I love this community and I hope to meet some of you in a few weeks at the CONQUER conference in Lincoln, Nebraska. Each day this week I will be LIVE on Facebook talking about topics related to the CONQUER conference.
Monday I shared How to Live Courageously in a Scary World. Tuesday Megan Cox shared her story of leaving an abusive marriage and the organization she founded to help abused women break free. Wednesday at 4 PM ET Sheri Keffer will be on talking about Intimate Deception when your husband sexually betrays your trust. And Thursday at 1 PM ET, one of my team coaches, Elise will be talking about Boundaries Made Simple. Friday at 7:00 PM Sandra Lovelace will talk about How to Blossom as a Woman. Sandra wrote one of our guest blogs a few weeks back. Click here to read the blog.
Hope to see you on FB, but if you miss one, can watch the recording here.
Today I’ve been pondering Galatians 4 where Paul anguishes over the vulnerability of those who are influenced and shaped by false teachers. Those who sound strong but rob you of your joy and your personhood. He says, “Their intentions are not good. They are trying to shut you off from me so that you will pay attention to only them”(vs 17,18). Isolation is a strategy of abusive individuals. They don’t want you to listen to anyone but them. Don’t do it.
Paul prayed for their maturity, that Christ would be fully formed in them. God doesn't want us to have other “gods” before Him. Sometimes we allow other people’s words about us to define us instead of God’s words and when we listen, we become deformed by their words, instead of fully formed by Christ in us. Click To Tweet
I’ve asked my good friend Georgia Shaffer, a licensed psychologist, certified coach, as well as the author of Taking Out Your Emotional Trash and Avoiding the 12 Relationship Mistakes Women Make, to share some thoughts about how this deforming process happens.
Are You That Square Peg Trying to Squeeze into A Round Hole?
Megan, who loved to have fun and live in the moment, married an orderly and demanding man. He wanted her to excel at work and keep a lovely home, all while taking care of their two children. According to him, fun was a waste of time and money, not something responsible working parents condoned.
To please him, Megan put aside her natural exuberance. “It’s so important to me that I make him happy,” Megan told a friend.
“I understand, but how long can you sustain this pace?” her friend asked.
Megan had no answer. Although she complied with her husband’s demands, she was barely surviving. A couple of years later when her husband left her, she was exhausted and depressed. Worse yet, Megan had lost sight of the person God had created her to be.
In contrast to Megan, Elizabeth was a natural-born leader who liked to set and accomplish goals. Growing up in her church, she noticed that women who were focused on tasks or who were leaders of various groups were not liked or valued. Elizabeth concluded that a good Christian woman should be a sweet, easygoing person who swallowed her opinions if they disagreed with the church’s leadership. In her efforts to be a godly woman, Elizabeth determined to hide her true personality, and cover it with something she perceived as more acceptable to others.
Alison suffered from personality envy. She wanted to have her sister’s perfect marriage and believed if she had her sister’s personality, her own difficult marriage would become great too. Her sister was organized and seemed to do everything perfectly. Despite Alison’s best efforts to be more like her sister, her marriage did not improve. If anything, it became more difficult.
Each of these three women, whether it was out their desires to make someone happy or their brokenness, insecurities, or misperceptions, worked hard to be someone they were not. Much like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, trying to create an alternate personality to replace the one God created simply did not work.
God doesn’t give us the option of deciding what our natural personality is. We are skillfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14) and come prepackaged with strengths, weakness, emotional needs and styles of communicating. I often hear women say they lost themselves when they married. For some that is true. I find, however, that others never had clarity on who they really were even before their marriages. And there are some, like Megan, Elizabeth, and Allison who reject God’s design and decide to recreate themselves.
The good news is it’s never too late to become more self-aware and recognize your God-given personality. Yes, you may have to uncover your unique self that has been buried over time. Even If you grew up in an abusive home or have been in a destructive relationship, it can be done.
The first step is to discover and understand who God created you to be. You may decide to complete a personality assessment or ask the Lord to reveal your natural gifts. Or you could ask the people who know you, people who can be trusted, to share what they see as your natural strengths. Another option is to start watching and observing yourself. What does your shoes-off, most comfortable self-like to do?
Slowly, as you begin to clarify your God-given personality and embrace your natural strengths, you will come to appreciate the real you. Maybe you’re great at helping people. Maybe you like to plan and organize. Maybe you’re good at soothing ruffled feathers. Own your strengths and use them. Acknowledge your weaknesses and work to minimize them. Seeing yourself as God sees you shatters distorted self-perceptions. You may even notice some unhealthy ways you’ve been relating to others.
Embracing your God-shaped personality helps you enjoy a deeper sense of meaning and purpose whatever your life circumstances. Most importantly, as that square peg, you’ll no longer struggle and strive to squeeze into a round hole. Instead, you’ll see how naturally your shape fits into your life and relationships. You’ll learn what a powerful and positive difference you can make in the lives of others.
Friends, Do you feel like you’re embracing all, part, or none of your God-given personality?
Georgia Shaffer, a Professional Certified Coach and licensed psychologist in Pennsylvania, will be doing two workshops at Conquer and be available to work with you one-on-one to identify and maximize who God created you to be. For a list of the assessments and services, she will offer in Lincoln, email her at Georgia@GeorgiaShaffer.com.
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When Trying Harder Becomes Destructive
Good morning friends, I am flying out very early today (Monday) to Colorado Springs to tape three different interviews tomorrow (Tuesday) with Focus on the Family. I’ll let you know when they will air but please pray for me. Pray that I am clear minded, am able to communicate wisely and that God will be…
When Should I Reconcile?
Morning Friends, I am blown away by the wonderful response so far to our LIVE Conquer Conference. So far, we have over 150 women registered for this amazing event on October 14th and 15th, 2016. You will not want to miss it. For more information or to register, click here. Also, this past week I…
I Need More Support But Feel Stuck
Morning friend, We’re getting better at our house, not 100% yet, but better. Thanks for your prayers. Last week’s question was about getting unhooked from other people’s toxic words and false accusations. This week’s question is about detaching from needing to control the outcome. Today’s Question: I know I need more support from outside in…
Along these lines I often ground myself and ask “what hurts?” Inevitably my shoes pinch, my bra is digging into my chest or a have a dulll head and neckache. I go abouty day never noticing these little irritations.
A key to change for me is focusing on how I feel and then prioritize me. Hummm….actually, no I don’t want to do this or that. Hummm…really, I am thirsty, not hungry. Hummm….no, I don’t want to volunteer in the nursery but I would enjoy singing in the choir.
You see what I mean? You may have to dig, but ask yourself what YOU need and feel. Undoubtedly you know the answer, the voice has probably just been silenced.
There is only one you, be you.
I love this! Relearning how to listen to your intuition. I am thankful that my mind is clear enough to do just that.
I like the comment, “There is only one you, be you.”
I grew up very fast. Children were to be seen and not heard. It was expected that when I was told to jump, I was to ask, “How high?.” At the age of seven I had an infant brother to raise and two other siblings to look after. I was constantly criticized and often beaten if I did any thing wrong. I learned to be quiet and submissive. I remember feeling lonely and left out being stuck in the house taking care of it while my siblings were outside playing. I had a difficult time making friends since my family moved every school year. Sometimes even two or three times during the school year.
Then I went from being my father’s daughter to my husband’s wife. The criticism continued. I was trying to be what was expected, a good wife. I worked and took care of our home. I wanted to be a wife and mother. I had no clue what a healthy relationship looked like. After a couple of years, I asked my husband about starting our family. He said if I wanted kids, I married the wrong man. My bubble burst. He said if I wanted kids he’d divorce me. In my head I could hear the voices of all the people who said I’d be divorced within two years because I’d been too young to get married.
My husband ordered me to get my tubes tied if we were staying married. I did.
