I’m Angry and I Overeat! Please Help

Morning friends,

I am heading down to Nashville next week for the American Association Of Christian Counselors Conference. I would deeply appreciate your prayers. I will be speaking next Wednesday afternoon for three hours on Counseling Strategies for the Emotionally Destructive Marriage. Thursday morning, Chris Moles and I are presenting a workshop to about 400 people on Counseling the Emotionally Destructive Person.

I have a zillion things to remember and more than that to do to get ready. If you could see my office you would say I’m buried in white papers. So pray I can get it together, pray that I can finish everything I need to do, and pray most of all that people see Jesus and the wisdom of God’s word in my seminars. Hopefully we will begin to train a new generation of Christian counselors who “get it”.

Today’s Question: I am ten years post divorce. I am 68 years old and allowed this man to control me for 33 years. I am angry at myself for all those wasted years of trying harder and harder and harder and my marriage only getting worse and worse. I have gained a lot of weight and I cannot stop overeating.

I have tried to forgive him in every way I know how, but seeing him at family functions and hearing how my adult kids and grandchildren spend every single weekend at MY waterfront home (he got in the divorce) reopens the wounds.

His side of the family has not spoken to me. He told them I “just left” when it was him that initiated the divorce. And right or wrong, I let him totally get the lion’s share of the house and contents because I didn’t want my kids to not be able to enjoy the waterfront home.

I am now at a crossroads. My daughter wants me to move closer to her and her family, but that means moving closer to their dad. He is at every family event and acts like a dirtball to me. My daughter and family, and another daughter, all live there-4 1/2 hours away. It is a big decision moving away from my hometown where I have been for most of my life. It would be a much easier decision if he wasn’t there.

All his family is on his side visiting and spending time every weekend with him. He lied about what happened and here I sit getting fatter and fatter.

My kids don’t want to hear about it anymore. I don’t blame them. They say let it go, and I would really like to. I have overeaten myself up to 210 lbs. and I need to get a grip!

He is such a con artist and manipulator-he manages to charm everyone–particularly women. And the women relatives-they think he is the victim and believe every lie he’s conceived.

Thanks for any ideas you may have.

Answer: I’m so sorry that you are so stuck but I’m glad you reached out for help because you don’t want to continue to allow him or the situation to control you one minute longer.

Let’s take a look at your anger at yourself. You made some choices that in hindsight you’re furious about. You said you’re angry that you allowed him to control you for 33 years. You’re angry that you tried so hard to make everything work to no avail. You’re angry that you let him have the lions share of your marital assets including your waterfront house because you wanted your kids to enjoy it. You didn’t say this, but perhaps you’re even angry that you took the high road and did not tell everyone what a rotten husband or liar he was.

What would it take for you to have compassion on yourself instead of being so angry and disappointed in yourself? Several months ago I invited a guest blogger Kim Fredrickson who talked about her new book, Give Yourself A Break.

What if you could say to yourself, I wish I had been stronger back then so I could have stood up for mysel, but I didn’t know how. I thought I was being a good wife, a good Christian and a good role model for my children. Plus the way I was raised and the church’s teaching on women didn’t give me a role model for a strong, godly woman who made her own choices and stood up to a controlling husband. I did the best I knew at the time. Stop beating yourself up.You can get through this and learn to thrive again.

All of us have regrets about past decisions we’ve made. I’m sure the apostle Paul had tons. But your anger and regret towards yourself is also creating momentum for you to continue making poor choices in your present life – primarily gaining a lot of weight. Let me ask you a question. Is your over-eating a way to comfort yourself in your pain or to punish yourself for not being stronger? Either way putting on so much weight has consequences.You not only feel awful, you’re mad at yourself even.

Now you face some new choices. Are you going to move closer to your daughter? You’re afraid because seeing your ex triggers all the hurt and anger all over again, even though you’ve tried to forgive and let it go.

I wish I had the words to say that would take away your pain. I wish I could say do this or that and you would lose the weight and feel better. I’m not that powerful. But let me just give you some things to think about.

Jesus tells us in this world we will have trials or pain (John 16:33). Life is hard. That’s not going to change. We live in a fallen down broken world where things are not as they should be. Husbands lie and cheat. Wives can lie and cheat too. Families break up and are broken because of sin.

Pain is here to stay and it is part of being a human being living in a sinful world. But suffering is another story and friend, you are not just in pain, you are also suffering greatly. The pain of losing a marriage, a family, a lifestyle, a waterfront house, a reputation, or whatever is dear to you is real. But the way we process our pain and deal with it (or not deal with it) can create more suffering. This is the part that you can change.

You processed your pain by blaming yourself, hating your weaknesses or your passivity or whatever part of you that wasn’t strong enough or capable enough to do things differently. You didn’t know that there was another way to do things and there is no guarantee that if you would have done things differently your marriage would have survived.

You also processed your pain by eating and eating and eating, which created a whole new set problems and you’re miserable.

I don’t think you’re going to be able to do this all alone. I would strongly encourage you to get yourself into counseling where you can have the help you need to let go of your anger towards yourself. You said you did all you could do to forgive your spouse, but I don’t think that’s the problem.

I wonder if the root of this cycle is that you haven’t forgiven yourself. In addition, you need to learn how to cope with your pain and triggers in different ways besides food. Remember, for the first 58 years of your life, even though your husband was who he was and you were in pain in your marriage, your weight was relatively stable. It’s in these past 10 years that you’ve put on all the extra weight.

As you learn to make new choices – from the person you want to be and not the person who is stuck in anger, you will start to change. (Tweet that)

Perhaps you’ll choose to not eat that second helping or to switch french fries out for a tossed salad, or to give up sugar. These small choices over time will make a huge difference if you do them consistently.

You will start to feel stronger, clearer and more in control of your health and your future. You may still have pain when you see the “wicked flourishing” as the psalmist did in Psalm 73, but you’ll also see their end. You’ll realize and experience that when you make good choices for yourself it results in you feeling stronger, healthier and more peaceful, not to mention you will lose the weight.

Here’s the link to a former blog, When You Can’t Forgive Yourself. This also might be helpful.

Friends, when you are caught in a rut of self-hatred and anger towards yourself, how do you get out?


  1. David on September 16, 2015 at 7:24 am

    This husband sounds like a real jerk but what really bothers me is that the wife only has feelings of hate towards him, would think after 33 yrs she would have some positive feelings

    • Survivor on September 16, 2015 at 8:15 am

      David, I would think that you of all people would understand those feelings since every time you comment, you show your anger towards women and their feelings in these situations. But then again, if you are never willing to look at yourself, you will never be able to see it…….I have said this before and I will say it again: you need to take a good LONG, HONEST look in the mirror and get the log jam out of your eye before you go digging for specks in the eyes of others!!! My God be merciful to you!!

      • David on September 16, 2015 at 9:36 am

        Wha?! Weird! Not the “reply” that I expected but speaks volumes

      • Stacy on October 1, 2015 at 7:41 pm

        Honey, don’t bother. David is not even close to that point. He is not ready.

    • Maria on September 16, 2015 at 9:34 am

      Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all it took was time to fix all wounds and wrong doing? That’s not reality David.

      • David on September 16, 2015 at 9:38 am

        Hi Maria. I didn’t say fix and all would be good but if you spend 33 with someone kinda tend to have some positive feelings – maybe not love tho

        • Finallyfree on September 16, 2015 at 9:44 am

          Hmm. I wonder if concentration camp survivors have positive feelings toward their captors after they got out. Or POWs? Gosh, after being with them all that time you’d think there would be some positive feelings.

          David – do you see how your comments are insensitive?

          • David on September 16, 2015 at 2:05 pm

            “concentration camp survivors/POWs” – really!? Not even close to same thing

          • Leslie Vernick on September 16, 2015 at 2:46 pm

            David for some people who have been married to a cruel and indifferent person his or her marriage may feel exactly like a concentration camp and they like a survivor of one. Again, please do not judge other people’s experiences. No one here has ever said all wives are good and all husbands are bad. Here again is one of your leaps and exaggerations that make it hard for people to interact with you.

          • David on September 16, 2015 at 2:09 pm

            Guess I had hoped that things would be different but can see that No matter what, apologies, confessions, retribution it doesn’t matter there is never any forgiveness, wives = good, husbands = bad, sorry, call them as I see them

          • David on September 16, 2015 at 3:05 pm

            Leslie, not really a leap, your right that nobody has used the words, wives = good, husbands = bad but several times have either strongly implied or said it using other words.

        • Leonie on September 16, 2015 at 2:55 pm

          Did you have positive feelings? You call them as you see them?
          My ex erased all of that by the way he dictated and controlled and lied and bullied and raged and expressed constant misery and anger about everything and used my resources to benefit himself and terrorized us all with his explosive outbursts – I have to say that all the positive feelings were completely gone! I think if I had I spent more years with him, no positive feelings would have developed, only more desperation and heartache and pain. When I finally managed to get away it was a huge relief. But the issues are not over – he thinks he is entitled to my home after not contributing to it but helping himself to my equity. I decided to not wait for any positive feelings to develop!!

