I’m Reacting Destructively But I Don’t Know What To Do

Morning friends,

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I am in Dallas, TX this morning finishing up a 3-day intensive training for The Village Church on the topic of abuse. I’m so thrilled that they saw the need for their leadership to have more training on how to deal with abuse situations in a God-honoring, people valuing way. Please pray for them, that they would continue to grow in this area.

Today’s question comes from a woman who recognizes her own stuff but is unclear where her marriage stands.

Today’s Question: Sometimes I get really confused when I look at our marriage and try to sort out the issues. How do I know if I am the one who is emotionally destructive?

We have been to counseling and my counselor says that he can see we both really care about the other person. However, we seem to always get lost in how to work out the issues that trouble our marriage. I thrive on talking and understanding each other….he seldom knows how he feels and would prefer to just not talk about the issues.

He says he is willing to go to counseling but waits for me to schedule it and keep it going. If we don't have any appointments for a few weeks he never asks about when the next one is. He just waits for me to tell him when we're going next.

When we try to talk by ourselves, he says things always get out of control and wishes he could just talk to me without me getting angry. I think the way I respond to frustrations may be emotionally destructive. When I don't feel like I can gain his understanding I do escalate and get angry and it becomes a vicious cycle.

I eventually just shut down and withdraw after these episodes because I am ashamed of how I've responded. I always feel so frustrated that my good intentions of resolving issues just caused more problems. We have worked in counseling on how to communicate our feelings and listening to each other’s needs but I feel like when I try to express myself he just tries to explain why I shouldn't feel how I feel.

He says he loves me but I think he almost wishes we could be done with the marriage so that he didn't have to stay in this disconnected kind of marriage. I feel like he enjoys being with other people more than me. He says he just thinks I'm sad all the time. I try to explain that what he sees as sadness is my longing to connect more with him and my frustration that we can't seem to connect. I think all he sees is anger and sadness.

How do I get an honest look at whether I am actually the emotionally destructive one versus just a wife longing to connect?

Answer: I don’t think that your longing to connect is wrong, however, what happens to you when you don’t get that connection may be destructive. Your marriage is a good example of how a disappointing and difficult marriage can turn destructive.

You’re disappointed that your husband isn’t as verbal as you’d like. You’re disappointed that he likes to be more social with others and that feels threatening to you because your marriage is wobbly. You also seem to both have difficulties communicating constructively. Your families of origin may have contributed in that they may have been very different in the ways they dealt with conflict and problems. You’re much more aggressive, he’s much more avoidant. You are more proactive and he’s more passive.

But your therapist obviously sees some good things going on between the two of you so at this point I would encourage you to take the test in Chapter One of my book The Emotionally Destructive Marriage to see if you score yourself as destructive. If you don’t have the book you can take the test on-line at www.emotionallydestructivemarriage.com

This will show you the areas where your reactions to your disappointment, his passivity and his avoidant tendencies may be making things worse in your marriage.

I would recommend that you begin to repair this by taking responsibility for your emotional outbursts, your volatile anger when you are hurt or disappointed and tell your husband that you are going to work hard on learning how to communicate your feelings in a more constructive way. You might find my recent newsletter on The Four Lies of Anger helpful to you.

You might also consider joining my Walking in Core Strength coaching group starting in September for 3 months. Click here for more information.

I think a good place to start is to implement safety by agreeing to temporary time out’s when things start to get heated. That will help him feel safe that the conversation or conflict isn’t going to escalate, and it will help you learn better self-control when you are getting emotional. A timeout is a temporary break in talking about an issue until you can regroup to do it in a more constructive way. It can be anywhere from 15 minutes to 24 hours. But in order for a timeout to be effective, both parties must be willing to reengage to discuss the issue at a later time.

The second thing that is important for you to work on is for you to be able to express your needs and wants in a non-judgmental or non-accusatory way.

For example, you might say, “I miss talking with you” or “I want to spend some time together this weekend doing something fun.” That sounds very different from “You never have time for me” or “You’re always putting your friends ahead of me.”

The former phrases engender a more positive, problem solving response like, “Okay what can we do together.” The latter creates a defensive response that will probably lead to more distancing and withdrawal. Then that feels upsetting to you and you start pursuing and he continues to avoid, leaving you feeling more lonely and unloved.

If he tells you that you shouldn’t feel what you do, respond with this, “I know it’s hard for you to understand why I feel this way because that’s not how you would feel if you were me, but you’re not me and I am different than you are.”

Men aren’t always very astute at being attuned to emotions – whether it is their own or someone else’s. Because they don’t feel those emotions, it’s hard for them to grasp how someone else could. By asserting yourself respectfully and indicating that you aren’t blaming him for not understanding, but instead you are asserting your right to have different feelings than he does it will help remind him that you both are different.

Another thing you could do that might help your conversations is to tell him how he could best help you with your feelings. Such as, “I could use a hug right now” or “I just need you to listen to me, you don’t have to give me any solutions.”

When a basically caring man knows exactly what he could do to help you, he is usually willing to try because then he feels he won’t fail. If he’s shooting in the dark and has no idea what will help you, an avoidant man will usually flee to his man cave (tweet that).

Third, from the tone of your question I’m sensing that you are a little too dependent on your spouse to meet all of your needs and are jealous that he has other people in his life that make him happy and whom he enjoys. God has designed us to be totally dependent on Him and trust that he will use people to meet some of our needs, but it’s important that you understand that your husband will never meet all of your needs. I’d encourage you to develop stronger friendships with girlfriends. They may help to meet some of your needs and give you deeper conversations where you can process things verbally. Your husband may not be able or willing to meet that need because of his own deficits, but that doesn’t mean he can’t meet other needs you may have.

Finally, the good news is that from what you write, your husband longs for a better connection and he’s willing to go for counseling with you. You wrote, “He says he loves me but I think he almost wishes we could be done with the marriage so that he didn't have to stay in this disconnected kind of marriage.”

The fact that he doesn’t show more initiative in working on building a healthier connection between the two of you concerns me. Does he think it just happens?

You both say you want more in your marriage but now you both have to stop doing the things that tear down the positive progress you make in therapy. You might ask your therapist if it would be helpful for each of you to get some assertiveness training. For you so that you don’t overreact, become aggressive, and then feel guilty, and for him so he doesn’t run away and get passive, which feels like indifference to you, and I imagine doesn’t make him feel very proud of himself as a man.

Friends, how have you come to see that your responses to your disappointment or difficulties in marriage have grown to be destructive and what steps did you take to get healthier?

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  1. Penny on August 24, 2016 at 9:19 am

    I wish I could lightly read this blog post and go on to other things. However, this speaks directly to me in where I am at and have been. I grew up in a home filled with unpredictable rage and chaos. I found safety and hope in school. I would never be angry. Fast forward 40 years later…I marry a man who has never shown outward anger in all of our life together. He has hurt me deeply. For years, being hurt was also heaped on me for being weak emotionally. During the past few years my response has been deep anger. At times I felt as if I had been storing up all the anger of a lifetime. I have also felt that I have a right to be angry and wrathful for all the broken things of life. Finally, God has been helping me see that this is not ok with Him. It will ultimately destroy myself and those around me. My counselor also recommended a time out when emotions escalate. Absolutely no talking to my spouse until things are more rational, and then call a time in to talk about the situation. Yes, God is exposing my heart through it all. I have been deeply hurt, but I also need help and grace to change. (I don’t like that part so much.). Another lie of anger for me, is if I get angry enough my husband will feel the hurt I feel. Wow, that isn’t working! He is not wired like me. I can’t change him anyway. I have taught public school and raised children without experiencing anger. But these relational issues with my husband have exposed some very severe heart issues in me. I trust that God is after my good here. My counselor was clear NOT to stuff the anger ( it is real!). Rather, I should write out rage then destroy the papers or scream into a pillow. My friend places her hands into a large lake to help her diffuse her rage. It is not easy to take responsibility for my own sin when there has been severe hurt done against me, but that is what I need to do now. Ultimately, I answer to God. He brought me to this place to make me more like Him. Also, during the process He is pressing His truth into my heart…that I am loved with an everlasting love. Jer.31:3

    • Leslie Vernick on August 25, 2016 at 8:53 am

      Penny, thank you for your vulnerability here. It’s touch for those of us who have been mistreated to also recognize that in our hurt and anger we are not handling our own feelings very well. It’s a good start for your own healing though. Because we are not healed by someone else changing but by our own heart and mind changing and the first place to see your change is that you are indeed loved, so very much by God, who wants you to be free of all bitterness, rage and wrath. These are toxic to you. A verse I recently came across is this: Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you. Proverbs 11:17 When we are filled with negative emotions, they take their toll on our own body, spirit, and mind. Good for you that you are getting the help you need to heal and be whole.

      • Penny on August 25, 2016 at 9:17 am

        Thank you Leslie! This is a long slow journey. It is very humbling to see my own capacity for sin.

  2. Aleea on August 24, 2016 at 10:56 am

    “Friends, how have you come to see that your responses to your disappointment or difficulties in marriage have grown to be destructive and what steps did you take to get healthier?”

    . . . . Okay, so it was said in the response above: “For example, you might say, “I miss talking with you” or “I want to spend some time together this weekend doing something fun.” That sounds very different from “You never have time for me” or “You’re always putting your friends ahead of me.” . . . . . “You never have time for me” or “You’re always putting your friends ahead of me.”. . . .I thank the Lord God I generally, that I am aware of, do not make mistakes like that. That language is totally inflammatory and invites serious arguments. . . . . but what I do, do and I just did it this morning is being too impatient with my responses to what is being said. I find that if I really, fully, deeply listen I totally lose my trains of thought and really have nothing to say. I need to be okay with that because saying less would probably really help me. I can always mirror back what I have heard and what I understand. So that is going on my to-do list.

    Also from the response “. . . .Such as, “I could use a hug right now” or “I just need you to listen to me, you don’t have to give me any solutions.” —Now, that is brilliant, so helpful and just plain smart. All the entire class of responses like that: I need a hug; Would you just listen, I am processing not problem solving; Can we pray about this? . . . . anything that puts the tenderness back into the conversation is helpful. . . . . As always, this is assuming no —inter-personally exploitative, psychotic, emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, et.al. situations just problematic but “normative” issues.

    —And to “Today’s Questioner” I’m praying for you and your husband. . . . . You say: “. . . He says he loves me. . . . my longing to connect more with him and my frustration that we can’t seem to connect. . . .” . . . . So always the question seems to be the same for all these situations: “Am I doing everything I know how to do to fix this situation?” . . . .And maybe try different things, people bond as well when they are having adventure, fun, etc. . . . . Loneliness leads to absolutely nothing good, only detachment. Real soul-to-soul connections are worth every bit of fight left in him and you.