As time went on, between my demanding and stressful job and verbally abusive relationship with an alcoholic h , I slid into a dark depression. I tried to end my life but couldn’t even do that right. No one even knew I’d tried . . Twice. Eventually I confided to my doctor I felt depressed and was given medication and sent on my merry way. I still struggled with depression. H never knew I was on medication or how I was feeling. Decades went by. Eventually I hooked up with a good counselor. Over time I told her everything. I’m the poster child for being a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. My words lol.
One of my first homework assignments was to go shopping and buy a toy or something I would have liked to have as a child. I was giddy and felt a little self conscious at the same time. She told me my inner child was never nurtured and it was time I let her out to play and find out what I like. I bought coloring books and crayons. I didn’t color in them right away. I invited a friend home and asked her if she’d like to come over and color with me. She did and we had a blast. I remember laying on the living room floor with her and we were coloring like crazy when my h walked in and said we were off our nuts. After he walked out we both looked at each other and burst into laughter. One of my fondest memories.
I’m still trying to find me. I’m a work in progress. I’m no longer trying to fit in that round hole. I have tools that I’m using to make that hole fit me. I’ve found life has a purpose and I’m trying to use my God-given personality. I’m only part right now. My goal is all. As the hole takes shape, my exterior fakeness is chipping away. Sometimes I’m still scared to let me out. But through the grace of God, I will make it.
Dear Brave Rabbit,
We haven’t heard from you in a while. Welcome back.
What a heart-breaking story! You really are brave to begin to find yourself and work your way into wholeness. Good for you! I don’t remember if you told us whether you are still married??? But I’m glad you found a therapist and I hope and pray that you will find the right “hole” and enjoy being YOU!
It’s a process so be gentle with yourself. And yes you will make it.
This is a great question, and timely for me.
My pastor recently mentioned that she sees many spiritual gifts in me and encouraged me to seek spiritual direction in what to ‘take on’. This came when I went to speak to her about my various commitments at the church, as well as my family.
In this season our youngest needs lots of support and we have had to look at our overall family schedule as well as individual commitments. We’ve made significant changes in all areas. We are also looking at other churches because our eldest is not being fed at all, at our current church.
This all has led me to put the brakes on many things and either make shorter-term commitments ( example, I can lead a Bible Study for the month of October, instead of committing to the entire year), or simply not renewing my volunteering commitments to other things.
I’m also praying through Psalm 23. This has been a wonderful experience placing myself in those incredible scenes.
There are ‘good things’ and there are ‘the best things’. I will only discern what is best by staying very close to my Shepherd.
I think my abilities to ‘be good at’ many things was a factor in rejecting The Lord for so long. I simply didn’t see my need for Him 🙁
It was only through the adoption of a child with ‘special needs’ ( whatever that means! Lol) that I began to acknowledge how ‘in over my head’ I was and begin to seek Him.
I see similar traits in our eldest ( she masters just about anything she tries) which is wonderful -when you acknowledge that it all comes from Him! I worry about her, with her gifting, she may not see her need for Him.
Yup, finding an appropriate church for her is really critical.
Nancy and others,
After being introduced to Emotionally Healthy Sprituality book by Nancy, I recently visited the New Life Fellowship Church website whose pastor is the author of the book. They just finished a sermon series Living an authentic life. It’s really good and I recommend listening to it.
Thanks for the recommendation, Maria.
The author of EHS does podcasts too. You can find them on the EHS website.
Nancy, I stand with you as you seek the Lord’s will in these areas of need in your family. It’s a time of real reliance on His leading.
As you are enjoying the 23rd Psalm, you might enjoy reading “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23,” by W. Phillip Keller. Wonderful book, and it brings home the whole experience of the Lord as our Shepherd, and us as His sheep. Keller was a shepherd, and his experience sheds a lot of light on that psalm.
JoAnn, thank you.
I just came back from seeing my spritual director. She recommended that book to me 🙂
I love it when The Lord is so clear ❤️
I Love Phillip Keller too! I am reading another book of his called “Walking with God”, here is the tag line: “This book is for the weary and worn who have lost their way and are uncertain where to turn. It allows us to see who we are, what direction we are taking, and where our destination will be”
Keller shares about his crazy hyper-spiritual religious experience as a child and he had some amazing insights coming out of that.
I heard a wise old guy once say ” Be who you is cause if you aint who you is you is who you aint.”
When you’ve been through Narcissistic abuse where you have become a shadow of someone else, it is difficult to stand on your own again. Any thoughts? I am struggling with this one. I can’t seem to shake the insecurities and weaknesses to pursue my calling.
FLGal, This is really a spiritual issue. After spending so much time “in the shadow of someone else,” it is important to renounce the shadow and all the darkness that came with it so that you can find the person God created you to be. Narcissism is like a virus, and it can infect you with darkness, so you have to deal with it directly in the power and authority of Christ. You will need the help of some spiritually strong friends to help you pray through this. I have been helping a woman who was married to a narcissist for many years, and even though she survived by having a strong spiritual relationship with the Lord, there were some dark spirits clinging to her, most notably a spirit of fear, that through prayer were forced to leave her. The Lord has defeated Satan on the cross, and as members of His Body, we have the authority to tell the darkness to flee. I hope that you are part of a strong Christian community where you can get strengthened spiritually, and if not, then do ask the Lord to lead you to a place where His word is taught and the believers are strong in the faith.
I am a strong Christian and attend a life-giving church. I think most women are in need of emotional and spiritual healing especially after many years of abuse which is what this ministry is about. I don’t believe I have dark spirits clinging to me. I am covered by the blood of Christ and Satan has no power over me. Leslie spoke about fear in one of her latest videos and it was encouraging to hear that even she struggles with fear and insecurity. I think we all do and spiritualizing problems as being demonic is not always the case.
FL, the cure is to take a risk. Victims of abuse have survivor mentality and make decisions based on fear. They need to break the old rule and take a risk. FL, just do it. Once you take the emotional and relational risk, you will grow and grow. Take a risk in your clothing, food, job, or hair style. The more you practice thinking for yourself the better you will get at it. It takes practice, choice has been an unused muscle. Give it a good work out!
I also think it is just time. I am reading a really good book right now called Healing from Hidden Abuse by Shannon Thomas and she talks about the stages of healing we go through. Despair, Awakening, Education, Boundaries…that’s as far as far as I have gotten, but it is so spot on with my journey. And I have realized my journey is my whole life because my father is as psychologically abusive as the abuser I was married to for 25 years. Also, I allowed myself to feel the anger. I had denied the anger and took the blame for everything they accused me of my whole life. I also take joy in little victories every day-especially in the area of boundaries. Education makes such a difference too. I understand so much now about what was really happening and I can go back to that truth every time I begin to doubt myself. It is quite a journey, but I am so thankful for positive sites like this that always point us in the right direction.
Agree, Amy. Definitely a lot of this is going to work itself out over time….and making small decisions by yourself and realizing that your decisions might be different from someone else’s, but that does not make them wrong!
Free, good advice.
Good advice Free. Most encouraging!
I have turned a corner recently by learning to cooperate with my personality. I was reared in a performance – driven family, and complied with that standard. I continued the same self-determined lifestyle into my marriage. Everything depended on me, and I was serious about personal responsibility and diligence.
Recently, I hit a wall. Deeply exhausted, I could not force myself to do necessary tasks, even with consequences coming. I was very disappointed in myself. Divorced and alone, with no one around for accountability, I was REALLY struggling. Guilt-tripping myself did not work.
I am in Georgia’s online ReBUILD class. She has emphasized living in the strengths of my personality, which is not at all who I thought I was. I am decreasing the busyness, taking hours to “just be”, and becoming aware of my performance – driven tendency, I am beginning to appreciate who God made me to be, and most of the drudgery has disappeared.
As a result, my energy is increasing, versus being drained by my expectation of myself.
Betty, what an encouraging story. Thank you for sharing. That’s a lesson we can all benefit from.
Thank you Betty for your kind comments.
It’s a process so be gentle with yourself. And yes you will make it.
Oh my goodness, this is timely! I am still figuring out myself after 60 years of repressing myself. I realized part of the reason I married the man I married was that we were opposites in every way and I thought it was time for me to ‘grow up’! Even before I met him I was very involved in a church group that taught me to bury my emotions and never question their teachings. I was a free spirit and thought I had no discipline, although I never missed work ever and always paid my bills on time.