        • Alene on September 18, 2015 at 10:41 am

          What exactly are you looking for???

          Are you looking for soothing comfort and sympathy that it wasn’t that bad and encouragement (and hope and affirmation) that you are still lovable and really a nice guy and just say a simple sorry and all can go on as though certain things never happened…. or are you seeking to see and understand and gain empathy through a woman’s eyes so that you can take serious action, own your responsibility, and make changes and make restitution?

          What you find here is women seeking to process pain, acknowledge truth, and grow to stand in strength in order to overcome.

          Is that where you are too? It is a process. It is not easy for any person to tell the truth; the truth that we were caught in this pattern and let it go on too long and didn’t know how to handle it well enough. It won’t be easy for you to tell yourself the truth.

          It is not easy to open yourself to input and admit you need help and begin to find the questions that will lead you to the answers. I just had a conversation with my h this week: it is only those who seek who find, if he does not ask the right questions in a situation he is stuck in right now, he will not be able to walk it well. Questions that seek to understand and value the other person’s point of view; questions that ask what can I myself do better to change and walk better.

          It takes courage to take responsibility but it is hopeful. It takes courage to realize that though forgiveness and love may be there; that reality is a relationship may not be restored the way you hope for various factors. It takes courage to respect another person’s point of view and really listen, ask questions, and seek to understand. Case in point…

          In actuality, concentration camp survivor or POW is a good analogy. You can close off and say, ‘it is not the same’ OR you can ask ‘I don’t get it. How is it like being a concentration camp survivor? why would you say that? what are the similarities for a wife? why does that analogy resonate with women who have been in destructive marriages?’

          If you began to ask those types of questions, you might begin to see with your heart. If you were to ask me questions and listen, you could begin to see things you never realized. If you did the same for others, you might break out of your sympathy seeking and desire for reassurance, and begin to feel empathy and be moved to action that would open up a whole new world. It would take courage. It is love that is calling you to open your eyes and see.

          A woman’s capacity to love is amazing. I just heard a divorced woman say this week, “the connection is always there” but it isn’t loving to allow destructive behaviors to continue on and on without consequence and without change while countless people, relationships, and possibilities are damaged and destroyed. Empathy is important but without enabling the destruction to just continue while a man goes blindly on his way oblivious to the impact of his attitudes, words, and actions.

          We women are finding the courage to look at our part in the destructive dance and do the hard work of healing and making changes; we ask you to do the same. If we begin to hear some realization, humility, and empathy in your words, if we were to see glimmers that you are making serious effort to restore trust, we will feel hope for you. No woman, no matter what feelings of love, no matter how strained they may be, can do YOUR part for you.

          • Survivor on September 18, 2015 at 10:50 am

            Well said, Alene!!!

            David, this is very key: if you want people to be hear you when you speak, it also behooves you to learn to hear others and not misconstrue their words when they speak. Some women have very boldly spoken truth to you here on this blog and you repeatedly trample it. This leads me to believe that you are not really interested in doing your part to restore your relationship as you would have us believe…….

          • David on September 18, 2015 at 4:07 pm

            understand and gain empathy through a woman’s eyes so that you can take serious action, own your responsibility, and make changes and make restitution?

            “A woman’s capacity to love is amazing. I just heard a divorced woman say this week, “the connection is always there””… my wife has been very clear that there never was a connection (that she never loved me)

        • Denice on October 14, 2015 at 6:59 am

          David, I too am experiencing this same situation. The comments made are not hate but hurt, rejection, disappointment, pain caused by someone you love and trusted and gave your whole heart and life to and they threw it back in your face. They weren’t willing to work for something that is supposed to be precious. That’s pain….not hate.

    • Alene on September 18, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      Why did you choose the word hate? You don’t know that.

      • Alene on September 19, 2015 at 6:51 pm

        I can see a glimpse of your story and some of your pain now..
        Can I slow down and look closer with you?
        It is so easy for any of us to hear the surface words and not know what lies behind them.
        It had been on my heart that you made an assumption about the writer, that she had ‘feelings of hate’ when you don’t actually know that.
        Your wife told you that ‘there never was any connection’ and in parenthesis you say (never loved you). I wonder what she meant by those words. I am curious if you have asked her. There are actually a number of possibilities. They don’t necessarily mean ‘never loved’.
        I don’t presume to know what she meant or all her words or how much pain played a part.
        I wonder if your hurt about feeling unloved is coloring how you are hearing some words here?
        I hope you will simply do the work that you need to do to truly walk well and grow your trust in the Lord.

        • David on September 22, 2015 at 5:09 pm

          Thanks Alene for your msg. My wife never said ‘there never was any connection’ …
          she said several times that ‘she never loved’ me. I did ask her and she said
          even before we were married she knew … so wonder why she lied for almost 21
          years to me, the kids, her family/friends and mine. I admit that in my early
          years (in 20s before married) financial success came easy to me and when it
          didn’t happen in my late 30s and 40s I got angry with the world and that
          included her … which was wrong … but as she never loved me and lied for
          20.5+ years …. I do not love this version of her , in fact, I do not even
          like. I certainly did not trust people before until they proved trustworthy
          and this doesn’t help!

          • Janice on September 22, 2015 at 11:34 pm

            David you are not the first person to be used in a relationship. It is time to get over it. You can’t change the truth or the facts. Why do you continue to dwell on something that is not changing? What is the future of such thinking? It only brings about a pity party and painful thinking. Set yourself free and move on with life, today without living in the shadow of yesterday.

          • David on September 23, 2015 at 9:13 am

            No Janice. I am a Christian so do not expect you to understand. I have read your other posts to the women on this board, seems you are on the wrong blog

          • David on September 23, 2015 at 9:18 am

            Janice, Alene and I were having a conversation. It is very apparent that you are not familiar with the back story. I appreciate the input of some of the women on here which does not include you. Please kindly cease from commenting on my posts – might be a good time to MYOB

          • David on September 23, 2015 at 9:22 am

            Janice, read your very rude post again… you are advocating giving up. The Bible clearly states on to give up. Again, why are you here!? Weird

          • David on September 23, 2015 at 9:24 am

            Meant, the Bible states Not to ever give up

          • Janice on September 23, 2015 at 5:42 pm

            David, I am a Christian too. I just wonder if you harsh response reflects that I have hit a “nerve”. Others may be agreeing with you position, but I do not agree with it. Why don’t you accept that your wife doesn’t love you as you would like her to and be patient and kind, bearing all things? Does you obsession of her get in the way of your love for the Lord? Has this issue become your..if only…and therefore your idol?

      • David on September 23, 2015 at 6:08 pm

        Janice. It is not an “obsession ” … it is commanded not to ever give up… if W Churchill thought the same as you we all would be under Nazism – which is not a good thing BTW!!

        • David on September 23, 2015 at 6:11 pm

          Thought I requested that you kindly refrain from commenting on my msgs as you are so negative and not an encouragement. I desire those who will encourage me to never give up, not just capitulate

          • janice on September 23, 2015 at 6:40 pm

            David, as you are not the moderator, I do not believe you have the authority to ask me me not to comment on your posts. I think we are really getting to the heart of a concern that you are so fiercely defending yourself. Will you answer my question? Does your thoughts about what “should be” get in the way of accepting what really is happening. Could you consider thinking in new ways and embracing a new life without your wife? The truth is that she is gone, correct? She wanted to leave, correct? Accept that pain as many others on the blog have had very painful relationships also. They are trying to live life to the fullest in the present. You can too.

        • janice on September 23, 2015 at 6:43 pm

          What scripture are you referring to “never give up”?

          • David on September 24, 2015 at 9:13 am

            Really?!?!? That is the essence of being a Christian – you say you are a Christian then you ask a question like that?! I do not know where to begin as there are many examples through out the Bible – starting in Genesis

          • David on September 24, 2015 at 9:46 am

            Janice. Guess one of the 1st examples is the story of Hagar in Genesis. In 16 and in
            21. Saw this recently, “is your voice weak? Are you in a desert place? Is
            your hope at low ebb? Don’t give up! Remember, ours is the God who lives,
            sees and hears. Call unto Him in prayer”. I may not always agree with the
            women on here but have learnt that they fight and fight and do not give up.
            Even in a secular environment a never give up attitude in the face of
            difficulties and opposition is worth much … how much more as a real
            Christian. I find you talk down to these women and are very arrogant and I
            personally find your comments to be extremely discouraging and as you do not
            have the decency and politeness to refrain from commenting on the msgs even
            tho asked (not surprised as is consistent with your attitude) then I will
            just do my best to ignore you. Sorry.

          • Leslie Vernick on September 24, 2015 at 10:15 pm

            David, again I will remind you, speak your own thoughts and feelings without labeling other people. I know this is a new way to express yourself but this is not about judging others or putting them down it is about your journey of healing or helping someone else in their journey.

          • janice on September 24, 2015 at 7:58 pm

            David, thanks for giving me some scriptural references. I would never have thought of the interpretations you give nor that they apply to your situation. Interesting, but I still don’t see never give up. In fact their are always reasons to give up and give God full power and control in all circumstances. I think you are confusing “giving up” with wanting control.