  3. Sue on August 24, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Yes, my responses to the difficulties in our marriage have not always been healthy. This question and the subsequent responses have encouraged me to word my comments and responses to my husband in a more positive way. Thank you for your help in this area. My husband and I have been married 5 1/2 years. He is in his early 70’s and I am in my late 60’s. Over our marriage his health has deteriorated a lot, to the point he sits in his chair all day from morning to night, watching TV. I wait on him hand and foot, plus do all the inside work and outside yard work that I can. I do think he is very lazy because his heart doctor told him his heart would do well to have mild workouts in a gym, and his diabetes and PTSD doctors have encouraged him to go outside for some mild walking exercise, all to no avail. All of that, plus the fact that he has not been able to consummate the physical side our marriage, nor does he desire to cuddle in an intimate way, has caused me much anger and frustration. I am trying to accept reality and am trying to trust the Lord for more understanding, strength and patience.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 25, 2016 at 8:55 am

      Sue, all those things can be very tough to live with in a good way. Good for you that you are recognizing the toll it’s taking on you. Perhaps a heart to heart in that “I can’t do all this work around here all by myself. So if you can’t help me, I’m going to have to hire someone to do some of it” will lessen your load of responsibility and resentment.

  4. Connie on August 24, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    My current h (11 years) has said that he basically wanted a live-in maid. After a few years, I became assertive and made it clear that I was not staying if he didn’t stop being mean, and that I had to have a set amount in my bank account each month so I didn’t have to walk on eggs ALL the time. I accepted the maid position, because I knew he had no intentions of giving me his heart. I can’t cajole that out of him. Lundy Bankcroft says it has NEVER worked to use kindness or logic to convince a man to be a reasonable and kind husband.

    So I have detached emotionally, and live as if I were single, but I have a place to live and he has learned to do some snuggling, which is good, and he speaks to me with some respect. He plays mind games still, and hints about financial stuff, but I have learned to mostly ignore that because I know I’m not overspending and I don’t depend on his approval for my self-worth anymore. (e.g. my daughter has been in Europe for a year and I called her by phone once, not even for long, and he made an issue. oh, well) My Maker is my husband. Some days it’s harder, it took a lot of inner praising of God and tearing my mind back to Him from ruminating on h, but for now I feel this is the right thing. I feel sometimes like I’m playing games now too, but I don’t know what else to do. If I leave, my kids and other relatives would think me horrible, and I’m not willing to deal with that. Many of them believe my 1st h of 25 years that I was the one who was wrong, and so far the truth has not risen to the surface about that.

  5. Elizabeth on August 24, 2016 at 2:53 pm

    I’d like to know how to handle my anger and resentment from my emotionally destructive spouse. I want the marriage to work. We have been married for 1 year. His narcissistic, emotionally destructive behavior started on our honeymoon, which was a shock for me. A few months ago, I moved out for about 7 weeks due to not feeling emotionally, mentally, or somewhat physically safe. We are going to counseling together, and progress has been made. Now that we are working on issues and behaviors, I’m afraid I’m the one becoming destructive due to resentment for the awful past year of marriage. I’m struggling with intense anger and a self-protective emotional disconnect from my husband. I don’t want to halt the marriage’s progress, though. What would be some helpful things I can do in this time?

    • Leslie Vernick on August 25, 2016 at 9:01 am

      I’d encourage you to get some help with your own emotions. My book, Lord I Just Want to be Happy will give you lots of exercises and tools to practice letting go of a negative emotion. Especially pay attention to your thought life – the psalmist said, “my thoughts trouble me and I am distraught.” When we ruminate, or create story lines about someone else, especially their motives, such as “He’s doing this because……..” it stirs us our negative emotions, because if it’s true, we should feel those emotions. However, most of the time, we don’t know someone’s heart – we see their behavior and that’s bad enough, but we don’t always know why someone does what they do. Don’t add to your misery by telling yourself negative things about why someone does what they do – such as, “because he wants to hurt me, or he hates me, or he’s just using me.” You don’t know exactly why he’s ignoring you, or yelling at you, he might be immataure, ill equipped to deal with conflict or his own negative emotions, etc. Also as Paul reminds us in Phil 4:8, whatsoever is true, good, lovely etc, let your MIND dwell on those things.

      • Maria on August 26, 2016 at 7:59 am

        Over the years I have learned I need to careful not to underestimate my husband, for example when he promises to do something for the kids, I try to have an alternate plan. How do I be on guard without assigning motive?

        • Robin on August 29, 2016 at 1:30 pm

          Maria, not sure what you mean when u say, u need to be on guard. Is your husband free to break his promise if that’s what he chooses? Your children might need to see the reality. Letting him fail and be responsible for his choice might be best.

      • Elizabeth on August 29, 2016 at 12:59 pm

        Thank you, Leslie. Your reply was very helpful.

    • Aleea on August 27, 2016 at 6:44 am

      I really liked that book and I took away that most people have to get to a point where they don’t have a choice before they’ll change something, that is really sad and to be avoided. We will have fewer regrets in life if we start focusing and taking responsiblity for where we are and what God wants us to be. And maybe, it merely has to be chosen. . . . But we can really mess up the choosing. . . . There is a wonderful past blog: “How Can I Know God’s Will?” October 5, 2009 by Leslie where she says: “So often we agonize over trying to figure out God’s will when He already tells us ninety percent of what we are to be and what we are to do in His word.” (—That’s absolutely brilliant! —I don’t know how you get the ninety percent but it simply doesn’t matter, it is correct enough. It took me long enough to figure out that the primary purpose of reading the Bible is not to know the Bible but to know God.) . . . .God really, deeply cares what we are. What we are will (should) correct what we do (negative thinking). I mean. . . . I think that, I don’t know that and I want God’s voice to be the clearest voice in the room. . . . . Figure out what makes you know God more, do more of it. . . . .The issue is fear but as my counselor is always saying, “the deeper issue is trust.” Can we trust a God we can’t control whose take on life and death and suffering and all the stuff that seems so very important is so very different from our own? (—And I’ll say it because it needs to be said. . . It is not just different it looks totally mental at times.) . . . . Can we trust a God we can’t control whose take on life and death and suffering and all the stuff that seems so very important is so very different from our own? —Maybe we can if we know Him well enough.

  6. Nancy on August 24, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    Becoming healthier has hinged on recognizing that:

    1) I want my husband to be my saviour
    2) He “needs” to be my saviour

    A perfect fit- except that we built our house on sand.

    It is so tempting to expect my husband to meet my emotional needs. So. Tempting. I am learning that he doesn’t have the capacity. He just doesn’t.

    But Jesus does. That’s for sure.

    And the more I stick to my own limits of trusting in Christ, first, I am seeing a willingness in my husband to open himself to The Lord’s healing.

    What I’ve learned through all this is that when he has wronged me, I try to be my husband’s ‘convictor’. That is wrong. That’s the Holy Spirit’s work. My job is to take my pain to Jesus, and pray for my husband. And sometimes it is appropriate to pray that he is convicted, but that always has to come after I pray the Lord help me take the log out of my own eye.

    I thank God that I am experiencing considerable core strengthening and am witnessing my husband being transformed. interestingly his transformation seems to be happening to the degree that I am backing off. Of course if my husband were not willing to allow the Lord to work in him, all the backing off in the world wouldn’t help our marriage.

    But regardless, it would help me to heal.

    • Aleea on August 24, 2016 at 5:46 pm

      “. . . interestingly his transformation seems to be happening to the degree that I am backing off.”

      . . . . we carry the weight of things that belong to God alone. Consider me believing that it was my responsibility to share the perfect story with my mother so that she would believe in God. You are so right, God doesn’t ask us to change people’s lives. He simply asks us to live ours in conformance to His Son, —which clearly it sounds like you are striving for. . . . . If your life is hidden with Christ, that means you are totally safe. I was just reading that today. . . . That means that . . . neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any (τρελός/τρηρός – totally crazy maddening high jinks), will be able to separate you from the love of God.

    • Leslie Vernick on August 25, 2016 at 9:02 am

      Great points Nancy. Thanks.

    • Penny on August 25, 2016 at 9:25 am

      I am ordering this book! Thank you Leslie for your resources that have become very helpful tools in this long battle. The enemy continues to whisper that evil has the last say, that the promises of God were never meant for me, and on and on and on….if this is my last season of life I will fight for truth. Which very frankly is 180 degrees from what I have always known and what is going on inside my head. When life agrees with the lies you learned years ago…you start to believe them. Christ came to set us free with the truth. Part of that truth is that I DO NOT KNOW my spouse’s motives. It is more helpful to have compassion than judgement. I can only offer that if I am rooted in a love that will not let me go.

  7. Nancy on August 24, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    What reassurance in that passage. Thank you, Aleea 🙂

  8. Trish on August 25, 2016 at 9:19 am

    I planned to respond in a similar way as Elizabeth because I have experienced an almost identical situation over this first year of marriage. I was often destructive myself, and it confused me and undermined my self esteem greatly. When I repented of everything I could think of, the Lord showed me that my MIL has narcissictic personality disorder (NPD) and somatization. My husband was raised by a mentally ill mother and it is a carefully-guarded secret. He exhibits many of these behaviors including lack of empathy. As I began to gently unveil unwanted information, emotional attacks increased. I kept giving it to the Lord and He was faithful to never leave me or forsake me. NPD’s have a vulnerability problem. I found information by Craig Malkin very helpful. Dr. Malkin says the one way to figure out if an NPD is willing to change is if he/she can see the pain he/she is causing you. That probably goes for any mental health problems. NPD’s lack empathy and if they won’t see the pain they cause their partner, it’s time to leave. God never wants his beloved daughters to suffer and He understands that free will can mean an NPD doesn’t want to heal. I confronted my husband with this information and it broke the stronghold over him. He now shows his love, feels empathy, becomes vulnerable and is grateful that God used me to help him. It’s been an AWFUL journey but I had to forgive my husband because God forgave me and delivered my husband. The weapons we fight with are not weapons of the world and our struggles are not against flesh and blood. God bless

    • Elizabeth on August 29, 2016 at 10:54 am

      Hi Trish! Praise God for the amazing work He’s done in your marriage. I love your response. If I may ask, what went into your husband’s diagnosis? My husband has a similar lack of empathy, and conversations about what bothers me most always turn into how my bothered emotions hurt him and how the situation is my fault. He grew up in home that would definitely lend itself to NPD. He has taken steps to deal with his behavior, but when it comes to addressing deeper issues such as his childhood or his narcissistic tendencies, he becomes defensive, hurt, and angry. I’m nervous about being abrasive with seeking diagnosis, but I don’t want to dance around it either. I’ll look into those resources you mentioned. I’d love to talk with you more if possible since we have similar experiences so early in marriage.