My husband set about changing me from the very beginning and I went right along. No more wearing bright colors or ‘gypsy’ prints, only preppie clothes in duller colors, no more telling jokes, eating only what he liked, living in houses he picked out, hanging out with people he approved of while subtly pushing my friends and family out of the way. But it wasn’t all his fault. I allowed him to do these things because I didn’t like me!
Now I am free from him and still trying to figure out who I am! I went to a family reunion this summer and saw my siblings for the first time in a long while and laughed more than I have for years! My family has been so accepting and I had forgotten how much fun they were.
Being a square peg in a round hole is no way to live.
Sherry, I vote for a new top with bright, vivid colors. Honor the young woman who got squashed!
I have a friend who did a similar thing. She married a Mennonite man to subconsciously be the good girl she thought she needed to be. She was a wild, hard drinking, sexually active cheerleader in high school. She wanted to reform herself and her image. As you can imagine that didn’t work out. She couldn’t make herself be someone she wasn’t. The root of her problem was not valuing herself. She felt ashamed and unworthy once she understood that her actions were sinful. Her super conservative lifestyle helped initially, but her fun loving, outspoken self got crushed.
Oh Sherry, That sounds so familiar, and I am just beginning to figure out how much I let my wife change me. In high school and college I was very fun loving and outgoing, really wasn’t scared of people or much of anything else. But even with that, still a very responsible person. I married my wife because she was the “pretty girl”, she seemed very spiritually mature (at least in public), and she had turned her narcissistic attention on me and it felt good.
But it didn’t take long after the wedding until she started to try to change me. (I’m not talking about things I was doing wrong, or sin in my life, I’m talking about my personality) In the beginning she tried to use the carrot. “Don’t you want me to like you more?” “Don’t you think I’m pretty enough?” “You do agree with me right?” “Don’t you like me?” “You don’t really want to wear that do you?” But quickly enough that turned into “I just wish you wouldn’t talk in public because you embarrass me” “you just say such stupid things sometimes” “Your hobbies are just dumb and a waste of time” “you look really stupid in that” She would even criticize my honesty, If I were in a store and was not charged for something, If I were to point that out she would criticize me for being honest. Unless I could prove something would look good, the only colors I was allowed to paint rooms in our house was off white. No more jokes (unless they were at the expense of others) and don’t ever tease her because I never knew when she would take offense.
It wasn’t until recently and I learned what emotional abuse is that I realized how much my wife changed my personality and how I had gone right along with it, because a good husband will be willing to do anything for his wife if he loves her, right? My personality has changed so much that I am not at all outgoing in public anymore, I always question if I should say or do something in public, I’m afraid to try new things even though I would like to. As I pondered this I realized that my wife got what she wanted, I didn’t embarrass her in public anymore because I either always agreed with her or I didn’t really say much of anything. In recent years she often complained about her having to carry the conversation when we were with friends because I didn’t say anything.
Because of her adultery, abuse, and unwillingness to repent and reconcile, we have now been separated for two months and will be filing for divorce soon. Though this time has been difficult, I have more peace than I have in a long time. I am learning how much I have changed through years of narcissistic abuse, but I’m not really sure what to do about it. It isn’t like I can just start being outgoing again even if I want to. There are some parts of who I have become that I like. I have become much more introspective and am far more capable of examining my own actions, thought, and intentions than I ever have been. But much of that has come from the pain over the last few years. I do wish that I weren’t as timid in public as I used to be.
Sheep, it’s good to hear from you again. As others here have said, this is going to take time, and lots of “baby steps.” Can you find a support group or Bible study where you can begin to share your thoughts in a safe environment? Join a hobby club? I feel sure that little by little you will get your confidence back. Two months isn’t long to recover from the years of living with her. Every time you hear “her voice” in your head, acknowledge that it came from her and disregard it. Perhaps this will help.
Sheep, give yourself time. I remember learning that the growth and healing we need takes time. I have found God has been very gentle with me in revealing truth, empowering me to live in ways I never imagined possible and keeping me safe.
Sheep, this process takes years. You have just begun the journey. The human heart and mind can heal just like our physical body. Lean in and trust that you have made the right choice to value yourself, having done everything humanly possible, rest, accept the peace and live.
It is amazing and sad how long we can live without knowing who we are. But that fact you are aware of that right now is great. In marriage they often say “opposites attract and then they attack.”
The discussion of who we are is a getting contemporary and date I say American concept. It can be considered navel gazing and more modern day self absorption. Yet, for this discussion and for this community it is an important exercise.
Seeking decisiveness in actions and confidence in decisions are an important personality traits to establish or reestablish. Remember abusers take away choice. Get you choice back, speak up and claim your personhood.
Very contemporary and date I say American concept…..
This comment is well said! I agree and so important for the context and relational dynamics that many have come to experience.
Abusers don’t do…..healthy personhood or often times even space for individualness.
(Unless it’s for them of course)
I also am going through that process of rediscovering who I am. I was also very outgoing when younger, laughed a ton, sang in the halls at school. I’ve been separated two years now and a lot of me is coming back. It is so weird to see the old me coming back and to realize I was “gone” for so long. But, now it is even better because God is doing the work of growing me strong in my identity in Him and understanding that I, with my personality, am not “wrong”. Everyone else has their quirks and weirdnesses, too. I look around and realize that I am pretty normal despite believing for so long I was always inferior to others.
My husband was very covert about his disapproval of me, and I always was on edge trying to do and be the right person for him and in public. So thankful to just rest and be me with Jesus living through me and working in and through my personality. Such freedom!
(I sing a lot again out loud – because it’s a part of who I am and how I’m wired, have always loved to sing. Almost without fail, people tell me I have a great voice – but my stbx husband? He made a point to tell me on several occasions he didn’t think I sang well and laughed at me when I voiced that I didn’t think that was true).
I appreciate this post. I am slowly discovering the joy of things my abuser banned too. A friend said, “I haven’t heard you laugh like that since we were girls.” The tone of my voice has changed, my posture has changed, my energy level had soared and I sing too!
I am happy to read your response here and I applaud you for taking the risk and rediscovering your uniquely designed, beautiful self.
Content in Christ, Keep on singing…sing your heart out! I am quite sure that the Lord loves a “joyful noise.” I have a friend who sings all the time, off key mostly, but she loves the Lord with all her heart, and I enjoy singing with her. There’s a line in a hymn that I love: It is better to sing than be sighing, so rejoice evermore.
I am a strong Christian and attend a life-giving church. I think most women are in need of emotional and spiritual healing especially after many years of abuse which is what this ministry is about. I don’t believe I have dark spirits clinging to me. I am covered by the blood of Christ and Satan has no power over me. Leslie spoke about fear in one of her latest videos and it was encouraging to hear that even she struggles with fear and insecurity. I think we all do and spiritualizing problems as being demonic is not always the case.
FLGal, Of course you are right. We all need healing, body, soul and spirit, as this world we live in is hostile on many fronts. Yes, the reality is that Satan has been defeated, but it takes time for us to learn to live in the freedom that Christ has purchased for us. I pray that the Lord will lead you out of the shadow of your ex and into His marvelous light. As Georgia said, It is a process, and it takes time, but you will make it.
Thanks for the suggestion to “deal with it [the darkness] directly in the power and authority of Christ”.
This is so important because The Lord has secured the promised land but He equips us to claim it for His Glory.
Joshua led the Isrealites in claiming the promised land by listening, being patient, following, healing, trusting, and going to war.
“I am covered by the blood of Christ and Satan has no power over me.”
Amen and amen, sister. You are going to be just fine. 🙂 I’m not sure where you are in your journey, but I am two years out from separation. About 14 months in, I started noticing a lot of the heaviness of the grief leaving me and started experiencing pockets of joy here and there that have only increased since. Now, there is mostly peace and joy – yes, life is a lot more busy in many ways, but it is so much better.