    • Beverley on October 1, 2015 at 10:22 pm

      II have been through a similar experience and the healing begins when you remove the focus from yourself and see how you can raise yourself up and reach out to others. Look at other people’s problems, and try to help and encourage them; learn how to play a musical instrument, if you already play a musical instrument, teach it to someone who can’t; learn sign language; interact with the hearing impaired; in fact stop thinking about yourself all the time, the world does not begin and end with you! ,While this may sound unsympathetic it helps. It is very difficult to continue to nurse your anger when there are many more interesting things out there waiting to be done.

  2. kay on September 16, 2015 at 7:33 am

    You are not alone. I allowed my soon-to-be ex husband to control and abuse me (physically and emotionally) on and off for 17 years. I thought it was my duty to be submissive and pray it through. He near destroyed my life and my mental wellbeing. I took my kids and ran, gaining 30 pounds in the process.
    I understand the anger you feel towards yourself but being abused WASN’T YOUR FAULT. I got great comfort from the scripture in Jeremiah where God said, “For I know the plans I have for you….plans to give you a hope and a future”.
    I am soon to start counselling and have joined a weight loss support group where we meet weekly. My ex continues to deny all acts of abuse to this day but I cannot give him the power over my mind and emotions anymore. May God lead you and fill you with peace and give you the strength and wisdom you need, especially about whether to relocate or not. Blessings .

    • Janice on September 23, 2015 at 5:46 pm

      You are a courageous woman! Good job! One pound at a time is all you need. Little by little life will get better and better. Love is all around you. God will send those to minister to you in your time of need and celebration.

  3. Survivor on September 16, 2015 at 8:12 am

    I hear SOOOOO much pain in this post!!! What comes to mind is “the years that the locusts have eaten” and I can relate somewhat to that feeling of disappointment and despair–although it has not been that long for me. The hope that I would like to offer to this dear sister is that Jesus can heal that pain and restore new life that is more vibrant than ever!! We may never get back those things that we lost that seem so important, but if we can shift our focus from our losses onto HIM it is just so incredible what he can do!!!!! For the past couple of months, I have been working with a counselor who ‘gets it’. It took me 9 years to find one, but when I did…..is it ever worth it!!!!!!! He has me on an amazing healing path and I am experiencing God and His work like never before. It doesn’t change my husband or my circumstances, but it has strengthened me in a way that I never thought possible and I am able to respond to things in ways that I never thought possible.

    To anyone who is stuck: I know this feeling and I know how impossible change looks!!! I know how hard it is to hear everyone else’s victory songs and feel like that will never be me!! I want to offer you this from someone who has been just where you are: when you can muster up the courage to take the first step–whatever it is for you–toward change, you get a snowball effect and it is such a beautiful and exciting journey!!!
    And I might also add that my circumstances have not changed–I am still with my husband and he still has no idea how to feel or show empathy toward another person. And every form of abuse there is has gone with that. The surface, readily visible, symptoms have been addressed, but the deep down lack of relationship and togetherness is still a great disappointment and deeply painful if I dwell on it…….

    • Janice on September 22, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      I hear the pain in the post also. Thankfully, I have never struggled with over eating or blaming myself. Guess my CORE is plenty strong already.

      I wonder why the woman in the story felt it was her responsibility to make other people happy? Her family can get their own lake house. That one was/is hers!

      There is no reason to move back to the area. She can’t be trusted to take good enough care of herself in the old family dynamics. I think she should mourn the loss and move on. The more active and attractive she is, the more her kids will flock to her. A mentally healthy woman is a magnet for love and respect at any age.

    • Jamie on September 29, 2015 at 9:01 pm

      Does your counselor correspond by email or phone calls? I don’t need a counselor right now (though I have had 2 different times, a year a part). But they haven’t had much work with narcistic people…I mean they know about it, but nothing like Leslie’s teachings.

      • Survivor on September 30, 2015 at 6:25 pm

        Yes he does. If you would like to give me your email address, I will be happy to send you his info.

  4. Linda on September 16, 2015 at 8:12 am

    Some of the moat important information and tools I’ve learned as a counselor were at those AACC conferences, Leslie.

    Including your seminars!

    I remember the dawn to dark schedules, huge crowds, fabulous worship, and awesome speakers.

    Praying for you even as we speak …

    • Leslie Vernick on September 16, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      THanks Linda.

  5. Survivor on September 16, 2015 at 8:18 am

    Thank you, Leslie, for your ongoing work to educate others!!!! What a gift it will be to have more counselors who ‘get it’–they are so few and far between!!!! My thoughts and prayers will be with you next week and may God bear you up and give you a strong and powerful voice to speak His Words!!!!!

  6. Lori on September 16, 2015 at 8:27 am

    I must be married to his twin brother!! We are not divorced but the manipulation sounds familiar. He could win an Academy award and always comes out the victim. I too am carrying extra weight because in the past it seemed that is all I had control of, my food. I’ve missed many family times because I just could bare to watch him act out. But God!! Through much prayer He has delivered me. He assured me “that He knows my story.” Friend, He knows yours too. All that matters is your relationship to Him and your daughters. Life is short, don’t miss out on their lives because of him. Then he would still be controlling you. Break the chains! I got counseling (not always good counseling) and reinvented myself with God directing. I am still climbing out but I’m going up! You have so much to offer your daughters and other people. Don’t let him hold you back. I say move, get involved, hold your head up, and don’t look back! With God ALL things are possible????

  7. Finallyfree on September 16, 2015 at 8:28 am

    I agree with Survivor, there is soon much pain in this post! And I must say I feel for you. As I was praying for you, the Lord showed me Psalm 120:6 that says “Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” I think this is significant for you – for all of us.

    We need to think about who we spend our time with. Yes, it’s great to spend time with our children, but is what your daughter asking of you good for you? Would it be wise, would it be kind to yourself to be in that environment day in and day out? How could she ask that of you? I think it goes back to who we allow to speak into our lives. We have to know what is life-giving to us and what is death to us.

    It sounds to me like you don’t think you have much choice. But you do. You still have so much to give to this world and so much left to experience and enjoy. Have you done the work to find out what are the things you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t? what do you enjoy? How would you like to spend your time? Do you like being outdoors? Do you want to travel to see a specific wonder of the world? Do you want to learn a language or how to play a musical instrument? There’s a lot of life to live. This is your chance. Take it.

    Being around people who will judge you and tell you to get over it already, is not kind to yourself. Even if they are your grown children. what is her motivation to have you move closer? So you can benefit her? Because it doesn’t sound like it would be beneficial to you.

    I would consider moving farther away or if not moving, spending time on your interests and new-found hobbies. Think back to before you were married and what were the things you enjoyed? Then make a schedule to enjoy those things and stick to it. Get into a group – a hiking group, a biking group, anything you might find the least bit enjoyable and do it.

    this is your one life – someone took a lot of that time and didn’t treasure you – don’t let them keep you in a prison when the door is wide open. Run out that door and laugh! Because you got out! you are free of all that mess – live that way. Embrace who you are! You are an amazing woman who has been through a lot. And you got through it!!!! Praise God for that! He is so good to have kept you.

    I will be praying for you..

    • Leonie on September 16, 2015 at 2:35 pm

      Amen, what great advice!

  8. Brenda on September 16, 2015 at 1:44 pm

    Thank you for all you do. Educating others who counsel is such a big step.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 16, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      Thanks Brenda.

  9. Hurting on September 16, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Life is curious, and curve balls are thrown at all of us. At times I’m confident we have thrown one or two ourselves at others. I was married for 38 years. I have fond and horrible memories. I used to blame others for my pain, then I too internalized. Through Leslie’s counselling on CORE God helped me to realize in healthy relationships that each has to take responsibility for their own actions. Step up to the plate, and change myself first. I cannot change others. Forgive myself first, before I can forgive others. Stay within the HEALTHY boundaries I set for others before I expect them to respect my boundaries. Praying for you that you can forgive yourself for the choices you’ve made and others that hurt you. Keep looking up to God for His hand of healing. Peace to you through Christ Jesus our Lord.

  10. Lisa on September 16, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    Yes, I totally relate to using food for comfort. The relief or distraction gained from eating sweets, favorite comfort foods, or overeating is so temporary, but the results are destructive. They invade many areas of our lives: fitting into clothes–(need $ to buy new ones, limiting types of outfits that look good) activities we can do, job opportunities, energy levels, overall health both physical & mental. It takes a long to fix what took virtually no time to get there.

    I’ve tried to partner with or be accountable to others in my quest to lose weight, but they flake out on me. Weight Watcher meetings were very good for me at one time, but now that he has taken all the money for himself I can’t afford to go.

    • Lisa on September 16, 2015 at 3:57 pm

      I’m going to read Leslie’s advice every day for at least a month; it resonated with me when I first read it and I want it to become a part of my thinking.