  9. Cathy on August 26, 2016 at 1:38 pm

    The original question from this post is similar to my situation. My husband is very passive , I believe, from growing up in an abusive home. He says that’s just the way he is and why can’t I accept him that way? For the first 15 years of our marriage, I was very passive too, and I think he liked that because I never complained or entered into any conflict. I can now see that we never resolve any conflicts and that leaves me feeling resentful when he does the same things to hurt me over and over. I think I was in a disappointing marriage that turned destructive from my reactions and his unwillingness to work on it or talk about it. In the past 3-4 years I have tried to live more from my CORE, but I do feel stuck. I have expressed my needs several times over the last 3-4 years as I have begun to understand what really is hurting me (that I don’t think he cares about my feelings and will not recognize any part of my emotional needs) , but then when there is no effort on his part, it feels like indifference. Leslie, you say that indifference is a form of abuse. How do we know if it is just an unhealthy “loop” we are in or if it is abuse? He doesn’t call me names or threaten me, but whenever I say something hurts my feelings (maybe once a month or less) he always says I make too big a deal out of everything. When I say I want to talk about things, he says we have talked enough because we have identified the problem and we don’t need to talk any more about it. He never apologizes or shows any remorse. I don’t feel heard or understood or loved. Is it wrong for me to tell him this? I don’t feel like I am resentful day to day, but I do feel resentful if I think about being affectionate with him and acting like a wife with him, when we haven’t resolved anything. I have stepped back and consider it a consequence that we are just “friends” for now as far as intimacy goes.

    • Nancy on August 29, 2016 at 2:27 pm

      Hi Cathy,

      I too have lived for years in a “conflict free” marriage, where nothing was resolved. In these cases there can be no real intimacy ( Patrick .doyle touches on this often in his you tube videos). I felt so deeply dissatisfied but could not point to anything discernible because he’s such a passive guy – we had no overt problems.

      Everything began to change when I confronted him and separated emotionally and sexually from him (as you say the “friends” relationship is a natural consequence of the lack of emotional intimacy). NB: I confronted him following Leslie’s suggestions in EDM.

      That was 5 months ago. All those, once covert issues that I bore the brunt of, are now coming to the surface. He is facing his abusive past, confronting his parents with their unacceptable behaviour and taking responsibility for his lack of initiative in our marriage. We have a long way to go but separation was the pain he needed to wake up and take responsibility for his baggage and the damage it has caused.

      My advice to you is do not rely on your husband to be there for you emotionally. If he is anything like mine, he’s simply not capable of it.

      Lean into Christ. Allow Him to be your husband. He is perfect!

      Regardless of how my husband would have responded, my leaning into Christ and backing off my husband is absolutely key for my continued strengthening and growth. In my case, I was expecting my husband to be my saviour.

      God Bless.

      • Cathy on August 30, 2016 at 11:16 pm

        Thanks, Nancy, for your reply. It feels better to realize I’m not the only one dealing with this.

        I don’t think I am expecting my husband to be my savior or meet all of my emotional needs, but minimum, I think I should feel like he loves me. And part of loving me would be caring when I say something is bothering me or he hurt my feelings. He is good about caring temporally for me, helping me with things I need help with (fixing my phone and computer, helping with the kids, etc.). But when it comes to anything deeper than surface level relationship stuff, he says he will try, but never really does. I do feel like God is my One True Friend and loves me perfectly, but in living up to what I believe our marriage is supposed to be, I think I should still hope for what it could/should be, right?
        When I have tried to be clear in saying what I want or need, hoping to have a productive conversation about it, he just says how can I be hurt and resentful about it when I have done the same thing towards him? He said I haven’t “exactly been whispering sweet nothings in his ear either.” He tries to make me feel bad for growing resentful about it when he says it didn’t make him that way.
        I stepped back with intimacy over 2 years ago, thinking it would make a difference, but it hasn’t.
        I’m wondering, if you don’t mind saying, did you “announce” I’m emotionally and sexually separating from you, or simply just did it without talking about it? Also, what have you chosen to talk about in your confrontation and if your husband reacted then or if he reacted later with his actions & taking responsibility for his baggage as you said?

        • Nancy on August 31, 2016 at 12:29 pm

          Cathy, what if he isn’t capable of it? If he isn’t then you are hoping for something that should be part of a marriage, but isn’t a realistic expectation for yours.

          As painful as it was, that’s what I had to accept. And like you, I needed more than that from my husband. But I could no longer beg, coerce, yell, manipulate him into getting below the surface. He was terrified, and my trying to control and change him only added to his fear.

          So I had to take responsibility for all those years of trying to manipulate him into being someone he wasn’t. I also had to communicate very clearly that I could no longer be intimate with him if he would not own his baggage. I had to own, and communicate, my need for a heart- connection with my spouse. Then I gave him the freedom to make that choice for himself.

          That was the hardest part: Giving him the choice was putting our marriage at the foot of the cross. I gave up trying to control the outcome.

          In guarding my heart ( by separating from him) I knew that I would be well, but I did not know ( and still don’t), if our marriage would be. That is up to him.

          I lovingly confronted him after reading Leslie’s book (Emotionally destructive marriage – all the steps are in there). It took a month of preparation, prayer with trusted girlfriends ( who prayed with me, and for me). I wrote it down and had my counsellor read the letter. Then I prayed for an opportunity. In the end, we went out to dinner and I told him in face to face. When we got home, I gave him the letter ( that said exactly what I had verbalized).

          That month of prep was essential in getting my heart right with The Lord. We must first get the log out of our own eye before we can even see straight enough to help our brother. That is why I had to take responsibility for over stepping my boundaries in trying to get him to change ( manipulation does not look inward, it focuses on another’s behaviour). That is my log- focusing on him.

          That’s also why I had to own my need for true intimacy and take responsibility for communicating it to him in the best possible way.

          I hope some of this helps, Cathy.

          In Cloud and Townsend’s Boundaries they say, “You will be amazed how much can change in your life when you finally begin to let go of what you can never have. All of your attempts to preserve the old life were taking a lot of energy and opening you up to a lot of abuse and control. Letting go is the way to serenity. Grief is the path.”

          May The Lord Bless you and your marriage.

      • Liz on September 13, 2016 at 10:57 pm

        Hi Nancy,
        I really connect with your statement about being so deeply dissatisfied. My h and I have been married 23 years, 2 wonderful sons, 20 and 13 yrs. Our marriage has been full of passivity, on both our parts. I grew up w/ an alcoholic Dad, he got sober when i was 15. My h. came from a home w/mental illness.
        Our M. has been full of disconnection, lack of affection on his part, and to top it off he is a sex addict and drinks. At the first of this yr., I was feeling deeply dissatisfied, depressed and alone. In March a bombshell hit. I confronted him with looking at my Mom in a very uncomfortable way ,lustful. I’d also found a search on his phone-how to seduce your mother-in-law. He admitted to all of it, my world fell apart.
        3 times since then I’ve told him I want to separate, him to leave. He won’t do it…says neither he nor his therapist think separating is a good idea. Maybe not to them, but it’s what i need to do. I definitely want my sons to come with me, but i don’t know if they’ll resist. They are aware of the porn ,and drinking, not the situation with my mom. Any thoughts on how to prepare my sons for a separation? God bless you all

    • Aly on September 4, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      Hi Cathy,
      I don’t know if this is helpful but I wanted to share this. Your situation has similarities of my marriage. We have been almost married 20 years ~ but certainly a roller coaster.
      The above behaviors you expressed began even before we got married and progressively got worse the more I required investment in our marriage.
      My husband and I are in couples counseling.
      We have technically 3 Christian therapists over the past 5-6 years consistently.
      Lots of eyes and expertise have been invested in our situation as we both want to get healthy and create a safe environment for our children to experience a healthier marriage.
      My husband is getting more intensive counseling and treatment around what is referred to as ‘Avoidant Addiction’
      And fear of Intimacy.
      He has made lots of progress. He has an accountability group with other men lead by a professional counselor too. Praise The Lord for His truths and Community!

      He grew up in a home where his parents were roommates and every one had their own independent lives.

      I hope this offers hope to what I believe can be reconciled but the work must come from both parties.
      but both of us have different things that we are at work on.

      • Cathy on December 27, 2016 at 4:02 pm

        Thanks for sharing where you are in your story, Aly. It is encouraging to know there is hope for change, but so far my husband doesn’t see our unhealthy relationship for what it is. His attitude for now is that I should be happy with what I have, and it could be so much worse, and why do I have to keep bringing it up and making a big deal out of everything. So for now my only hope is that God will help me change so I have the courage I need to confront when I need to confront and forebear when that is the right thing to do.

        • Aly on December 27, 2016 at 5:21 pm

          Your experience is identical to so much of what I lived with in my marriage for years. Down to the words you write that certainly can make one feel guilty or even confused at who needs to change and what direction to move.

          It was quite an autopsy to see what my part was and what CLEARLY wasn’t.

          I hope you know and hear from many on this comment section that your not alone and many women have found their voice and actions and freedom to clarity.

          In regards to the specifics of what you are being told by your husband,
          I can deeply relate.

          Eventually I had to accept the truth that if I had a problem, concern or unresolved issue… the ‘Marriage’ had a problem. Which means both husband and wife have to deal with something.
          Meaning my value was equal, my husband’s past control with comfortable passivity and dismissing my heart was over-powering our marriage. I was also not being a good healthy partner (via my own marriage covenant) in ‘tolerating’ the minimizing of my value as a daughter of the King.

          I had grown up with little validation that to be minimized over and over was ‘familiar’ to me ~ I had a level of tolerance that was disturbing.

          If you experience times of doubt because many times in the marriage are doable, pleasurable and sometimes Good…and seem normal this can add to your ability to remain ‘stuck’ or feel like things get better but then crash …so to speak.

          The words you mentioned something like ‘your husband saying that it could be so much worse and just be happy with what you have’ …
          I have had those exact same things said to me by my husband and my many loved ones.
          It made me ‘feel guilty’ for possibly seeking happiness, it made me doubt what was really going on and I soon found myself dismissing my own strengths in having a voice of value and respect.
          This guilt and confusion was not healthy guilt or shame.. it was toxic to me getting better at fighting for my worth and for a healthier marriage for both of our hearts!