Yesterday, I noticed how good it felt to make some decisions about some things I needed to get repaired around the house. God provided some money to me through the sale of a small condo we had and I’ve been struggling about what to do with it – praying and waiting for God to lead and give me peace. I felt a clearer sense yesterday about what to do with it that came with peace and I remember thinking how beautiful it was that God had taken me from a woman who had not much of a voice in decisions like these to now, two years later, I am learning to cooperate and wait on God’s leading in making decisions and to rest in the in-between time, knowing that He will not fail me.
All of these little and big decisions do add up and you gain confidence over time. For me, it started off with putting feelers out for a job, getting my resume together, getting a job, getting an oil change at a different place than my husband always took the car to (I was rebelling against anything to do with him and how *he* would do things, haha!). The other day, I put new windshield wipers on my car. I know that’s kind of ridiculous, but these are all little things that have helped me realize I can live without this man.
In other things, I have made decisions NOT to try to fix things on my own and that is ok, too. In some ways, those decisions are hard for me, too, because my husband could fix anything and I hate to spend the money. But, I know my limits and that is also a healthy thing to face.
Working again, I have gained a lot of confidence as I have been affirmed in my work (had to leave my first toxic job, though, and now I am working at a Christian private school). Also, through that job, I have been able to interact more with different personalities, male and female, and experience being treated in respectful ways by both sexes. And, in some cases, experiencing some not-so-fun personalities which has strengthened me to stand more firmly in Whose I am and what He says about me and to stop worrying about whether everyone in the world likes me or not. If they don’t seem to like me, I can let them go (not in a mean-spirited way, but it is not my job to make sure everyone in the world thinks highly of me and wants to be my friend). There is a lot of freedom and growing through these kinds of situations as well.
FLGal, I’m looking forward to hearing how God works in and through you in the days and months ahead!
Content, you speaking directly to me here. I could have written a very similar post. I too have changed service providers and purposefully asserted my own choices in domestic life. It takes time for the healing affects of these kinds of actions to become normal and to silence the small voice of the abuser telling you what to do.
I am still in the process of identifying many triggers. I cut a shrub the other day that my abusive spouse had decreed I was not to touch. Although I did trim the bush, I felt the tension and fear as I broke one of his many decrees. My heart was pounding and my hands were shaking as I did the work.
Yet, if I persevere through the trigger, everything gets easier. Next time I will trim more shrubs. My abusive spouse once took a skedge hammer and smashed my kitchen to bits. I had to get rid of the hammer. The triggers just weren’t worth having it in the garage.
I would like to hear other’s stories about facing triggers and how they became victorious over them.
Your question about becoming victorious over triggers is very timely for me. This past Thursday I was helping a new lady sign up for our Bible study. Her manner was sharp, abrupt and rude and as I helped her, she got worse. I immediately went into ‘survival mode’ -smile on my face, disappeared inside myself and just got the job done.
My encounter with her lasted 10 minutes, max, but the effects lasted all day.
A sister ( who knows me well) told me later that she saw that my demeanour had changed completely.
I had gotten badly triggered. What was interesting (and oppressive) was the chatter going on in my head for the rest of the day.
“If you are really IN Christ, Nancy, you should be able to love on her without being affected. Perfect love casts out all fear, and you got taken over by fear. Christ in you should inoculate you against this type of treatment. You should be able to withstand it. She was a little old lady who likely was badly injured in her life. You know very well that hurt people, hurt people, where is your compassion for HER?”
When my thoughts go that way, I cannot see straight.
I don’t know how to ‘have victory’ over my triggers. For me, that goal is just way too lofty. It’s not that I don’t WANT to have victory, I just don’t know how to define what victory is…?
I get ‘pushing through’ cutting the hedge. Yes, you were reclaiming something.
Victory for me might have involved removing myself from this lady, and asking someone else to help her. And then telling all those ‘Biblical SHOULD thoughts’, exactly where to go.
To Nancy and Moonbeam
Triggers are terrible! A total brain hijacking where logic flees and we’re left with raw emotions from so many other experiences in the past.
I have had some great victories working though and disarming triggers by myself, but it’s a lot of work. It really helps to have a friend walk through the harder ones along side us. My online support sisters are really great with this part.
Step 1 – First we have to realize that we are being triggered, or have recently been triggered. In a season of high trauma it can seem nearly constant, so this can be exhausting. Also we don’t always realize we were reacting out of a triggered state until much later.
Step 2 -Triggers almost always carry false “truth claims” so the next step is to identify exactly what message is being “preached” in out mind’s pulpit.
You did this really clearly in your example Nancy, as your initial trigger was followed by a lot of toxic self-talk. When its just a storm of feelings this can be more complex work because it might be multi-layered voices speaking those false truth claims.
Step 3- So now we isolate the message from the nasty voices and compare it to the truth. Does it match reality? What does the person of Christ say to our trigger? Sometimes it’s the stupidest lies that keep us the most bound up.
Step 4 -Find the truth claim that comes against the lie and swallow it down like a pill that will save your life. Write it down, say it out, sing yourself to sleep with it if needed. This is the part where a recovery friend can really help, because they know your story and are not being taken in with your very same triggers/lies at that moment.
A lovely friend from my online support group helped me disarm a really ugly trigger in my life. I borrowed one little phrase from her explanation and wrote it on an index card to keep in my pocket. I re-read it until it was tattered mess.
So sometimes it might be a memory that carries a lie that we are not really safe, (even when we are), or a fear that we’ll be exposed and rejected if anyone really knows us. Another lie might be that we made it all up, OR that it really was OUR FAULT and now were going to pay big for seeking the truth.
In dealing with sexual betrayal issues a common triggering lie/accusation that can hijack even the loveliest day is “I wasn’t enough for him (or her)”
On the surface this might be a “duh”, but there is an implication here that a person should or even could be “enough” to fill the sinful desires of another. It’s impossible! God Himself is not “enough” for an individual in that state of moral rebellion, so how arrogant is the assumption that we could succeed where God fails!
A quick answer for this trigger can be “Even God doesn’t satisfy the wicked heart.” Or a re-reading Proverbs 27:19-20 and John 2:16
This is helpful, caroline, thanks.
So if I start from 3)what is the nasty message and compare it to truth.
Nasty message: loving others means that I sacrifice my heart. AND having Christ in me means that I can and should place myself in heart compromising situations – especially when this involves family. AND saying ‘no’ to unhealthy situations is disobedient by refusing others His grace.
Truth: Christ sacrificed Himself – to expect that of myself is to deny what He did for me. AND Having Christ in me means being able to say ‘no’ to unhealthy situations.
4) Prov 4::23 I guess I need to go back to clinging to this like my life depends on it. Because it does ( I lay before u life and death, now choose LIFE so that u and your descendants may live!)
Yes these are really good truths Nancy!
We are called to take up our cross and follow Christ, but we are also called to LOVE our neighbors and even our enemies while following Him.
So, when our “so called” sacrifices are actually enabling sin in other people, (ie: participating in the “unhealthy situations” you mention) that’s NOT loving them!
My youngest son turned two today. I love him so very much, and yet I must be saying no to him almost all day long! To give in and say YES might make him “happy” with me for a moment, but it would not be loving him when a no was needed.
Fat pink cheeks and a perfect mop of red curls make my son’s fits somewhat amusing right now, but selfish toddler behavior in a grown man or woman is truly terrible to behold!!
When we realize our weak wishy-washy “yes” is actually condoning and participating in foolishness (and sometimes evil), it changes our perspective and provides the strength we need to step away.
“…though leaving is not an option that seems available to many battered women, I believe the first time a woman is hit, she is a victim and the second time, she is a volunteer.” -Gavin De Beck, The Gift of Fear
A Volunteer. Lets let that sink in.
For support to distance myself from abusive, dishonest, or perverse people I absolutely love this passage:
“…But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a verbal abuser, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat…” 1 First Corinthians 5:11
Do not even eat with such a man.
I had another run-in with my wild brother at my mom’s house last week, and I really needed this clarity and support.