      • Janice on September 22, 2015 at 11:48 pm

        Any start is a good start. If you can stop eating sugar for awhile, your tongue will no longer like the taste of it. Tongues and tastebuds are teachable. Think about it, the Asian diet include a breakfast fish soup called Miso. Most Americans don’t care for the taste, but the Asian palate has been trained to love it. We train our palates too. Abstain from sugar/chocolate/coffee for a period of time and your tongue will find those tastes harsh on reintroduction.

        Add Lundy Bancroft’s new daily meditations book to you list too! Small victories build over time!

  11. Lisa on September 16, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    To the woman who submitted her story: You’ve been through enough already. If staying in your hometown makes you happiest then stay. Your children are all living where they want to; you have the same right. And the ex—he’s nasty at gatherings—living near him all the time sounds awful. Forgiving him doesn’t mean you have to have a relationship with him. Make life good for yourself now.

    • Janice on September 22, 2015 at 11:51 pm

      I agree with Lisa. Your family is living exactly as they want. It is time for you to live as you want. Your life has as much value as their lives. Remember— All LIves Matter–Even Abused Women!!

  12. Aleea on September 16, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    “Friends, when you are caught in a rut of self-hatred and anger towards yourself, how do you get out?”    
    It doesn’t always work, but greater than 75% of the time, I do one small thing and then another small thing and then another small thing until I am out.  Obviously, our minds think thoughts that we don’t plan.  It’s not as if I say, at 8:10am I’m going to be filled with self-hatred and anger.  I’ll tell you something, if we had a person in our lives treating us the way we treat ourselves, we would have gotten rid of them a long time ago!  When we realize we can dislike ourselves so much, when we realize that we cannot stand who we are, and that this deep spite has been the motivation behind our behavior for many years, our brain just can’t deal with it.  It will try very hard to avoid that realization; it will try, in a last-ditch effort to keep our remaining parts alive, to remake the rest of us.  But the way we think about ourselves determines our reality.  I am not being hurt by the way other people think about me . . . And I can tell you that accomplishments don’t erase shame, hatred, silence, or low self-esteem.  They cover it up, with a creative version of stinking pride and ego.  Only forgiving ourselves and others, compassion, restitution, repentance and living with Christ’s dignity will ever erase the past.  . . . .So, how do I get out?  I start seriously praying (every single day) and I ask Christ what He would have me to do. . . . Have you ever heard someone say their life was absolutely horrible because they visited people in a nursing home?  Because they fed the homeless?  Because they prayed for others?  Because they bought a toy for a needy child?  To know Christ and to have any part (—no matter how small) in His kingdom is just overwhelming. . . . .So, one small thing and then another small thing and then another small thing.

    To the Questioner:  Thank you so, so much for sharing and know that you are loved and I will (—and I am sure others to) will be seriously praying for you.  These are assertions, so they could easily be wrong in your case but I bet you don’t even have a weight problem, not really.  I bet you have a real love problem.  You need way more love in your life, —real love.  Go even deeper with Christ and get down to where the grace of God just washes over your entire being.  All of us are wonderful, beautiful, cruel, messed-up train wrecks, —all of us.  If we can forgive, love and accept our flaws, maybe we can live tenderly with ourselves and then —maybe— we can accept flaws in others.  When we see a person with deformed legs trying to climb steps, we instantly have compassion on them and want to help them but when we see our husbands/ ourselves with a deformed psyche, we can’t feel compassion as easily.  That said, we can choose, each day, to work on our WOW experience in the Lord Jesus Christ.  . . . Leslie, as always, thank you too and, as always, I am praying for you each and every day.

  13. janice' on September 16, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    My question to you would be.”Why are you still allowing your ex to controll you still? How is that working for you and what do you gain from that?” The best way to get back at him( if that is what you want to do) is to do well. Reframe your mind and stop telling yourself stories. Get a life coach. One that will challenge you and stretch you. Get some great affirmations from God’s word and perspective and post them every where in your house so that His peace, help , love and wisdom permeate every fiber of your being.

  14. Grace on September 17, 2015 at 7:49 am

    Praying for you dear writer of the question! You have some important decisions to make about moving forward and reaching out with your question was a great first step! I thank you for your courage to share your struggles. I get stuck a lot in self hatred and anger and have been at the bottom of this pit more times than i like to admit, but the one thing that helps me the most is when I take me eyes and thoughts off of me and my circumstances and put them on Jesus. Knowing He gave His life for me so that I might live is so humbling to me, that he suffered every kind of trial and injustice just so he would know fisrt hand what we go thru. Jesus knows our pain and shows us in scripture how to live. As soon as I make that shift in my thinking is when I can begin climbing up and out. Jesus loves us and I pray we can see ourselves and others thru His eyes. Thanks to all the contributors to this blog! You encourage my heart!

  15. Maria on September 17, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    “If we can forgive, love and accept our flaws, maybe we can live tenderly with ourselves and then —maybe— we can accept flaws in others”
    When we see petty things in others, accepting is probably the right thing. But when it comes to abuse, and bigger conflicts accepting would keep us stuck.

    • Aleea on September 17, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      Hello Maria,
      You are exactly correct.  If we can be kind, tolerant and compassionate that love and kindness may move mountains. . . . but with serious personality disorders, neuropsychological issues, narcissistic personalities and various mental disorders, etc. that will NOT work.  —Absolutely, it will NOT work.  Some people, more men, some women unfortunately appear to be, I hate to say this, Neanderthal DNA recoded sequences.  I say that because real love seems to mean nothing to this sort.  They are predators and far worse than prey animals because these types injure, wound, disfigure and if not stopped, mutilate the souls of women and even other men for sport.  I have a very hard time not hating (—and I mean flat-out hating) these types of “men.”  The Lord has helped me repent but I have had to continue to repent of hating these types.   
      That said, for all of us, we cannot possibly know the hidden pains eating holes in individual lives, so if we want to be saviors, in partnership with our Lord, we will be kind to everyone, everywhere, all of the time.  Every person we have ever met, every one of them will suffer the loss of their friends and family.  All are going to lose everything they love in this world.  Why would we want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?  Life is never easy. . . . be kind, be tolerant and compassionate.  We cannot fight hate and violence with more hate and violence, any more than we can conquer darkness with more darkness.  Adding darkness only increases the blackness.  The more we genuinely care about others, the greater our own happiness & inner peace.  To me, the true measure of a woman is not her intelligence or how high she rises in this ridiculous Christless, Godless freak establishment world.  The true measure of a woman is this: how quickly can she respond to the needs of others and how much of herself she can give.  Just like Christ did (—applies equally to men too!)
      Christ’s love to you, Maria and I was praying for you this very morning, you’re wonderful!

  16. Grace on September 17, 2015 at 4:47 pm

    Well said Aleea, thank you! In the midst of life’s trials and confusion it is so easy to become hardened and before we know it we don’t even resemble the person God wants us to be. I appreciate this reminder to be kind.

    • Alene on September 18, 2015 at 10:52 am

      Those that are abusive are broken too and I feel compassion for that…but I love Leslie’s advice to have “empathy without enabling”. That balance is the key to abuse.

    • Alene on September 18, 2015 at 10:57 am

      I used to have very even good weight without problems all my life. It makes me sad to say ‘used to’ I began to gain when my husband faced a time he could have realized and repented back in 2002…but chose anger and self pity and bitterness instead and did not get to the root. I have made some efforts but it has been like trying to stand back up, a new wave hitting me, and I am back down again. I am finding I need to accept this weight is part of what happened; it is what it is right now and do what I can.
      I took the weight off for my son’s wedding the other year but it didn’t stay off when that relationship was not repaired and he continued in his dad’s patterns. I find I don’t have a lot of motivation to exercise and sometimes eat for comfort and it is hard to care as a top priority. I’d say I have 25 extra pounds.

    • Aleea on September 18, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      Hello Grace,
      . . . I just know from my own life that is always the way the Lord God really gets to me.  He always just loves and loves and loves on me until, frankly, honestly, I just can’t stand it anymore and then I repent. —God, obviously, can pull all this off without boundaries but He is God, we need s-e-r-i-o-u-s boundaries.  When we boundary up but respond in a godly, righteous, loving, kind, caring way, we fight for the glory of God and we melt people’s hearts.  Clarity on in-bounds and out-of-bounds??? I think:  1) Never, e-v-e-r listen to criticism that is primarily intended to wound, even if it contains more than a grain of truth.  2) Cruel verbal exchanges and bomb-like explosions are NOT the price you pay for a relationship that is exciting and deep. . . etc. et.al.   
      The Lord bless and keep you Grace and I so pray for all of us, in the moments of decisions in our lives, may we all hear the voice of the Holy Spirit saying, “Right there, —there, that is the right road, get to that road and travel on it.”  —In Acts, a word from the Holy Spirit always changed everything, —just everything.  —Oh, if we could all hear our Lord’s voice clear and loud so we would always be confident of what to do.  I really believe that the more we pray, the more transformed our lives will be.  It is so sad but so many tragedies could be avoided if we extend a little bit of loving kindness to one another.  “Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.”  —It is pure genius and exactly the opposite of the way we would react.