          Your concerns are valuable and worth addressing and being heard. There is no such marriage as a non-conflict marriage! Non conflict marriages tend to function daily surfacly but not when stress and circumstances of life come crashing in.
          Usually that’s when the level of destructive behaviors can be revealed.

          My husband was clearly in la la land and denial when his standard was so unreasonable to truth and reality.

          I don’t think you are seeking happiness more than seeking existence in a disconnected marriage.

          Your husband’s response to you could signal that he is satisfied because his needs are being met at his level… he doesn’t seem to care based on his response that your needs matter or are dismissed in areas that can be acknowledged.

          I do know what it feels like living in that cycle..
          my husband and I had very different definitions of marriage and roles.
          Based on family of origin too.

          I believe when we allow God to define marriage we see a balance of many characteristics that bring safety, partnership and intimacy.

          Partnership?? Wow, I knew I didn’t even have that. No partnership, no safety, no safety no intimacy.
          We serve a God of intimacy of being created, known….scene, cared for and redeemed!

          God’s truth shines light on our hope so we can glorify him in all our relationships especially the marital one via our covenant.
          Broken world or not.

          So, I do hope I offer encouragement and any experience that can bless your situation.

          I do not believe ~ via your husband’s comments ..You are not seeking to be happy more than you are seeking a marriage partnership where you can thrive!
          There is nothing ‘wrong’ with the desire to do that because God placed that desire in your heart by His design.

          I think many husbands that tend to dismiss… are in a level of denial, nothing that they can’t break out of . But the mere fact that there is little regard for ‘your needs’ shouts volumes.
          Would you treat his needs with such little sensitivity?
          Would you tell him that he is overacting or seeking happiness that he needs to be settled with?

          The imbalance is common in abusive relationships. What helped my husband over a period of rewiring ( so to speak) was even though he and I have different roles and responsibilities… his needs DID NOT need to trump my needs and vice versa. His role of being a provider did not give him greater value or significance in the marriage. This was somewhat foundational for him.
          To see him today he’s almost a completely different spouse, (praise God) that came with lots of prayer but also lots of action and change on both of our parts. Prayer and conviction always seem to produce action in our home. At least for us, this is a long road and we are still on the journey.. I don’t want to ever come across in writing as arriving or done.. God is always growing us and dealing with our brokenness so we can embrace the truth of living fearlessly in abundance!

          I will pray for your heart and strength.

  10. Cynthia on August 27, 2016 at 3:15 pm

    I am glad to see this post. My issues aren’t exactly the same but I do find that as I get stronger in my core, I am not empathetic to my h and sometimes I just feel mean. I realize after I say something hurtful that it was wrong, and I do apologize but it usually leads to him withdrawing to lick his wounds for several days. An example of this is a few days ago some tornadoes were about an hour from us and potentially heading our way. He is extremely safety concious and told me about this in a very urgent way. He usually prohibits any of the family from going anywhere even if a thunder storm is predicted. I responded by saying sarcastically, “well you better get to the basement and take cover, and while you’re at it get some canned goods to take with you.” Needless to say, my comments were not necessary or helpful but I get so sick of his micromanaging our every move. Being assertive with him leads him into conversations of why he is right and I am wrong for hours. I then have to walk away because there is no solution. UHG. I am being driven crazy.

  11. Sue on August 28, 2016 at 3:09 am

    We just back from our road trip/camping vacation in Colorado.
    Isn’t it interesting how vacations can generate just enough stress and pressure to bring out all our not-so-nice tendencies. And I can be quite emotionally destructive myself.
    Thankfully, God has been giving me more instances of absolute clarity about my marriage relationship.
    In this case, God imparted his knowledge and wisdom on two very specific, interdependent relationship principles for me:
    I become very disappointed, frustrated and angry when
    a.) I allow him to treat me poorly- when I don’t have healthy, Godly boundaries in place for both myself and him.
    b.) I expect him to understand why I’m so frustrated and to vocalize regret and empathy and to apologize.
    Short (I’ll try) example of what went down:
    He became very frustrated with an online ticket purchase, was afraid he would mess it up and was verbally harsh with my daughter and I. I did calmly confront him as our daughter would be alone with him all day (I don’t do amusement parks since back surgery) and I wanted him to be pleasant with her for the day- which he was but he of course did not take my confrontation well and that left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
    I did pray and move on with a relaxing day all to myself, but apparently didn’t have a good boundary in place as it stayed with me and I was the one who had the meltdown the next night- resentful, overtired and feeling pressure to get packed up and ready to go home the next day. Thankfully, he was able to extend some grace to me that night and the next morning which helped me calm down.
    So, we took two days to drive home and the closer we got to home, I was able to objectively see him start to react to the pressure of getting our camper back in storage, unpacking, him having to go back to a high stress job in the morning, etc. He usually complains that I never “help” him enough with this part of our trips. And so I went to help him with a positive, upbeat attitude and he got mad because I opened a door he wanted closed, in other words I didn’t do it HIS way. And that sinking feeling returned. BUT, this time I responded with a healthy boundary! I stopped helping him, calmly telling him why and refusing to be baited into an argument that he would turn and use against me.
    I was euphoric! Truly I felt SO good about myself and the situation. I wasn’t upset and trying to “fix” it so he wouldn’t be angry with me. It was ALL his problem and I left it with him to deal with and with zero expectation that he would confess and apologize. So therefore, I was not hurt, disappointed, frustrated and angry to the point of emotional destructiveness.
    I hope that someday he will “get it” and respond differently. But for now I need to be content in the knowledge that my boundary setting is pleasing to God and healthy for me, him, our marriage and our daughter- I even went as far as telling her I want to teach her good ways to deal with him as I have shown her very dysfunctional ways.
    I hope this made sense and is helpful ????

    • Aleea on August 28, 2016 at 5:16 am

      “. . . .BUT, this time I responded with a healthy boundary! I stopped helping him, calmly telling him why and refusing to be baited into an argument that he would turn and use against me.” Excellent, I think the “telling him why” is really so important. We can’t work toward goals and targets when we don’t even know what each other is trying to achieve. I have made so many mistakes in the past just using paradigms and behavioral techniques without fully explaining what I was trying to achieve and why. . .

      “. . . vacations can generate just enough stress and pressure to bring out all our not-so-nice tendencies.” . . . .In 2014, we went whitewater rafting in Colorado (—I should have exercised more common sense about the dangers of it. I have to own that part of the chaos pie.) . . . All these adrenaline sports —they are just really dangerous. —So, more than once the raft hit a drop in the river or whatever was going on—everyone is just thrown suddenly into the center of the raft, and the floor bounces back and punts you overboard. The river— i.e. the churning mess enveloping you— just tumbles you like laundry. It punches the air from your lungs. I was helpless. “Swimming” to the rivers edge was a joke. You travel who knows how many dozens of feet before you surface (—the current is moving that fast). It happens too fast to think/ pray, etc. —just raw fear. —Anyways, that is not my idea of fun and the fear turns to anger and blaming really quickly, there is no boundary setting with raw nature. . . . .Fortunately, we had been starting each day with serious prayer and discussions about really knowing God and really taking that seriously, doubts and all . . . .as well as enriching our relationship with the techniques learned from here and counseling (—which are just ancillary because primarily most of my counseling is about my mother’s abuse of me.)

      —Anyways, I think it is so important to keep clearly/ fully explaining what we are doing and why (—just like you did.) That keeps everyone on the same page and at least gives them a chance to choose the good. I think there is this myth of the “closed mind.” I believe you can understand why and how people are rational but you have got to keep the tenderness in the relationship because once people start becoming bitter, very little good happens. . . .i.e. we can not solve our problems and issues with the same level/ type of thinking that created them. . . . it is something like “a problem well understood is half solved.” —Something like that. Really seeing “what is” while also asking “what if.” . . . .And couples prayer is like THE best problem solving tool ever! Because while our intelligence may find a solution, the Holy Spirit can give us like ten of them. . . . . But as always, I want to acknowledge the other side of this: It’s so much easier to suggest solutions when you don’t know too much about the problem. People and situations are unbelievably complex. But I do think to sustainably/ fundamentally solve issues, we must understand the underlying causes (—the depth psychology aspects.) That whole chain of actions and circumstances that led to the issues/ problems —rather than only the immediate cause, which serves only to place blame. . . .I got sick for a week after being in that cold water even though every single day it was blazing hot. So, I have to own my part of all that, I didn’t even question it when presented. . . . Much prayers for you and your family and everyone here.

    • Nancy on August 28, 2016 at 10:34 am

      Fantastic, Sue.

      I can totally relate to the freedom ( feeling euphoric!) that comes when we let him own ALL of his problem. You voiced your limit, walked away and did not get caught up in trying to fix something that had nothing to do with you in the first place ( his attitude is his responsibility and therefor between him and God).

      Good for you for letting go of the outcome, too 🙂 It is not our job to be our husband’s “convictor”- that’s the work of the Holy Spirit.

      Our responsibility is to speak our limit, act on it, and get out of The Lord’s way (by letting go of the outcome).

      Great example of each of these steps!

  12. Sue on August 28, 2016 at 5:36 pm

    Thanks for your sharing your thoughts, Aleea. Could you explain more about your idea of keeping tenderness in the relationship and what that looks like?
    Sue ????

    • Aleea on August 29, 2016 at 4:35 am

      . . . .Oh sure, —so if our identity rests in God’s relentless tenderness for us revealed in Jesus Christ —and I see that all over the place in the N.T. so I take that as true— what I mean is mirroring that tenderness . . . So what do I do (examples). It is tenderness in our looks, mirrored in the approachableness of our voices and words. A “I love and like you” attitude coupled with a “yes” face. —BUT, we are still going to be hard as nails on sin (sin—not our personal preferences.) . . . . So, if we bracket off psychological issues outside of the norm: —emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, etc. . .Tenderness is being kind and gentle. That tenderness brings the security of knowing we are thoroughly and sincerely loved & also liked (—liked, not just loved). . . .The Bible clearly teaches that the essence of the God we are to be mirroring is compassion and that the heart of God is defined by tenderness. . . . .And I know that word is a fossil (—but the Bible uses it and it is just all the tender emotions of kindness and mercy). . . . Conditions changed and that word died out like the woolly mammoth. It just couldn’t live in the same world with the rude, crass harshness we see everywhere today.