I had been dropped off at her house with some of my kids who were to do yard work, while my husband went on to pick up water tanks in the trailer. Brother showed up without notice and at first seemed to behave himself. I made him a sandwich and kept the conversation light.
After twenty minutes or so he started his spiritually twisted crap, this time directed at my mother, not me. He was trying to force her to “speak in tongues” and she clearly told him she didn’t want to. He told her she was demon possessed , and that her thoughts were not her own.
I had stayed quiet until I had to speak because he was pacing and moving in physically as his voice steadily rose. I told him his testimony alone was a stumbling block to the gospel let alone his claim of living the “spirit filled” life! This made him pretty mad and he soon left the house (because I had a demon of course).
But I was able to tell my mother that THIS was a main reason I could never let my 9 year old daughter stay the night with her. As long as he’s allowed to just show up and say his weird crap, I cant let my daughter witness his aggression and elder abuse.
My daughter is a freedom fighter with a true badger spirit and she would take on a dozen crazy uncles any day of the week in order to protect her frail widowed grandma. I could never leave her there alone, and I’ll not be dropped off again either!
Wow caroline. It’s amazing that you were provided such a clear example of why you have the boundary that you do. Not allowing a grand daughter to stay over at her ( frail, widowed) grandma’s could seem so ‘unloving’ of you. And yet by speaking the truth with such clarity, you give your mother the opportunity to see the destruction that her lack of boundaries causes.
The lie that loving others means that I am to have no limits is deeply, deeply embedded. ( maybe I think that I need to be perfect in order to cast out all fear and truly love)
And yet love MUST limit sin. Because God does not tolerate any sin and He IS love.
Caroline & Nancy,
Thanks for your discussion on triggers. I have been trying to identify things that trigger me and delve deep into why and how to overcome them. I listened to a sermon online (New Life Fellowship Church NY) and it was in agreement with what Caroline wrote.
Thank you Nancy. And you know, I WAS feeling guilty about not letting her stay the night there. I always had some excuse, and my daughter (badger that she is) was not afraid to hound me over it: ” I guess I’ll have to be thirty before I come over!”
She is a snarky sass as well as a badger, and my mothering is an area where I’m still sensitive to criticism. Mainly of accusations of being an “overly protective” parent, whatever that is.
So in my weakness of wanting to be admired by everybody, I can occasionally be pressured into saying yes when my head still says no. I get triggered and react to the emotional pleas.
I do need a thicker skin here, because I really believe strict boundaries are good for kids. I know many will disagree with this but you simply can’t undo the violations if you called it wrong! Later, if one really feels they didn’t experience enough abuse as a kid, they can always make up for it later, right? Plenty of chances to be abused as an adult…
I was fairly well sheltered as a child, with some pretty good rules regarding friends, recreation and media, but obviously not enough sheltering to avoid sexual abuse from an adult allowed into the family circle!
My mother in law lived by very different rules , “You cant protect your kids from everything” was her motto and boy was she consistent! She protected her 2 kids from nothing. My husband’s first theater movie was “Jaws”… he was two & half years old! This is a story his parents tell with pride. With pornography and horror as regular staples in the home, the kids were literally weaned on nudity and violence.
His sister is even worse. Working through her third destructive marriage, she was almost diagnosed as Borderline Personality Disorder. She stopped going to that therapist.
I saw the first two sermons. Excellent stuff. Thanks for recommending them.
Very contemporary and date I say American concept…..
This is interesting. I feel all the time that I can’t be who I really am. I grew up not knowing who I was, since I have a very dominant mother. I was discovering myself still when I met my husband and we became friends and eventually married. Now, I feel that I cannot be what I really am. BUT the big caveat is that what I really am just may be completely flawed. Basically, I feel very confused. See, I am a bit ADD, very much of a procrastinator, and I hate to hurry. My husband is a with-it, on the ball, mostly perfectionist, practically perfect in every way, etc etc etc. So, he asks me to do something, and I procrastinate. Or, I remember it only intermittently with the result being – I don’t get it done. This is all bad on me. I also struggle with depression. So, over the course of almost 15 years and three children, we’ve had some really horrible times. He yells and berates and all that stuff. I’m a terrible parent, worst parent ever. I’m an idiot and stupid and all that. He asks for a certain meal and if I don’t get it right, it’s the end of the world. If I mistakenly mess up something he did deliberately (even if I’m not aware that it was a deliberate thing that he did, or it’s a really small thing like turning off a light he had turned on) it’s the end of the world. We were coming to a crisis, he says I am mentally ill. He threw around the schizophrenic label. Of course, I don’t think I’m schizo, but by definition, that doesn’t exactly prove anything 😀 people can be schizo without knowing it, right?! Soooooooooooo really long story short, it came to a bit of a head… and now he is working on not yelling, and I am working on not messing up. I don’t really know how much of this is my fault. I come from a family with mental problems. I don’t know what my mom is – so many issues, she is probably a new category. Her dad was not a nice person. All the females in her line going back as far as they know (including my mom) developed dementia. My mom’s mind is already going. My husband claims MY mind is going. Maybe it is! I do weird things and forget stuff all the time. So, I worry about that. At many times, I am convinced I am in a destructive marriage. But, other times, I am convinced it’s all my fault. When I’m depressed, I do stupid things, bad mistakes, he gets frustrated. When I procrastinate, he gets frustrated and asks and asks and finally yells. So – I don’t really know. This is all confused and written badly. But something about not being able to be “me” struck a chord with me.
In reply to: No One Down here says,
Your post really makes me feel sad for you and your situation. Because you yourself are thinking that you experience ADD and depression, these things can be helped and really can be looked at closer by a professional.
Your husband is out of line by saying things about being a stupid parent or berating you .. this is completely unacceptable and should be addressed.
Are you seeing a counselor? Individually? Or collectively?
I would also recommend you look into the book:
Is it Me, You, or ADD by Gina Pera.
She also has lots and lots of YouTube videos which might help you both ‘calm things down’ to really get at the source of the issues.
If you are ADD, or are suffering from other things such as (depression/anxiety) there is a lot of help and it’s very treatable.
If your solution is to have your husband ‘stop yelling’ and you to try harder at not messing up, you might not like the long term outcome of this over time because there might be other things that would need to be looked at?
Also the marital dynamics in general are important to evaluate with a professional.
Not being able to be ‘you’ is important to explore and it’s crucial for you to feel your sense of self in a your marriage.
We receive our value and worth from our Identity in Christ alone💜
If you grew up in a home where this was poorly rooted or experienced/modeled (as many do) it’s natural that you might not feel the freedom to be ‘you’ especially if you are having roller coaster types of marital issues.
It’s also important to look closer at the any patterns in your marriage that are CO- created.
This means that not all things are your fault. Some things you need to take responsibility for and some things your husband may also have to ‘grow’ in.
Thank you, you are so kind. How can I start. I have advanced degrees, but didn’t know a thing about ADD until after our first child. Whooooo Those were very bad days for so many reasons. I can’t go back and relive them. When he was 5-6, we investigated the ADHD route, and he was strong on the charts. Fast forward to now, he is considered on the autism spectrum. I have never been officially diagnosed, but do have several symptoms. I have struggled with a depression my whole life. I didn’t know it was that when I was a kid. I never told my parents. I just cried all the time. I thought it was because I wasn’t good enough, or not friendly enough (He who hath friends must show himself friendly). I didn’t really have solid friends. I can look back now and say I was weird. My fault or not, it colored my life. So, as an adult, I continued to have severe problems, but undiagnosed. After marriage, I “felt” great, except that my partner made life worse than anything I could have ever imagined. I didn’t know anyone could act like that. He always blamed everything on me. 2 years in, he confessed some things, confessed he had not been loving me, etc etc. things were better for a while. Until second and third child, and I had a postpartum depression unlike anything I could have imagined. Soon the yelling and insults began again. I could not confront him. Eventually things started to improve. Eventually I ended up on depression meds. Eventually he started the story of “he should not yell at me, his reactions are wrong, but he can hardly be blamed, because it’s my fault. When I am depressed, it lets the devil in, and he can’t help but be angry. When i disappoint him by not doing the things he asks, he gets to yelling as a last resort because i never respond to his nicely asking.” What of that is true? i don’t know. No counselor as of yet. We have been talking about me getting counseling, and I have a referral, due to “depression.” But right now we are waiting for us to have the cash. I don’t know what is really true. I know all my faults. I know all the things I could do better. I know sometimes why he yells really is my fault. Other times, I don’t know. Those times, are excused by – I already have him all upset…. These are natural reactions. I wish someone outside could tell me what the truth is. It is scary – when he told me i’d better be nice to him, because it would be him taking me to a doctor and accusing me of schizophrenia, and he has proof, and of course a schizophrenic can’t accurately diagnose, etc. etc. etc. That terrified me. But then, now, he has said he is going to work on not yelling, and I am trying to prove my love by doing the things he asks of me. he frequently emphasizes it is my fault when he does yell. These things can’t be right. BUT all the faults are really valid, you know.