  17. Lynn M on September 17, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Hello Everyone, I haven’t posted in awhile. I found I had to take some time off this blog — as I read and re-read all of these stories that are identical to mine, I found I was feeling traumatized over and over again…. When I am fully past this I hope to be able to return and offer help and hope to everyone living in these destructive marriages. I have fought my way out of mine and my final dissolution court date is in October. I have been living on my own since March and working hard to manage my kids’ (12 and 15) transition. I read the whole Brad Hambrick series that was recommended in the last blog post and Wow! I think I lived with every category! It was terrifying and affirming at the same time. Yet my husband continues to say that I just “decided to leave” the marriage. I really look forward to the day that I am fully recovered from this. I have faith that it will happen. I pray for each and every one of you on this blog. Thank you all for your support.

    • Leonie on September 19, 2015 at 12:11 am

      Welcome back Lynn!

      • Lynn M on September 19, 2015 at 9:46 am


    • Janice on September 22, 2015 at 11:58 pm

      Recovery is so very sweet! Stand tall and be proud of the brave choice you made to protect yourself and your children from ongoing destruction. You are a brave and wise woman. The future is oh, so very, very bright!

  18. Alene on September 18, 2015 at 11:07 am

    As I listen carefully, I can hear this woman still struggles with being stuck. Just changing our circumstances does not change us. Leslie points us to CORE strength and she is wise. It is so easy to continue to be controlled by the difficulties.
    Can we accept that we made a choice in the past (gave him the lake house, for me: live in this location). We made the choice for good reasons. We are women and we understand them: for the family, for the children, etc.. I can feel the pain as I write this. What can we do NOW becomes the healthy question to ask now. It is easier to see that this lady might create a place or traditions that draw people her direction. What can I create in my reality?
    How can we break the silence and the control the other person has by putting their spin on reality, by continuing their patterns? Are there short truth statements to make to daughters, to family, to him? can we pray for truth to be revealed? This husband sounds like he is still controlling the ‘conversation’.
    I keep trying to ask ‘what can I myself do to change the destructive dance?’

    • Grace on September 18, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Hi Alene, you bring up some very good questions and things to think about. Thank you!
      I feel stuck a lot in not knowing what to do or how to proceed. I have given the last 28 yrs to trying to keep my marriage going, always trying harder and holding on to the hope he would change but i realize that probably will not happen and when faced with the thought of living like this for the next 30 yrs….well, I won’t make it.
      .I feel like I have completely lost myself. I don’t really even know which end is up, who I am, or what I like or want. and big decisions(regsurding my marraige) seem so daunting that I end up shutting down. Like the writer of the question, though our circumstances are different, I can so relate to her anger, fears, pain, loss, confusion, and grief as I am sure we all can. I wish I had the answers but so thankful to know our God who does, and know for sure He will not leave us in this mess. Thank you again for sharing your thoughts and advice!

      • Alene on September 18, 2015 at 4:01 pm

        I felt so stuck. I didn’t know what to do. I tried so many things. I lost too much of myself.
        Anyone who knows my story, knows what the word ‘shut down’ means to me. I deeply know the words loss and grief and ripping.
        The key for me was when I went to get help for me, to find out what I could say or do when this or that would happen, what was I doing that allowed this horror to happen. My “IT” as some call it, was when my h and my oldest son sat at my parent’s house and both made comments to put me down. I’d been holding on for the kids and this was my beloved now adult first born son and I said, no, I will not live as a scapegoat and dart board in this family. It is enough.

        • Alene on September 18, 2015 at 4:02 pm

          I am finding there are things I can do, changes I can make, ways I can grow, strength and skills I can gain: I am less and less stuck.

          • Grace on September 18, 2015 at 4:50 pm

            Thanks Alene, I am encouraged by your words. I am sorry for what you’ve had to go thru. Can I ask if you are still living with your husband or have you separated? I am still with mine

      • Janice on September 23, 2015 at 12:11 am

        What makes you feel strong? What makes you happy? Do you remember what it is like to have your own feelings? They have value and so do you!

    • Alene on September 18, 2015 at 3:37 pm

      Back in 2002, I did not know how to take a stand, I lacked skills, I lacked understanding; I did as well as I could in faith at the time. I thought the problem was with him and in a sense it was and is. But I was part of the problem by not knowing how to stand up to it effectively.
      I hate to say we are on our fifth major crisis but it is true.
      I began to really look into what I could do differently about 3 years ago at the fourth major crisis; it is true, if I change my part of the dance, the other dancers must choose what they will do.
      To answer your question: I am in the relationship. When we hit the fourth crisis, I said I am not playing that game any more. I no longer just hope and want my h to see and do things differently, I myself am doing things differently. Some women cannot see how to stay, I could not see how to leave. I am seeing him make changes. He still does not truly see but I am in process, and getting stronger all the time, in love. I see hope I am endeavering to take the steps in front of me; if I find I am at a last step at some point, so be it, so far it appears the steps can lead a good direction and certainly I am slowly standing in a better and better position.

      • Alene on September 18, 2015 at 3:53 pm

        As I said, I am in the relationship.
        You ask what the relationship is like.
        The first crisis my h faced the word ‘pride’ to a certain degree. He also chose to walk away and be bitter and angry and began to use put downs against me.
        The second crisis we did a marriage week and he saw something in my heart he had never been able to see before; I could see he did love me. This was helpful but did not stop the problem.
        The third crisis he faced something about parenting but avoided a lot.
        The fourth crisis I said, I am not playing this game. I began to wrestle with words like ‘boundaries” “consequences” “speak up” and I began to get help. I began to ‘push back’ in a good way and hold my ground and he began to have to make choices. He has also avoided a lot of truth yet.
        This fifth crisis he is saying he does not want to handle it as he did in 2002; it is quite the process and I have to watch my stand, speak up, hold my ground, and so on.
        So what is our interaction like at this point: he has put down a lot of anger and it is a lot more calm; all the anger and avoidance rots are still there and I just had that conversation with him this week about the situation he is in now. That I can even have that conversation is huge.
        I have had to grow in a lot of areas and I can’t fit all that here. A man at my church said this once, “I tell my wife, I won’t get it, you’ll just have to tell me.” I think that is the element we wrestle with as women: it is very hard for a man to get it and what is the best help we can give them in that? I am asnwering that in the process of staying; for someone else they might have to answer that by the process of leaving.
        My favorite verse in this regards is when Jesus told the disciples “I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, therefore be wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove.” I think that about sums it up.

        • Janice on September 23, 2015 at 12:05 am

          He gets it. Sorry to be the one to tell you, but he gets it. He is not stupid. He doesn’t need you to tell him. He likes to keep you in that role for him. Every time you try to “teach” him like a Mommy, you reinforce the codependent dance. He is getting exactly what he wants. He is fooling you.

    • Vivienne on September 20, 2015 at 8:14 pm

      I am in the exact same place you are Island Girl

    • Janice on September 23, 2015 at 12:09 am

      When will you be done hoping that things change? How long will you continue to deny the truth? Please be better to yourself. He isn’t changing and doesn’t want to. What is your next step to love yourself and start living a rich and fulfilling life?

  19. Liz on September 18, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    Praying for you, Leslie, and Chris as you speak at the conference. Counselors need to understand the dynamics of these abusive marriages. I am thankful God has prompted you to get the word out; it is so badly needed. We spent so much time and money in counseling that was not at all helpful, caused me to stay in the marriage much longer than I should have. I grieved over that and with your help and friends, was able to move on and not wallow in it. I cultivated other interests and friends and am doing quite well emotionally. Divorce isn’t final yet and h wants to stop it, he changed it to divorce after I filed for separation. That is my stress right now but haven’t seen any indication of a changed heart or that he even understands why we are where we are today. I’m proceeding and he needs to accept that.

  20. Lynn M on September 18, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    As I think about the writer of this question and her situation I am reminded of the quote about bitterness — that bitterness is a poison you drink and you expect the other person to die. I remind myself of this lately be has ethyl is my current struggle — forgiveness and letting go. So u also remind myself of Jesus saying “forgive them for they know not what they do” even if the person who hurt you seems to move on like they are Teflon, if we stay bitter and ruminate over their sins we are only punishing ourselves. I was hurt by my husband’s sins once, Staying bitter only continues to hurt me, but has no effect on him. I’m not saying I’m there yet, but this is my latest thought process.

  21. Leonie on September 19, 2015 at 12:28 am

    It is futile to give your self and life away to those that God says in his word that he hates. His word is full of descriptions of the man who he detests so we really must ask for his guidance to love what he loves and hate what he hates. I think it would save us all a lot of grief if we didn’t spend our lives loving what God hates. We do need to be discerning so we don’t end up on the treadmill of misdirecting our energies in futile places where they shouldn’t be spent.