      So, I would suggest in prayer you both listen deeply to God and figure out what your goals as wife and husband are. We have to know God’s goals for us. . . . .Once you both can agree on the same goals; the question becomes: How do we get to that goal in the best way possible? Instead of, “How can I prove I am right for the sake of being right?” —Which is worthless. . . . . If someone feels listened to and they know you are gentle/ tender, then they feel a lot more receptive to deeply listening to you. What makes Christ’s Kingdom different is heartfelt compassion: a way of tenderness that knows no compartmentalizing . . . . and no You/I divisions. . . . . .Tenderness in the N.T. is a the story of staying power and the promise of a future. . . . . Men, . . . men are always ready to fight; it’s tenderness that dismantles their defenses while keeping all the lines of communication open. We come across as harsh, it causes his/our tenderness and love to wither. Just like spraying a flower with weed killer. . . .Anyways, couples prayer is the most incredible technology to get that done, it is tenderness personified. Pray for wisdom and humility together because it can pull down the walls dividing you and give you the hearts of servants to bring the tenderness back/into your relationship. . . .And again, I realize some people have psychological issues outside of the norm: —emotionally unavailable, devoid of empathy, etc. so again, I am bracketing those off.

  13. Sue on August 28, 2016 at 5:38 pm

    “…trying to fix something that had nothing to do with you in the first place…”
    If that doesn’t sum it all up!
    Thanks, Nancy ????

  14. Sue on August 29, 2016 at 1:35 am

    And I’m sorry to hear about your terrifying experience with white water rafting. My physical therapist, of all people, encouraged me to go if I had the chance ????
    Um, being pummeled and nearly drown multiple times in ice cold water? Not to mention I had spinal fusion surgery in 2015. No thank you. That would have sent me in a fit right away ????

    • Aleea on August 29, 2016 at 5:01 am

      “spinal fusion surgery” oh my, horrible. Hopefully, not too painful? . . . .I just need to exercise more common sense in the future. I suffered easily foreseeable consequences. . . .I just was not thinking.

  15. Valerie on August 30, 2016 at 9:57 am

    I’ve heard it said that confusion in a relationship is a sign of being manipulated. I think there’s truth in that. If the OP were feeling convicted because she is contributing to the destructiveness of the marriage that would be a different story.

    “We have been to counseling and my counselor says that he can see we both really care about the other person.” I would be curious to know the counselor’s evidence of her husband’s care. Is he basing this claim simply because the husband is willing to show up and because he _says_ he cares? I have had personal experience with counselors assigning well-meaning intentions to someone because they were not discerning enough to look deeper, but were drawing conclusions based on surface behavior and words.

    “We seem to always get lost in how to work out the issues that trouble our marriage.” That sounds like confusion surfacing again. If one person were not wiling to work on issues this would lead to confusion and a sense of being lost. When two people are honestly working together using logical principles there is something amiss when the result is not growth but “lostness”.

    “I thrive on talking and understanding each other….he seldom knows how he feels and would prefer to just not talk about the issues.” How does he respond when the OP encourages him to talk about the issues? From what she describes he blame shifts, minimizes and justifies. Does his attitude show he’s attempting to understand or is it closer to undermine?

    “He just waits for me to tell him when we’re going next.” BTDT. When I told my ex that he needed to schedule the next appointment we never went to that counselor again. But God used that to help me see the truth that was difficult to see. It was a pretty concrete evidence that my ex did not share the same goals with me of a healthy marriage (when taken together with an abundance of further evidence).

    “When I don’t feel like I can gain his understanding I do escalate and get angry and it becomes a vicious cycle.” An emotional manipulator will intentionally escalate the situation- sometimes nonverbally (silent treatment, etc) – in order to facilitate frustration so that they can then point the finger. My ex was very good at putting his own spin on things. Holding him accountable was nagging or expecting perfection. Wanting him to spend time with me was being clingy. Having an issue with him watching porn meant I had trust issues. I kept thinking that the issue was that my ex didn’t understand and so I kept trying to talk an issue to death in an attempt to get him to understand. What I realized later was he always understood. He understood my desires and feelings enough to manipulate me regarding them. He pretended not to understand so he couldn’t be held accountable and just to enjoy seeing me exasperated. The energy I wasted on trying to get him to understand would have been better spent holding him accountable, strengthening my CORE enough to stand up to the abuse or spent on other areas I could have been more effective for God.

    “I always feel so frustrated that my good intentions of resolving issues just caused more problems.” I felt this way also. My head spun after every interaction because I went into it in good faith but came out of it feeling shamed. But it wasn’t God who was shaming me…it was my ex. “…he just tries to explain why I shouldn’t feel how I feel.” Signs of an emotional manipulator or someone with bad boundaries. Is he held accountable for this behavior in counseling?

    “I feel like he enjoys being with other people more than me….I think all he sees is anger and sadness.” I also felt this way. He did enjoy being with other people more because they weren’t holding him accountable. He enjoyed being with people who were totally buying his mask and didn’t question him. Yep, he enjoyed being with those people. Does this husband show more concern for how her feelings affect him rather than desiring to make changes to facilitate her feeling less angry and sad? Does he exhibit any signs of empathy for her feelings?

    I kept trying to “fix” the marriage and exhausted myself in doing so because something inside of me told me that if I didn’t work at it, then it would all fall apart. There was a part of me that knew (the truth) he wouldn’t work at it. Nancy expressed this well when she talked about the issue not being with you in the first place. What a burden was lifted from my shoulders when I started responding to the truth of what was going on rather than scrambling to keep the facade together. When I started responding to my ex in the truth he was showing me rather than what I wished to be true, my eyes were suddenly opened to the reality of what the truth really was. It is so glorious to be free and alone rather than imprisoned and alone.

    • Aleea on August 30, 2016 at 4:39 pm

      I am praying for you Valerie. . . . When we suffer, we have to trust that we are being conformed to the image of Jesus. It is so hard to trust that all the time (—I often fail) but otherwise we can really become despondent and fall off into nihilism. . . . Paul in Colossians One: Now I rejoice in what I am suffering and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church. . . . .We speak about the sufferings of Christ for sins, but we at some level we live the sufferings of Christ. —And in both of those ways, —unless I don’t understand what is going on with those passages, we bring people into contact with those sufferings (—sin’s real cost) so that they can see and repent and be redeemed. . . .I don’t know the data so I don’t know but it seems, generally, men won’t change/ don’t want change while women, generally (maybe), seem to welcome change? . . .I mean “Why?” Why all this resistance, repression, etc? I would think there is generally some trade-off, even if unconscious. . . . whatever psychological “payoff” is involved.

    • Sue on August 30, 2016 at 4:42 pm

      It is still the responsibility of the OP to have self-control, irregardless of her husband’s behaviors.
      Yes, he may be ATTEMPTING to confuse, frustrate, escalate, control and manipulate, etc. her, but it is her choice whether he is successful or not.
      If SHE responds in anger and escalates the situation then she is contributing to the emotional destruction of the relationship. No, she’s not responsible for what he does but she IS responsible for herself and she cannot blame her behavior on him and vice versa.
      Once I really internalized that truth and stopped participating in his blame-shifting, one-upmanship game, I realized how free I could truly be.
      Healthy boundaries. Bottom line. Frustration, manipulation and anger are gone from the relationship are gone from the relationship because of boundaries irregardless of what her husband does or does not do.
      And then as Leslie states in her book, you have to make a decision to either “stay well” or “leave well” or live in bitterness and resentment the rest of your life.

      • Aleea on August 31, 2016 at 6:48 am

        “Bottom line. Frustration, manipulation and anger are gone from the relationship. . .”

        Sue, I know what you mean. I think I do anyway. . . . We are not what happens to us, We are what we choose to become by how we respond. . . . but I always wonder. . . . is it really “gone” or just repressed/ suppressed? I often think I have gotten the victory over something only to have it resurface way down the road totally shape-shifted as a different monster, something else. . . . To me, loneliness does not come from having no people around, but from being unable to fully communicate the things that are really important, really meaningful and from holding certain views which others find inadmissible (—you know, stuff you can’t say no matter how kindly and carefully because of the blow-back/ pay-back.) . . . .The privilege of a lifetime is to become who we truly are. The most terrifying thing is to accept yourself completely. If we can walk in love, as the N.T. is always talking about, towards ourselves first (—And Sue, I don’t really know how to fully do that. I am just guessing at so much.) . . . but if we can, love should rule. But where there is this will to power (what you call: “blame-shifting, one-upmanship game”) where power predominates, love is lacking. . . . .No real relationship can be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy, it seems to me, “happy” totally loses its meaning if it not balanced by sadness (—I really hate that but it seems true.) You only know the one by knowing the other. —Anyways, I love trying to really understand and trying to find out what is truly individual in ourselves, that takes profound reflection. It is incredibly difficult, at least for me. My counselor is always saying that being confused is having (—in my case) my identity “fused” with my mothers. —Not good.

      • Valerie on August 31, 2016 at 8:56 am

        You’re right, Sue. Where I was going with that (but didn’t explain well) is that standing up to the behavior at all may feel like she’s being aggressive (because he’s telling her it is) and she’s perhaps feeling unnecessary guilt. The OP didn’t specify what specific behaviors she was deeming aggressive or ones that she feels were inappropriate so I’m offering that as a possibility. I was taught by my FOO that it was wrong to say anything negative about someone for any reason. So when I started telling my husband something hurt me, that felt uncomfortable like I was acting ungodly just for mentioning it.
        But, yes, you’re right that if she is truly acting in a way that dishonors God then she is responsible to do what she needs to in order to walk in the light.
        As for the OP contributing to the emotional destruction of the relationship, I see it a bit differently. In an abusive relationship, there really is no relationship. There is an arrangement. As such there is nothing that can worsen it because there is nothing there to begin with. Our behavior can, however, be emotionally destructive to ourselves and we still have a responsibility to behave in a godly manner for our benefit and for the benefit of those around us that God would be glorified in our interactions with others.

        • Sue on August 31, 2016 at 5:41 pm

          Agreed. Thanks for clarifying ????

    • Aly on September 6, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      Dear Valerie,
      You said a lot I agree with and have certainly experienced. Seriously…the manipulation tactics are endless. Are they not?
      My husband spent at least 2-3 years in and out of counseling ‘pulling off the supposedly incapability of opening up and getting honest with ‘deeper things’ or feelings. Etc.
      He was so good at this form of manipulation he almost convinced himself!
      Eventually he was found out and at the bottom of it was ‘his’ intimacy issue and him not wanting to give up control that he had with me. He tried to convince me I was crazy to desire to connect and be cared for. My own family tried to convince me that I just wanted too much from someone not equipped to give me connection and told me to settle and be grateful he pays the mortgage. This was me possibly thinking maybe they are right and possibly giving up and settling that he wasn’t capable of understanding my heart or my limits.
      I thank the Lord for His ways and His truths.
      My H spent so much energy and $ deceiving me that he just didn’t have the tools or development, when in reality he can now tell you it was his tactic to avoid accountability and quite frankly it worked for a long time.
      Thank you again Leslie for so much of your ministry, blog and exposing these things that are traumatizing and confusing to us all~ at times.
      Thank you all for sharing your journey even though it’s hard, it helps so many find clarity and hope.