Oh my, Aly – Listening to some videos by the lady you mentioned. It sounds awful, and like I am the real problem =O
A good measure of these things are me. I don’t do the chronic impulse spending, at least.
Now, consider the common fallout of poorly managed ADHD:
• Poor planning
• Weak working memory
• Procrastinating on fulfilling promises
• A tendency to over-use electronics and get lost in ever-changing hobbies
• Chronic impulse spending
• Unreliable communications
• Erratic sleep patterns
• And more
No one down here,
I’m asking that you be cautious and kind to yourself in this situation because I wonder if you are able to see ADHD as something As the source and not specifically a ‘you’ problem?
It’s really essential that you get professional assistance here based on getting a proper diagnosis and treatment plan.
Aly, We are tentatively planning for me to go to counseling, but for the moment it waits on funds. It is difficult to view ADD as the problem and not me or him. I know no one here knows me, and my story is as complicated as the next person’s. Right now I think we are in a limbo situation. He is trying to be kinder, and I am trying to improve as a person. But, what this is going to look like, I don’t know yet. What it means for me, I don’t know. Will we ever become whole together? I don’t know. Is he really a narcissist? I can’t tell. He acts it a lot. I know at the least he has definite tendencies. But, is it really as he says, because of me? I don’t know.
No One down here,
I’m think counseling is so essential given the circumstances. I see that you plan to go, does he?
It’s really hard to work on specific issues especially if there are neurological issues to address if a counselor only hears one-side or sees one individual. (Speaking from my own personal journey here with my h)
By no means am I saying (marital counseling) but it would be wise for your husband to also go independent of you and occasionally at times together if the counselor recommends that.
ADD and neurological issues have ‘interpretation and processing issues to address’. Let alone if either of you are having other things going on internally with you as an effect or as a result of unresolved FOO.
(Family of origin)
I don’t want to overwhelm you or cause you to down play your situation, but these areas are very treatable with the resources available and the commitment to grow and become the best versions of ourselves with God’s orchestrating. I don’t believe any of us become whole on this side of heaven.
There are many… I think 7 different types of ADD/ADHD.
I would be wise to explore and get more information on this area. Visit Dr. Amen website and he has many resources and books too to investigate further.
“It is difficult to view ADD as the problem and not me or him.”
I don’t know if ADD is the core source or contributing issue but it’s worth getting a professional involved so you can have a better scope.
It could be a form of anxiety or depression also?
“Right now I think we are in a limbo situation. He is trying to be kinder, and I am trying to improve as a person.”
This is sad but the reality of your status. The hard part about this limbo place is ….I wonder if you feel that it’s a ticking time bomb? Or if it feels like a roller coaster or cycle of episodes?
Unresolved issues, grief, anger etc or untreated ADD or depression/anxiety can have many similarities, that’s why professionals can assist the best often especially when it’s this complex.
“Is he really a narcissist? I can’t tell. He acts it a lot. I know at the least he has definite tendencies.”
This is also something to explore deeper because he could be higher on the spectrum for Narcissism and that in itself will cause a lot of relationship problems with ADD or without.
One of my biggest alarms of High Narc tendencies is their inability to take responsibility for their own behavior. Like they are ‘no stick’ pan that takes no ownership what so ever.
They might for a Millisecond and then quickly rearrange the narrative as it’s ‘your fault’.
My biggest concern would be for your children and especially your child on the spectrum. How do you and your husband view his behavior?
If you have insurance and a treatment plan, maybe you can work with his clinician to find resources for you and your husband?
Aly, I don’t believe he is going to go to counseling. He, after all, is perfect 😀 He very rarely, if ever, admits to any error. This is a narc tendency. There are so many things that point to narcissism, but it is also so very plausible that I have caused it all 🙁 Yes, I agree about counseling. I always try to be as fair as I can be and tell both sides of the story, as I have certainly heard his side more times than I can tell. I know I can’t truly give his perspective, but I try.
I have depression also. I know this is a thing I’ve had all my life, but some circumstances appear to exacerbate it. However, in someone else’s perspective, MY depression are what causes all the evil. Cyclical is all I can really agree on.
I can’t tell what’s going on in my limbo stage. I was nearly convinced that the best thing to do was going to be to leave, separate, make a plan, etc etc. How, I didn’t know. But, in trying to implement first steps, he forbid it. Then it transferred into he was being civil, but obviously disdaining of me. Now, he is being very friendly, but I’m reeling. I don’t have the “feelings” of love. I know, love is not always a “feeling.” What I mean is that I deep down doubt his intentions, but again, I don’t know if I’m paranoid or if I have good instincts! For sure it tells me that we have had a rocky time of it, and it takes a long time to heal from severe emotional trauma. All in all, if you look back historically, we have had BAD then good than BAD then good than BAD … etc. back and forth.
Three children who I love dearly. First child – we have been to hell and back with that kid. literally. he was an awful baby. I was terrified he was going to be kicked out of K4. Everyone told us to discipline, discipline, discipline. Finally, we got some advice to look into ADHD. We did – things were better. Not good, but our approach and perspective were better, except we could never tell when it was disobedience or disability! Things with that kid got horrible. It all came to a head a year and a half ago. I am convinced he was being demonically influenced. The things that came out of his mouth… Then, the Lord saved him!!! Angels sang, burdens lifted … Now, he still has faults and trouble with things like work ethic. So we work really hard at developing the good things, but we totally lay off on the quirks.It’s always obvious when he is not walking with God. Pretty sure the other two are on the spectrum also, just different symptoms. It’s rough.
No one down here,
Rough is an understatement. I’m very sorry for your difficulties with your children and especially if they are all on the spectrum as you say, this takes added energy to maintain care and understanding.
Your best option to sort out ‘what is at the root of these issues’ will be a professional assisting you.
And yes your husband would need to be involved somehow with his behavior and how he handles the environment.
“ I don’t believe he is going to go to counseling.”
Well, this might be your take but it doesn’t have to be the outcome. My husband also struggled not wanting counseling but that didn’t become an option overall if we were going to remain married and work toward a healthier relationship.
Sure his wiring was that we could figure this out on own (really his way) and that eventually things would somehow get better. But again he really didn’t want to do the hard relational work that it would take.
Counseling for your husband is also essential. He seems ALL over the place to me, not knowing what to do for solutions or problem solving options.
I just would not give room for that posture above from him or from you. Changing the way you think about what you believe about what his willingness is can be a complete different trajectory.
Well, meeting with an almost counselor next week. Really, an intern who needs hours. Just me. And H doesn’t actually know 😳 I am very nervous.
No one down here,
I think nervous feelings are very natural especially as you take a step in bringing another person (pre-training Counselor) into your world and to expose the things that are taking place in your private daily lives… especially as clinicians are to assess the situation and offer directives sometimes.
I’m unclear why you chose this path specifically, maybe financially?
I would make sure that you bring all the ADD information to the forefront so the person you are speaking with has an opportunity to decide if this is far from their scope of help and study. Maybe they know of other resources or help that they can refer you out to if needed?