    • Aleea on September 20, 2015 at 7:46 am

      ―Exactly, find someone who absolutely hates sin.  People doing what God hates will steal years of real life from us.  For me, I need to let God deal with the things they do and have done, because hate in my own heart would just consume me too.  . . . .Without the gospel we hate ourselves instead of our sin.  Without Christ we’re motivated through all sorts of awful fear and pride to change and it doesn’t really change our hearts it just restrains our hearts (―to me, this is why our counseling needs to be Christ-centered).  I really believe that any kind of fear-based repentance makes us hate ourselves.  ―And that is basically all some of the centuries (17th; 18th; 19th) of Christianity were: hellfire & brimstone; turn or burn in hell, forever.  . . . Reality-based repentance makes us hate the sin because we see and r-e-a-l-l-y understand sin’s devastation.  Sin is not “fun.”  It is cancer in our very soul.  . . . .Unfortunately, many times, God allows all that stuff he hates to accomplish what he loves.  ―And then all that stacked mystery confuses people like me to no end. . . .―It’s exciting, but really frustrating too.  God is an endless mystery.

  22. grace on September 21, 2015 at 9:52 pm

    I’m not surprised that you would turn to food for comfort. We all initially turn to that which eases or numbs the pain in our life most effectively. Right after I left my home and soul shredding husband, I consumed a lot of alcohol… a lot!!. I had a gastric bypass a number of years ago because food comforted me when I refused to look at the truth in my life and my marriage. Eating a lot of food and sugar makes me physically ill now, so that isn’t an option anymore.

    The truth was so hard to process that I had to numb it somehow…. and the aloneness was unbearable. The darkeness, deep! Everyone believed my ex husband’s account of me…. bi-polar disorder. I almost believed him too, and really that reality would have been better for me but it would have been a lie.
    I wish someone would have said to me, there will be more pain than yOU can imagine but you will overcome! Being an overcomer means we have to walk through whatever it is we are going through. The word in and of itself implies suffering and pain and maybe even something in us has to die. Jesus overcame death by going through it. You don’t overcome abuse without going through all the harsh and vile realities of it. Overcoming means that in the end, you are stronger than at the beginning… much stronger. And you have a NEW life. That is what you have to look forward to. Look forward!!! You will be healed. You will be happy. You will be thin. But you HAVE to walk the road of an overcomer every day though the Valley of the Shadow of Death. It hurts. It’s hard and it sucks and you will feel alone at times. But in the end you will be thanking God for what He has done for you, in you, and THROUGH you. He has a plan for you that is big…. bigger than you imagine and your job is to do what it takes to believe that you are not alone, that He has not left yOU alone. Not yesterday, not today and not tomorrow. He will never ever leave you. When you take that bite of food out of a need for comfort, remember that you do have a choice and that God is FOR YOU and wants the best for you…. He is there!!! Pain and suffering do serve a purpose even if we don’t know what that is. I suffered greatly being married to a cruel man for 27 years but those years made me a compassionate person (a CORE strength) and I believe God will use that for His purpose, whatever that may be.
    My wish for you would be that you will believe that there is great happiness and purpose for you because that is how God is. He loves you when you can’t stand yourself and when every voice in your world is telling you that you are worthless, He is the light that shines on all the beauty He created IN you.

    I have found that most of the voices in my life have lied to me…. my gut/body felt the lie and I ignored the truth. I encourage you to listen to the truth because only there will you ever find the freedom you long for. When you know what your worth to God, somehow you find the will and the strength to act according to what is true of you. God determines truth and no one else. You are loved. You are valuable. You are an overcomer and you have a story to tell. Don’t waste time and energy worrying about what other people think of you when the Creator of the universe said I WILL GIVE MY LIFE FOR YOU. YOU ARE WORTH IT TO ME!! Please, believe that God is FOR YOU, that He loves you and that He will never leave you… he has an awesome plan for your life so don’t forfeit it by not believing that He will see you through. Risk seeing yourself as He sees you…. Worthy !

    • Janice on September 23, 2015 at 12:15 am

      Good point to listen and be in tune to our gut. The body speaks! Women’s intuition is a powerful force to be reckoned with. We need to remember to use it for our benefit as well as others. In that order, ourselves…then others. We compliant, caring Christian woman sometimes devalue ourselves. What a terrible way to handle the precious gift that God designed our beautiful heart/minds/souls/bodies to be.

  23. Janice on September 22, 2015 at 11:54 pm

    I think it is time to stop thinking about our flaws and weigh in on our strengths. Too much self reflection just leads to idol worship. Enough of the self talk and introspection. Let’s get on with living! What makes you feel alive and ready to thrive today?

    • Aleea on September 25, 2015 at 5:57 am

      Hello Janice,
      “I think it is time to stop thinking about our flaws and weigh in on our strengths.”
      Janice, I’m not so sure that the strengths don’t produce the flaws. . . . but I’ll give it a go:
      Strengths?  . . . . objective analysis and evaluation of issues
      What makes you feel alive?  . . . . . Worshipping Jesus, prayer, anything about Jesus, even if it is from The Nag Hammadi library, moral thinking, philosophical thinking, scientific thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking. . . . The unexamined life is not worth living because many unexamined lives together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world.
      . . . .But those strengths and what makes me feel alive lead to what you condemn: self reflection [which] just leads to idol worship [as you say]
      Let’s just use your Gravatar picture as an example. . . . I like your great horned owl picture by the way (beautiful bird)!!!! . . . . but then I thought about it too much and realized it is a brilliant example evolutionary biology that disproves the special creation of man and special chemicals for life.  We are all are museums full of tails and switched off parts.  We share vestigial genes with other primates, and mutations destroyed the ability of these genes to perform functions.  Rabbits, which are your great horned owls main food (—which I find horrible Lord even though I love You!) can produce Vitamin C.  Humans had that capability but it got switched off and causes the nutritional deficiency called scurvy.  A lost function as a molecular vestigial character!!! (Junk DNA and deactivated DNA responsible for vitamin C synthesis in primates is vestigial)  . . .Then I really got to thinking asbout it. . . .It is now beyond any scientific dispute that all life evolved by a natural process of random mutation and DNA crossover, genetic drift, horizontal gene transfer, and natural selection.  We are the highly refined but happenstance products of blind experimentation carried out in a design laboratory that has been running itself for billions of years.  We are first cousins to the chimpanzees, descendants not of any biblical Adam but of lumbering hairy ancestors who were building fires and hand axes in Africahundreds of thousands of years ago. . . . Accepting this has been especially difficult for me, because evolution wipes away many of my foundational truths and doctrines I hold.  So, I walk a troubled middle path between Genesis and genetics, threatened with the loss of my cherished Faith on the one hand and my intellectual integrity on the other.  . . . .I just don’t know what to say.  The theory of how evolution works is one of the most robust and well-supported theories in the history of science.  What we know is Science.  Our ignorance is God?  The evidence is overwhelming and underpins modern medicine, immunology, blood typing and biology, all areas of scientific study and practice.  In order to state otherwise it is necessary to be either exceedingly ignorant of science or extremely dishonest.  No Adam, no Eve, so the whole original sin thing is a huge guilt trip that is totally unnessesary.  More than this, the church like mafia thugs burned, killed, tortured taught against evolution as NOT TRUE to the bitter end just like the flat earth.  If the Bible is mistaken in telling us where we came from, how can we trust it to tell us where we’re going?
      See Janice, the strength and what makes me feel alive becomes the weakness.  Maybe you don’t have those dragons and issues but I sure do writ-large!!!  My past is never far.
      Janice you say: “Too much. Enough of the self talk and introspection. Let’s get on with living!” . . . . How, Janice?  How???  . . . just be willfully blind???  As my mother would always say (I really dislike my mother):  “Lies are neither bad nor good.  Like a fire they can either keep you warm or burn you to death, depending on how they’re used.”  My brain so wants my Lord God even as my minds debunks the divine.  This Christian model of reality has built within it mechanisms for its own survival: fear and dependence, circular reasoning, threats for leaving, social supports for staying, and obstructions that prevent outside information from reaching insiders, especially children. Thus, believers not only get hurt, they get stuck.  I understand that and I understand Christianity’s cycle of self-doubt and self-punishment.  We Christians like to talk about the benefits of faith but what if the exact opposite is true?
      Strengths?  . . . . objective analysis and evaluation of issues
      Weaknesses? . . . . my “Strengths” (serious weakness)
      . . . . Fourtunately, my counselor has serious intellectual answers to all my issues (—so far anyway, and we have been through many way more serious than evolution).  I so appreciate her, absolutely a miracle and such an answer to prayer that God has us working together.  —Work with someone you want to be like.  —I want to have a heart full of Christ and a head full of knowledge just like her.  . . . . I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.  —And, I am still –hopelessly- in love with Jesus Christ and want God’s love.  I just have a lot more bath water that has got to go. . . . . Life is filled with “GET IT” moments and they are massively confusing, unless you just blindly shut your mind down.  They are as numerous as the sand on an endless shore. . . . Anyway, worrying is arrogant because God knows what He’s doing.  When I obey God with my whole heart, I usually scare off the folks who want me to obey them.  I want God-centered, Christ-exalting, Prayer-saturated passion.
      . . . And that is as honest as I know how to say it, so help me Jesus, so help me God!!!

