me. I almost didn’t go inside. A secondary fear was there too, ‘what if God wouldn’t help me with this. Fainting was beckoning me. I finally cried out to Jesus,,”I can’t do it, You be my strength. My breathing slowed down, my heart didn’t pound so much. By the time I reached the hospital room the strength was there–more than I could ask for. I know fearful times are still to come. It will be a matter of falling into Jesus’s arms over and over again.

    • Aleea on August 25, 2015 at 3:45 pm

      Lisa,
      That is a serious prayer concern and I will make it one.  —Honestly, many times Jesus has to help me just get out of bed, as well as cross the street (—And I mean: cross the street).  Often, for me, it takes Christ’s courage just to let a telephone ring when I know the other person is seriously ill.

  30. Aleea on August 25, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    Leslie,
    You say: “This is one way someone described love and truth.  Love is like an egg yoke – gooey and messy without a lot of structure or boundaries.  Truth is like the egg shell, tough and sharp and at times brittle.  Without truth, love can get sloppy.  Without love, truth can feel hard. Together they nourish the soul.”
     
    —That’s a wonderful word picture!  An it is easy to remember.   . . . I so want to be balanced like that but I am so often in the ditch on one side of the road or the ditch on the other side of the road. . . . Whew, too extreme.  . . . This goes back to the idea that things are never as bad as they seem or as good as they seem. 
     
    Really, I’m afraid of the entire egg.  I’m afraid of the love: “—Oh no, not the love.  —Anything but the love!!!” – gooey and messy without a lot of structure or boundaries.  —And I’m afraid of the truth – tough and sharp and brittle.  I cut myself on the truth all the time.  . . . .I’m just afraid of everything.  
     
    . . . Yesterday in counseling, it became so clear to me that all of my expectations of other people are just projections of my own self-centeredness.  If I can let other people simply be who they are, and rejoice in that, then I will have tremendous peace!  If I am aware of my own sins, I can never judge anyone.  I can begin to love them as I love myself, and excuse their falling short as I forgive myself.  . . . . It helps when people in our families who hurt us ask for forgiveness, but it is not necessary (—I can’t wait for that, that could take forever.)  I must always forgive: not only because God forgives me; but also because I hurt myself by refusing to forgive. . . . So obvious, but so hard to do.
     
     
    Leslie,
    You say: “But aren’t attorneys trained to write in ways no one can read or understand?”
     
    Ha, ha, ha, ha. . . . . [Smiling]. . . . . ha, ha, ha . . . .That may actually be true (—but never explicit). . . ha, ha, ha. . . . Even I see deliberate obfuscation in court documents.  Many times that comes from just covering all the nuances of complex real life situations.  —You would be amazed at the ways people and especially corporations, who are master covenant breakers, try to break signed contracts, even when the other party is the IRS. (—Actually, you would not be amazed at any of it because you understand human nature.)   
     
    You also say: “I do think it would help if you could write in shorter sound bites, then perhaps it wouldn’t get to heavy for some to plow through.”
     
    That is very helpful feedback and thank you for being kind enough to tell me.  No one wants to read an interminable screed and I can do better! 

  31. Elizabeth on August 25, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    Thank you, Aleea. I am right there with you at the foot of the cross daily. Bless you….

  32. Vivienne on August 26, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Just discovered my H is paying for credits to find my replacement. I saw a receipt from his pay pal account, where a sum of money had been sent to a dating website.

    I have not confronted my H yet – I am waiting to obtain legal advice about my situation and meanwhile am gathering evidence of my H’s behaviour, journalling daily too. My H has been “nice” to me this past week – perhaps my discovery explains why.

    Until now, I felt numb, but occasionally thoughts permeate my numbness so that my git wrenches an tears form at my eyelids. It’s not great to be tossed aside like some old rag and not when I have given over half of my life to this person….34 years!