Have you informed your husband? And if not, I’m curious why?
You are very kind to continue a conversation. The path to this particular counselor intern was surprising. Yes, finances are a big part. I can’t spend ANY money at the moment.
I hope to talk about the ADD and the depression and all the things. I keep going over and over and over all the stuff in my head and I am so mixed up and upside down, I can’t tell wrong from right. I haven’t told my husband because for one, I’m afraid to. For another, this was arranged through my work. I work in a Christian environment, and I went to a supervisor for some sort of aid when H was calling me out as a schizophrenic, accusing me of wacky stuff, and threatening that if i was not nice to him, he would have me put into a mental hospital. He told me he was very good at revenge. The person I am supposed to be meeting with is training in how to come along side abused spouses. Pretty sure he wouldn’t be interested in me participating in that.
Although he wants ME to go to counseling, he has said that HE does not need any sort of counseling. That any counselor would tell me how wrong I am. That may be true. I keep trying to go back to the beginning of things in the marriage. There were problems way back at the start, before depression was ever in the picture at all. Also before ADD was THAT prominent. I mean, this was the guy who told me (when we were engaged) that he did not at all find me attractive, and he hoped that I would really work on improving, because I had so many issues with how I looked that he was having a struggle over that. This was the guy who as soon as we were married, constantly criticized me over so many things. I realize that ADD is going to be a part of whatever is going on in my home, but it is not all.
No one down here,
More than willing to dialog here especially since this is in writing. Where you or I can go back and look at the details and the conversation (or others).
You can have time to read and process and organize. I am going to bullet point some things below to help here with some steps and what I find helpful especially if you ‘are’ in a destructive marriage.. which the more you share of what sort of things are told to you the more I feel like I understand why you are struggling.
Take a deep breath and sometimes it’s helpful to grab a notebook to write things down.
I’m sorry this is long but I thought it might be helpful to put all of it in one post rather then several for you to sift through.
Please visit Dr. Amens website on ADD/ADHD and see what his work is about and you might find yourself relating to something more fitting. (Also maybe your husband has underlying neurological issues too?)
1.Money? Your comment about the money is interesting. Is this because you don’t have any? Can’t spend money because your h has only access to funds and you don’t? Or you fear being punished for spending money on counseling by your h?
Or this is your believe that you can’t spend right now?
You don’t have to answer this question in details but if you do struggle with ADD then sometimes there are these core beliefs or (black and white) thoughts that decide these things for you.
Does this make sense?
2. What is your husband accusing you of specifically when you say wacky stuff?
3. A spouse that says they are good at revenge, this to me is an abusive comment because this is scary and safe people don’t talk like that, nor do they think that way either.. abusive people do I in my opinion.
4. Abusive relationships are pretty complex and it’s important that the person you confide in, has a good scope and tools to assist you.
5. Your husband ‘wants’ you to get counseling, but probably not counseling for being married to an abusive spouse right because he probably doesn’t see how abusive he actually is?
Also, if he wants you to get counseling then is there a battle for $ for this.
Like he wants you to, yet he won’t help with the cost of this?
If this is the case he is putting you in a double bind of sorts.. get counseling yet there is no $ for the counseling he is requiring…makes no sense and is unrealistic in all logical ways.
6. Pre-marriage, your partner told you how unattractive you were? This is damaging. I’m so sorry this happened to you! Unacceptable in every way!
What was your response? And why do you think you married someone who would say such a ugly thing to his bride to be?
This scenario right here tells me your h has serious issues going on. What do you think?
7. ADD (if that is indeed what is underlying here) is going to be a part of how you ‘receive and interpret relations’ yet.. it’s also something that can exacerbate an already abusive situation to make it worse. Like you said the ADD seemed not that prominent. Untreated it can ‘feel’ and certainly be worse the more stress and complex the environment is.. I would think?
8. Abuse is about power and control. Abusive and destructive individuals are wanting to control another or take from another etc. In healthy relationships there is mutuality and there is not one person who dominates over the other.
If there are rules that only apply to you but not your husband then you have an inferior role and he has a superior role.
There isn’t safety there in that dynamic.
9. Counseling: you state that your h says he doesn’t need counseling. This is concerning to me because I find it a bit contradictory to the possibility of a ‘partner who is married to a struggling ADD’.
Why? Because often the affected spouse wants counseling to help them cope or bring interventions into the marriage so that they can be some relief. The co-partner can feel very lonely, can feel like the only adult ‘at times’ etc and often the Co-partner is more than willing to get resources involved because they need the counseling and encouragement of what they are experiencing. It’s not a typical marriage dynamic. It can feel like for some a crazy making or roller coaster situation.
So the posture he has about him being in counseling is not consistent to some of the necessary interventions needed.
Again, I apologize for the length but you must know you are up against sorting through VERY complex things which will be essential to your own mental and emotional health regardless of the ADD and depression.
We can really only change ourselves and it’s important we get a scope of ‘what kind of change’ is needed.
By the way, I think it would depress me greatly to know that the person who promised to be my sacred partner in life told me I was unattractive. Especially if I allowed that kind of thought about me define me and my worth or value.
Loving, kind, healthy, caring & especially safe people don’t talk or think that way.
Wow. Yes, that is quite a lot. I will try to answer as best as I can.
1. Money – I do understand what you mean by black/white thoughts with no gray. Truth is, we already have a pretty low income level, but we have also had some major expenses and income drains in the last couple years – none of it our “fault.” just life, really. Anyway, in the last month or so, H has implemented a plan of practically no spending. A small limit that includes everything from groceries to gas to house supplies to prescription meds. He is counting every single penny. I don’t have access to the credit card records, just the bank account. He has said directly – we cannot pay for counseling right now. It is a “future thing” so, supposedly in the future… but who knows. I’ll believe it when I see it. I’m always very cautious with money, anyway. But, there’s no way I can buy a tissue without him fussing right now.
2. Two things. I remembered a conversation he did not recall. So, he said I was hallucinating aurally. Could I recall wrongly? sure. But, there were other dynamics surrounding that conversation that were “off.” the other thing was the weirdest. He claimed I got onto his laptop and opened a couple of websites. I don’t know where his laptop is. I have no reason to login to it. I didn’t even know it wasn’t password protected. He said he had date stamps in the history log, but wouldn’t show me. This was all supposed to be supporting the idea of me being schizophrenic, a serious allegation in itself.
3. this is what has scared me the most – that is why I started seeking some advice and help.
4. Turns out the person I met with feels that I am in an abusive situation, but recommends professional counseling, which she is not yet qualified to do. So, it’s complex, as you say.
5. I can’t understand right now. I only know that he said he wanted me to get counseling. When I pursued it, there is no money. I don’t know if he understands what he is doing or not. I tend to think he does understand, he has a very high IQ, touts himself as a “mastermind personality.” etc. etc. I don’t know what he is actually capable of, but I guess I need to be prepared for nearly anything.
6. You’re right, this should have been a major warning signal. There are a lot of complexities around this. First off, we were doing marriage “counseling” as in, going through a book my pastor suggested. no actual meetings. So, one of the questions he had to answer was about how he found me attractive, apparently. You also have to know this guy – he made it all sound as though he had deep love for me, and this was something he really regretted having to say, but it was like a confession or something, and of course I was going to work on it, and he would then find me attractive, and blah blah. I also (hindsight) know there WERE really weird things I did (or didn’t do) with my hair, makeup – I was basically uneducated in a lot of that stuff that most girls figure out in junior high. I cried more than i have ever before. So much my eyeballs ached for hours. He was so kind after that, of course – fixed dinner for us, took me out shopping (with my money of course) for new outfit, etc. So, me with my already low self worth, didn’t know this was abnormal and that it would be far better being single than to do this thing.
7. The ADD – well, I never knew I had such a thing my whole live-long life until we had a kid with struggles. Basically, I was an honors student – second in my class in high school, graduated cum laude from undergrad and completed a master’s with only one A- on the record. My procrastinating may have caused me some issues, but who cared. I functioned well enough to hold down jobs, make it through life, etc. Maybe I was weird – but, it didn’t seem to hinder adult friendships. Now, I know that these things probably existed in my whole life, but whether they make me a “marriage breaker” or not, I can’t tell.