  16. Sue on August 30, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    No, not too terrible.
    I’ve become much better at saying no to things I know I won’t truly enjoy. I’m afraid of heights and on our trip I chose to be a guilt free spectator rather than a participant, knowing my daughter could enjoy the experience just as well with her father as me (and probably more so ????)

  17. Valerie on August 31, 2016 at 8:41 am

    Aleea, I’m not divorced so not living in that anymore. 🙂

    • Valerie on August 31, 2016 at 9:02 am

      Oops, Aleea, I meant I am divorced!

      • Aleea on August 31, 2016 at 11:49 am

        Thank you for the clarification Valerie but I did assume that you were divorced. . . .My ability to confuse people is unparalleled. It even amazes me at times.

  18. Sue on August 31, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    I’m still learning as well, Aleea.
    We’re all works in progress and I think if the true desire of our hearts is to become a little more like Jesus everyday and we take two steps forward for every one step back, God is pleased and honored. He is faithful and will complete the good work he has begun in us. He also knows what pace and level of intensity we can handle in our transformations and will never “outrun” us. He’ll just sit there patiently and wait as we stumble towards him. The things he’s showed me recently I wasn’t able to handle even just a few months ago.
    He knows.
    Be gentle with yourself ❤️

    • Aleea on September 2, 2016 at 3:40 pm

      Thank you Sue, that is really beautiful. . . . .I always need to be reminded of things like that because . . . well, because my mother was a monster and as my counselor says “We view God like we view our parents.” In fact, how people view God was the topic of her PhD dissertation in psychology. . . . . Do you ever get a feeling when you look back on life that all God really wants from us is to live inside a body He made, and enjoy the story, and to bond with Him through the experience? I mean that is it, life’s purpose is to know, praise, and thank God, it’s so simple.

    • Aleea on September 2, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      “. . . . but I sense your pain remains the same.”
      Thank you so much Robin, the pain certainly does remain. Dr. Meier says I am still at the “train station” waiting for my mother to show-up and say “I love you; you are good; you are valuable, etc.” She says I am still loyal to my mother (—This is in my mind. I don’t really see or visit my mother anymore because when I do, I get abused.). . . . I don’t want to be loyal and I so long for a break-through, like you have had, but Dr. Meier says it can’t be forced. It operates just like love. I have to choose to walk out of the “train station.” . . .Dr. Meier thinks I am still trying to protect my mother/ be loyal to her way of thinking. It is a mess, believe me. . . . .I’m still loyal to my mother’s way of thinking because. . . Because I don’t know Robin, I just don’t know “why.” I know everything good happens when I turn my back on my mother and just walk away. . . . you would think this would be easy but these are deep, deep old wounds inflicted at the worst, most tender time. I don’t want to be a victim either. I want to be responsible and accountable. I know my fears are the places within me that await Love. . . .I’d like to become who God wants me to be, if possible. . . . Every morning I let go of myself and surrender to God under the assumption [and it is a difficult one for me] that trusting God is the wisest step. I am sharing my deepest experiences with Dr. Meier and she is totally responding with empathy and understanding, but the pain survives. I’m getting some type of pay-off by holding onto it? . . . .I’ve got that monster internalized and with it all the painful feelings. . . . . The curious paradox is that if I can just really accept myself just as I am, then I can change but there is no coming to that consciousness without lots of pain.

    • Sue on September 2, 2016 at 7:21 pm

      Aleea, I like your definition of life’s purpose but would add to it that we are to share God’s love with others. How we share it will differ depending upon the person and the relationship.
      The way I see it is that we (you, I and people with sensitive, compassionate natures) feel a strong responsibility to love our parents and have a relationship with them no matter what. But if the relationship was not good to begin with, there is a very healthy, normal avoidance within us that we end up feeling guilty about. “But that’s my parent, I’m SUPPOSED to love them and I’m a terrible, ungrateful wretch of a child if I don’t.”
      But if you step back and look at the dynamic objectively, our parents have really made that impossible. You can’t have a healthy, loving, functional relationship with them because, for whatever reason, they can’t have or don’t want to have one with you. They don’t know how.
      I don’t know how old you are Aleea, but I’ll be 50 in a couple months. My father died in 2011 only a few months after his cancer diagnosis and the thing that made us kids the saddest is that we never had a relationship with him. Even in his last years when he had mellowed and wasn’t abusive anymore (my husband of 11 years at the time couldn’t believe he was ever mean to any of us), we still couldn’t get very close to him because of the past and he was content to leave everything as it was and remained closed off to us.
      I have come to a place of just accepting my mother as is, forgiving her for the past (even though she’s never admitted to any wrongdoing), and having the best limited relationship I can with her now that she’s 82 and these will be our last years with her. It still makes me sad and I have talked with my counselor about our relationship. I’ve been praying that God brings me a good, godly girlfriend and mentor.
      Life, marriage and families can be tough but God gives us what we need, right? ❤️

      • Leslie Vernick on September 5, 2016 at 3:42 pm

        Very true. You can love someone but you can’t have a relationship with him or her unless it’s mutual. Otherwise it’s more ministry and unhealthy dependency. Ministry is fine as long as you don’t confuse it with relationship. JEsus ministered to many people, loved all people but did not have a relationship with everyone.

    • Aleea on September 3, 2016 at 6:03 am

      Thank you Sue. I so very much appreciate that response. . . . I think I do just accept my mother as is and have forgiven her for the past (even though, like you, she has never admitted to any wrongdoing. . . . in fact Sue, she says she forgives me. . . .It is that level of denial.)

      . . . The issue is that I am “occupied” and not even by an updated version of my mother but by the childhood version. . . . Dr. Meier claims that if we have had serious abuse, we are “occupied.” I know I am. ―And not by good internalized relationships. My mother can abuse me anytime she wants because I have internalized her. How do you get non-physical internalized relationships out of your head? It seems pretty straight forward to get a divorce from someone. How do you divorce someone who you have internalized in childhood trauma even though you never see them anymore?

      You say “I’ve been praying that God brings me a good, godly girlfriend and mentor.” I need to be more seriously praying for a mentor too. That seems so vital. . . .It takes Wonder Woman courage and Superman strength to heal serious childhood wounds… because it brings change… and I am inclined to hold on to the stability. That “stability” the childhood version of me created in the total chaos of my past experiences. . . .Sue, I tend to blame God for not protecting me and I call it “the sins of Abba, Father” but that doesn’t lead to any healing. Silence is so very inviting, but at least when we share, tough as it is, maybe we rob it of its sting because others know they aren’t alone. . . .Lord God help me confront the reality of my abuse, not so I will despair, but so that I will be free of the despair that is already within me. The despair that really enslaves me.

  19. Robin on September 2, 2016 at 3:49 pm

    Aleea, hi!!! My mom was very Destructive. As I go thru my childhood with my counselor it’s very difficult for me to look at her. The goal is to heal my memory of my mother. We’ve been working on this intensely about 4 months. I have received great healing by uncovering many of her lies and general deceit. I’m feeling like a new person. When I read your notes I hear many good things, but I sense your pain remains the same. The way I have gained victory is they prayer asking God to break those chains but mostly from going towards the Love God has for me. One of my fav things to remember is the God who created me has chosen me to be His Beautiful daughter – and will never unchoose me. I hope God is healing you too, Aleea!!!!!!!!

  20. Robin on September 2, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Aleea, one must walk thru the pain, to heal. Is it really helping to submit to Godceach morning, if you’re not moving ahead. I never said I didn’t have pain anymore. I have lots of pain- but I am being healed and walking thru my pain. Things do not hurt quite like they use too. My counselor says to me I am very brave to face my pain. I’m not aware of anything else I can do to relieve my pain, except to face my pain. The Lord is showing me, he wants to be my mama and that He can be a better one if I’ll just look to Him. It’s not an easy process and I’m praying for you to move to the next step in your healing!

    • Aleea on September 3, 2016 at 6:59 am

      “I’m praying for you to move to the next step in your healing!” . . . .Thank you so, so much Robin that means so much to me. . . . I really believe that God shapes the world by prayer. Prayers live before God, and God’s heart is set on them. God makes astounding promises to prayer and I am so praying for you too.

      “My counselor says to me I am very brave to face my pain.” You are brave and as I said above it takes Wonder Woman courage and Superman strength to heal serious childhood wounds… because it brings change… and, at least for me, I am inclined to hold on to the stability. That “stability” the childhood version of me created in the total chaos of my past experiences. . . .Robin, I tend to blame God for not protecting me but that doesn’t lead to any healing. Silence is also so very inviting, but when we share, tough as it is, maybe we rob the abuse of its sting because others know they aren’t alone. . . .Lord God help me confront the reality of my abuse, not so I will despair, but so that I will be free of the despair that is already within me. The despair that really enslaves me.

      Robin. . . .maybe. . . . maybe I am not further along because I need to make better sacrifices. Maybe it doesn’t happen because at some level I really don’t want it to? I absolutely do not feel that way but maybe it is unconscious, because if I really wanted it, I’d make the right sacrifices and I would be healed? I don’t really know what those sacrifices would even be but I can pray about it more. . . . I had to read three or four different translations of these particular verses to figure out what this meant but God says in Genesis four, God says, “Sin is a predatory cat that crouches at your doorway and leaps at you at will, but if you only wanted to, you could master it.” “If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up?” . . . .Maybe I need an even more humble approach and determined attempts to make the appropriate sacrifices. Again, I really don’t know what that means but I can pray and at least guess at it.

      If we learned about life as children, is it necessary to change the way we intellectually view life in order to stop being the victim? . . . Maybe I am setting myself up to be a victim because I am expecting life to be something which it is not? Leslie says (―previous blog much earlier this year) “. . . From today forward the words you choose to use with yourself and the words you choose to listen to and believe are going to be life giving words of God’s truth.” ―I love that and it so speaks to my heart and I can say that to others but internally to myself. . . . . ―Well, you know it is different. I love Jesus and I am never going to get over Him. . . . I love and so want my storybook Jesus back!!! He is the hero we all need. I don’t want the Jesus-of-History, I want the Christ-of-Faith not the Jesus-of-History but how do I get Him back without being intellectually dishonest? RE: the facts and scholarship from the last 275 years of research regarding Christian origins, the theology of early Christianity; the archaeology, paleography, manuscript studies related to the New Testament canon; etc. . . . Again, am I setting myself up to be victim because I am expecting life to be something which it is not?