    • Vivienne on August 26, 2015 at 9:29 am

      That should read gut but maybe I was thinking too hard about my H 🙂

    • Leonie on August 26, 2015 at 10:57 am

      Vivienne,
      My heart aches for you, that is so hard to accept! I have been there many times and even though in my gut I knew what I had found was true it still cuts like nothing else. My husband kept denying that he used erotic massage parlours but then I would find odd things like he would come home from work with his shirt on backwards or inside out, one time he had makeup all over a white shirt sleeve, once I found him applying lotion on his legs when I got home from work at 6 pm (he had showered at a massage parlour but he is black so his skin gets dusky if he doesn’t apply cream), I found short curly brown hair in his underwear (I have blonde straight hair) when I did laundry. Massage parlour phone numbers on pages papers that he made notes on, at work, lists of girls names with “Russian” or “good” or “no good” beside them…. As much as I wanted to give him second chances the evidence always showed the truth and I had to accept it. I started to see the depth of the lies he was telling me and was good at hiding things so I really just began praying for God to openly eyes and see the truth.
      You have been wise to hold your tongue for awhile and record, journal and observe.
      God’s word calls a man like that a fool. God is on your side, he will help you, cleave to Him. The sooner you can see him for what he truly is and see the truth the sooner you can deal with reality & help yourself get out. I am praying for you, I know it is hard in a foreign country to do what you need to and deal with the isolation from home … Thank goodness you have that house there. So do you think if he starts running around with other women your sons will get angry with him and rather come live with you? You did say the employment situation is better in the UK. Take care

      • Vivienne on August 27, 2015 at 6:12 pm

        Hi Leonie,

        Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. I don’t think my H would do anything with the boys knowledge, and so far, perhaps he is communicating with women on dating sites just to have some positive conversation – to have someone take an interest in him in a way that I am not able to now My H needs lots of attention, more than I was ever able to give, and I gave a lot but it’s hard to maintain when you have been abused and let down so much.

        I am feeling a little scared of leaving, to be on my own, and because of my age I wonder if I would regret leaving but……while all is quiet in the household now, it’s easy to feel like I could stay and I have to remember how bad it was only a few weeks ago. Having read through enough posts I know it doesn’t stay quiet for long and sooner or later the drama will start again.

        So, I have taken a small step by writing to a lawyer in England outlining my situation and asking what I might achieve via a divorce; I am particularly interested in knowing if I could apply for spousal support, at least until I could support myself. Either way, once I know what options I have, I’ll be in a better position to confront my husband. I am not looking forward to that bit but I ordered Leslie’s book “The Emotionally Destructive Marriage” which came this morning so I am going to read that for tips on how to confront.with wisdom 🙂

        • Vivienne on August 27, 2015 at 6:19 pm

          I am so sorry Leonie that you experienced such betrayal by your H too. I do often wonder if they do things so openly in order to make us jealous, and maybe pour more love out to win them back. Certainly that is how I reacted the last time, and of course my husband lapped it up – but his emotional outbursts ruined everything again so that I could no longer trust my heart with him. I have not really shared stuff like that with him, I ought to, but it’s only these last few weeks that I have really seen him, perhaps for the first time and it has changed how I see our history together too, it explains so much of our past.
          .

  33. Leonie on August 27, 2015 at 8:17 pm

    Vivienne, i am praying for you.
    My husband boldly said it was his right to do whatever he wanted and he would come up with lines like “I am my own man” and “you can’t change an apple into an orange” I started seeing that he was not sorry , wasn’t going to change and if I got in his way I would probably get beat up again.
    My question to him was that if he is and was addicted to using prostitutes what makes him think he could pose as a marriageable man, available for a relationship with a Christian woman. Not only that, if I had any clue who he was I would have run as far as I could as fast as I could – you can’t keep company with that kind of person let alone get into a relationship with one.
    I now know that if his lips are moving he is lying. He has turned out to be a really scary person that is not fit for marriage.
    I have some hard legal battles ahead, he is really scaring me so I need prayer for God’s protection. I know that nothing is too strong or impossible for God and he can protects young daughter – even though he (my ex) is too strong for me.

    • Vivienne on August 28, 2015 at 4:18 am

      I feel the same way about my H now Leonie. He lies a lot, not just to me but to himself and he has double standards often criticising others for doing the same things he does. In our former years I saw that he had a problem with gambling, it wasn’t huge but I saw it was an addiction and if not stopped would become huge. Until a few weeks ago, I thought he had freed himself but then I found he was subscribing to a lottery on a regular basis and he has been known to buy lotto tickets in a local bar – something my children saw him do and now my youngest son buys them. My H found a ticket my son had bought and began to complain about it to me – double standard. He also complains my son lies a lot and manipulates to get whatever he wants from us – again my H does the exact same thing, it’s like he projects all that he is onto our youngest son. As for trying to correct my H, he just becomes defensive and points a finger back at me. He is not humble, he is not truly sorry only giving lip service as I see no lasting change in him. I do realise now how much I have been deceived. I will pray for you Leonie when I pray for myself. Hugs xx

  34. Elizabeth on August 27, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Vivienne and Leonie, I am praying for you. Jesus, your Shepherd has gone before you. Psalm 23

    • Leonie on August 27, 2015 at 10:01 pm

      Thanks, Elizabeth, I appreciate it. Psalm 23 is my favourite – my go to psalm.