8. I have to think about this one. On one hand, he tells me he wants me to be a strong independent type person, but when I do that, apparently my style of independence doesn’t match his image of what he wants in a wife. In reality, I have little actual decision-making authority. We “discuss” things, but I’ve learned, for the most part, he just does what he wants no matter what.
9. I did not know that “normal” spouses of ADD or depression or whatnot would actively seek out counseling. I only know that he tells me he IS a counselor, no counselor out there is going to tell him anything he doesn’t already know. He knows Scriptures backwards and forwards and can quote anything at will. He has said that he has done thorough reading about what a spouse of a depressed person goes through… and that they need a support group, self-care, counseling, etc. So, he is going to make sure he takes care of himself. His stated reason for ME to go to counseling is that he has told me everything I need, he has tried to get me to change, but I won’t listen to him, so I need someone else to tell me all the things wrong about me.
Some of these things sort of add up, and some of them feel crazy. Just this morning we had another incident. Driving to wherever, looking for place to get quick snack, tension is growing, I notice this and decide to nip it in the bud and just say “let’s go X, then.” (one thing he hates is my indecisiveness). A couple seconds later, I ask if he sees it… He said yes, but you haven’t said to turn in. (TENSION is now more than just tension.) I said, I DID say, let’s go here. NO, you didn’t… yell yell, I am sick and tired of your indecisive communication etc etc etc.. YELLING. But, I had been decisive; apparently he hadn’t heard me. This isn’t really bad compared to a lot of stuff he has said, but it still made me feel sick inside.
No One down here,
Well, you really did give some more information that I think is uncovering more of your situation. Maybe others here will chime in;)!
ADD aside, the posture of your h is destructive and given some other examples, it is showing itself to be more on the abusive dynamic of things.
1. Financially he makes the choices and controls the money~ not the posture of a godly man being the head of the household. If you can’t buy a tissue.. red flag you have someone abusing the family household finances and this is abusive when there is a power imbalance.
2. Crazy making- and manipulative.. symptoms of abusive people
3. We both agree this is clearly abusive.
4. Another opinion that sees abusive relations- wise person to refer you to have a qualified counselor.
5. More crazy making
6. Not how a wife who is cherished would feel or experience such a traumatic situation. Clearly this man is disturbed.
7. This might be completely a separate issue or you might be experiencing other symptoms that seems like ADD but it’s residuals from a toxic relationship?
8. The fact that your confused tells me that you might be manipulated over and over by him. Again this posture is more consistent with abusers.
Abusers don’t share power they take and they don’t really know how to do mutual relationships.
9. Easy to say go to counseling.. when he chooses if you do or not via the finances! This is more crazy making.
You last incident isn’t healthy and you are dealing with a person who thinks they can treat or talk with you any reactive way they choose.
This isn’t healthy for you to be exposed to.
Go to a professional counselor. Ask to borrow money from a friend if you have to at least for the first couple visits.
You need help for you immediately! This is complex even without the ADD component.
Prayers for your next steps and your freedom!
You are agreeing with the types of things that I think… that I am dealing with an emotionally unstable situation, most likely abusive. The things that get me confused are these:
1. I have a family history of mental disturbances. All the females on my mother’s side as far back as anyone knows ultimately end up suffering from dementia. I don’t think I am at that point yet, although I know someone who is doing their best to convince me that I am close. I’m not even 45 years old yet!! My mother’s father was a repeat sexual predator. Everyone “knew” but no one did anything. One of the people he abused was my mom. My mom has a large share of issues. I never really crossed her. Apparently I learned that it would be bad to cross my mom – back before I have any remembrance. It was always do what she wanted “or else.” or else what, I don’t know. To this day, she dominates everyone around and pouts if she doesn’t get what she wants. I have a cousin (same side of the family) who has a major mental illness, either schizophrenia or bipolar, I can’t recall which. Depression on my dad’s side. Maybe my mom’s, I don’t know. She is definitely a very confrontational and argumentative person.
2. I have either inherent or learned behaviors from my childhood. I cannot tell “who started what” but from early in the marriage, the two of us butted heads. I would have said back then, even, that demands were unreasonable and arguments were silly. However, as silly as I found arguments, they were all extremely important to H. He would say that I was extremely stubborn and rebellious and unwilling to admit when I was clearly wrong. He would put forward evidence to support my being wrong. I remember being often confused because I really did not understand what his point was, or how his “evidence” supported anything – seemed like he was making up stuff, or that it was ridiculous at best. Additionally I wasn’t allowed to explain my side, what I was thinking, why I did something. He would ask “why” or “what was I thinking” and when I would attempt to explain, he would cut me off and basically say my thinking was wrong. We got into massively long arguments that way. To this day, I don’t really know what was going on. We still have some of those type arguments, but I have learned that it is just better to figure out whatever it is that I did wrong that time and attempt to be appropriately sorry and try to do better next time. “Sorry” is never good enough. I have to figure out how to never ever ever do whatever it was or anything like it again. I would be sorry for whatever incident, but “IT” was never about the incident. It was about some bigger attitude that I didn’t know I had that caused said incidents. As I am typing, I am finding out that I am more biased than I like to admit. I am trying to be fair and bring forward my problems. But my vision is clouded.
3. I have an extremely sensitive “guilt gauge.” I feel guilty about the least little things. I always have. So, when I am told that all these things are my problems, my errors, I believe it. Now, after several years, I really don’t know what the truth is. I just feel guilty and dirty. I often wonder if am I the manipulator, the abuser, the central problem, etc.
I do thank you for your prayers. I think that freedom would be really great. I am very thankful that no matter how low I have gotten, I am still here. I praise God for his gentleness in loving me, even though I weep for wanting to “feel” that love in a tangible way.
no one down here,
Your local women’s shelter will offer free counselling. Please call them – especially now that you have seen someone who validates that you are ‘in an abusive situation’
Nancy, been thinking about this. Can’t right now, but maybe when he is on a business trip
Hi No one down here,
They can meet you somewhere, they also may do phone counselling too. They know exactly the kind of control that you are under and can help you develop strategies.
Grace and Peace, sister.
Thank you, Nancy. I really appreciate your kindness. I think phone counseling, if it’s possible, may be the best route. When I started to think about reaching out for some counseling, I started realizing more of what is happening. We have only one vehicle, and my work hours are questioned whenever there is some sort of discrepancy. I literally cannot go anywhere on my own for “no apparent reason.” Phone counseling may work, but even at that, it is near impossible to find time. Just saying it as it is.
No one down here,
The Lord will make a way for you. Lean into His word and He will guide you 🙂
Aly and Nancy,
Okay, I called the local women’s shelter to inquire about counseling services. I don’t know how I would get to any appointments. But I don’t know how much of this I can do. I got the after hours answering service person. I am crying inside and trying not to cry for real.
No one down here,
I’m glad you called and realize that you have made a step. I’m sorry, I hope you know its ok that you are emotional about this. It’s ok that you don’t have all the specifics. Ask questions, there won’t be simple outlining but persevere so you can get counseling and support.
The after hours person should be able to give you some additional steps and information that will assist.
Again, it’s ok to be emotional.
Do you have any other outside support (friends) safe individuals or any other family members that are safe to reach too?
The more support you can surround yourself around you will begin to feel and see God orchestrating.
Praying for your heart.
I am praying along with Aly and completely agree that it’s important to allow yourself to get emotional in safe places ( with Jesus and safe others).
Although it feels unnerving to not know ‘where this is going’, it’s completely normal that when we step out on faith, we do not see the destination.
One day at a time, one moment at a time, relying on the One who knows you better than anyone.
Also, no one down there, I would encourage you to continue posting on the most recent blog. That way more people can come alongside you 🙂
Oops, I messed up your screen name….no one down HERE ( not there 🙂
Thank you Aly and Nancy. You are so kind.