  24. Brenda on September 24, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Not giving up. Praying for you.

    • David on September 24, 2015 at 9:08 am

      Thank you Brenda for not giving up

  25. Brenda on September 24, 2015 at 6:46 am

    Are you in an abusive situation yourself? Have you been?

    • Janice on September 24, 2015 at 8:08 am

      Yes, I have been in such situations and more. I have changed and I don’t think the same way anymore. I celebrate life and enjoy. I live my CORE.

  26. Brenda on September 24, 2015 at 8:18 am

    I’d love to hear your story about what you’ve been through and how you got through to transformation.


  27. Leonie on September 24, 2015 at 10:35 am

    David we really don’t need an abuser on this blog abusing women who are looking to get away from it.

  28. Finallyfree on September 24, 2015 at 10:53 am


  29. Finallyfree on September 24, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I think we all realize you may be hurting, as we all have experience in that, but that is not a reason to respond in a rude or abusive was to anyone on this blog. We are here to encourage one another and help one another through very tough stuff.
    I don’t believe any of the women on this blog have responded in the rude and abusive ways you have. Please be kind and you may actually learn something. Let the pain you have in your heart tenderize you, instead of hardening your heart.
    Please stop insulting people on this blog. It’s hurtful for all of us to see and it is not how we are to respond to each other, especially if we are Christ-followers.
    If you find yourself ready to attack, imagine you are talking to your daughter (even if you don’t have one), or a wounded young girl, who is also at the same time a woman who has been abused in some way. Please stop wounding with your words.
    I am praying for you. I can’t imagine what brought you to this point, but the Lord can heal your broken heart.
    Thank you.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 24, 2015 at 10:16 pm

      I agree. Thank you.

  30. Finallyfree on September 24, 2015 at 11:32 am

    Please stop. I asked you to please stop insulting. If anyone on this blog feels he/she is being treated rudely he/she will say something. Please don’t defend your behavior by saying you think someone is rude to the rest of us. Not your job to police us up. We are learning to do that ourselves.
    Please stop name calling. Really. If you could just stop and take a moment and think about the people you are talking to and realize they are all real people who have been through a war zone that you may not be able to imagine and they are sweet, human beings – just like you are, you really could get a lot out of this blog. I am begging you to please take a moment and pray to the Lord and as Him to teach you to love – that is what we ALL need to learn. THAT, my friend is the crux of Christianity, LOVE. Please don’t be rude. It blocks your humanity so we can’t see it. And we need to see it, just like you need to see each one of our humanity.
    I don’t know what else to say to help you to see that your treatment of people on this blog should really be respectful. it hurts my heart to see your judgments and insults. You can’t mean that, really. You are speaking out of your brokenness. I really that, but you don’t get a pass because you’re broken – you’ve got to let your heart melt.

    As we speak, my dad is dying, David. He was a cruel man. I can’t begin nor will I go into how his cruelty affected me directly. But he is still a human being, created by God. My heart aches for him and I am praying that in his last moments he will come to Christ for real. How do we know? By the fruit – right? That’s what Jesus said. I can tell you the fruit while he was actively alive would not make anyone think he was a Christian, although he professed to be one. And he was cruel, very cruel. Yes, like one who would run a concentration camp – that heinous.

    And yet, the Lord loves him and wants him to come to him. Our God is a big God and does not act like man acts. And He has put a love in my heart for this cruel man to the degree that I pray for him and want badly for him to come to Christ in his last moments on this earth. Because I do not want anyone at all to have to spend a moment not belonging to Our King. That’s what life is about – Him.

    Why did I go into all of that? Because, David, I want you to love. Be kind. Be patient. Be a Christ-follower on this blog and in your life and let your actions show it for real – no insulting or name calling. No rude, terse comments.

    Have respect for who we all are – image bearers of God. Please treat us all that way.

    I also went into this because I want you to know that you matter too. For some reason you stay on this blog – let it be for good and so that goodness can come to you in tenderness of heart.

    You are loved. Know that, please.

    • David on September 24, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      This was a post from Lisa ““David”‘s timeline and supposed facts about “wife” & what he is “doing” are just made up drivel. “David” isn’t even a man. “David” is here to disrupt. His usefulness as an exercise to learn how to respond to an abuser is enough already. Leslie please ban him once and for all.”

      This is the epitome of rudeness but you are OK with this but not me saying that Janice’s posts are discouraging??!?

      • David on September 24, 2015 at 12:09 pm

        Finallyfree, I have read your post. I am surprised that you no comment on Lisa’s email tho

    • Leslie Vernick on September 24, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      David, I eliminated your last three comments as they still contained negative comments about other people. You are welcome to speak for yourself – your thoughts, your feelings and your problems WITHOUT judging other people.

    • Janice on September 25, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Finally Free, I am sorry you are in the difficult process of walking alongside a family member who is in the end stages of life. Are you able to enlist the help of hospice services? I think the discussion of losing a loved one who was cruel might be a good blog subject. As my abusive father died 3 years ago, there were many dynamics to the mourning process that are not typical to family loss. For example, there was the relief of knowing I could never be abused by him again. Yet, there was also the complex part of mourning because he was my father, of course. It was very profound and interesting to reflect back on his life and my life, and to tie the whole thing up with finality. It was beautiful and healing when I finally worked through all the dynamic and found the end. Blessing with your journey.

  31. Finallyfree on September 24, 2015 at 12:05 pm

    Please read what I wrote to you about you.
    In the meantime, I will continue to pray for you.

    • David on September 24, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      ‘Janice does her best to tear me down.”

      • janice on September 24, 2015 at 8:06 pm

        David, thank you for your written demonstration of the abusive tactic called crazy making.

        I am thrilled that you think I am not a victim of abuse. This must mean my thinking has truly changed!! I praise God for that.

        Thank you for the gift. You have blessed me.

  32. Finallyfree on September 24, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    If you are going to ask me why I don’t comment on others’ posts, you aren’t listening to what I wrote to YOU. Please stay with me here.
    Read what I wrote to you again.
    I will continue to pray for you.

  33. David on September 24, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Finallyfree “I am begging you to please take a moment and pray to the Lord and as Him to teach you to love – that is what we ALL need to learn. THAT, my friend is the crux of Christianity, LOVE. Please don’t be rude. ” … interesting that you singled me out but not Lisa or Janice, think I know the reason

    • David on September 24, 2015 at 4:55 pm

      God has a purpose for ‎your pain, ‎a
      reason for your struggle‎ and a reward 
      For your faithfulness . Trust him and don’t  give up. 

  34. Leonie on September 24, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    When I see that David is on a blog post/thread then the inside if me goes “ugh, not again” – the focus usually becomes fighting with David – it all becomes about David and his encouragement/discouragement & negativity ratings …. and not a discussion about the topic of the week where we reflect on things to process our experiences & how we can better adapt or heal as we discover & apply new truths – we are so thankful to Leslie for bringing us new insights or reminding us of important ones. I know there are abusive people where ever we go but if doesn’t feel like this is a safe place when he is on it. I am tired and don’t have the energy & mental space to do “David” on top of all the real life nonsense I am going through.

    • Survivor on September 24, 2015 at 3:32 pm

      Amen, Leonie!!!!!! The interactions I am seeing/experiencing are SOOOOOO much like with H!!! The constant whining for understanding/encouragement alongside the refusal to offer the same to others; the projection of blanket/false statements onto others; the accusation of assumptions (when a good long look in the mirror is needed); and the list could go on! I agree: it is exhausting!! I find myself having to do the same thing I do at home: speak the truth and let it stand; be willing to walk away regardless of what dart is hurled at my back; and refuse to engage in nonsense that goes completely off topic! Blessings, peace, and rest to you in your weariness!! It is such a daily struggle just to function! I get it! Not nice to have your sanctuary invaded with nonsense as well!!! Hugs!!!!

  35. Finally free on September 24, 2015 at 5:32 pm

    i have not given up- I’m living life to the fullest! Enjoying who God made me to be. I am no longer living in what resembled a concentration camp in my childhood home AND in my “marriage”.
    Praise God!