    • Vivienne on August 28, 2015 at 4:08 am

      Thank you Elizabeth for your prayers. My go to Psalm is 91, I love the way I feel protected by my God when I read this Psalm but I also love Psalm 23 and am looking forwad to being led to those still waters and having my soul restored 🙂

  35. Elizabeth on August 28, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Mine too Leonie. Psalm 73:25-28 is also another place I find comfort. “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.” verse 28. His nearness all the time brings peace to my mind.

  36. Elizabeth on August 30, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Hi Vivienne and Leonie,
    I was meditating on this Psalm yesterday asking God for direction thinking it would be without conflict. He showed me that His green pastures and quiet waters and restoring my soul is in the context of darkness/death, evil and enemies. Yet He is with me with His goodness and lovingkindness. When I realized that I stopped trying to solve the conflict but rested in His presence in the midst of it. It has given me a whole new perspective and I can see Him more clearly and His working in my situation. My cup overflows.

    • Vivienne on August 30, 2015 at 2:19 pm

      Hi Elizabeth, yes I know exactly what you mean, For sure, we can experience the green pastures, still waters, have our soul restored even amid much darkness – this is the power we have through Jesus – hallelujah!

      Some years ago, way back in 2002 -3, I had a vivid dream in which I saw a dead body, that was once inside the church. The body was taken outside into the street, and as the body lay on the ground some unruly youths began to taunt the body, poke, prod, and even kick the body, but because it was dead it did not respond.

      The message I sensed the Holy Spirit impart was that the church body (made up of individuals) needs to become “dead” or unresponsive to abuse in that we are not to retaliate. I do not believe we should enable abuse but there are good and holy ways to navigate abuse so that we can remain in that place of quiet by the still waters; wisdom is required and it comes with maturity.

      God has certainly used my situation to teach me these tools which are handy to have when witnessing to others the Christian faith. Our struggles have not been wasted.

    • Leonie on September 2, 2015 at 6:00 pm

      Thank you Elizabeth,
      Wow I love that, it is in those times that psalm 23 helps me! I like that he leads us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake and also that he prepares a table before me in the presence of my enemies! My cup does run over!

      • Elizabeth on September 2, 2015 at 7:29 pm

        Joy in the midst of suffering. Just what Jesus said would happen. I love His Word and how it comforts us.

  37. Elizabeth on August 30, 2015 at 7:23 pm

    Hi Vivienne,
    I agree that our response to abuse in the church should not be retaliatory but I do think that in our response we should face it head on and name it clearly for what it is. Always with the goal of protecting the victim(s) and restoring the perpetrator to Christ if they are willing. Unfortunately their willingness is usually the problem. This is a long road and I am thankful for Leslie and the work she is doing to bring more and more awareness of this huge problem in the church.

  38. Valerie on September 2, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    Leslie has many great points in her answer. She described one of the things I learned to do that has resulted in lasting change for me. When fear or anxiousness grips me Leslie is so right in the bark being worse than the bite. I think this is one of the devil’s consistent tactics with us- to present us with the fear of worst case scenario while simultaneously hiding what that worst case scenario actually is. Feeling of “impending doom” I call it.

    Due to that I have learned to play out the scene to the end. If I make this change, this choice, then what? This might be met with an internal response of, “Oh, that would just end up to be awful.” Then I ask myself what specifically would be awful. Its in the generalities that you get paralyzed I think. You have this mind picture of the whole ocean engulfing you when in reality that’s not literally possible…only a six foot section of water can do that. So you don’t have to think about the whole ocean…just that six foot section. So I play the scenario out to the end. If X, then what might Y be? Keep playing that through until the big scary monsters in my head are no longer looming over me…seeing the trees instead of the forest in this case.

    One of the things that struck me as I read the OP’s concern is the chaos and uncertainty that an abusive marriage is characterized by. As targets of abuse we are forever living in that certain uncertainty until we separate from our abuser. Having that conditioned mindset spills over into our own choices. We tend to think it will all be chaos and confusion no matter what path we take, however this is where the distinction comes in. When WE make the choice we are making deliberate, calculated steps…it is not chaos and uncertainty. While we can’t predict all outcomes obviously, we are regaining our sense of control and stability when we are working toward something rather than just reacting to our environment.

    Thank you, Leslie, for your wise counsel and continued support to so many who desperately need it!!

    • Elizabeth on September 2, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      Valerie
      thank you for this great description of how their words are used of Satan to become huge monsters in our thinking. I also began to ask myself “What if he really did this?” or even “Will he really do this or is it an empty threat?” Many times it was an empty threat and when I could see that pattern his threats lost their power over me.
      Great processing…

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