      Dr. Meier keeps insisting that all that has nothing to do with my healing. . . .Well and good, excellent and awesome but I guess I simply don’t understand that because how could truth/ reality not have anything to do with my healing? . . . .Unless these things are just symbols representing something else. A storybook Jesus would be like a storybook Mom? . . .I am totally just guessing here. . . . No doubt there are parts of the Bible that are not historically true, not archaeology true, not paleography. . . . you get the idea. . . . BUT it is true enough. . . . .You might ask: “What on earth does that mean?” It means things can be theologically true but not historically accurate. . . .But it is true enough. . . . It is just true enough, period. . .Anyways, I see no way, absolutely NO WAY to keep our heart’s clean, open, tender, to keep forgiveness and kindness in our marriages, to keep hope alive without Christ. I just don’t see it and yet I do very much understand the reality of the issues, they are dead serious and very real.

      Maybe Dr. Meier is right, maybe the core characteristics of this disease of codependence (―she has never used that word I am using it) is intellectual polarization and black and white thinking. You know, the rigid extremes: good or bad, right or wrong, love it or leave it, one or ten. Maybe Christian origins is a grey area not black and white extremes: true vs. false.

      Life certainly is not black and white. Life involves the interplay of black and white. . . . . In other words Robin, the grey area is where life takes place and that would mean a big part of the healing process is learning the numbers two through nine, you know, . . . recognizing that life is not black and white. But I know that intellectually. . . .but maybe I don’t know that I know that (―My child-like unconscious doesn’t know it?)

      Anyways, black-and-white thinking is that addict’s mentality, isn’t it? (―whatever we are addicted to, in my case, Christian origins), and it is a bar to wholesome discipline/ recovery/ non-enabling. . . . I don’t understand how it can totally be but maybe God sees all kinds of grey, without enabling, and as I have said before, He probably even dances on the grey (―Because He just does stuff like that! Even inverted shades of grey. . . .Who can fathom the mysteries God has concealed?) I would not be surprised if grey is okay to God. ―That is so, so hard for me to understand: Truth serves life, sans the enabling.

      . . . .Again, thank you so, so much Robin for praying for me. That really means so much to me. I pray individually for almost everyone that posts here (―I forget/ miss people sometimes.). . . But it is so easy to believe God for their help and their healing.

  21. Sue on September 3, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    Is Dr. Meier a Christian counselor?
    We do need to live in reality, with healthy boundaries and walk away from toxic relationships- both physically and mentally, emotionally and most importantly, spiritually.
    No, we don’t live in a fairytale where the valiant prince comes to sweep is off our feet and make life a dream with no hurt, struggles or trials.
    But, only the power of Jesus’ sacrifice- death and resurrection- can bring that healing and deliverance.
    The sacrifice has already been made for you, Aleea. You & I just need help learning how to apply God’s promises and provisions to our lives- especially our messed up thought lives.
    Your counselor not only needs to be practical and reality-based but also leading you towards that cross and its sufficiency in our lives. Complete healing won’t be ours without it.
    Just some things to think about as you reflect on your sessions with Dr. Meier- there should be increasing clarity, healing and freedom for you ????

    • Robin on September 3, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      Very nicely worded Sue for Aleea to consider…..

      • Aleea on September 4, 2016 at 7:04 am

        >”Is Dr. Meier a Christian counselor?”

        Sue/ Robin,
        First of all, thank you both so much for caring about me. I really do so appreciate that.

        I sincerely believe she is but that question, for everyone, is like the most important question ever. Whenever a problem arises in my life I always assume it is me. ―Always. ―Am I a Christian? ―Have I really repented? ―Am I really following Christ? Do I have the marks of authentic faith?

        So, I don’t know how you like to think about it but the earliest Christians always had about ten to twelve marks of authentic faith. Consolidating them down from volumes and volumes, it seems to be about these marks: humility, meekness, repentance/contrition, wholeness, vast hunger for God/ Christ, and perfected love (you know, real Christ-like love). . . . .Let me tell you, Dr. Meier has these traits and at levels far greater than I do. . . . .I pray with her; I have never heard anyone pray like that who doesn’t know God. You get in a room and really, seriously pray with someone, you will know what is in their heart. Praying for long periods of time is hard, hard work. I feel she would die for Christ if God asked her to. She is always repenting and she is vastly more humble and meek than I am. . . . .But, the easiest person to deceive is ourselves, so I don’t totally really know. I am very often confused. I do know this:

        “If all the Christians, including me, who have called other Christians not really a Christian were to vanish, there would be no Christians left.” ―Aleea Rodgers

        But again, the easiest person to deceive is yourself, so I don’t totally, really know about me or her.

        >“Your counselor not only needs to be practical and reality-based but also leading you towards that cross and its sufficiency in our lives. Complete healing won’t be ours without it.”

        . . . .She has always got me repenting of things and she does lead me toward the cross. I had another doctor look at the notes and materials from some of our weekly sessions and she told me that we spend way too much time discussing the Bible. Now, when I heard that, I knew the fault was mine. I always pray and determine to try to hold down on Bible issues before I go in there but I so often fail. I have something like “Biblical Tourettes Syndrome.” I can’t go two minutes without quoting scriptures and talking about the struggle of faith (―A deeper knowledge of God and the witness of the Holy Spirit.) . . . I think I am the issue but I have told her before that “you need to keep me focused on what you think is the most important, I’ll totally cooperate.” I believe she is a real Christian but I don’t know that.

        Most of me so wants to get better but maybe some part of me may not. But I don’t know which part or I would go after it. . . . . I am open to being totally wrong because I understand that what I do not yet know is far more important than what I already know, so I am really eager to learn, grow, take personal responsibility and I am grateful despite my psychological suffering (—my mother’s abuse). . . . . I don’t enjoy being a victim ―unless I enjoy it unconsciously. More than this, I am more than willing to accept responsibility/ accountability.

        All children should be taught to unconditionally accept, approve, admire, appreciate, forgive, trust, and I think ultimately, love their own person. I was never taught that, at all. Dr. Meier says I need to be re-parented. . . . .If that is true, then combined with all my questions, no wonder it is slow going. She always says “it is only as hard as you are resistant” but I don’t feel I am being resistant. . . . . Old memories still make me cry, so I write them down carefully and completely in my journals.

        . . . And believe me, I pay attention. I assume that any person I am listening to might know something I need to know. So I always try to listen to them hard enough so that maybe they will share it with me.

  22. Nancy on September 4, 2016 at 3:36 pm

    Hi Aleea,

    “I understand that what I do not know is far more important than what I already know.”

    What if this untrue. What if Christ as Lord and saviour is the ONLY thing we can truly know.

    What if the rest of the understanding, is His territory 🙂

    • Aleea on September 5, 2016 at 4:00 am

      >“What if Christ as Lord and saviour is the ONLY thing we can truly know. What if the rest of the understanding, is His territory”

      Hello Nancy . . . .well, I never really thought about it like that before. That is very good and it does sound very restful. . . . I was trying to portray that if we know all we can know then tradition becomes our security, and when the mind is secure it is in decay. . . . I use that statement because it implies I am really willing to think and consider, at least I hope I am but maybe my mind is more closed than I thought. . . . . If I think I’ve got ALL the truth already in my back pocket, I can’t be trying to find anything. ―Even things God might be trying to show me.

      . . . . Anyways, prayer, for me is a great way to rest in God, and rest in Christ. Maybe the goal of life is to rest in God, we are not trying to do or find anything? God ceases from work himself and rests as an example for us? He wants us to rest? . . . Sometimes I just put my head in the Lord’s lap and think of as close to nothing as possible. Then a thought will come: “God is the denial of denial. . . . the letting go of denial and self-hatred and fear of being different.” Maybe in whatever way we most find God, are most often aware of Him, maybe that is the way to follow? It certainly is prayer for me. . . .It is like, you know how it is hard to just describe and talk about apple juice —you have to just drink it. God can only be encountered by direct experience. . . . —I think that gets overlooked in our mostly overly rational, left-brain experience of life. So that means doing away with “knowledge” concepts of God in order to experience God as a living reality —directly. I pray God to rid me of just knowledge of God and give me more the experience of God. . . . Maybe “knowledge” prevents us from touching more of the living spirit of Christ? Is it something like that?

  23. Robin on September 5, 2016 at 12:52 am

    Aleea, I’m glad to hear your counselor thinks you should be re-parented. Is she doing that for you??
    I am being re-parented to replace the old memories, the deceitful teachings I had in childhood– and it’s made a big difference for my healing.

    • Aleea on September 5, 2016 at 4:04 am

      . . . Yes!!! First we indentified all the horrible stuff I saw modeled and worked on strengthening self-nurturing skills. She clearly knows the “mothering” and “fathering” scripts I got. They are not good. . . .Then we worked on “thought stopping” of the old destructive self-talk patterns; even reciting positive Bible verses to counter all the negative parenting. . . . and also, of course, prayer. Robin, my prayers are just simply “Lord, change me! I want to be like You.” —That is my heart’s cry.

      . . . . We also do a lot on acknowledging, listening to, and loving the little child within my personality. Jesus said that we cannot enter the kingdom except as little children; I guess I am fearful of my inner child and run away sometimes. Maybe I fear the pain coming out, but I need that toxic junk gone and those swamps completely drained or it will overwhelm and destroy me. . . . . What was it like growing up in my family? My mother was a dragon of chaos.

      I don’t like all those nasty childhood things but integration sure beats suppression. As you know, anything we don’t face about ourselves has a life of its own, and it will be doing things that are NOT good for us. . . . Oh, and also spiritual reparenting which, to me, is like a theologically informed appropriation of psychotherapy. . . . Though my mother and father forsook me, the LORD will be my parent and receive me. —I want my emotional dependency to be the Lord.

  24. Leslie Vernick on September 5, 2016 at 3:45 pm

    Have you read Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman MD? She speaks of that loyalty that abused children have towards their abusers. It gives them hope. If they’re right, and I’m bad, then I can change me and then she’ll finally love me. (hope) If they’re bad and they will never love me, then what happens to me?(despair) I’d encourage you to take a look at it. I know you love to read. It might shine some light in the dark spots inside.

  25. Robin on September 6, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    Aleea is the re-parenting making any difference? I hear you say what you’ve been doing, but the question remains- are you getting healing??
    My mother was a dragon of chaos also. I understand the depth of injury a mom like this can cause. I just hope you are experiencing healing, even if it’s in baby steps!!!!