  36. Janice on September 25, 2015 at 8:03 am

    You have so many more strengths than that. How would Jesus describe you? Is it possible that what you think is a strength is not a strength? Who told you it is a strength? Is it really a finely honed coping mechanism? What was your natural bent as a child? I challenge you to list 25 strengths or better yet, ways you see God has uniquely designed you as his precious daughter.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Aleea on September 25, 2015 at 10:14 am

      Hello Janice,
      You say: “Is it possible that what you think is a strength is not a strength? Who told you it is a strength? Is it really a finely honed coping mechanism?”
      You know what??? . . . .Almost anything is possible. . . .I never even thought about it like that because when professors you trust tell you that they think these are your strengths, you just believe them.  You think they are correct but maybe you are right, maybe they are not strengths at all just coping mechanisms (—finely honed coping mechanisms).  I could see that but could you not say that about any response???  —Anyway, let’s use it as a way to think more about this: —Yes, maybe they are finely honed coping mechanisms and not strengths.     
      “I challenge you to list 25 strengths”:  I don’t think I have 25 but. . . . let’s see. . . . Tolerant (maybe too tolerant, I love to listen to other peoples’ opinions, even when they contradict my own because I like to learn.  I admit I don’t have many answers, and I am very receptive to dissent, even if it is not constructive, —I know that is a weakness!); Reliable;  Altruistic; Idealistic; Bold (I don’t mind stepping out of any comfort zone); Original (I love controlled experiments); Passionate and Energetic; Dedicated and Hard-Working
      “How would Jesus describe you?”  His totally confused child who is hopelessly in love with Him (I love the Christ of Faith); The Jesus of History (—Sometimes, I don’t understand Him.)
      What was your natural bent as a child?  I honestly don’t know Janice, —honestly. . . .In counseling it is always full dead stop when we go to the childhood stuff.  My mother was an abusive monster. . . . My counselor says we see God like we see our parents (In fact, she did a Ph.D. dissertation on that) and maybe that is why my mind sometimes deconstructs/demythologizes Him? 
      You say: “. . .or better yet, ways you see God has uniquely designed you as his precious daughter.”  Hmmm. . . .I love that God would design us uniquely to be his precious children (—that bypasses my head and goes right to my heart) but. . . let’s see: overthink things, very sensitive, sometimes I get overwhelmed, highly emotional, strong sense of duty, overly idealistic, fluctuating self-esteem. . . . I’ll send you the other answers/ other parts later. . .

  37. Janice on September 25, 2015 at 8:30 am

    Do you agree with your Mother’s statements about lies? Her beliefs do not agree with biblical teaching. When you ask how to go on living in a new way, I would suggest that one possibility might be to list everything you mother said and challenge each and every life commandment. Have you heard of life commandments? It is a psychological term which represents directions given to a child at a crucial time of growth. Like an edict, certain distorted values were engrained in our minds in childhood and now need to be reexamined with our adulthood brain.

    Here is one from my childhood for example. My mother said that anyone with brown hair was dirty. She criticized and complained about people with dark hair or dark skin and told me they were less worth while than other human beings. Now, as an adult, I reexamine that teaching. i can still hear her voice in my head, yet I reparent myself and speak the truth into my life. I chose to enjoy people of all shapes, colors and sizes, Mom doesn’t. She probably never will. When I see her she still continues to espouse this doctrine .Yet now, I think for myself. Her words don’t carry the power they once did. I am free to live my own life because I think for myself!

    • Aleea on September 25, 2015 at 11:47 am

      . . . .Okay, I’m in my seat . . . you say: “Do you agree with your Mother’s statements about lies?”  Janice, I certainly hope not but my mind sometimes protects my mother even knowing she abused me.  I don’t know why we protect our abusers???  
      “Her beliefs do not agree with biblical teaching.”  . . . . Not with N.T. teaching but if you know the O.T., God uses lies to get stuff done, God lies by proxy; He sends prophets or lying spirits to deceive, you know all that if you know the Old Testament.  God sends deceiving spirits vs. God cannot lie . . . First Kings, et.al.  . . . . Janice, please, don’t make me list them all out, I so hate doing that.  —You don’t always have to chop with the sword of truth.  You can point with it too, Amen!    See Theology of the Old & New Testaments Paperback – February 20, 2007 by Dr. Rudolf Bultmann (Author), Dr. Kendrick Grobel (Translator), Dr. Robert Morgan (Introduction). 
      “Have you heard of life commandments?”  —No, I have not but the concept makes sense.  Yes, reexamine with our adult brain.  Exactly, and I so understand your example with your mother RE: people of color. . . . . I used to think all non-conservative Bible scholars were wicked and of the devil until I spent lots of time with them and realized they went down fighting every, EVERY step of the way, very few started from the position of deconstructing / demythologizing.  The evidence drove them to that conclusion.  A conclusion I am trying to avoid.  RE: Dr. Margaret Barker, The Older Testament: The Survival of Themes from the Ancient Royal Cult in Sectarian Judaism and Early Christianity –or- Dr. Robert Eisenman, The Dead Sea Scrolls and the First Christians: Essays and Translations –or- Dr. Ferdinand Christian Baur, The Church History of the First Three Centuries –or- Dr. Elaine Pagels, The Gospels, to me, her best book, intuitively reconstructing the real, live, lived Christianity in which these texts took shape.
      Janice, I feel like a wanderer in that really rough country where orthodox Christianity blurs into the Land of Freethought.  . . . You know I am sitting here thinking about it and realize that the operative question is not, “Do you love Jesus?” but, “Has Jesus ever been a radically disturbing and transforming presence in your life?”  Not, “Are you a believer?” but instead, “Are you a follower of Jesus?”  Not, “Are you saved?” but instead maybe, “Are you able to drink of this cup?”

  38. Teena on September 29, 2015 at 12:17 pm

    I’m also praying for you Dear lady. The other problem besides self loathing is your thought life. Hopefully, I can help show you some of your good points, so you can think on those things. You, my friend, were the stronger one in your relationship with your spouse because you ALLOWED him the upper hand in most situations. There must be a reason for you being so giving. You were honoring him, keeping the peace, being Christ-like. There’s nothing weak about that! You didn’t maintain good boundaries which is something you can solve. Look at you now maintaining financially on your own. Start to take care of your body real estate. You had a beautiful waterfront house, girl you can create that again. YOU were the builder in that relationship. You still have that ability. You just need to want to. Start with your body image. Your children WANT YOU. You can move where ever you want because you are the survivor. Now it’s time girl to thrive. NOW DECIDE to “allow them” to have their moments while you go have yours. But when you’re invited, don’t go as a guest, but as an intricate part of this family, with your head up, because YOU ARE MOM. God bless you.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm

      Amen to that.

  39. Brenda on September 29, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Beautifully said!!!


  40. Gail on September 30, 2015 at 4:42 pm

    When I was angry all the time about the injustices done to me, it occurred to me that, since all sin is sin because it is anathema to who God is, I needed to find out how my anger was a sin against God. What I realized–and I would never say this is always true for everybody–is that God’s justice wasn’t good enough for me; I was being arrogant. None of the people who were onlookers who misjudged and were unkind–intentionally or not, and none of the folks who actually did wrong were going to get away with anything. And I wasn’t going to get away with being angry . . . I’m too much of a debtor myself to be going around try to keep accounts on others. When I decided to believe that God is perfectly just, and has perfect timing when it comes to the execution of his justice, and that He doesn’t need to check with me regarding his plans for me or anyone else . . . I was able to rest in faith and move on. (Ex. 34:7; Heb. 11:6)

  41. brenda on October 1, 2015 at 5:22 am

    Ouch!! Remembering that it is all God’s timing is hard to do. He doesn’t need to check with me and I need to watch for His move. What you said really hit home.

  42. Finallyfree on October 6, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Thank you for your thoughtful comments about the fact that I was walking through the end stages of my dad’s life. I live halfway across the US from him, so I did not see him very much. Once I moved thirty years ago, I only visited maybe ten times. too hard.
    But this time I went back twice and it was hard to be there because two other abusers were also in the hospital room visiting and my mom just sat there like this is normal. they never did anything about my abuse on my behalf. They just said, “How could you do this?!” As if I was in charge at age 10-12. So, hypocrisy is rampant in my family of origin.
    It was profound to see my dad, a very prideful, arrogant man, determined to live his life the way he wanted to, be brought so low. It made me think of that verse in Hebrews 10:40, I think that says It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. He was definitely humbled.
    I did not get to talk to him alone because my mom kept the room full of people to protect him from anything anyone said that might upset him, (like the truth). This bothered me because I knew I had to tell him some things, namely that I forgave him.
    So after I got home, I had my sister hold the phone up to his ear and put it on the lowest setting so only he could hear me. I told him I loved him and that I forgave him for never defending my honor, especially when he learned of the abuse I suffered for two years at the hands of the people I named. I forgave him for not being the dad God intended him to be, for not being a good dad to me, not wanting relationship with me and for not being perfect. I forgave him for everything and told him that Jesus forgives to and that Jesus loves him and wants him to come to him and repent. That he’s waiting with open arms. I asked him to let everything else fall away and let Jesus be all that matters to him. I told him I loved him and I hope to see him later.
    My sister told me that his eyebrows were moving a lot and he was moving his mouth to try to talk, but he could not. So I am sure he heard me and understood. i felt better too.

    The next morning he died.

    Now I have to go back for the funeral and I am not looking forward to it because two of my abusers will be there, and although I forgave them I don’t want to see them. But, the Lord has walked me through the chaotic minefield of my divorce successfully, and I’m sure he will continue as I seek him.

    I am sad that I never had a real dad, or mom, but the Lord has been all that to me and more and He’s perfect! So I take comfort in that. I’m continually amazed at how He has cared for me.

  43. Leonie on October 6, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    Wow, thanks for sharing. You were brave and bold, God’s love is living in you! Yes, I would not want to be in the presence of my abusers either – they have brains & memories too – I hope they are ashamed in your presence. I hope they see your strength and resolve and courageous dignity in the Lord.

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