    • Aleea on September 8, 2016 at 6:55 am

      I’m sorry, I just now saw this. . . . . Honestly Robin, this is so hard, but I don’t think I am getting any better. But I am an emotional mess and sometimes those who love most deeply can’t get past the weight of their own feelings. It could also be that sustainable longer term results means a slow, slow process. As always, I don’t know what to think. . . . More importantly, I don’t know what to make of the silence of God. . . Divine silence—divine hiddenness—is the source of so many of my doubts and spiritual distresses. I just seriously pray for the Holy Spirit to guide me to the right decisions. That is so my prayer. I’m open to any advice/ questions/ suggestions. . . . Dr. Meier always talks about confidentiality this, confidentiality that. . . to me, that is so not important. Maybe I lack awareness but I want to be helped and healed. I don’t care who knows about my issues, if they can possibly help me. Let other people be “perfect” and guard their image. I’m shattered, broken and need help and I know it.

  26. Aleea on September 8, 2016 at 5:46 pm

    ”. . . Re: from higher up the page: Have you read Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman MD? She speaks of that loyalty that abused children have towards their abusers. It gives them hope. If they’re right, and I’m bad, then I can change me and then she’ll finally love me. (hope) If they’re bad and they will never love me, then what happens to me?(despair) I’d encourage you to take a look at it. I know you love to read. It might shine some light in the dark spots inside.”

    RE: prolonged, repeated childhood trauma

    I apologize for not seeing this sooner, thank you so much. . . . I have no system for knowing what is posted where.

    . . .I do know of Judith Herman’s general work but have not read that book. I will however because it means a lot to me if you recommend it.

    . . . I understand generally how, but just generally, how I have developed a contaminated, stigmatized identity. . . . you know, taking the evil of my mother’s physical and emotional abuse into myself and in that way preserving my attachment to my mother. . . . .Even saying that repels me but I understand it. . . . So, I understand from a high level how that inner sense of badness preserves a relationship. . . . But what I can’t logic to is why I do not readily give it up. Dr. Meier explains it as arrested development and thus it becomes a stable part of my personality structure. But, of course, I don’t want to be “occupied.”

    . . .If Judith Herman is correct, those who stand with the victim (our counselors) will inevitably have to face that internalized monster’s unmasked fury. Now, Judith Herman thinks “For many of us, there can be no greater honor.” —But Leslie, I am afraid to lose control like that. I don’t want to abuse Dr. Meier, if you know what I mean. She says it is okay, but it is absolutely not okay from my standpoint.

    So, if the stages are:
    1) physical and emotional repeated trauma in childhood deformed my personality
    2) immature system of psychological defenses formed
    3) NOW: the establishment of safety (some)
    4) remembrance and mourning (some)
    5) unmasked fury/ a volcano exploding (Leslie, how do I do this without everybody getting hurt? Because that is the real definition of evil I see in the Bible, everyone losses. It harms me, them, everyone. Does that have to happen to drain that swamp/ cesspool from childhood? That is going to be bloody awful, you know, the need for a resolution that restores some sense of justice. My mother says she forgives me for the childhood trauma. Imagine that.)
    6) reconnection

    Leslie . . . I know I have to own my recovery. I know others can offer prayer, advice, support, assistance, affection, and care, and things which I am so grateful for but not any kind of cure. I know I can’t leave the basic principle of empowerment and that no intervention that takes power away from me can probably foster recovery, no matter how much it appears to be in my best interest. —At least that is what I think.

  27. Robin on September 8, 2016 at 9:15 pm

    Dear Aleea, I think if I was in your shoes, my first concern would be is Dr Mier the person suited best for my healing?? I have been thru many counselors , and it’s not easy to find the one that can help one the most. I would ask myself that question. Am I getting better under this ladies guidance or am I just spinning wheels ?? That might be a good starting place……

    • Aleea on September 9, 2016 at 5:24 am

      Thank you Robin. I do agree and I am praying about that. . . . I just don’t understand because I feel safe, open and honest, my spirit feels “at home” with Dr. Meier. She has long ago worked through her own issues and that allows her to, I think, to do in-depth counseling. . . . Maybe we are too focused on “Why?” when all we need is a description of how things work. I don’t know since it is not a linear process and I’m trying to get a long-term solution. I don’t know what to think because my emotions go up and down and the therapy really stirs the pot, and all the painful feelings, obviously, come up in the process. I do feel depressed and anxious, especially as we go after old habits. I don’t feel distrustful, -not trying to please (well, maybe a bit sometimes), I was hiding some of my beliefs and feelings at first, but they are totally out now, especially as related to the therapy. Robin do you see that step five in my post below [ 5) unmasked fury/ a volcano exploding] that may be the thing that is keeping us stuck.

  28. Robin on September 9, 2016 at 12:43 pm

    Aleea, with abuse, I’ve never found it helpful to ask – why?

  29. Robin on September 9, 2016 at 12:48 pm

    Unmasked fury– are you saying you letting it all out and your anger- will hurt others. I don’t think so. Isn’t it just the opposite. You say a volcano exploding. It’s been living in you for a longtime. Let it do its thing so u can heal. Please don’t worry about hurting others. You must let the evil be exposed and yes some might be hurt. That is their problem. Your problem is to let the volcano erupt.

    • Leslie Vernick on September 10, 2016 at 7:34 pm

      I would add, Aleea, your counselor has given you permission to share your hurt and anger with her and she is capable of handling it. She has good boundaries and a good CORE which can manage and contain your rage. YOu don’t need to “take care of her” as she is healthy and taking care of herself. Sharing your feelings of rage, is very different than Acting out your feelings of rage. Talk with your counselor more about it. Your mom could not handle you as a separate person, with your own feelings, but I’m quite sure your counselor can.

  30. Aleea on September 9, 2016 at 4:23 pm

    >”Aleea, with abuse, I’ve never found it helpful to ask – why?”. . . . Robin I agree. I understand that stance.

    >“. . . Unmasked fury– are you saying you letting it all out and your anger- will hurt others. I don’t think so. Isn’t it just the opposite. You say a volcano exploding. It’s been living in you for a longtime. Let it do its thing so u can heal. Please don’t worry about hurting others.” . . . . Robin, I have already exposed the abuse with my family of origin and my mother. . . . Robin, I mean unloading all the residual anger at God over all of it on Dr. Meier, like really losing it. That is what I mean. . . . You know, horrible stuff like that for who knows how many sessions. . . . .I so don’t want that unless it is absolutely necessary. . . .The best vaccine against anger was watching my mother for all those years in its throes. . . . But even more so Robin, I can truly say I am thrilled to be alive and I am so grateful to God for all I have and people like you, who care. I am grateful despite my psychological suffering (—my mother’s abuse). . . . . I don’t enjoy being a victim ―and I am more than willing to accept responsibility/ accountability. . . . . Unless there is more healing power in anger than I understand. . . . Maybe I could learn to direct that anger clearly to rebuild boundaries. . . . Are you saying anger heals because it’s about loving yourself —and love always heals?

  31. Robin on September 9, 2016 at 4:25 pm

    Allea I have found my counselor can handle it when I’m dumping my garbage. In fact she encourages it .

  32. Aleea on September 10, 2016 at 7:08 pm

    Robin, Dr. Meier says the same (—encouraging me to just dump everything on her) but people are way more fragile than we think. I feel just rotten, on my bad days, deconstructing everything I hold dear (—and she holds dear too) in front of her. . . . . When I found out her husband was an atheist, I was so ashamed of myself. I refuse to go on and on and on like that. . . . Maybe that is wrong on my part but I don’t want to dump the most shopisticated arguments against Chrsitianity I can think of all over her. . . . Dr. Jordon Peterson understands what I mean. I wish he had space to see me. I’m going to find someone like that to help me with those issues. . . . . But Robin, I agree with you, we must learn how to explode with our counselors! Any psychological issue is probably healthier than the one provoked by hoarded rage. Transformation is the goal and anger and frustration are the result of not being authentic, creating blocks inside of us, for sure.

  33. Aleea on September 12, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Thank you so much. I don’t even know what to say. . . .That has me staring into space running scenarios in my mind. “Talk with your counselor more about it.” I will, thank you so much. I’m going to give her written examples so she knows what to expect and then we can discuss.

  34. Robin on September 12, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    I’m not sure I understand Aleea your concern with burdening your counselor. Isn’t that her job?? To help you get out the deep deep junk that keeps me from gaining more freedom in your life?? My counselor encourages me to journal it, then I read it to her, and she comes and sits by me holding my hand as we face the wicked truths of my childhood – together. Then she says – now we can flush it down the toilet now that it’s out of you.

    • Aleea on September 12, 2016 at 9:40 pm

      “Isn’t that her job??”
      . . . .Certainly it is. I don’t understand myself either Robin. I love your approach of journaling it, and reading it to your counselor. Low impact and structured. —That’s very good. I forget that words bounce off healthy people. . . . .Robin I’ve allowed my mother to paint her portrait over mine, I am massively confused in my heart because I know the ugly picture my mother painted doesn’t really look like me but you begin to doubt yourself. . . It hurts so deeply. . . . but it is her blackness, her shame, her emptiness. —How can you get through to yourself?

  35. Robin on September 12, 2016 at 9:54 pm

    I actually send loads of it in a email. She will say, do u remember what you sent me this week- it was really hard to read. (Not hard like she couldn’t stand it. Hard like she was feeling empathy for my pain). I rarely remember what I write. Because I don’t want to remember. She encourages me to email her as she says I feel very safe in letting things go. Aleea I understand the hardness of this I really do. I just want you so badly to let go and feel free to say whatever you need too.

    • Aleea on September 13, 2016 at 5:49 pm

      “I understand the hardness of this I really do.”
      . . . . I know you do Robin. Thank you so much. . . . It is so, so hard and it is like God’s way of reserving the best for those who can give the most and avoid living out of fear and other people’s expectations. . . . I’m at the end of my rope . . .I know the next step is to untie the knot in my heart. . . . Please, God, comfort us. I know whatever can be threatened, whatever can be shaken, whatever I fear cannot stand, is destined to crash. I don’t want to go down with my mother’s ship. Let that which is destined to become the past slip away. I believe that the real me beckons from the future. Yes, it is a sadder me, but it will be a wiser one. Rebirth can never come without death. If we give Christ the most gratitude every day, gratitude, gratitude, gratitude we will thrive. . . . .Hmm, when you want to know how things really work, study them when they’re coming apart. You know, turning these ghosts into ancestors.

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